‘Good day, Orino-senpai.’
‘What’ve you got there… chocolate?’
‘Yes. My friend from over there sent it as an apology for the other day. I thought I’d share some with everyone. Ah, have one if you’d like.’
‘I can? Then I’ll just go ahead.’
‘… Huh? There’s a letter at the bottom of the box… umm, ‘This one lasts half a day,
enjoy ♡’… Wait, whaaaat!? Orino-senpai, whatever you do, don’t eat it!’
‘Eh? I already ate it–! Urgh, some… ng, my body, is…’
When I opened the clubroom door, I found two girls inside.
The first was Kurisu-chan.
The other was…
A young girl I had no recollection of. Her age was perhaps around seven? She was a truly adorable young girl, but for some reason, she was wearing a baggy Adatara High School Uniform that was clearly too big for her.
That young girl… that little girl was nervously looking around the room as if she didn’t know where she was.
“O-oh, Kagoshima-senpai… fancy meeting you here.”
“Yeah. Good day to you too, Kurisu-chan. Who’s the kid?”
As Kurisu-chan was pressed for words, the little girl in the room raised an uneasy voice.
“H-heyy… Kurisu-chan, what happened to me…? My uniform feels kinda loose, but… huh? Kurisu-chan, you’ve grown bigger than me…?”
The little girl began to panic, so Kurisu-chan produced a hand mirror from her bag.
“Ah, wha…” The girl’s face shifted between pale and flushed. “I-I-I became smaller? My body shrunk…”
“I’m really sorry! It was my lack of attention! There’s no way that kid would ever send over an honest apology…”
“E-eeeh? No way, that can’t, my body to shrink…”
She started prodding her pudgy cheeks before taking on the pose of the scream, all the while with Kurisu-chan lowering her head.
Body shrinkage and such, what could this child be talking about?
Is she playing Conan or something?
I wasn’t quite able to swallow down the situation, so I tried asking Kurisu again.
“So in the end, who is she?”
“U-ummm,” Kurisu-chan’s eyes began to swim at a fearsome pace. “This girl is… r-right! She’s Orino-senpai’s little sister!”
“Orino-san’s little sister?”
“That’s right! Isn’t that right, little sister of Orino-senpai!?”
“P-precisely. I’m my big sis Shiori’s little sister!”
I looked over the kid again. Now that she brought it up, I could see she was identical to Orino-san. The color of her hair, the make of her face and such, every little detail was reminiscent.
It was almost as if Orino-san herself was just shrunken down.
“Hmm. I never knew Orino-san had a little sister,”
I muttered as I squatted down near little sister. Getting down to her eye level, I introduced myself.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Kagoshima Akira. I hope we get along.”
“P-pleasure to meet you.”
“What’s your name?”
The little sister ended up making an exceptionally troubled face. While she directed a look seeking salvation towards Kurisu-chan, Kurisu-chan waved her hand as if to say, “No way, no way.”
“M-m-my name is…”
She spoke in a rambling tone.
“Orino… Orino Shiori, not that, I mean Orino, Shi, Shio, Shio, ri… Shio, Oshi, Oshi… Oshiri—Right! I’m called Orino Oshiri!”
“Yes! I’m Orino Oshiri!”
“… O-oh, I see. T-that’s a cute name.”
(TL: Oshiri translates to Bum, Bottom… etc.)
I did my darndest to make a smile and praise her.
No, but still, what a terrible name.
I know it’s not right to make fun of people’s names, but even taking that into account, what a terrible name. No matter how you look at it, calling her a butt is just plain cruel…
“… Why am I so bad at thinking up names on the spot…” Oshiri-chan covered her face with both hands. “I-it’s cute, you’re alright!” Kurisu-chan tried to cheer her up.
“… O-Oshiri-chan, do you have a nickname at school?”
I really didn’t want to call her Oshiri-chan, so I tried asking. But I soon regretted that laid-back statement of mine. Crap. With a name like that, isn’t there a possibility she’s being bullied at school…
“A nickname is it… u-umm… let’s see… Ah.”
This time Oshiri-chan thought a bit before answering.
“At school, they call me—Osiris.”
I couldn’t help but cry out at that unthinkable coolness. I must take back that previous statement. It works. Oshiri totally works as a name. Totally works. It ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
There’s no doubt this kid’s popular at school. Forget bullying, they must revere her as one of the three gods.
(TL: In the Yugioh TCG, Slifer the Executive Producer’s original JP name was Sky Dragon Osiris)
“Is that… cool…? As I recall, Osiris was the name of some country’s god, wasn’t it Orino-senp… I mean Oshiri-san?”
“Y-yeah. An Egyptian god. If I recall correctly, he’s often depicted as a green-bodied man, and I don’t get the feeling he looked particularly cool.”
Unfortunately, my feelings didn’t seem to get across to the two girls.
When you say Osiris, of course you’re talking about the Sky Dragon!
I took down a gulp of saliva, containing my heightening pulse as I put that nickname to mouth.
… Whoah. Crap. I’m getting super high-strung here.
Osiris, Osiris, Osiris…
“W-what is it?”
“No, I’m sorry. I’m so high in the clouds I might start crying, so I’m just going to normally call you Oshiri-chan, okay.”
“… Just how much do you idolize Osiris?”
Oshiri-chan made a taken-aback face. Well, I guess only those in the know could understand these feelings
“That aside, why is Orino-san’s little sister Oshiri-chan here?”
When I posed the question a little past its expiry date, the two closed their mouths.
‘Kurisu-chan, this one’s yours.’
‘Eeh!? I-I can’t…’
‘Neither can I! I’m really bad at this sort of thing!’
‘Urrrgh… u-understood. It’s my fault after all, I’ll do my best.’
Or so they made a sort of incomprehensible eye contact, after which Kurisu-chan took a step forward.
“Orino-senpai brought her here. Apparently, Oshiri-chan came to play at the high school her big sister usually goes off to. Isn’t that right?”
So came a forceful nod.
“Hmm. Then where did Orino-san go? Her bag’s there, so she must have come, right? And why is Oshiri-chan wearing a baggy uniform? Don’t tell me that’s Orino-san’s uniform? Why?”
Going on and on, I asked everything that was bothering me.
There, Kurisu-chan groped around at thin air as she put things in order and answered the question.
“T-the truth is, when we were playing, Orino-senpai, Oshiri-san and I, the three of us, a sudden gust blew in from the window and made off with all of Oshiri-san’s clothes…”
“The wind stole your clothes!?”
Just how fearsome of a sudden breeze is that? Even the north wind’s mad attack with all his pride on the line couldn’t remove the traveller’s coat.
“And so after dressing Oshiri-san up in all of her own clothes, Orino-san… raised a cry of war as she ran off somewhere naked to chase after Oshiri-san’s clothing.”
“Naked, raising a battle cry!?”
Is that what the kids are doing these days!?
Is that the newest health trend?
And isn’t Orino-san acting a bit too manly? She’s sacrificed her womanhood in exchange for manliness. When she’s being a good sister, I get the feeling she stepped off the path somewhere. The path of humankind.
‘I-I’m sorry! This is all I’m capable of!’
‘That last naked raising a war cry part was completely unnecessary, wasn’t it!? Are you still holding a grudge over the other day!?’
‘………… No, not particularly.’
Gazing at the two making strange eye contact again, I thought about Orino-san. Would she be alright? I hope her stomach doesn’t get too cold.
“Yeah. Well, I’ve got the gist of the situation. Meaning you have to wait until Orino-san gets Oshiri-chan’s clothes.”
“That’s right! Right, Kurisu-san?”
“Exactly. Right, Oshiri-san!”
The two smiled radiantly. I got the feeling they had both broken into a cold sweat, but well, that must be a trick of the light.
The three of us spent the school’s return time in leisure, but Orino-san didn’t return. It seemed that Kurisu-chan had some business to attend to, “I’m sorry, Orino-se—no, Oshiri-san. When the time comes around, I’m sure you’ll return to normal…” She gave an honest apology and left.
And so, until Orino-san returned, I would have to look after Oshiri-chan. “I’m fine on my own! I have to hide somewhere until the time hits–” or so Oshiri-chan said, but I couldn’t just leave a child this small be.
If I just left her unsupervised here, there’s no way I could look Orino-san in the face.
“Alright, Oshiri-chan. You have to do it just as I taught you.”
She nodded with a conflicted face.
The location was my house’s living room. I couldn’t think of any better place after the school closed its doors, so for the time being, I took her home.
By the way, Oshiri-chan wasn’t wearing Orino-san’s baggy uniform, she wore a one thousand yen one piece bought on the way back. She used her own money to buy what seemed quite cute for the price tag. The reason the wallet I saw when she paid looked identical to Orino-san’s must be because they bought a set as sisters.
“H-here I go.”
Oshiri-chan’s entire body shook with shame and humiliation as she took on the pose I taught her.
She said weakly, thrusting both her hands out front.
“Wroooong! No good at all, Oshiri-chan!”
After grandiose lament, I lectured her once more.
“Are you listening? First, your hands go like this. Like a cat’s paw. Bring them behind your body. There are a lot of people who remember it wrong, but you don’t put your hands together one over the other, it’s finger to finger, and wrist to wrist.”
Aided with a demonstration, I continued on with the easy to understand self-liberation.
“And at the end, like this! You forcefully push out your hands! At that moment, it’s not ‘Ha’, it’s more realistic to say ‘Haaaaa’!”
“The moment you think it’s embarrassing is your loss. Secret techniques are born from throwing away one’s shame. No matter how embarrassed they are, everyone endures it and cries it out.”
“… What even is this game…”
Oshiri-chan was despondent.
Hmmm. Perhaps it wasn’t a fun way to play for a girl. Back when I was around seven, I was doing nothing but it.
Thinking back to my younger years, I gazed out into the distance, losing myself in thought.
“Once upon a time, I was always practising it in Gentle Breeze Park.”
“… Ah, come to think of it, you were.”
“There was this one time I used my kamehameha to take down the monster attacking a lady in a strange suit.”
“His memories have been glorified!?”
“And then, the lady in the strange suit proposed to me, ‘Please marry me’ she said.”
“Wrong! It’s the other way around! The one proposed to was me! Why’s it turned into what sounds like a little boy’s fantasy!?”
“Ummm, and so, what was it again? When I asked, ‘What part of me do you like?’ the lady answered, ‘Your huge something something,’ so I said, ‘I can’t marry someone who says things like that,’ and turned her down, I think?”
“I’m telling you, it’s the opposite! What’s more, your memory’s hazy in the worst possible places!”
While Oshiri-chan raised a ruckus, I recollected once more, proper this time.
There’s no way I would forget it.
That was my… precious memory.
An out of breath Oshiri-chan said, “A-anyways,” and backtracked to square one.
“Kagoshima-san. Practising special moves is embarrassing, so I’m good…”
“… I see.”
That’s a bit depressing. Looks like I’m the only one who found it fun.
“I’m really sorry. I’ve never read Dragon Ball, so I just don’t really get it.”
At that casual statement, I was unable to conceal my horror.
She’s never read Dragon Ball?!
As if my angles had become sponge, my body turned unsteady. Unable to even stand, I collapsed onto the floor. I’m in despair. The darkness of despair devours me to the bone.
“W-what’s wrong, Kagoshima-san?”
“Isn’t it about time you went home?”
“His treatment of me suddenly got cold!”
“No, I mean, I have absolutely no idea how to interact with a kid who’s never read Dragon Ball.”
“It’s that big of a deal!?”
“… Is this the slackening of our education system?”
“No! The education system doesn’t have that prejudice!”
“Oh? But Oshiri-chan, from time to time, you stop talking to me like I’m your senior.”
“T-that’s… my usual habit…”
Oshiri-chan’s words clogged up.
To the cute little girl, I sent over some kind words.
“Kidding, kidding. It was a joke. You’re still only seven years old. It can’t be helped if there are some famed works you’ve yet to read, and of course, your word choice might get thrown out of order.”
As I said that, “Yes,” Oshiri-chan regained her bright smile.
“Ah, but if there was a girl out there who reached high school without reading Dragon Ball, they definitely wouldn’t be my type.”
“That sort of girl is just out, out. Totally out of sight, out of mind. I can’t see it being any fun if I went out with a girl like that.”
“Ah, come to think of it, has your big sis–”
“She said she read it! She’s a huge fan!”
Oshiri-chan bit on with fearsome momentum.
“R-really? I see.”
“Yes. The other day, I saw her secretly practising kamehamema in her room!”
“In high school!?”
Even I graduated from that in elementary school.
Looking down over my second-hand embarrassment, “When I get back to normal, I’ve got to read every volume,” Oshiri-chan muttered something incomprehensible.
“Then Oshiri-chan. Let’s stop practising secret moves and play something else.”
“Yes. That sounds best.”
“Which means, what other great Dragon Ball Scene should we…”
“… No, I’d like to get away from that already.”
I raced my mind around a certain masterwork.
Off the top of my head, I could only think of, “His name was Krillin!” and “Goodbye Tien.”
Ah, that’s right.
Since there are two of us, how about we do a fusion!
I’m sure it’ll be fun if we do that mysterious pose. Since our physiques are too different, I doubt we’ll succeed, but there’s still worth in trying.
“Hey, Oshiri-chan, won’t you–”
I was about to say but noticed. That’s right. Oshiri-chan never read Dragon Ball, so there’s no way she could understand the Jargon.
“Won’t I what?”
As she tilted her head with an innocent smile, I tried conveying it to her without using any specialized terminology.
“Won’t you become one with me?”
Her face turning as red as a boiled octopus, Oshiri-chan used strength unthinkable from a seven-year-old, no unthinkable for a human in general to perform a one-armed shoulder throw on me.
Hmm. So it’s possible for a human to sink into a sofa.
After that, we tried out various games, but it was a failure on the whole.
Playing cannon shot with B-Daman, playing dragon loop with a hyper yoyo, playing magnum tornado on my mini 4wd, playing Shining Sword Breaker on my crush gear, playing vanishing attack with beyblades, playing charged particle cannon with zoids, playing true duelist in MTG (you know, where you overexaggerate lines like “I can hear it, the deck’s voice!”), but it was all for naught.
“… Oshiri-chan, you’re a hard nut to crack.”
“No, the games you suggest are just heavily biased, Kagoshima-san. Please, a normal game if you will.”
I folded my arms, sat on the sofa, and kicked my feet, staring fixatedly at the little girl.
“What do you normally play, anyway?”
“N-normally, is it? Umm…”
After mulling a moment over, “… What do kids of this generation usually play,” she quietly put the answer to mouth.
I was at a loss for words.
I certainly got the feeling it was a standard among standards for children’s games, but between me and Oshiri-chan, would that be a bit of a felony?
… No, but Oshiri-chan finally said what she wanted to do. I’m not a man if I shoot her down here.
“Alright! Let’s do this doctor stuff.”
“Eeh!? Umm… I know I’m the one who said it, but are we really doing this?”
“No need to hold back, Oshiri-chan. Patient or doctor, which do you prefer?”
“… Then doctor… wait a second. We’re really doing this…?”
Embarrassed as I was, I thought I’d do my best, and for some reason, Oshiri-chan looked even more embarrassed than me. The doctor game began.
“Hey, Dr. Oshiri.”
“… I wonder why. When you call me doctor, I just get the feeling you’re mocking me… y-yees, what’s wrong?”
“My body’s not been holding up too well since yesterday…”
“You’ve got a cold. I’ll give you some pills, so just get some rest. Now take care.”
“Yes, thank you very much… wait, are you a quack!?”
I casually threw in a retort. I was in a strange mood, if I do say so myself, but if I don’t psyche myself up, I’d never be able to play doctor.
“That’s no good, Oshiri-chan. Your examination was way too care-free.”
“Try to be a bit firmer next time.”
“… Kagoshima-kun, aren’t you needlessly harsh when it comes to play…”
I got the feeling she mumbled something softly, but let’s forget about it and Take 2.
“Hey, hey, Dr. Oshiri.”
“Ah, so that part doesn’t change… Y-yeees.”
“My body hasn’t been feeling too good since yesterday.”
“Yes, then if you’ll excuse me,” There Oshiri-chan observed my body from head to toe. “Understood. This is… cancer. You require immediate hospitalization.”
“No way!? Doc, can’t you do something about it… wait, how in the…!?”
Time for another casual retort.
“You’re way too good at your job, Oshiri-chan… how can you tell it’s cancer just from looking? Even Black Jack can’t do a CT Scan with his naked eyes.”
“That’s because the setting goes that I’m the best doctor in the world…”
Fidgetingly entwining her fingers, Oshiri-chan hung her head.
I’ve been thinking it for a while now, but it does seem that this child isn’t good at childish games. Does she usually not play too much?
“Anyways, Oshiri-chan, let’s try doing a little more normal doctor play.”
“I don’t really understand what you mean by normal.”
“Yeaaah. In that case, how about we let me be the doctor next time? I’ll show you an example.”
At my proposal, Oshiri-chan gave a stiff nod.
“Fufufu. Then let me show you how the adults play doctor.”
As if seething over, her face flushed red.
“W-w-w-w-what are you talking about, Kagoshima-kun!? How the adults what!? P-pervert!”
“Wrong, wrong! I didn’t’ mean anything strange when I said it, settle down!”
I frantically soothed her as she chastised me in a tone reminiscent of Orino-san. I never thought she’d take the word adult like that.
Well, just like that.
Let the Kagoshima-school Adult Doctor Practice begin.
“… Oh, am I supposed to start? D-Dr. Kagoshima…”
“… How much?”
“I’m asking you how much you can pay.”
“Eeeh!? What’s this development!?”
“A surgery is thirty million. I’m not striking it down a single penny.”
“So you asked how much I could pay when the price is already fixed!?”
“Hey hold it, doc! No matter how you cut it, that’s too high!”
“Wait, who’s this!?”
“Silence. An assistant like you has no say in this.”
“So it’s an assistant… wait, what? You’re playing two roles?”
“Ufufu. You never change, doctor. Haven’t moved a step all those many years.”
“Another one! Someone that sounds like a female doctor just got added in.”
“… I’ll pay! My dear son’s surgery, thirty million yen, no matter how many years it takes, I’ll definitely…”
“And something a mother would say!”
“No matter how many… rolls it takes.”
“A slot machine!? It was a no-good mother addicted to gambling!”
“Kukuku. Oy, what are you going to do about this? Your mother says she’s going to pay for your operation. How bout it?”
“Eh? Ah, my turn!? I’m playing the son!?”
“What are you going to do, Oshiritarou?”
“And that’s the name you give me!?”
“Lovely name you’ve got there, Oshiritarou. A name filled with a mother’s wish for you to grow up strong like Momotarou, ain’t it?”
“What an arbitrary origin story! Just because some people say peaches look like butts!?”
“The eyes of everyone present gathered on young Oshiritarou. But Oshiritarou had a reason he could never undergo the surgery. It happened when he was only three.”
“The narration kicked in!”
“I am god.”
“I will use my power to cure Oshiritarou’s ailment. Badabing badaboom. Yes, it is healed. And they all lived happily ever after.”
“God’s use of power is way too arbitrary! Rather, you just didn’t know how to wrap things up so you brought in god, didn’t you!”
When I was happily playing dumb, I found even I had no idea where it was going, so I sought a lifeboat from the divine.
“By the way, when the contents of a story are all jumbled with no clear thread in sight, and god suddenly appears, ruining all plots and foreshadowing to that point, concluding the story, you call it Deus ex Machina. See, you did learn something Oshiri-chan.”
“… And that’s a wrap, is it?”
She said with a tired face and deep sigh. That was a truly tired sigh.
“I’m surprised you knew a hard word like Deus ex Machina.”
“Well that’s basic.”
Every boy who’s experienced a certain specific period will have a needlessly in-depth knowledge on terms like Deus ex Machina, or Genesis, or Lucifer. Though I already graduated from that.
“Now then. How about you use that as reference and try playing the doctor’s role again?”
“No, that didn’t serve as any reference at all…”
“Yeah, I guess…” I gave a bitter smile. “In that case, how about we just do the standard thing, and hit around a few places with the stethoscope?”
“Stethoscope… I see, I’ll do my best.”
She gripped her fist eagerly.
… Thinking about it with a level head, there was no need for her to get so hyped over it, but, well… you lose if you take all of life with a level head. Playing along and effort is important.
And so, Take 3.
“Hey, Dr. Oshiri. My body’s not been feeling too good since yesterday.”
“Very well. Then I’ll try using my stethoscope, so please take off your shirt.”
I froze up. “Ah…” Oshiri-chan stopped moving as well. It seems she understood what her statement meant.
I see, so I have to show my stomach for her to touch her stethoscope to it.
Well, since we’re playing pretend, there might not be any need to do it for real, but I felt reluctant to pour water on Oshiri-chan’s long-awaited hype.
I resolved myself, and swiftly lifted up my shirt.
“Dr. Oshiri! If you will!”
“E-eeh? W-whoah… woah.”
Oshiri-chan’s face went red, she contained her mouth with both hands. She seemed to be flustered, yet her eyes traced lines down my exposed chest and abdomen. After remaining frozen stiff a few seconds, she eventually gulped down her spit.
After giving a courteous curtsy, she began pretending to touch her stethoscope.
Rather than tapping, it felt more like she was patting against me. Gradually, the soft hands of a little girl touched my stomach and chest. Her body heat was directly conveyed to me.
Pat pat. Pat pat.
I wonder what it is, this ticklish feeling.
Strange. Since I was dealing with a small child, I thought I’d be able to keep calm no matter how much she touched me, but my heart ended up racing.
I mean, Oshiri-chan seemed super embarrassed herself. What’s more, perhaps she was showing restraint, as the way she touched me was overly soft. She touched me as if stroking me, and that only felt all the more ticklish, worsening the strange feeling I got.
Why do I feel as embarrassed as if I was being touched by a member of the opposite sex my own age?
“… It’s the first time I’ve ever touched a boy’s body like this…”
The conversation was over, silence descended. But it wasn’t an awkward silence, if I had to stick a color on it… p-pink? That sort of silence, and the lack of awkwardness only made it all the more awkward.
At a set pace, Oshiri-chan touched my chest and stomach, even reaching her hands around to touch my back.
“Umm… Dr. Oshiri, how am I?”
“Y-yes. You’re more toned than I expected… it’s surprisingly nice to tough… it might even be a bit fun…”
“What? Ah, no, I was asking about my illness.”
“O-oh right! Yeah, yeahyeah, this is…”
Her words built up as if they had no idea where to turn, and in a matter-of-factly tone she went on.
“I-I won’t know unless I look into it a bit more.”
So the doctor’s game was set to continue.
She continued patting me. I was laid out like a dead fish. Before I knew it, the stethoscope was gone, and she had completely switched over to palpation.
In the midst of it, Oshiri-chan suddenly stopped her hands, making a pensive face. “… Is this possibly my chance…? With my body like this… isn’t it fine no matter what I do…” she muttered something indiscernible, before looking at me with upturned eyes.
“I-I-I’m seven years old. A child.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“I’m a child at an age where I still believe kids are brought in by the stork.”
If you actually say it, you don’t believe… I thought, but the current me hadn’t the leisure to think too deeply into it.
“S-so… I definitely don’t have any interest in a man’s body! I’m just putting my all into playing doctor!”
“Y-yeah, that’s what I thought…”
Oshiri-chan is still seven, after all. There’s no way she could understand something like that. I kinda got the feeling she was sending lustful “… You know girls are interested in boys’ bodies too,” sort of eyes, but she’s still seven! There’s no way a kid this small would tell a lie!
“Hyauh! W-wait, Oshiri-chan. Don’t grab my side like that.”
“Fufu, I’m sorry… fufu, but ‘Hyauh!’ he says… how interesting.”
“Hyahn! I’m telling you to cut it out, Oshiri-chan!”
“It’s not Oshiri-chan, it’s Dr. Oshiri, right?”
“You have to put up with it, even if it’s a little ticklish. This is an inspection.”
She was completely taking the lead. Our positions had been reversed.
Kagoshima Akira, seventeen years of age.
At present, being bullied by a seven-year-old girl.
… What do I do, Oshiri-chan looks like she’s really enjoying herself. That’s the smile of a big sister who’s making a game of teasing her little brother. She was so up to it, it was as if she was getting back at me for my usual behavior.
No, it’s not like I’m not enjoying myself. More so, it’s a little… no, considerably fun.
But in this circumstance, is it really alright for me to have fun.
“Upsie daisy. Fufu.”
Raising such a cute voice, Oshiri-chan took her place on top of my lap.
Why was she getting on me!?
Oshiri-chan’s oshiri-chan is on my thighs!
“H-hey. Isn’t it about time we stopped playing doctor…?”
“You can’t. You have to listen to the doctor’s orders.”
her index finger shut up my lips. With that action alone, I couldn’t move a single muscle in my body. The body heat directly pressed on my abdomen, the body heat across the cloth wrapping my thighs, added onto the moist eyes that seemed to be peering up at me from below stole away my body’s freedom.
No, no, no.
Why am I just letting her do as she pleases!?
Why is a seven-year-old leading me around by the nose!?
Seriously, a child’s innocence is scary.
But… this is bad. This air is bad. This air flowing between the two of us is exceedingly bad. Oshiri-chan’s eyes were like soft velvet, she was on the verge of losing her rationality.
Ah, even so, she’s not a little sister for nothing, and this child’s identical to Orino-san. Each and every part of her was identical (if I had to say, only her chest wasn’t reminiscent).
I wonder if that’s why.
I got the feeling I was being played around with by Orino-san herself… as if the usually prim and proper Orino-san was letting herself loose here alone, it gave a peculiar jump to my heart rate.
Meaning, if I had to objectively analyze my current mental state…
I’m getting excited over being bullied by a little girl.
I must apologize to you, father, mother… I wonder if this is how Dazai Osamu felt when he penned No Longer Human. That’s definitely not it.
“I-I-I’ll take your chest measurements…”
“When did this become a physical!?”
My retort fell on deaf ears as she tightly wrapped her hands around my chest. Is she supposed to be holding a tape measure in setting? I’m sure that’s it.
And if I had to sum it up shortly, it was a hug. My body was completely being embraced by a little girl, but as Oshiri-chan was seriously taking my chest measurements, it’s no good to hold such impure thoughts. I must properly let myself be measured.
Still holding me, no… still pretending to measure me, Oshiri-chan didn’t seem like she was going anywhere.
It was a laughing voice of elation.
It was a laughing voice imbued with madness.
Isn’t she kinda running out of control?
She’s completely being swallowed up by the mood?
Isn’t she taking this too far?
It seems the doctor game was gone. But I no longer had the leisure to care, all I could do was repeat a name without meaning.
I was suddenly a kun. It was almost as if she had forgotten herself and reverted to what she felt was most natural, but now wasn’t the time to think about that.
Oshiri-chan gently shook her head, and gazed straight at me.
“Call me… Shiori.”
Why do I have to call her by her sister’s name!?
I thought that question would be enough to fill my head, but I… the single man that is me, was swallowed in by the devilishness (?) of the little girl before my eyes, no longer able to carry out normal thought.
… When I had never called her without an honorific, why was I able to say Orino-san’s name straight up to her little sister—or so I didn’t think!
Why was she suddenly calling my first name— or so I didn’t care to know!
I no longer had the slightest idea what I was doing.
I presumed that’s how Oshiri-chan felt as well. Her eyes blank as a drunkard, her face was bright red. She made the expression of someone who had taken off for another world.
No—perhaps just before?
That other world—that new world was one she would set foot into now!
At the sudden synthetic sound of an alarm, we raised cries of shock, parting as if to thrust each other away. We got our disheveled appearance in order (The only one whose clothes were out of order was me), got our breaths in order and calmed our pounding hearts.
“Hah, haha, hah.”
My head cooled, my sanity returned.
Aah, it’s been a while, glad you’re back, sanity. Did you go home for the weekend? And looks like you brought all your friends with you, Mr. Common Sense, Ethics, the Eyes of Society, and even the Law’s been added to your party. The strongest party assimilated like slimes forming a king slime, becoming an enormous sense of self-loathing and crushing me down.
…What was I doing? What was I trying to do? What was I trying to perpetuate with Orino-san’s little sister…
An unending regret and guilt tore through my heart. If I had a katana here, I think I might unveil a display of traditional Japanese hara-kiri.
“What was I doing…”
Apparently, Oshiri-chan was fighting her self-loathing all the same. Her body prostrate on all fours, she mumbled her complaints at the floor.
“Playing doctor… what a dangerous game…!”
No, I don’t think it’s the game’s fault.
“Y-yessss! A-aaah, umumum, p-please forget cleanly everything that just happened! There was something wrong with me!”
“No, that’s what I’d like to plead, but that’s not what I meant–”
I pointed at Orino-san’s school bag Oshiri-chan had brought back with her.
“The phone’s ringing.”
As I said that, Oshiri-chan’s face went blank before she hurriedly took out the phone.
“Is that your big sister’s?”
“Yea. Ah… I mean no! It’s mine. I got mine as a set with my big sister’s! So I’m going to answer”
Not waiting for a reply, Oshiri-chan left the living room with the cell phone pushed up against her ear. Even their phone are matching, what good sisters. But why was Oshiri-chan’s cell phone in Orino-san’s bag… ah, I see. She must have left it with the reliable Orino-san to look after it, I’m sure… as I thought over such trifling meaningless things, Oshiri-chan returned.
As if she had forgotten all of that messing around a moment ago—her face was serious.
She wore a mature air unthinkable of a girl of seven.
“Can we go play outside?”
The sun was already going down, so honestly, I didn’t want to go outside, but Oshiri-chan said she had to go out no matter what, so I couldn’t help but accompany her.
Reaching Asahi Park a bit of a walk from my house (no playground equipment, just a wooden table, bathroom and water fountain), Oshiri-san nervously looked around the area.
“Hey. Why did we come to this park?”
Oshiri-chan grasped around for words.
“I apologize for calling you on such short notice.”
A polite tone and bright voice reached my ear.
When I turned in the direction of the voice, a boy in glasses was walking towards us.
“Even so, that’s quite the merry little thing you have going on there, Orino-san. Ahaha, you’re so cute you might awaken the lolicon in me. Out of affection, should I start calling you Lolino-san?”
What leaked from her small lips was an uneasy voice.
I had some recollection of the boy who suddenly appeared with the sociable smile.
“You’re the guy who was searching for his glasses the other day…”
“Yes, you have my gratitude for that.”
He gave a grin. The boy who smiled often was apparently called Saijou-kun.
“… Are you an acquaintance of Oshiri-chan?”
“Yes. I’m acquainted with this Oshiri-chan. Right, Oshiri-chan… pff. Oshiri, eh… Oshiri?”
As Saijou-kun spoke stifling his laughter, Oshiri-chan hung her head in shame, “My name doesn’t matter,” she drew close to him and whispered. “I brought Kagoshima-kun as you asked. In regards to this form, it’s um, as we discussed on the phone…”
“I know. You were dragged into testing one of Professor Kuroigawa’s new drugs again, right? Judging by the symptoms, you maintained your memory and knowledge while your muscle, skeletal mass, internal organs, and pretty much everything else regressed uniformly to an infantile state—something like that?”
“Y-yeah. And returning to normal will…”
Saijou-kun corrected the positioning of his glasses.
“Well—let’s just leave it at that.”
Saijou-kun pushed against Oshiri-chan’s forehead with the center of his index finger.
With only that, the little girl’s body crumbled down.
“No need to worry. She’s only asleep. Give her an hour, and she’ll wake up.”
He said indifferently as he held up a collapsing Oshiri-chan with both hands.
“… W-what did you do?”
“? I didn’t do a thing. I’m sure she was just so worn out from playing that she fell asleep. Kids her age are supposed to eat well, sleep well.”
He said, as if playing dumb he gave a light shrug of his shoulders.
Looking at Oshiri-chan she seemed to be in a sound and comfortable sleep. I see, so she was just sleepy, I felt relieved. And I repented at having asked such a tactless question. What did you do? Of all things.
It’s not like he’s a psychic, there’s no way he could put people to sleep at will.
“Now then. Kagoshima-san. If you’re fine with it, how about we have a little chat?”
That’s what he called himself.
I did have some familiarity with that name. Though I say that, I’d only heard his last. At times, Orino-san would bring up the name ‘Saijou-kun’.
He was a Telepathy Special, and one of the only four Rank S psychics in the organization. He was thirteen years old. Among the psychics at a level that could be thrown into real combat- Rank B and above- he was currently the youngest. His mental manipulation abilities ranked him top class in the organization… or so was the role he was supposed to play in that movie, and he was a part of the movie club, apparently.
Meaning he was Orino-san’s… comrade
“I’ve know Orino-san quite a while. So I’m on decent terms with her little sister Oshiri-chan as well.”
He lined up his words as if in song, as he rested his chin on his hands, and directed a soft gaze at Oshiri-chan leaning against me.
The wooden table and bench in the corner of the park. There, the three of us sat. Saijou-kun took his place across from me, while Oshiri-chan sounded a sleeper’s breath to my side.
“And so? What did you want to talk to me about?”
“Ah, right, right. Truth be told, I wanted to have a chat with you, man to man, for a while now. Did you know? You’ve become quite famous among our ranks.”
In the movie club Orino-san belongs to?
“Of course, only a certain portion actually pay any attention to you. Your fame’s on the level of a back alley diner only frequented by those in the know. Albeit, Kugayama-san… no, Kirako-san seems to view you as her sworn enemy. Well, let’s push that aside, much time’s a wasted to idle chatter, so let’s get into the main topic.”
His sociable smile uncrumbling, in a truly cheerful tone.
“What did you do to Orino-san?”
It was so sudden, so abstract, I couldn’t even tilt my head; I simply froze in place. I could only weakly repeat the question.
“Orino-san’s gotten stronger lately. As if her recent stagnation had been a lie, at an impossible speed, she’s experiencing accelerated growth.”
“… What do you mean by that?”
To get stronger was such an ambiguous expression, I couldn’t understand his point. In a shonen manga, getting stronger would mean higher combat strength, but in reality, that’s not what strength meant.
There was strength in a fight, or mental strength, strength as a human, I’m sure there were various forms, but just which one was he pointing to?
“Should I spell it out even simpler? Orino-san’s abilities are rapidly rising. When she’s been stuck at Rank B for close to ten years– a great many people theorized she would spend the rest of her life at Rank B, they foresaw that her abilities would never rise again. And yet, just the other day, she auspiciously rose to Rank A.”
“To give it to you straight, her pace is unnatural. If she keeps advancing at this rate, she might eventually reach the same Rank S as me. When that happens, there’s sure to be a wave of confusion and unease. Hey, I’m a generous person, so I don’t care about that, but a certain Utsurohara-san whose generosity and capabilities are the inverse of mine might try to hammer down what sticks out.”
The inside of my head was filled with questions.
Ability? What’s that? If Saijou-kun’s a member of the movie club, then was he talking about acting ability?
And Rank? Was there a ranking system inside of the club?
“Hmm. So it’s pointless even if I say that much.”
As I remained only capable of silence, Saijou-kun breathed out a bored sigh.
“I’m here face to face talking to you… seeing all your feelings, thoughts, heart, and yet I can’t see a thing. It’s all so unclear, the point’s not getting across. When I’ve given you so many hints, I thought your thoughts might show some sort of seam, but none of that either… honest to a fault, you believe in that whole movie story.”
Closing his eyes, he ignored me and began talking to himself.
As if to say there was no merit in dealing with me.
“…… Yeaaah. Maybe this was a miss. It wasn’t this man… no, but you know…”
His monologue continued.
As I sat before him, a fear began to but in my chest.
Saijou-kun suddenly leaned forward and touched my forehead. I recalled how Kirako-san had done so a while ago.
“… Hhm. There really are no traces of memory or thought manipulation.”
Returning his hand, he tapered his mouth in displeasure.
“Hey, what’s your deal?”
When I asked without hesitation, “Ah, don’t worry about it,” he answered lightly. When I was supposed to be the elder, it was almost like I was being treated like a child and a little unpleasant.
After letting his thoughts steep a while, Saijou-kun eventually raised his face. He took off his glasses.
Without anything between us, he gazed straight into my eyes.
“I’m currently looking into the founder of our organization.”
“Yes. Well, I’m just moving of my own accord. As things stand, it looks like I’m the only one holding questions on this organization’s start and its system.”
Was he referring to the movie club? I get the feeling it didn’t really matter who set up a movie club and when, but apparently, this young boy cared deeply.
“Fufu. Yes, that’s right. I care very deeply.”
As if looking into my thoughts… or perhaps reading them, Saijou-kun said.
“I’m just no good with this sensation of ‘not knowing’ you see. It’s my nature look into whatever I’m curious about.”
“I don’t get that feeling. When it comes to me, I’m the type who really isn’t bothered if what I don’t know remains unknown.”
“It must be a natural disposition. Or perhaps one’s true character. It looks like my way of thought and yours are different from the root.”
“Looks like it.”
“Getting back on track. I was looking into the founder… and I found you.”
I didn’t see the connection. Just what sort of connection could there be between the founder of a movie club and me?
“This isn’t like me at all; I’m acting on an intuition without any basis. While I continued my investigation, I started to see a thin thread between you and the founder. Kagoshima-san and the founder must be related in some way—I can’t help but get that feeling.”
“… I think that’s probably your imagination. I haven’t the slightest inkling.”
There Saijou-kun said, “You’re right about that,” with a small sigh.
“It seems you ‘really’ don’t have the slightest inkling, and that you really are just a civilian… well, that being the case,”
Your surroundings are a different story.
He said in a voice I could barely pick up, directing a glance at the sleeping Oshiri-chan.
“Magic, eh… looks like there are still plenty of things I don’t know in this world. I would never say something as arrogant as I want to know everything there is in the world, but at the very least, if I don’t know everything there is to know about the organization I’m a part of, I’ll keep getting up on the wrong side of the bed…”
With that declaration, Saijou-kun stood from his seat. He put on his glasses anew and gave a bright grin.
“I must apologize for taking up your time. I’m happy we got to speak. Some other day, if the chance does arise.”
As he turned his back to me and walked off, I found myself asking.
Something without much meaning, I simply felt an urge.
“Once you find this founder fellow—what do you want to do?”
“… I said it, didn’t I? I just want to know.”
Saijou-kun leisurely turned around.
“I simply can’t stand this feeling of being ruled by someone outside of my knowledge… this sensation of always rolling around on someone’s palm is just unbearable.”
He was still smiling as per usual, but in the depths of his eyes, something definitely was not. Those deep eyes that gave off a strength and resolve. Like the ones I admired in my youth, the heroes who would stand against an immense foe–
The bespectacled boy was gone.
Only I and a sleeping Oshiri-chan remained.
“Saijou Mutsuki. So that man was the first to notice after all. I see he latched onto the slight seams that started to show with Masaki Souhei’s betrayal. The genius… Saijou Mutsuki. An exceedingly proficient power, and a clever head that falls not short of it. While putting on a flippant frivolous act, he conceals a heated ambition. Fufu. How cute, his cuteness exceeds my expectations.”
From nowhere in particular came a voice.
“If he wishes to reach me, then he’d best give it all he’s got. Of course, the way things are going, it will prove nigh impossible. He cannot counteract 《Finishing Stroke》. Even if he can see through to the traces of memory and thought manipulation—he shall never know the traces of the world itself.”
A voice gentle and familiar to my ears sliced the surrounding stillness to bits.
“An amusing guppy; why don’t I let him swim a while? If he wishes to jump into the ring of fates of his own accord, I shan’t deny him. Just as he so desires, I’ll entangle him in a greater, greater story. It’s about time I stopped getting ‘pieces’ and started getting myself some ‘enemies’.”
To me, it could even be a lullaby, a voice that put my heart at ease.
“But Saijou Mutsuki. Are you aware? That curiosity shall kill that cat. The desire to know is born from the fears of the ignorant. It is nothing more than cowardice. To summarize, you are a human driven on by nothing but fear.”
But I couldn’t know the meaning put into what should be a familiar voice. I could tell it was saying something, but I couldn’t tell what it was saying.
Even if it entered my ear, it didn’t enter my head.
Even if it reached my body, it didn’t reach my heart.
Someone able to talk in that special way, there was only one that I know.
“The truly strong… those to be feared are those who can accept ignorance in its entirety.”
And he appeared.
Before my eyes before I knew it… In the place Saijou-kun had been a moment ago, he sat.
As if that was an inevitability.
I called out his name.
Gray hair close to white, and a gray kinagashi close to black.
My childhood friend: from time to time, he would appear without any forewarning.
Deus ex Machina.
Much akin to the unreasonable, unfair god who enters the stage at the story’s endgame—he appeared.
“Huh? You’re not surprised today.”
As he said that with a bitter and sweet smile, I replied in disappointment.
“I was a little surprised. But it was just a feeling… I got the feeling it was about time for Kai to show up.”
“… Hmm,” went Kai with a laugh. “To think you’ve got around to say something like that… I see. So Akira’s also changed in his own way.”
As always, he said something I could never tell was meaningful or not as he shifted his gaze to Oshiri-chan.
“Ah, this child’s Orino-san’s little sister. I introduced you before, right? One thing led to another and I’m looking after her, but it looks like she got tired and fell asleep.”
“I see,” Kai gave a quiet nod and narrowed his eyes.
I could see nostalgia and affection in his eyes.
Almost like a father who had pulled an old album off the shelf to look at her daughter when she was still young.
“From what I can see, she’s around seven.”
“Yeah. She said she was seven.”
“When it comes to seven, when you met that lady in the strange suit, you were also seven, as I recall.”
“Yeah, come to think of it, you’re right.”
The events of ten years prior that shaped my personality.
That precious… precious memory.
“This must be some sort of destiny, Akira. The fates’ flightful fancy… no, what I feel is fate’s cynicism.”
“Surely you jest… it’s just a coincidence.”
He said lightly and gave me a warm smile.
In contrast to Saijou-kun’s childish smile, Kai was making a mature one. Like the hazy moon that floated in a starless sky, his was full of a mysterious charm.
Ah, it really does calm the heart.
Talking to the members of the ComClub is really fun, but since I’m dealing with women, I end up putting on airs and sticking out my chest ever so slightly. In that regard, speaking to my male childhood friend Kai birthed no such necessity.
I could interact completely naturally.
I conceded my heart to him more than I ever had before.
All of a sudden came the voice of a woman. Without any undulation of emotion, in a flat, even voice. The one there was a girl around the same age as me. Her pure-white hair left the strongest impression. The sort of white as if all the pigment had been drained away.
At a pace I could neither call fast or slow, she walked up to us.
“So this is where you were, master.”
Once she reached us, she spoke in a voice, still emotionless after all. It wasn’t only her voice that lacked emotion, but her expression as well. I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to what was going on in her head, it was an emotionless expressionlessness.
Like a machine. While that might be taken as rude, it’s what came to mind.
When Kai looked at her, he asked curtly.
“I have done everything you asked for without delay, so I have come to make a report. In regards to the plan brought up the other day, the spiritual phenomenon around Mt. Osore has been properly quelled. Of course, as you indicated, without casualty to the surrounding villages.”
“I see. That’s nice. Good work.”
“Huh? You know her, Kai?”
I asked, and “Yeah. I’m somewhat acquainted with her,” he nodded.
“Then, um, master means you?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“I’m into that sort of thing.”
Kai answered all too easily. There was really nothing I could say in response to that.
No, but… I’m feeling a bit conflicted.
“Looks like I didn’t understand the first thing about you, Kai…”
“Yeah. You actually hit the mark spot on with that line, but you’ve ruined it in this situation.”
Can you save it for a bit later, he added on some incomprehensible words with a bitter smile. Kai’s supposed acquaintance looked at me with her glass-ball-like inorganic eyes.
“You are Kagoshima Akira.”
“Ah… yes. I’m Akira-kun of the Kagoshima House. Umm, what’s your name?”
She blankly tilted her head. As if she didn’t understand the point of the question.
I wonder why. Did I say something that displeased her?
Still silent, she turned her head to look at Kai. It looked like a gesture awaiting orders, while simultaneously a gesture seeking assistance.
“Aah, right a name…”
Kai shifted his gaze to the madder sky.
“Since I’m ‘World of Death’… let’s see, ‘Brought Back to Life’. How about Yomigaeri? Isn’t that right, Yomiga Eri-san?”
“Yes. I am Yomiga Eri.”
Said the girl… Yomiga-san as she lowered her head towards me. I hurriedly lowered mine in return.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Yomiga-san.”
“Kagoshima Akira. I often hear about you from master.”
Yomiga-san went silent, staring fixatedly at me. It might be more accurate to say she observed me. It was a bit disconcerting to be glared at with those cold, inorganic eyes.
“I see… the more I look at you, the more contrastitive you seem to master.”
Eventually, Yomiga-san spoke.
“Shinose Kai and Kagoshima Akira…
Omniscient and almighty, therefore the existence must exist outside the world.
Ignorant and incompetent, therefore the existence can live at the center of the world.
The priestess(kago) caught in the cage(Ori).
The grace(kago) that surrounds the cage(Ori).
The understanding(Kai) that peers into the shoals of death.
The light(Akira) that holds the basket’s(Kago) death.
… He who admonishes(Kai) and he who gives up(Akira). Kagoshima Akira, your existence is…”
(TL: I highly apologize for how messy this looks, there is a high amount of cryptic wordplay in this portion, so I just put some pronunciation in parenthesis)
“You’ve said too much, Yomiga-san.”
Kai said flatly. When his voice was so quiet, it carried a strange intensity. “My apologies,” Yomiga-san said with a deep bow of her head.
“But master. Please let me confirm one final thing. If this man is Kagoshima Akira—then the girl sleeping at his side is…”
“That’s right. No doubt it’s precisely what you’re thinking.”
“… That is the ‘Cage of Death Remnant’?”
She muttered in a low voice, directing a chilling glance to Oshiri-chan.
“You know Orino-san? But this kid isn’t Orino-san you know. This is her little sister Oshiri-chan.”
I explained, but Yomiga-san completely ignored me and started at Oshiri-chan. She glared without a single blink.
I… grew frightful.
For when she hadn’t shown the slightest emotion to that point, a faint trace came into sight. What’s more, it was dark and black, it looked all muddled and messy. Why had she saved such eyes for Oshiri-chan?
Looking between the two of them, I noticed a certain something.
Yomiga-san looked identical to Orino-san.
Her atmosphere was completely different, so I never noticed, but the more I looked at her, the closer she seemed. No, this wasn’t on the level of similarity.
They were the same.
The same face, the same physique, the same voice.
But for some reason, I couldn’t think that Yomiga-san was Orino-san’s twin or sister, or even a relative. She was definitely a complete stranger. And their resemblance must be by complete coincidence. I mean… they’re far too unsimilar.
I can’t really put it into words, but this vague something, it included her atmosphere and bearing, or perhaps the portion you might even call her soul, Yomiga-san was fundamentally different from Orino-san.
“Good grief. Thanks to Kurisu and Saijou, your long-awaited emotional confrontation’s been wasted. When one side’s sleeping and an infant to boot, it just doesn’t make for the right picture.”
Kai said with a bitter smile and stood from the bench.
“We should get going, Yomiga-san.”
As Kai called out, Yomiga-san reverted to her original doll-like expressionlessness. And like a docile pet, or perhaps a well-made robot, she immediately drifted to Kai’s side.
“Well then, Akira. The two of us are going to do some shopping and go home.”
“Yeah. Got it.”
Our parting complete, Kai walked off. Yomiga-san silently followed three steps behind him. If I had to equate it to something, she was like an olden wife brimming with respect for her husband. As I mused and gazed at their backs,
“Ah, right, right,”
Kai turned around.
“This is something about a person with absolutely no relation to you, but…”
He gave as a preface and went on.
“That person met someone at a young age, and still blindly believes in their words to this day. For more than ten years, all the way. Only left with a faint memory of that person, but their words alone are carved deeply into his heart. Perhaps you should call it a curse, a binding mental chain continues to rule over his every action. Well, it might be easier to understand if you think of it as a form of mental trauma. Perhaps a phenomenon similar to what we refer to with animals as imprinting occurred.”
But you see Akira, Kai said.
“No matter how you look at it, there should be a limit to that.”
And bitter and sweet… he laughed.
“I mean, with something so insignificant… just because she asked him when he was a child, to think that alone would make him into a dense man who can’t notice anything, no matter how you look at it, don’t you think that’s far too convenient?”
Just what could he be talking about? Who was he talking about? He started by saying it was irrelevant to me, so the only thing I’m sure of is that he’s not talking about me.
I couldn’t understand what Kai wanted to say.
The meaning embedded in his words…
I couldn’t tell… I couldn’t notice.
“When the day comes that you notice all the truths, will you be able to remain as you? I’m looking forward to see it just a bit. Just what sort of ending will the tale of the intertwining Cage and Basket reach…”
The sky was getting dark.
The afterglow of the setting sun dyed the world a final red.
But only around the man without ant clear black or white, the world looked monochrome.
When I lost my words, Yomiga-san leaked a slight mumble.
“… Master, are you not as guilty as me in saying too much?”
“Haha. You may be right. You got me there. When I’m dealing with Akira, it just throws off my groove.”
Bouncing a fun conversation.
Kai and Yomiga-san.
Shinose Kai and Yomiga Eri.
As if melting into the twilight. Faded away.
Oshiri-chan opened her eyes when I was carrying her over my back on the way home.
The sun had long since set. Relying on the streetlights that illuminated the night road here and there, I firmly supported up Oshiri-chan’s oshiri-chan with both hands as I walked on.
From my back came a cute voice. A breath hit against the base of my neck, a little ticklish at that.
“Ah, you’re up?”
“Eh… Eeh! W-why am I…”
“Oshiri-chan, you got tired and fell asleep.”
She was sound asleep, so I carried her piggyback.
“… Ah, I see, Saijou-kun’s that again. I let my guard down… U-um, I’m already up, so could you please put me down!?”
“Nah. It’s fine. Only a little left to my house, let me carry you.”
“B-but… I’m not heavy?”
“Not at all. Oshiri-chan, you’re light, so I’m fine. Well, if it were your sister, then given her physique, it would be a bit hard, considerably harsh to carry her for long periods of t—Gweh.”
Her arms wrapped around to strangle my neck. Did she get mad that I made fun of her big sister? What a loving little sister.
“U-um. In that case, I’ll take you up on that request.”
“Yeah… But I’d be thankful if you could wipe off the drool around my shoulders.”
My shoulders were strongly rubbed at. It felt like she was using my shirt to wipe it, but I was going to wash it later, so it really didn’t matter.
“I-I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
After groaning in a disappearing voice, Oshiri-chan limply entrusted her body weight to me. Thanks to that, she felt a bit lighter. It’s not like her actual weight changed, but when carrying someone, it gets a lot easier when you have a firm grip on them.
“… Kagoshima-san, you’ve got a big back.”
“… It’s a whole lot bigger than I thought. You’ve got space from shoulder to shoulder, and it’s built sturdy… it’s far wider than my ow—I mean my sister’s back.”
“I mean, I’m a man after all.”
I know I shouldn’t be the one to say it, but even so, my physique should be better than Orino-san’s. But, well, in a fight or brute strength, or combat, or anything on that field, I got the feeling I’d never be able to beat her. Rather, I got the feeling I couldn’t beat Kagurai-senpai and Kikyouin-san, and for some reason even Kurisu-chan.
“Even I know I’ve got no real power, and I can’t do a thing…”
My back was surely never made big enough to carry the whole world.
My shoulders weren’t strong enough for the world’s fate to hang on.
But, even so…
“I’m a man, so I think I at least want to be strong enough to carry a woman.”
I said to chastise- and boast- of myself.
I’m sure that’s about the most this back will carry.
Small arms wrapped around me.
“Thank you for playing with me today. It was really fun.”
Oshiri-chan said pensively.
I couldn’t help but return the question.
I got the feeling I was arbitrarily playing on my own, while Oshiri-chan just looked on with a dubious face.
“Yes. I was able to learn what sort of things you played with when you were a kid. It was interesting.”
And Oshiri-chan’s voice tone dropped.
“… I was never able to play normally, it was all fresh and fun… I never played with someone my age before…”
“I see. Then that’s good.”
Sensing there was some sort of circumstance, I purposely didn’t pursue her on it.
“Playing doctor was,”
“Let’s forget that ever happened, Oshiri-chan.”
“Yes. I’ve already forgotten all about it.”
Our breaths as one, we formed a pact of secrecy.
A mysterious sense of unity.
“Umm, and so…”
After a deep breath, Oshiri-chan on my back cut in as if resolving herself
“Did Saijou-ku… Saijou-san say anything?”
“Mn? Aah, Saijou-kun.”
I reflected on our conversation.
That boy was always giving a profound-looking smile. But everything he said was incomprehensible, and after that, with the impactful event of my encounter with Yomiga Eri, I honestly didn’t really remember.
“What was it again… as I recall… Orino-san’s powers are growing… or something, I think he said something like that.”
When I conveyed what I just barely remembered, the little girl on my back shut her mouth.
“I don’t know what he means, but do you get it, Oshiri-chan?”
“… No. I don’t know.”
Hair brushed against my nape a few times. I’m sure she was shaking her head.
“But my big sis did say it. That her powers are growing stronger lately… yeah.”
As if she was talking about herself.
She began to speak of Orino-san.
“Rather than the powers themselves growing stronger, as if they’ve begun to change into something else—they’ve begun to sublimate. That sort of feeling, it’s inside of me…”
“So I’m a little scared… is what my big sister said. She doesn’t know who she is, and she doesn’t know what she’s becoming.”
I silently listened in.
Because I didn’t know what to say.
Oshiri-chan was lightly shaking. From my shoulders and back, I could sense the light tremors.
“Kagoshima-san, no matter who my big sister is, will you be her friend. Even if Orino Shiori stops being Orino Shiori, can you treat her as you always have?”
I was sure that was a serious question. So I gave it some serious thought.
Such to remain oblivious, I thought with all I had.
If I was the cool protagonist of some manga or anime, I would give a strong nod with no hesitation. That was the best, the most correct and most beautiful answer.
But I wasn’t the protagonist.
So even if it wasn’t right or beautiful… let it be honest and sincere.
“I don’t know.”
“If Orino-san stops being Orino-san, I have no way of knowing what will happen then. I might come to hate her, and we might stop being friends.”
The slender hands reaching over my shoulders tightly gripped my shirt. I gently put my own hands over her shaking fingers, “But,” I said.
“If Orino-san stays Orino-san… if the most important part inside of Orino-san stays as it always has been, then I think I’ll always want to be with her.”
No matter who she may become.
As long as she stays herself.
“… Thank you.”
Almost in Orino-san’s own tone, Oshiri-chan said so.
“Kagoshima-san, you’re just the sort of person my sister said you were.”
“Eh? Did your big sis say something about me?”
“He’s a man who doesn’t understand anything… but what’s truly important, that alone he understands.”
That’s what my big sister said, went Oshiri-chan.
To me, that was praise of the highest level.
The words I wanted to hear the most.
“Shucks… ahaha. You’re kinda making me blush.”
I suddenly grew embarrassed and ended up giving a bashful laugh.
“Yeah. I’m glad I heard it from you, Oshiri-chan. If I heard it from Orino-san upfront, I might be so happy I’d embrace her and kiss her on the spot.”
“E-eh!? I-in that case, the moment I return to normal…”
“Ah, but now that I’ve built up a resistance, I should be fine.”
Oshiri-chan suddenly went silent. A deep sigh draped over the back of my head.
“U-u-umm… ii-in that case, Kagoshima-san.”
After a while, Oshiri-chan spoke terribly fumbly. She seemed to be extraordinarily nervous.
“W-what do you think about my big sister?”
“Eh? What do I think about her? In what way?”
“No, I mean, umm… do you like or hate her, that sort of thing…”
“Yes? Of course I like Orino-san. I love her just as much as Kagurai-senpai, Kurisu-chan and Kikyouin-san.”
Oshiri-chan gave a glum moan and began flailing her body. The kid finally started doing something childish.
“Not that, please not that…”
Sssss, haaaaa, after a deep breath, “Alright,” Oshiri-chan said strongly.
“Kagoshima Akira, what do you think of Orino Shiori as a member of the opposite sex?”
As a member of the opposite sex?
I was a bit taken aback. I never thought Oshiri-chan would say something like that. As a member of the opposite sex. Meaning, not do I like her as a friend or a comrade in arms, she’s asking about our so-called relation of man and woman.
Good grief. Elementary schoolers these days sure are mature, I thought, but as I didn’t want to give a reply that was too arbitrary, I gave it some serious thought.
About my relationship with Orino-san.
I tried thinking… something felt off.
Two off feelings hit me.
The first was the sensation on my back. There were two soft sensations that hadn’t been there before. Extremely soft, the feeling of happiness. Come to think of it, I get the feeling I felt something similar when I carried Kagurai-senpai, but these were far larger and softer. Now that you mention it, Oshiri-chan’s still in elementary school, so I’m sure she doesn’t wear a bra. Not that that has anything to do with this.
The second was weight. I got the feeling Oshiri-chan was heavier than she was before. No, this wasn’t on the level of an inkling. She had certainly increased by at least a factor of five. The load on the hands holding up Oshiri-chan’s oshiri-chan had clearly multiplied. Rather, Oshiri-chan’s oshiri-chan had clearly grown.
Perhaps sensing my doubts, Oshiri-chan leaned her head over my shoulder. I turned my head… in shock.
Oshiri-chan wasn’t Oshiri-chan anymore.
Oshiri-chan had… turned into Orino-san.
“A growth spurt!?”
For now I tried saying it, but there was no way. No possibility she was a changling either, which means…
“Eh? Growth spurt? What do you mean by that?”
With my shaking lips, I barely managed to string together words.
“What are you doing… Orino-san?”
Still being carried by me, Orino-san frantically looked all over her body.
After a few seconds of painful silence…
“…… E-eeeeeeeeeh!? Why did it have to be now!?”
Orino-san raised a cry of surprise. But I was the surprised one.
“Why are you suddenly on my back!? And just where did Oshiri-chan go?”
“That’s… a-anyways, it’s embarrassing, so can you put me down!”
As if pushing me away, Orino-san fell off of my back.
I turned around, only to find my head in chaos again. Why. Why is it such a stream of dramatic developments?
For some reason, Orino-san was wearing something similar to Oshiri-chan. Clothing identical to that one thousand yen one-piece dress that girl bought on the way home from school.
Confused as I was, I frantically put the pieces together.
Umm, as I recall, Orino-san was chasing after Oshiri-chan’s clothing that was blown away by the wind, and she ran off naked. Meaning she grew cold and bought some clothing along the way. As sisters, it looks like they have a similar taste in clothing.
… I get the feeling my confusion’s leading me to considerably strange conjecture, but, well, we can put the finer details to the side for now, and think about the biggest problem.
The biggest problem.
The fact that the one piece she bought as a set with her sister was visibly the wrong size.
As a friend, I identified it out of kindness. It’s no good if she hasn’t noticed.
“It’s about to burst.”
Especially around the breasts. The one piece’s chest portion looked like it would tear at any moment. It looked strained all over, stuck fast to her body. I think this sort of thing is called bodycon.
“… I’m aware.”
Looks like she was aware. I continued pointing it out.
[AN IMAGE GOES HERE]
“Also, if it was just a little shorter, I’d start seeing things.”
It was a considerably daring mini skirt. If she just spread her legs a little, it looked like that alone would put everything on display.
“… I’m aware.”
Orino-san hung her bright red face as she quivered. Looks like I didn’t have to point it out, she was conscious of it. Perhaps that’s how she intended to pull it off in the first place. In that case, this is bad. Orino-san would look a hundred times better in some neat and tidy clothing.
Ah, I see.
I’m sure she’s trying to be fashionable…
When a kid who’s usually earnest suddenly tries going all out, does it lead to such an unfortunate result?
“Umm… Orino-san, I really think you’re better off quitting that style of fashion a bit lacking in shame. Something more traditional would–”
A blink of the eye.
In an instant, the distance between me and Orino-san shrunk to zero. I didn’t even see the afterimage.
Huh? But just now, from beneath the one piece, did I just see something I shouldn’t have… or so I thought, when I was pricked.
Specifically speaking, I didn’t know when or where. It was probably a human vital, likely somewhere around the meridian channel hidden points.
And there my consciousness cut off.
The next time I opened my eyes, for some reason, I was on the bed of my own room.
“… It was a dream the whole time?”
This is something of a continuation.
Even after the night had passed, my misgivings about it being a dream didn’t fade.
Perhaps everything had been a dream.
Perhaps Orino-san didn’t even have a sister, could it be that Oshiri-chan was a fictional manifestation of the latent perverse desires hidden deep in my psyche.
I want to play with a little girl, I want to be bullied by a little girl, born from my pedophilic desires, a product of delusion. The more I thought of it, the more I felt like crying.
“… I’m going to make Tezuka Osamu-sensei angry.”
Morning the next day.
Mulling over some misguided worries (Apparently, dream endings have been outlawed by the god of manga, Tezuka Osamu-sensei. Though there are various theories), I brought my heavy feet to school.
But my fears of a dream ending were soon cleanly wiped away.
As I attended school as per usual, I was swiftly apprehended and taken to the staff room.
Not knowing what was going on, I was surrounded by teachers with grim looks on their faces. One among them, the student counselor explained the situation in a grim tone.
Last night, a neighbourhood resident made a call to Adatara High School.
According to them,
‘A male Adatara High School Student was leading around a female child, calling out indecent words like, “Oshiri-chan, Oshiri-chan”.’
… Why couldn’t it have just been a dream?