Saturday, September 25, 2021

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V2 (6 of 6)


Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro


Two days later, the old timer still didn’t come back. Did something happen? No, if nothing happened, he would be gone for so long. So, what happened?

With no evidence to go on, I couldn’t tell what had happened, and my unease grew even heavier.

However, this had nothing to do with the Café’s patrons. To provide them with the usual service, I didn’t show any unease, wiping the glasses and brewing Coffee carefully like I always did.

The black leopard Tooya-san was reading a thick book at the bar counter. He had the day off and wasn’t using his usual white clothes. The Elf nee-san was dozing off in her seat, her eyes almost closing. The old Dwarf was chiseling a dark red stone with a tiny hammer at the very back.

It was the same scene as usual, and I was a part of that scene. But I would look out the window and press my forehead against the window pane like the old timer did.

The streets were the same as ever, but it was missing a crucial piece.

That girl wasn’t there.

The day after the old timer left, the girl didn’t show up. And I couldn’t tell if these two incidents were related.

No, I shouldn’t think of the worst.

I shook my head. My pessimistic nature always made me think of the worst, what a detestable character.

I should be more grounded in my thoughts. For example, the old timer met his wife, but they had a big fight because he was gone for a few years. He got hit a couple of times, but they made up in the end and waited for the girl to come home. And she didn’t expect the old timer from that incident to be her Dad—— it was a cliche story, but I was okay if everyone could be happy. The old timer forgot to inform me after reuniting with his family.

I thought this story I thought up sounded great.

Just the idea made me feel as if it was real, and my mood turned better.

However, my mood suddenly crashed into rock bottom.

I looked out the window and saw the girl walking from across the streets. She had a flower basket and her steps were heavy and unsteady. She then sat heavily on a bench and hung her head.

「Sorry Tooya-san, please help me watch the shop.」

「Huh? Hey, where are you going?」

I ignored Tooya-san’s troubled voice and left the shop.

I walked through the crowd and approached the bench. She kept hanging her head before I spoke with her.

「Are you alright?」

The girl lifted her head lazily, her smile was gone. She looked frail and her eyes were red and puffy.

「Ahh…… the Onii-san from the Coffee shop.」

「Yes, it’s me, the Onii-san from the Coffee shop. Good Afternoon, you don’t look well, are you ill?」

I knelt on one knee before the bench to match the girl’s eye level.

「No, erm… I’m fine.」

Despite what the girl said, she didn’t look fine.

「Right, it’s hard to say it when someone ask you so suddenly.」

I smiled at her as cheerfully as I could. A smile could make people relax.

「But you must be feeling troubled. You might feel better if you say it out, and maybe I can help you. If not, at least let me worry together with you. If there is something that you want to vent, why don’t you share it with me?」

The girl had a heavy expression, as if her troubles were crushing her.

People could gradually grow used to the burden they bear by adjusting how they shoulder it, trying to let it go or asking people they trust to help shoulder a little. However, if you didn’t have such experiences, you might get crushed if the load was too much. At times like this, the adults around her needed to teach her how to deal with the stress, and shoulder it for her at times.

Could I do it? Was I being too nosey?

There was unease in my heart, but I said to the girl with as much sincerity as I could muster.

She stared at me for a while, bit her lower lips. Tears flowed from the corners of her eyes as her face scowled.


Her trembling voice was weak and filled with fear and unease. The emotions echoed in my ear drums.

「Mommy caught the White Death…… is in a hospital, but there’s no medicine, and……」

The girl desperately wiped away her tears. Her trembling shoulders were too small, and couldn’t withstand this heavy burden.

「We need, a lot of money, to buy the medicine. But, I can’t do anything, other than sell flowers. So……」

I took out a handkerchief from my apron’s pocket and gently her tears soaked the cloth and turned it a tint darker.

Ahh, that must be it.

I thought to myself.

The old timer must know. He went to find his wife, learned about her illness and forcibly brought her to the hospital, and then—— where did he go?

Hey, old timer, why aren’t you here? The girl needs you, old timer! You’re her father, no one can take your place.

I couldn’t become her support, but I wanted to ease her pain as much as possible, so I held her tight.

Her shaking body was heartbreaking.

I returned to the shop, and Tooya-san looked up and wanted to say something. He probably wanted to complain about me leaving the shop to him. But my face must look so scary that he swallowed back his words.

After the girl stopped crying, she forced a smile and thanked me, then stood up after bowing politely.

I couldn’t praise her for pulling herself together so fast. If I patted her head and told her something like she was a good girl, she would live on like this, concluding that she just needed to put on a facade.

Maybe this was only natural in this world.

The people in this world matured early, and kids could only be kids for a surprisingly short time. Even so……

The girl left after saying she needed to work, and I couldn’t stop her. This left a knot in my chest.

I didn’t go back behind the counter and sat beside Tooya-san. He kept reading without saying a word.



「Do you know about White Death?」

His gaze looked troubled because this was very basic knowledge, but he still explained it to me.

「That’s an illness known as the Labyrinth disease, only people living in Labyrinth cities will contact it. The mana in one’s body will gradually deplete, and their hair and skin will turn white, leading to death. There aren’t many people who catch this disease, and in the past, those who showed symptoms are beyond saving, and it’s feared for being a fatal incurable disease.」

「So it can be cured?」

「It can be cured in modern times, we now know the herbal flower that grows in the Labyrinth can be used as treatment.」

I see, so that’s the medicine the girl mentioned.

「However……」 Tooya-san continued: 「There’s no medicine right now.」

「No medicine?」

「Simply put, there aren’t many of such flowers, and most are sent to the research lab. Those on the market had long been sold out.」

「Sold out…… but why?」

That’s absurd! I wanted to say that, but shook my head. This place was different from modern society, and didn’t have comprehensive laws. This was a world where those in power could do whatever they wanted through money if it benefited them.

「There are buyers everywhere, just being a rare flower from the Labyrinth will fetch a good price. Those who caught the White Death will have to give everything to obtain it to save their own lives. They can sell it to researchers or medical organizations, there are plenty of uses.」

My shoulders turned heavy. I could foresee what it was like, but I still had to ask the question.

「Then those who gets White Death——」

I looked at Tooya-san.

Tooya-san looked back at me with a rare poker face. Oh, thinking about it calmly, this must be Tooya-san’s face as a doctor. The face when breaking bad news to a patient.

「I can only say—— my condolences.」

「I see.」

「This isn’t something that can be solved with money, people who can hog the flower aren’t worried about money. They won’t hand over the flower without something aside from cash. It’s impossible for normal people like us.」

I stared at the ceiling.

I prayed that everything would be alright.

And I lost the bet known as a prayer.


It was night, and I closed up early.

I didn’t clean up and left the lights off, and just sat at the bar counter to think. I knew just sitting there wouldn’t solve anything, but I still kept thinking.

I thought about——

Asking someone for help.

If I asked Corleone-san, Gramps Goru or Aina, they might help me out.

But I was revolted by my thinking.

The thought of helping a girl was a form of arrogance. Do you want to be a hero? —— I could hear a voice asking myself. To abuse the status and authority of a customer just for self satisfaction? That would be going over the position of a customer and cafe master. It was an absolute taboo to exploit a customer for your own benefit.

But I wanted to resolve these heavy feelings of mine.

I wanted to help the mother of that girl.

Why was I thinking that way? I didn’t understand why. I was always keeping my distance, and should be feeling detached and say things like 「how pitiful」, 「it’s regrettable」, 「It can’t be helped.」 This incident made my stomach turn.

I kept thinking about the same thing, as if I was going around in circles in an Labyrinth without an exit. It was already late into the night—— I only realized when the shop door opened gently.

The sudden wind blowing made me turn towards the shop entrance, and the old timer was standing there.

「—— Hi.」

「Old timer! Where were you!?」

I approached him while I was saying that, and noticed the old timer’s abnormal condition.

「What happened?」

The room was illuminated by just moonlight, but I could tell the old timer’s left arm was dyed blood red below the shoulder. A liquid was flowing down the shoulder and dripping onto the floor. On a closer inspection, he was sweating bullets on his face and neck, and his shoulders were heaving from his heavy breathing.

「Oh, nothing much, but can you let me in? Just for a while.」

He said with his usual cheerful tone, then walked past me into the shop. I followed behind flusteredly.

「Wounded! You’re wounded!」

「Don’t make a ruckus, scars are a badge of honour for men. It hurts though.」

「You said that part out loud. If you want to act cool, do it all the way.」

The old timer was as carefree as always, and I felt weak for a moment. Ah, really now……

「Anyway, where have you been?」

「That’s a good question, but it’s a long story, let’s leave it for later. I need a favour from you.」

The old timer reached for his waist and took out a long slim container. He put the glass container onto the bar counter, and it was obvious from it’s clarity how expensive it was. Inside the container was a pure white flower with white petals in full bloom.

「Could this be……」

「Oh, so you knew. This flower can be made into a medicine to cure White Death.」

The old timer said nonchalantly.

「What’s going on here? Does this have anything to do with your injuries? And it’s not something you can buy even if you had money. This is really...」

I held my head exasperatedly. There were too many questions I wanted to ask, and my brain couldn’t keep up.

The old timer patted my shoulder.

「Okay, calm down.」

「It’s your fault!」

I couldn’t help yelling. The old timer just smiled cheerfully, ignoring my wordless gaze. He then stopped smiling and pushed the glass container to me, and I accepted it docilely.

「Can you send this over for me?」

「Huh, no, but why me?」

「Hmm, right, just say it’s from your father who is a sailor, something like that. Please send it quickly.」

「Why don’t you send it yourself?」

「I won’t ask you to do it for free. I only have this gold coin……」

「Old timer!」

I yelled angrily, and the smile vanished from the old timer’s face.

「Please, I can’t go.」

「And I’m asking why?」

I also knew how hollow that question was.

「Well, as you can guess, I’m being pursued by an aggressive group. I’m used to it though.」

The wound on his right arm was obviously made by another person. Furthermore, the old timer was holding a flower that couldn’t be obtained through normal means.

「…… Did you steal it?」

I asked timidly. When he heard that, the old timer laughed.

「No way! I don’t have the guts to barge into the house of a noble to steal their stuff.」

「Then why do you have it?」

「Do you know the three vices of men?」

The old timer held his hand before me, then lifted one finger after another:

「Being lecherous, indulging in alcohol and gambling. Rich people who already have women and wine likes to gamble.」

「—— Then……」

I remembered what the old timer said in the shop that day—— he said he will quit gambling—— and the face he made.

Even so, the old timer still laughed.

「I visited all the casinos in the city, found a person who had the flower and made a bet with him. Luckily, I found him in no time; unfortunately, he is a sore loser noble.」

「Then why did you get hurt?」

「You should know why?」

I remembered what the old timer said. Those in power would want to make it as if nothing ever happened, and even resort to violence. To them, gambling was for the sake of winning, so they wouldn’t accept their loss so easily.

「How unjust, it’s a wager, but the terms aren’t equal.」

「That’s how gambling is. You’ll always lose one day, the difference is on the gambling table, or outside the gambling table.」

The old timer said: 「However……」 and pointed at the thing in my hands.

「I win because I have the talent.」

Weren’t you going to abandon that talent?

Abandon it and return to a plain life, then start again—— weren’t that what you said?

Didn’t you watch that girl eat with those gentle eyes? Weren’t you planning to be a father?

The words in my mind became a torrent welling up my chest.

「Hey,」 the old timer patted my arm and said: 「Don’t cry if you’re a man.」

「I’m not crying.」

「You’re not fooling anyone.」

「Even if I want to cry, I will do that before a beautiful big sister, not in front of an old timer like you.」

「That put me at ease.」

The old timer stood up.

「Make a bet with me.」

He said and took out his usual gold coin.

「If I win, you will send the flower on my behalf. If you win—— Well, whatever, I won’t lose anyway.」

「Wait, I didn’t say anything about betting.」

「Don’t say that, I choose heads.」

The old timer paid me no heed and tossed the coin. The gold coin reflected the faint moonlight with a glimmer.

The old timer grabbed it with his right hand.

「Give me your hand.」


「My left hand hurts, so give me your hand.」

I hesitantly offered my left hand, and the old timer slapped his right hand on my palm before moving it away.

「I win.」

I sighed, and lost the will to argue about the gold coin.

「Why do you always win?」

When he heard my question, the old timer smiled meaningfully.

「It’s a secret, but I will tell you as a special bonus. The secret to winning a bet is to make the move yourself—— tossed the coin with your own hands. Be it head or tails, you can get whichever side you wanted with enough practice.」

I was stunned, and stared blankly at the old timer.

That was too simple, so simple that it was a let down.

「Everyone dies in the end, praying to the gods wouldn’t help you. But you can decide whether you want to toss head or tails.」

After that, the old timer walked by me, patted my shoulder, and left.

「Old timer!」

I stopped him, but didn’t know what to say.

The old timer turned back at the entrance.

「Thank you for taking care of me, keep your unclaimed salary, I will get it from you next time.」

When I heard his cheerful words, I swallowed the words forming in my mind. Those words weren’t suited for this moment, I shouldn’t be frowning when the old timer was showing a smile.

So I smiled back. I forced out a smile and said:

「—— I will wait for you.」

「Right, see ya.」

The old timer then turned and left.


It was a sunny day.

The sky was a refreshing blue, with large clouds and the summer breeze blowing through the city.

I was in a good mood just by stepping outside. Not just me, the steps of the pedestrians were light, and on days like this, people would loosen their purse strings.

The stall owners shouting made the city more lively.

I hoped I could get more customers.

I was nodding when someone suddenly offered me a flower.

「Would you like a flower?」

I looked down and saw a petite girl holding a flower basket offering me a bright blue flower.

「Hi, Good Afternoon.」

「Hello! The weather is great, right!?」

The girl was all smiles, her cheerfulness could even rival today’s sky.

「What a pretty flower, can I buy one?」

I was about to pull out some change from my pocket when the girl shook her head and offered me the flower.

「This is a special one for onii-san.」

「Can I?」

「You can! But, in return……」

The girl gestured at me, and I squatted down. She put a hand by her mouth then whispered into my ear:

「Please keep it a secret that I cried.」

I looked at the girl, and realized that her face was very serious. I was amused, but this must be something the girl refused to back down from.

I showed a sincere face and nodded firmly.

「Yes, it’s a promise.」

The girl looked relieved, then tiptoed to look behind me. She seemed curious about the shop.

「What’s wrong?」

「Erm, I don’t see that Uncle recently.」

「Oh, that old timer, huh. He got some business and left the city, but he said he will be back.」

The girl lowered her gaze.

「Do you want to see him?」

「No, that’s not it!」

The girl shook her head hard, her braid becoming a blur.

「But, when he pats my head, it feels so nostalgic. His hand is big and warm, and I think, if my daddy is here, it will feel like this. That’s all, erm, bye bye!」

The girl bowed and then ran off.

In the direction she was heading, there was a woman who was carrying a flower basket similar to the girl. She was surrounded by grannies and housewives who were showering her with concern after her long absence.

While she was chatting, the woman looked my way and bowed slightly, and I nodded gently in response.

The girl ran to the woman’s side and said something. The woman smiled gently before patting her head.

With them basking in the warm sunlight, this was a wonderful image.

I turned and returned back to the shop.

I walked behind the bar counter and poured clear water into a glass container serving as a vase. I put the flower the girl gave me into the vase, immediately making it more elegant.

I decorated the cabinet with it, and placed a gold coin there.

The old timer said he would be back, so before he returned, I wanted to put the gold coin he gave me here. This is a small wager of mine.

The flower beside the gold coin was as beautiful as the clear blue sky, blooming above the gold coin covered in scratches.

Chapter 8: Waiting for Clear Weather


I had always hated an empty home.

When I come home from school, my home would be shrouded in unfamiliar darkness, and the silence made my breathing sound loud. I didn’t have the courage to step in, and would run straight to the Café after putting down my bag.

My family ran a Café passed down from my grandfather. My father was a novelist, but his income wasn’t enough to support the family, so we had to operate the Café. My mother would support my father and often help out in the shop.

The shop was small, but there were always customers around.

They were the weirdos from nearby, but for some reason, they liked this Café.

「People who know they are different from others, will feel relaxed in this place.」

My father said to me, and the young me asked innocently:

「Dad, are you different too?」

「Of course, novelists are all weirdos.」

I thought that was a mean way of putting it, but thinking back, I could understand why. The truth was, everyone was a little different from the norm. When we acted within acceptable norms, no one would say anything, but if we showed a different side, people would act to suppress it. When that happened, I would think: 「Can’t people be different from the norm?」

Everyone wanted to be unique and talented. We would dream about heading somewhere other than here, become a more talented version of ourselves, and life would be smooth sailing.

However, people wouldn’t be so accommodating towards others being special.

Just from seeing one side of others, they would deduce his character with a biased point of view, calling them weird, telling them to 「act like us」, but refuse to acknowledge their own difference from the norm in other areas.

Weirdos didn’t really act that far out of the norm from others, they were just clumsy people.

They couldn’t conceal their dissimilarity perfectly like others. Some could elevate their dissimilarity into a talent or uniqueness. However, not everyone could do so, and those who noticed their dissimilarity would be conscious of it for the rest of their lives, and couldn’t change it. Such people had it the worst. They knew what others wanted from them, but they couldn’t meet that request, as if they were a flawed product.

Café had been a safe haven for weirdos since a long time ago.

「Everyone is lonely, and weirdos are even lonelier than others, feeling they are ostracized by society. They are fine by themselves. Being alone isn’t solitude. When everyone asides from them are laughing happily but they can’t mix in, that’s loneliness.」

Back then, I couldn’t understand what grandfather meant.

I had a family, and had friends in school.

「Those people would visit Cafés, and see other lonely people like them. There is no need for words, they just need to sit down and have a cup of Coffee, and they will feel they are forgiven. There isn’t any special meaning, they just feel like they can stay here. That’s how a good Café is like.」

I could still remember what my grandfather said back then, even his smile was still vivid in my mind.

「A Café is a special place like this, so people regarded as weirdos would frequent here. Because they unconsciously recognized this place as special, so if you inherit this place in the future, no, it’s fine even if you don’t inherit this place, this is just an assumption. When people like that visit, you don’t have to do anything or talk to them, just brew them some Coffee. Brew the most delicious Coffee for them, because the bitterness of the Coffee can relieve the feeling of solitude.」


「That hurts.」

I got distracted. Looking to my left hand I found the tip of my index finger bleeding from a knife cut. A red ball was forming from the diagonal wound before dripping off.

「What’s wrong?」

Linaria, who was writing, lifted her head and asked.

「I cut my finger. I shouldn’t think about other things when I’m using a knife.」

「What’s the point of telling me that?」

I joked as I washed my finger that was hurting subtly.

I often got hurt like this in the past, and my mother would worry and kept asking if I was alright. She would rummage through a first aid box and clumsily bandage my wounds.

I looked at my cleaned fingertip, thinking there wasn’t any need to bandage the cut, and that the bleeding would soon stop.

「Sigh, give me your hand.」

Linaria, who was on the other side of the counter, reached out towards me.

I couldn’t react immediately and stared at her hand. She then furrowed her brows and asked me to hurry up with a firmer voice.

Wondering what she wanted to do, I reached out my right hand.

「The other hand!」

Her tone was even stronger.

Why did she have to be so mad……

I couldn’t resist Linaria’s strong gaze, so I turned off the tap, wiped my left hand and reached it out.


Linaria gently held my left hand with both of her hands, and pulled it towards her. Supporting myself with my right hand, I leaned forward a little.

「Erm what are you doing?」

「Don’t talk. I’m not used to this, and I need to focus.」

I had to shut up since she said that. She pressed her forehead against my left hand and closed her eyes. My left hand was cold after running it under the tap water, but Linaria’s hands were warm. It occurred to me that it had been a long time since I held hands with someone.


I could feel a prickly numb sensation, with the area around my wound turning hot. It was as if the blood circulation in just my left hand had gotten better, and it felt warm and fuzzy.

She held my hand even tighter.

Linaria furrowed her brows. Then, something incredible happened, a white mist covered her hands, giving off a faint light. The next change made me stare with my eyes wide.

My wound gradually healed.

The cut on my finger tip slowly mended, as if time was reversing to the moment I was hurt. The injury was gone in no time.

「—— Phew.」

Linaria looked up and took a deep breath.

She then leaned in close to my hand, staring at the place where my wound was and caressing it.

「Is it done? Hmm, it’s mended. Do you feel anything strange? Any numbness?」

「No, it doesn’t hurt. That’s amazing, is that magic?」

「It’s a spell, a healing spell. I practiced before, but I’m still learning.」

Linaria inspected the place where the wound was carefully while she said that.

「You practiced?」

「I nick myself with a knife then practiced healing the wound.」

She said it as if she would be more worried about tomorrow’s weather than this, but I felt worried. That sounded really scary.

「I can heal small wounds, but… Are you really fine?」

Linaria looked up at me. She pulled hard to checked my hand, and my body was already leaning over the counter. So I was looking at Linaria from closer up than usual.

「I’m fine, thank you.」

「…… That’s good.」

Linaria blushed as she gently put my hand onto the bar counter. She was too focused to notice she was holding my hand and that we were much closer than she realized. She pretended to be unfazed as she pulled her chair away, her actions looking unnatural despite her best efforts to not appear that way. I couldn’t help smiling.

「Something wrong?」

She glared at me with a red face, but she didn’t look scary at all.


I stood up straight.

I looked at my finger, and it had no signs of any wound, making me think that cut might just have been my imagination. What an amazing spell, you are incredible, Linaria.

「You are awesome, Linaria. Thank you, you have been a big help.」

After conveying my gratitude and feelings, she averted her face. Her red ponytail swayed with her movements.

「You’re welcomed, it’s not like I especially cared for you, this is just practice.」

「I’m glad that I can be your practice partner.」

I hadn’t known Linaria for long, but I really like her clumsy gentleness.

But, spells huh, it’s incredible and can even heal wounds……

「It feels like I can become immortal.」

I muttered. If wounds could be healed so easily, I wouldn’t need to fear getting injured.

However, that thinking seemed to be too shallow, and Linaria looked at me with an exasperated face.

「What’s with your face?」

「Hey, medical spells are very difficult, and mana manipulation needs to be very precise. And the ones being healed will expend mana and stamina too.」

「Isn’t the wound healed instantly by a miraculous power?」

「What absurdity is that? Think more about reality.」

It seemed the recovery magic in games wasn't realistic.

「If only mana was used to accelerate healing, it might be too late if the wound is grievous, and the patient will die from stamina exhaustion instead. The blood lost can’t be recovered after all.」

「I see.」

Now that she mentioned it, it all made sense.

「Well, high level wizards can rewind time to heal wounds.」

「That sounds absurd.」

I couldn’t help retorting. What was the mechanism behind turning back time with mana? How would they do that?

「Hmm, then people can regain their youth too?」



I was just kidding.

「That could only be done by very few archmages, and some of them might already be dead.」

「What a strange world.」

I thought this world was very realistic, but it had fantastical elements at times. It was strange from my perspective, but if the people here saw my world, they would think that was strange instead.

「Linaria, do you want to be an archmage?」

Linaria shrugged at my question and said:

「Not really… Just a little.」

She then continued writing.

She was being vague, but I didn’t want to press her. Everyone had things they didn’t want others to know, and want to keep private from others. I was curious, but probing further would be rude.

But it would be great if she could tell me one day.

There were still many things about Linaria that I didn’t understand.


The sound subsided.

The next moment, there was a flash outside the window, and a thunder that seemed to shake one’s very body. Linaria squirmed her shoulders with a 「Kyaah」, sounding like a frightened kitten.

I walked to the window and looked outside, and saw gloomy clouds covering the sky. Lightning could be seen in the sky far away, obscured by the clouds, and the thunder boomed soon after. I could hear another 「Kyaah」 from behind.

「The weather’s pretty bad, it’s gonna rain.」

Just when I said that, the paved road was dyed a deeper shade by the rain drops. It quickly became a downpour. The people on the streets ran for cover. I hoped they would seek shelter in my shop, but no one entered, how sad.

But for the clear day to change so suddenly was strange.

「I hope the rain stops soon.」

I turned back and Linaria was gone.

Huh? I tilted my head puzzledly and called out to Linaria.

At this point, I saw a red head coming up slowly from below the counter.

「…… What are you doing?」

Her fingers hung on the edge of the bar counter, showing only her eyes. Her brows were drooping and her ponytail seemed lifeless.

「I hate thunder.」

Linaria sounded really frail.

Yeah—— I nodded to concur. There were people afraid of the thunder too.

But Linaria wasn’t just scared, she was motionless like a mole poking out of its nest.

A booming thunder came from afar.

Linaria hid with fright.

「Erm, are you alright?」

She didn’t respond, so I walked around the counter and went to her side. She was sitting right under the bar counter, holing up in there.

「Linaria, it’s fine, you don’t have to be afraid.」

I knelt beside Linaria, and after a slight hesitation, I went under the bar counter and sat beside her.

The rain falling on the paved road was noisy, and the rain grew stronger. The thunderous boom came every now and then, and Linaria would squirm each time.

I couldn’t guess why she was so afraid of the thunder, but I wasn’t stupid enough to ask directly. I thought about singing loudly to distract her, but knowing my tendency to go off tune, I decided against it.

So what should I do? I sat beside Linaria, looked up at the ceiling and groaned. Mana lamps were hanging on the aging beams.

「Hey Linaria, let’s make a bet.」

I said suddenly.

Evern I was surprised by how sudden the suggestion was, and Linaria was completely bewildered. I was probably influenced by a certain old timer.

A while later, Linaria asked:

「A bet?」

「That’s right, a bet. Let’s bet whether the rain will stop within an hour.」

Linaria glanced at me, then hid her mouth behind her knees that had been drawn close to her.

「I bet it will stop.」

「Then I bet it won’t. I’m not trying to brag, but I suck at gambling.」

「…… What the hell? That’s nothing to brag about.」

I sighed in relief when I saw Linaria’s small smile. I wasn’t big-hearted enough to rest easy when there was a frightened girl beside me.

It often rained in this city, but thunders were infrequent. It would rain heavily and then stop in no time. The rain would last longer during the rainy season, but it wasn’t that time of the year yet.

With the thunderous boom coming from the distance, would the rain stop within an hour?

There wasn’t anyone else in the shop. I sat beside Linaria and listened to the rain and thunder in a daze. When I did so, unimportant memories hidden deep in my mind would surface.

A poem I memorized in middle school, a novel series I followed passionately after school, a love song I played on repeat for the entire day. I was surprised by the little things that I remembered.

I glanced to the side, and Linaria stared at the floor with a start.

Did she remember something too? Was it a memory from her childhood, or something recent—— something she thought she had forgotten, but had been kept preciously.

「I hate thunders because I will remember the past.」

I could hear Linaria’s voice mixed in with the rain.

「Bad memories?」

「There are bad memories and good memories, but I will feel sad remembering them.」

「Because you know those memories won’t ever come back?」

I could sense Linaria raising her head, and I continued while staring at the ceiling:

「The place we can’t return to, the people we won’t meet again, just remembering that pains me. If it hurts so much, I will rather forget everything and focus on the present—— something like that?」

Linaria looked at me with shock.

「…… How did you know?」

「Because I often thought that way.」

I couldn’t sleep when I think about my family. I wanted to return to that family and tell them I’m home, but I knew that wasn’t possible. There might be a way home in the Labyrinth filled with all sorts of strange things, but I couldn’t resolve myself to go search for it.

I had not given up on my hometown and my family living there. I would miss them so much whenever I thought about them, so I try my best not to think about them.

I heard Linaria parted with her parents when she was young, but didn’t know the reason behind it. I only just learned that the thunder was a catalyst to rouse her memories.

「Actually, I had been searching for a dream recently.」

People would grow negative in a heavy mood, so I said cheerfully to change the topic.

「A dream?」

Linaria looked at me in surprise.

「That’s right, a dream. I asked a lot of people and thought about it myself.」

The future was right ahead, it was vague and hard to tell its shape and form.

But the people in this world would work steadily towards the future, they would think about how to live their life and what they wanted to do. Some came to this city with a dream, and there were some who found another dream midway and left.

Meeting and parting with these people made me seriously think about dreams.

Wanting to do this or that… That wasn’t it, it was about how I should live from now on.

「Have you found a dream?」

「Not at all.」


Linaria laughed.

「I tried, but it’s really difficult.」 I said with an exaggerated tone. 「I couldn’t understand what I was trying to do.」

I paused, and the rain outside grew stronger. The rain was threatening to tear the shop apart.


Her voice came from a distance that wouldn’t be drowned out by the rain.

「I want to be a Medical Mage.」

In that short, concise sentence, was Linaria’s firm determination.

「I see, a Medical Mage, huh?」

I had not idea what kind of work was that, but it probably involved using spells to treat the injured, like what she did just now. That was the most I could imagine.

I see. That was Linaria’s dream.

「…… You won’t laugh at me?」

Linaria looked my way with a surprised face.

「Why would I laugh at you?」

「I want to be a Medical Mage, you know? Even a talented mage who went through the specialized training might not make it as a Medical Mage.」

Hmm, that’s different from what I imagined… It wasn’t on the level of a normal doctor.

「It seems tougher than I imagined.」

「Tougher… No, never mind.」

Sigh—— She sighed exasperatedly. Why, I just told her my unfiltered thoughts.

「If it’s Linaria, it will definitely work out.」

「Hey, it’s not that simple.」

「But you want to be one?」

「Of course.」

「Then it’s fine, Linaria can definitely do it.」

I stated firmly, and Linaria turned silent with a stern face.

「Just what are you basing that from?」

「Because Linaria works hard every day, and I know that very well.」

Linaria was always studying when she visited the shop. I knew her tests were near, and would even forget her meals. I finally understand that wasn’t to get a good result in the academy, she was working fervently towards a greater goal.

「Linaria will definitely make it.」

Linaria had a clear goal, and she looked really bright in my eyes. At the same time, I wanted to cheer her on from the bottom of my heart.

Linaria stared at my face and bit on her lower lips. She scowled her face and hid behind her knees.

「…… Thank you.」

「You’re welcome.」

I could hear sniffling, she must be shouldering a heavy burden. This was not a challenge that could be taken lightly.

But for Linaria’s sake, I hope her dreams could come true. I wonder if I could help in any way? If it was just cutting my fingers… No, it was still scary, I would provide my body for experiments if I got hurt.

However, I still hope she wouldn’t do something that would cause her pain. I looked out the window with that in mind, and found it bright outside, and the sound of the rain had stopped.

「Linaria, the rain has stopped.」

Linaria looked up with red eyes, and I urged her to stand up.

Looking out the windows, I could see the blue sky between the thick rain clouds. The sunlight fell onto the entire city, and the water droplets left after the rain were crystal clear.

「I lost the bet.」

I stood beside Linaria and said to her while watching the streets.

「Yes, I won.」

She looked back at me with a gentle smile. The puddle reflecting the light lit up the side of Linaria’s face. If I could turn this sight into a picture, it would make anyone who sees it smile, that’s how warm her smile was.

「Since I won, can I ask for a favour?」

「Of course, that’s the right of the winner. Please don’t ask for something that’s painful though.」

「How rude, I won’t ask for something like that.」

Linaria put her hands on her hips.


She lowered her gaze, then looked up and said timidly:

「Want to go for a stroll?」

Linaria was more capable than I imagined, and planned her goal far ahead. Whether she wanted to realize that dream or search for another goal, she was still a student. She would graduate one day and might leave this city.

Would I still be here at that time? Would I be operating this shop and watching the streets through the windows? Would I be welcoming customers and watching them leave?

I didn’t have any goals or dreams, or the resolve to live forever in this world. But I would leave that aside for now, since I would definitely understand one day.

Before that day comes, I would continue brewing Coffee, and provide momentary peace to all who visit.

But it will be different just for this time.

The sky had cleared after the rain, with the streets covered in sparkling droplets, I wouldn’t be sending her off, and would walk beside her instead.

「Good, let’s go.」

I walked before her to open the shop door and walked outside. The humid breeze brushed through my hair.

Behind the rolling rain clouds was a clear blue sky, boundless and beautiful. The city reverted to its usual buzz, and the bell rang in the distance to report the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment