Again, I Had the Same Dream – Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Sensei, I feel like I’m going crazy so please let me skip gym class today.

I raised my small elementary-schooler hand straight up, stood, and said those words. However, my teacher just told me to come to the staff room after school and also made me run around the schoolyard. I, Koyanagi Nanoka, could not accept that.

Because I was the only one called to the staff room after everybody else went home, I knew that I had to be careful. But even so, as I faced my teacher, I did not feel like I had done anything wrong.

“You see, Sensei, you probably thought that I was joking around earlier. But I had my own reason for saying that, and even a chance of success.”

Hitomi-sensei had her arms crossed and looked me in the eye as I sat in a chair. “What’s that about? Your chance of success,” she said with a gentle smile.

I also crossed my short arms undauntedly and informed her.

“I saw it on TV yesterday, from a program where people were speaking their thoughts about an incident that happened somewhere. Some important-looking people said that in Japan, those who are crazy in the head can run away from unpleasant things. And then, when I asked my mother who the important-looking people were, she said they were university professors. If university professors said so, then it must also be true in elementary school right? Because below university is high school, below that is middle school, and below that is elementary school.”

I thought that my teacher would be impressed, so I proudly announced what I was thinking. However, I was surprised to see that she had a troubled look on her face and she sighed a little deeper than usual.

“What’s wrong, Sensei?”

“Well, Koyanagi-san, you were able to think of all that yourself and even explained it clearly. It’s because you’re very smart, and I think that’s great.”

“I think so too.”

“The way that that you’re confident in yourself is also great. However, I’ll give you some advice to develop your talents even further, so listen carefully.”

“Okay, I will.”

The teacher smiled and raised her index finger.

“Good. First, even though it’s important to quickly act on what you’re thinking, it’s just as important to take your time and think before you act. Understand?”

I nodded. She continued by raising her middle finger.

“Second, it’s not always good to run from unpleasant things. Even though there are times when running away is fine, things like gym class are good for your health. For example, you’ve become faster than before in races, right?”

Certainly, like Sensei said, I was able to run a bit faster than before in today’s race. But my feet were feeling tired. Was it really good for my health?

The teacher raised her ring finger as well.

“And third, I think that what the university professors said was wrong. The things that people on TV and other important people say aren’t always correct. You must think carefully for yourself about whether they are correct or not.”

“Then, Sensei, that means…”

“Yes?”

“I also can’t be certain if what you’re saying is correct or not.”

The teacher looked at me gently and answered, “That’s right.”

“Which means, you need to think carefully about what I’m saying as well. However, I want you to believe this. I wish from the bottom of my heart that you will be happy, and that you will get along with everyone. Understand?”

She looked at me with the serious face that I had seen many times before. It was a face I liked seeing. It made me feel that she didn’t lie as much the other teachers.

I thought hard about what she had said, and after considering whether I should nod or shake my head, I politely nodded.

“I understand. I’ll believe in Hitomi-sensei over the university professors.”

“Then, whenever you want to try something else in class, make sure you let me know first.”

“If I think that’s the correct thing to do.”

“Good, that’s fine.”

The teacher smiled like she was very happy and patted my head. Seeing her face, I thought that she must truly be wishing for my happiness. At the same time, I also thought this.

“What do you mean when you say ‘happiness’?”

“Let’s see, it can have a lot of meanings. I know, I’ll teach you about it first. We’ll be discussing the meaning of happiness in Japanese class tomorrow.”

“Hmm, it sounds very complicated.”

“Yes, it’s very complicated. But everyone, even me, will need think about what happiness means to themselves. So you should also try thinking about your own happiness.”

“Okay, I’ll think about it.”

“But keep it a secret from everyone else in the class.”

Hitomi-sensei raised her index finger to her lips and gave me a clumsy wink. Then, she picked up a piece of chocolate from the desk next to her where Shintarou-sensei was sitting, and spoke.

“To me, one thing that makes me happy is sweet things.”

“That would probably make me happy too.”

When I looked at Shintarou-sensei, he smiled and said “Keep this a secret from everyone else.” After being given another clumsy wink, I received a piece of chocolate as well.

“See you later then, Sensei.”

I waved at Hitomi-sensei from the entrance of the staff room.

“Take care on your way home. Speaking of which, who do you usually go home with?”

“Even though I’m a kid, I can at least walk home by myself.”

“I see. I made you stay behind today, but starting tomorrow you should try walking home with everyone else. It’s more fun that way.”

“I’ll think about it. But, Sensei.”

Tossing the chocolate in my mouth, I said to my teacher.

“Life is like a wonderful movie.”

She leaned forward with an amused look. I often said similar phrases to Hitomi-sensei, but she always thought carefully about my words.

And she often got it wrong.

“Hmm, because you are the protagonist?”

“Wrong.”

“Well then, I give up. What does that mean?”

“It means that as long as there’s candy, you can enjoy it just fine by yourself.”

I turned my back to my teacher who had a familiar troubled expression on her face, and quickly started walking home from the boring elementary school.

 

Because nobody was at home, I dropped off my backpack in my room and immediately headed back out. I locked the door of my apartment, took the elevator down from the eleventh floor of the building, and walked outside through the automatic doors at the entrance.

Just as I headed through the glass doors, my friend came walking up to me. She would make a guess at what time I got off school, and was always loitering around my place around then. My apartment was the tallest building in the area, so it must also be easy for her to find.

I greeted her.

“Good day to you.”

Even though she had noticed me from the start, she looked at me like it was her first time meeting me, and sang “Na—“

“You’ll never become an actress if it’s so obvious that you’re acting.”

“Na—“

She stuck up her shortened tail like always, and started walking in the direction I was planning to go. Even though my steps were small, they were still larger than hers and I quickly caught up beside her. When I laughed “Haha” triumphantly, she swiftly turned her head away. Really, she wasn’t charming at all.

While we walked together towards the same destination, I told my small friend about what had occurred today.

“Something surprising happened today.”

“Na—“

“You know how there are times when people’s opinions clash, right? Does that also happen in the world of cats?”

“Na—“

“That’s right, you’re a different species so it’s hard for us to understand each other.”

She indifferently meowed “Na—“ again. She never seemed to be interested in what I told her. Even if my worries weren’t related to the lives of cats, it was still a bit rude.

Since it couldn’t be helped, I decided to sing a song that she could enjoy as well. Only things like milk or my singing could catch the cheeky girl’s attention. That cat was living in luxury.

I sang my favorite song.

“Happiness— won’t come— walking— to us— “ [T/N: 365 Step March]

“Na— Na—“

“So— let’s walk— towards it—“

Even though she acted uninterested, her singing sounded more inflected than usual. Her singing voice was very beautiful. Even though she never mentioned it to me, with that beautiful of a voice, the boys surely never left her alone.

As we sang, we walked until the end of the quiet road which led to the dike of a large river. After we climbed up the stairs to the top of the dike, because there were no large buildings around us, the strong wind that brushed my hair felt good. On the opposite bank of the river was the neighboring city, which seemed to have a slightly different scent than the city I lived in.

The riverbed here was a common place for children to play, but I wasn’t interested in that. The girl with the shortened tail seemed a bit drawn to a ball rolling along the riverbed, but she still preferred milk over the ball.

While singing, we walked along the dike that ran parallel to the river. As we walked, we greeted the people who passed us and the old man sitting in a cardboard box, and received candy from the old lady who I often met in the shopping district. Soon, our destination came in sight.

It was a cream-colored two-story apartment. Taking the stairs down from the dike, we approached the square apartment that looked like buttercream cake.

I warned the girl with the shortened tail to be careful not to make too much noise. Then, together, we climbed the clanking stairs of the apartment building.

Running ahead of me, the girl stopped in front of a door at the end of the second floor hallway and promptly began meowing “Na— Na—“ Even though I had told her to be quiet, she was often quick to forget what I said. She wasn’t smart like me.

I gracefully walked up to the door and rang the doorbell for the girl who wasn’t tall enough to reach.

A few seconds after the ding-dong sound echoed inside the room, before I even had a chance to spot an ant on the ground, the door opened.

From inside came a beautiful lady who was wearing a t-shirt and long pants like always. Her hair seemed messier and she seemed sleepier than usual today.

“Good afternoon!”

“Good afternoon. You’re energetic today as always, young lady.”

“Yup, I’m feeling energetic. Bitch-san, you aren’t energetic today?”

“Nope, I’m energetic. I only just woke up, that’s all.”

“Even though it’s already past 3?”

“There are people who consider it to be morning right now. I’m one of them.”

“There are others?”

“For example, people in America.”

I thought Bitch-san’s honest answer was funny, so I giggled. Perhaps following my lead, Bitch-san also scratched the back of her neck and laughed. “Come in. The cat must be hungry too,” she said. I took off my shoes and entered Bitch-san’s apartment, while the girl with the shortened tail stood on alert outside the door. She’s really a bad girl if she only behaves properly during times like these.

Bitch-san poured some milk into an old dish and gave it to the girl outside. She then closed the door and handed me a bottle of Yakult. While drinking it, I watched her fix her bed hair.

I usually came here to play after school. Being an adult, Bitch-san was often busy and not around when I came by, but on days when she was here, she often gave me Yakult and ice cream. The girl who was drinking milk outside also knew that Bitch-san was a kind person, so she always tagged along to enjoy some milk.

Bitch-san opened the window, took a sandwich out of the fridge, and sat down on her messy bed. I sat beside the round table at the center of the square room and savored the Yakult.

“How was school, young lady?”

While Bitch-san chewed on an egg sandwich, her long hair shined like an angel’s in the light coming from the window. I told Bitch-san the story that I had already explained earlier to the girl with the shortened tail. Bitch-san mostly just nodded as I talked, but laughed loudly when I said “The idea was good but I couldn’t make it work.”

“I doubt anyone would think that you’re crazy in the head.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re smart. You’re smart, so even if you do something a bit weird, people will think that you surely have a plan. That’s why you were called to the staff room, right?”

“I see. In that case, I need to make a crazier face next time.”

When I tilted my head up diagonally and stuck my tongue out, Bitch-san laughed loudly again.

“Your teacher must be a good teacher.”

“That’s right, she’s a really good teacher. She sometimes gets things wrong though.”

“All adults get things wrong sometimes.”

Bitch-san said that and stood up, then took out a drink can from the fridge and opened it.

“Is that something sweet?”

“It’s sweet but bitter.”

“Why would you purposely drink something bitter? Bitch-san, you drink coffee as well, right? Coffee is very bitter. Are you just enduring it?”

“No, I drink both coffee and alcohol because I like them. I also didn’t drink coffee when I was a child. Only adults can appreciate bitter things, you know.”

“I see. Then, I wonder if there’ll also be a day when I can think of bitter things as tasty.”

“Maybe. But there’s no need to force yourself to drink it. I think it’s just as wonderful if you only like sweet things.”

Bitch-san spoke with a clear smile. Both her words and her smile had a scent like perfume. It was a good scent, different from other adults. When I mentioned that to Bitch-san before, she smiled and said, “That’s because I’m not a proper adult.” If that was true, then I didn’t want to become a proper adult.

“Life is like flan pudding, isn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Even though only the sweet part is tasty, there are also people who appreciate the bitter parts.”

“Ahaha, exactly.”

Smiling, Bitch-san took a gulp of her alcohol and said “You’re a smart young lady after all.” I was happy to be praised.

“Did anything interesting happen during work, Bitch-san?”

“Work isn’t interesting at all.”

“Is that so? But my dad and mom both seem to love their work. They’re never at home after all.”

“Just because they’re always working doesn’t necessarily mean that work is interesting. But if they are doing something interesting, then it’s a very happy thing.”

“It’s definitely interesting. Much more interesting than playing with me.”

“If you’re feeling lonely, then you should just say it straight out.”

“But saying that isn’t smart.”

I shook my head.

Then, I asked Bitch-san about something that had caught my attention in the conversation just now.

“If work isn’t interesting, does that mean you aren’t happy, Bitch-san?”

Bitch-san didn’t answer my question. Instead, she smiled faintly and said, “My greatest happiness right now is probably you coming to visit.” That was a lie adults often told, but I knew Bitch-san wasn’t lying so I felt extremely happy.

“Happiness— won’t come— walking— to us— , So— let’s walk— towards it—“

“I also like that song. One step a day, three steps in three days.”

With our voices overlapping, we sang, “Three— steps forward, two steps back—“

“That reminds me, I need to think about what happiness means. I have to present about it in class.”

“Ah, I had to do something like that when I was a kid as well. How nostalgic. What do you think happiness is to you?”

“I don’t know yet. I only just started thinking about it.”

“It’s a difficult question. Well then, should we eat some ice cream to find a hint to happiness?”

“Let’s eat!”

While we each ate a soda-flavored popsicle, Bitch-san and I played Othello like always. Othello was apparently a game that Bitch-san used to play when she was a child.

My father had bought me an Othello set before, but I didn’t have anybody to play with at home.

However, I was still glad that I had an Othello board available for when Bitch-san came to visit my place someday.

After Bitch-san won twice and I finally won once, she looked at the clock hanging on the wall and said, “Oh, it’s already four.” I cleaned up the Othello pieces while thinking that time really does pass too quickly.

“Bitch-san, thanks for the Yakult and popsicle.”

“No problem, say hi to Granny for me.”

I always left Bitch-san’s house at around four o’clock. Although I really wanted to chat more and play more Othello, I had another place I needed to visit.

I put on the pink shoes that fit my small feet perfectly, thanked Bitch-san one more time, and opened the door. Outside, the girl who had finished drinking the dish of milk was sitting and waiting politely. Bitch-san gently picked up the milk dish.

“I’ll come play again another time.”

“Sounds good, feel free to stop by whenever you want.”

“What are your plans for today, Bitch-san?”

“I was thinking of taking another nap, to get prepared for work.”

“Good luck at work. Take care!”

“Yes, yes. Good luck with finding the meaning of happiness, young lady. If you figure it out while walking around, let me know.”

“Okay. Well then, goodnight.”

Waving at Bitch-san, I closed the door. Bitch-san had a mysterious job that started after I was asleep and ended before I was awake. I didn’t know what her exact job was, but I respected her just for working when it was dark and sleeping when it was bright outside, since it was something that I could never do.

While walking quickly down the stairs beside the girl with the shortened tail, I thought about Bitch-san’s job. When I asked her before what kind of job it was, she just smiled and said “My job is to sell seasons.”

To me, that sounded like a lovely job.

 

It was a cold, rainy day. I wore cute pink rain boots and I held a beautiful red umbrella. With my yellow raincoat fluttering, I walked along the dike while chasing a small frog. The small green frog was very pretty, and since it seemed to be having fun jumping along the main path, I could easily keep an eye on it the whole time.

After I chased the green frog, I also started jumping before I realized it. I smiled to myself, thinking that it looked like we were doing some sort of special training together. The frog was also trying its hardest at the training course. It must be a shy frog that only trained on rainy days when there were few people around. I cheered on the courageous frog that was working hard.

However, whether it was because the frog couldn’t hear my cheering, or because it may not have been doing special training in the first place, the frog eventually jumped into the tall grass and disappeared.

I was sad to be left behind so I walked into the tall grass, but no matter how muddy my boots became, I couldn’t find the frog again.

I was very disappointed, but it couldn’t be helped. Trudging through the grass, I headed back to the dike from where I had ended up down by the riverbed. But since I didn’t want to give up the chance of seeing the frog again, I took a different path up than the one I used when coming down.

At the end of that path, she was waiting for me.

She was crouching in the midst of the tall grass. I noticed her instantly, and rushed over to her while splashing through puddles of water. She was covered in mud with spots of red seeping through here and there. But most shocking of all, she only had half of her tail.

How awful! That’s all I could think. I didn’t care about how she ended up in that state or who she was.

Closing my umbrella, I gently picked her up and slowly climbed up the dike so that I didn’t startle her. From the rise and fall of her body, I could tell she was breathing quietly.

At first, I thought about taking her home. But when I realized that nobody was at home, I tossed away the idea. I couldn’t treat her injuries by myself.

Cold raindrops fell on my face. She was surely feeling cold as well. I tried to think. I thought about who I could ask for help. I ran down the other side of the dike and towards a cream-colored apartment building. Even though my running must have been rough for her, the girl in my arms didn’t move at all.

Starting from one end of the apartment’s first floor, I rang the doorbells of the rooms in order one by one. Nobody came out of the first room. Nor the next, nor the next, nor the next. The woman who came out of the fifth room immediately closed the door after she saw me. I stopped at each room one by one. But most of them were empty, and out of the few people who opened their doors, none of them were willing to listen to what I had to say. The girl in my arms was shivering.

I reached the last room on the second floor of the two-story apartment. When I rang the doorbell of the room at the end of the hallway, I couldn’t even say how fast my heart was pounding. The rhythm of her quiet breaths made me afraid that the one in my arms was going to disappear.

When I heard the doorbell ringing throughout the room followed by the sound of something moving, I was immediately relieved that there was someone at home. Out of the rooms I had tried so far, there were several with the lights on but nobody inside.

I heard the sound of footsteps approaching the front door, the sound of the lock opening, and saw the doorknob turn. The instant the door finally opened, I shouted.

“Please save her!”

The pretty lady who had come out was shocked for several seconds. She looked carefully at me and the girl in my arms. Hitomi-sensei had taught me that it was best to look someone in the eyes when speaking to them.

When I did so, I saw that the lady’s gaze rested on the shivering girl. She then did something that nobody in the other rooms had done yet.

She looked straight into my eyes.

“Please wait a moment.”

The lady went inside her room and quickly returned with a towel. She then took the little bundle of life out my arms, wrapped her in the towel, and headed inside again.

“Young lady, take off your raincoat and boots and come in.”

She spoke with such a gentle voice that I felt like I could fall asleep right there out of relief. However, it would be rude to not thank her. When I wondered what this kind lady’s name was, my eyes landed on the nameplate beside her door.

I read aloud the word that was roughly scrawled there in black marker.

“Bitch… san?”

It was a strange name that didn’t sound Japanese. Although she didn’t look like it, perhaps she was a foreigner. I tilted my head to the side.

“Come on, don’t be scared and come inside.”

I was called in by the lady, and before I had a chance to express my gratitude, I was pushed into the bathroom. Before I knew it, I was taking a shower. After I left the tub, I put on the set of soft adult-sized pajamas that had been left in place of my wet clothes.

The lady was in the middle of wrapping a bandage around the girl with the shortened tail. Not wanting to disturb them, I stared at the lady’s hands.

The lady finished her treatment, and finally I had an opportunity to express my thanks.

“Thank you very much.”

“No problem. Your clothes are in the dryer, so it’s fine if you stay until they’re done.”

“Okay. Um, Bitch-san?”

When I said her name, she looked at me blankly. I bet she was surprised at how I had known her name.

“It was written on your nameplate. It’s fine if I call you Bitch-san, right?”

“My name?”

“Yep.”

When I nodded, Bitch-san immediately let out a big laugh. I didn’t understand at all why she was laughing. But it must be a good thing since she seemed to be having fun, so I laughed along with her.

“Ahaha, ah, yeah, that’s fine. That’s my name.”

“Are you a foreigner?”

“Nope, I’m Japanese.”

“Really? You have an unusual name.”

When she saw me looking impressed, Bitch-san smiled again.

“I have an idea, Bitch-san. As thanks for saving that girl, I’ll rewrite your nameplate. Sorry if it sounds rude, but the writing on there doesn’t look very nice. My writing is much prettier.”

I made that proposal, but Bitch-san gently shook her head.

“Hmm, it’s a good opportunity, but it’s not something you need to worry about. I didn’t write it myself after all.”

“Oh, then whose writing is that?”

With only a faint smile this time, Bitch-san answered.

“Who knows, I forgot.”

And like that, Bitch-san and the girl with the shortened tail and I became friends.

Hitomi-sensei might have thought that I had no friends, but I have some wonderful friends with me.

A friend to play Othello with, and a friend to go on walks with.

And also, I have a friend to talk about books with.

That’s why, even if I had no friends at school, or even if my parents were too busy to play with me, I wasn’t lonely at all.

 

The way I met Granny wasn’t through a difficult situation like how I had met Bitch-san and the girl with the shortened tail. Not a difficult situation, meaning that I wasn’t feeling sad or hurt when I met her.

There was a hill near my house. If I walked up the hill between the trees, I could reach an open area with a large wooden house.

On the day I discovered the house, I thought it was amazing to find such an unusual wooden house and I just kept gazing at it. After a while, thinking that perhaps nobody lived there since the area was so quiet, I knocked on the door. But when I did so, an old lady with a lovely smile came out.

Ever since then, she and I became friends.

Today, like always, the large wooden house looked wonderful.

“I wonder why the sweets that Granny makes are always so delicious.”

“The longer you live, the more you understand about how to make delicious sweets. That’s all.”

Granny spoke nonchalantly while drinking her tea. While eating the madeleines that Granny made, I tried to figure out the secret behind their deliciousness. The girl with the shortened tail was sunbathing in the wooden hallway that that overlooked the living room and an open field.

While munching on a madeleine in the tatami room containing a low table, I began to tell Granny what I wanted to talk about today.

“Remember when you told me about ‘The Little Prince’? I found it in my school library, so I started reading it.”

“Was it interesting?”

“Mmhm. The words they used were pretty, but it was hard for me to understand.”

“I see. But Nacchan is a smart girl.”

“That’s what I thought at first, but I’m still not there yet. I didn’t understand much at all.”

“It’s also important to recognize the fact that you didn’t understand. The worst thing is thinking that you understand something you actually don’t.”

“Is that so?”

“Even if you didn’t fully understand it, was there a part of the book that stood out to you?”

“Let’s see. Rather than the sheep that goes obediently into a box, I think I’d rather have a cat who goes on walks with me.”

Granny smiled gently and glanced at the girl sleeping in the hallway.

“Even after she finally gets praised by Nacchan, she’s still just sleeping there happily.”

“That’s fine, or else she’ll just get full of herself.”

The girl shook her short tail and yawned. Like her, I also opened my mouth widely and yawned. As I did so, I remembered to tell Granny the same thing I had told Bitch-san about what had happened at school today.

When I started telling it from the very beginning, just like Bitch-san, Granny laughed loudly.

“I see, I see. Being made to run around the schoolyard and stay behind after school must have been hard for you.”

“That’s not true. Well, I don’t like running, but staying behind wasn’t bad. After all, I like Hitomi-sensei.”

“She must be a wonderful teacher.”

“Yes, she is. She sometimes gets things wrong though. Ah, Bitch-san and I had the exact same conversation.”

“Did you win at Othello today?”

“Just once. But even then I only won by one piece. I wonder if there’ll ever be a day when I’m good at Othello.”

“There will be. Nacchan, you have the strength to look ahead. That strength is invaluable when playing games.”

Because I knew that Granny wasn’t lying, I was very happy. Granny’s words and smile had a good scent that was different than incense. A different scent than that of other adults. When I mentioned that to Granny before, she smiled and said, “It’s because I’ve already graduated from being an adult.”

“Then Bitch-san must also have the strength to look ahead.”

“Who knows? Unlike children, adults are creatures that look into the past.”

“But Bitch-san is stronger than I am.”

“That’s because she’s lived for longer. She knows better than you at how to win.”

Granny often talked about how long people had lived. If I wasn’t mistaken, Granny had lived for more than seven times what I had. If I lived for that long, I could probably bake madeleines as tasty as hers.

After I finished my first madeleine, I reached towards the plate to grab a second one, but ended up withdrawing my hand without taking anything. I had already drank Yakult and eaten a popsicle, so if I were to eat another two madeleines on top of that, I wouldn’t have room for the dinner my mother made.

In order to forget about the madeleines, I started thinking about something else.

“Granny, next time at school we’ll have a lesson about happiness.”

“That sounds like an interesting lesson.”

“It is. But it’s also very hard. It would be fine if I could say as much as I wanted, but class time is limited, and it isn’t only me in the classroom either.”

“I see. So to sum it up, you need to find a concise answer.”

“I want to find an answer that will surprise Hitomi-sensei and that the rest of the class will agree with.”

I imagined being praised by Hitomi-sensei and felt better. Getting carried away by that feeling, my hand reached out to grab another madeleine, but I stopped myself just in time. Granny noticed it and smiled.

“What makes Granny happy?”

“My happiness? There are many, like drinking tea on a sunny day like today, or you visiting me since it’s lonely living here by myself. But giving only a single answer is hard, isn’t it? I’ll think about it.”

“Yeah, think about it. Speaking of which, are you happy right now?”

Granny took a sip of tea and answered with a smile.

“Yes, I’m happy.”

Granny looked truly happy, and that made me feel happy as well. Looking towards the hallway, that girl was still sleeping happily. I thought that right now, this wooden house was filled with all the ingredients for happiness.

“That’s right, Granny, recommend me another book to read.”

“You said you’ve read Tom Sawyer before, right?”

“Yep, it was good.”

“Then, have you read the story where Tom Sawyer’s friend is the protagonist?”

“Homeless Huck? Is there another book about him?”

“Oh you don’t know about ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’? It’s also a good book. If it’s not in the school library, you could probably ask Hitomi-sensei about it.”

I thought that was a good suggestion, so I put the title ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ in the place where all my important memories were stored.

I really enjoyed talking about books with Granny. That’s why, I always forgot about the passing of time.

What was my favorite part of ‘The Little Prince’? I liked the part about the king and his rose. It was very lovely. What about Granny’s? Mine is probably the part about the painting where the snake ate an elephant.

As we chatted, the sky outside turned completely orange. When I looked at the clock on the wall, it had already turned five-thirty before I realized it. I needed to get home before six. That was the promise I made with my mother.

I woke up my friend with the waving tail and said goodbye to Granny.

“Later then, Granny.”

“Be careful on your way home.”

“I will. I’ll look for the Huck book as well.”

I waved at Granny, who had walked to the front door with me. The other girl waved her tail as well, and together, we walked down the path on the hill. The orange path was very pretty. During goodbyes like these, I didn’t feel lonely at all. After all, there was always tomorrow and the day after that.

“Happiness— won’t come— walking— to us— , So— let’s walk— towards it—“

“Na— Na—“

Soon I also parted with my friend with the shortened tail, then I returned home and did my homework. My mother came home at around six-thirty. She was only occasionally home on Saturdays and Sundays, but would always come back around dinnertime. That’s why I sometimes wished it would be dinnertime forever, but such a thing would also mean having to give up on yogurt for breakfast.

Today’s dinner was curry rice. Even though I already had Yakult and a popsicle and a madeleine, I still ate two helpings of curry rice.

“I wonder if I should go on a diet.”

My mother smiled and said, “You don’t need to do that,” and then handed me a cookie she received from her company. After some hesitation, I topped the cookie with vanilla ice cream and ate it.

“I wonder if happiness is putting some tasty ice cream on top of a cookie.”

Sitting in front of me, my mother said, “I like mine with coffee,” and ate her cookie after dunking it into some hot coffee.

Then, after taking my usual bath, I became sleepy at around ten o’clock. My mother acted the same as always, and my father returned home while I was sleeping. I didn’t tell them about my day with Bitch-san or Granny.

 

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