Author: Inaida Sou
Translator: Kei and Sakikyu of ChocoCats (Both are half-dead translating this chap. RIP)
○ 257 DAYS AGO (Part 2)
Holidays were basically sparse this year, and it was rare to be blessed with consecutive holidays, let alone three consecutive holidays. Holidays often occur on weekends such as Sundays, resulting in less time spent with my brother because of school and inevitably fewer surprises made.
That’s why this weekend will be the day. I have steadily prepared and surprised my brother since Friday evening and today.
Until now, I only made a surprise card to put in my brother’s textbook, but this time I made an imaginary stuffed animal that appears in the textbook.
When he looks at the fantasy animal inside the textbook and searches inside his desk, he will find the same animal that appeared in the textbook in front of him. It’s an unexpected fantasy world, my brother will be surprised for sure.
As I sew the cloth and stuff it with cotton, sometimes I stabbed my finger instead of the cloth, and I almost let out a sound. It makes me want to throw it out (yeet!), but I stretch out to change my mood and make the doll stand up.
Did I make a mistake in the size or the composition of the cotton? A fictional animal from a mix of triceratops, elephant, and clione isn’t able to stand up at all. When I was thinking about buying a stuffed animal that shake in response to the surrounding sounds and using the failed doll as a weapon instead, I heard my mother calling me from the first floor.
I stab the needle into the stuffed animal’s head and leave my room. In the living room, my mother stands in front of the phone and said, “We are going to Grandpa’s house,” as soon as she saw me.
“It seems that Grandpa has collapsed. Grandma died last year so we have to take care of him. Mai, prepare to go.”
I nodded in hurry at my impatient mother.
“I will go too.”
Looking back, my brother was standing behind me. Apparently, he came after hearing my mother’s voice.
“But Makoto have to prepare for the exam, right?”
“It doesn’t matter, after all, I don’t want to study while worrying that Grandpa may be dead. I can study at Grandpa’s house too.”
I felt chills on my spine at my brother’s words.
My brother is a person who accurately decides the optimal solution to gain society’s sympathy. As a person, he maybe follows us because he is worried about his grandfather, but he should be able to act nicely by saying, “I’m studying for the exam, but do tell me the situation.”
Don’t tell me, he wants to see grandpa die…?
No way, it’s his paternal grandfather, and he has a long relationship with my brother. Or rather, it’s an unbroken relationship since he was born. There may be a slight feeling.
“I see… Okay then, we will be back home on Sunday night, so Makoto-kun, prepare a change of clothes for four days.”
“Okay. Let’s go, Mai.”
My brother pats my shoulder. I stared at my brother’s back in a hurry to prepare, feeling suspicious.
My father’s side grandfather… or to be exact, my psychopath’s older brother’s blood-related grandpa’s house is about three prefectures away from where we live and is a place commonly called a valley. Immediately after we are ready, we got into the car that my dad was driving, but it took about three hours to arrive, and it was 8 pm by the time we arrived.
“Tou-san, it’s Takayuki.” (Dad)
Grandpa’s house is like a mansion in a historical drama, there is no intercom, only a door chime. In addition, we have to talk in a loud voice because it is regularly drowned out by the water bamboo tube and water in the garden sounds. There are only rice fields around, and the house next door is about a kilometre away, so it’s fine even if there are loud sounds. But because there are no streetlights too, it’s dangerous if you fall down or something happens.
“Oh, coming.” (Grandpa)
Grandpa’s voice echoes from a distance. After waiting for a while, the double door opened with a rattle, and grandpa with bandages on his head and left arm appeared.
“Sorry for troubling you to come all the way here… Hmm? Did Makoto and Mai also come?”
“That’s right. Because they are worried… So, what happened?”
“Well, come in first. It’s cold, isn’t it?”
Grandpa urges us to come inside. There was a bright red basin in the entrance, and tools were randomly put inside. A bear stuffed animal is hung next to it, and its eyes are shining strangely. After walking while looking at the same scenery as last year’s winter, we arrived at the parlour. On the core of the room, there was a framed calligraphy with “Steady Progress” written as decoration.
“So what happened?”
My mother asks grandpa while dad is making tea. My brother and I were sitting next to my mother.
“Well… I just stumbled on the stone stairs when I was going to the shrine. I actually only get a bruise, but because I hit my head, the young man at the shrine took me to a big hospital in the neighbouring town, and then…”
“It’s unrelated to my fall, but it seems there is something in my head that I shouldn’t have. So, I will have surgery next month. Sigh.”
My mother widens her eyes and grandpa laughed lightly.
“The surgery doesn’t mean anything for now. Don’t worry about that. And the doctor seems to tell you as if I fell down today, but it’s actually an exaggeration. My bad, even though Makoto should prepare for the exam, I made you all come here. So, take your time.”
Grandpa has a very cheerful personality. If Kurobe-kun is a person with a dark attribute, then grandpa is a person with a perfect light attribute. I first met grandpa about a year after my mom and dad remarried, so it’s about three years ago.
I was playing in the snow and grandpa surprised me by coming out from behind a big snowman. On the next day, when I woke up in the morning, he was wearing armour in the hall and scared me to death.
“Even so, Makoto has grown up, aren’t you? You might eventually surpass Takayuki.”
On the other hand, grandpa and my brother had a rather delicate distance and somehow felt like an adult playing with a child. Of course, the child is grandpa.
“Mai also grew taller. Last year you were only the size of an azuki bean.”
“I’m not that small!”
But because grandpa seems healthy, so I’m relieved. On the phone call, it feels like he was on the verge of death. Though, I’m still worried about the surgery… When I look at my brother, he still has his usual smile stuck on his face. Because his smile doesn’t feel like anything unusual, if I didn’t remember my past life, I would have been fooled by this smile.
We ended up staying at Grandpa’s house that day, and I fell asleep that night feeling a little restless.
The sound of the secondhand needle ticking echoes in the room. Grandpa’s mansion is large and has many rooms, my brother, and my parents were assigned to different rooms than mine. However, all rooms are Japanese-style rooms in common. So, the smell of tatami mats and a little incense stick spread throughout the room.
The room I use is decorated with a tiger folding screen. Somehow, while staring in the dark, I couldn’t sleep and wanted to go to the bathroom. I get out of the futon and gently walk down the long corridor.
Every step I did produce a sound, so I walk carefully. When I looked to the garden facing the corridor, the wind blew fluttering the dead leaves. Because there is only one toilet and I have to go through this long corridor to reach it, it’s really troublesome. After walking for a while, I noticed that there is light leaking through the gap between the shoji screens.
Who is still awake at this time? When I peek through the gap gently, I saw grandpa organizing the album.
“Mai? If you stay up until this late, you will shrink like azuki beans again.”
“I won’t get that small! Anyway, what are you doing?”
When I entered the room, the album he was spreading was my brother’s.
It seems that my brother lived here from the time his father divorced his ex-wife until he remarried my mother. When I look at it, I can see that the album contains pictures of my brother in his senior year of kindergarten, his new entrance to elementary school, and up to the third grade.
“Onii-chan is small.”
Grandpa has a complicated face. And after closing the album, he passes it on to me.
“Just right in time. Maybe this is also fate. You usually went to sleep right away and wake up at 8. Maybe it’s God’s will that you’re awake now.”
“What does Makoto look like to you?”
The organizer of the death game. I couldn’t answer that, and when I couldn’t come out with any words, grandpa dropped his gaze.
“It seems that his mother was a person who could raise her hand when she got angry.”
Was my brother’s real mom hitting him?
I’ve never heard of such a thing. Maybe that’s why she got divorced from my dad…?
“I don’t know anything, and when he was in senior grade at kindergarten, the teacher noticed and said that apparently, he had strange bruises. Obaa-san was angry and took Makoto here. Then we never let Makoto meet her mother anymore.”
Grandpa said that and took out a piece of note from the bottom of the album. The flower shop’s name in the neighbouring town and the surname ‘Koseki’ was written there.
“I happened to see her when I went to the hospital today. Makoto will be a high school student. I think it’s better to meet her once, but I don’t know what kind of person she became now. I can’t ask Asami-san (Mai’s mom) to see her husband’s ex-wife, right. And the ex-wife will recognize me or Takayuki immediately. So, I can only ask you. Will you do it?”
“Uh… I should go to see my brother’s real mom and see what kind of person she is…?”
“That’s right. I was thinking of hiring someone, but then you come just in time. It will be easier to see what kind of person she is from her reaction towards children around Makoto’s age, right?”
I felt a strange uncomfortable feeling from grandpa’s words. Is it okay to let the second-grade junior high school girl meet a dangerous person who usually hits a child? The manga did not describe my brother’s background before our parents’ remarriage except for his cruel habits, so I think it’s a good opportunity to get to know him.
Perhaps, the thing in grandpa’s head is quite dangerous, and he’s in a situation where he can’t really choose anything else because he doesn’t have much time?
“Okay, but… is the surgery really okay? Is it a deadly illness?”
“It’s not like that. You’re overly worried. If you’re too worried, you’ll have a hole in your stomach, you know.”
Grandpa chuckled at my worry. I received the note and left grandpa’s room.
T/N: Both translators are half-dead bcoz of chapter 12 and 13. Let’s pray for next week’s chapter to come out earlier.
To avoid confusion, here is a character list from me:
Kurobe Mai: our cute and energetic MC.
Kurobe Makoto: MC’s psychopath older brother, 1 year older, not blood related to our MC.
Takayuki: Makoto’s dad, married to Mai’s mom.
Asami: Mai’s mom.
Ojii-chan & Obaa-chan: Makoto’s grandpa & grandma from his father’s side.
Yukari: MC’s best friend, a cute girl with a sweet lolita style.
Iwai: MC’s friend and student council treasurer.
I will add more if there is more character name’s to add.