|Author: Hidsuki Shihou||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2370 characters|
|Translator: PunishedLyly||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1165 words|
Wait, wait a minute. This isn’t the time for my brain to freeze. If what I’m thinking right now turns out to be right, then it would be extremely bad. I have no idea that Kotone had a child though.
「I lost mom.」
Of course it’s that. No, this is really a relief. I was an idiot for having an overactive imagination. For how she looks, this kid should be around the age of a first year primary schooler. Assuming she’s Kotone’s child, at what age would she have been pregnant? Thinking properly, that would be implausible.
「Huh? Aren’t you Ai?」
「Yup. Big sister was familiar, so I followed.」
We’ve met about two times before. She’s the apartment manager’s daughter, she’s in first grade elementary, if I’m not wrong. Was she and her mother shopping and she got lost? And so seeing me, a familiar face, she came to ask for help, then?
「I’m done. So, what’s with the girl?」
「She’s lost. She’s the daughter of an acquaintance. She found me by coincidence, so she came for help」
That was quick. You can tell she didn’t have any conflict in deciding what to buy. Still, this isn’t the time for shopping anymore. For now, we need to find the manager. Wait, I guess there’s no need to.
「Let me try contacting her.」
I have her contact details on my smartphone, so this should be resolved immediately as long as she notices my call. The problem would be if she’s too panicked to take note of it.
『I’m sorry Kisaragi-san. I have an emergency right now, I’ll call back later.』
Since she picked it up after several calls, I guess she was trying to make calls to some other people. Still, I can tell the panic from her voice.
「If it’s about Ai, she’s with me.」
『Is that true!? Haa, thank goodness.』
Looks like she was quite worried. Well, she and her daughter are the only ones living together after the early passing of her husband, so I guess it’s a natural reaction. After all, the father definitely can’t help with the search, and I’m sure she’ll do anything to find her daughter. Just the extremes.
「We’re at this place right now.」
『I understand. I’ll head there asap.』
「Your mother said she’ll be here soon.」
「Thank you, big sister.」
Yup, what a good kid. Still, why has she been holding my hand for the past few minutes? We’ve only met for two times, I can’t see any reason why she’d be so attached to me.
「Hmmm, if you were just a bit older, you two could look like mother and child.」
「Could you seriously stop imagining things like that?」
Having a child at this age really is no joke, it’d be a serious issue. I mean, a 17 year old mother? There might be some out there, but I think they’d have innumerable ordeals before them. Moreover, in my case, it’ll cause an even bigger problem.
I guess we were unexpectedly close. Without even several minutes passing, the manager arrived. And she’s running. You can tell just how worried she got.
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Still, why isn’t this girl leaving my side yet? Isn’t this the part where you run to your mother and have a touching reunion? Kaori even has a strained smile watching this.
「Geez, didn’t I tell you to wait back there?」
Just a guess, but she probably wandered around while the manager was in the toilet or something, which is why they got separated. And luckily, she saw me and asked for help. That should be it.
「Thank you very much, Kisaragi.」
「Please don’t mind it. I merely contacted you and did nothing else other than that.」
「But it seems like I’ve interrupted you and your friend’s shopping trip…」
「As I said, I don’t mind at all.」
It’s nice to be thanked and all, but too much and it feels uncomfortable. Just saying it once should be enough in these sorts of situations.
「Ai. From now on, listen well to what your mother says, alright? There’s no telling if I’d be there the next time around, after all.」
「Yup! Got it!」
Great to see you energetic. Though I can’t tell if she actually understood it. Still, can she be just a little more wary about people? She has like zero wariness towards me.
「Oh my, you’ve gotten quite attached to Kisaragi.」
「This is just the third time Ai and I have met, right?」
「That’s right. Perhaps her instincts as a child finds you to be trustworthy.」
Is that so? Come to think of it, children would mostly either get scared or get attached. Based on my previous life experience, that is. In Kotone’s case, there’s no need to tell, is there?
「Ah, Kotone. Have you bought sunscreen yet?」
「You likely don’t have any at home either, so go buy some. You interact with customers, so pay a little more attention to this stuff.」
「I get it. Then, manager. I’ll take my leave now.」
「You’ve really changed a lot. For the better, of course.」
Have I changed that much? It should be about four months since I met the manager. I don’t remember doing anything that would change her impression of me from that time.
「When we first met, your expressions seemed forced, you see. Now that you’ve made friends, I can see that you express your true self more.」
「I was quite uneasy back then. More importantly, my reputation was so terrible, I didn’t know if anyone would ever help or side with me.」
Moreover, I, a man, just woke up inside an unknown girl’s body without any explanation. It’d be impossible for me to not feel anxious. And the business smile is a standard for any working adult, so I’m used to faking smiles.
「My apologies for keeping you here. Ai, let’s go now.」
「Yup. Big sister, later!」
As Ai cheerily waved her arm, I gave a small goodbye wave before facing Kaoru. Why is she just grinning by herself?
「So you’re soft on kids, huh.」
「It’s not really like that, you know.」
「After showing a smile like that? Besides, look around us.」
Around me? Why are there so many people just frozen still? And they’re looking at me, I have no idea what’s happening.
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「Since you looked so nice, the guys were stopped on their feet. Come, we’re blocking the way, so let’s leave.」
I still don’t understand the situation but as Kaori said, staying here won’t really benefit me. The stares are painful. Still, have I really changed that much? Maybe it’s the effect of having more friends and allies around me. But compared to the first days, my situation has really improved. Alright, first things first, let’s get through this year.
But before that, the beach……