Here's chapter 8. I am actually working way faster than I should. Break's ending soon in 4 days, 3 chapters to go, and I'll be going on a hiatus soon in order to focus on my finals. Don't look quite good to cockblock the readers since it is reaching the climax, but clearing 3 chapters in 13 days is kinda hard for me. Should have paced myself.
Anyway, enjoy for now. I'll see what I can do with the remaining three chapters.
The following Monday, Chiaki and I had agreed to meet up at the train station before heading off to school together. During the holidays, some of the teachers on duty wouldn't be at school that early in the morning, so it was possible we wouldn't be able to grab the keys for our morning practice. Because of that, Chiaki had no choice but to give in to me—who loved lazing around in bed—and agree to meet at a later time.
That morning, we didn't manage to find the key to our club's practice room in the key box.
"...... Senpai took it?"
"It's probably her."
We confirmed that with each other. Over the weekend, we had tried calling Mafuyu, but she never picked up.
The two of us made our way to the back of the school building. When we opened the door, a series of intense piano passages overwhelmed us; I shielded my face with my hands without thinking.
In the middle of the cramped classroom, I could almost see the grand piano, and the long maroon hair behind it, swaying along with the rhythm of the melody. However, it was just a brief mirage—there was only the drum set, huddling in the gloomy corner of the room. In front of the mini-amplifier on the left, was the back of someone with braided black hair.
Kagurazaka-senpai was sitting on the round stool, listening to the piano piece; she was almost sprawled over the speakers. The room was engulfed in heat, as she hadn't switched on the air conditioning.
This—This song is—
"...... Hmm? Morning, my fellow comrades."
Senpai turned around to greet us with a smile, despite her looking all worn out. Chiaki pushed the dazed me aside, walked into the room, and sat down on the chair behind the drum set.
"Senpai, are you okay? You don't look too well......"
"Mmm. I've been listening to this song without sleep since last night. There's absolutely no time for me to relax and rest!"
Then just stop listening to it continuously? I walked into the classroom, then closed the door and switched on the air conditioning.
"What song is this? It's really incredible...... Is it really played by a human being?"
It really was played by a human being. I could tell just by listening to it—the person playing was none other than Mafuyu.
Senpai pressed her face against the speakers and continued listening to the song in silence, so I answered in her place.
"The name of the song is <Islamey>. It's the world's hardest piano piece."
But is that really being played by Mafuyu? I don't remember her releasing that piece.
"This is played by Mafuyu, right? Where did you get your hands on that?"
"Young man, you really recognize immediately if it's a piece played by Mafuyu!"
Because there's no one else who'd play it in that manner! It wasn't the fastest version of <Islamey> I had heard before, but...... In any case, Mafuyu had managed to allow the listeners to clearly discern the section where her left hand was playing notes up and down the scales, and she did this while maintaining a flawless tempo. Since <Islamey> was actually a dance tune, Mafuyu's way of playing might have actually been the correct way of playing the song.
"This is an unreleased recording. I managed to get my hands on it after sneaking into Comrade Ebisawa's house last night."
"What the hell have you done!?" That's definitely a crime, isn't it!?
"I didn't steal this, yeah? It was my second time sneaking into Comrade Ebisawa's house, and this time, I managed to locate her room successfully. Though I didn't expect her to throw this tape at me in the moment of her fury. Seems like she really dislikes being seen by others when she's listening to piano pieces, so I said nothing else and got out of there as quickly as I could."
"Senpai, you should really be sent to jail. I'll bring some tonics when I visit you." Chiaki's eyes were actually wet.
"Thank you. You are not to fall in love with anyone else while I'm serving my sentence, okay?"
"That's not funny at all! Stop fooling around, or I'll really call the cops!"
"Sigh, young man is not the least bit poetic......"
This has nothing to do with being poetic or not! Senpai ignored my protests and picked up her guitar, which was already connected to the amplifiers. After muting her guitar using a palm mute, she began playing notes with almost no intonation to them, using them to gently accompany the chords Mafuyu played through the speakers. It was a sound that made one feel like responding after listening to it.
*Zun*—a heavy sound rang, followed by a brief and delicate triplet. Chiaki's drums joined in as well, and started off with the subtle beats of the ride cymbals, coupled with the snare drums. As the melody of the piano moved into its climax, Senpai's guitar roared in response; at the same time, Chiaki's drums transitioned into a fervent tempo focused on the bass drums.
I see, it does sound like the traditional dances of Caucasus—very passionate, but unrefined. I removed my guitar case from my shoulders and leaned it against the wall, then sat down on the cushion on the floor. If there were no interruptions, the members of this band could jam on nonstop for several hours—well, aside from me that is. But looking at the current situation...... could I include Mafuyu as well? We're talking about something way beyond my ability—don't they get tired at all?
Whatever. The recorded <Islamey> by Mafuyu had to come to an end. I listened to it in a daze—the piece had lightly skipped through the slow section in the middle (the part I loved the most), and went straight to the end, before starting all over again from the beginning. W-Wait a second? That's not how the piece is supposed to be, right?
"What's this? Why's it going on forever?"
I couldn't help but stand up and interrupt their performance. Chiaki stopped moving and stared at me with her face red. Senpai laughed and switched off the mini-amplifiers.
"I didn't sleep a wink last night after returning home. After cutting and sampling the piece, I made it repeat on and on nonstop. Now, we can use it as a disco piece! The tempos of Comrade Ebisawa's performances are all very distinct, which makes them suitable for things like this."
"Just stop doing these things and sleep properly! You look really horrible, yeah!?"
"How can I possibly go to sleep when I haven't managed to have a proper talk with Comrade Ebisawa?"
I sank weakly into the cushion on the floor.
That means I was the only one who managed to speak with Mafuyu after the training camp?
"So, what's going on here? We have less than a week before our live performance......"
The actual performance is this Saturday. If this carries on—
"Comrade Ebisawa hasn't even practiced our new piece yet. In any case, let's record it for now! Hey young man, begin the preparations!"
"...... Ah, right."
We burned the whole day recording that song. But since Mafuyu wasn't around, we couldn't decide on the actual arrangement of the piece, so we ended up filling the thirty-minute tape trying out various different arrangements.
"I'll deliver this to her," Chiaki said. "This is for Mafuyu, right?"
"Are you taking it there? Aside from the guards, there are also two Dobermans in her courtyard. I suggest you take the much safer route infiltrating through the underground pipes or something."
"Can't we just visit her normally and openly!?"
"This is the map to the live house. We have a rehearsal on Friday, so remember to ask her to come!"
Senpai completely ignored me and passed the tape, the scores and the live house's handout to Chiaki. Chiaki just stared at the map printed on the handout.
"So..... she may not come here even once till Friday?"
"Mmm...... that's quite possible."
"How could she do that!"
Forget about the rehearsal, she may not even appear for the actual performance—all three of us knew that was a possibility, but we refrained from mentioning it.
Should I follow along as well? Perhaps it'd be better if Chiaki went alone instead...... as it seems I was the one who made Mafuyu angry. Just as I was thinking of that, Chiaki grabbed me by the collar and said, "Nao, you're coming along as well!"
"Don't you want to go?"
"It just feels like...... she'll refuse to see me even if I go?"
"It somehow feels like I've pissed her off or something...... She probably hates me right now."
"Senpai, can I punch him?" Chiaki turned towards Senpai to seek her opinion on the matter.
"If a punch were all it took to solve his denseness, then all the psychologists in the world would be left jobless. Quit your excuses and just be honest with yourself and go along. You have an excuse for meeting Comrade Ebisawa anyway, do you not?"
Senpai shot a glance towards the corner of the room. I followed her gaze and looked in the same direction.
My backpack was stuffed at the very bottom of the shelf, and hanging off of it was the recorder I had borrowed from Mafuyu. It had been there since the training camp was over.
"Yeah...... I guess."
It wouldn't do for us to remain in our current situation. I walked over to pick up the backpack.
Even though the train station closest to Mafuyu's house was on the fringe of the city, quite a lot of passengers still got on and off the trains there, as it was an interchange station that linked the JR and the private railways. In front of the station was a leisurely walkway, paved with red bricks, and a shopping arcade. I had gone to that area a few times before to shop for books as well. When we were about a hundred meters away from the station, we saw a lot fewer people out on the streets. And as we walked on, the houses surrounding us gradually merged in with the scenery of dusk.
We had expected to get lost, but it turned out we had worried for nothing; Mafuyu's house was incredibly large, to the point that we could easily spot it without even needing to confirm with the map.
I originally thought it was a park with coniferous trees in it—but after aligning the surrounding utility poles with the map on her handphone, Chiaki said, "Mmm, this is it." Amid the trees, we finally found a large black arching gate with inverted spikes, and past the arching gate was a building that looked like a museum or something. So Ebichiri's that rich huh......
"Ah, there really are dogs in the courtyard! Ain't those Dobermans cute? There, they're looking in our direction!"
Chiaki slid her hand between the rails of the gate and waved enthusiastically at the black shadows sitting next to the flowerbed. What the heck are you here for?
We then found an intercom, and its associated buzzer, on the doorpost at the side of the gate.
"Will the dogs come pouncing on us with bared teeth if I press this button?" Chiaki asked.
"How's that possible!?"
But even so, we dared not press the intercom buzzer for a long time. What should we do if Mafuyu answers? I wasn't mentally prepared for that yet, and had no idea what to say to her if I ended up seeing her.
"Heh!" In the end, it was Chiaki who pressed the button. It felt like the black silhouettes of the dogs had moved a little, causing me to instinctively hide myself behind the doorpost.
A short while later, a woman's voice came from the intercom.
"...... Yes? May I know who this is?"
That's—not Mafuyu's voice. The female voice sounded way more mature.
"...... U-Urm, well......"
Chiaki pushed my face aside and spoke into the intercom,
"Good evening, I'm Aihara. I am...... Mafuyu's fellow clubmate, from the high school she is attending. She didn't come to today's practice. So, thinking she might be feeling unwell, we have come to visit her. We have some things we want to pass on to her as well."
I was impressed with how fluently Chiaki said all that; there wasn't the slightest hint of stuttering. She's lying about us visiting Mafuyu because we think she's sick, but we do have things we want to pass on to her, so they might actually allow us to enter. Chiaki was probably playing it by ear—as for me, what have I done here? I'll have to buck up as well!
"Please hold on for a moment."
After the woman said that, the intercom fell silent.
"Will Mafuyu come out?" Chiaki mumbled.
"I don't know."
Then again, since Chiaki didn't mention my name just now, perhaps......
I sat down at the base of the doorpost. Even though the sun was below the horizon, the asphalt still felt incredibly hot.
I could suddenly hear the sounds of someone walking on the turf. I stood up immediately.
Someone was walking through the spacious courtyard and towards the door. It was a tall woman with short hair; she was wearing a grey suit and long pants. She patted the Dobermans that had walked up next to her, and made them sit down before she came to the door.
"Sorry for making you two wait."
She was young—probably between twenty-five and thirty years old. Her hair was cut rather short, which made her face look fresh and neat. She was wearing a pair of elegant earrings as well. Who is she? Mafuyu's family? Nope, doesn't look quite like it.
The woman walked out through a small door located at the side of the gate, then bowed to Chiaki and me.
"I am the person in charge of tending to the daily lives of Maestro Ebisawa and the young lady. Despite having both of you travel all the way here, my mistress is unable to meet you."
"Is she feeling unwell?"
Chiaki took a step forward and asked worriedly with her brows furrowed.
"No. My mistress has instructed me to pass on the message that she is feeling unwell, but I am afraid that is probably a lie."
Despite her courteous manners, her words were rather direct.
"Maestro Ebisawa has overly doted on our young lady, which has resulted in her being unable to listen to anything when her tantrum kicks in. I apologize to you two on behalf of my mistress. If there is anything you wish to pass on to her, you can do so through me."
How should we respond when she speaks to us in such a solemn and serious manner? While I was thinking of something to say, Chiaki handed her the live house handout, the scores of our new song and the tape.
"Is that all? Did she not say anything else?"
From the tone of Chiaki's voice, it felt as though she was about to cling herself to the woman.
"No. Nothing at all."
"You should have told her my name, right?"
"Yes. I told Mistress that Miss Aihara and a man had come over to visit her."
She didn't tell her my name—did Mafuyu know it was me? Then again, I don't think there'd be any other guy who would come looking for her, right? And that means...... that she really is unwilling to see me?
"At the very least, Mafuyu can tell us that herself via the intercom, right?" Chiaki refused to give in.
"My mistress has no intention of leaving her room at all."
"Then we will communicate through pen and paper! Miss, please help us to pass our message to her!"
"That's enough, Chiaki."
I grabbed Chiaki by the shoulders and pulled her away before she troubled the woman any further. I then lowered my head and apologized.
"I'm really sorry. Urm...... we have no choice but to trouble you to pass those items on to her. And also, please tell her there's a rehearsal on Friday. Tell her to make her way down to the place marked on the map at three o'clock."
"Yes. I will definitely convey that to Mistress."
She didn't show the slightest smile while answering—what a strange person. As for Chiaki, she was grabbing me tightly by the arm and whimpering softly, just like a dog...... Just give up already!
Just as I was about to make my way back to the station, dragging Chiaki along with me—
"Please hold on a second."
I turned my head in response to her call, and saw the woman walk towards us in quick steps.
"Could it be, that you are actually Mr. Hikawa Naomi?"
"...... Eh? Yeah. That's me."
Chiaki looked at me in surprise, and then, at the woman.
"I see. I am sorry for calling out to you all of a sudden. Mistress always talks about Mr. Hikawa."
Mafuyu—she always talks about me? Mmm, I think Ebichiri said something similar as well, but is that really true?
"...... She always talks about me?"
"Yes. She says you are dense, unreliable and mouthy, and that she always gets angry whenever she is with you."
She sure doesn't mince words!
"Yes, that's exactly how it is!" Chiaki chipped in.
"However, she frequently uses the term 'unreliable' for her father as well. Therefore, I think that might just be her way of showing how dear the two of you are to her."
No, wait, you don't have to put it that way just to console me, yeah? In any case, I'm just a......
While I was acting all depressed, the woman suddenly handed me her name-card.
"I am sorry for introducing myself only now. My name is Matsumura. Please do not hesitate to contact me if it has anything to do with our young lady. Honestly speaking, I am not too sure how I should interact with my mistress as well. I would be more confident in doing so if I had the chance to interact with Mr. Hikawa and Mistress's fellow schoolmates."
Miss Matsumura continued to speak with us with the same emotionless expression and unfaltering voice. She passed a name-card to Chiaki as well.
There was nothing about her position, or the name of any company, printed on the name-card—just her name "Matsumura Hitomi" and her handphone number. That accomplished just about nothing for your self-introduction, yeah?
"It was great meeting the two of you."
Miss Matsumura bowed again before making her way back to the mansion.
"...... What a strange person."
Chiaki murmured, as she stuffed the name-card in her pocket.
"But she should be trained in martial arts or something."
"You can actually tell?"
"Mmm, because she keeps her center of gravity really stable when she moves. She's probably Mafuyu's personal bodyguard?"
In any case, it's good to have someone I can contact, and I might even get the chance to ask her about Mafuyu's situation. However, our live performance is only six days away. Is there really nothing we can do?
"So aside from the two Dobermans, we'll also have to take down that woman before we can see Mafuyu?"
Chiaki said something really dangerous in a soft voice.
"Ahh—I've had enough! I'll break in through the front!"
Chiaki turned around. I quickly grabbed her by the shoulders to prevent her from walking back to the mansion.
"Let me go! I'm an elite beginner dan in Judo, so it won't be a problem!"
A well-trained Doberman is the strongest living creature on the planet!
"But Mafuyu's really going overboard with this!"
Chiaki suddenly grabbed me by the collar, slid her leg in-between both of mine and swept me off the ground. My butt landed hard on the ground. It hurts......
When I raised my head, I saw Chiaki put on a serious expression with tears in her eyes.
"But we're bandmates! Hearing the palm mutes twice and the sound of the hi-hat four times is all Mafuyu and I need to understand what the other is about to do next. That's the understanding we've developed after just one month of playing together! If we wanted to, we could even jam on for five or six hours without stopping, and yet Mafuyu......"
Chiaki knelt down to punch my shoulders—it was a really weak punch.
"All Mafuyu thinks of is Nao! Isn't...... isn't that just unfair for the rest of us!?"
She only thinks about me.
Chiaki's body relaxed all of a sudden. I caught her by the shoulders to prevent her from collapsing onto me.
All Mafuyu thinks about is me—is that really true? Perhaps it was. The problem was actually only between Mafuyu and me, but it somehow escalated into something that caused feketerigó to lose her right arm, bringing her to the brink of collapse—there was still no changing Kagurazaka-senpai's cruel fate.
It was really...... sad.
Chiaki said that as she stood up, using my shoulders for support. Her head hung low the entire time...... is she crying?
"It's nothing. I'm not crying."
Chiaki shook her head vigorously. She left me behind as she began making her way back to the station. I hurriedly caught up to her, but hesitated to walk by her side.
"Chiaki, are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I'm a beginner dan in Judo, so I'm really strong."
Those aren't related at all, okay? Chiaki's voice was unnaturally cheerful. She quickened her pace to walk about a half step in front of me, but never turned her head around, disallowing me from continuing our conversation.
Mafuyu didn't appear in the club room the following day as well. Chiaki and Kagurazaka-senpai were actively discussing the tracks we'd be singing for the performance, as well as what we'd be wearing on stage. However, they didn't mention anything about Mafuyu.
"I want to make the T-shirts for feketerigó. About ten of them."
"It'll look really stupid if all of us wore the same shirt up on stage, yeah?"
"I'll be the only one wearing it. The rest of the band members will get one too, and as for the remaining shirts, I'll sell them for four thousand yen each."
"That sounds pretty good. Let's start by designing the logo."
I sat in a corner of the room hugging my bass, and looked at Chiaki and Senpai from a distance, as they tried to come up with a logo for the shirt in a strangely enthusiastic way. That name was something Mafuyu had come up with—how did they manage to talk about it without feeling anything?
The two of them suddenly quietened down. They looked gloomily at the amplifiers to the right of the entrance—the place Mafuyu had always stood—and that caused my chest to hurt.
I see. The reason the both of them only chatted and didn't touch their instruments was because—
It was because there would be music whenever we were all together. All Senpai had to do was signal with her eyes; Chiaki would then twirl her drumsticks; and Mafuyu would draw her eyelids back slightly and stare at the strings next to her hands. Next, the jam session would begin, and would flow on and on, as though the concept of time didn't exist.
And I'd exhaust myself trying my hardest not to be left behind in their wake.
If Mafuyu ends up not appearing at the rehearsal or the actual performance, what should we do? A band with a member missing was not something as simple as four minus one equals three—it was almost equal to zero. Does Mafuyu understand that?
I couldn't help but lay my eyes on Senpai. Will she come up with something like she always does? She always scattered some weird seeds in places I would never have thought of.
When Senpai noticed me looking at her, she flashed a slight smile and waved at me.
I moved my chair next to the drum set and sat down.
"I'll just state this clearly—I won't be doing anything this time."
Chiaki looked at me, and then at Senpai, with an uneasy expression on her face.
She's referring to the situation regarding Mafuyu, right? But for some reason, it was hard for me to say her name at a time like this.
"I won't be doing anything for two reasons. One, should Comrade Ebisawa not show up here ever again, then it'll be my win. Though the victory would be helplessly sad and empty."
"What's the thing you'd win?"
"Actually, that's not a result I want. My victory shouldn't be built on the loss of others. But it's not like I have a choice in the matter. While I am a revolutionist and a musician, at the same time, I am also a woman in love."
What the heck is this person talking about? While I was dumbfounded by that, Chiaki picked up a drumstick and pointed it at Senpai's chest.
"Senpai, you've involved yourself in too many romances!"
"Can't help it, I was born that way! Romance makes up about eighty percent of me!"
"And the remaining twenty?"
"Thirty percent is lust, and ten percent is crushes."
"That's all the same, isn't it!"
"...... There's an excess of twenty percent, yeah?"
"And the second reason—this is not my fight." Don't ignore my question and just move back to the original topic as you wish! "If it were for my own victory, I'd resort to all means to plant the seeds of possibility everywhere I could, and just wait for spring to come. However, this time around, it's your fight. Like back then, I don't mind lending you a helping hand should you need assistance; however, I won't proactively do anything."
I shifted my gaze from Senpai's knees to the floor.
"...... Since I'm not a poetic person, can you please put it in simpler terms I can understand?"
Actually, I had some idea of what Senpai was trying to say.
It was probably something to be expected, and something that was important. Senpai planted her hands firmly on my shoulders and said,
"Come up with something by yourself."
Senpai's words permeated through my entire body, all the way down to my feet.
I nodded my head slowly.
"Lil' Nao, I'm done with my articles already! Hurry up and prepare my meal! I want something luxurious!"
Upon reaching home, I saw Tetsurou dashing towards the door. It looked like he was about to pounce on me, so I removed one of my shoes and threw it at him for good measure.
"My feelings of joy will not be extinguished by something like this!"
The overture of <A Midsummer Night's Dream> by Mendelssohn was blaring loudly from the direction of the living room. Tetsurou would always listen to that song whenever he finished writing major articles. He had dark circles under his eyes and some stubble on his face, as the publisher had kidnapped him and locked him up yesterday to force him to write the articles.
"...... Did you eat your meals properly?"
"Those people placed me under house arrest, and banned me from calling room service! I was forced to eat microwave fried rice with crab meat."
"Oh, is that so? Then I'll cook fried rice without crab meat for tonight's dinner."
"Nao's kindness has brought me to tears!"
"Then I'll hold back on the salt as well."
"Why do you say nothing but cruel words? What sort of upbringing did you experience for you to have become so difficult to deal with? I really want to take a look at the person who raised you to be the person you are today!"
"That person is none other than you!"
I had originally wanted to drag him to the mirror in front of the washing basin, but that would've taken too much effort, so I dropped the idea.
While I was preparing dinner in the kitchen, the suite playing in the living room entered the famous wedding march, which really made me feel like dying. Why the hell must I listen to such joyous songs together with Tetsurou when I'm in such a bad mood!? Why!? Hurry up and move on to the funeral march already!
"Why are we having kimchi jjigae despite the hot weather?"
Tetsurou complained when he saw me placing dinner on the table. Shut up. It's because it's easier to prepare stew, that's why!
"Don't eat if you don't like it!" I stared fiercely at Tetsurou while helping myself to some rice. He had already filled his bowl with grilled tofu and beef rump, and was eating with huge bites. Can't do anything about him. Then again, I had always been curious—this guy always washes his food down with sake...... is his sense of taste really okay?
"You're the child of Misako and me, so why is Nao's cooking so good?"
"It's because both of you don't know how to cook!"
I did occasionally worry about whether Misako could live properly by herself or not.
"Ah, is that so? I see, so that's how it is. Well well, I was wondering for a second if you were actually my real child or not."
"I sometimes wonder if I'm Tetsurou's child or not as well!"
"Don't worry. It's not your fault."
"And it's all yours, Tetsurou!"
I had no idea what I was talking about with him.
After he finished the sake, Tetsurou began drinking whiskey, pairing it up with the stewed vegetables at the bottom of the pot.
"Then again, it's not like Misako and I broke up because we were cheating on each other, so you shouldn't be the child of another man."
Why the heck is he saying things like this in front of his real son?
"We used to be very much in love! I mean, you know it well, but I'm not dependable, and I don't know how to read the mood of others. But it just so happened to be that Misako was someone who didn't harbor any ulterior motives behind her actions, so we were very direct with each other."
"Really? That's good."
"And since you're very similar to me, it's pointless for you to dwell on problems you have with women! Just give up already!"
"I'm not troubled—"
"But you haven't said anything about the training camp at all! You definitely wouldn't talk about it if I were hounding you enthusiastically—but this time, I haven't asked you anything at all! Since you haven't talked about it, you must've done something you can't say to your father, right? Damn, you bastard, you actually went to a villa near the beach with three cute girls for three days and two nights! Why didn't you bring me along with you? Sex education should continue up until you've reached the age of eighteen!"
I poured water directly onto Tetsurou's head, which caused him to quiet down. This guy here can be quite sharp sometimes for absolutely no reason. How very irritating.
I didn't have much of an appetite, so Tetsurou ended up finishing most of the pot of kimchi jjigae—which served three—by himself. After I finished washing the dishes, I grabbed a glass of wheat tea and went to the living room. Tetsurou was sprawled all over the sofa and was hugging the whiskey bottle. He suddenly said,
"...... Hey, do you know what Misako said to me when she decided to divorce me?"
"Why are you bringing that up all of a sudden? How would I know!"
I was only six back then, so I had no ability to understand things that weren't directly related to me.
"She said nothing at all. And I said nothing either."
It was rare for our living room to not be filled with the sound of music, and because of that, Tetsurou's words lingered stagnantly in the air. He sank himself deep into the sofa opposite of me, and kept staring at the water droplets on the outer surface of the glass.
"Misako said she didn't want you hearing us talking about things like that, so we said nothing in the end. On that day, I was lying on the sofa listening to Mendelssohn, just like I was doing earlier. The wedding march was playing when Misako returned home from work. At that time, I could almost see a flash of electricity. We both came to a consensus right after that."
Tetsurou's tone was too sober for it to be one of his drunk jokes.
"The next morning, it became a situation of 'Have you stamped it already?' 'Then I'll take it to the district office'—like that. It would've been a wonderful scene if it had happened during our wedding, but sadly, we were about to divorce each other. A ha ha!"
That's not funny at all...... and the two of you didn't even think about what to do with me? Though I expected that anyway.
"There are a lot of things...... that cannot be conveyed with just words alone."
That line from Tetsurou made me raise my head.
"In my line of work, it's like I confirm that fact every single day. Those guys were born on the other side of the globe about two to three hundred years ago, and they were living lives that were totally different from ours—and yet, the songs they've composed still touch our hearts, even now. You'll never succeed by just clearly saying what's on your mind, because the power of words can't overcome what's in our hearts. Wow, that's quite a statement from me! I'll write it down in my next critique."
"You're just copying the lyrics from Chage and Aska!" [TLnote: Wiki link here]
"Who cares, it's not like I have a girl whom I'm in love with right now! But if I met a girl who didn't talk about anything, like Misako—then I'd probably be a little envious of Nao, who still has a chance to do something."
The chance to do something...... huh? Which means I can no longer be someone who simply accepts and critiques in return? But what does that change? What can I possibly convey to Mafuyu with the way I am now?
As I was about to reply with that, Tetsurou was already snoring.
After my bath, I returned to my bedroom and sat down next to my bed. On the desk was my handphone, and next to the phone was the tape recorder I had borrowed from Mafuyu.
I didn't pass the recorder on to Miss Matsumura back then. I couldn't.
It felt like if I had asked someone to pass that back to Mafuyu, the bonds between Mafuyu and me would disappear.
But when should I return this to her? Since I'm holding on to it without letting it go, doesn't that just prove I'm a really useless person?
"There are a lot of things that cannot be conveyed with just words alone."
That's what Tetsurou said. And that may very well be the case—there really are a lot of things that can't be conveyed with just words. But why did it have to happen at a time like this? The live performance is less than a week away!
I grabbed my handphone and called Mafuyu. After ringing three times, the connecting tone was cut off, and I was directed to her voice mail. When I heard the mechanical tone asking me to leave a message, I suddenly felt a surge of anger within me.
"...... Mafuyu? It's me. You shouldn't forget that I still have your mother's memento in my possession. If you don't come to practice, I don't know what'll happen to it! And also, you better come to the rehearsal as well, so stop creating trouble for the rest of us already! That's all!"
I hung up after saying what I wanted to say.
Perhaps she won't hear what I said, but I couldn't stay silent.
My head felt like it was burning. It was already night, but the temperature was still high. I decided to just head to sleep. It was a few minutes later that I realized I had said "your mother's memento" during the voice message. I rolled about on the wooden floor and felt like dying. Her mother's not even dead yet! Why did I say something like that!?