Here's 20. Comments for later. Enjoy.
The June without Mafuyu was about to be over.
The unique characteristic of my classmates in the Third Class of First Year, was that their interest in things typically didn't last very long. Even so, there were still some people who came to me asking about things related to Mafuyu (the incident of us running away from home together had already spread throughout the entire school, which made me seriously consider just transferring to another school). Some of them, who seemed to know nothing about classical music, had even borrowed some of Mafuyu's CDs from me.
Perhaps it was because the seat next to me was always empty.
But I had a horrible personality, so I didn't treat the newbies with any leniency at all, and decided to lend them pieces composed by the Russian composers Scriabin and Prokofiev first. Despite that, the classmates who borrowed the CDs still looked really happy.
"This is great! The photo on the cover looks really impressive!"
Go back and listen to the CD!
"There's actually two private guards at Ebisawa's house! Even I was quite surprised by that."
We decided to take a break during our practice on the roof. Kagurazaka-senpai said that to me with a gleeful expression.
"I originally thought there wouldn't be a lot people at her house, since it's huge, so I thought it'd be a piece of cake for me to slip onto the premises—but that was a naive thought. Luckily for me, she had gone to see the doctor that day."
So Senpai really was the one who secretly slipped that CD with the map into Mafuyu's bag.
"Why did you do that?"
Senpai was cleaning the neck of the guitar, which had had all its strings removed. She tilted her head and said,
"Plenty of reasons! I thought something might've happened if I did that, yeah? Well, doing that may not have been good for Ebisawa Mafuyu and you. Of course, there was also the possibility that nothing might've happened as well. However, one doesn't have to gather a huge group of people to start a revolution! If us humans want to accomplish something, we have to first plant the seeds that may not bloom, in the land of the wilderness."
For a person like me, who isn't poetic at all, that sounded like "Oh, it felt like something interesting might happen, so I decided to create an opportunity for that to happen." Therefore, I was not grateful to her at all.
As for Chiaki, after performing the armlock and camel clutch on me, she followed with a cobra twist.
"It hurts, it really hurts! Those aren't moves from Judo, right!?"
"I called you so many times, and yet, you didn't even message me a reply!"
"I'm sorry! Owwwwww!" I repeatedly tapped on Chiaki's arm to beg for her forgiveness, but she had no intention of letting me off the hook.
"So you said you met Ebichiri? Did you tell him that you're my son?"
Tetsurou asked me that rather unhappily while I was preparing dinner in the kitchen.
"He always complains to me. Since he's the one who pays for the international call, I always deliberately go on and on. Keke!"
"I think he probably overhead it when someone asked my name?"
I'm not quite happy saying this, but most of the people in the music industry know the name of Hikawa Tetsurou's son, so Ebichiri probably knew as well. I decided to just go with that, because it would've been disturbing if he had said something like "I recognize you just from your looks alone." But according to Tetsurou, I should take after my mother more, yeah?
"However, it's not quite like my son to be chased back home after only two days! You should've just disappeared like that! Though it would've been quite inconvenient without anyone to do the housework, I could've seen the face of that stupid-papa Ebichiri close to tears!"
So the worth of my existence is connected to something as stupid as that? I should just consider running away from home for real next time......
"Ah, sorry, I'm just joking. I'd be really troubled if Nao weren't at home. I don't even dare go to the toilet by myself at night......"
"Then just wet your bed instead!"
"Oh right, was there any sort of development between the two of you during the two nights? I'm not asking where you guys went, yeah? Come on, say it...... Tell me the details, since I'm your father......"
I threw an empty can at Tetsurou, and that shut him up.
June went by just like that.
That practice room was still left untouched as it was, as the owner of the padlock hadn't returned yet. I wouldn't have any problems picking the lock open, but Kagurazaka-senpai said, "That's a violation of the rules." Since I didn't manage to get Mafuyu to sign the application form for the club, the ownership of that room didn't belong to me yet; moreover, I didn't intend to use that room alone anyway.
I had no idea why, but the people around me no longer asked me about things related to Mafuyu, and no one told me where she went either. The only thing I could do was practice on the roof daily to brush up on my techniques. I had even learned a few new songs.
It was said that Mafuyu ended up following her father to America, though it was a few days later than what was planned. I saw that information in a magazine though, and had no idea how trustworthy that article was.
Did she accept the checkups? Did she decide to go on with the operation somewhere?
It was obvious, even to me, how much Ebichiri doted on his daughter. Should he get tired of Mafuyu constantly running away, he might even decide to permanently reside in America.
Perhaps I may never get the chance to see Mafuyu ever again.
Ebichiri's performance in Chicago was broadcasted in Japan via satellite—one of the pieces performed in the concert was Rachmaninov's <Piano Concerto No. 2>. I was holding onto a slight hope, but the pianist was obviously someone whom I didn't know. Even if her fingers had already recovered, it wasn't possible for her to stage a comeback that quickly.
I switched off the television and recalled the Bach Mafuyu had played on that day. Book 1 of <The Well-Tempered Clavier>, Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major—the unbelievable power that allowed me to find my bass might've already disappeared completely, without a trace. However, the power of music is indeed great. Come to think of it, all I had to do was place the silver disc in the music player and press the play button—and Mafuyu would appear before me.
Music is but a bunch of notes and the arrangement or superimposition of them. We humans, afraid of loneliness, are the ones who interpret them in many different ways.
Mafuyu had only sent a single letter to me. It came to me on a Sunday, right after noon. I was in disbelief for quite a long time when I realized the sender was Mafuyu Ebisawa. [TLNote: Written in romanji.]
There was nothing written in the envelope; instead, there was only a tape. I dug out the dusty tape recorder and pressed the play button. What flowed from the speakers was the grievous prelude of the piano sonata in E♭ major.
Beethoven's <Piano Sonata No. 26 in E♭ major>.
It was a piece that Beethoven had written to his best friend, whom he was separated from because of war. Moreover, even though it was rare for him to title his pieces, he gave it the title,
<The Farewell>. [TLNote: Name of the sonata's actually Les Adieux. It's split into three movements. The first, which is linked in the youtube, is named Das Lebewohl, which means 'The Farewell'. Wiki link here.]
I passed the tape to Tetsurou without saying anything. After listening to it, he said,
"The parts of the left and right hand were recorded separately, then merged together. So that means...... her right hand hasn't recovered yet, right?"
However, this was indeed a piano piece played by Mafuyu—I could tell just by listening. It was probably recorded using the sound recorder I had helped repair?
The precious thing that her mother had given her.
"...... But that's quite a horrible piece she chose, yeah? She's saying farewell to you! What a pity...... but I guess there's no helping it. It's your fault for being my son—you have to be prepared to not have a lasting relationship with women!"
"Just shut up and go back to your work!"
Tetsurou grabbed his lunch—a hand-rolled sandwich on a plate—and returned to his study room.
I knew what Tetsurou had said was a lie. That piano sonata was indeed written to mourn the separation, but there were pieces after the farewell.
The second movement titled <The Absence>, and the third, <The Return>. [TLNote: Abwesenheit and Das Wiedersehen. Refer to wiki link earlier.]
And so, during a certain lunch break in early July, the back door of our classroom was suddenly flung open.
"Comrade Aihara, quick, it's about time to leave! Young man, you move quickly as well. Hurry!"
The voice of Kagurazaka-senpai came from behind me, and everyone in class focused their attention on me. Chiaki stopped her hand, halfway reaching out for my bento—her face was filled with surprise.
I turned my head around and noticed that Kagurazaka-senpai was actually wearing...... casual clothes at school? She was wearing a white shirt with a black-and-white photo of Jim Morrison printed on it, together with a denim miniskirt...... What the heck is she thinking?
"Senpai, you mean we're going somewhere?"
"To the airport. It's a four-thirty flight, so we won't be able to make it if we don't head there now! Move fast!"
"To the airport...... what for?"
"What else? The prison term of our fellow comrade is over, and she's about to come back. Obviously, we need to stage a rescue operation when she touches down on land!"
Chiaki and I looked at each other for a while, then, at the same time, grasped the meaning behind Senpai's words.
"Mafuyu..... she's coming back?"
"Yes. But because her father is coming back with her, they'll probably be visiting those boring geezers related to the College of Music right after they land. The airport will be our only chance to strike!"
"Huh? Wait, we still have two periods of homeroom later in the afternoon......"
"There's no time to be dilly-dallying!"
"Why do we have to rush?"
"Young man, you surprise me sometimes. Do you not know the reason? Next week, the student council will be allocating the funds that'll be given to the various clubs for the next semester. We won't be able to acquire any funds if we don't raise an application with four club members!"
"Eh......?" Four members?
"Due to a certain useless person who didn't manage to accomplish his mission before Mafuyu headed to America, this is our last chance."
"W-We're gonna make her complete the application form right now?"
Before I could finish my sentence, Chiaki and I were already being pushed by the hands of someone—or rather, some people—out of the classroom.
"All Retiree does is to talk about the past anyway. You won't miss much even if you skip!"
"You're not allowed to finish the food she bought for us!"
So we were actually pushed by out classmates. Please, don't pick times like this to show how united you guys are, alright!?
"We'll help you mark your attendance!"
You'd definitely be caught if you did that in high-school, alright? Just as I was about to retort with that, the doors of the classroom slammed shut with a *bang*. Damn those people......
"You guys aren't changing out of that uniform? Oh well, what should I do with you two? Whatever, since the summer uniform doesn't look like a uniform anyway, there shouldn't be a problem if you two remove the tie and bow-tie, yeah?"
"Senpai, please don't decide that for us!"
Just as I was about to continue with my protest, Chiaki removed the bow-tie from her neck.
"Then why don't you stay? I have a lot of things to say to Ebisawa, so I'm going as well."
"The operation I had planned can only be carried out with three people. Young man needs to be bait to lure the campus guards away."
"No way am I doing that!"
"Just kidding. Let's go!"
Senpai indiscriminately grabbed me by the arm, and dashed away from the classroom.
Oh well, I guess I'll just give up. It should be fine skipping homeroom, right? I'll probably be awarded another slap if Miss Maki hears about this......
As we ran past the entrance, the shrill cry of a bird suddenly rang out from high above my head. I lifted my head to look at the sky above me and could barely open my eyes, due to the rays of the summer sun—all I could see was a black-colored bird soaring past the sky.
Of course, that species of bird doesn't exist in Japan.
...... Or, maybe it really does. It's just still on the ground, dragging its tattered wings, thinking of a way to spread its wings to fly into the sky.
"Nao, faster! Or else you won't be able to catch up with Senpai!"
Chiaki was standing at the school gate, waving her hands hard at me.
I sprinted towards her with huge strides. And once again, it caught up to me—the cry of the bird, that had just come from the skies above me; the song that returned, after it had soared past the ends of the skies.
And here's Volume 1. Hope you guys enjoyed it.
Well, firstly, gotta thank the three editors. Yeb's doing really well, and his participation in the team is much appreciated. Also thanks to Crazy Cake! for the raws.
Personally, this series is my most favorite series out of the 3 that I am working on here. However, the difficulty of the series is also the hardest for me, because I have almost zero knowledge on music. As such, I am still deciding if I want to continue on with the series, or leave it at Volume 1.
Lastly, thanks to you guys for following through, even though my translation is nothing spectacular. Feel free to leave your feedback here, if you have any.