Marriage. It’s the graveyard of life.
Those who were married, without exception, proudly sang its praises.
Being happy from having someone there to say “oh, I’m back” or being able to try your best the following day as well from just seeing your child’s sleeping face…
But hold your horses.
You could already say “I’m back” at your parents’ house. If not that, then you could just say “I’m back” to the cover of your mouthwash instead. And if you’re seeing your child’s sleeping face, then that meant you were working in overtime hell.
Was that really something you could call happiness?
The eyes of those who supposedly advocated that happiness rotted in the same way as mine did, as if they were like zombies who dragged people into the marshlands with them.
I ask again. Now then, was that really something you could call happiness?
Happiness was, you know, something like, how should I say it? It’s something along the lines of this: Maybe it’s something like the feeling of watching your little sister in an apron preparing breakfast while humming a tune first thing in the morning?
With that scenery unfolding right before my eyes, I let out a yawn and waited absentmindedly for my beloved little sister to finish making breakfast.
And this was what you could call happiness. We don’t need something like marriage, yeah!
My two working parents left the house early today as well. They sure were busy. Really, they truly were going through quite a lot of trouble. It’s thanks to them that I could lead this rather fulfilling lifestyle.
Eventually, my plan was to take up the occupation as a full-time house husband, but with late marriages becoming more rampant and marriage rates dropping, that may not be so simple. There was also something about divorce rates on the rise too.
Perhaps, the lifestyle that I was aiming for may not be welcomed given the current state of society. Then again, since the dawn of history, was there ever a time the lifestyle I desired actually suitable? Like maybe during the Heian era?
Accounting for the likelihood that I couldn’t get married, I would like it if my parents could work energetically forever. It was of my opinion that they work themselves hard, from not only their legs but also their very core, to keep me afloat.
With the ambitions and the like of Hikigaya Hachiman’s burning at my chest, Komachi spun and did a turn in the kitchen in front of me. Apparently, she was done making breakfast.
Komachi hurriedly carried the morning plates from the kitchen.
“Sorry for the wait~!”
She placed the tray on the table and Komachi sat in the seat directly opposite from me. Today’s menu consisted of toast, salad, omelet… and coffee, huh? A rather American dish if I say so myself. Or maybe even Nagoya. It looks sooo1 good, yup.
Komachi started doing house chores around the time she was in elementary school, but recently, she had gotten so used to it especially with her cooking skills already far surpassing mine that she was already knocking on the door to a mother’s domain.
From the viewpoint of my parents, they were probably deeply moved from seeing their child going beyond them. I, too, felt I would be surpassing my father as a scum in the near future as well.
“Sorry for the trouble.”
“Onii-chan, you promised not to say that anymore, right?”
After a brief, super random conversation peculiar to siblings, we expressed our gratitude for the blessing of life and clapped our hands together. Expressing your gratitude to livestock was important. I learned that in “Silver Spoon”. Also, corporate slaves should receive the Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi2 too. We could eat today as well because Papan and Maman were working. Eating food without having to work was delicious. Super delicious.
But as delicious as it was, unfortunately, one of my hated foodstuffs jumped into my field of vision.
“Ah, I totally hate tomatoes, though?”
No matter how good the free food was, this was something I could never say was tasty. Komachi didn’t act particularly concerned even after I said that as I fiddled with the tomatoes with my fork.
“Yup, that’s why I put them in.”
Komachi added without a hint of shyness and began to eat her salad… Eh? Why did it turn out like that? Wasn’t that kind of weird?
Were you not taught by our parents to not do things people didn’t like…? Speaking of which, I wasn’t taught that myself. As you’d expect from my parents. It’s the style that emphasized “watch and remember”. What’s up with that professionalism training for newcomers?
This was where I should make it clear to my little sister what the problem was as her older brother.
“No, see here… Komachi-chan?”
“Onii-chan has a lot of things he likes and hates after all. Whether it’s people or food.”
Komachi carried the omelet to her mouth and answered.
Hoh, if you’re going to say something like that, then I had something to say too. It’s time that I taught you, the truth of this world. I grabbed my coffee cup, took a sip, and puffed up with pride
“It’s not like that’s a bad thing. If you just force yourself with something you don’t like, everyone involved will just end up miserable.”
“Haa… I can’t see onii-chan ever getting married.”
Komachi sighed with an indication of “gosh, so silly”. What’s up with your attitude, huh? It’s not like I said anything wrong, right? If anything, I was fully aware of how impossible it was for me to get married, so could you not bring it up? Because in order to avoid that, onii-chan right now was repeating every day about being a full-time house husband in his mind so it could be imprinted into his subconscious.
In the first place, I was the kind of man who didn’t want to marry by becoming something I wasn’t.
Deceiving your natural self wasn’t something you should be doing as people just had different sense of values.
Depending on how you were brought up, you couldn’t deny your preferences either. If marriage was where you didn’t accept those differences and forced yourself to be together with someone else, then it wasn’t necessarily the case that it’d bring you happiness.
As thoughts came right after the other, I would eat my omelet. Yep, it was delicious.
“There’s ketchup there.”
Well, duh, if it’s an omelet, then there had to be ketchup on it. Or was it something else? Could it be you were a mayo person? A mayo loooover? Or maybe Shinoraaaa3? This girl sure was Ultra Relaxed4, huh?
As I thought about how nostalgic it was for Komachi to not know something normally, I lifted my head and immediately in front of me was Komachi’s face.
After Komachi stared at my face, she leaned forward and gently touched my cheeks with the tip of her fingers.
What…? Or so I thought, but apparently there was ketchup on my face. Just say it in the first place. Your face was too close, so annoying, and embarrassing. That newly-wed behavior was making me embarrassed, stop it. I sent an objecting stare to Komachi, but she wasn’t bothered and grinned.
“That just now was high in Komachi points.”
“If you didn’t add that, maybe.”
I replied back and I gulped my salad.
She really wasn’t a cute little sister at all… If she didn’t follow up with little things like that, she’d be super cute too. I couldn’t help, but make a bitter smile. But because of that bitter smile, even the tomatoes started to taste bitter too…
Well, just like how I was aware of Komachi’s good and bad points, Komachi understood me. Family was quite convenient, I’d say.
With all that’s been said, this was basically that. Even if you didn’t marry, if you had a little sister, wasn’t that good enough? If manufactures were going to bother putting disks in a package with the actual item, then they should just include little sisters instead. They’d definitely fly off the shelves.
× × ×
I spent the typical morning away, led my usual school life, and eventually greeted the usual business after school time.
What was different than ordinary was that a somewhat different type of request was brought to us.
The bearer of the request was Hiratsuka-sensei who had placed something on the table.
Yukinoshita and Yuigahama looked at each other and then glanced at the magazine and pamphlet in turn. Yukinoshita was squinting and making a difficult face, but Yuigahama was seemingly thinking about nothing at all with a look of wonder.
Whatever it was, since it looked related to a request, I took a quick peek from behind wondering what in the world it could be.
On the magazine Yuigahama was looking at absentmindedly were familiar looking landscapes and words printed. Not to mention it was labeled as “Chiba”. It was apparently one of those so called local magazines. Eh, what’s that about, did they have special Chiba information written in here? How should I go about asking for a subscription to this, I wonder?
On the other hand, the printout that Yukinoshita was reading had the word “Project” written on the header. It was probably a project plan of the sort.
“Ummm… ‘Love Marriage Chiba Wedding’.”
Yuigahama read aloud with a deeply interested voice. What was with that angel of love legend naming sense…? It was getting dreadful because I was getting assaulted with some kind of dreamin’ feeling so I took a look at the portion that Yuigahama was reading.
What leaped into my vision was romantic content enveloped in absurd happiness. I reflexively winced at it. No way, I was definitely sure marriage wasn’t representative of all these positive images at all…
“Haa, ‘Youth Marriage Special Edition’, huh…”
I let out a voice slightly mixed with disgust.
But it looked like Hiratsuka-sensei wasn’t holding any particular negative images regarding it. When she raised her index finger, she explained it thoroughly.
“That’s right. As part of revitalizing the Chiba region, it seems like they plan on starting up a local magazine. They plan on making the magazine through a joint cooperation with the administration, neighboring bridal companies, and hotels with marriage halls and so forth in order to have the younger generation have a deeper understanding of marriage.”
Fumu. This was apparently a project that saw the occasional involvement of both the people and the government by means of a local magazine. And so the magazine brought here was a sample.
While listening to Hiratsuka-sensei’s explanation, Yukinoshita was tracing along the lines of the sentences on the project plan with her eyes. After she placed her hands on her temple, she set the papers on the table and tapped.
“…So, why was this problem brought to us?”
After taking an ample pause, Yukinoshita sent a fixed stare to Hiratsuka-sensei. Hiratsuka-sensei choked on her words and averted her gaze in a seemingly ashamed fashion.
“W-Well, that’s, you see… The higher ups at school wanted to cooperate in some form or another, so I ended up being entrusted with the task so…”
With Yukinoshita sharply glaring her down, Hiratsuka-sensei answered incoherently.
“Why our school, then again, why us…?”
When I grumbled with a sigh, Hiratsuka-sensei blinked her eye and then suddenly had distant eyes.
“A reason, huh? Well… One mustn’t seek out the reason for orders that were passed down from the top. That’s what it means to work.”
“I didn’t want to hear that, I really didn’t want to hear that…”
The small remaining desire to work just instantly disappeared… How mysterious… When you lose the urge to work, the desire to marry (= desire to be dependent) steadily increased instead… It had to be that, if everyone started thinking that they wanted to be supported, the marriage rates would shoot up.
As I welcomed the battleship of dependence at the port in my mind, Yukinoshita lightly cleared her throat.
“The problem is why it’s us in particular that should be doing this.”
“Ah, that’s right. Isn’t this, like, Hiratsuka-sensei’s job…?”
Yuigahama who was engrossed in the local magazine up until now lifted her head from Yukinoshita’s words and she looked Hiratsuka-sensei curiously.
Due to how pure her look was, Hiratsuka-sensei who was being stared at cringed and faltered. She then slipped out an “uuu” with a crying and shaking voice.
“I-I mean… I-I don’t have a clue what to do when it comes to marriage so…”
She finally broke down into tears.
…Aaah ah, they made her cry.
When I looked at Yuigahama, she then looked at Yukinoshita.
No, you’re at fault too, you know… With Hiratsuka-sensei weeping in front of her and with a helpless stare from Yuigahama, Yukinoshita flinched and let out a sigh of resignation.
“Haa… It’s not like we’re experts at the matter ourselves, but we’ll help as well.”
“…Okay, thank you.”
As she wiped her tears and sniffed, Hiratsuka-sensei adorably expressed her gratitude. It was an unexpected cuteness that was unsuitable for her age.
Hurry! Someone hurry up and take her! Otherwise, I’ll be the one to instead!
× × ×
We poured tea for Hiratsuka-sensei to calm her down and we began looking at the project plan.
So to summarize the entire story, we were given a page in the local magazine and apparently we needed to fill it with a written article.
“But what to do, huh?”
Yuigahama went “hmm” and crossed her arms.
Certainly, being told to make an article out of the blue was quite the pickle. Hiratsuka-sensei probably didn’t know what to do hence why she brought it to our attention.
But since the framework was seemingly already decided, we couldn’t really just do it without this plan. In that case, what we could do was limited.
“For now, we could just write something and fill it up with that. Aah, we could make this page a space for an advertisement and sell it off somewhere. That way, there’d be no work and we’ll even get our hands on some money.”
“Hikigaya… That’s no good.”
When I said that, Hiratsuka-sensei shook her head with a dejected expression. That’s a no go, huh…? I thought it was a pretty good idea too. It’s a style where you sold the framework through underhanded means and reaped the profits.
“The problem is the deadline… Just how much time do we have?”
Yukinoshita placed her cup on the table with a clack and moved her eyes to the calendar. Following her, Hiratsuka-sensei adjusted her eyes as well.
“It hits the press next week, so for the most part, there’s about a week left for proofreading.”
“That’s very sudden, isn’t it?”
Yukinoshita sent a fixed, faulting stare to Hiratsuka-sensei, but Hiratsuka-sensei smiled bitterly with an exhausted face.
“Work just tends to fall to the side, see… Even more so with work that’s hard to get started on.”
“Aah, I totally kind of get that.”
Yep, yep, same here. When you lost your motivation, things just gradually fell to the backburner. That’s why it’s better to get into gear and get things done as soon as time would permit and it’d be less taxing mentally. This world was abundant with those kinds of dirty jobs and the fact that there were people who got paid to do them really scared the daylights out of me. I definitely didn’t want to do stuff like that. As expected, I believe there wasn’t a need to work.
With that said, it’s not like there was a commission or anything. Not to mention quality wasn’t emphasized here either it seemed.
“How about writing up a random essay and using that?”
When I said that, Yukinoshita shook her head from side to side.
“If just that, it’d be rather difficult if the page was just full of words, no?”
“Then we can gloss it over with design then?”
If it was just littered with words, then the strength of design could make things work too. I mean, anime tended to do it, you know? Something along the lines of the fancy stuff like cool looking words and narration that occupied the space. Although it did make you suspect that maybe the images weren’t made in time, but let’s just be positive and pass it off as production words with that kind of sense.
“If we had the time, then we might be able to work with that, but that seems difficult as well. Moreover, do you think an amateur’s design could fill up the space?”
“Don’t they have past templates? Just put a number of those together and fill in the space with text.”
When I said that, Yukinoshita took a sullen thinking posture for just a moment and in that time, Yuigahama who was completely lost had a trembling expression and pulled at Hiratsuka-sensei’s sleeve.
“Se-Sensei, these two are kind of scary…”
“That just makes them all the more reliable. Although they’re not acting like high school students…”
Yukinoshita looked like she came to a conclusion despite Hiratsuka-sensei’s bitter smile as she placed her hand on her temple and let out a sigh.
“Haa, you really are quite the savant when it comes to cutting corners…”
“I put an emphasis on efficiency, that’s what.”
“In any case, that’s rejected. The order was for an article befitting of a high school student.”
Well, what Yukinoshita said was quite right. In the first place, we wouldn’t need to be involved if this was left in the hands of a professional.
But even so, something befitting of a high school student, huh…? Just exactly was this concept “befitting of a high school student” that the government office and the higher ups were thinking of? Was it the freshness of a high school baseball player? Or maybe that chippy feeling of “TODAY, NOW” high school girls?
I reflected on myself and then I took another look at Yukinoshita.
“Well, everything was no good at the start then. You and I aren’t like high school students at all anyway.”
Having said that, Yukinoshita dropped her shoulders looking somewhat convinced and averted her eyes.
“Usually the first thing you start thinking about is what to do. Starting right off the bat from how to fill up the space… Just how twisted are you two?”
After looking at how we were, Hiratsuka-sensei extrapolated with both a surprising and admiring tone. Both of us were very well aware of that so we ended up letting out a sigh.
There’s someone… Someone that was very like a high school student… A sudden realization hit me and I looked up.
“Yuigahama, it’s time for you to make use of your normalcy.”
“The way you put it kind of makes me mad!”
Yuigahama made a resentful scowl, but Yukinoshita continued with an earnest expression.
“Yuigahama-san, could we ask for your help?”
“Asking me with this kind of timing, how complicated!”
Despite finally given the chance to do some work, Yuigahama went “uuu” as she was tearing up. Well, you know, I think that normalcy of yours was quite valuable. At the very least, I think Yukinoshita personally thought that portion saved her quite a bit. Being normal was good enough for Yuigahama, really.
Yuigahama let out a reluctant “uu”, but with Yukinoshita wordlessly looking at her, she stretched out her “uuu” groan even longer and looked like she had prepared herself.
Yuigahama crossed her arms.
Yuigahama held her head.
Yuigahama was dazing off absentmindedly.
Apparently her head exploded from excessive thinking. She went “bleh” with a face that looked like her soul was sucked out. But suddenly, she clapped her hands.
“Ah, how about we accept wedding design submissions or something!”
“There aren’t very many people who can draw a rough draft of a wedding dress.”
I had that kind of idea in mind too, but actually making it happen was difficult. Having to scour the area for someone who could design dresses would be a lot of trouble too. We weren’t in the position to be checking with people one by one whether they would “wind” or “not wind”5 either.
When I said that, Yuigahama rubbed her head back and forth in a circular fashion and suddenly leaned forward in exclamation.
“Ummmm, then how about a wedding dress contest! Or something like that?”
“Time-wise, a plan to solicit submissions from the entire school may be difficult as well.”
Yukinoshita calmly shot down the idea. Given the schedule where submission was next week, whether we made it known to the entire student body or hosted an event, it really was unlikely. Even if we tried the schedule where we reduced the time for proofreading, the remaining week wouldn’t change.
Sorry to say to Yuigahama who went through the trouble of thinking things, but you couldn’t win against adult circumstances. Well, adult circumstances typically meant deadlines though. We should just abolish the system of deadlines already.
Yuigahama was still trying her best to think, but she then crossed her arms looking like she gave up.
“Um, marriage, marriage, marriage… Mmm, I guess I don’t get it. It just doesn’t feel real or something.”
“Well, it’s not something we should be thinking about at our age after all.”
For the most part, I’d be legal to marry next year, but in regards to that, it didn’t feel like reality at all. The two girls of course were in the same situation.
But a resounding, solemn tone could be heard.
“I guess so… When I was your age, I never gave it much thought too—“
Yuigahama and I went dead quiet and slid our eyes in a different direction.
Wait a second, what’re you going to do about this heavy atmosphere? It’s not the time to be looking out the window right now, Hiratsuka-sensei.
On the other hand, the only one quiet for an apparently different reason was Yukinoshita. She placed her hand on her chin in total contemplation.
“Thought about it…”
When I questioned Yukinoshita’s words that she slipped out, she looked convinced of something and was nodding her head.
“On the contrary, it’s exactly because we’re not thinking about it that if we were to take a survey, then we may be able to get some material out of it.”
“That makes sense~. It might be pretty fun if we get everyone to fill out a questionnaire or something too.”
Yuigahama went “ooh~” and clapped her hands.
A survey and questionnaire, huh? As a design to fill the page, they were reasonable solutions. Like in graduation yearbooks, they’d have something like “the best 3 xx type of people”. Huh? Could you stop entering people’s names in worthless entries like “someone likely to become a CEO in the future” just so you could be considerate to those whose names weren’t listed anywhere else? That kindness was actually painful instead. There was that, but what’s with the blank pages at the end of my yearbook? Was I missing pages or something?
Even for this local magazine, couldn’t we just settle for a completely white page, litter it with random phrases like “to the future ~to LOVE marriage~”, and include a list of names on it? If we just filled this page with “it’s you” and other things like that, it’d probably fool some people out there.
As I thought in my own way about things, Yukinoshita was thinking in a way like herself, but very seriously.
“It’ll take quite a lot of time if we tried with the entire school or an entire grade, so it may be better to do it one with just one class…”
“That doesn’t seem like a very useful sample size.”
One class seriously made it on the level of graduation yearbooks. As a survey, it seemed rather far from being an effective statistic. It’s not really something to worry about since it’s not like we’re measuring our academic capability. Of course, Yukinoshita understood that as well.
“Given the situation, we don’t have a choice. So, once we compose the page, we can add a column of the sort and it should turn out fine from there.”
After Yukinoshita said that, Hiratsuka-sensei who was watching us the entire time spoke up.
“Fumu, a column huh? Sounds like Hikigaya’s time to shine.”
There’re two others here… Yuigahama’s writing ability gave off the impression that it was something to be concerned about so it was out there. As for Yukinoshita, the things she’d write were pretty much going to be something out there as well. But that’s not to say that didn’t apply to me either because I was rather confident in what I’d write to be out there too, okay! Then again, this was originally sensei’s job, no?
I put a good portion of my soul into the words “why me”, but Hiratsuka-sensei stopped me and clarified with a clear reason.
“It’s because you’re always writing all those reports filled with nonsense. This kind of work should be a fool’s errand for you.”
You couldn’t expect someone to do something after being told off like that… What, did I not have the qualities of a superior?
It might’ve been because I made a rather reluctant face that Hiratsuka-sensei looked at me with one eye closed after brushing her hair to the side.
“Putting aside the things you write, I’m actually praising you rather highly.”
Stating it that way with that kind of smile made it difficult to refuse.
“…Um, I don’t want to write it though.”
Flushed with embarrassment, I averted my eyes and ahead was Yukinoshita who was pressing against her temple for some reason.
“Editing seems like it’ll be quite a lot of work…”
No, it’s not like I asked you… Then again, I’d rather you not do anything because you totally seem like you’d put a bunch of red marks all over the place. Let’s go in the direction of praising me more and extending things as the objective of editing!
Seeing Yukinoshita sigh, Hiratsuka-sensei wore a teasing smile.
“Oh? Yukinoshita, you’ll look it over yourself, huh? Then I’m not too worried.”
“…Well, I don’t mind if it’s just doing something like that.”
She flicked her face to the side in displeasure and straightened her collar. No, like I said, I didn’t ask you to… What? Were you the editor-in-chief or something?
“Okay, next is to think of the questionnaire, huh?”
Yuigahama adjusted her sitting and spoke. Well, since the objective was decided, then we had better get a move on. Hiratsuka-sensei turned back to us again.
“Now then, before we hand them out to everyone, let’s go for a test run.”
When we amassed papers from all over the room, all of us thought of various related questions. Yukinoshita collected them all and created an overview of the questions. She then gave it to Hiratsuka-sensei who made copies and we all wrote our answers to the questions.
Shortly after we finished writing, Hiratsuka-sensei looked around at us.
“Now then, just what do we have here, hm?”
After she said that, she quickly grabbed a piece of paper written with answers from the stack.
Q. How much do you expect your spouse to make yearly?
A. More than 10,000,000.
When Yukinoshita and Yuigahama both looked at me with apathetic eyes, they recited my name with slightly withdrawing voices.
“Hold on a second. How’d you know it was me?”
“We can tell from just your handwriting…”
Yuigahama looked at me with sad eyes and Yukinoshita brushed away the hair that rested on her shoulder.
“Does this man really think he’s worth that much, I wonder? He has no friends, his science is despair, he has low prospects for a job, and his future is bleak. And on top of that, his eyes are like a dead fish’s…”6
“Shut up. There are plenty of dummies out there in the world who’d write the same thing.”
You see it all the time. Like on those evening variety news programs that held a special on those seeking marriage. The women above thirty who attended these marriage parties would write this kind of answer, right? In the first place, the people who actually fulfilled those conditions were popular, so they wouldn’t go to those marriage parties, damn it. It was probably more correct to say they weren’t looking at reality at all than it was to say they were watching dreams too much.
“W-Well, that is, what can you say? It’s good to aim high, yep.”
Hiratsuka-sensei took my side which was rare. Thank you, sensei! So what exactly did she write on that piece of paper that she was hiding behind her back, hm?
“I-In any case! We have our questions, so let’s start getting some samples!”
As if noticing my rotten stare, Hiratsuka-sensei energetically jumped out of her seat.
× × ×
Yuigahama volunteered to get the samples for us, so we waited for her absentmindedly in the meantime. Hiratsuka-sensei was reflecting on herself while grumbling something as she fixed the answers she put on the questionnaire.
As for Yukinoshita, she was reading her book like always. She suddenly twitched her shoulders and she closed her book.
After that, the door energetically flung open.
“There were still some people hanging around so I got them to fill out the questionnaires!”
Yuigahama came in the room, with the stack of papers proudly raised in the air. What’s this? Was this Yukinoshita’s special ability or something? She’s like our cat whenever Komachi came home…
“Thank you, I’m sorry for leaving the rest to you, Yuigahama-san.”
When Yukinoshita spoke to her, Yuigahama answered as she took her designated seat.
“No, no, it’s fine with me. It looked like only the guys from our classes were hanging around anyway.”
From what Yuigahama said, it looked like there weren’t many papers filled out amongst the stack of papers she scattered about. Still, this amount was something that only Yuigahama could achieve.
“Well, even if I went around asking, no one would answer me.”
“I suppose so. If it was Hikigaya-kun, it’s likely you’d be seen as a lawless religious solicitor.”
“That’s right. I have way too much nonconformist charisma that it’s dangerous.”
I retorted since she was poking fun at me and Yukinoshita let out an astounded sigh. The echo of that sigh continued.
“In your case, it’s scary since I can imagine you as the founder of a religious sect…”
Hiratsuka-sensei uttered with a somber face. Wait, what’s with that serious look…? I mean, if Yukinoshita went around herself, I was pretty sure people would gently refuse her because they’d be too wary of her.
Even I wanted to let out a sigh, but that was when Yuigahama went “now, now”, mediating the situation.
“Anyway, why don’t we take a look?”
After urging us, we scattered the papers and began to inspect them. Yuigahama read aloud from one piece of paper from the stack.
Q. What career do you want your spouse to have?
A. I want to marry a voice actor!
It took me less than a moment to figure out who wrote that.
“Okay, yeah, next, next. Then again, this guy isn’t even in our class…”
I instantly rejected Zaimokuza’s answer sheet and we continued to look through the next questionnaires one by one.
Q. Is there anything you may be concerned about regarding marriage?
A. I totally can’t cook. Also, cleaning. Can’t do it
A. My relationship with my mother-in-law, living together and separately, and my inheritance. It’s because I have a lot of siblings
A. I’m worried about Hayama x Hachiman’s future
As we assessed the answers read aloud, I went “bleh”, feeling a little annoyed. Especially with that last one. Written anonymously or not, you could tell in a heartbeat who wrote what… We FINISH with NO HINT.7
“Easy to guess who wrote what…”
“Well, it’s people from our class after all.”
True enough, it’s just like Yuigahama said. All of them were undoubtedly answers coming from people in our class. It was probably Miura, Kawasomething-san, and Ebina-san…
For Miura, she was, like, consistent with how she normally was that I couldn’t think negatively of her. As you’d expect from the Queen.
As for Kawasomething-san… Seems rough for her, huh… She was giving off vibes like Sachi Usuko-san8 so I really wanted her to try her best to grab ahold of happiness.
Ebina-san was more or less out of the question.
“What do you think of putting these out for display?”
Yukinoshita tilted her head with a pensive look. No, you didn’t need to think twice about it, these were no good… It looked like I wasn’t the only one with those thoughts as Hiratsuka-sensei turned the papers over and groaned.
“As I thought, these answers aren’t very realistic.”
“Is that something you should be saying…?”
I reflexively shot a fixed stare at Hiratsuka-sensei. In disregard of me, Yuigahama crossed her arms and thought.
“But it’s hard to answer since we don’t know what’s good and bad about marriage life. And since there’s no one here with experience, there’re a lot of things we don’t get too…”
Well, the only samples we had were our parents and it’s not like we’re actually conscious of the fact. It might even end up different if you tried to watch them with a new perspective, but trying to become someone and think like them was extremely difficult. It’s particularly even more so with those in the middle of puberty whose self-awareness inflated to ridiculous levels.
No matter what you did, you couldn’t become someone else.
Even our parents felt the same way. In reality, having to marry and live together with someone else was probably far more difficult than we could imagine, no doubt.
As I slipped into deep thought, Yukinoshita spoke up as if something came to mind.
“I believe I have someone in mind if it’s someone young with simulated experience on the matter.”
When Yuigahama asked attentively, Yukinoshita showed a smile.
“Yes. When it comes to knowing the pains of taking care of a useless bum in close proximity, then I believe she would be the most qualified.”
Yukinoshita answered in a very detailed manner. Hearing that, my eyes ended up sparkling in turn.
Eh, you knew someone like that? Really, seriously? Someone like that would totally support me for life. Hurry up and introduce her to me. With this, I was pretty much winning at life.
…Or so I thought.
× × ×
After that, not an hour had passed and the person Yukinoshita had in mind had arrived. It was a face that I recognized all too well. In fact, from this morning even.
“So, why Komachi?”
My eyes spontaneously turned rotten, starkly different from the shining glitter in my eyes earlier. In contrast, Komachi wore a grinning smile on her face as she was standing at the front of the door.
“Didn’t you hear me? That there was someone going through the pains of taking care of useless weight.”
Could it be? No, there wasn’t a need to hypothesize because that “useless weight” was probably referring to me… Well, since she didn’t say useless person, then this was a rather mild phrasing coming from Yukinoshita. Maybe she’s in a good mood today, hm?
Once Yukinoshita gave an outline of the situation, Komachi went “hoh, hoh” and nodded.
“Please let me see those surveys or whatever.”
Komachi shot her hands out and Yukinoshita gently handed over the stack of papers. She tilted her head up and down, nodding as she sifted through the papers one by one.
“…I see, I think I have the gist of what everyone’s generally worried about.”
Quick to comprehend and adapt truly made her a capable little sister. Even the problem this time, she quickly understood it. Well, putting Zaimokuza aside, the insecurities regarding marriage life in the future for Miura and Kawasaki were understandable. Not discussing Ebina-san was a no brainer, right?
Komachi and the rest of us all reached a common understanding of the situation.
“Uh huh, it’s just we’re not sure how to go from here.”
“We can’t just put these out as they are now… It’d be really helpful if you had any ideas about what to do.”
After Yuigahama and Yukinoshita spoke, Komachi placed her index finger on her temple, doing circular motions while thinking.
“Fumu fumu… Ha! Komachi light bulb!”
She then clapped her hands, making a slapping sound. This bizarre dramatic acting was fishy… It looked like she wasn’t thinking of anything good… But regardless of my unease, the other three sent her stares full of expectation. Having received those looks, Komachi erected her index finger and triumphantly began speaking.
“For now, based on these surveys, everyone’s hopelessly lacking in wife points. We need to start off with raising those points.”
“What the heck are ‘wife points’…?”
“Don’t worry about the trivialities. Basically, we’ll shift the direction of the plan to how to become more like a bride!”
She nonchalantly ignored my concerns and on top of that, she even started to redirect the direction of the plan. Listening to Komachi’s energetic words, Hiratsuka-sensei spoke up.
“Fumu, so it’s something like a bridal training course.”
“That’s a good phrase! Komachi will take it! ☆”
She performed a bizarre gesture as if writing a memo in her palm, stood up, and loudly proclaimed.
“Without further ado… We will now begin the bridal training course! Thump, thump ♪ Wife points showdown~!! Don don, pafu pafu!”
Yukinoshita, Hiratsuka-sensei, and I shot dubious stares at Komachi, but for some reason, only Yuigahama was enthusiastically clapping her hands.
“Like I said, what the heck are ‘wife points’…?”
It looked like I wouldn’t be getting the answer to my concerns for an eternity.
× × ×
The wife points showdown or whatever was to be done on another day because Komachi had some preparations to do on her end.
And that day was upon us. Although we gathered at the club room, as Komachi had instructed, the group of girls were nowhere to be seen.
And now I had to wait for some time for them to get in contact with me.
In the meantime, I was left alone in the Service Club room and was forced to kill some time. Well, it’s not like that’s a bad thing or anything. Since ages ago, I was super good at holding the forte while everyone was out anyway.
As I was absorbed in reading while waiting for them, my cellphone phone vibrated. Upon checking, it was a mail from Komachi.
…Just what exactly was she planning to do by having everyone gather at the home economics room? But, well, when it came to requests from my little sister, the one who typically saw to them were me.
I gallantly left the club room and headed for the home economics room.
The hallway afterschool with no signs of people was comfortable. It was submerged in a silence that seemed like a lie from its normally boisterous levels.
But as I approached the home economics room, it was oddly getting noisier. I could even hear shrieks sometimes running down the hallway too.
Hey, hey… It was starting to get too scary to enter the home economics room now…
But I was already at front of the door.
I mustered my courage and opened the door.
When I did, Komachi was wearing an apron, standing by waiting for me.
“Ah, finally here. Okay, let’s get started, onii-chan.”
“Exactly what’s getting started…?”
After I asked, Komachi took a daunting pose and placed her hands on her hips.
“Starting now is the bridal training! Thump, thump ☆ wife points showdown~ ♪!”
When she exclaimed in a high voice, Komachi revealed a ladle from behind her. What’s this? What BØY9 were you trying to be?
Once she set herself up by pretending the ladle was a microphone, she did a jerking turn to behind her.
“We’ll start off first with a cooking showdown!”
Ahead of where she turned to were three people sporting the same apron appearance as Komachi: Yukinoshita, Yuigahama, and Hiratsuka-sensei. Sitting at the table situated further in were two familiar faces.
“We look forward to working with all of our judges!”
In response to Komachi’s call, one person waved his hands.
“I’m not sure why I was called here, but… Everyone, do your best!”
“Fumuu, the less you explain, the deeper it is, this setting as of late. Very well! I, the Master Swordsman, will play along with your games!”
They were Totsuka and Zaimokuza. Did Komachi call these two here? When I got confused, Komachi pointed at the table seat.
“Okay, onii-chan, please have a seat at the judge’s seat.”
So it looked like those in aprons would make food while the people designated at the seats would judge. I wasn’t getting a good feeling, but even if I was unwilling here, Komachi would do this and that to force my participation.
Just as I was instructed, I took my position at the seat prepared for me.
Frankly, I had a lot of doubts regarding this development. But amongst them, there was just one thing that bothered me the most that I had to make sure of.
“Should Totsuka really be sitting here? Hey, should he be here?”
I figured I’d ask Komachi, but she nonchalantly ignored me, and turned around to face Yuigahama and the others. Hold on, wasn’t ignoring me like that a little mean?
“The theme is a boy’s desired homemade cooking. And the first batter up is Yui-san!”
Upon her announcement, Yuigahama readily took a step forward. In her hands was a plate with a metallic lid that I sworn I had seen in a high class restaurant before
“Um, the menu is…”
In the middle of Komachi’s questioning, Yuigahama answered. At the same time, she removed the metallic lid and showcased her dish as if it was an artifact she had confidence in. But the reaction of Komachi who laid her eyes on it wasn’t so positive.
Komachi was completely baffled. Understandable.
Dripping all over the deeply blackened body of mass was sauce. There were also deep brown fried vegetables along with tattered green onions.
…Japanese? Which part was? If anything, there wasn’t a hint of Japanese in this dish because it looked like it was the scene of a volcano… It was the kind of visual where if you mentioned the Kilauea volcano, I’d probably believe it. In the first place, where was the hamburger element in it? Then again, was this edible?
Despite my retreating, Zaimokuza gallantly reached out with his hand, apparently getting high spirited from the thought of eating a girl’s handmade cooking.
“Goramu goramu. Nano, nano, Nanjiro! It is as they say of ages past. That one should not judge from what you see before you. It is likely that there exists a hidden brilliance in this dish deep within its exterior…”
Zaimokuza was unusually spouting some impressive words, but in reality, he wasn’t saying anything correct, since the words he spoke were a little empty.
When he carried the hamburger to his mouth, Zaimokuza moaned “mu!” as if he was enlightened with a divine oracle and popped opened his eyes.
When he made a super subdued groan, he fell flat on the desk. He didn’t move a single inch since then. The inside of the room buzzed into silence.
The criminal was someone amongst us…
Komachi stared at Zaimokuza and after confirming that he may not be coming back to this world, she spun towards me.
“Ummmm, since the Chuuni-san collapsed, next is… Onii-chan.”
When I became bewildered from being pointed at, Yuigahama’s cooking slid into my view.
I sank into silence when the cooking with the horrific visual stared at me.
Even if Zaimokuza was known to have absurdly, annoying overreactions, for him to be damaged that much made me unable to muster my courage. As I stiffly sat there, Yuigahama caressed the bun of her hair as she laughed, trying to gloss it over
“Hi-Hikki, y-you don’t have to force yourself to eat it…”
She averted her down casted eyes and made a feigned laugh. No, if I could, I wouldn’t force myself at all. They did tend to say “where might is master, justice is servant” after all.
But even so, I couldn’t just throw in the towel here. I had to give my gratitude for being given life. Not to mention Zaimokuza already fulfilled the victim quota and, well, also, um, you know. It’s not so often this kind of opportunity came along.
Aah, besides, there was no way I could allow Totsuka to consume any of this.
In order to charge up my courage, I sent a look to Totsuka who was beside me.
“Hachiman? Is something wrong?”
As if my abrupt look to Totsuka was strange, Totsuka tilted his head and smiled.
I want to protect this smile…
Right now, the only one who could protect it was me. Might’s coming through, so get lost justice.
With a strong will, I took my chopsticks. I then grabbed the plate and threw everything into my mouth.
Crush, bite, gulp. In just that one bite, the curtains to the Koshien10 of Hellish Tastes were raised.
It felt like Yuigahama was looking at me with teary eyes and quite frankly, I was the one in tears, but that wasn’t something I could possibly say out loud.
With everyone watching me with abated breath, I somehow managed to swallow everything.
The home economics room filled with silence and only the sound of the chopsticks I put down reverberated.
“Yeah… Well, how should I say this? If you prepare yourself and forcibly eat it, it’s not something you could not eat…”
It had zero human points, let alone wife points.
“Your comment’s too weird!”
Yuigahama let out a heartbroken scream, but if you’re going to say something like that, try a little harder… Because I most certainly did.
“I’m not sure what to think if you’re saying that with a blue face like that…”
Yukinoshita looked somewhat fed up and astonished and Komachi quickly lined up next to her.
“Next is Yukino-san!”
With Komachi urging her, Yukinoshita carried over her cooking. In the same manner as Yuigahama’s plate from earlier, her plate was covered with a metallic lid of the sort.
“Please present your menu!”
“I made paella…”
Upon lifting up the cover, on the plate was beautiful paella. Yuigahama raised her voice in admiration at what she had looked at.
“Oh~, Italian cooking.”
“Paella’s a Spanish dish.”
“Eh? But it was at Saizeriya11… Eh?”
Yuigahama was confused when Yukinoshita snappily corrected her. I understand. Saizeriya certainly did offer paella. The Mediterranean Sea Pilaf had (paella) written next to it after all.
That paella was brought to us judges. Seafood was the star of dish, lavished with meat and vegetables and with the rice simmered in saffron also appearing fresh, the distant Mediterranean Sea breeze ascended upwards.
…Well, not that I had ever been to the Mediterranean Sea though.
Since I completely devoured all of Yuigahama’s cooking earlier, I gave the honors to Totsuka. If it’s Yukinoshita’s food, then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
When I gave way to Totsuka, he perked up with a smile and quickly grabbed his spoon. He then took a bite.
“Woow, Yukinoshita-san, you really are a good cook!”
“It’s not that big of a deal. It’s simply a matter of getting used to it.”
There was a part of Yukinoshita who truthfully thought so, showing no concern over embarrassment of the sort. She said so in a calm manner like always.
Following Totsuka, I grabbed a bite myself. The rice was cooked properly, the balance of ingredients was good, and even my appetite was getting stimulated again. No matter what it was, I had not a single complaint. It’s just that it didn’t feel very bridal…
“It has a normal good taste that it’s hard to comment on…”
I thought there wasn’t particularly too much to say and Yuigahama raised her hand.
“Me too! I want to eat some too!”
“Okay, okay, let’s all help ourselves to the dish after we finish~!”
Komachi interrupted and gently kept Yuigahama at bay.
“Now then, next is Komachi. Here you go, meat and potato stew.”
She wasn’t acting particularly presumptuous when she presented her food, but the one who was the most knowledgeable when it came to Komachi’s cooking was none other than I. Just like always, it was delicious. Then again, why the heck was she participating in this showdown? There wasn’t any meaning in increasing her wife points because she wasn’t getting married any time soon.
“Yeah. Well, you know. It’s like always. Also, you’re trying to show off too much with your selection.”
“Kuh, our closeness backfired…”
Komachi clicked her tongue as she spoke and Totsuka promptly followed up.
“But it’s really good though?”
Because Totsuka had uttered so straightforwardly that his words were filled with truthful warmth, causing Komachi to shed tears.
“Uuu, Totsuka-san, you’re such a good person… Your wife points are so high…”
“I feel the same way too…”
Frankly, he was without a doubt the top runner here. Komachi and I let out sighs, each of our sighs having a different meaning.
But Komachi shook her head and came back to her senses.
“Hah, not good, not good. Now, for the star performer, we have Hiratsuka-sensei.”
Hiratsuka-sensei wore a daring smile, full of confidence, and proudly stepped forward as if meeting the expectations of how she was presented.
“What did sensei cook?”
Tada! Came off the silver cover and what appeared was a plate full of brown colored meat. A large helping of meat and bean sprout along with a large bowl of white rice.
The meat, meat, and meat that bared forth its instincts as if a violent, animalistic nature was awakened. And then, the savory aroma that stimulated the appetite, completely squeezing out the feeling of hunger.
This combination was something I was familiar with. There was no doubt about it.
“Don’t tell me, this is!? Only the meat and bean sprouts are cooked, with the entirety of it being covered in yakiniku sauce!”
“Can you really call that cooking…?”
Yukinoshita said so in doubt, but Hiratsuka-sensei ignored her and shot me a question, full of confidence.
“How about it, Hikigaya?”
How vexing! But I couldn’t help but feel it! (The deliciousness)
I regret to say, but I had no choice but to acknowledge it…
“Delicious… It’s super delicious… The yakiniku sauce is awesome…”
Hiratsuka-sensei popped a vein at her brow and glared at me. Uh, but, if you’re going to call that cooking, even I could make it… Menu in mind, the wife points were really low, you know?
× × ×
Ultimately, unable to gauge their wife points with just cooking, we proceeded on to the next stage of the contest.
“Now then, next is the ‘What would you do at a time like this?’ wife quiz!”
When she announced with a loud voice, urging the girl group with “please have a seat” to the long table and not explaining anything, they sat in a row. On the other hand, Totsuka still remained sitting at the seat for the judges. Zaimokuza’s corpse was left as is. We couldn’t object to Komachi’s instructions since we had requested her help as the Service Club, so we had no choice but to comply obediently.
“Starting now, I’ll be asking everyone questions that will gauge your wife points. Everyone should write their answers as if they were a wife.”
Fumu, so in other words, she was doing a case study by means of a quiz, huh? So those who sat at the long desk would be the answering participants. I see. If that’s how things were going to be, where I should sit was all but natural.
“So without further ado… Er, what are you doing there, onii-chan…?”
“I’m aiming to be a full-time house husband after all.”
Komachi asked me having noticed my seat relocation, but my answer was very much simple. Since I had to act as the judge earlier in the cooking showdown, I couldn’t participate, but I was confident that I had far more wife points than the girls here. I’ll teach them a thing or two about what it means to be a wife.
“Hachiman, do your best!”
When Totsuka waved at me with a smile from the judge’s seat, Komachi gave up going “oh well” and smiled.
“Well, whatever. Okay, let’s get started~. Question: ‘Your mother-in-law lodged a complaint regarding your cleaning. What do you do at a time like this?’ Please write your answer on the flip board!”
Ah, so we had a flip board, huh? There certainly was one situated at where our hands were. Just when did Komachi prepare these…?
I quickly wrote down my answer without batting an eyelash. Having some extra time, I checked with how the others were doing. Yuigahama was groaning while Yukinoshita began writing her answer smoothly. Hiratsuka-sensei was mumbling something as she scribbled away.
After confirming that everyone finished, Komachi spoke up.
“Now then, your answers, bam!”
The boards were flipped over one by one as Komachi pointed at us sequentially.
The first one was Yuigahama. Yuigahama went “here we go” and flipped over her board.
“Say sorry and do it over.”
It was an answer typical of Yuigahama. On TV, mother-in-laws tended to shut down any form of apology if you never got along, so I couldn’t say that was a very good thing… Seemed like she’d have it tough…
After her was Yukinoshita who flipped her board with a disinterested expression.
“Explain from the start how reasonable my cleaning methods are.”
Aah, this gave off THE YUKINOSHITA vibes. It looked like she’d be okay since she’d be able to shut down any arguments from her mother-in-law. In place of that, rather than her mother-in-law getting refuted, it’d be her husband who’d get refuted over and over again, so it seemed rough… For those around her.
Furthermore, Hiratsuka-sensei went “fufu” with a smile and answered.
“Talk with my fists.”
Mmm. Engage in physical conversation, huh? It must be that. So it was something like having duels for brains and basically settling all problems with a duel.12 If you were to give an extremely positive rationalization of this answer, then it meant gaining acceptance through confrontation and forming a truce. If I were to explain it with common sense, then it was more like “what in the world was this person saying?”
And then, it was finally my turn.
I quickly flipped my board over.
“Make the seasoning extra strong in her miso soup.”
You could relieve yourself of some stress by not forgetting to take your revenge. Moreover, if you redirected her attention to a new problem, she wouldn’t have any more complaints regarding your cleaning. It was one of those getting revenge in an unlikely place kind of things. It was just a question of adding more salt to the wound until it was my victory…
“Hoooh~, very individualistic answers I see… For the time being, sensei and onii-chan are out.”
Komachi took a sweeping look of the answers and made an “x” with her fingers and made a wry smile. No good, huuuh. Well, I guess adding extra salt might be a bit too unrealistic. Then making it sweeter would work. A sweeter taste would definitely be more noticeable.
Still, there really wasn’t anything worthwhile from answers in a quiz like this… As I thought that, Komachi revealed a flip board from behind her back. It looked like she had a model answer prepared.
“A Komachi-like model answer would be this. ‘Complain to my own mother and try harder tomorrow.’”
“It’s such an oddly realistic answer!?”
Yuigahama answered with a slightly retreating voice. You got that right. It’s kind of like being overwhelmed with that feeling of trying hard as you suffered. What? Was there someone a real handful in the family or something?
Despite the heaviness of the answer, the person in question didn’t seem too bothered and cheerfully continued on.
“Let’s keep going~. Here’s the next question.”
When she said that, Komachi spoke with a tone of acting.
“Tomorrow is Christmas. But no thanks to your good for nothing husband, this month is a bit tight…”
Looking at the sniffing Komachi whose expression sank into gloominess, Yukinoshita murmured.
“Oh, it’s as if that’s like a certain someone.”
“That’s so true.”
“Well, there are men like that in the world after all. The women who support them are what you call good wives.”
In response to Yuigahama’s big nod, Hiratsuka-sensei answered seriously. Pardon me? Could you please stop looking at me as you say that?
Because the three spoke unanimously, they had interrupted Komachi in the middle of her reading. She placed her hands on her waist and frowned.
“I’m still in the middle of my question~… In that situation, what would you do about your child’s present?”
When she finished reading the question this time, Komachi cutely tilted her head. That being the signal, everyone began writing down their answer.
The ticking sounds of the long hand of the clock and the squeaking sounds of moving pens overlapped. Once a certain amount of time had passed, Komachi spoke up.
“Tiiiime’s uuup. Now then, your answer, bam!”
Just like earlier, Yuigahama was first.
Did their grades drop or something? Well, that was probably the safest option. And so, since the kids would be completely more knowledgeable about the price of the toys than the adults, they’d surely realize there was something going on in regards to the drop in grades, right…? The result was that she might raise children that would be very mindful of the mood.
Next was Yukinoshita.
I see. It also depended on what book was given, but a great reading experience was a bliss that couldn’t be replaced for anything else. As far as cost performance was concerned, it was satisfactory. It was a very befitting answer of an avid reader.
Following her was Hiratsuka-sensei with a smile.
“A Blu-ray box of a classic anime.”
That’s just something you want, isn’t it?
It was now my turn.
“Explain that Santa doesn’t visit naughty kids.”
…This was something my dad told me, I believe. That bastard… Just what were you saying to me as young as I was back then…? While it was fine that mom prepared something for me afterwards, my young heart was already resolved to hunt down Santa…
Looking at everybody’s answer, Komachi tapped on her temple.
“Aaahn, it looks like everyone didn’t pay close attention to the question. The core of the question lies with how to deal with the problem.”
Komachi erected her finger and said. Apparently it wasn’t a question about what kind of present to give to the child.
“That being said, a Komachi-like correct answer would be this.”
Komachi presented her board and read it aloud.
“Leave it to their grandparents.”
“Is that really fine…?”
Yukinoshita was astounded and looked at Komachi with cold eyes, but Komachi clicked her tongue as she waved her finger.
“It’s okay. Grandpa and grandma are so super sweet to their grandchildren. Source is Komachi.”
When I looked at Komachi who pointed at herself, I suddenly remembered. Speaking of which, that’s right. Back when I was a confused little child, both grandma and grandpa were very kind.
“Well, that’s true. But they tend to be sweeter with the younger one.”
“The melancholy of the eldest, huh?”
Hiratsuka-sensei laughed and said it in a teasing way. No, no, it wasn’t that melancholic at all. I mean even now, the one who pampers Komachi the most in my family was probably me anyway.
And the person in question, Komachi, looked at the judge’s seat.
“Umm. Having seen the answers up until now, what are your thoughts so far Totsuka-san?”
Once asked, Totsuka who had been watching the entire time thought about what to say and made a sudden smile.
“Being given a book for a present seems like an amazing experience.”
Alright, I know what present I’ll be going with this year.
Let’s go with a book. What kind of book should I get, hm…? Since he’s in the tennis club, then something related would be good. Or maybe a classic fairy tale or a novel or even a legend. My recommendation would be “The Little Prince”. In that case, I’ll stop midway and go with “The Prince of Tennis”!
It looked like the interview with Totsuka ended as I was thinking. Komachi once again began directing.
“Okaaay, thank you very much. Well, well, this is the last question.”
When she said that, Komachi started up a little play.
“’Recently, my husband has been coming home late… Could it be an affair?’ What would you do at a time like this? Now, please put your answers on the flip board!”
At the participant seats, Yuigahama groaned over and over, Yukinoshita was quiet pretending not to recognize anything except for broadly grinning and Hiratsuka-sensei was blabbering about something while molding her hands into a fist while actively making noises with her fingers. This was a little late, but I really didn’t like sitting here…
I wrote down my answer on the board hoping for this to hurry up and end already and Komachi announced the end of the thinking time.
“And time’s up~. Now then, let’s see all your answers at once.”
Komachi extended both her hands outwards and then everyone simultaneously spoke their answers.
The way Yuigahama spoke was already worried.
“Hunt him down.”
Yukinoshita’s tone was sharp like an edged tool.
“The fist of punishment.”
Hiratsuka-sensei clutched her fist as she answered.
“Get consolation money, child support and divorce.”
When I presented my board and spoke, Komachi nodded as she looked at each one.
“Looks like everyone’s presented their answer~.”
I emulated Komachi as she examined the answers one by one and looked at every other answer. And my eyes stopped on one of them.
“What the heck do you mean by “hunt him down”… That’s super scary…”
When I said that, Yukinoshita tilted her head with a blank face.
“Oh, I must have mistaken it for question him. However, it boils down to the same thing.”
She then made a smile. Scary. What’s with this person? Scary. It wasn’t just me because Totsuka and Yuigahama and of course Hiratsuka-sensei were shocked too.
But it looked like it wasn’t something entirely out of the question as an answer for Komachi.
“Putting aside onii-chan’s answer, everyone else’s is on the right track, buuut a correct Komachi-like answer would be something like this.”
She then raised her own flip board.
“’Believe in him.’ This has a lot of Komachi points.”
The girl group let out an “ooh” in admiration as if she concluded things on a good note of the sort. To be in middle school and have this awareness, or rather conversely, it’s exactly because she was in middle school that she was watching a dream. Either way, with this kind of answer, once she was betrayed, she’d end going through a terrible experience.
I didn’t think at all that believing was necessarily the one solution to every situation. Not believing, in other words, suspecting was a self-defense mechanism of your own heart. The act of abandoning that form of defense was no different from hurting yourself.
“Is that really okay?”
When I asked her with eyes full of doubt and caution, Komachi cutely tilted her head.
“Mmm, the person Komachi likes would probably be someone who’d look like he wouldn’t get involved in an affair. And since he’d be honest to a fault as well as a hinedere13-san, I wouldn’t have to worry too much.”
“…Is there really someone like that out there?”
Is she an idiot…? In the first place, an incomprehensible guy who was weirdly honest to a fault and was twisted was definitely no one decent. Aim for a better guy.
“You’d be surprised.”
Komachi showed an embarrassing smile, but she immediately jumped right back into her usual high spirited self.
“Now then, it’s the long awaited final match!”
She raised her voice and with that, it was finally the start of the closing heart thumping wife points showdown.
Like I said, what the heck are wife points?
× × ×
I sat absentmindedly in the home economics class, being forced to wait for quite a bit of time.
It looked like Totsuka was pulled away from the middle of his club activities so he went back. Just before leaving, he mentioned what a bummer that he wouldn’t get to see everyone in wedding dresses, but I was more bummed out by the fact that I wouldn’t get to see Totsuka in a wedding dress instead… No, given the occasion, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a tuxedo either! In fact, I want to see him in one!
As I was engrossed in my lone, mute emotions, the door clattered open and Komachi came in.
When I looked, she was in a wedding dress.
It was an unorthodox dress with a mini-skirt. As for the cloth, instead of being pure white, it had a yellowish huge, making prominent a healthy, bright, and lively cuteness.
With her new appearance, Komachi’s spirits were higher than even before.
“Happy, Embarassing Bride Outfit Showdown~! And so that being the case, Komachi changed into a dress too. Onii-chan, looky, looky!”
“Yeah, yeah, you’re the cutest in the world.”
When I said that, Komachi shoulders made a clacking sound when they dropped and the motivation in her voice vanished.
“There it is. Saying whatever he wants again. Well, whatever. Now then, we’ll start off the show with Yui-san.”
After Komachi made her announcement when she faced the door, the sound of the door timidly clattering open could be heard.
Yuigahama peeked in only with her head and looked around the room restlessly. Finally looking like she made her resolve, she entered the room.
The cloth of her dress was pink in color, an appearance with a brilliant glamor which served to complement Yuigahama’s hair color. The short skirt was fluffed out and surpassing what I had thought, it made it more conspicuous how slender her legs were. The expanded skirt wrapped around her waist and her boldly exposed chest area with the glimmering spangle and lamé was bright. Frankly, it was hard to look at her directly.
Whether it was because she was nervous or she wasn’t used to wearing the dress, her struts were awkward and stiff. When our eyes met, her cheeks turned flush red as if being in the wedding dress was really embarrassing after all. I could sense her embarrassment as well and it was starting to infect me too, so please stop glancing at me…
When Yuigahama finally made her way beside Komachi, she moved behind Komachi as if using her as a shield.
“Um… Ko-Komachi-chan, where’d you get this?”
“Ahaaan, it’s a secret ♪.”
Komachi winked and brushed it off. She probably borrowed them from the rival companies involved in the plan. She was my little sister that didn’t leave a nook or cranny unturned.
“Okay, okay, next is Yukino-saan!”
When Komachi called her name, the door opened without a sound. And then, gracefully entering the room without even the slightest sound of footsteps was Yukinoshita.
Everyone instinctively held their breaths.
The pure white dress was elegantly arced in such a way that served to emphasize the lines of her body. Her bosom gave presence to the flower decorations and the gentle-sloping curves lustrously stretched around her feet like the fins of a mermaid. From her head, the long, long laced veil hung from her head resembled a blanket of piling snow atop her jet black hair. The dress didn’t try to hide her pure white skin. In fact, it was kindly encompassing her as if to promote that beauty.
Behind the covering of the veil, Yukinoshita closed her eyes and slowly walked in a manner to conceal her face.
“…Why me as well?”
I could hear that mutter escape from her veil.
She seemed rather upset. Even if she couldn’t be seen acting tough, it was easy to tell from her aura, and I mean just her aura. When her veil lightly fluttered, you could see a glimpse of her cheeks mixed with discontent and flushed bright red from embarrassment.
“Ooh, she is most certainly upset… Not even the veil can hide her true nature…”
“…What was that?”
A glare packed with coldness and intensity pierced me from behind the veil. It had to be that. Just like how the white kimono had the bridal headdress, the veil of the dress should be expected to have a similar effect. Although it seemed like it didn’t really have that effect for Yukinoshita.
Yukinoshita lined up next to Yuigahama as well and Komachi observed the two with a look of satisfaction. There was just one more person left in this Bride Outfit Showdown.
“Now then, for our final contestant, Hiratsuka-sensei~♪!”
Compared to how Komachi presented the other two, she seemed more relaxed this time. It made me curious as to why it sounded like she was saying final loser instead of final contestant.
But in spite of that soft announcement, the door slowly opened. In that instant, tranquility visited the room that made everyone forget to even breathe.
Easing into the home economics room was a beautiful woman with her eyes gracefully closed, taking single steps inwards while avoiding trampling on the long, continuing veil.
When Komachi went out to the front, the one who called her out was surprised herself and grew stiff.
While bewildered, Komachi squeezed out a single word. No, I was thinking the same thing…
Her black hair that was always straight was tied into a bundle, consolidated together at a slightly high position. The interweaving laces that followed from there lightly wrapped around her exposed back but even so, it was unable to hide the beautiful curvatures that extended from her nape to her shoulder blades.
The dress had an orthodox, slightly classic style and that alone emphasized the beauty of every single part of her body. Her snow white gloves were thin that stretched to her fingers and the long skirt that expanded starting from her waist which acted as a simple tube top that decorated her hips emphasized the fine details of her skin and her abundant bosom.
“Hi-Hiratsuka-sensei. So pretty…”
“She should just look like that all the time…”
Yuigahama and Yukinoshita raised their voice in admiration and surprise, being moved from the sight before them despite being of the same sex.
“Hikigaya… How is it? I’m pretty good, aren’t I?”
Hiratsuka-sensei turned towards me and made a boastful laugh. It was an innocent smile that looked like she succeeded in playing a prank, filling in the missing piece of the dress.
It would’ve been preferable had I said something tactful at the moment, but apparently my eyes were absorbed in her appearance. When I noticed I was silent, I scratched my cheeks to try to hide my embarrassment.
“A-Aah… Well… Um… You’re very pretty.”
When I managed to say something, Hiratsuka-sensei blinked her eyes several times.
“…I-I see… T-Thank you.”
Hiratsuka-sensei buried her face in her bouquet and mumbled. The way she was trying to hide her redness that reached up to her ears didn’t coordinate with her age at all that it made her adorable. Really, just why couldn’t she get married…?
With Yuigahama, Yukinoshita, and Hiratsuka-sensei gathered, this was the end of the Bride Outfit Showdown. With the final showdown over, Komachi announced with a loud voice.
Komachi clapped her hands as she said that and we followed in suit and gave applause as well.
She nodded in satisfaction and Komachi made a sweeping look of the home economics room.
What she looked at were the piling plates in the sink, the flip boards and signing pens, and then, the girls in wedding dresses.
After seeing everything, Komachi made a wry smile.
“Aah, everyone was totally no good~… The winner’s pretty much Koma…”
Just as she was about to finish speaking, there was a stare filled with pressure coming from somewhere. A strong will that wouldn’t allow her to say any further could be felt. I looked in the direction of where I could feel that abnormally strong will and Hiratsuka-sensei was exuding a serious murderous intent.
Even so, Komachi attempted to finish her words.
“T-The winner is…”
As if trying to run away from that stare, Komachi looked away from Hiratsuka-sensei. A sweat fell from her brow.
“The, winner, is…”
In the face of the overwhelming intensity, Komachi faltered and her shoulders went clack as they dropped. She continued the rest of her words with a powerless voice that sounded like it would disappear.
“T-The winner is… Hiratsuka-sensei, right…”
When she spoke fragmentally, Hiratsuka-sensei made a bright smile. This person’s way too happy here…
“Mm? I-Is that so? Well, ahahaha! Wow, to think I’d be the winner, huh! I wonder if marriage Is just around the corner, hm…?”
Yuigahama made a “tahaha” strained laugh to the shamelessly blurting Hiratsuka-sensei and Yukinoshita was silently amazed and let out a brief sigh. Komachi approached me with a sobbing voice going “fuee”, sniffed her nose, and wiped her tears.
“I-I was scared…. I was sooo scared…”
As I patted Komachi’s head while cheering her up, something suddenly came to mind. That’s right. It’s because she had a part of her that was like this that Hiratsuka-sensei couldn’t get married, huh…
Looking at Hiratsuka-sensei who was celebrating by herself, Yuigahama clapped her hands as if she thought up of something.
“Ah, since we went through the trouble, let’s take a picture together!”
“Ah, that sounds nice! C’mon, onii-chan.”
Komachi who heard the suggestion suddenly made a smile. I knew she was faking your tears, but onii-chan wanted her to try just a little bit harder… And then, since we had to take the picture, she pushed on me from behind.
When I was pushed to the front of the window where the glow of the setting sun began to shine through, standing there was Yukinoshita moved to the side as if trying to avoid me. She then tried to fade out from there.
Although she said that, Yuigahama who was waiting in her path caught her.
“C’mon, Yukinon too.”
“Don’t cling onto me…”
Yuigahama pulled Yukinoshita along right towards the middle. She then pulled me closer by my sleeve.
“Don’t pull on me…”
She made a pleasant smile, further pulling on Yukinoshita’s arms and mine.
“We’re all ready to go here! I’m taking the picture!”
When Komachi finished setting the camera on her cellphone, likely using an automatic timer, she flew towards us.
“This isn’t so bad every now and then, right?”
Hiratsuka-sensei said with a gentle tone. She stood next to me and gently placed her hand on my shoulder. Well, if it’s every now and then. Ah, I’ll send the picture to Totsuka afterwards.
And then, the sound of the shutter echoed in the evening home economics room.
× × ×
It was late at night on Friday, a few days since the Wife Points Showdown.
We had our dinner and the only ones remaining in the living room was Komachi and I, my parents already having gone to sleep.
I was slumped on the sofa looking at my laptop while listening to the sound of Komachi washing the dishes in the kitchen. It completely went over my head, but we had to write a column that would be used on the page of the local magazine. Starting tomorrow was a weekend so if I concentrated late into the night, I should be able to make some progress.
Mammals were supposedly nocturnal beasts by nature. Since I was a mammal as well, I would be much more active during the night. Really, I want to do some breastfeeding.
I wrestled with the manuscript that I had yet to write a single word for, wondering what I should write for the thing they called a column. There was barely any time left until the deadline. Just what the heck did we do up until now, but that’s not it, seeee? Nothing’s just coming to mind, seeee? Do you understand this feeling, hm? You probably don’t riiiight? Because I totally don’t. Whatever, let’s just hurry up and write something.
I would repeatedly write and erase, erase and write, gradually getting things solidified in the process. My hands would stop whenever I contemplated about the things I needed to write and my language. The time I spent playing Kancolle on the side began to become longer than the time I spent typing away on the keyboard.
I guess this was as far as I could go for today huh…
Just as I was about to call it a day, the cellphone which I left on the table further away rumbled. The vibration notified me of an incoming call. Aah, but I couldn’t move my hands right now.
When I gave up and ignored it, Komachi turned off the faucet with a squeak and she returned from the kitchen while drying her hands with a towel. On her way back, she grabbed my cellphone and tossed it to me.
The phone went smack when I caught it. Well, since she got me the phone and all, there was no way I couldn’t pick up the phone now. Upon looking at the display, the caller was Yuigahama. I rested the cellphone on my shoulders all the while having an idea of what she was calling me for and started the phone as I did work.
“Ah, Hikki, are you done?”
Bullseye. It was about the manuscript. If I had it done, I would’ve sent it over to you, jeez.
“Like it’d be that easy. Are you guys done on your end?”
“Uh huh, I drew the pictures. Yukinon is putting everything together. Once we get Hikki’s manuscript, we’re all done.”
Yukinoshita was doing the editing and compiling while Yuigahama was doing cut-out illustrations. It was a division of labor where each of us was assigned a job based on our aptitude.
Then again, the fact that they were waiting on my manuscript put unnecessary pressure which caused my hands to move slower though… When I went slightly quiet, being a little apologetic, I could hear a faint voice on the other end.
“Is he already finished?”
It was apparently Yukinoshita. Oh, was Yuigahama staying the night at Yukinoshita’s? Those two sure were hitting it off, hm…?
“Eh? Oh, okay. She asked if you’re done already.”
I could still hear Yuigahama’s voice, clear as ever. It looked like the phone was picking up Yukinoshita’s voice who didn’t seem to have been all that farther away.
“He said not yet. Eh, okay, I’ll ask.”
It sounded like Yuigahama was talking with Yukinoshita. There was a small pause before she answered again.
“She asked when you’ll be done.”
“No clue… Then again, this middleman business is a real pain.”
There wasn’t a need to play this telephone game, was there…? When I said that, on the other end of the phone was the exchange, “could you switch with me?” “okay, here”, that was slightly audible.
The one who spoke on the phone was Yukinoshita. Speaking of which, this might’ve been the first time we’ve ever spoken on the phone. While thinking those kinds of things, Yukinoshita went straight to the point.
“When will you be done?”
I reflexively winced to her usual, unchanging cold tone. Even on the phone, her words were packed with a forcible pressure.
“S-Sometime this week…”
When I stuttered on my words due to the slight feelings of guilt taking its toll on me, a small sigh could be heard from the other end of the phone.
“Today’s Friday, so I can assume by ‘sometime this week’ you mean today, right? Do you know when the deadline is?”
“That’s called next week. We’ll leave your column blank and move on ahead. Once you’re done, send it over.”
“Right. Ah, by send, you mean”
She hung up the phone, not bothering to wait for me to finish my reply. Only the sound of buzzing could be heard. I glared at my phone and muttered to myself.
“…How can I send you anything if I don’t know your address?”
That’s why, no matter how hard I tried, the delivery of the manuscript would be pushed to Monday anyway. It couldn’t be helped. It was Yukinoshita’s fault for not listening to me properly… Well, the fact I wouldn’t meet the deadline made us even, yep.
I let out a brief sigh, being relieved from finishing that phone call. I flung my cellphone aside and rotated my shoulders.
But there wasn’t much time left to work. It was a real pain, so let’s get this over with quickly.
When I reengaged with the computer once again, coffee was offered to me before my eyes.
I looked up and Komachi was standing with two cups, one in each hand.
I took a cup from her with gratitude and Komachi took a seat next to me. It looked like she was going to stay awake and hang around.
“You don’t need to wait for me or anything.”
I wasn’t really sure how long it’d take. I might even have to stay up all night. When I said that, she shook her head.
“It’s okay. I want to read it so I’ll wait.”
“…If you say so.”
Well, tomorrow’s a weekend. It should be fine even if it’s a little later than usual. After taking a sip of my coffee and saying that, I began typing away on the keyboard.
Working alone usually meant I’d take it easy, but with someone waiting on me nearby, the only thing I could do was put in some effort and get things done.
In hoping to get as done as soon as possible, I continued to write and write with my poor writing and the pages and time began to pile.
In the quietness of the night, the sound of key presses echoed. Occasionally, only the sound of falling water droplets could be heard.
During that time, amongst all those sounds, there was a faint breathing of someone sleeping.
Having finished a majority of the piece and thinking that there was just a little more left, I took a look to my side and Komachi was dozing off.
With the comfortable weight resting against my shoulders, I closed my eyes for a split moment.
However, it was that instant.
Without waking up Komachi, I quietly hammered in the final paragraph that flashed by in my head.
Whether it is marriage or the future, no one knows what will happen down the road.
Common sense of the world dictates that to prepare meant to bring forth new sorrow.
But the right to wish for happiness is something held by everyone.
The effort for what is to come should not be neglected. In conclusion, the fine ladies of the world should claim a full-time house husband of their dreams before it is too late. And done.
- Nagoya dialect. ↩
- Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi is a single released by the boy band, Arashi. It can be translated as “Gratitude, Emotions, Rain, Storm”. ↩
- Shinohara Tomoe ↩
- Ultra Relax is a song sung by Shinohara Tomoe. ↩
- Rozen Maiden ↩
- Yes, look. ↩
- Seems like a reference to Square-Enix, not really sure. ↩
- Sachi Usuko is a fictional character that’s played by one of the Morning Musume girls on the Japanese TV variety show called Hello! Morning. Sachi Usuko is a character with “weak happiness”. ↩
- Hareluya II Boy ↩
- Koshien ↩
- Saizeriya ↩
- Artificial Insect KABUTO BORG Victory by Victory ↩
- One of those archetype types (tsundere, yandere, etc) that Komachi makes up for Hachiman. First time she used it was back during the camping trip when Hachiman comments on Yui in her cat costume in volume 4. It’s basically twisted dere ↩