Missing Children (8 page)

BOOK: Missing Children
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I hurriedly explained, and Mary stopped glaring at me.

“Hmm…… Ah, I think she did write a diary……”

“Really!? Where is it?”

As I asked this, Mary began to think, “I remember that she really treasured it, but where did she keep it again……?”

“Um, above the bookshelf……?”

“About the bookshelf, right!? Did you hear that, Konoha!?”

Konoha replied, “Y-Yeah!” and began searching the top of each bookshelf.

However, he wasn’t able to find any diary.

As Konoha searched the top of the last bookshelf, he called back, “It’s not here~”

“Not the top of the bookshelf……”

“Hey! Seems like that’s not where it is! Konoha!”

Konoha answered, “G-got it!” and stopped looking.

“Um…… The garden……”

“Konoha! The garden!”

Konoha replied, “Got it!” and dashed out the front door.

“…… Or not.”

As expected, it wasn’t the garden. Sorry, Konoha. I’ll treat you to juice later.

Although Mary was still nodding in thought, there was still one place that the diary could possibly be.

“Mary, that pendant about your neck—it’s the key for the house, right?”

“Hm? Yes, that’s right. It used to belong to Mother, though……”

Mary held up the pendant, and the key made a clinking noise.

The fact that it made any sound at all was because there were actually two keys.

One was much smaller than the key for the house. We could only see one entrance, and it probably wasn’t a spare key.

It was simple. When I’d looked around the room, the only piece of furniture with a keyhole had been a small desk that was placed between the bookshelves.

“That other key is for the desk over there, right? Maybe the diary is in the desk drawer……”

No, it couldn’t be.

Mary aside, if the diary was really in a place so obvious, we wouldn’t be thinking so hard about it now.

The diary couldn’t possibly be in that desk.

But if it wasn’t, then where……

“Huh?”

After hearing my words, Mary looked back and forth several times between the key she was holding and the small desk, before making a shocked expression.

“I didn’t notice at all……”

“What……”

Ahh, just what had she been doing for a hundred years…… I began to think, but I remembered that she was the type to dance with a dragon that she’d just tried to stab to death.

There were probably things going on in her head that I wouldn’t be able to understand.

Feeling a little letdown, I looked out the window, and for a brief moment, saw a white figure dash past.

Just as I thought that we’d better call him back inside, Mary clutched the key and headed for the small desk.

“…… We’ll just leave him for now.”

Sorry, Konoha. There’ll be restrictions, but I’ll treat you to a meal next time.

As I casually thought this, Kido had finally regained her breath.

“…… heh. Sorry about that, Shintaro. I’m fine now.”

Yeah, but we’re almost finished here, I muttered to myself.

Kido seemed to have recovered from her sudden laughing fit.

Although she looked a bit tired.

“I thought that desk looked kind of suspicious, too. Really, good job, Shintaro.”

What was she saying? Was I the only one that thought she hadn’t done anything but laugh?

“…… Well, it’d be great if we can learn anything from what’s written in the diary.”

At the very least, we might be able to find out something about Mary that she wasn’t able to explain to us herself.

Maybe it would be something connected to eye abilities…. Or the “other world.”

I held my expectations high.

I was fine with anything. Even if it was something small, it could end up being a key that connected everything.

A small click echoed throughout the room.

“Shintaro! I found it!”

Mary said this while holding a dark blue book that looked like a dictionary.

It was pretty thick for a diary.

Mary walked back over and placed the diary down on top of the desk with a soft thump.

It looked like a spell book you’d see in an RPG or something, and up close, it gave off an intimidating feeling.

How long had this been used?

If there were things written about Mary, then probably at least a couple hundred years.

Suddenly, we heard the door behind us open, and when we turned around, Konoha came tottering over.

“S-sorry…… I couldn’t find it.”

It all went quiet. If I could hear the sound of my conscience taking a blow, it would probably be the sound of an explosion.

“Ah, uh, about that……”

I started to stutter, but Konoha’s gaze fell on the diary on the desk.

I started to feel nervous again.

“Oh, you found it. What a relief……”

However, Konoha truly looked relieved as he said this.

Ahh, he was such a good guy……

But at the same time, I also felt feelings of remorse. I would definitely treat him to something to eat.

“Well, we’ve found it but, uh, Mary… Before I suddenly start reading it, I think you should look through it first……”

As expected, it couldn’t be pleasant to have someone just look through the personal matters of your relatives.

However, Mary only replied, “Everyone’s pain might be relieved a little from this, so it’s okay.”

Everyone’s pain. Everything that every members of this group had gone through.

We might not be able to regain our happiness just by knowing.

But, if we could find a way to move on by knowing, then we had to find out the truth.

“Alright. Then, I’ll start reading.”

There was nothing written on the cover of the thick diary, and was simply a deep ultramarine color.

The other three crowded around me to look at it together.

Holding it in a manner where all of us would be able to see, I finally lifted the front cover.

*

The contents of the diary were things that we, who had been blessed to live as “normal” humans, would have never known.

Truly deep, and truly sad.

Inside, was the bizarre life of those that had continued to cherish something.

Even now, I still can’t forget what I felt when I turned the pages.

I’m certain that I won’t ever forget about her, either.

At that time, when I opened the cover, I, who had not even a reason to know of the things that were about to unfold, could only speak the name that was written there.

 

“Azami”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHINIGAMI PART THREE

(translated by Miss-Simplicity
)

 

Day 1014.

 

The everyday rain showed no sign of weakening, and continued to drench the leaves of the overgrown trees.

With the changing season, the temperature gradually rose, but the continuous bad weather did little to raise my mood.

With each drop of rain that fell before my eyes, the fragrance of the grass rose up, bringing with it the scent of summer.

“…… How much nerve does he have?”

In this downpour of rain, although still misshapen in appearance, the construction of my house was finally beginning to take shape.

Today, as usual, I continued to tirelessly follow the smiling boy as he moved about the random piles of materials and tools.

“With this much rain, wouldn’t it be normal to rest? From the standing of a frail human whose wounds heal so slowly, what is he being so overly self-confident about?”

I muttered this alone in the poorly-built shack (with a built-in bath), enough to withstand the wind and rain at least, that was a short distance from the building site of my house.

Throwing open the door, I sat cross-legged to watch him; doing this had already become part of my daily routine.

At this rate, it wouldn’t be long before its completion.

Although he had been a brat that knew nothing about building houses at first, now that he was masterfully working, it was quite pleasant.

Well, naturally, it was only thanks to my help that he was able to get this far.

In the beginning, it only took a few sharp words of, “Don’t you know anything about building?” to bring him to tears, and so, taking pity, I taught him everything I could.

That was the only reason that a house could be built in such a short period of time.

Even so, he was also rather spirited for a human to cut, carry, and assemble this much material on his own.

The house itself was still far from perfect, but I decided not to judge too harshly.

It had already been three years since he had begun building it.

Although to me, it had been a short time that had flown by, considering his hardships, it must have felt like a long, three years.

But, it wasn’t as if I was trying to be protective of him or anything.

It was simply that it would be a waste if he were to die before finishing the house, especially after I’d discovered how useful he was. That’s all it was.

In the first place, he seemed to be a very honest fellow that stuck to his word. I was sure that he’d leave after finishing the house, as was promised.

And then, I would be able to live in peace in this house, all on my own. It was a brilliant plan I had come up with three years ago.

Crossing my arms as I heaped praise on myself, the thunder rumbled.

I noticed that the rain had gotten stronger.

Time-wise, the sun would soon set. He would probably be returning before long.

And as expected, Tsukihiko appeared moments later.

He was covered in mud from head to toe, just as I had imagined, and as usual, I expressed my disgust.

“I made a lot of progress today. It shouldn’t be long before it’s finished. So, what d’you think? Is it coming out to your like……”

“Dirty. Go bathe.”

I pointed towards the bathroom, and Tsukihiko replied, “Ahaha, you’re right. Sorry, sorry,” before heading straight for the bath.

Although I called it a poorly built shack, it still proved useful.

By Tsukihiko’s proposal, at first it had been nothing but a roofed shelter built in a place where I could easily view the construction, but it had gradually been expanded upon to become what it was now.

I had gotten angry at him when he’d made a space for himself to sleep here, but realizing that the construction would go quicker if he stayed close to the site, I reluctantly allowed him to live here part of the time, as well.

Well, as long as there wasn’t any harm, the speed of the construction would indeed increase, and while I still had my doubts, I would put up with it until the house was completed.

Yes, I would be patient until it was completed.

And once it was, I would at last attain my own place of belonging. I would think of it as patience until then.

……Even so, was I spoiling him too much by allowing him to take a bath?

But it’d be a problem if he suddenly collapsed. And the bigger problem being that the house couldn’t be completed.

These thoughts were soon drowned out by the splashing and shout I heard from the bathroom,

“Thank you for this bath! I’m so happy!”

 

Day 1032.

 

The long-continuing rain ended, and the signs of summer could finally be felt.

I avoided the shining rays of sunlight, and splashed my feet around in the bucket of water that Tsukihiko had brought.

“Heeey, that part’s sticking out a bit~”

When I called out to him, Tsukihiko waved back.

As usual, today, he was silently engaged in the construction of my house. Today, it would seem that he was working on the roof.

In spite of the blazing sun, his white skin remained untouched, making him stand out strongly against the black roof.

Perhaps it was due to some genetic defect that even his hair was white, despite still being no young; he was a strange one.

In any case, although I had pointed out a part of the roof that was loose, he seemed to have mistaken it for a cheer of encouragement.

He merely waved back at me with a smile, and showed not the slightest sign of fixing the area in question.

“Heeey, that’s not it! Look at your feet, would you!”

Tsukihiko finally realized I was trying to tell him something, and leaning in my direction slightly, he called back, “Huh? What’d you say!?”

I was beginning to grow irritated of this frustrating exchange. Why hadn’t this moron heard me the first time?

“I said! Look at your feet…… Ah!”

The moment I began to shout at him, Tsukihiko lost his balance on the roof.

And just like that, his body separated from the roof, and gave way to gravity.

I almost couldn’t think when suddenly faced with this sight, but my mind forcefully stabilized itself.

What do I do? What should I do in a time like this?

What power could I
…… No, it was useless. I didn’t possess a power that could help Tsukihiko in this situation.

In a single moment, my head filled with thoughts.

However, I couldn’t think of any effective way to save Tsukihiko from this distance.

Tsukihiko’s body had shown no resistance, and had disappeared behind the house to somewhere I couldn’t see from here.

It was if my heart had frozen.

If he had fallen from this height, it was sure to be life threatening.

Overturning the water-filled bucket, I bolted towards where I thought Tsukihiko had fallen.

If he had at least fallen feet first……

However, judging from the last image of Tsukihiko that I had seen, was now seared into my eyes, I had a feeling that he hadn’t fallen in such a way.

“Tsukihiko!”

I turned the corner around the house, and searched the ground.

However, Tsukihiko was nowhere in sight.

Before I could think of what had happened, I heard a voice from above me.

“Whew, that was close. Hm? What’s wrong, Azami?”

When I looked up, I saw Tsukihiko hanging onto the edge of the roof with one hand.

Seeing that boy who wore a frivolous smile as usual, I felt rage, rather than relief, bubble up.

“Don’t joke around, you fool! How can a weak creature such as you be so careless!”

When I yelled, Tsukihiko paled with a smile still on his face.

“Huh?”

By the looks of it, he didn’t seem to understand why he was being yelled at.

I opened my mouth to let forth another wave of shouts, but being overwhelmed by so many different emotions, I couldn’t speak in the way I would have hoped.

In the end, the only thing that left my mouth was the very childish word, “Moron!”

And with that, I turned my back on him.

“Refill the water in the bucket. Also…… Don’t climb the roof anymore today.”

Tsukihiko panicked at my words, and replied, “G-got it!”

I was not pleased.

Not in the slightest bit.

More than anything, I was angry at myself for becoming so scared over something so trivial.

Furthermore, when I went back, there would be no water-filled bucket. It was extremely infuriating.

I decided to not speak with him again today. He was sure to be disheartened by that.

As I thought of this, my mood lifted, and my anger eased a little.

 

Day 1058.

 

“He’s late……!”

It was a refreshing sunset.

The wind that blew felt pleasant, and created a comfortable temperature when combined with the setting sun.

“The food ran out, so he went to get more from his house? And what faraway house has he gone to take food from?”

In contrast with the vivid scenery, thunderclouds were rumbling within my chest.

He had left after saying, “Since the food ran out, I’ll be going to get more, but I’ll be back by noon.” However, wasn’t it already evening?

Tsukihiko always came here from his house, with the roundtrip being around three hours.

Even when he was late, he always had clear reasons for that being so, such as the rain or the snow slowing the trip back. But even at the latest, he had never come back after the sun had set.

The evening soon became dyed in ultramarine.

As if to ridicule me for waiting in vain, the sun had set in the blink of an eye, and even as it became night, Tsukihiko still did not return.

“What could he possibly be thinking? And he was so confidently boasting yesterday that it would be completed in one more week.”

Leaning against the outside wall of the shack, I complained to myself.

I could hear the quiet cries of insects in the distance, but as usual, there were no signs of life anywhere around here.

Instead, the only thing that I could hear was the loud thumping of the heart in my chest.

Perhaps he wouldn’t be returning tonight.

It made sense if I thought about it; normally, one would avoid travelling deep in the forest at night.

For example, if you decided to set off at sunset, it would become nighttime halfway, making it dangerous, so it made much more sense to start the journey back the following morning.

Or could he be napping somewhere because it had been so nice out today……

No, that would be a little too dangerous.

Perhaps he’d fallen asleep after arriving at his house, then.

In the midst of the darkness, I came up with the various possibilities as to why Tsukihiko hadn’t returned yet.

“Well, I’m sure he’ll be back by tomorrow morning.”

……

“Or perhaps he’ll appear if I wait just a while longer.”

…… No, that really was merely wishful thinking.

However, I simply couldn’t get over the wild idea of wanting it to be so.

I had already come up with a reason that was much more logical, a reason that could be no better.

So why had I tried to cover it up by coming up with superficial, wishful thoughts?

As soon as I realized this, those realistic thoughts finally appeared in my mind.

“Has he run away?”

Logically, that made the most sense.

In the first place, it was abnormal that he would continue to build a house here for as long as three years without a single complaint, or any compensation at all.

Truthfully, I couldn’t understand what he was thinking to continue staying here.

I no longer believed that he was trying to deceive me, but I still found it difficult to understand the purpose behind his actions.

…… Come to think of it, he’d said something to me when we’d first met. What was it again?

When I’d heard it, I had felt rather disturbed. Although I hadn’t paid much attention to the exact words at the time, if I remembered correctly……

“It’d be nice if I could stare at you from up close…”

The moment I remembered those words, I felt like my heart clench tightly.

My face grew hot, and it became difficult to breathe.

What an embarrassing thing to say……!

What a fool!!

No, actually, what if he……

“…… Is he in love with me?”

As soon as I said it out loud, my mind felt like it was going out of control.

BOOK: Missing Children
12.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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