Only Sense Online WN 112
The café isn’t very busy, giving all of us some elbow room. I don’t know how the other coffee shops are doing, but our café has a strong sense of being brought to life by the students. We have short but fun conversations with every customer that stops by. For me, even just being able to say, “Thank you,” when they pay their bills is something to be a bit happy for.
“I see, so these cookies are handmade.”
“Yes, they also make great souvenirs for your family to enjoy in one of the many rest areas around the school. Another way to enjoy them is by mixing them with drinks acquired from other stands.”
“Really? My teeth are weak from all my years though.”
“In that case, might I recommend the merengue cookies? They are smaller than the others, and if you leave them in your mouth for a bit, will grow tender. They’re just like eating candy.”
“I see, I see, in that case, I’d like to have some. Thank you for being so conscientious.”
As the well-aged, madam, pays her bills, I wonder what sort of things she has experienced. What has she come here to see? I listen well and respond accordingly. Her words have a refinement brought along by her years. They give me a good impression of her. I really like the gentle aura that flows off of them.
“Thank you, student-san.”
“No need, but please enjoy.”
“Fufufuu,” the madam leaves with a refined laugh. Watching her draws a tender sigh from me and makes me smile a bit. Watching others outside our café enjoying the school festival makes my smile even bigger.
There are no issues with the flow of customers within class. In fact, it will soon be time to change shifts.
“Welcome, how many today?”
“Are you family?”
“Yes, we’re here to see the kids.”
A man and woman pair enter our café. I know them. I recognize their voices from somewhere and look towards them. At the moment, they’re happily conversing with one of our female clerks.
“May I take your order?”
“Yes, we’ll have the shortcake, cheesecake, and two coffees.”
“Coming right up.”
We can serve cake pretty quickly here thanks to having a relatively higher number of free staff.
“Here you are, your cake and drinks. So, I take your family gets along swimmingly.”
“Yeah, we’ve been coming to events like these for a long time now. They’re fun.”
The man speaks to the female student with a honeycomb like smile. She notices and returns a smile of her own.
The lady, however, delves into her cheesecake without delay. It’s a rough estimate, but she looks to be in the latter half of her twenties. Although, through her cosmetic and beauty techniques, she was able to erase her smile lines and give herself the appearance being twenty years old, she isn’t as young as she looks.
The man is middle aged with grizzled hair, but gives a good, calm, down to earth feeling. From appearances, they look like a university student and her father, except—
“Sorry, can you cover me for a bit?”
“My parents came. I’m going to greet them really quick.”
The two turn out to have been keeping notice of me from the beginning. As I move closer to the two at the table, tou-san gives me a smile.
“Shun-san, that’s a lovely apron you have there. It fits you perfectly.”
Kaa-san says, “What’s this? I get the feeling you’re quite practiced wearing this sort of clothing. I see, this is what you wear when you do chores at home.”
“Well, I’ll consider this you praising me, tou-san, kaa-san.”
A sound rings out from within the classroom at that exact moment. I only turn my head just a bit, but I know that if I survey the entire room, I’ll see everyone staring at us with eyes wide open. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Just like always, mother faces this development with her renowned Sakurako smile where she raises the edges of her lips.
The sound comes back again. They’re various low voices saying words like, “No way,” or “So young.” Just about everyone doubts that we’re parent and child.
Tou-san says, “Fufun, looks like I’ve won this one too, Aki.”
“Why can’t others ever see us as a couple instead parent and child? Sakurako-san1, please appear more age appropriate this year. Everyone who meets Sakurako-san always assume I like coming off younger than I really am.”
“Rubbish. Woman, even when over forty, want to stay young forever.”
“Sometimes, I wonder if you’re using some sort of witchcraft. My own son, you leave me amazed. There’s just too much of a discrepancy from when you are at home to when you go out.”
I glare at my mother, but she gives me a provocative smile.
Kaa-san says, “Dear me, our child is so hardheaded.2 Now is the era skin care and cosmetics for everyone, regardless of gender. If I seriously go at it—”
“Go at it?”
Tou-san says, “Aki can make herself appear ten years old! Actually, instead of saying that, this current appearance reeks of old age.3”
“What!? You’re saying I reek of old age?!”
“Isn’t being able to make yourself appear ten years old an amazing thing? Or are you calling your husband something terrible? I don’t know.4”
Father’s outfit certainly looks rough, but I get the feeling it emphasis practicality. The greys mixing around his head is because he isn’t sparing the time to dye it. It gives him a refined, middle aged, look…
“Well, Shun-kun’s otou-san does give off a sort austere feeling thanks to his age.”
“Sorry, I can’t really follow…”
The expression of the female classmate closest to me tightens, and despite her making a clear and audible follow up, it feels a bit forced.
Kaa-san says, “More than that, female classmate over there.”
“M-me!? D-do you need anything!?”
“My makeup ability will blow away that impression of yours.”
My female classmate lets out a vague reply despite her efforts. In my heart, I tell her, I’m sorry you have to deal with my mother.
Kaa-san says, “What a weak response. Fine then, I can make my son look like a woman. Ah—, wouldn’t that be quite the sight.”
My female classmates, picking up on my mother’s seriousness, nod while giving their consent. No, don’t nod to this.
“Hahahaa, don’t be so bashful, Shun.”
“Quit messing around! This isn’t about being bashful!”
“In that case, should I do the opposite and turn Miu into a bishounen? That would be just as fun.”
“That’s not the point!”
The stares of everyone in the classroom hurt. My father makes a wry smile to those stares while my mother moves at her own pace and sips her coffee.
I’m so ashamed that flames spew off my face.
Kaa-san says, “Well, jokes aside,”
“You were joking!?”
“It’s alright, I guess. Takumi is also here, so I get to enjoy myself.”
“Really? In that case, let us enjoy the figures of high school girls in aprons.”
Mother’s eyes are like those of a huntress staring at her prey as she dabs out her tongue to lick her lips. Everyone who falls underneath her stare glances around before holding themselves and shuddering.
I once more make an apology inside my heart, this time to all the girls before me. That’s when I notice Takumi coming closer.
“Shun, it’s almost time for our shift to end so I’m here to pick you up. Oji-san, Oba-san, you came. Good day.”
“Hey Takumi, long time no see. Thanks for being a brother to Shun and Miu.”
“Ah, no, no, not at all.”
Takumi, influenced by tou-san’s polite tone and greeting, stands straight. I hardly ever see my father act like this, but is this something like the dignity of an elder?
Kaa-san says, “You just keep looking better and better. It’s enough for me to want you for my work.”
“Sorry, my hobbies already take all my time.”
“Hahahaa, I’m kidding. Nevertheless, please deepen your relation with Shun and Miu. Continue to stay friends with them from here on out.”
I’m currently curling up into a ball out of embarrassment, but what’s this? It feels like Takumi is quietly getting pulled into the family.
“Alright! We’re wasting time here! Tou-san, kaa-san, we’re gonna get going. If you want someone to show you around, get Miu to do it during her break.”
Tou-san says, “Yes, yes, take car—”
Am I just a kid? While I’m wondering that, I request a classmate to cover for me. For some reason, a lot of people give me strange looks as I leave the classroom.
Staying here with my parents is way too dangerous. Mainly kaa-san. There’s no telling what she’s going to do next.
Takumi says, “Oji-san is just as composed as ever and Oba-san is still quite lively.”
“Haa~ They don’t do anything at home, but once we’re outside and in public, I’m completely tossed around like a toy. It’s so embarrassing.”
“Yeah, but isn’t it fine?”
You only think it looks like fun since I’m the one taking damage from it. I glare at him, but get laughed at in return. It can’t be helped. My eyes don’t have any pressure behind them.
“Anyway, how about we make a trip to the school gate? We can start by buying food from the outer stands. That way we’ll have something to snack on as we look around.”
“Yeah, there’s still some time until lunch. Let’s get something to pick at.”
I then take out a bag of meringue cookies from my apron pocket. A second bag of cookies is also inside it.
“I bought them earlier. I figured they’d be something easy to munch on during the break.”
“Nice preparations. I’ll accept without holding back.”
I open the bag of meringue cookies and hand some to Takumi. I break mine apart into pieces perfect for picking up with my fingers. Once they’re in my mouth, they melt with a monotonous sweetness.
Afterwards, the two of us go around the athletic department’s corner.
We first challenge the baseball club’s strikeout game. Takumi throws fastballs against at the baseball club’s panel while I, although a bit slow, use their pop to determine their speed. It’s close, but I’m the only winner.
This surprises everyone watching.
“Hey, won’t you join the baseball club?” “You could be our manager.”
I reject the two at the same time. Afterwards, we watch a martial arts demonstration. That’s followed by demonstrations from the various other sports clubs.
During that time, we buy yakisoba from the basketball club’s food stand. I also buy nostalgic cotton candy and a candy apple from the badminton club. Takumi laughs and calls me childish for that. It’s the fun of a small festival, except, aren’t I being a bit loose with my wallet?
Once we reach the athletics department, we head to the archery range where the archery department is having a joint archery experience.
“Shun, what do I do?”
“Eh, why’re you asking me?”
“Cause you’re good at it. In the game, your main is a bow.”
“Actually, I’m curious about that too…”
We are offered the choice of trying a Japanese bow or a Western bow. Rent is three hundred yen for ten arrows. I get a Western bow and a glove to protect my hand.
Takumi says, “Are you going to be okay? You’ll need to use quite a bit of arm strength.”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
An archery club member inspects the equipment for me. The bowstring is plucked in order to check that it is taunt.
As expected, drawing the string isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Its stiffness is enough to almost make an amateur like me give up. I hold the bow to my chest, spread my feet apart, and aim at the far off target.
Aiming doesn’t even take ten seconds in V.R, but here in the real, it’s impossible. My hand keeps trembling.
“You have a good form, just relax your shoulders.”
As to the archery club member’s advice, I relax my shoulders and the trembling settles down. Next, I release my fingers from the taunt bowstring. The arrow soars forward with a gentle arc and hits the target.
I then release a second arrow. I move quickly to keep from forgetting that sensation, but slack off with the aiming. Likewise, my arrow curves a bit to the right. That’s no good. I’ll properly take time to aim on the next one.
I’m more attentive with arrows three and four and hit the target. I take too long aiming with the fifth arrow, pointlessly tiring out my shoulder and arm. The arrow stalls midflight and falls into the sand.
I exhale as I release arrows six and seven in order to clear my mind. Still, I fail to focus wholly on my bow. Arrow eight is full of humility as I release it. The aim is satisfactory and done so without a trace of arrogance.
All sound vanishes as I draw my ninth arrow. I visualize the ideal trajectory. I distance myself from the real and align my instincts with those from the game. My eyes see only the goal and my aim steadies.
My accuracy is far from being mechanically precise, but arrows nine and ten are drawn towards the target.
I reach for my next arrow only to grasp at air. I’ve already gone through them all. My concentration breaks and the distant roar of the festival returns to envelop me.
Discomfort and fatigue spill into my sigh. I feel like I’m jumping into another world. At some point during all that, some hair fell down over my face. I fix it and then return the bow to the club member.
“Wow, that was great. Won’t you join the archery or kyuudou club? Even though I secretly went and made the target bigger, you were able to land seven arrows out of ten. You might have a sense for this.”
“Hold on, should you even be admitting that?”
“Eh, it’s fine, it’s fine. This corner is for allowing guests and students to try shooting a bow for the first time, so we’ve lowered the difficulty a bit. To begin with, we’ve actually done quite a bit behind the scenes.”
I’m given a vague answer, but I can’t agree. At the same time, I turn down the club invitation and rejoin Takumi.
“Thank you for coming. That wasn’t bad at all, and not to mention, pretty cool.”
“Hearing you call me cool makes me feel like you’re being sarcastic.”
My appearance of shooting an arrow while dressed in a childish apron undeniably has to be hilarious. So, even if Takumi acts natural and smiles, it doesn’t really come off as sincere to me. Vice versa, it’s actually making me a bit uncomfortable.
I say, “A-anyway, should we move on to the next place?”
“Yeah, let’s go. I’m thinking—”
Afterwards, we go around and check out all the food stalls one after the other within the school. Doing that, we proceed from the school gate to the entrance and head on into the building.
T/N: Takumi, you pull with your back muscles, not your arm muscles. That said, we’ve finally met Yun-chan’s parents. Honestly, I wonder if we would have been better off not meeting them. Yes, it does answer our curiosity, but I feel like we also lose a bit of the OSO magic. A school arc in the real does that too, but this drives it in more.