[translation] Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi ~ Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai 6, Ch. 11 part 880
Type: Novel Translation
Title: Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai 6
Series: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi
Author/Circle: Nakamura Shungiku, Fujisaki Miyako
Forum Discussion: HERE
Notes: You can also view the book in-progress on Pressbooks for what’s likely a more pleasant reading experience!
This time: Kirishima, Yokozawa, and Hiyori head to the exhibition center to check out Hiyori’s painting…and run into an unwanted fourth wheel.
Chapter 11 (cont.)
Hiyori was just the tiniest bit dressed up today, sporting the new dress she’d had her grandmother buy her and a scrunchie binding her hair that had been a gift from Yokozawa. The three of them were driving, with Kirishima at the wheel and Yokozawa and Hiyori in the back, to the Ward Hall.
“You were up pretty early this morning; did you get enough sleep?”
“I went to bed early last night, so I’m fine! What about you, Oniichan? Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah, thanks to you—I slept like a log.” Perhaps it was just all of the exhaustion and fatigue finally catching up with them, but both Yokozawa and Kirishima had slept past the time they’d intended to wake. When they’d finally risen, the laundry had already been hung out to dry and breakfast was on the table. Yokozawa had protested that she should have woken them, but she’d returned that, ”Well you looked tired, so I wanted you to have a good night’s rest,” and his chest had clenched in admiration.
“Oh yeah—that trick you taught me worked wonders, Oniichan!”
“‘Trick’? Oh that.” He’d simply told her that if she made sure to hit her pillow the same number of times as the hour she wanted to wake at, then she’d be sure to wake up at precisely that time. It was a little something his own grandmother had taught him as a child. He now recalled teaching the trick to Hiyori after she’d grown worried she wouldn’t be able to wake up on time on days she needed to be up early for important events.
“I haven’t overslept once whenever I’ve done that! And I taught it to all my friends too, and they said it really works!”
“That’s great, then.” It was probably just a form of self-suggestion, but if it worked, then it worked.
“What’re you two talking about?” Kirishima called back from the driver’s seat, evidently curious as to their conversation.
“I was just telling Oniichan that the trick he taught me really works!”
“Trick? Well isn’t that just adorable.”
“I just taught her something my grandmother taught me as a kid. It’s not like I still do it myself.” He didn’t want Kirishima thinking he still relied on childish charms like that.
“Huh? You don’t?”
“Adults can wake up properly on their own, so they don’t need it.” He couldn’t just blurt out to Hiyori that he refused to use such childish tricks at his age, so he passed it off as a matter of physical maturity. In truth, he’d just gotten used to waking up thanks to his trusty alarm clock.
“So how does this trick work, exactly?” Kirishima asked, and Yokozawa felt a strange sense of foreboding on the heels of the question. But he couldn’t stop Hiyori from responding, so preparing himself not to overreact no matter what Kirishima came back with, he forced himself to remain calm.
“Well, you just slap your pillow the same number of times as the hour you want to wake up. If you wanna wake up at 6, then you hit it 6 times; if it’s 7, then 7 times. And you really do just pop awake at that exact moment!”
“Wow, that does sound useful. Maybe I’ll give it a shot next time.”
“Yeah, you oughta! It really works!”
“I’ll try it out tonight, then.” Yokozawa couldn’t bear the grinning leer Kirishima shot him through the rearview mirror, but he knew he’d be on the losing side if he let himself show any reaction right now.
“Eyes forward when you’re driving.”
“I’m facing forward. I’m just wondering why you never told me about your amazingly effective little trick.”
“Because you don’t need it. And hey—we need to make a right at the next light to enter the parking lot. Don’t miss the turn!”
“Yeah yeah, I know.”
As they bantered, they finally reached the parking lot nearest the hall, and after Kirishima pulled into an empty space near the end of a lane, the three headed to the entrance together. The award Hiyori had won was for an art contest held among all elementary school students in the entire ward. The winning entries were new displayed in an exhibition room off of the Ward Cultural Hall.
This year’s theme had been “Summer Vacation” apparently, and Hiyori had drawn a picture representing the time she’d spent with her maternal grandparents earlier that year.
“Do you get a certificate or anything?”
“They said I’m gonna get one from the school principal at tomorrow’s morning assembly. It sounds nice…but it’s gonna be kinda embarrassing, standing in front of everyone.”
“It’s something you oughta be proud of, so puff that chest out and show off! If I didn’t have work, I’d be there for that assembly in a heartbeat, but…”
“No way!! You’d better not come! That’d be even MORE embarrassing!” Hiyori frantically interrupted, desperate to keep her father from trying to come see her. There wasn’t a child alive who wouldn’t be mortified to have a parent show up at their morning assembly, even if it was to see them receive an award.
“So I’m not allowed to want to see my daughter’s big moment?”
“Want to see it all you like, as long as you don’t actually come. Besides, you’re really busy right now, right? Forget about me and just focus on your job!” Hiyori had grown exceedingly skilled at dealing with Kirishima, given their daily interactions, and Yokozawa wondered if he perhaps ought to take a few leaves out of her book.
The unexpected call of Kirishima’s name brought their little trio to a halt—and given the ‘-kun’ tacked onto the end of ‘Kirishima’, it was unlikely they were calling for Hiyori.
Finding Kirishima’s expression a bit suspicious, Yokozawa turned to follow Kirishima’s eyeline—and ran right into the smiling face of Oosaki, whom he’d just recently met, waving a greeting.
Today she was sporting a tight, knee-length skirt and a white blouse with voluminous sleeves, topped off with a beige trench coat. The large necklace decorating her throat and earrings dangling from her ears seemed to be of a matching design, and Yokozawa assumed the sweet scent that permeated her immediate surroundings to be her perfume. Her makeup as well seemed to be applied with even more care today than when they’d met previously.
He experienced a brief flash of suspicion, wondering if they’d perhaps planned to run into one another like this, but the notion was quickly dispelled, given the look of shock on Kirishima’s feature.
“I got curious after hearing you talk about this the other day and decided to drop in. I recalled you said you were planning to come here on Sunday, so I thought I might run into you. And look, I have! I’m so happy!” She seemed in even higher spirits than when they’d met before, and unsure how they ought to act just now, he and Hiyori just looked on in confusion. “Oh, I’m so sorry! Have I cause any inconvenience…?”
“Oh no—not at all. I was only surprised, that’s all. Are you hear to do some research today?” Kirishima’s look of shock quickly disappeared as he schooled his features, flashing a smile.
“Indeed I am. If I hadn’t heard you mention this art display, I probably wouldn’t have thought to use such a setting for my piece, so I’m truly grateful.”
“It was nothing.”
“It made me realize anew just how much I’ve forgotten about the past, even though I was once a child myself.”
“I was merely making conversation. If it inspired any ideas in you, then I’m sure that merely means it was something innately necessary to the story you were already dreaming up, Sensei..”
“You really are a modest one, aren’t you, Kirishima-kun? And—we’re not in a professional setting right now, so why not stop with the overly polite speech and ‘Sensei’?”
“Ah—I’m afraid I can’t…”
“Dad…?” Hiyori called cautiously, tugging gently on the hem of his shirt. She seemed to have been thrown off by the sudden unexpected appearance of Oosaki-sensei.
A look of realization flashed across his features, and he apologized to Hiyori. “Sorry, Hiyo.”
“Oh, is this your little lady? She’s even more adorable than I imagined!” Oosaki squatted down in place, bringing herself down to Hiyori’s eye-level. Hiyori, however, was being uncharacteristically shy and seemed unsure of what to do with herself.
“This is Oosaki Ryou-sensei, an author your dad’s in charge of. She’s here to use the art exhibition as research for her next piece.”
“Research? Is she a mangaka?”
“She’s a book author.”
“So you’re Hiyori-chan, huh? Hello there—I’m Oosaki Ryouko, aka Oosaki Ryou. I went to university with your father. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Oosaki gave both her pseudonym and real name, perhaps wanting to make an impression on Hiyori not as merely an author but a normal woman as well.
“Yes ma’am, it’s nice to meet you. Umm, I’m Kirishima Hiyori. Thank you for always taking care of my dad.” She ducked a small bow, just as she’d done the first time she’d met Yokozawa. However, her usual cheerfulness was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t often that she came into contact with people like Oosaki, so perhaps she was just a bit nervous.
“My goodness but you’re well-mannered! Your father certainly raised you well.”
Hiyori returned an uncertain smile at the compliment, clearly in gloomier spirits than she’d been only moments ago. But as he stood there looking on worriedly at Hiyori, Oosaki noticed his presence and greeted him this time.
“Oh? You’re the sales associate I met the other day, aren’t you?”
“Ah—yes. I’m Yokozawa.”
“You must be close with Kirishima-kun! Are you of an age?”
“No, but he’s kind enough to associate with me.” It wasn’t the first time it had happened—them being mistaken for the same age at first glance. It wasn’t a matter to make a big deal over, though, so he brushed it off with a vague response. He had more important matters of concern—like what she was doing here in the first place.
“So, um…what brings you here…?”
“I decided to come after I heard from Kirishima-kun that Hiyori-chan had won an award for her art exhibit and that it would be displayed today. I’m actually thinking of writing a story involving an elementary school-age protagonist, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to do a bit of research.”
“Research, is it…” If she was truly here only to do research for her novel, she simply should have wandered around on her own and then left. And yet instead, she’d been waiting here by the entrance—suggesting beyond doubt that she’d actually been hoping to run into Kirishima. With any other author, Yokozawa probably wouldn’t have been this suspicious, but recalling her attitude only two days prior roused worries. He kept his features even, but inside his chest, his heart was beating a furious tattoo.
“I’ve always wanted to write a boy detective story—so I’m digging around for some plot devices to use in that regard. If it’s all right with you, I’d love to get your input later, Hiyori-chan.” She seemed intent on tagging along with their group, and at the suggestion, Hiyori glanced up at her father uncertainly, but he seemed just as puzzled for how to deal with her—likely because, as an editor, he couldn’t just abandon an author of his who was here doing research.
“Well, shall we go inside, for now?”
“Yes, let’s; nothing will come of just standing around here gabbing.”
Kirishima urged Oosaki toward the entrance, apparently having decided that he had no choice but to attend to her in such a situation. He cast an apologetic glance back at Yokozawa and Hiyori, bringing a hand up to his face and gesturing I’m sorry to the both of them.
Yokozawa took a hint and picked up his slack, settling his hand on the still unhappy Hiyori’s head. “Shall we head in as well? We’re here because we’re excited to see your picture, after all.”
“Yeah, let’s go, Oniichan.” Her smile was back now, and she tugged on the hand she gripped in her own as they stepped into the assembly hall. The atmosphere inside was very calm and laid back, and a receptionist manned a front desk.
“I haven’t been to a place like this in ages. I wonder where the exhibition room is.”
“There seems to be a bulletin board over there. Works by the upper grades are on the first floor, and lower grade-school children’s works seems to be on the second floor.” A stack of simple pamphlets quickly churned out on a copy machine sat before them.
“Ah, wait, I need to take some pictures! I hope I can snap some shots inside the exhibition hall too…” She frantically rooted around in her bag, pulling out a camera that she likely intended to use to shoot references. She pointed the lens at the reception desk and entryway, pressing the shutter fervently.
“Oniichan, let’s go on ahead.”
“You sure you don’t want to wait and go together?”
“I don’t wanna get in the way of his work. If we wait up where my picture is, then we’ll still be able to see it together.”
He couldn’t leave her to wander about alone, tugging on his arm as she was, so he twisted in place and announced their plans to Kirishima. “Okay—hey, we’re going on ahead.” If he didn’t make sure the guy knew where they’d gone, he’d surely worry when they just disappeared out of the blue. “Hey, you want me to trade places with your dad, Hiyo?” Oosaki might not like that, but she was the one butting in here, so she should be prepared to have to grin and bear it.
“It’s fine; I wanna see it with you.”
“……” It wasn’t like Hiyori to make childish demands or be immaturely stubborn—in fact, she was quite good at putting up with situations she was less than thrilled with. However, this only served to make her current expression, as she tried to put up a brave front, all the more pitiful.
Today was meant to be her first outing in ages with her extremely busy father; she’d probably gotten up early enough to finish all the morning chores only because she was too excited to get back to sleep after waking. Oosaki’s appearance here meant she was no longer the main focus—when Hiyori ought to have been the one at Kirishima’s side, flashing a brilliant smile.
Kirishima was in much the same boat, having run himself ragged the whole week with this outing being the light at the end of the tunnel for him to look forward to. Yokozawa couldn’t imagine that he was at all thrilled with the way things were turning out.
“Oniichan, this one’s really good!”
“Yeah, it sure is. And it only got an honorable mention?” The piece she’d pointed to was a landscape fit to adorn a postcard, and Yokozawa was impressed at the level of detail he never would have expected from an elementary school student. In contrast, next to it was a portrait with a rather creative use of color. He hadn’t a clue what criteria had been used to rank the pieces, but they clearly hadn’t been selected based merely on “good” or “bad.”
“So where’s yours displayed?” The panel near the entrance was largely dominated by honorable mentions, crowded together, so the winning pieces might be further inside.
“I got second place, so I guess it’s a little further on.”
“Over there, you think?” He pointed toward a panel where the pieces were displayed with a bit more space between each one, almost certainly the winning pieces.
“Let’s go check it out, Oniichan.”
A few families were wandering about the exhibition room, and children younger than Hiyori chatted animatedly with their parents. Hiyori passed them by at a slight jog.
“This looks like the third-place winner.”
“Oh, this is my friend’s!”
“Yeah, you’re pretty close with them, aren’t you?” The name displayed beneath the piece was one he recognized. He’d learned most of her friend’s names through their conversations about how she was doing at school. “Ah, here’s yours. Pretty nice placement, if you ask me.”
“You’re right! I’m glad for it…but it’s kinda embarrassing too…” She was probably experiencing mixed feelings of pride and embarrassment—and Yokozawa wished fervently that they could have shared this moment with Kirishima as well.
“Is this from when you went on that trip by yourself?” The picture showed a small pony-tailed head peeking at fish swimming along a river bottom. The scrunchie tying the subject’s hair back was the same as the one Hiyori wore today. Even discounting his bias, Yokozawa thought it was a fine piece.
While the landscape from earlier was more skillfully created, Hiyori’s had an undeniable draw that lured the eye in—that called to the soul. Perhaps she’d inherited that strong sense from her father.
“Yup. I drew the time when Grandpa took me fishing in this really pretty river. The water was so clean and clear you could even see the rocks on the bottom! But when I stepped in it was so cold it shocked me!”
Hiyori’s maternal grandparents lived far away and only got to see her twice a year. They’d likely been eager to share all sorts of experiences with their granddaughter when she’d gone to visit over summer vacation.
“It’s got great composition—I feel like I’m staring into the water there with you,” he commented, and hearing his honest opinion brought a bashful smile to Hiyori’s face.
“Really? I was thinking about how much I wanted to show it to you and Dad the whole time I was painting it.”
“Well I can tell—and obviously the judges could, too. This more than deserves that second-place prize.”
“You think? I wish you and Dad and I could’ve gone together though… Oh, but then we’d have to leave Sora-chan all alone!”
“Yeah; he could probably handle himself for one night, but it’d be kind of sad putting him in a pet hotel for days on end.”
“Wish he could come with us…”
“You should make sure he gets to see your picture too. You’ll get it back when the exhibition’s over, right?”
“Oh yeah! You’re right! I can just show it to him!” At Yokozawa’s suggestion, her tone brightened. She seemed to be back in high spirits again, which sent a wave of relief washing over him.
“Sorry I took so long, Hiyo!”
Kirishima situated himself between the two of them, taking in Hiyori’s painting. “So this one’s yours, huh? It looks great. You can really see the water flowing, and it feels like the fish could just leap up out of the water.”
“They actually did that, when I looked into the river like I showed here! I was so surprised I fell right onto my butt!” she explained, doing her best to relate the circumstances to her father.
“I can practically see it now. Is this the river you mentioned going fishing in?”
“Yup! I only managed to catch two, but Grandpa caught lots! We shared them with some of the neighbors, and they gave us stuff like watermelon and corn in return. I had some corn fresh off the stalk, and it was super sweet!”
“That dos sound tasty. I bet if you drizzled some soy sauce on it and grilled it, it’d go great with a nice cold beer.”
“Don’t say stuff that’s got me wanting to go out for a drink right away…” Yokozawa groused, mouth watering just at the thought. Despite the late breakfast they’d had, he was starting to feel peckish.
“Oh wow, so this is Hiyori-chan’s painting? You’re quite skilled, Hiyori-chan!” Oosaki commented from beside them, taking in the picture now after running around snapping shots of the event.
“Th-thank you very much.” Hiyori’s expression stiffened a bit again, as Oosaki addressed her. It seemed she really wasn’t comfortable around the woman.
Yokozawa had never seen her so uptight and nervous around an adult before. She’d been trembling with nerves when she’d gone to meet an author she liked at an autograph event, but that had been quite different from how she was behaving now. Most of the adults in her life were teachers from school or neighbors and friends’ parents. She did on occasion meet people involved in Kirishima’s job, but this might have been her first time meeting someone like Oosaki.
Maybe it was just nerves from meeting such an avowed career woman as Oosaki. Yokozawa thought that he was far more intimidating on first sight, but Hiyori had taken to him straight away, from the moment they met.
“It’s good enough to make me want to hire you to do a few insert images for my book. How about it, Kirishima-kun? Maybe I should ask Hiyori-chan to help out with the cover once I’ve finished the story I’m thinking of?”
“I’m sure she’d be flattered—but she’s only in elementary school, and I think it might be too much pressure.”
“She needn’t put that much thought into it. I really think it’d be a hit… I’m going to take a picture of that emergency exit—wait for me?” With her camera in hand, she slipped around behind the panel to take a picture of the emergency exit hiding there. Perhaps she intended to use it in a plot twist.
While she was away, Kirishima quickly apologized in a low voice, “I’m really sorry about this. I never imagined it would come to this. She said she wanted to come check it out, but I just assumed she was being polite…” His expression was uncharacteristically grave, as he likely had merely intended to brag about his daughter as a subject of idle conversation.
“it’s fine, don’t sweat it. Not like you can help it, right? You can’t just refuse her, seeing as she’s an author, and you’ve already got a relationship as former classmates.”
“Classmates though we might have been, we hardly ever even spoke. Plus she’s changed a lot since back then; even knowing who she is now, it just doesn’t really connect.”
“You hadn’t seen her since graduating?”
“She never even came to a reunion our class had years back, as far as I knew. Maybe she was there—but at the very least, we never spoke.” The confusion he felt at the situation was palpable. “I’m sorry, Hiyo—this is hardly any different from a normal day on the job now.”
“No, it’s fine.”
“It’s good I finally got to see it together with you, though. It’d be nice if we could show it to your grandparents, too, but I feel like e-mailing them a picture just won’t do it justice.”
“Why not turn it into a postcard? You should be able to have just a few printed up,” Yokozawa suggested. Getting a digital image through a simple e-mail was fine and all, but getting something they could actually hold in their hands would be a different feeling altogether.
“That sounds nice—I’ll check it out.”
“Plus if we make it a postcard, then we can send it straight to Grandma and Grandpa!”
“You’re pen pals with some of the kids you made friends with while you were there, right? Why not send them a response on one of the postcards?”
“Ooh, that might be nice too!”
Oosaki returned while the pair were animatedly discussing their postcard plans. “Sorry to keep you waiting!”
“Were you able to get some nice shots?”
“Absolutely. I can feel my creative juices flowing already.”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
Hiyori buttoned up again at Oosaki’s return, and just as Yokozawa was realizing that now was his turn to play conversation partner to Oosaki, an unexpected voice called out, “Oh, Hiyo-chan’s here too!”
Hiyori’s mood lifted as she caught sight of her friend. Apparently Yuki was here visiting the exhibits with her family as well. She seemed to be Hiyori’s closest friend, as her name was frequently found on Hiyori’s lips.
“Oh, and hello to you too, Oniisan! So this is where Hiyori-chan’s picture was displayed!” Yuki was a very well-mannered young lady who always greeted Yokozawa politely when they met. Perhaps she’d taken after Hiyori, but she liked to call him ‘Oniisan’ as well, which frankly embarrassed Yokozawa a bit, and all he could do in return was duck his head a hair.
“We saw yours too, Yuki-chan!”
“Thank you for always looking after Hiyori, Kitagawa-san,” Kirishima greeted Yuki’s father. Yokozawa had encountered her mother a number of times, but this was his first time meeting her father.
“The same goes for me, with you always treating my Yuki well.”
“Did you see everything, Hiyo-chan?”
“Not yet—we’ve only seen the first floor so far.”
“Then wanna go together? Our dads are busy talking now.”
“Yeah, totally! Oniichan, can I go look with Yuki-chan?”
“I’ll come too—let me tell your dad where we’re going, so you two head on up to the second floor. And don’t leave the building, got it?” The building wasn’t very big, and if he chased after them, he’d quickly be able to meet up with them again, but he worried about letting them completely out of his sight—which brought a wry grin to his lips as he realized what an overprotective guardian he was becoming.
Yokozawa clapped Kirishima on the shoulder, letting him know their plans. “Oi, Hiyo and Yuki said they’re going upstairs, so I’m going with them.”
“Sorry, do you mind looking after them?”
“If you need anything, just call my phone,” he reminded, then headed for the staircase Hiyori and Yuki had taken upstairs. A number of pieces were also displayed along the stairwell wall, and after taking the stairs several steps at a time, he caught up to the girls just as they were alighting on the second floor.
“Hey, that lady who was talking to your dad—she was really pretty! Is she gonna be your new mom?”
“Eeh? No way, not at all!”
Yokozawa felt himself shudder at the mere mention of the word mom. Granted, when Kirishima and Oosaki stood together, they did give off an air of a happy couple chatting amicably—in fact, Yokozawa was the one who seemed like he didn’t belong here.
Having a man of no relation chaperoning two elementary school girls was suspicious, to say the least, and Yokozawa was reminded anew that, to a child’s eye, the sight of a woman close to Kirishima’s age standing alongside him seemed far more natural than Yokozawa in the same situation.
Not only Hiyori’s friends but also Kirishima’s acquaintances seemed to have generously accepted Yokozawa, but once Hiyori graduated from elementary school, the situation would likely shift. Perhaps it might become necessary to set some boundaries even in his personal life. Hiyori herself might be getting to the age where she really needed a motherly figure around. The reaction she had today might merely be evidence that something was bothering her.
“……” Standing there turning the problem over in his own mind wasn’t clarifying Hiyori’s true feelings, though. All that he could safely say was that his very presence in their lives was unnatural.
“Well, they seemed really close…but I guess it’s something else? Oh, is she a relative, then?”
“No—I think she’s like…the author he’s managing right now?”
“Author? So she’s a mangaka?”
“No—just normal books. What was she here for today…umm…”
“Research?” Yokozawa filled in as Hiyori struggled to remember.
“Yeah yeah! She’s here doing research. She said it was because the main character of her next story is gonna be an elementary school kid. Wasn’t that it, Oniichan?”
“Yeah; she mentioned something about wanting to write about a boy detective.”
“Research huh… That sounds kinda cool! Wait—then, does that mean that your dad’s working today?”
“No, they just happened to run into each other at the entrance. Apparently she wanted to come check it out after hearing about the exhibition from my dad.”
“Oh, I get it! They were talking, so I thought maybe she’d come with you. …Hey, are you not feeling well, Hiyo-chan?”
“Ah—no, no I’m fine! Umm, maybe I’m just hungry!” She forced a smile, but even her friend could see through her, divining that she wasn’t herself today.
“Here, I’ll give you some candy. You’ll feel better after you eat something sweet!”
“But…aren’t you not allowed to eat things here…?”
“It doesn’t say so, let’s just have a little bite! You’ll keep our secret, right, Oniisan?”
“Ah—sure, but just one.” He couldn’t exactly tell them not to, now, so he wound up giving his consent.
“Okay, one apiece!”
“You’re giving me one too?”
“It’s your bribe.”
“…You know some shady words,” he chuckled, grinning wryly at her expansive vocabulary. If they got caught, he would just take the blame on himself, and as he popped the little candy into his mouth, the bright sour flavor of lemon spread over his tongue.
Such a nostalgic flavor did indeed perk one right up.
To be continued…