Volume 2, Chapter 6: Solitude
Translator : aLy
『Sorry. Gotou-san invited me to dinner so I’ll be eating out today and then I’ll go home.』
I had just finished making a potful of meat and potatoes when I noticed the message from Yoshida-san. Although I had mixed feelings, I was grateful that he had contacted me, and of course, I had no right to limit his actions.
『Got it! Have fun~』
Having said that, he’s probably very concerned, so I sent him a message that gave him the idea that “I don’t mind at all!” I tucked my phone in my pocket and removed the lid from the pot. The hot, white steam came out along with a mild, salty smell that covered the entire room, which occupied my stomach through the nose.
I murmured to myself and took a piece of potato with the chopsticks. As I took it to my mouth and chewed it, I felt the taste of soy sauce and a little bit of the aroma of Katsuo dashi1 came through my nose.
“It’s so delicious…”
I nodded, put out the fire on the stove, and then sat down in the hallway. My stomach churned at the smell of meat and potatoes filling the hallway, but I didn’t feel like eating right away.
“Missing out on the opportunity to eat this delicious, freshly cooked meat and potatoes. Poor Yoshida-san.”
I muttered and laughed at myself. And then suddenly, as if it were natural, I sighed. Yoshida-san must be having dinner with his dearest Gotou-san right now. They’re probably at a fancy restaurant or the same yakiniku place last time.
Come to think of it, I didn’t know the Yoshida-san who spent time away from home. What does he look like at work? What kind of people did he relate to? What does he do for fun? I didn’t know much about the expressions on his face except for the ones he used when he was with me. The way Yoshida-san looks at me is completely that of a child. And the frustrating thing is, he doesn’t see me as a “woman” at all.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. That’s one of the best things about living with him, and I think it’s also one of the things that show his personality the most. But as an adolescent girl, the fact that he was not interested in me as a woman gave me an uneasy feeling.
If I were Gotou-san. Somehow, I’ve had that thought. If my body was the same as Gotou-san, would Yoshida-san lay a hand on me? Yoshida-san told me that Gotou-san’s chest is bigger than mine. I’m relatively big for my age, too. But if this size hardly stimulates his sexual desire, I can’t help but wonder how monstrously large her chest is.
I wondered what kind of expression Yoshida-san was giving to Gotou-san. I tried to imagine it, but I couldn’t do it very well. Yet, when I tried to imagine the look and expression on Yoshida-san’s face as he stared at Gotou-san, I felt a little lump on my chest. I thought that this was definitely not love or affection. But, it was displeasing to think that Yoshida-san may be giving someone else an expression that he doesn’t want me to see.
“I’m not quite sure…”
Mumbling, I brushed the back of my head against the hallway wall. I’ve changed a lot since I got here. Even I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or not. Nonetheless, I think my heart is safe, by far, more so now than before. Of that, there was no doubt.
And I have Yoshida-san to thank for that. He provided for me as much as he could and then told me to do with my time as I pleased. That’s why I believed he should be free to live his life and that I shouldn’t interfere. I didn’t want to be a burden to him as much as possible. I also wanted to help him as much as possible. I thought about living this way for a while.
I opened the rice cooker and the smell of freshly cooked rice rose along with the steam. I put the rice in a bowl that had been used for guests before I moved here and put the meat and potatoes in a slightly hollowed out plate for side dishes.
Although I thought about adding another vegetable dish to the menu, when I realized that Yoshida-san would not be coming home for dinner, I suddenly became reluctant to do so. If it’s just me, I don’t mind having just one side dish.
“Thanks for the food.”
I clasped my hands together, then took my chopsticks and gobbled up the meat and potatoes. I’m the one who prepared it, so surely it would be delicious. The corners of my mouth went up naturally, but soon it went down.
“It’s delicious.” Yoshida-san would always praise me like this whenever he found the food delicious. He doesn’t hold back from sharing his thoughts on the food I prepare. It’s not like one of those in-depth reviews found on food mangas, but I was more than happy with those few simple words.
I took a bite of meat and potatoes in my mouth and chewed them a little. Then a mouthful of white rice. As I did this in silence, I could feel the meat and potatoes gradually fading in flavor.
I mumbled to myself.
I remembered this empty feeling. It was from when I was still in Hokkaido…
“Your tamagoyaki2 is delicious as always, Sayu-chan!”
A friend’s voice echoed in my mind again. The moment I remembered it, a shiver ran down my spine, and I broke out in a cold sweat. Before I thought of anything, I rushed to the bathroom.
And then, I threw up in the toilet the meat, potatoes, and white rice I had just eaten. My throat was burning and my stomach felt like it was freezing cold. I couldn’t stop shivering.
Eventually, my breathing slowly calmed down and nausea receded, so I twisted the lever and flushed the contents of the toilet bowl. When I stood up slowly, my feet felt a little numb and I wasn’t sure if they were touching the floor or not.
In the end, even after coming to this point, I still can’t escape my past. For some reason, I always feel like throwing up when I remember that girl I used to get along so well with. Why did I suddenly remember her? Not once since I had come to this place that I have been reminded of her.
Ah, right… it’s because Yoshida-san’s not here right now. I’ve gotten used to this lifestyle, and there isn’t much to keep myself occupied right now. If only Yoshida-san had come back as he usually does, this wouldn’t have happened. I sighed as I thought about it.
“Really, nothing has changed…”
I always say that things are my fault, but deep in my heart, I blame others. I had completely lost my appetite and was sipping from a refrigerated bottle of barley tea when my phone, which I had left on the desk in my room, vibrated.
The only contact listed in my messaging app was Yoshida-san. In other words, the fact that the phone was vibrating meant that Yoshida-san just contacted me. When I glanced at the clock on the wall, I felt that it was still too early for Yoshida-san to come home, as it was only a little over an hour when he had told me that he would be eating out for dinner.
It was a bit early for him to be back. After all, he’s with the woman of his dreams. I thought that eating as slowly as possible would be the normal thing to do. When I looked at the screen, I saw a message from Yoshida-san.
『Sorry, this is extremely sudden…』
I couldn’t read the full message on notifications alone, so I swiped my finger on the screen and moved to the messaging app. As soon as I opened Yoshida-san’s thread, my eyes widened.
『Sorry, this is extremely sudden, but I’m bringing Gotou-san home with me today.』
Bringing her home? To this house? I felt a pang in my chest. A grown man bringing home the woman of his dreams. It was easy to imagine that it wasn’t just about him bringing home the girl of his dreams. Though my feelings were in haze, I’m not going to go against what Yoshida-san has decided.
『I see! Should I stay somewhere else for the night?』
I quickly typed and sent the message, put my phone down, then plopped down on the desk. Yoshida-san will be home in a while, with Gotou-san. I imagined the situation a bit, and immediately afterward I hit my forehead on the desk.
“Idiot. It’s none of your business what he does, right?”
Why is it so confusing for me? Yoshida-san’s long time love might be coming true. Shouldn’t I be celebrating? Shortly thereafter, my brain was filled with anxiety.
Supposing the romance between Yoshida-san and Gotou-san bears fruit, I think somehow my presence would be a nuisance if I continued to stay here. It would be practically impossible for me to hide my presence from a lover, and I couldn’t casually call this home. If it comes to that, I…
“I’d be thrown out again…”
When I said that, my chest felt tight. But at the same time, the smiling face that Yoshida-san sometimes showed appeared in my mind. If I’m not there and Yoshida-san can keep smiling, then it’s probably a good thing.
That’s what I thought. The phone on the desk shook again, and I lifted my head from the desk and looked at the screen.
『No. That’s not it…』
And then when I saw the content of the message, my thoughts stopped.
『Gotou-san said she wanted to meet you.』
I blurted out in surprise. I wondered how Gotou-san knew about my existence. I can only conclude that it was Yoshida-san who told her. If so, then how did he explain my existence to her? And why did she say she wanted to meet me? My mind was filled with nothing but question marks.
The questions swirled around in my brain, I leaned my elbows several times on the desk, tapped my feet lightly on the floor, and moved restlessly. Finally.
『If you think it’s okay Yoshida-san, then it’s fine by me…』
It felt like it took me more than ten minutes to reply.
1 Also called bonito dashi, it’s a Japanese dashi broth made from dried bonito fillet called “Katsuobushi” in Japanese. Katsuobushi contains inosinic acid which is one of the Umami components known as the fifth flavor worldwide.
2 Is a sweetened Japanese rolled omelette that resemble mini bars of golden pillows. With a slightly sweet taste and custardy texture, tamagoyaki is well-loved amongst the Japanese children and adults alike.
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