This is Chapter 4 from Volume 1 of the Kanon light novel series.
The text is from Baka-tsuki.
Looking down from the window of the library, I could see the track team about to return after their practice.
There were around twelve to thirteen people, forming a circle for a notice meeting, in which Nayuki was standing in front.
Nayuki looked serious even for things like contacts and reminders, like an entirely different person from the one I always see sleeping and “ku”ing.
She really had the looks of a captain.
“Thank you for the hard work.”
“Thank you for your hard work too.”
At last, energetic voices came into the library even when the windows were closed. The club members returned to the club building eventually. I took my bag and also Nayuki’s and staggered out of the library.
Beside the club building, Nayuki, having changed, came out just in time.
She saw me immediately and came running. Silently, I handed her her bag and walked alongside.
“Nayuki-senpai, is that your boyfriend?”
A girl’s voice came from behind. It seemed she was trying to make a joke.
“We’re cousins, silly.”
Nayuki turned around and smiled. Then her juniors bid her farewell and left.
“Thank you for the hard work~~”
“You two suit each other, senpai~~”
“Wish you happiness~~”
“Hey, is it fine to be teased by your juniors?”
Still facing frontwards, I pointed backwards with my thumb.
“We’re a sports club, but our relationship is extremely good. So don’t worry~”
That wasn’t what I meant.
I wanted to ask whether it was fine if her juniors took me as your boyfriend.
Well, we did go to school together every day, and even almost returning home every day now, so it was all too natural, so…it was fine if she didn’t deny it.
“How’s your studying going?”
Nayuki changed the topic without noticing the mood.
I shook my head.
“So it’s hard to catch up the syllabus, certainly.”
Lately, I had been staying at the library alone after school to catch up what I hadn’t learnt after changing schools, but it didn’t go really well, especially when I came across those subjects like Old Japanese Literature and English which I was originally bad at. I couldn’t really put myself into studying even when I had opened the book.
“If you put some more effort, you’ll catch up really quick, I know, Yuichi.”
“It’ll be great if that’s the case.”
Nayuki gestured her little, usual winning position.
But on the following day, the cruel exam assailed me suddenly.
“Right. We only have the term exam and no mid-term exams in the third semester usually, but we decided to have one this time…”
Before the teacher had finished, waves of chatter overthrew the classroom.
“Silence! This exam is for reference for further studies or work next year, so everyone has to put their all into it. Well, that’s it for today.”
Giving the timetable for the exam and saying minimally what he had, the teacher left the classroom and ended the class meeting as if escaping.
I couldn’t help collapsing onto the table.
“Exams are nasty~”
Hearing Nayuki’s voice, I lifted my head and nodded impotently.
“I thought there was only a term exam in the third semester, so I hadn’t been studying at all lately.”
Kitagawa, sitting at the back, also chipped in.
“It’s like a pop quiz.”
Kaori also held her wrists in dissatisfaction.
“And we’re having world history on the first day. Memorising is the thing I hate the most.”
“For me, I’m no good save Modern Literature and English.”
Kitagawa held his head; Nayuki heaved sighs; For me…
“The school is torturing transfer students through this exam!”
Then, I let go of my spirit and cried out loud.
“Oh, right, Kaori, teach me~”
Turning to Kaori, Nayuki clasped her hands and said.
“I think it’s more efficient to study by yourself than letting someone else teach you.”
“But there are so many things I don’t understand. Don’t you think so too, Yuichi and Kitagawa?”
The two of us boys nodded in unison.
“Hmm…So let’s go to the library together after school. Do you have any club activities, Nayuki?”
“Yes, but I’ll quickly end it and go to the library.”
With that, we decided to start our studying group.
“Kaori, thank you very much. I owe you one.”
“It’s too much to say you owe me, Nayuki.”
Then Kaori said she wanted to make a phone call and left. I asked Nayuki, “Is Kaori the sort of person good at studies?”
“She has been number one of the academic year.”
“She has been number once since grade one. She’s that outstanding.”
It shocked me initially, but when we talked about it, it didn’t occur to me all that weird. Kaori was mature among us, giving an impression of being informed of everything.
“It sheds some hope if Kaori’s teaching.”
“Absolutely. Work hard~”
But once we started I found Kaori was extremely strict.
“Aizawa, the meaning will be entirely different if you don’t translate this what.”
“So to speak, a guild means a community between industrialists and businessmen in the Middle Ages, which has nothing to do with the time before Christ was born, Kitagawa.”
She looked at the English I was doing and the world history Kitagawa was doing and at the same time showed no quarter in solving our problems.
Kitagawa and I heaved sighs and lowered our head at the same time.
“Kaori-sensei, that’s too harsh~”
“It’ll be a miracle if I can get a grade similar to Kaori’s.”
Lightly furrowing her brows, Kaori looked at me.
“It’s called a miracle because it doesn’t happen.”
“If you work hard, Aizawa, you can get a good grade without hoping for any miracles.”
“It’ll be great if that’s the case.”
“So work hard on the next question.”
Before Nayuki returned from her club activities, this was roughly the situation among the three of us.
I photocopied Kaori’s notes and returned home.
Having finished my dinner and taken a bath, I, though having placed the photocopied notes on the table, had no progress whatsoever.
It was better studying at the library. If there wasn’t anyone to watch me studying and stimulate me, I couldn’t bring myself to doing it.
Nayuki should still be studying, I guess.
I looked at the alarm clock beside my pillow. She should now be in deep sleep. Although I had questions in English I wanted to ask her, I could only wait till the next day. Let me just sleep now.
But then the door was knocked.
“Yuichi, Can I come in?”
In her pajamas, Nayuki walked into the room.
“What’s up? For you to come in this late.”
It was about midnight, a time familiar to me but a miracle for Nayuki to still be awake.
“How’s preparations for exams going?”
“No dice. No any exaggeration here.”
Nayuki and I heaved another sigh, adding up to our mountain of sighs accumulated this day.
“I feel more comfortable with studying with everybody at the library.”
“So now probably it’ll be better if there’s two instead of one.”
“Let’s study together, Yuichi.”
Was that fine? Akiko was here today, but for us two to be in the same room at midnight…
“Yuichi, does it trouble you?”
“No. Right, I have questions to ask you anyway.”
“Come to my room: I have a table as well as sitting mats for studying there," Nayuki spoke. Accepting her invitation, I took my notes and revision materials and left my room.
Anyway, let me study and dismiss all those weird, useless thoughts.
I had have seen her room from the outside several times, but this was the first I had entered.
The size and the accessories should be similar to mine, but a girl’s room was just that different. Many glamorous alarm clocks, bright-coloured curtains and bed covers catch my eyes. A thin fragrance resembling Nayuki’s shampoo floated in the room.
“Sit down. Make yourself comfortable.”
I sat down on the flower-patterned mat she gave me, a bit in embarrassment.
“So let’s begin.”
Nayuki immediately opened the textbook and began reading. I also decided to tackle English, the subject I was bad at the most, taking the English textbook with one hand and the dictionary with the other.
But not even after five minutes did Nayuki start to make depressed moans, distracting my attention flatly.
Nayuki rubbed her eyes and scratched her chin like a cat.
“Sleepy? Didn’t you just start studying?”
“But I’m sleepy.”
So I had been right about concentrating. But it seemed more than impossible for someone that had to sleep up to ten hours every day. While Nayuki spoke lackadaisically, her eyelids looked like sticking together.
If Nayuki slept now, I would be tempted to sleep as well.
“Wake me up if I happen to fall asleep in the middle of studying.”
“When that happens, I’ll doodle on your face.”
“Please don't pull any pranks on someone sleeping.”
“If you don’t want it, concentrate and work hard.”
But Nayuki seemed to be giving no response now.
I rolled the answer sheet and hit her head.
“I will hit you again if you start sleeping.”
Then the two of us repeated the sounds of “Ku…” and “Whack!”, while working hard.
“That’s too much. My head hurts.”
“Because you’re sleeping.”
“Because I want to sleep.”
“I want to sleep too.”
It had been two hours already since we began.
“Get a hold of yourself. You can go through it, Nayuki.”
“…Yes. Work hard. Oh…Ku…”
We continued to work hard afterwards, but as we seemed to be trapped hikers on a snow mountain, we soon thought sleep was more important than studying, so I decided to end it.
“So that’s it for today. If we push ourselves too much the first day, we can’t do anything the day after.”
“Are we still studying tomorrow?”
“Eh, yes, if you’re willing.”
“I want to do my best…with you, “Nayuki agreed with a sleepily, vague voice, “like the way we did in the past…”
“In the past?”
You have forgotten it, haven’t you?
Nayuki’s eyes spoke with loneliness but of a similar tone.
“We once did our winter break assignment together. And we also opened our textbooks in my room…it’s that year you last came to our house. Whenever I said I wanted to sleep you would get angry.”
I tried to imagine what it would be like for my young self to be sitting opposed to Nayuki like this, but it didn’t resemble anything in my memory. Memories that could almost be connected vanished like white dust in a snap.
“I’m sorry for saying such weird stuff.”
I shook my head.
What is this? My memories will come at unexpected times, yet when I try to recall them they vanish.
When I first came back to this town, the mere idea of recalling those memories would distress me.
Now having lost of the precious memories I had with Nayuki, however, I got infuriated of myself. I really wanted to recall them for Nayuki—for the feelings I had towards her.
“I am sure that there are sorrowful memories~”
Nayuki spoke quietly, as if she knew what I was having in mind.
“Sorrowful things happened. They crush your heart when you put them into your heart. They are too sorrowful that it pains you to the point to shut your memories.”
Did she reall know of what happened to me the last year I came to this town?
“These sorrowful things may have happened.”
Nayuki started to make them unclear, in a certain way.
It’s your job to recall them. I’m waiting for you to remember them, Yuichi.
During a short silence, I could hear her heart speaking.
“Work hard in your exams.”
Nayuki returned to her original face and smiled.
“Yeah. I have to.”
“So good night.”
Though sleepy, I couldn’t really sleep when I returned to my room.
They are too sorrowful that it pains you to the point to shut your memories.
Still, I need to remember what things they were.
During daybreak, it seemed to snow again.
The school in the day glittered by the white and shiny snow.
Nayuki and I ran on the snow with a speed we would almost collapse.
“We…seem to have…got in time…right…”
I couldn’t really speak while panting. For working too late yesterday night, the two of us both slept overtime this morning.
The first lesson is physical education today. As we had to change our clothes before the lesson, the time allowed was even shorter than usual. I scurried to the entrance, but Nayuki kneeled at a corner of the school.
“What’s wrong? Does your stomach ache?”
Looking closely, I saw Nayuki playing with a snow rabbit on the grass field.
“Do you even have time for this?”
“I didn’t make this, but…”
The snow rabbit seemed to be kicked by passing, unaware students, who wrecked it appearance. Half of its white body was smudged with dirt footprints.
Nayuki removed the dirt carefully and gathered the fallen snow back together.
“Do we still have time for that?”
“But this is a poor snow rabbit.”
Nayuki didn’t wear any gloves, so her hands became red from touching the snow. Simply looking at the snow makes one feel cold, but Nayuki worked with them as if she didn’t mind.
Even when it was artificial, Nayuki couldn’t let herself to leave it alone.
“What a bother. Let me help.”
It was even bothering for me to have no resistance to Nayuki when she looked like that.
“Thank you, Yuichi.”
“I’m helping because you’re fidgeting: at your own pace the first lesson will be over when you have finished it.”
Then the two of us gathered the snow into a hill, made it into an oval, and inserted a leaf as its ears, as well as putting a red fruit on it as its eye.
“Okay, we’re done.”
“But it’s missing an eye on the other side.”
The other fruit may have been kicked far away.
Nayuki reached into her pocket and took out a red glass pebble.
It was the one I bought her at the shopping district.
“Yuichi, can we use this on the little rabbit?”
“Do you rock around with this wherever you go?”
“…Because you bought it for me.”
Nayuki bit her lips in embarrassment. Rats, she was adorable. I got elated, yet I wanted to run off and hide myself.
“So even when it’s something important…the little snow rabbit…”
Nayuki stopped in the middle of her speech.
“It doesn’t bother me.”
I understood Nayuki’s personality, I should say.
“It’s a poor rabbit if it only has one eye.”
“Absolutely! Thank you, Yuichi.”
The snow rabbit we made was finally complete with the new flashy eye.
Speaking of which, there was a red-eyed snow rabbit in my last memories of that day.
But it didn’t felt like a depressing memory.
No, it might be depressing, but it was of a gentleness that cures.
No way. My memories escaped again.
“The size doesn’t really match. Don’t you think so?”
Nayuki said, looking at the snow rabbit.
“Meh, don't care about those things.”
I said monotonously to prevent her from noticing my feeling.
Then a sound came from the changing room.
“Hey, Aizawa. What’re you doing?”
It’s Kitagawa having changed his physical education uniform. Oh, no.
We dashed to the classroom. Paying no heed to the fatigue accumulated from running to school, we dashed around the school, spent three seconds to change our clothes and ran back to lesson.
“You look energetic, Aizawa. Have you finished your warm-up exercises already?”
After the physical education teacher’s remark, my classmates laughed, but I was too tired to even reply.
“By the way, we’re having a marathon today. I look forward to you running, Aizawa.”
The painful memories of the marathon thus shut all other memories I had during the lessons.
“Yuichi, you had been sleeping through class the entire day.”
Well, you can put it like that too.
“Because I didn’t sleep well yesterday night, and I got tired from running.”
“So what should we do about staying here and studying today?”
Asked by Kaori, I considered it for a while and replied, “I...I’ll pass for today. Please do help me tomorrow if I can make it.”
Kaori seemed jovial to pretend a strict teacher. “So let me lecture Kitagawa today”, with that said, she took Kitagawa, who looked obviously helpless, along with her.
“I’m heading off to my club.”
“It’s really tiring to have club activities even before the exams, isn’t it?”
“The exams came so suddenly, that is…”
Biding me farewell, Nayuki also left the classroom. I then left school by myself.
Although I was tired, I didn’t want to head directly home and rest.
My legs guided me to the shopping district.
I could feel it already on the first time we met.
The girl there was the key to call upon my memories.
“Two taiyakis…no four.”
“Sure. It’s just been baked.”
I took over the brown bag from the old man in the shop.
“Your taiyakis are great.”
“It’s great if you like it. Thank you.”
“I only know this place because of the girl who always came here and bought taiyakis for me. Do you remember? That small girl with wings hanging on her bag.”
“Yes. I’m familiar with that girl.”
The old man nodded his head incessantly. Anyone would remember a person who ate without paying.
“She usually comes during the evening. She haven’t appeared today, though.”
“Is that so?”
“That child says the taiyaki I make has the taste in her memories. She also said the first time she ate this was given by her good friend when they were small. I’m happy to hear her say this.”
Feeling good upon hearing that, I nodded and left the taiyaki shop.
Chilly wind coursed across the shopping district. I took out a taiyaki from the warm, cozy bag and had a bite.
At this moment…
“It looks delicious, Yuichi.”
As if summoning a spell, Ayu was beside me, coming from nowhere.
“Of course, my tactics of fishing Ayu with Taiyaki worked.”
“Is there such a way of saying that?”
“Don’t care about the details. Do you want one?”
Ayu took the taiyaki with her mittens and started munching while saying its delicious.
As we ate, we walked naturally to the end of the shopping district, an open space.
We also ate our taiyakis there when we first met.
“Is Nayuki-chan not with you today?”
“She has club activities.”
“The track team. Her looks don’t seem so, but she’s the captain.”
“But exams are coming, so I don’t think she can really put her heart into running.”
By the way— before I could switch the topic, Ayu struck first.
“The name Nayuki sounds nice.”
“Who do you think messed it up with something edible?”
“Why do you keep on saying stuff about Nayuki.”
Ayu gave a complicated look of embarrassment and helplessness.
“You seem to cherish her, Yuichi. And whenever you talk about her, you look cheerful…ouch.”
I lightly hit her head.
“You don’t seem to be a person who would trouble yourself with other people.”
“Ugu…but you don’t have to hit me for that…”
I wanted to end this topic quicker because I noticed my face becoming a bit red.
“So to speak, we first met when I came to this street at the beginning of this month, for you stole taiyakis and I was your accessory after the fact.
“Accessory after the fact? What is that?”
“A person who could only join because he got himself involved in a crime.”
I explained for myself.
“Ugu…I have got in good terms with the old man.”
“I know. So what I wanted to say wasn’t that.”
I returned to the topic anew seriously.
“We should only have known since this month. But when I first met you, I had a strong feeling of nostalgia.”
Ayu’s eyes widened. I took the last two taiyakis in the bag, gave one to Ayu, and one for myself.
“This taiyaki…this small girl…and the colour of this sky.”
I lifted my head and gazed at the grey winter sky in this snowy town. At the evening, however, the cloud layers would separate and reveal the beautiful setting sun. The tilted light rays during dusk painted the sky a faint red.
Ayu’s cheeks and the white wings behind her were also dyed with a faint orange.
“Ayu, I have seen you before, haven’t I?”
I stared at her.
A door deep in my heart was opened at the spot.
During the winter I came to this town for the last time…
I met this young girl at this shopping district.
When I went to buy things with Nayuki, I saw a girl crying and called towards her. And I bought taiyakis to comfort her. Then we went off together to play, and Nayuki got angry.
“You told me several times you would wait for me.”
Why couldn’t I remember? I became close to the girl from then on, and I left Nayuki alone in that year. Didn’t I play only with that girl every day? Didn’t I look at the dusk of this town every day? But this girl…along with Nayuki…
“I once said I’m searching for something in this street, right?”
Ayu didn’t answer my question.
The door to my memories was shut once again. Impatient, I grabbed her by the arms, and she continued, “It was something extremely important. Although it is at a direction different from my school, I still come to look for it.”
I let go of her arms.
I wanted to recall those past events. Nayuki said it was painful memories, so I had to retrieve them myself and not from others.
“It’ll be great if you can find what you looking for.”
Ayu smiled, but it was a smile different from her usual energetic one. It was illusory, as if it was going to vanish eventually in the dusk.