This is Chapter 3 from Volume 1 of the Kanon light novel series.
The text is from Baka-tsuki.
“Here comes the chicken and egg donburi!”
“I’m sorry, is the C set ready yet?”
“Today’s fried noodles with bread is sold out.”
The cafeteria during lunch break was as bustling as a local event.
“What a scene.”
Although I had transferred for almost a week, this was the first time I came to the cafeteria. I was stunned by its hugeness.
“What are you doing? You’ve got to be quick to buy good stuff!”
Kitagawa pulled me to the line for buying meal tickets.
“Anyone’s easily overwhelmed by this scene on the first time they come.”
Kaori said, while she lined up behind us.
“I’m going to buy set A today.”
Nayuki seemed to have made up her mind.
The cafeteria was situated at the best place in school. It was a round structure, surround by glass windows, and in the centre a kitchen and reception.
“It’s pretty after being refurnished. The food comes in huge servings and cheap. You can also buy bread and drinks nearby. It’s very popular.”
Just hearing her made me hungrier. As I look at the sample photos and the price, I pondered whether I should have the pork set or the vegetable and fried meat set.
“I want set A.”
“You’re quite obsessed with set A.”
Kaori continued to clear my doubts.
“There’s a strawberry dessert included in set A, am I right?”
That was why Nayuki was so resolved in her choice.
“But you don’t line up here for set A.”
“Kitagawa comes to the cafeteria every day. He’s quite the professional. Kitagawa, why don’t you tell her earlier?”
“I only know now that Minase wants set A.”
“Okay, let it go.”
Weirdly, I tried to stop them from getting into an argument.
Nayuki went into another line, and everyone got back later afterwards.
But while Kaori, Kitagawa, and I were holding our lunch sets, Nayuki was still standing there with her hands open.
“What’s the problem? You suddenly put your heart into losing some weight?”
I tried to be silly, but Nayuki just shook her head in sorrow.
“Set A is sold out.”
“Then pick another one.”
“Only set A has the strawberry dessert.”
“The cafeteria isn’t ‘a hundred flowers’.”
“Let me treat you to a strawberry parfait at ‘a hundred flowers’ if you want strawberries.”
Nayuki immediately brightened up. What an energetic fellow.
“So go buy something else and come. We’ll wait for you.”
“Sure! Sorry, Kaori, Kitagawa. I’ll buy the quick curry rice.”
Nayuki quickly ran to the meal ticket machine. What a bothersome fellow, I said, and found Kaori and Kitagawa poking each other with a smile of an ulterior meaning.
What are you guys doing, I said, squeezing in between them.
“So I’ll end it quicker today.”
“Okay, I’ll be waiting at the bookstore.”
Nayuki nodded with a “Yes!” and rushed out of the classroom.
“What’s that, a date?”
Kaori nosed in.
“No. I promised I’d treat her to a strawberry parfait at the cafeteria, you remember? I heard ‘a hundred flowers’ is doing a discount today, so I chose today for it.”
“Kaori, your face that looks like you know some secret bothers me.”
“I don’t know anything.”
A classmate came by while we were chatting.
“Goodbye, Misake and Aizawa.”
“See you tomorrow.”
I waved to him. Kaori said, noticing me,
“Getting used to school, Aizawa?”
“I think I can talk with you a lot easier now.”
Seems so. Although I was still not very used to school, I felt comfortable with getting along with Kaori and Kitagawa, as well as being at Nayuki’s side.
My memory was still vague, but it didn't really bother me.
“To be honest, I thought you were a fearful person, but I know it’s just a misunderstanding.”
“What does that mean? I thought this has been the first time I met you.”
“Y-Yeah. It’s just a way of putting it.”
It seemed I need to have a good talk with Kaori to clear my suspicion towards her.
“It’s about time we should leave. You’re going to the shopping district, right? Let’s walk to the gate, then.”
Noticing my expression, she quickly packed her things for leaving.
For I felt there was some more time before going to the bookstore, I spent some time at the arcade. I tried some new games, but I couldn’t get ahead of myself since I might use all the money I had to treat Nayuki.
When I left the dusty arcade, I bumped into Ayu.
She was holding a taiyaki bag.
“Is it taiyaki again? You really like this, don’t you?”
“Yes. Taiyaki is my favourite. Do you want some, Yuichi?”
“Sure,” but when I stretched my hand, I stopped.
“No thanks. I’ll pass today.”
“It’s fine. I’ve paid for it this time. The old man even gave me two extra ones because I love his taiyaki so much. Look!”
Ayu opened the bag, inside containing five hot, steaming taiyakis. Their sweetness and aroma were luring me.
“…but I have to eat something sweet later. I say next time.”
“Is that so? With Nayuki-chan?”
“Because something happened, yeah.”
“You get along well with Nayuki-chan, Yuichi.”
Ayu looked a bit lonely.
“So-so. Do you want to come to ‘a hundred flowers’? I don’t think there’s a taiyaki parfait, though.”
Hey wait, am I going to treat two people now? Oh rats, I shouldn’t have gone to the arcade.
“Hey, don’t be shy.”
I could borrow from Nayuki if I didn’t have enough money.
“No, really. I’m going now. See you, Yuichi.”
Ayu shook the wings on the bag she always wore and ran off.
When I met Nayuki later, I thought of telling her about Ayu, but as she talked about how she took strawberry parfait as her goals and thrived, I forgot to talk about it.
We had our strawberry parfait as planned.
With a clank, the spoon spun around the glass container.
Nayuki seemed satisfied.
“I’m very happy.”
Nayuki shook her body and said indulgingly.
“880 yen without tax, along with discount. Happiness is so cheap.”
When we went out the shop, the setting sun had dyed the shopping district crimson.
“Akiko might be already back when we get home.”
At the end of the shopping district, Nayuki suddenly stopped.
There was a shop selling kid stuff. It was the one I saw in my dreams the night I came back to this town as well as where I first met Ayu.
“Yuichi, look at that.”
Nayuki pointed to a colourful glass-pebbled stand.
The glass pebbles shone under the setting sun.
Nayuki was deeply captivated by the red glass pebbles in a bottle.
“That’s so good. I want one.”
“What use is there for some glass pebbles?”
“There isn’t any use. You just take it.”
I looked at the twenty-yen sign under the bottle.
“Hm, I can buy one for you, only one.”
“Yes, one. Twenty yen.”
“One is enough. Thanks, Yuichi.”
Nayuki looked like a kid who just got her pocket money and held tightly the two 10 dollars I gave her as she walked to the cashier.
“Thanks for waiting~”
She came back smiling, on her hand a small, red, round pebble. Nayuki…red…round pebble…red eyes…
“What’s up, Yuichi? Did you remember anything?”
“N-Not really. Forget it. Let’s go.”
I waved my head to shake off those thoughts and paced up. These sudden impulses of sweet, sorrowful feelings trouble me.
The setting sun had slid off the streets.
Back home, we found that Akiko had not yet returned.
“What’s wrong? She didn’t say anything about it this morning.”
“Let’s change first and wait for her.”
Not long after, while we went down to the living room, the phone rang.
“Hello, this is the Minase’s…oh, mum.”
It was Akiko, obviously.
“Yeah. Yuichi and I went to the shopping district today, so…oh, I see. It’s fine. Okay, don’t push yourself too hard, mum. We will close the door. Okay, so good luck~”
“My mum said she’s suddenly very busy and will be late today. She might even have to work over the night there.”
“She said she couldn’t let herself to allow me to stay by myself. But it’s fine if you’re with me.”
“Eh…okay, I understand.”
I scratched my cheeks. It was fine if there should be any burglars, but wouldn’t Akiko be worried about something else?
Although we were cousins, for a young boy and young girl to stay overnight in the same house…
“So let me cook dinner. You can have a glimpse at my specialty in cooking.”
It seemed it wasn’t only Akiko who would be worried.
Nayuki gestured a hard-working pose, seemingly energetic.
Oh, forget it. I could do this much.
“You would help me, Yuichi, right?”
“Okay. Talking about cooking, I once took the soup left in cup noodles as clear soup. Now, tell me what to do.”
“I’ll tell you after I finish making dinner. You only need to set up the dishes.”
Nayuki heaved a sigh and took Akiko’s apron.
I lay on the sofa in the living room, watching television.
Nayuki’s voice came from the kitchen occasionally.
“Yuichi, do you like adding peppers to burdocks?”
“I’m fine with that, just not too much.”
“Which hotpot soup do you like—vinegar or miso?”
“Will you throw cream in if it’s miso?”
“I will if you like.”
“Throw it in, then.”
When the house was filled with aroma, I couldn’t help going to the kitchen for a look.
“It’s almost done~”
In her apron, Nayuki said without even turning around. How adorable. I’m tempted to embrace her from behind and make her squeal.
W-What the heck was on my mind?
“I haven’t prepared salad. Do you want some?”
“No. I mean give the dishes I have to set up to me. I have a strong desire to work.”
“Although I don’t really get you, the plates and dishes are put in the right cupboard.”
I began setting up the dishes with clanking sounds, extremely wavered about that flash of sweetness I had imagined.
Nayuki who didn’t know my waver came, holding a earthenware pot with cat-patterned thermal mittens and placing it on the thermal stove I had put on the table.
When we opened the lid, white smoke buffed out. Chicken, mushrooms, and the like swam around the miso soup. There were also burdocks and cold spinaches on the table.
“Thanks for the food.”
I first tried the burdocks that were on the side. The taste was to my liking, as spicy as I wanted.
“Cream is also added into the hotpot, so it’s delicious too.”
Nayuki poured me one bowl with a big ceramic soupspoon. Its taste was thick, and hot that warms my whole body. Touched, I had another bowl.
“Eat more, but save some for mum.”
“Oh, of course.”
Since I came here, this was the first time we had dinner only by the two of us.
“Mum’s still working, I guess.”
Nayuki said while blowing the hot tofu.
“She’s so hard-working and great. I can’t imagine how she can work and at the same time take care of things at home so well.”
“Absolutely. Mum is the person I feel proud of the most.”
Nayuki looked at the empty seat usually occupied by Akiko.
“Mum taught me how to make this hotpot too.”
“That’s why it’s so delicious.”
“But I used my own way as well.”
Half-finished, Nayuki suddenly stood up.
“It’s snowing again.”
With that said, she opened the curtains on the other side of the living room.
Looking outside, we could see falling snow among the courtyard dyed white by the reflection of the snow.
“What a scene to look at while eating hotpot.”
“Yuichi, you’re too young to say something so old. But this really is a scene.”
It was snowing outside, yet in front of us a boiling hotpot. Seeing I was almost finished, Nayuki happily said that it was delightful for me to have enjoyed it.
After dinner, we ate oranges while watching television in the living room.
“Yuichi, the bathing water is ready.”
Standing up, I carelessly let something slip from my mouth, “Somehow it looks like we’re newly weds.”
Nayuki’s face turned red instantly. Seeing her face, I felt embarrassed too.
“Um, I don’t mean anything weird.”
“I’m off, then.”
“Please do so.”
Anyway, the bath today made me a bit dizzy.
After bathing, I returned to the living room, finding Nayuki napping on the sofa.
“Nayuki, go back to your room if you want to sleep. You’d get a cold. Hey, Nayuki.”
I gently moved her shoulders.
Nayuki then grabbed me by the hand like a spoiled child, wanting to scratch her cheeks with my hand.
Her cheeks were soft.
Asleep, She took me as her mother. I laughed, in relief as well as in a bit of regret.
“It’s me, Yuchi. Okay, Nayuki, time for you to get up. If you really sleep here, I don’t think I can wake you up.”
Nayuki seemed to have understood the situation and slowly pushed herself up from the sofa.
“I’m going to take a bath and sleep too.”
Left alone, I thought of how soothing it would be to drink milk after a bath, so I opened the refrigerator. Despite the small number of residents, the refrigerator in the house was very large, as Akiko, an expert in cooking, would put in not only ingredients for basic meals but also jam and other stuff she had made herself. In the centre of the refrigerator I found a set of burdock and spinach wrapped meticulously with a plastic wrap. Two sushi rolls were also made and neatly placed on the trolley beside the refrigerator.
Nayuki made them, no doubt. She must have thought of how tired Akiko would be when she comes in midnight or the morning after and that she could immediately grab it and eat it.
A warm sensation filled me.
Nayuki and her mother were in a good relationship, being able to support each other.
“It’s so relaxing!”
Nayuki came back after a while.
Fruit shampoo fragrance emanated from her wet, long hair. My heart was beating almost audibly.
“Hey, Yuichi, are you still awake?”
“You’re the one to talk. Isn’t it just a bit after nine?”
“It’s late. We should sleep already.”
“When do you normally sleep, I wonder?”
“Even primary kids nowadays don’t sleep that early.”
“Is that so? Ku…”
Nayuki seemed unable to restrain herself from yawning, showing her extreme sleepiness.
“You should go to the second floor and sleep.”
“Sure. What about you, Yuichi?”
“I, well…come to think of it, aren’t the lights in the bathroom flickering?”
“I’ll get back to my room after I change them. Do you have spare ones?”
“Yes. They are in the lowest box in the cupboard beside the washing machine.”
“Where did that idea come from? Out of nowhere.”
“Nothing, really. Just something that bothers me.”
I couldn’t possibly say anything about why I feel obliged to help her and her mother for letting me live in their house.
So I changed the light bulbs.
When I think about it, there wasn’t any need to change them in the dark night since we had already taken baths, but I still did it, quite obstinately, as it wasn’t nice to take back what I had said now.
When I came to the second floor, complete silence had enveloped the house.
Nayuki should be sleeping soundly. With that in mind, I returned to my room.
But there was one thing I didn’t know, at least back then, of course.
On that night, Nayuki couldn’t bring herself to sleep oddly.
Somehow it looks like we’re newly weds.
Nayuki repeated Yuichi’s words in her heart and rolled back and forth.
Yuichi and I?
But we’re cousins.
Yuichi said that only because of the atmosphere.
And Yuichi didn’t remember something important.
Something important to Yuichi and I…
On the next morning, when I woke up and went downstairs, Akiko had already been preparing breakfast.
“Good morning, Yuchi.”
“Good morning…When did you come back, Akiko?”
“Early in the morning, about two hours ago.”
“Eh, don’t you need some sleep?”
“I took a day off today. So I’m going to sleep after I greet you and Nayuki to school.”
Akiko said while smiling, and went to the second floor to wake Nayuki up.
Nayuki went downstairs, yawning like usual, and became fully awake only after she had almost completed breakfast.
After the night, it was morning, same as ever.
The time I had with Nayuki yesterday night seemed like a dream.
“Nayuki, are you still eating?”
“Yes. It’s fine. We won’t be late.”
“What you say fine couldn't be believed. Here, let me help you gulp that down.”
I took the cat-printed cup, stood up, one hand on my waist, and drank Nayuki’s coffee in one gulp.
Nayuki lifted her head to look at me. Hey, what are you complaining? While I was thinking of saying that, Nayuki lowered her head in embarrassment.
Then I realised myself.
I just met my lips with Nayuki’s through the cup.
Was this what they call an indirect kiss?
“Good! Let’s go, then, Nayuki.”
We used extravagantly simple and swift movements to take our bags, put on our shoes, and leave the house.
Tilting her head, Akiko saw us off, smiling.
Speaking of which…
“What work does Akiko do?”
While waking (and sometimes running a few steps), I asked Nayuki.
“What is it…”
“Actually, I’m not sure as well.”
Nayuki didn’t look as if she was joking. Probably she had complete trust in Akiko that she didn’t really care to ask even when she didn’t know.
“It doesn’t really matter, anyway.”
Simply the fact that Akiko looked so young despite being Nayuki’s mother was enough mystery that couldn’t be understood.
But she was kind and good in cooking, so nothing about her bothered me.
I didn’t further pursue asking about her affairs.
In this world, there are many things better off remaining unknown.