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I was already having trouble.
With reference to designs for a dog in a needle felting book, I was trying to come up with a design for Beatrice. Holy hell, though, did I have no artistic talent.
I had been given art lessons before, back as a child when we wanted to guarantee my entrance into Zui’ran, but apparently none of that had stuck at all…
I mean, the body was fine since I could just follow the book, but I couldn’t decide on how I wanted the face. The face was the most important part for dolls!
After discarding design after design, by now I was fully aware of how little artistic merit I had, so in the end I enlarged a photo of her instead. Knowing when to give up was an important skill for a person.
But wow was realism hard. Maybe it would be better to practice a few times? Come to think of it, what was actually hard was my choice in a model! Was it actually a huge mistake to choose a long-haired breed!?
When I went cram school, Umewaka-kun unknowingly applied pressure to me.
“How’s the Bea-tan doll coming along?”
It just made it really hard to say ‘I think I can’t do it after all’. The expectations were heavy. What was I to do? I had overestimated my own ability. Was I really going to get this done in time!?
Umewaka-kun gave me a photo of Bea-tan’s head peeking out from the carry bag I gifted them, so I came up with the idea of just buying another bag and only doing the head… How little time would it take to realise that it was just a cop-out…?
Since I had needle felting stuff everywhere I was finding it really hard to study without distraction. And I had so much homework too…
Speaking of which, I made quite a lot of progress studying in the library hadn’t I? That was it. I could go to the library.
I was worried that a small library wouldn’t have any seats so I went to a large one instead. It was busy, true, but there were free seats here and there so I took one of the closer ones. I was taking my stationery out when I caught sight of the person sitting opposite me. A shock ran through my body.
The person studying in front of me looked just like the cousin I had in my previous life, Naruhito-kun.
It was Naru-kun. Naru-kun.
My cousin Naru-kun was older than me and always looked after me whenever we met. He was my first crush.
Incidentally, Naruhito(成人)-kun’s name came from his birthday. He was born on the 15th of January, so his parents had simply named him after the Coming of Age Day(成人の日). Who would have known that the government would invalidate the whole thing by changing it to the 2nd Monday of the year instead.
“The origin of my name…” mourned poor Naru-kun.
It was a nostalgic memory.
“It’s okay, Naru-kun. I’ll always remember your birthday, okay?” I remember trying to cheer him up.
Naru-kun who was kind to me, and who had a habit of sometimes playing dumb.
The boy in front of me was the spitting image of Naru-kun back in his high school days.
No… To be honest I couldn’t tell if he really did look identical. Although I thought about them on occasion, I was starting to forget the faces of my old family.
Even so, I was sure that this boy resembled him. He had been a kind person that Mozart’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star would have suited.
I ended up pretty much ignoring my homework beginning to end, in favour of observing Naru-kun as my heart pounded.
After dinner I complained to Oniisama about my lack of progress.
“I couldn’t even draw the design properly so it has been all failures since the beginning. I thought to use the photos instead, but even that has been difficult…”
“Hmmmm, could I see those photos and the design you drew?”
I went to my room to fetch them.
Oniisama looked over my sketchbook and the the many photos. Waaah! My shame was on display for Oniisama to see! I’ve changed my mind, please don’t look!
I tried to get it back from him, but Oniisama was quicker than I was and began sketching Beatrice in it. And he was so skilled!
“Oniisama, you know how to sketch!?”
“Not really? I just gave it a shot. Here,” he said, holding out a realistic drawing to me. You’re so good, Oniisama!
Since he was so good I tried asking him to draw me a design to, and in no time he had drawn things exactly as I wanted. Heavens! To think that the Messiah was living with me all along!
But we were related, so how come there was such a difference in talent… I was just a tiny bit jealous.
“There truly is not a thing you can’t do, Oniisama!”
“Now that’s not true. You just need to know the trick to it.”
“I had no clue there was even some trick to it…”
Oniisama smiled helplessly at me.
“By the way, I hear a little friend of yours is coming over to stay?”
“Yes. Sawarabi Mao-chan is attending the primary section of Zui’ran. She is the most adorable thing!”
Mao-chan’s parents had already approved of her coming over to play, and we got permission from her to sleep over as well. She was ecstatic about it.
“I see. You must be looking forward to it. If I remember correctly, she’s the niece of the Ichinokura family’s Haruto-san?”
“She is. It seems you know of Ichinokura-sama as well, Oniisama.”
“Mmn. I’ve met him a few times, you know? He thanked me because you looked after Mao-chan at a party.”
“I see~ The one being looked after was actually me, though. Remember those times he took me out to eat?”
“Ahh, come to think of it he did.”
“I actually have a request for you, Oniisama. Remember how you promised to take me to the aquarium? I was thinking that since Mao-chan was coming over, we might as well do then. Would that be a problem?”
“I’m fine with it. Then we’ll go on the day that Mao-chan comes over. Since we’re bringing her along, would somewhere closer-by be okay?”
“Yes! Mao-chan will love it!”
Uhuhu, I couldn’t wait. I think I’d keep this a secret from her until the day.
I decided that I was going to skip cram school on the day Mao-chan came over, Naturally I would be skipping my morning jog that day too.
Lately I was jogging every morning at the park with Mihara-san. I could run a little smoother and a little longer now. I had asked him not to keep shouting my name, but he still shouting “Ojousama!” which was making me rather conspicuous. Sometimes while I was running, people I didn’t recognise at all would shout “Do your best, Ojousama!” and cheer me on. I was getting the strange feeling that I had turned into some kind of attraction for this park…
“You’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with running, Ojousama! Let’s aim for the Imperial Palace before your summer break ends!”
“Ehh!? The Imperial Palace!? Impossible! That is impossible for me!”
Weren’t all the people running there pretty much athletes? Whoa, whoa, I ran slower than people walked. If I went there I would stand out like a sore thumb.
“Ojousama, you must set your goals high. Don’t worry, a lap around the Palace is only 5 kilometres. We’ll begin training you for it now!”
“Ehh!? Now!? You are going to suddenly add 2 kilometres to my run!?”
“You can do it, Ojousama. We’ll train every day, and next year we’ll go to Honolulu!”
That was actually impossible now! Just how many kilometres would I have to run in the Hononlulu Marathons!?
“Don’t give up before you run!” he cheered.
“Show me the hard work you need to defeat the weakness of your self!” he cheered.
Trying to persuade Mihara-san was actually even harder than running.
Mao-chan and her Okaasama appeared on my doorstep with her luggage.
“Gokigen’yoh, Reika-oneesama! Please look after me today.”
Mao-chan gave a slightly nervous but happy bow.
“Welcome, Mao-chan. I will be in your care as well.”
“Reika-san, my daughter will be in your care.”
“I am afraid we do not have much to offer her here, but I will definitely look after her so please be at ease.”
That was when Okaasama came along to greet them as well.
“My, Sawarabi-sama, Gokigen’yoh. It seems that your daughter will be staying with us tonight.”
“Gokigen’yoh, Kisshouin-sama. My daughter will be troubling you tonight. Please take care of her.”
“Please take care of me,” bowed Mao-chan.
“My, what a cute daughter you have.”
It seems that Okaasama had already taken to her. After we all chatted for a bit, Mao-chan’s Okaasama went home so I led Mao-chan to my room.
“Mao-chan, will you be lonely without your Okaasama?”
“I’ll be fine. Waaah! Your room is so cute, Reika-oneesama!”
Mao-chan eyed my canopied bed with sparkling eyes. She began a happy exploration of my room.
I had already stored the weird stuff like my hula hoop or my stepping machine in the storehouse so I was okay wherever she looked.
I hoped this was going to be a fun stay over.
Mao-chan, let’s make some nice memories this summer!
Okaasama began to talk about wanting to bring Mao-chan shopping. She had found a new dress-up doll…
Okaasama, please spare her hair at least! Ruuuuuun, Mao-chaaaaan!