Epilogue: The High School Girl Standing in the Kitchen
“Yoshida-san, you’ve got some hairs growing out.”
“Huh? I shaved already.”
“You must’ve missed the spot then.”
Hearing Sayu, who was in the midst of making omelets in the apartment’s simple kitchen, mention it, I returned to the washroom to take another look. It was just as she had said, there were a few hairs remaining. Clicking my tongue, I turned on the electric shaver and went about the daily routine once again.
“Well, actually-” Sayu said without looking away from the frying pan as I left the washroom.
“Leaving a few hairs is fine isn’t it? It’s sort of fitting, in a way.”
“The heck do you mean by that?”
“Exactly what it means.” She said as she turned off the stove and moved the fluffy looking omelets onto a plate.
“Here you go.”
“Oh, looking good.”
“Take as much rice as you’d like to go with it. Ah, right, have some of this too.”
After handing me a bowl of rice and a plate of omelet, she starting filled a soup bowl with miso soup from the pot. From the deftness of her movements, one might think that she was a professional housewife.
It’s been a few weeks since the night when Sayu had approached me in her underwear and I’ve since gotten used to the sight of her doing the housework.
I broke a leg trying to explain what happened to Mishima… but looking at the results, everything had settled down peacefully.
“Well, knowing you senpai, you won’t have the guts to lay your hands on a high school girl anyway.”
Though she had been as rude as ever, she had managed to accept the situation for what it was.
As for events that have been bothering me, Gotou-san has been approaching me quite frequently as of late. Strangely enough, she would often invite me to have lunch together. Not to mention, when she ate alone, she would have nothing but salad, but when she ate with me, she would order a plentiful meal.
I can’t complain of course, but the sudden closing of the distance between us for no particular reason at all has left me needlessly anxious – and well, it’s bad for my heart.
“I figured I would come see you as you are, you see.”
She would often tease me with a bewitching smile on her face.
Though the working environment has changed to somewhat, my life with Sayu has continued without any notable problems.
Putting the omelet aside for the moment, I opened the rice cooker. As I filled my bowl with rice, I couldn’t help but notice how Sayu was dressed today.
“Huh, why are you dressed in your uniform today?”
Hearing me ask, Sayu smiled and turned only her gaze towards me.
“Well, it’d be strange if a uniform didn’t suit a high school girl, actually.”
“Geez, that’s not what I’m talking about…” Sayu said with a displeased look as she continued.
“There are times where I’d like to become a high school girl is all.”
“There are times…? Even without your uniform you’re still a high school girl aren’t you?”
“That’s right, but you know.”
With two bowls in hand, Sayu walked towards the living room area. Rice, omelets, and wieners – though it was as ordinary a breakfast as it gets, it was still very appetizing nonetheless.
“Thanks for the meal.”
Seeing me dig in, Sayu continued where she left off.
“If I wear my uniform, you’d have to recognize me as one even if you didn’t know right?”
“Well, you have a point.”
The saltiness of the miso soup was just as I liked it. Taking a few sips from the soup, I could feel my body warming up – a sensation which I quite liked.
“So even if you see me making breakfast in the kitchen, you’d still recognize me as a high school girl.”
“It’s convenient isn’t it?” Sayu murmured as she fed a piece of the omelet that she made into her mouth.
She nodded in satisfaction at her own handiwork.
Though I had no idea where she was going with this, I made sure to show some vague signs every so often that I was still paying attention.
“You see, I ran away from it all cause I didn’t like being a high school girl.”
Her abrupt confession made me stop my chopsticks.
“But nowadays, for some reason-”
After a brief moment of hesitation where she cast her gaze on the objects on the table, she show a slackened smile and continued.
“I feel a bit glad that I’m a high school girl and all.”
I nodded before taking a slurp from the soup.
There are a lot of things I still don’t know about her.
I wouldn’t ask her about what she wouldn’t say. I didn’t think that was any need to ask either.
But if there’s one thing I could say, it’s that I quite liked that smile of hers.
“Well, your uniform…”
Hearing me speak, Sayu focused her attention onto me as she took a gulp of rice.
“Your uniform is well… normal? I guess.”
It might’ve been better to say that it suited her, but just the thought made me feel a little embarrassed for some reason.
“But I think that normal smile of yours… suits you.” I forcefully muttered, before taking a piece of the omelet.
The mixture of sweetness and saltiness was just as I liked it. The texture was quite fluffy too.
Then, noticing that Sayu still hadn’t reacted to what I said, I raised my gaze from the bowl to find her blushing.
“Eh, no… it’s nothing really, heheh.”
Sayu smiled as if to brush it over before munching down on a weiner.
Now able to smile in more ways that was true to herself, Sayu had become quite adorable, as should befit her age.
She may have had many rough experiences until now, but I hoped that this place would give her a place to be herself.
And with time, I hoped that she would be able to gather the strength to face what she would need to face eventually.
Having suddenly been called out to, I raised my head, only to find Sayu staring straight at me.
“If I wasn’t a high school girl, would you have fallen for me?”
“Wha?” Translated by yuNS
At my inane welp, Sayu broke into a fit of giggling and shook her head.
“It’s just a joke Yoshida-san. The way you always take things so seriously is kind of funny in a way.”
“Oh geez…” @ crimsonmagic . me
If Sayu wasn’t a high school girl.
At that thought, the scene from a few weeks ago, where Sayu had been in her underwear, flashed through my mind.
If she had been an adult, not a high schooler, but my age…
‘Then do it with me.’
The all-too vivid recollection of her voice made goosebumps rise on my skin. I shook my head furiously and pulled myself back to reality.
“Oh, nothing much.”
I shoved my mouth full of rice and started chewing to smooth it over.
Regardless, she was still a high school girl. Just a brat way younger than myself.
Affirming that with myself, I swallowed down on the rice.
As took a deep breathe in, then a deep breathe out, a notion gradually surfaced in my mind.
It may be a good thing that Sayu is a high school girl.
I felt a strong sense of dissonance towards this notion.
So what if she wasn’t a high school girl? What then?
First thing in the morning wasn’t a good time to think about such difficult topics. I slowly sipped on the bowl of miso soup. Whilst basking in the warm sensation spreading throughout my body, I also dissolved the pointless thoughts that were running through my mind.
“Yoshida-san, you seem to be taking your time this morning, you sure you have enough time?”
Hearing Sayu mention that, I took a peek at the clock. I should’ve already left 5 minutes ago.
“Shoot.” I muttered as I hurriedly devoured what was left of my breakfast.
Then, I headed towards the washroom, roughly brushed my teeth, put on my jacket and picked up my back.
“Have a safe trip.”
Sayu’s smiling figure intersected with the morning light, making me squint instinctively.
“No, it’s nothing. I’m heading out then.”
Running out the entrance and taking a big breath of the morning air, I gave my cheek a good slap.
It’s like we’re newlyweds.
That thought had astounded me.
Who knows how long this lifestyle would continue?
Be it coincidence or fate, Sayu and I had met one another, and so began our life of cohabitation.
What would happen next? How would this all end? I couldn’t imagine it, yet, I didn’t want to abandon it.
I turned back and looked towards the entrance of my apartment.
Until recently, this had been the home that I alone left and returned to.
But it was different now.
That was my home, from which I returned to and left, as well as Sayu’s retreat. It was a place that would protect her and allow her to pass her time undisturbed.
Just the thought of working to protect this home gave me the strength to look towards the future, if only just a little bit.
“Alright, let’s get going”
I said as I took a step forward.
The peculiar cohabitation between an old man and a high school girl was only just beginning.