Author: Inaida Sou
Translator: Kei of ChocoCats
○ 141 DAYS AGO
It’s March, days move so fast and in a blink of an eye, it’s already graduation ceremony day. Perhaps the time felt so fast because every day I only need to attend the morning lessons, and the rest are practising for the ceremony.
I patted my aching elbow because after I woke up, I immediately changed my clothes, headed to the living room, and stumbled in the process.
With my new outfit style, I can’t even touch the doorknob. When I managed to get into the room, I got stuck like a ball.
After my utmost effort trying, I finally entered the room, sweating and out of breath. Then, I looked at the full-size mirror. In the mirror, I saw myself standing in a hamburger costume.
Yes, now I’m a hamburger.
I bought the costume online. There were various other types such as French fries and drinks, but I chose a hamburger because it seems to have a big impact upon seeing it for the first time.
To be honest, it’s seriously heavy, and the heat is the same with the armour. I rather jump off the balcony, make a big hole in the garden, or jump into the pond. I’m wearing this costume now while suffering just to offer a surprise. But this is also for my brother.
It will be surprising when he woke up in the morning, there is a huge hamburger in the centre of the living room, and it was his sister inside the costume. Today is also the day of the graduation ceremony. When I was standing in the living room, feeling victorious already, the door opens.
“Mai, good morning. You are early.”
My brother who suddenly came into the living room glanced at the hamburger, then he pulled my arm and sat on the sofa. Because it’s like wearing a big lifebuoy from top to bottom, as soon as I lost my balance, I bumped hard into the sofa.
“This is cool. How did you buy it?”
“Did you carry it through the front door…? Oh, it was deflated, isn’t it?”
My brother answered his own question. He squished the fluffy bun part for a bit and led his hand back to grab my hand, or rather hold it tight. Even when I pull out lightly, he won’t let go. My brother, while he reacted to my surprises lightly, also still looked down on me with his cold eyes.
“What is it?”
“No, I was wondering why you hold my hand.”
“If you don’t like it, you can brush it.”
My brother said without changing his expression. And he pressed the tomato part of my hamburger costume innocently while saying, “This is amazing. It’s flexible.” As soon as he starts pulling the cheese part, he starts to thrust his hand.
I wonder why. Is doing that really fun for him? Tomatoes have red colour, but it’s still vegetables after all. It’s not like human organs.
“So, it can be crushed like this. Hahaha.”
However, it seems that my brother’s real personality hasn’t changed as usual. I can only remind myself of the sense of crisis in the near-approaching death game countdown.
My brother stands on the stage in the gymnasium with a refreshing face, giving his speech as the graduate representative, while I sit in the designated area for other students. Once the graduation ceremony begins, I have no choice but to watch the sight of graduates being called by name and receiving their diplomas, which is boring even if it’s my relative who graduates.
“Look, Yukari-chan. That’s my brother!”
“I know. Mai-chan calms down. You are being strange recently. Somehow Mai-chan seems to be cornered?”
When I lowered my voice and whispered to Yukari who sit beside me, she turned her worried face to me.
This week’s Monday, because I don’t have any other means, I told my brother, “I’ll make a crepe!” And succeeded in making a splendid flambé. I practised and made a beautiful and safe pillar of fire, but my brother’s impression was only, “Be careful not to get burned.”
On Tuesday, I made dominoes from my brother’s room to the living room, but despite my spectacular work, my brother just simply said, “You did well.”
That domino of mine was absolutely spectacular.
The theme is a nationwide tour. I set up the dominoes imitating Japan’s region speciality like the cows from Hokkaido’s ranch, Tokyo’s puffed rice cracker (Kaminari-Okoshi), Takoyaki from Osaka, and the bitter gourd from Okinawa. I devised the idea so neatly to make it interesting.
I diligently put together the component, I even used the projector to make it like a movie, and at the end of the dominoes, I showed off the projection mapping in the living room. After the sparkling colours of four seasons at the ending, there is a surprise sentence “There is no particular meaning” displayed in shining rainbow colour using the bold gothic font. And all I receive is just one sentence, “You did well.”
(Lol, Mai is holding a grudge.)
So, I tried to surprise again with a hamburger costume this morning, but that didn’t work either.
“I was able to fulfil my role as student council president properly all thanks to the cooperation of teachers, parents, and all the students at this school. Thank you very much!”
My brother is giving a speech full of emotions, but I’m sure it’s just acting. There is no way for people who got moved by the graduation ceremony, didn’t get their emotions moved by dominoes.
(Mai is really holding a grudge here lolol.)
Everyone, teachers, the graduates and even the current students, listen to my brother’s speech with teary eyes, but I’m sure he’s now seeing those people who got moved to tears with his own words as “simple-minded”.
“Even though we are graduating from this junior high school and spreading our wings towards our dreams, it’s not an eternal farewell. I believe that the memories we spent together for three years will remain in our hearts.”
A memory may gradually fade, but if the death game is held, my brother’s presence will remain in the memory of those who are attending this graduation ceremony. He will be remembered as “a person who was giving such a moving speech that suddenly turned into a murderer.”
As I expected, I have no choice but to keep my brother at home on the death game day. In the manga, he said, “Because my parents are travelling, preparations went easily,” so it’s possible to confine him. But that’s just the last resort. Even if the tragedy of the death game can be prevented, there is a possibility of him doing something else after that.
Is there anything else that might be interesting to my brother…
As I stared at him, my brother turned his gaze toward me. As if there is some hidden meaning, he smiled, and probably because it was too unnatural timing, everyone glanced at me.
Why are you all looking here?
I glared back at my brother on the stage in protest.
In the end, because my brother looked at me suddenly, everyone in the class teased me saying “Kurobe, you fell asleep didn’t you”, so as soon as the ceremony was over, I left the classroom and went to my brother’s class.
In other classes, the teachers are writing messages about memories of the past year in the classroom. For a moment I thought it would have been better to wait at the school gate, but I already arrived, so I can’t help it. I stood in the corner of the corridor and erased my presence.
Outside the window, cherry blossoms are dancing. Every year, cherry blossoms bloom during the graduation season… or that’s what they said, but actually, this is the first time I’ve ever seen cherry blossoms bloom exactly at the graduation ceremony.
The white particles that dance around are definitely flower petals, but the graduation ceremony of the elementary school and the kindergarten are in early March, and the cherry blossoms bloom in late March. The entrance ceremony is usually in early April, so seeing the full bloom on the day of the ceremony is far from feeling fresh, it feels strange.
“Mai, you’ve been waiting for me?”
I turned my head and saw my brother walk out of the classroom. He’s the student council president and head class representative, so I thought he would come out a little later.
I glanced behind him to see if he was really done, turns out his classmates are looking at my brother with reluctant looks.
“Are you done?”
“Yeah. I received the farewell messages already, and I can get in touch with them online.”
Well, it’s certainly possible to stay in touch without actually meeting in person, and my brother has all of his classmates’ contacts. When I was convinced and left school together, my brother did a big stretch.
“Right, you also did a speech as the student council president, you’ve worked hard.”
The student council duties were handed over in January, and since then it was run by the new members. But because my brother was the student council president, and there was also a speech as the graduate representative, he’s been so busy. On the other hand, unless I run for the student council election, I don’t have anything to do, so I devoted myself to giving my brother surprises and failed.
(She means her attempts with domino and hamburger lol)
“Mai, are you really alright not joining the student council?”
“Yeah. From next year, I’m genuinely going devote my 100% to the go-home club.”
“I thought if it’s Mai, you can definitely go as council president, though?”
My brother seems disappointed. In this year’s election, because there are too many council president candidates, the votes become divided. And although usually, the council president needs to have 200 votes to be chosen, the current council president was chosen with only 80 votes. He was neither good nor bad, but because my brother’s votes were over 90%, he’s now worried.
“You see, I’m not the type who can that stands on top of people, unlike my older brother.”
“Being council president doesn’t do that much. It’s like playing house at school.”
“What are you talking about? You even changed three school regulations.”
While working at the student organization, my brother lifted the ban on brown hair, colour cardigans, and bicycle commuting. It seems that the lifting of the brown hair ban was argued by teachers, but they finally agreed when my brother told his concern about what to do with the natural brown-haired students, as hair dyeing is prohibited too. Thanks to this, Yukari-chan was relieved because her natural hair is brownish.
I think some people will be saved by my brother if he uses his manipulating power in his works like this. But I’m sure my brother won’t enjoy helping people, and even if the other party felt they were helped, he won’t feel the same. My brother will help people happily only when he is injured. It’s a difficult problem.
“What is it?”
I was called, so I turned my head to my brother. What appeared in front of me was a small bag. It’s wrapped with a white ribbon in a thin spring-like pink wrapping.
“It’s a thank you gift for making me bento lunch from last year.”
He’s giving me…a gift? I always received a birthday present. But this may be the first time for him to gift me outside formal ceremonies. And he usually handed it in front of my parents while saying, “Mai, happy birthday!” with his fake gentle older brother smile, but today he just stared at me without even smiling.
“Tha-thank you, Onii-chan!”
“…It’s nothing much.”
My brother replied bluntly. When I opened the bag, I found a scrunchie that looks like a black butterfly. When I change the angle, the blue glitter turns red. It’s very cute, I’m happy.
“I wonder where I should put it~”
“Is there any other place than your hair?”
“Even if I put it on my wrist, it’s still cute.”
My brother gave an uninterested reply, “I see.” And when I thought he looked down, he touched the second button on his blazer and tore it off.
When I was amazed by his sudden action, my brother offered me the button.
“There is a custom to exchange the second button in the graduation ceremony, isn’t it? I thought Mom or Dad might be worried if I still have mine.”
“Ehh…? I don’t think they will worry…”
The perfectly fine uniform has been wasted. Usually, boys of the same grade uniform were pretty tattered and frayed, but my brother’s uniform always looked like a new one with no wrinkles or stains. Also, why did he give his sister, me, the second button? Though if it’s my brother, I’m sure many girls will give their money just to obtain it…
“Are you sure I can receive it?”
“Yeah. Please dispose of it.”
“No, I’m not a garbage dealer. Or rather, I can’t throw it away, it’s a memoir, right?”
“It’s fine, after all, I will throw away the blazer too.”
“What a waste…”
While saying so, I suddenly got an idea. It might be good to receive my brother’s unused blazer, make a small uniform for a teddy bear to wear and give it to my brother.
Back then, Grandpa cut my brother’s and my unused school bags and made a mini school bag. There will be some excess fabrics… Then, should I make a bear out of blazer excess fabrics…? Which is better?
Grandpa’s surgery was a success, and it might be a good idea to call Grandpa and ask him which one is better. Let’s try it today. I also want to boast about the scrunchie.
“What are you laughing at?”
The trip to school this morning was heavy due to the failure of the hamburger operation, but now, I feel bright as I walk home.
“I’m so thirsty.”
After I called Grandpa that evening, I went down to the kitchen on the first floor while feeling drowsy. Grandpa is fine without any post-operation after effect, and as he has returned his driver’s license, he seems to be exercising his body while walking far places. “I’m walking to Mizuhashi-san’s house who lives across three houses from mine,” he reported so often, that I felt like I was receiving calls from Mary-san.
(See T/N at the end of the chapter for Mary-san’s explanation.)
I want to fall asleep like this, but my throat is too dry, and I can’t sleep. The light was leaking from my brother’s room door, so I’m sure he’s not killing insects right now, it’s the right timing.
When I headed to the kitchen with the clock showing the last minute to midnight, the dim light was on. Maybe Dad or Mom is making a midnight snack. So far, I don’t smell any food though. As I cautiously opened the door, I saw my brother’s profile. Maybe he came to drink water. But the next moment, the sight that came into my view stopped me as if my legs are glued to the floor.
My brother’s face is expressionless and is throwing something away.
He doesn’t seem to notice me yet. The thing that he had thrown are not flesh or human body part, but papers. Letters, messages, and even graduation albums are mercilessly packed in garbage bags by his hands. His eyes are dull and clouded just like the bottom of a swamp.
Those eyes are not my brother’s usual eyes. Even though he usually gave cold eyes, my brother’s eyes right now are definitely the ‘Kurobe-kun’ after he revealed his true nature.
The moment I realized it; my body stopped moving. I can’t even make a voice. When I’m somehow able to move my body, I can only step back. I managed to get back to the room without being noticed, and after I closed the door, my body sank to the floor.
Indeed, I have never really felt his genuine response to my surprises. However, sometimes I hope the slight surprises would accumulate, and his change would avoid the tragedy.
However, the appearance of my older brother just now was unmistakably Kurobe-kun.
It’s already March. It’s four months before my brother will hold the death game. How can I prevent my brother from going through the tragedy?
Feeling the noisy beating of my heart, I could only sit on the floor.
T/N: Hello, sorry for the late update, my spoiled lungs being sulky recently, it won’t let me breathe, so I spent my days in bed most of the time T.T
Btw, here is a simple explanation about Mary-san:
Mary-san is an urban legend/ghost story in Japan, it’s about a girl who owns a western doll called Mary-san, and the girl will receive a phone call from Mary-san stating Mary’s location, and the calls will continue until Mary-san reaches behind the girl. For more, you can read here.
Tbh I’m weak with ghost stories and I was translating this at midnight, so it’s freaking me out lol.
After this, will be the last chapter of Mai’s POV, and then it will be hell for me coz it’s the long-awaited 5 chapters straight of Makoto’s POV! I’m sure you guys are waiting for this ehehe. I will do my best!
Anyway, I wanna thank you very very much for someone who gave me Ko-fi, you really made me so motivated to translate! I still don’t know whether it’s good to mention the person’s name or not… is it violating privacy? But I’m really really grateful! So thank you very much!
So, see you in the next chapter and please stay safe!