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I have food envy.
The Chinese word for four (四, pinyin: sì, jyutping: sei3), sounds quite similar to the word for death (死, pinyin: sǐ, jyutping: sei2), in many varieties of Chinese. Similarly, the Sino-Japanese, Sino-Korean and Sino-Vietnamese words for four, shi (し, Japanese) and sa (사, Korean), sound similar or identical to death in each language (see Korean numerals, Japanese numerals, Vietnamese numerals).
My mid-terms were finally starting tomorrow, so it was time to get some last minute cramming in.
I spent a bit of time doing exercises. When I went to grab a rubber to rub out some of my mistakes the Zui’ran University brochure, sandwiched between some textbooks, happened to catch my eye.
Maybe it was time for a break.
I flopped onto my bed and thought about my future as I stared at it.
There was a dream I’d had since I was a kid. Specifically the dream of a successful get rich quick scheme.
In preparation for a future of destitution, starting in primary school I slowly saved up money little by little so that I could go to university and ultimately land a job (preferably in government) with nice employee benefits.
On the other hand I’d also always dreamed of a life of easy money.
Haaah~ Wouldn’t that be nice?
If I earned enough money to never worry about it again, I could spend the rest of my life cruising along. Haaah.
That said, my dream wasn’t to suddenly win the lottery, or to save some random grandpa who’d bequeath his legacy onto me or anything. I’m not crazy.
If you were wondering what exactly a perfectly grounded person like me was dreaming about then, the answer was inventions.
Just like those housewives who invented hit products like those washing machine nets for catching lint, or those toe-only slippers for toning your calves, I, too, would one day invent something that would bring me an income without having to work!
With that royalty-funded lifestyle in mind, I was thinking of going to university to learn about patents and stuff. The competition would be rough though. And honestly, if I was going to university anyhow, I might as well become a lawyer and file my own patents, right?
In my other plan I’d need to be nationally qualified anyhow, so it was killing two birds with one stone. I’m sure I left the book on qualifications somewhere…
Ah, let’s see… Hm hm… Maybe I’d start with the certification exam first.
I’d like to start off by inventing something useful for everyday life like those housewives do, but ideally I’d eventually invent something that would take the world by storm. And then I’d end up being chosen by American magazines as one of the hundred most influential people in the world.
I gleefully kicked my bed as I pictured my photogenic smile on the cover of a magazine.
Hmm, what should I invent as the first step towards my ambitions?
I guess if I was to follow my predecessors it’d be a product for the kitchen, or maybe for dieting? ‘As long as you have this, a diet is a cinch’ or something like that.
Like maybe something that could press your pressure points just by wearing it, so you’d lose weight without any effort. But for something like that to work, the material would need to be fairly stiff.
Something hard then. Maybe metal?
Right, what about chainmail?
It’d be avant garde despite the conservative design, so as an undergarment you could wear it anywhere.
You could treat it as a fashion accessory too, because you’d show glimpses of it at the neckline. Wouldn’t that be splendid?
I could sell it on those infomercials that they play late at night.
And then I’d make hundreds of millions of Yen in the first hour.
“Uhyoh hyoh hyoh!”
Maybe before long some fashion designer would ask to collaborate! And then we’d go global! Maybe we’d even build a chainmail palace in the most expensive location in the city!
“Uhyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh!”
There was no stopping this laughter…!
First off was establishing a company.
Besides that, what if I took advantage of the oil hype and released a hair serum with fish oil? ‘The lustre of the black carp for your hair’ or something.
‘Ça Va & Briller‘ or something.
…Yeah, this could definitely sell!
Aah, the ideas were just coming to me one after another! Maybe we could even own our own headquarters building in the CBD!
I could almost taste the money already!
“Hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh!”
I heard a knocking at my door.
“Reika, it’s late so go to sleep.”
“All right, Oniisama.”
Oops. Got a little too excited there.
Well, since I did get a break in the end, I suppose it was back to studying.
You’re joking. Just that little break was over an hour long!?
Where did all that time go!?
I frantically chugged down an energy drink and went back to my desk to make up lost time.
Looks like it was going to be an all-nighter! I had to give it my all if I wanted to make my dream a reality!
Although some things happened along the way, I held out until the day of the tests.
No sooner had we finished the last did Kaburagi invite Wakaba-chan out on a studying date. Where did he get that stamina?
I was barely awake after all the late nights I’d pulled. In fact my immediate plans were to head home and take a 10-hour nap.
Later on I found out through a phone call with Wakaba-chan that he’d apparently taken her to a famous chocolatier store.
“And you see? There was this chocolate parfait that they were selling limited numbers of each day, right? It was so delicious. The chocolate ice cream in it was so creamy and rich that it totally revolutionised my idea of a parfait!” she said.
From what she was telling me, that date he’d been agonising over had gone quite well. Of all things, apparently he’d even extracted a promise of a next date from her, because then she said,
“And the place we stopped by after that had these ammonites embedded in the walls. When I mentioned that the marble used at Zui’ran also had quite a few fossils in them, Kaburagi told me that he liked paleontology too, and which walls they were specifically. He even knew more about it than me!” she gushed. “We just kept talking and talking. And so we’re going to see some dinosaurs when we have a chance.”
…Seeing dinosaurs as a date was a little unique, but Wakaba-chan seemed to be looking forward to it, and this did fit with what Enjou said about moulding your date to the interests of your partner.
Not bad, Kaburagi.
A few days later, the results were finally out.
“Reika-sama, it seems that the results of our mid-terms are out.”
“Oh, so they are.”
I was a little―no, very confident this time.
I was affecting an air of nonchalance about it like usual, but I suggested we all check the results together.
Just in case, I added, “Unfortunately I had little chance to study this time. I was just so tired from the class trip.”
When we arrived it was a sea of people surrounding the board.
It was time.
Come to me, top 10!
“My! It looks like Kaburagi-sama’s number one again.”
“As expected of Kaburagi-sama.”
The girls were chatting about the results but I didn’t have the composure for that.
It wasn’t there… My… Name… Wasn’t… There…!
To be sure, I looked up and down the ranking board time and time again.
It wasn’t there…
This couldn’t be.
After all that time he spent worrying about romance Kaburagi still made #1, while I studied butt off every day and didn’t even make the ranking board!?
Nearby, I could hear Wakaba-chan and Fellow Stalking Horse praising each other for their efforts.
“Damn. Looks like I lost to you again, Takamichi,” said Fellow Stalking Horse.
“I studied pretty darn hard, after all~ But you still made 3rd place,” Wakaba-chan pointed out.
“I guess. I’ll beat you next time for sure. Anyway, congratulations on 2nd place.”
“Ehehe~ Thanks. Congrats to you too.”
So Wakaba-chan tried pretty hard then? Incidentally I studied pretty hard too, though…
It was a little awkward saying this, but Wakaba-chan was busy with her work at the Student Council, and spent her free time with me, while Kaburagi was daydreaming about romance and didn’t study at all, right!?
So what the heck was this huge difference in results? What was this huge difference between us!?
I gave up almost all my sleep time in the lead-up to these tests.
I don’t even remember how many energy drinks I went through.
I was suffering from breakouts. I was even getting stomach aches.
That was when Enjou and Kaburagi appeared, parting the sea of people like Moses.
Kaburagi looked thoroughly uninterested as the people around him congratulated him endlessly. He really couldn’t seem to care less.
Then he raised an eyebrow and turned to Enjou.
“Bad day, Shuusuke?”
Enjou gave a helpless smile.
Right, Kaburagi was 1st place, Wakaba-chan was 2nd place, Fellow Stalking Horse was 3rd, and Enjou was 4th.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about that being a ‘bad day’ for him, but thinking about it Enjou had always been in the top 3.
I guess it was kind of surprising to see him fall out of there.
That said, 4th place was more than respectable.
…I suppose the number 4 was a little unlucky.
Maybe my curse worked after all?
Kaburagi seemed to sense my gaze because he turned to me and our eyes met.
Then he broke his gaze to look up and down the ranking board before turning back to me.
Stop looking at me like that.
Before he could make this worse by opening his mouth, I left for my classroom with the girls.
“Hey, don’t you think Kaburagi-sama was really staring at Reika-sama just now?” chirped Kikuno-chan.
“You noticed too, Kikuno-san?” replied Serika-chan.
The girls started happily gossiping about it but they couldn’t be more off the mark.
That stare was saying ‘You kept going on about cram school and tutoring like a massive nerd, but you don’t even have the grades to be one’!
I shouldn’t have kept using studying as my excuse to refuse him!
I was so embarrassed that I could die…!
When we got our report cards after that, I sneaaaakily took a look.
…Oh gosh! How foreboding! I was rank 44!
I’d dropped in rankings so much that I had a mini panic attack. Maybe I should start going to cram school more days of the week…
I didn’t snap out of my shock for the rest of the day.
After school I was just wordlessly sipping tea in the Salon.
“You seem listless. Does something trouble you?” Fuyuko-sama asked me softly. “Please let me help. The truth is, at Lady Lyuleiah’s encouragement, I’ve been undergoing training to become a miko.”
“Training to become a miko…?”
And who was Lady Lyu-, ah. It was that self-proclaimed mystic healer that she introduced me to last time, wasn’t it?
And becoming a shrine maiden? Fuyuko-sama was doing something strange again…
“Indeed. We miko are tasked by the heavens to help those in need of it. Reika-sama, please take my hand. First of all I’m going to inject my qi into you and heal and purify your heart.”
“See? Do you feel that warmth? It is the qi circulating inside you.”
Err, I don’t feel anything.
Suddenly, Fuyuko-sama began throat-singing like a Mongolian.
“The angels are descending. Uuiiiiiiii~”
“Stop, please stop.”
I’m begging you, there are people here.
“What is that, someone’s mobile?”
“I think it’s a cicada…?”
A few people had already noticed the strange sound and were looking around the room.
“I may just be an apprentice miko, but I shall do my best to guide you. If I manage to guide five people, I will be acknowledged as a full miko. If I guide ten people, I become an intermediate miko, and if I manage to guide twenty then I’ll be recognised as a high-ranking miko…”
That’s a pyramid scheme, Fuyuko-sama!
Using cooking pots and detergent as an example, I thoroughly lectured Fuyuko-sama on the dangers of pyramid schemes.
Far from relieving me of my worries, I felt like had more things to worry about now…
This is my first time embedding an audio file as a reference.
I didn’t even know it was possible. How fun!