OreShura: Volume 2 Chapter 5
#5: Childhood Friend's Room is Mayhem
Apparently, Chiwa had found out about the news from a text message sent by the girls of the class.
Subject: 【What Should We Do?】
Eita gave Natsukawa Masuzu a huge kiss! 【Chihuawan!】
Really, why did it had to pop up that love-struck mentality of that crowd of love-worshipers, did everything have to become 'love, love, kiss, kiss' or they won't be satisfied?
But even if I voiced a complaint, it was useless.
After all, whenever some strange prejudiced information reached Chiwa, she basically considered it fact.
Of course I immediately turned to her to explain the reason. I originally decided to use tonight’s dinner to discuss the love letter business, how come something this bad happened whenever I planned something?
"It wasn't a kiss, merely just artificial respiration! The teacher was taking care of another student, so I was the only one left to do it. The struggle to save human lives is always a race against the clock."
"That much, I understand."
Chiwa pouted unhappily and turned her face to the side.
"So don’t think about it too much. Artificial respiration is just mouth and mouth contact, that’s all."
"...Then do it with me, ah."
I almost spit out my miso soup. In the end, seaweed and soup mix leaked from my mouth, blocked in the depths of my nose
"W-W-Wh-What are you saying?!"
Chiwa cowered and timidly played with her fingers near her chest, revealing her childish habit to be troublesome. She had already entered that 'sulky Chihuahua' mode.
I think she understood the reason.
Because Chiwa was originally part of the kendo club, her awareness of first aid and medical treatment was probably greater than mine. If the other person had not been Masuzu, she certainly wouldn’t be acting as spoiled as she is now.
As a result, that night’s dinner ended with that awkward atmosphere and Chiwa went home. A third of the fried pork cutlet was left unfinished… That Chiwa actually didn’t finish her meat, such a rare occurrence.
Thus, the love letter confirmation could not be resolved.
Nothing seems to go as planned lately.
I wonder why Chiwa and Masuzu’s relationship is this bad?
Was it because of that? Like the reason why a 'mother-in-law and daughter-in-law' have a bad relationship? In other words, the childhood friend is the mother-in-law, and the girlfriend is the daughter-in-law?
But, there was no mother-daughter-in-law relationship in the world that was so clearly incompatible.
Don’t tell me there’s no trick to keep a 'girlfriend' and 'childhood friend' on friendly terms with each other?
The next morning.
Since I also wanted to go to school with Chiwa, I was waiting for her in front of her house.
I wanted to make up with her as soon as possible, because I didn't want to keep dragging on the confirmation of the 'love letter' business.
I listened the cicadas in the courtyard and waited for ten minutes —even though is past the usual time, Chiwa still has not come out.
Did she leave early because she was angry?
Without any choice, I rang the doorbell on Chiwa’s home. The person who came was actually Chiwa’s mother.
"Ara, this is Ei-kun, long time no see! How are you?"
"A-Ah, it's been a while."
I was embarrassed and at a complete loss, because it was very rare for Chiwa’s mother to be home at this time. She was some kind of local newspaper reporter, so she always left for work early and came back late. It was the same with Chiwa’s father, but he was home even less often.
"Have you been going to school together with Chiwa lately?"
"Yes, we just started to again, not long ago."
"Really? Then Chiwa must be quite happy!"
Auntie’s voice was high-pitched even though she was tall. At first glance, she didn’t look like Chiwa at all, but her eye-squinting mannerisms were exactly identical, just like mother and daughter.
"But Chiwa, she ah, has got a fever since last night."
"I took the morning off work to take her to the hospital, but I still won’t get back home until late tonight. Sorry, Ei-kun, but could I trouble you to take care of her?"
"No problem, it’s nothing."
No wonder Chiwa didn’t eat very much last night. Because she rarely caught colds, I had assumed that she had only been in a bad mood.
How did I not notice? It’s embarrassing, especially since I want to become a doctor.
During the course of the day I was almost completely absent-minded, even though the classes just before final exams were very important. Chiwa lingered in my mind the entire time. I just imagined the look of Chiwa ill in bed —it reminded me of the circumstances of that time.
I told Masuzu I was not going to club activities today and then hastily rushed home.
After changing clothes, I started the washing machine and then immediately headed for Chiwa’s house. I used the spare key to enter through the front entrance and planned to hurry up to the second floor —but then I remembered Chiwa might be sleeping, so I carefully tiptoed up the stairs.
"Chiwa, it’s me."
I knocked on the door.
Ten seconds later, there was no response.
"I’m coming, I’m coming in."
After giving my warning twice, I slowly turned the doorknob.
It’s been an extremely long time since I’d last scene Chiwa’s room. It was already very different from what I recalled in my memory… Basically, the pinkness increased. In the past, her room was plastered with kendo posters, with sports tape, old shinais and the like scattered around. Now it was replaced with drawstring bags, cushions and small things like that, especially the mirrors that were placed on quite a few sides. It was kinda suspicious to see some much time.
However, only the scent of warm milk was exactly the same.
This was the smell of Chiwa.
Chiwa was sleeping in a bed like the one she had in the past. She seemed to have some difficulty breathing while asleep and her face was flushed.
As I planned to go downstairs to wring a towel, the futon started moving.
"Sorry, Chiwa, did I wake you up?"
"...Err, Is it really Ei-kun? Ei-kun in my room...?"
After just getting up, Chiwa looked as if she were in a trance and blinked her eyes.
"Auntie asked me to take care of you. Now don’t get up, you can go back to sleep."
"That was quite good! Really, that mama..."
Even though she spoke with that tone, Chiwa seemed to beam with joy, squinting her eyes in happiness.
"Your fever doesn’t seem to be gone yet, so is there anything I can do to help you?"
"...Can you help me to clean my body?"
Even though I consciously avoided the waver in my heart, my voice became quiet.
I grabbed a wash basin from the first floor and went back to Chiwa’s room with a towel.
Chiwa knelt all alone in bed and had taken off the upper top of her pink pajamas —her back was naked towards me.
"Be gentle, please?"
I held onto the twisted towel and sat down on the bed.
Close to Chiwa’s back, I could see that her skin was delicate and beautiful. I had thought that she simply was not yet developed, but her body had all the round curving characteristics of a maturing girl, especially her two soft white arms. It made my mind exceptionally uncomfortable.
When I put the towel on Chiwa’s back, she shuddered.
"Really! I told you to be gentle."
I cautiously proceeded to wipe her little back. My heart emitted a loud throbbing sound and I was worried that Chiwa’s ears would hear it. Every time Chiwa shyly moved her back or gave an 'Nnnnn...' sounding sigh, my heart nearly flew up into the ceiling.
"Thank you, Ei-kun, I’ll wipe the front myself."
It was finally over...
While Chiwa wiped her body, I kept my back to her and glanced at the inside of her room —there really were a lot of small trinkets, like cosmetic bags from the appendixes of fashion magazines, shoujo manga, scented candles and so forth. Her interests truly weren't the same as they had been in the past.
The thing that hung on the desk lamp, it seemed very familiar…
"N-No! Ei-kun, that’s not good!"
I stood up, and picked up that thing.
A pair of painted red chopsticks.
A cute pink ribbon tied them together.
Why was there a pair of chopsticks hanging in a place like this?
And —aren’t these my chopsticks?
"...Sorry, I took those from Ei-kun’s home without permission."
When I heard this, a thought flashed through my mind.
"Are these the chopsticks from that night?"
As expected of childhood friends. Merely saying something like 'that night' was enough to understand.
Because between the two of us, there was only one 'that night'.
That was the night when my parents disappeared and there was a dead end in my life. Chiwa had slipped out of the hospital even though she was hospitalized and we had hamburger steak together. It was the first time I had ever cooked in my life.
The chopsticks from then were this pair.
"But why did you want to keep this kind of thing...?"
"...Because that was my most important memory ever."
Chiwa’s face flushed.
Her eyes were moist.
It's the fever fau—… No, probably not.
"Only that memory in my heart is absolutely always the same, even if Ei-kun has a girlfriend or likes other girls."
I nodded, firmly believing what Chiwa said.
The person who wrote the letter was not Chiwa.
Because we did not need to 'bind ourselves together again'.
After all, my bond with Chiwa has always, always been inside of us, ever since that time.
In the end, I stayed overnight to take care of Chiwa.
Chiwa’s parents contacted me and told me they wouldn’t make it home today, which was very commonplace in Chiwa’s lax household. On this kind of days, Chiwa used to come over to my house to stay… But this had been in elementary school.
Even though auntie apologized non-stop on the phone, I didn't think it was a big deal. I was already planning on studying for exams late into the night and as long as I brought my study books, it didn’t matter where I studied.
Chiwa was sleeping the entire time, with no improvement on the fever. Just a moment ago I had wiped water on her forehead, but the towel on her forehead was already warm. I needed to change the water in the washbasin.
When I was about to stand up from beside her pillow, Chiwa suddenly gently tugged at my sleeve.
"...Stay with me."
"Chiwa? Are you awake?"
No, her eyes were still closed, so she was asleep.
Is she having a nightmare because of her fever?
"Are you alright with Natsukawa?"
Chiwa very painfully shook her head and said:
"Do you like Natsukawa? Even more than me, you like her?"
Her voice was disturbingly sad.
"Am I no good? Why? We’ve always, always been together..."
Clear tears slid down Chiwa's face.
"Don’t go anywhere. Always stay with me, Ei-kun…"
I again sat down by Chiwa’s side.
I firmly grasped Chiwa’s hand outstretched from the quilt.
"It's all right, Chiwa."
"I'm right here, I'll stay here with you."
Chiwa’s painful expression gradually eased.
The rate of her breathing also returned to normal, so she probably fell into deep sleep.
I used my empty hand to pull over an English reference book.
I wanted to double and redouble my efforts in studying.
In order to achieve the goal that I promised to Chiwa that night in the past.
I woke up to the shimmer of light that shot through the gap in the curtains.
It seems that I had accidentally felt sleep —while still in a sitting posture, with my face laid on the bed and my shoulders covered with a pink blanket.
The bed was empty.
"I’m over here, Ei-kun!"
I looked back, and saw Chiwa’s smiling face, while she sat facing my back on a chair.
"Wh-What are you doing?"
"Ehehe, I’m just enjoying the sleeping posture of Ei-kun♪."
"I’m not talking about that! Don’t you have high a fever?"
"Well, I'm OK now, thanks to you..."
Chiwa seemed to look healthy and stood up to spin in a circle to show me.
"Really? Let me take a closer look."
"I said I’m fine already! Really! Ei-kun so loves to worry!"
Chiwa laughed as she prepared to flee, but I adamantly put my hand on her forehead.
...Well, all right, her body temperature was nearly normal.
She gave a 'See? Didn’t I say so?' expression on her face, stuck out her chest and said:
"Actually, it looked like Ei-kun might catch a cold, so I covered you with a blanket! When Ei-kun isn't with me, you’re really hopeless!"
"Che, what you talking about?"
Well, since Chiwa had the energy to bicker, there shouldn't be a problem.
I looked at the alarm clock and it was already seven ten in the morning.
"Huh? Where does Ei-kun want to go? My mother will be returning soon, so you should eat breakfast and then go—"
"No. I want to go to school early so I can study and prepare for the exam in the quiet classroom."
"What?! Ei-kun would've never said something so cold in the past!"
Chiwa mustered an unhappy face.
"Maybe, I should get another cold again..."
"Aa? What are you talking about?"
"Uun? It's nothing?"
Chiwa shook her head.
"Ei-kun, about the artificial respiration."
"What, are you still going to bring that issue up?"
"No, I was thinking you’re really awesome, to formally execute it and succeed! For that kind of technique, even if you know how to do it, in a real accident very few people can do properly. Where did Ei-kun learn how to do it?"
"...Where from, really? Just from a book and didn’t we learn how to do it in physical education class?"
"And you know how to do it from just that? Really amazing—"
"Fufun, fine, praise me more then."
—Though, to say the truth, it was actually not that impressive.
After Chiwa was hospitalized from a traffic accident, I went to a life-rescue workshop run by the fire department, to receive full training from senior firefighters.
This was just in case if Chiwa ever had another accident, I wouldn’t be so helpless again.
I also was taught other methods and techniques relevant to body injuries.
...Of course, I kept all of this is a secret from Chiwa.
If I said something, she'd start asking for payment.
"So long, Chiwa. Let's meet again in the club room."
"Ah, wait for me, Ei-kun! I'll also leave for school early. Just give me five minutes to get ready."
What a boisterous morning.
The usual morning that you could expect with a childhood friend.
Translator notes and references
- She uses a childlike tone here.
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