Wednesday, December 4, 2013

[Shinonome v1] Chapter 1

Here's chapter 1. Enjoy.

Romiemarigana was born on the planet Grando, one of the many planets in a planetary system far from the solar system. Grando was a beautiful planet with plenty of natural resources, similar to how Earth was back in her heyday. There were not many natural disasters or dangerous creatures, so the humans did not need an advanced civilization live comfortably. They would simply do some hunting or gather some wild fruits whenever they felt hungry. When their stomachs were filled, they would band up with their fellow mates and shout merrily at the top of their lungs as though they were singing. Amid this primitive lifestyle, Romiemarigana was the only one who felt differently from the rest of the group. 

She always felt that life should not be just about filling up one's stomach.

Nishizono Yūko 
<Romiemarigana's Expanding World>


Once school was over, most students began preparing themselves for the club activities.

Everyone is in some sort of club, since it is the rule set by the school.

And the reason for the rule is because Ousei Private High School - that's my school -  was established not too long ago. To buff up the public's awareness of our school, they have insisted that all students had to participate actively in club activities. It's an open secret since our principal did talk passionately about the issue during the opening ceremony.

All thanks to that 'culture' of ours, a large majority of the students do participate actively in their activities. This is especially so for the sports clubs, where they'll train for just about everyday. I've even heard things like how there are students who are accepted into this school as athletic scholars.

A few guys in class were changing into their football or baseball jerseys. I've heard how there's an overwhelming number of members in the baseball and football clubs, to the point where there's no room for the first years in the clubs' rooms. As a result, they are forced to change their clothes in the classrooms instead.

I then remembered it's the same for the softball and lacrosse clubs as well. Moreover, these two clubs are for girls only.

But of course, there's no way the girls will openly change their attire in the classroom. They'd do so quickly in the ladies' room before returning back to class.

So all I did is to remain in my seat and stare at the girls.

They were chattering among themselves since they were done with changing, and everyone seemed pretty happy. Not just the girls, but the dudes from the baseball and football clubs were talking while they changed into their jerseys as well.

I was the only odd one out.

The only person to daze off expressionlessly.

None of my middle-school friends were here in this school. For the past two months since I enrolled here, I never interacted much with my classmates either. Time flew by just like that.

It's not like I am in any position to complain, since it's my decision to be by my lonesome. Still, I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable about this.

The only thing stopping me from leaving the classroom was because the entrance of the classroom and the corridor were filled with students preparing for their club activities. It's a pain in the rear to walk through the crowds.

The crowd should start clearing up in five minutes. I directed my attention towards the corner of the classroom.

To Shinonome Yuuko's seat.

Shinonome's reading, as usual. Ever since that chat at the counter, I would strike up a conversation with Shinonome occasionally.

At the very least, that beats wasting my time doing nothing. With that thought in mind, I stood up and walked towards Shinonome. However, her gaze was still stuck to her book.

"...... What are you reading?"

I had nothing concrete to talk about, so I started the conversation with what first came to my mind.

Shinonome continued reading without even looking once at me.

"A book."

That was her reply.

"That much I know...... But wouldn't the typical answer be things like the title or the author of the book?"

I gave a wry laugh in response to her emotionless answer. I then sat on the empty seat next to her.

"Since Minami-kun does not read, I doubt you will know what I am reading anyway."

Answered Shinonome.

True. I doubt I'll know about the title or author if it's not from the famous authors in Japanese textbooks. The possibility is practically zero.

"Well, yeah...... But at the very least, you can tell me the synopsis or things like that, right?"

I was actually not too interested in that either. All I had in mind was to kill time by chatting with Shinonome. That was what pushed me to pop the question.

And so Shinonome answered with,

"Short stories collection."

"Short stories collection...... like a compilation of them?"


"Are they interesting?"


To be honest, I am not even sure if you can count that as a conversation. But this is a better than spacing off by myself.

"So you were reading a short stories collection back then as well?"

I asked what came to my mind. Back when I was doing my shift at the counter, Shinonome placed the book on the table briefly while she leaved her post for a short time. That was when I saw the title of the book. I couldn't recall the title or author, but I do remember seeing the words 'short story collection'.

"You are right."

Murmured Shinonome.

"Do you enjoy reading short stories?"

That question made Shinonome pull her eyes away from her book for the very first time. She lifted her eyes towards the ceiling, as if she was pondering for an answer.

"Hmm. I see......?"

For some reason unknown to me, Shinonome did not reply with the usual stock answers she gives whenever I asked her questions like that. I guess book lovers will have their own personal reasons for things like that.

"Well...... Personally, I prefer reading slightly longer stories ."

It's not like I read much, so that answer was based on the impressions I had when I was reading in elementary school. I was an avid reader back then, and the thing which always came to my mind was—

If only the story was a little longer.

As the book was really interesting, I wanted to immerse myself in that delightful world forever. But now, I doubt whether I really had that in mind back then.

I was mumbling to myself when I noticed Shinonome staring at me.

"...... Anything wrong?"

For some reason, it seemed like Shinonome was holding her words back. That's quite unlike her, considering her usual emotionless responses whenever she was spoken to.

"So Minami-kun thinks that way as well."

That was what Shinonome said in the end.

"You're referring to?"

"The fact that you prefer longer stories."

"Yeah. Since you'll be reading anyway, don't you think it's more efficient if the stories are...... longer?"

It was only when I was done with my reply that I realized — crap.

Shinonome probably prefers short stories to the longer ones. She's probably unhappy with my reply when I said how long stories are better.

However, I was not planning to apologize for my words.

"And typically long stories sell more, right? It's rare to have short stories be a best-seller."

That was when I realized I was actually sort of provoking Shinonome with my words. However, I was curious how Shinonome would react, given her flat expressions and the lack of display of her emotions. Ever since our conversation at the counter, my interest in Shinonome has increased a little.

Shinonome pursed her lips unhappily in a "へ" shape and stared at me. This display of emotion is something incredibly rare for Shinonome.

"That is not how I look at it."

With that said, she lowered her head and resumed reading her book. She did not look at me after that.

It's as if she were saying: It'll be a waste of time if we continued the conversation.

And it's pretty pointless to rebut her further.

Generally speaking, it's wrong of me to voice out my opinion towards Shinonome, considering the fact that I am not someone who reads. Moreover, it's not my intention to piss Shinonome off.

"I see...... w-well, I don't read much...... so I doubt my views matter anyway."

I scanned the classroom after murmuring a half-hearted response. There weren't many people around, so that means I can finally head for home.

"See you."

I bid Shinonome goodbye, though her attention was still fixed on her book. I then returned back to my seat and prepared my bag.

What a strange girl. I thought she would come up with an emotional retort, so her tepid response was somewhat unexpected.

However, that icy response of hers only served to pique my interest in her even more.

Perhaps it's because I am not too good with people who give in their all.

After all, I think I am pretty much apathetic towards everything.


When I was about to reach home, I was greeted by the scent of spices.

It smelled like it was coming from my house, and I was a little dejected as a result.

"Curry huh......"

I don't hate curry, but I don't like it either.

The problem lies in the cook.

The smell of the spices became more pungent as I stepped into the doorway.

"I'm back."

I whispered softly so that no one would hear it, and took off my shoes. But just as I expected, Arumi-san walked out from the kitchen towards me with her pair of slippers flopping against the ground.

"Eita, where's your 'I'm back'?"

I frowned upon hearing that.

"I said it already......"

An excuse from me, but it didn't look like Arumi-san would accept that. She pouted.

"Eh...... But I heard nothing. Do it again?"

I couldn't help but to sigh. Then again, it's not like I'm itching to start a squabble at the doorway, so I gave in.

"I'm back."

I did just as she had requested. Arumi-san flashed a smile and nodded her head hard.

"Mmm! Welcome home!"

As I walked weakly into the house, I gave a clear signal with my hands to stop Arumi-san from taking my bag away from me. I then turned around and noticed there were only my and Arumi-san's shoes at the doorway. Puzzled by what I saw, I asked,

"...... Eh? Where's my brother?"

Upon hearing that, Arumi-san shrugged.

"He said he's going to the book store. I guess he'll be back soon?"

So he's out to get his books, and in doing so, he left an outsider in our house to do the cooking? What a conceited person he is. However, Arumi-san will probably burst into tears if she heard that from me, so I guess it's better to keep those thoughts within me.

As she walked side-by-side with me into the living room, Arumi-san put on a huge smile and said,

"Tonight's dinner is....."


I finished her sentence before she did. Arumi-san was incredibly surprised by that.

"Eh? How do you know?"

"Well, there's the smell......"

"Ah, right...... You surprised me for a moment. I thought you were psychic."

"No way that's possible......"

As I made my way up towards my room on the second floor, Arumi-san shouted in my direction.

"Remember to place your uniform properly on the hanger! Don't just throw it around! Also, no snacks! We'll have dinner once Keisuke is back!"

I'm not too pleased with how Arumi-san is calling my brother directly by his name...... but there's no need for her to know my views on that either.

When I reached my room, the first thing I did was to throw my coat onto my bed. However, I remembered what Arumi-san said earlier. I ended up hanging the uniform onto the hanger even though it was a chore.

I'd be in for another round of nagging if she happens to step into my room and see my uniform hanging untidily on the hanger.

I then took out the books from my bag and replaced them with textbooks for lessons which I'll be having the following day. There's no homework which requires my urgent attention right now.

I then killed time by rolling on my bed in boredom as I waited for dinner. That was when I thought it will be great if I can do some reading, just like how Shinonome always does. I mean, it's not like I've any hobbies.

However, there're no books in my room. It'll be shameful if I ended up reading my textbooks as a result.

Since I had my mind set on reading something, I made my way out of my room.

My and my brother's room are both located on the second floor, and along with that is my father's study room as well — though its owner is currently away.

Both my parents are overseas right now. Due to his work, my father is required to travel to America. My mother ended up travelling together with him as well.

If we're talking about just anyone else, it'll probably be my father moving alone to America.

However, my mother is someone who sticks with my father all the time, despite the fact that she's forty-ish, close to fifty.

"I'll be going along with Papa, is that okay? It's only for three years anyway."

And she left before we could even give our consent.

Just from hearing all that, you'd probably think she's a really carefree and uninhibited mom. However, the bulk of the reason why she did that was because of Keisuke.

Keisuke, who's five years older than me, is someone who is way more mature than his age. In fact, there are times where he is actually a much more serious and practical 'adult' than my father is.

"With Kei-chan around, Mama's at ease."

That's the way it is.

"Moreover, Arumi-chan is around too, so you two can ask her to help out with the housework from time to time."

The other reason is because Keisuke's girlfriend, Arumi-san, is close enough to walk in and out of our house like family. She has been dating Keisuke since their high-school years, and everyone has already treated her as part of the family since a year ago.

I opened up the door to father's study room in order to find a book to kill time.

Keisuke may own a large collection of books in his room, but he'll grumble if I enter his room without a good reason. And I don't like doing that either.

I switched on the lights in the room and searched for the bookshelf which was located at the corner of the study room.

I originally thought my father would own some sort of novel, but that was just naive of me. All he possesses are high-level documentations related to science. Not too much of a surprise, since it is related to the occupation of my father.

Even so, they should do for killing time. So I picked up a book by random and began flipping through the pages, but that ended up with me putting the book back into its original position just as quickly.

Can't do it. I couldn't get any of the content into my head. It's tiring to even read those incredibly difficult crosswise writings.

"I give up......"

As I was mumbling to myself, I could hear some creaking sounds from the direction of the door. That's coming from the stairs. From the pace of the footsteps, it should be Keisuke.

When I walked out of the room, I bumped into Keisuke, who was making his way up the stairs.

He caught sight of me walking out of the room, so he tilted his head and asked,

"What are you doing?"

"It's nothing...... I'm just wondering if I can find a book to read."

Keisuki lifted his hand and shifted his spectacles in response to my answer.

"Book......? You want to read a book?"

He knew about my lack of interest in reading in the recent years, so he was a little surprised by my answer.

"Yeah...... but they're all difficult to understand, so that killed my interest."

Just as I was walking past Keisuke while giving him an explanation—


My name was called. Turning my head around, Keisuke had his hand on the handle of his room's door. He then said,

"How about borrowing my books?"

I wanted to decline his offer, but it would be quite unnatural to do so.

"Ah...... Urm...... thank you."

Keisuke lifted his chin a little and urged me to enter his room.

Three large bookshelves were standing side by side in the dark room filled with the smell of cigarettes. Each of them was filled to the brim with books. As for the remaining books, they were placed randomly at just about everywhere. It's difficult to find a spot where I can stand on.

Arumi-san would grumble about it occasionally when she was doing the housework.

"This is just atrocious."

It's practically like a devil's den.

"What do you want to read?"

Taking away the bag off his shoulders and tossing it onto the bed, Keisuke lit up a cigarette and began to smoke. He started the habit just last year, but he's a pretty heavy smoker now. He seemed to be smoking all the time — aside from sleeping and eating.

"Well, anything will do as long as it can kill time."

Just as I was done saying that, something came to my mind—

"Things like short stories collections?"

I added that on immediately. That's because Shinonome Yuuko came to mind.

"Short stories collections...... huh."

With a mumble, Keisuke began digging through the books which were stacked up like a pile of Jenga. In my eyes, it looked like Keisuke was searching randomly. However, Keisuke's someone who can efficiently get hold of the position of the books. He drew out a book nimbly from the middle area and tossed it to me.

"How about starting with this?"

It's a book titled as <Nine Stories>. I knew who the author J.D. Salinger is, but I've never actually read his books before.

I nodded slightly before walking out of his room. The moment I stepped out of his room, it felt like my surroundings had freshened up immediately. I never thought I'd stay in his room for such a long period of time.

Back in my room, I laid onto my bed and began flipping through the book which I had just borrowed from Keisuke. Before I was even done with a single page of the book, Arumi-san's voice came from the floor below me.

"Eita! It's time for dinner!"

I was plunged into gloominess from her voice once more. It's not anyone's fault though. I am well aware of that.

Keisuke's book ended up as a decoration on my desk before I could even start on the stories. When we were done with dinner, I had cleanly forgotten about the book — it was straight to bed for me.


The following day, while doing my usual thing where I'd space out in my seat in order to wait for the crowd to clear, I noticed Shinonome was not reading — instead, she was packing up and preparing to leave. I'm not too sure if it's because she had the same reasons as me, but Shinonome would always spend her time reading after school for some time.

It's quite rare of her to be in a rush.

I was wondering if it was time for her shift duty at the library.

On the days of her shift, Shinonome would head directly to the library after the classes were over. However, since Shinonome and I shared the same shifts, there're not many occasions where she'll have to go to the library but not me. I even checked the date to make sure, and it was Tuesday alright.

As I watched Shinonome squeeze past the students who were jamming up the door, I came to this conclusion: Shinonome's human after all, so there'll be days where she'd have something on as well.

I then stayed in the classroom for a little while longer. However, it's quite boring to wait for time to pass without doing anything. I then remembered the reason why I borrowed the book from Keisuke — it was for times like this.

It was a pity though, since the book was left on my desk at home. It's not like I can read it if I don't have it with me.

I thought to myself: Let's bring the book along tomorrow. And since the crowd was thinning out, I left the classroom.

It takes about ten minutes to walk from Ousei High School to the nearest train station.

The train station is located at a slightly remote area, but the shopping streets around it will gradually be filled with life when the high school students are done with their classes, or later when the working adults are off from their work.

Typically speaking, I'd walk through the shopping streets while on my way to the train station. Should there be a large crowd, I'd take a detour and use the alleys where there were less people around. But as there aren't many people on the streets for today, I walked straight into the shopping streets.

Halfway through, a wobbly bicycle brushed past me with just a tiny distance to spare. I could not help but to turn around and look at the bicycle.

"That was close......"

While mumbling to myself, I realized there was a coffee house right before me.

Since the wall of the coffee house was filled with large glass windows, I could easily see the interior of the shop from where I was.

There was nothing particular about the interiors of the shop. And since it was just an ordinary coffee house, it shouldn't have concerned me that much.

But the reason I was that fixated, to the point where I had stopped in my tracks, was because I saw Shinonome through the glass.

Shinonome, who was still in her uniform, was having tea with a young man whom I am unfamiliar with.

He was too young to be her father, and it did not seem like he's her brother as well.

But if we're talking about her boyfriend......

Now that's possible.

Shinonome might be a slightly sombre person, but she does look pretty good. It's not surprising for her to have a boyfriend.


I couldn't help but to heave a sigh.

I'd be a stalker if I continue to stare at her like this. Moreover, it's not my intention to intervene with Shinonome's privacy and her life. I turned around and resumed making my way towards the station.

"Shinonome huh......"

It's not impossible. But still, something did not feel quite right.

We're talking about Shinonome, someone who's reading all the time; even when you're speaking to her, she'd hardly pry her eyes off her book. It feels unreal to imagine her going on a lovey-dovey date with her boyfriend.

Actually, I was simply shaken by the fact that Shinonome was meeting a man.

And since I had difficulty accepting the chanced discovery, my mind was occupied by the very incident.

But it's not because I'm in love with Shinonome though. Rather, it's because it feels like Shinonome is in some ways very similar to me. There is Shinonome, who would read her books with a rather bored expression while not expressing an ounce of happiness. Then there's me, who is unmotivated in just about everything there is. We do share some sort of similarity between us.

But if Shinonome can have a boyfriend with the way she is, then that means the guy might have possessed a 'certain something' which can spark her passion.

Come to think of it, the point on how Shinonome is a girl who is interested in nothing but her books was just my pure speculation.

"Oh well."

With my apathetic personality, it's more likely that I am the one who's receiving negative attention instead. I remembered how I was mumbling to myself on the train one day, and I was met with the shocked stare of a middle-aged lady who was sitting next to me. I responded by coughing dryly and pretending to fall asleep.

When I reached home, Arumi-san was nowhere to be seen.

Keisuke was smoking while sipping on a cup of coffee in the living room.

"Where's Arumi-san?"

Keisuke extinguished the shortened cigarette with the ashtray.

"She won't be coming as she is having dinner with her club."

"Then what should we do with ours?"

For breakfast, we'd normally just toast a bread ourselves or something, but dinner's quite different from that. Arumi-san would take care of it if she's around, but the two of us will have to settle it ourselves when she's not. It's pretty rare for Arumi-san not to come over to our house, so we'd just make an impromptu decision whenever she's not around.

"Do you want to do the cooking, or would you prefer to get some takeaway?"

Seemed like the thought of him cooking had never crossed Keisuke's mind. Generally speaking, he is not someone who is particular about eating, so I won't be surprised if he says, 'I don't mind skipping dinner if you're not cooking'.

"I guess I'm cooking......"

After I had accepted the task unwillingly, Keisuke fished out a wallet from the pocket of the shirt which he had hung on a chair and passed it to me. Our parents would wire the cash for living expenditures to a bank account which they had fully entrusted to Keisuke.

"...... So any special requests?"

It was just something which I asked casually, and Keisuke's reply was just as I had expected — it was indifferent.

"Anything will do."

"Got it."

I gave a shrug and left the house. If only he had called me or dropped me a message earlier, I would have purchased everything while I was on my way home.

I was in elementary when I first met Arumi-san. Keisuke was in high-school then, and Arumi-san had begun her frequent visits to our house. As Keisuke's girlfriend, of course.

But I was still a kid then, so I didn't understand things like that.

Before I knew it, I was already in love with Arumi-san. As for what happened next, I don't think I need to go in depth about that.

One day, at a certain instant, I suddenly understood the reality around me.

And from then onwards, I was afraid of Arumi-san.

Or more specifically, I'm afraid of facing my stupidity, for falling in love with Arumi-san even though I was just a kid.

Come to think about it, that was probably the time when a part of my soul turned cold.

There are things you can't change no matter how hard you try — that was the painful lesson I've learned from being madly in love with Arumi-san.

"What a pain......"

I grumbled while tossing the ingredients for dinner into the basket.

Back home, Keisuke and I ate the dinner I prepared in silence.

Keisuke's not a person who will express his thoughts on the meal.

I am not craving for his praise, but it would be great if he can say something at the very least. It's all Keisuke's fault for being incredible in just about everything he does. As his younger brother, I'd just feel inferior compared to him. Even if I am to put the case on Arumi-san aside for now, I think Keisuke will probably just dampen my soul in some other areas as well.

I do hate how I am thinking more and more pessimistically as time goes by.

As I washed the plates, I had decided to push the blame for all that had happened onto Shinonome.

The fact that she has a boyfriend was something which dealt a huge blow to me.

But it's not because I loved her. Rather, I actually hoped she was an aloof person.

However, that was just my wishful thinking. It's not like I actually wanted Shinonome to say things like "I don't need a boyfriend", nor do I want to say things like "I hope you don't get a boyfriend".

I wonder what expressions she will put on if I were to say things like that to her.

There was a brief snicker after I tried imagining the scene.

That alone was enough to lift my melancholic mood a little. Humans are strange creatures after all. While thinking about stuff like that, I washed away the bubbles off the plates. I then rubbed my finger on the surface of the plates, which produced a clean squeaking sound.

That made me smile once more.

I do enjoy washing the dishes, something quite unexpected considering my apathetic self.


  1. Is the main character a boy or girl? It's not really pointed out in the English translation, I'm assuming the honorifics in the original version make it clear?

  2. It's a guy. I thought that was fairly obvious.

    1. It would make his first love more tragic though, if he were a girl.

  3. Thanks for the chapter. ^_^

  4. Thanks for this. you are amazing

  5. Thanks for all, great job.

    I have a question. Brother's name is Keisuke or Kyousuke?

    1. It's Keisuke. Kyou must've been a typo.

      "I was in elementary when I first met Arumi-san. Kyousuke was in high-school then, and Arumi-san had begun her frequent visits to our house. As Kyousuke's girlfriend, of course."

    2. Brainfart from me. Fixed. Thanks a lot.