Only Sense Online WN 117
“Then, I’ll be making the delivery next door on my way out.”
I say, “Ah, that’s heavy. I’ll do it instead.”
“Thanks, and please. Once you finish, you can go on your break.”
I grab paper cups and a pair of two littered bottles of juice. Then, with sweets like cookies, I go to the classroom being used as a dressing room by our neighboring class. We have a mutual advertisement agreement with them. Simply stated, we’ve agreed to give each other preferential treatment when asked for a recommendation.
The class next door is a haunted house. I’d need to raise my fighting spirit with a kiai1 if I were to enter. If it were an easy place to enter, we’d go there on recommendation for our breaks too.
The haunted house and dressing room are adjacent to one another. As such, I don’t need to carry the refreshments far. On the door to the dressing room is a sign baring entry to outsiders.
I knock and say, “Excuse me, I’m from the class over…”
“Ok-ay, I’ll be right there.”
A warrior wounded from battle answers the door. We stare at each other and stiffen. I evaluate his costume quite highly. His blood stains in particular make my breath stop.
The others behind him in the rest area are just as shocked.
Just as I begin to return to my senses by remembering my reason for being there, the other regains his first. He says, “I’ve loved you since long ago. Please go out with me.”
My senses do not return!
He’s promptly wacked across the head from behind and a girl steps forward to take his place. “Excuse him. Are you here to provide us our refreshments?”
“Yes, and thank you very much for advertising our café today.”
“No, no, let me buy some juice instead. But, can you give us the cookies as a service?”
“Sorry, that’s something that has already been decided by the class committee, slash school festival executive committee, member.
I hand her the refreshments and peek inside the room. From all the hurried footsteps, everyone seems quite busy. Lots of time and effort is being allocated to doing makeup and putting on costumes.
“Hou,” I’m impressed by the extent their going to for their makeup. The room is well illuminated, allowing them to create elaborate disguises.
I say, “What do you think? I’m a ghost for my classroom.”
“That makeup is amazing. I was shocked when I saw it.”
Looks like my outfit received a favorable impression. In fact, their reactions were ones of ostentatious breathtaking surprise.
The girl says, “So? Are you interested? What to give our haunted house a try?”
I say, “Nope. Well, I am, but I’m not very good with haunted houses…”
“We get a lot of kids, so we can’t be that intense.”
As she makes a wry smile, a high pitched shriek rings out from the haunted house next door and makes her jump.
“…what the, who was that?”
“A child crying out.”
Before long, a pair of male students dressed as apparitions escort a preschool aged girl out of the haunted house. She wears lovely, pastel styled, clothes. Hanging diagonally across her back from her shoulders is an anime character for young children.
Her cries were suppressed while in the classroom thanks to the soundproof walls, but now her wails echo down the hallway. As such, many visitors are gathering. There are no signs that she’ll stop crying soon either.
Worse, at her sides are the two apparitions. Despite their bewilderment, they do their best to sooth her. They aren’t mean ghosts, but their presence only makes her cry harder. It’s a vicious cycle.
“Hey, what are you doing, making a little girl cry!?”
“No, we’re sorry. It’s not what it…”
The girl I was talking to rebukes the two apparitions.
Meanwhile, the young girl throws her small body at my legs. She’s quite light, so there isn’t much of an impact.
I bend my knees and bring myself to her eye level as she clings to me. I say, “Hello there. What’s wrong?”
She doesn’t talk, but instead shakes her head, “No, no.”
Since I was interacting with similarly aged children not too long ago, I treat her the same way. “Your nose is running and tears are flowing from your eyes. Your cute face is ruined. Here, chi-n.”
I take a tissue from my pocket and gently wipe away her tears. I then pinch her nose with the tissue.
The little girl has no intention of releasing the ends of my apron. “…mama?”
A small mosquito like voice rings the word, “mama.”
One of the apparitions says, “More likely than not, she’s probably a lost child. Your class is a rest area. You mind taking her there?”
The other apparition says, “Please, take her. Afterwards, can you tell us her name and give us a description of her parents? I’m going to go to the broadcast room and run a lost child notification.”
“Understood.” I gently pat the girl’s head and say in a soothing voice, “Don’t worry, we’ll find your mama.”
The two apparitions at the girl’s sides get up and back away. I’m quite grateful for that. Their appearances make her too scared to release my apron.
“Well now, can you tell me your name and how old you are?”
“Kusano • Mai, five.”
“I see, you’re Mai-chan. Then, will you come with me until we find your mama?”
I glance towards the two flustered apparitions and the girl. I make it clear to them that leaving the little girl to me is for the best.
I say, “In that case, while I look after her in my class, can you make the broadcast?”
“I understand. My break will be starting soon, I’ll do it then. Come on you two apparitions! Back to work! Back to work!”
I return to my classroom with the lost child, Mai-chan. We arrive just as shift change is happening. While half the class is switching out, I spot Endo-san making the classmates who tricked me into wearing woman’s clothing repent on their actions.
Endo-san says, “You’ve been running around hiding from me all morning. Well, what were all of you trying to pull?”
The male classmate says, “No, that’s…”
“Can’t say? Or do you just not want to say? Aren’t you ashamed for tricking that person?”
“In short, you’re the type who gets a thrill messing around with the emotions of others.2 Or am I wrong? Well, that person isn’t some who’ll break so easily. Still, I might be saying this, but it’s probably not too convincing hearing that from some like me who can’t actually read the intricate workings of the human heart.”
“I hurt your dignity, I’m sorry.”
“I’m not whom you should be apologizing to.”
Endo-san avoids troubling everyone else in the room by driving the offenders into a corner with cold, collected, logic. Still, the silent fury she radiates is going to make Mai-chan cry again…
Jeez, cut it out already, Endo-san.
Endo-san notices me and turns to face me. “Ahra, what’s wrong? It’s time to change shifts.”
Mai-chan hides behind my leg. She is utterly terrified of Endo-san.
I say, “Etto, simply put… while I was delivering the juice and cookies, I ended up entrusted with a lost child.”
Endo-san says, “I see, have you already made a broadcast?”
“That’s gonna be taken care off by someone in the next class. We want to let her wait here.”
“I see, in that case, let’s have a seat.” Endo-san should know how to interact with children. She squats down and looks into Mai-chan eyes. “Hello there, what’s your name?” She is trying to erase the terrifying impression she gave.
Mai-chan refuses to come out from behind my leg. Her eyes begin to water and looks up at me for help. “…Onee-chan.”
I say, “Ah—, etto. Give a good, ‘Nice to meet you.’ She is a very kind Onee-san.”
Mai-chan says, “Okay, nice to meet you. I’m Kusano • Mai.”
Endo-san says, “Nice to meet you. I’ll have you know, that was a splendid introduction.”
As Mai-chan’s steps out of my shadow, Endo-san praises her greeting. Being praised makes her happy, but she also seems a bit embarrassed. That’s probably why she dives back into hiding in my shadow.
After a bit, we hear the notification of a lost child over the school broadcast system together with Endo-san. Mai-chan is frightened by the sudden announcement. She shrinks in on herself and once more clings to me.
Endo-san says, “She’s quite attached to you, isn’t she?”
“Is it wrong? She was crying earlier and even though she was afraid of her surroundings, she turned to me. Although in my opinion, there isn’t anything likeable about me.3”
I clueless about what she likes about me. I really just can’t figure it out.
“Isn’t it that? You’re the type of person who’s surrounded by a soothing ambience. It’s something I don’t have though.”
“Really? I don’t think anyone hates you though.”
Mai-chan, still clinging to me, lifts her head. I gently stroke her head. What’s this? She looks up at me with an uneasy expression. “My mama is coming here?”
I say, “Yeah, she’ll be here soon.”
“Then, can I sit in a chair?”
As I lead Mai-chan to a seat, Endo-san for some reason giggles. She says, “I see, that’s probably why you’re liked by children. From their perspective, you’re not just kind to them, but also attentive to their subtle cues.”
With a bitter smile, I hear a guest tell Mai-chan she doesn’t need to ask for permission to eat or drink anything. The guest, having heard the earlier announcement, noticed that Mai-chan is the lost child. The person even tells her, “It’d be great if you get picked up soon.”
My classmates do all they can to keep the children from getting bored. Their tricks draw not just the attention of the kids, but of the other guests as well.
With all this going on, I completely miss my opportunity to get changed. Still, I think right now should be for the children.
“…Ehh? What’s with that outfit?”
“You’re… Ehh!? What the?”
With my focus solely on the children, I fail to keep track of the guests entering the café. Hence, I only notice Takumi and Miu after they call out to me.
I get the feeling they’re going to say something more. It depresses me a bit.
However, they totally don’t look like they’re going to say anything. They just narrow their eyes a bit and stare at me.
“What? Aren’t you going to say anything?”
Miu says, “No, I’m just so shocked, I’m speechless. As expected of mother’s child, you look amazing.”
Takumi says, “No, I’m the same as Miu-chan.”
No, what are you two even doing?
Miu-says, “Hm, who’s this child? Yeah! You’re so cute and squishy!”
I say, “Hey, cut that out! No hugging here!”
“You’re both my brides4!”
Mai-chan escapes by releasing me, leaving me as the only one for Miu’s hug. Takumi and Endo-san do nothing more than watch. I really wish someone would stop this runaway sister of mine.
The children stare at us in shock. Their eyes flutter around, uncertain on what to do.
“Hey, Miu-chan, have some restraint.” Then to me, “Are you alright?”
“Takumi, if you’re going to save me, stop her before she does it. Honestly, you always let it happen without doing anything. Only after…”
“Now, now, it’s over now, so isn’t it fine?”
“I am not fine. Seriously, you’re always like this…”
I unleash all my built up frustrations up Takumi in one breath, but he treats it as nothing more than a gust of wind.
Mai-chan, who had been watching us with admiration, laughs. Her sudden outburst surprises us all. “Like my mama and papa…”
I’m so embarrassed by what I said and the way I acted that I’m positive my face is burning bright red. As for Takumi, he crouches down and asks Mai-chan about her papa and mama.
The love she has for her parents pours from her mouth. She even has a lot to say about her… Onee-chan. It’s so embarrassing that I curl in on myself.
Endo-san says, “Say, you’ve got kind and gentle Onee-chan there. You’re a good girl, and like a good girl, love your mama and Onee-chan.”
Takumi says, “You think so? What a relief. I also like your Onee-chan.”
What the? Takumi, what’s with that sly grin on your face? It’s ticking me off. Don’t smooth talk children into calling me Onee-chan!
Takumi says, “Looks like you like it quite a bit.”
I say, “Oh hush! What do you mean I like it!? You’re just messing around like you always do!”
Miu says, “I love you too!”
“You calm down, you runaway sistah!”
The people around us take notice of our manzai5 and smile. They seem to be think we’re a young couple. Their warm gazes make me uncomfortable.
It’s within that setting that a woman enters the classroom. “Excuse me, I heard a missing child is being cared for here…”
A small figure throws herself at the mother-like person and is caught.
“You! None of this would have happened if you didn’t break your promise and wander off on your own!” To us, she furiously bows her head while saying, “I’m so sorry. My child…”
I’m caught up in the moment and also bow my head. Hearing how she was left waiting after they were separated gives me a sense of relief. The small bit of anger she showed upon scolding Mai-chan quickly vanishes. That small gap shows just how worried she really was.
At the same time, Mai-chan gives an energetic recount of what happened to her. Ninety percent of what she says are about me, her Onee-chan.
Just, I’m not an Onee-chan, I’m an Onii-chan. I don’t voice my thoughts though. All that would do is throw this place into mayhem. I merely endure it in one go.
“Thank you so much. I’m so sorry for all the trouble she’s caused.”
“No, this is just how it happened. No worries.”
“Is that how it is? Still, really, thank you so much.”
“Bye, bye, Onee-chan.”
Mai-chan waves back at me as I see her off. The sight elicits a low, drawn out, sigh from me. I didn’t realize, but the situation had me quite tensed up on the inside.
Endo-san says, “Thanks for your help, although, if that didn’t happen this morning, I get the feeling none of this would have worked out so well.”
“…too annoying, shut up. Haa~, now to get changed. I’m going to enjoy whatever free time I have left.”
“Maybe that was a bit too much, I’ll compromise. Miu-chan, what are you going to do?”
“I’m good. We were going around earlier so now I’m going to relax here.”
With Endo-san and everyone else’s encouragement, Takumi accompanies me as I go get changed.
T/N: This took so much longer to translate than I though it would. One chapter left~