And so on and so forth – let’s keep that girlish train of thought in check.
“I see. So that’s why it turned out like that.”
The man with the blackish-green glasses wore a troubled smile. He listened carefully to what I said, amazed at how I started crying in the middle of the traffic. Or not – he was seriously concerned about me.
I’m not the important one here, I just have to worry about this girl – that’s what his voice said. A voice, more so than an image, can make my mind dizzy – it’s an affinity I have originating from a previous life.
“Maybe we take a break at that cafe up ahead, if it’s all right with you. You must be tired, too.”
He was pointing to a fortress-like cafe, with a hanging sign in German. Um, I think it’s read Ahnenerbe. It seemed like a stern place, but that’s still much better than talking while standing up.
“Um, yes. T-Thank you very much!”
I held back those shameful, overflowing tears of mine, and nodded.
For an instant, the snake called wariness rose its head, but after thinking for a bit, it lost its interest and coiled back to sleep.
Even though the man had said nothing but pick-up lines, how can someone who was the very picture of harmlessness have ulterior motives? No, actually, even if he did it would probably work out pretty well. That’s the state of mind I’m in right now.
I know that even though I’m a coward, in this regard I’m very open – I want to do something about this personality.
“If, if it isn’t too much of a bother – I, I have something I want to say, too…! That is, well, there’s still over one hour until the next train, so!”
My tears have stopped, but my heart is now running straight into the day after tomorrow. Seeing my red face and the way I flustered, the man gave another light troubled smile.
“Well, since I said I’d reward you, it’s my treat. And oh, we still haven’t greeted each other yet.”
He gave a belated, simple self-introduction.
His name was Kokutou Mikiya. The instant those sounds reached my ear,
” – I look forward to this year with you, Seo-san.”
I felt them disappear into the depths of my daze – things as yet unseen, voices as yet unheard of.
Cafe Ahnenerbe was decorated by antiques; anyone would feel calm in this dark dim space. There were no electric lights, with the interior being lit solely by the sunlight from outside, like the chapel of a church.
“…Um, there aren’t really many customers, are there?”
“That’s true – and it’s before noon, too.”
Mikiya-san gave a strained smile, as though it was a personal matter.
…Incredible. I think his appearance has actually turned on its head and reached a criminal level of harmlessness.
“Looking the way it does, it’s probably hard for a first time visitor to come in. It’s a shame, because the coffee and the cakes are both delicious… oh, I see. Would you prefer a brighter shop, Shizune-chan?”
Didn’t he just say something incredible right now in a very natural way?!
“N-No, not at all! I could get used to this mood! In fact, it’s very calming!”
“That’s good. Let’s go find a seat by the windows.”
As though enticed by those sweet words, I lowered myself into a seat by the windows – opposite of Kokutou-san.
“- Eheh, heh.”
By hiding my embarrassment, my face instead became one of utmost stupidity.
I quickly straightened out my grin. Haven’t I already disposed of this peacefully sodden mindset earlier? I shook my head from side to side quickly, switching out my emotions.
It wasn’t because I was tired that I agreed to Kokotou-san’s kind words. It was because I had something I wanted to ask from this person I’ve never seen before, that I would muster my courage and do something like breaking school regulations –
“Here’s the menu. The coffee here is hotter than usual, so be careful if you’re going to order it. Today’s special is… huh, same as yesterday. That’s too bad. The blueberry would’ve made a perfect recommendation.”
– was what I had wanted to do.
Seeing the way the discouraged young man clicked his tongue, my face slackened again.
“Ah – n-no, no no!”
Like I said, that’s not what I’m here for!
He’s a stranger that I’ve just gotten to know about ten minutes ago.
I summoned my courage to talk to someone who normally I would walk away from after giving thanks; but this definitely wasn’t because of a childish impulsiveness. In some vague way, I felt a curious connection to this Kokutou Mikiya.
It wasn’t like those ‘usual scenes’ that I was intimately familiar with; it felt like I was groping in the dark, trying to confirm something’s shape – something like an instinctual feeling of ordinariness, a feeling that I had left behind in my childhood.
Kokutou-san ordered coffee, and I asked for an iced cocoa.
In the awkward silence that descended after ordering our drinks, I turned off my emotions. I felt a gaze, like I was being controlled by the me from five minutes later, making sure that I wouldn’t be hurt no matter what answer I may receive.
By the time I saw the soft brown colour of our drinks placed before us, I was a completely different person from before. My two selves are independent. Even though I’m still myself, there isn’t a time, a string connecting us at all.
“I wanted to ask you about before. Why did you believe in me, Kokutou-san?”
Without touching my drink, I put forth a question, looking directly at him.
To him, it might have been just a stranger’s problem, something he didn’t really need to care about.
But to me, it was a matter of life and death.
If he ends the conversation with a joke, I’ll probably feel really let down, and spend the next week in depression, but at the least, I’ll have bid farewell with gratitude.
“Even if you ask me why, it’s hard to answer… hmm. Isn’t it all right if I said it was because you were trying so hard?”
“So it was because you pitied me?”
I was being mean, turning it against him.
If that was why he had looked at me, then there’s no way he would’ve chased after the man. It was because he believed me that he chased after him… Even though I know this, I wanted to try him.
Kokutou-san considered it for a while, as though carefully scrutinising.
“I think there was some pity, too. At first, I made the mistake of thinking you were being threatened. But in the end, that’s only my personal circumstances.
At that point, the only thing I understood was that Shizune-chan had no reason to lie. It didn’t seem like you had anything to gain by deceiving him. In which case, that would mean this girl is seriously worried about that man. The authenticity of the accident and so on aside, it was hard to ignore it.”
And well, something kind of came to mind – Kokutou-san gave a strained smile.
“It’s not a lie, so you believed me? So you’re just saying it’s good intuition – isn’t that a lie and an excuse, too?”
“Well, even if it’s like a lie, you were serious, weren’t you? If I can believe in the beginning of something, then that’s enough… and, well, I’m getting used to these kinds of stories lately.”
I’ll trust, not in the contents of the story, but in the essence of the person telling it, said Kokutou-san.
…That was enough. I, Seo Shizune took a deep breath, becoming so calm that even I myself wasn’t sure what to think of it; I opened up to him about this worry that I have fostered for many years.
“I, can see the future.”
As I had expected, Kokutou-san looked shocked at my blunt confession, and sipped from his coffee while it was still black.
“T-This kind of talk is just weird, isn’t it?!”
Actually, the one that’s weird is me!
” – No, being surprised is just my personal circumstances, so don’t worry. More importantly, what do you mean by seeing the future? Can you really watch it like a movie?”
Unexpectedly, Kokutou-san became more serious, leaning forward slightly as though urging me to continue.
“Um, yes. Like a movie, or maybe I should say it’s like my view just gets switched over as-is. It’s like a daze, really.”
“No, it’s not like I’m always seeing it. Most of the time, it suddenly happens with no warning – it feels like a light being switched on, and then the view just slips into a different one -”
… it’s hard to explain the “view of the future” in words.
I fall into a daze, and after a blink of eye, I can gaze at ‘events which will now happen’ in an objective way – despite this, I feel like I’m looking behind myself.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling, as though I’m seeing the view projected into the back mirror, seeing myself in that view.
“…Time would feel like it’s going by awfully slowly. But it’s actually just a daze for about two seconds – I’ve been starting to think that maybe time is actually moving forward and turning back…”
That is because all times advance in parallel with each other when the observer watches the future.
The view of the man’s accident from before was a film almost ten minutes long, but in fact I had grasped it in the time it took for me to blink.
“And when did this start?”
While it was taking all my effort just to try and explain, in contrast, Kokutou-san was infinitely calm.
“I realised when I was in middle school that I was seeing the future. When I was a child, I didn’t know what I was seeing, and I don’t think it was ever as precise as it is now.”
“Well, that’s a small mercy… would be a rude thing to say. Children have hardships of their own. I can only guess what it was like, but there were many painful things, weren’t there? You must be very enduring, Shizune-chan.”
” – ”
…Oh no, now I feel like crying – being all shamefully flustered again. It’s sad, and painful, but even more so, it was happy and difficult.
I haven’t felt this much pain since the winter of two years ago. It was the same as when I came home and saw a childhood friend – my Shiba, Chris, on his deathbed.
The chill I felt that time is still burned into my heart.
Chris was waiting until I got home.
The next morning, Chris passed away sleeping, not in his dog house, but as though he was out of sight.
As I watched that view, I couldn’t change the future. I noticed that, even if I bring him to the clinic, even if I spent the entire night with him, the fact that Chris would be on his deathbed wasn’t swayed. The only thing I could do was watch Chris as he ended the way he wanted, and cry.
I kept crying that night, from the grief of Chris’ death, and from happiness in that he would wait for me; the next morning, when I saw Chris in the now, I cried again. I had to bear these painful memories, just once more than other people.
This person made me remember all this without even referring to it.
” – Um, please!”
Maybe it was an uncontrollable enthusiasm, or an impulse, but something suddenly pushed up and I raised my voice. Across the iced cocoa which I still haven’t touched yet, I discovered our enemy.
What is it? Kokutou-san raised his face.
“I, I don’t mean anything by this…!
But, well. Would you mind if, um, if I called you Mikiya-san from now on?!”
It’s like my heart or my tongue became a tattered old pocket watch.
In response to my stiff voice, Mikiya-san said, all right.
Yes! The gear in my heart climbed another step.