As soon as Shizuku finished the call with her mother, I also received a phone call at my house.
The call was made by Shizuku’s mother, Kanade-san.
Regarding the contents of the call, it was about staying overnight at the company due to bad weather and she wished for me to give shelter to Shizuku.
Kanade-san had been providing assistance to us, since the time of my childhood and since Kirasaka was staying already, I couldn’t refuse the matter of Shizuku staying and agreed.
I started preparing futons for the two people to sleep, in the living room. Right now, the three girls including Kaede, are together in bath.
From the sounds of laughter coming from inside sometimes, it could be inferred that the ambience is not bad.
To be honest, I was anxious about letting Kaede go in there with those two. I wonder if I let her go since she had been associating with Shizuku for a long time.
Right now, in case of a guy who could do household chores, by the time, the three came out of bath, he would have finished cooking the meal. Perhaps, he would also say some cool lines like “How about dinner”, but as I stated before, I am not able to cook at all.
What I am able to do, is just creating easy stuff like egg on rice with soy sauce as seasoning or cooking done in boiled water under three minutes.
When I tried to challenge cooking in the past, Kaede spoke “Brother, please don’t stand in the kitchen!” and I had to give up on it.
Because of this reason, I, who had lots of free time, casually picked up an album off the bookshelf and started turning its pages.
It had numerous photographs of Kaede lined up prettily side by side for each period; from preschool till elementary school, middle school and up until the time of high school entrance ceremony.
In the pictures reflected of Kaede, she was always holding on to my hand. Even in the most recent photograph taken at her high school entrance ceremony around one month ago, she was holding on to my hand with a big smile on her face.
It feels embarrassing even now, when thinking about it.
Kaede goes to an all girls’ high school, which is at the opposite side of Sakuranogaoka, where I study. Even though I said I didn’t want to, I was forcibly dragged off to the ceremony. In presence of many, I had to show a scene of a pair of brother and sister, being friendly and getting their pictures taken, holding hands.
My mother was setting up the camera happily. While, next to her, the sight of my frustrated looking father glaring at me, was impressive.
Those two people are currently abroad.
My father had to leave home due to a business trip overseas, of long duration. Worrying about my father who cannot do anything by himself like me, my mother left Kaede and I and went to live together with my father, abroad.
Kaede, who has been helping with the household chores for a long time, does majority of the work and I am in charge of shopping and manual labour.
Every Friday, Kaede and I, go shopping together and buy one week’s worth of food ingredients.
Apart from the family of four, inside the album, there were many photographs of Shizuku as well.
At the back, there is also an exclusive page, titled “Minato and Shizuku-chan”.
Inside that page, there are only pictures of Shizuku and I.
“Did you make such a thing….”
There are also some pictures among them, which can’t be shown to others. Gently, I closed the album and returned it to its original position.
“Brother, I have kept you waiting!”
Kaede came into the living room, with her dripping wet hair just out of bath, putting a towel on her head and wearing a big T-shirt.
“Is that my shirt?”
“I borrowed it!”
Wearing my T-shirt without permission, Kaede sat holding her exclusive hair dryer, in front of me.
I received the dryer from Kaede and started drying her hair with hot air.
“I had entered the bath with Shizuku-san, after a long time but she has really grown up! Furthermore, even Kirasaka-san… Yeah… She was amazing!”
“Kaede-chan! It is fine if you don’t say such a thing!?”
I could hear clattering noise of someone running, from the corridor. Shizuku came rushing inside the room and blocked the mouth of Kaede, frantically.
From behind, Kirasaka also came inside, unhurriedly.
“Ah…. I don’t mind, particularly?”
“Even if you are fine, I am not!”
What was so amazing… I would like to ask in great detail, but in front of my cute sister, as an older brother, I cannot let my secret desires be exposed.
Brushing off my wicked thoughts, I moved my hand without restrain. When the three people, who had just got out of bath, gathered around me, a nice fragrance drifted inside the room.
It is no wonder that Kaede, who is taking bath in the same place as I everyday, smells several times better.
I ignore the two people who are quarreling and dry Kaede’s hair, as quickly and carefully as possible.
“Look.. It’s done.”
After correcting the last disordered hair lightly by hand, I caressed her head and stood up for the purpose of going to the bath.
“Since our fragrance has been left behind strongly, I don’t mind you drinking it as well?”
“…Are you a dried fish1?”
Because of Kirasaka’s joke, I could hear “It is no good!? It is definitely not good!”. But there is no way I will drink, you know.
I do not have a hobby of drinking water left behind by someone, after entering the bath.
With change of clothes, I had prepared beforehand, I went towards the bathroom.
Incidentally, since there was the complication regarding entering the hot bath which had been previously used by the three girls, today I ended up using the shower only.
Meal had already been prepared by the time I stepped out of the bath. The four of us, ate the curry made by Kaede.
The dining table used by two of us usually, felt as bustling as the time when our parents were here, today.
Till the time of sleeping, we went through a simple review and I listened to test questions prediction from Shizuku and Kirasaka. I returned back to my room and went to bed immediately….. However
“Such tiny Shinra-kun is so cute.”
“Well… I was together with him since those days, though!”
“This is my favourite brother!”
I felt I could hear some evil voices coming from the living room, but I thought them to be fictions of my imagination.
Next morning, I wondered if it was my imagination that some photographs went missing from the album left in the living room.Footnotes
1. So, I could have left this as it was but it sounded awkward so I wanted to explain. In the previous sentence, I used the word ‘fragrance’ for the word 出汁. It actually has many meanings, out of which, one of them is “using something for their own benefit”. This was a pretty broad meaning, so I chose ‘fragrance’, which sounded right there. (I am willing to be corrected and provided a better word for the context.)
Now 出汁 also means fish stock, so in reply to that, in the second line, MC asked if she was a dried fish.