Saturday, November 13, 2021

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V4 (2 of 6)


Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro

“Please give me that beverage.”

Granny Bonnie whistled.

“That’s a beverage made for the indecent. You have good eyes.”

“When did Coffee turn into something like that? Normal people drink Coffee too.”

I really wish she wouldn’t make weird lies.

But Tize looked completely convinced. She clasped her hands before her chest, determined to work hard on being an indecent person.

Was it fine for a child her age to drink Coffee at this time of the night?

She might find it hard to sleep because of the caffeine. I was hesitating when Granny Bonnie took a sip from her cup.

“I want another one, and brew one for this child too. Girls need to accumulate such experiences to become an adult. Be it good or bad, the results aren’t decided by you.”

She said as if she could read my mind. I raised my hands in surrender and started brewing the Coffee. I really couldn’t deal with Gramps Goru, Granny Bonnie, and the people around their age.

I added Coffee beans into a grinder and turned the handle. The sound of the beans being grounded reverberated in the shop. I turned on the heater under the beaker, and boiled two portions of water.

Tize kept watching as I brewed the Coffee. Her gaze was pure and innocent. When the water boiled and the beaker started bubbling, Tize wailed softly. She leaned closer and watched in awe when the water flowed up the funnel pipe. My mood became better after watching her innocent reaction. I straightened my back more than usual, and reached in with a wooden spoon. I felt like a magician.

“Why are you acting like that?”

Granny Bonnie looked at me exasperatedly.

“I don’t get what you are saying. I've always been like this.”

“You didn’t put on a front when you brewed my Coffee. You’re acting all hyped up because the kid is here.”

“It’s not because of a kid, I’m only so motivated because she is a cute girl.”

“Hah, you are still a boy, huh.”

Tize looked at Granny Bonnie and me with worried eyes.

“It’s fine, it’s always like this here. That granny has a vicious tongue.”

“Watch your mouth. You need to be gentler towards the elderly.”

“You’re still young, Bonnie-san. Haha.”

“Your skill in treating others like fools has improved quite a lot.”

Her eyes and mouth were calm, but a vein was showing on her forehead. I usually couldn’t win against Granny Bonnie with words, so this was a good attempt by me.


Tize raised her voice as she spoke. Her voice was like a spark that brightened the shop. It echoed out loud, and the heart warming remnants remained around my ears.

Surprised by her own volume, Tize covered her mouth in a hurry. She timidly put her hands down, peeked at our faces, then said with a suppressed voice:

“P-Please don’t fight. If it’s my fault, I-I apologize.”

Granny Bonnie and I looked at each other. That moment, we reached a perfect consensus. I walked out of the counter and we put our arms around each other's shoulders.

“What are you saying!? You don’t need to worry about that, little girl. We are on great terms.”

“That’s right! Haven’t you heard that people who are close will quarrel more?”

Tize looked at the both of us, then sighed.

“So people who are close will quarrel more, huh. That’s great.”

“This bean sprout girly face is my friend.”

“This granny with an awful personality is an important patron.”

We laughed together.

Tize looked at ease, so we moved our arms away. Granny Bonnie said to me quietly, careful not to let Tize overhear.

“I did something out of character for me.”

“Me too.”

An innocent child like Tize said that it was her fault and apologized. We had to resolve this misunderstanding.

I rotated my stiff shoulder after forcing myself to an unnatural position, then pulled out the beaker and poured out the Coffee. I then served the cups to Tize and Granny Bonnie.

Tize peered into the cup and said quietly “It’s black.” She was right, the Coffee was black.

Tize moved her small nose close and commented that it smelled burnt. She was correct, Coffee had a burnt smell. But I hope she would describe it as fragrant.

Tize took a sip and muttered “bitter.” She was spot on, Coffee was bitter. However, I wished she could taste its deep flavour.

Tize looked up at me and said “it’s tasty.” Indeed, Coffee tasted great!

Ehh, she really felt that way?

“Isn’t it bitter? Is it fine?”

I couldn’t help asking after hearing such a direct complement.

“It’s bitter, but for some reason, this taste calms me down. It’s nice.”

Tize picked up the cup with both hands this time. I couldn’t tell from her expression if she was lying or just being polite.

“I was really surprised.”

“Like I said, Coffee is a beverage made for indecent people. For people who had tasted the bitterness of life, this was nothing.”

“When Granny Bonnie put it that way, it sounded deep.”

If I was the one who said it, it would definitely feel shallow. However, I wanted to say it one day, so I recorded these words down in my mental notebook.

An elegant old lady and a demure young girl were sitting side by side and enjoying Coffee. If it wasn’t so late at night, they would look like close family.

As time passed in the late night Cafe, the best term to describe it was peaceful. Night was much quieter than the day. There would be occasional ramborous voices from the parties in the distance, but there wasn’t any noise from street traffic at all.

The Cafe during the day was like withdrawing quietly from a group activity. In an energetic environment, I was the only one moving slowly, as if the hands on the clock had stopped moving.

This serenity wasn’t present late at night, since most people were sleeping. In its place was a feeling of superiority. While everyone was dreaming, it felt special to spend time alone in a place they couldn’t reach in their dreams.

During a stroll late at night or at dawn, the world would be shrouded in silence, as if you were the only person in the world. As if no one else was around, and only you got left behind, and you had the whole world to yourself. There was a feeling of liberation along with a sense of loneliness.

There wasn’t any conversation in the shop.

Granny Bonnie just stared into space, and occasionally sipped her Coffee as if she just remembered.

Tize held the cup with both hands, tilting and swirling the liquid within, then stared at the ripples.

And I was wiping the glasses like usual.

We were in the same place, breathing the same air, but we had our own thoughts in mind.

The Cafe during the day had a serene atmosphere. That was a mood created by all the customers. It wasn’t said explicitly, but everyone understood they were a part of it, linked to each other in a way that couldn’t be seen.

However, the patrons visiting in the night—— in Granny Bonnie’s words, the 【indecents】, all kept a quiet distance. Everyone had an invisible wall inside them, with a clear boundary of what was permitted. But that didn’t mean they refused to interact with others.

The indecents all understood the walls each other had. So they wouldn’t probe too much. They formed an adequate relationship as skillfully as an artist. They didn’t push each other or worry about it. No one would mind even if they stay quiet. They all spent their time within their own walls.

This was a way of life that couldn’t be discerned during daytime operations.

I was baffled in the beginning, but felt it wasn’t bad after getting used to it. This was an important sense of distance all humans had, and the parts in their hearts they didn’t want others to touch.

“Aren’t you going to ask me?”

Tize said suddenly.

“Ask what?”

I asked, and Tize stared at the cup and stammered.

“Why I’m wandering late at night, or something. Or about the wings on my back.”

“Well, I’m curious.”

The customers at night all had their own problems. You would feel better if you share things with others, but there were many instances where that wasn’t possible. Telling someone that they could tell you anything was just cockiness.

“I will listen if you want to tell me, but I won’t ask if you don’t want to share.”

After I said that, Tize looked up at me. It was just an instant, but the childlike innocence was gone from her face. The matured expression didn’t suit her at all, which made her feel cold and aloof. She was already making that face at her age, so it was easy to tell she had complicated problems.

Tize slowly shook her head. Her white hair that reached below her chin reflected the light to match her action.

After a short silence.

“The good thing about this shop,” Granny Bonnie said, “Is that the shopkeeper and the customers are good at dealing with others. We won’t say unnecessary things or probe you. You can drink tasty Coffee, and smoke all you want, then forget about your solitude and go home. That is enough.”

“As expected of Granny Bonnie, that was nice. However, smoking is prohibited here.”

“Don’t mind the details.”

She made a gesture of shooing me away. She probably meant that what I just said was unnecessary. What a rude granny.

There was stifled laughter.

Tize laughed after seeing that scene. To hide her smile from Granny Bonnie and my gazes, Tize hurriedly picked up her cup and took a sip.

Granny Bonnie and I looked at each other. Granny Bonnie raised an eyebrow, then smiled and sipped her Coffee. I continued wiping the glasses with a smile.

We would chat occasionally before spending time by ourselves. Time passes in the Cafe at night. During the day, time didn’t flow smoothly. Day has its good parts, as does night. There was no question that you could visit a Café whenever you wanted.

Tize finished the Coffee in her cup and returned it gently to the saucer.

“Thank you for your hospitality. Erm, do I really not need to pay?”

“This is fine. I have a bet with this boy.”

“A bet?”

Granny Bonnie’s words made Tize cocked her head in confusion.

“Whenever I visit the shop, I will try to pick his pockets. If I win, I won’t need to pay for the day. If I lose, then I will pay double on my next visit.”

Granny Bonnie then winked at Tize:

“By the way, I have won every time.”

Winking was a cute action, but I didn’t feel that way when Granny Bonnie did so. Tize probably felt the same too. She clasped her hands before her chest with an “Oh.”


Tize leaned forward and looked at me.

“Can I visit again?”

This was the first time I was asked that. This was a shop, so the customers were the ones deciding to visit, while I would just wait here.

However, Tize was looking at me seriously. So I said with a firm nod:

“Of course, I will always be waiting here. And I will be open until morning for today.”

Tize breathed out in relief, then stood up and put her chair back properly.

“It’s almost time for me to go back. Big brother, thank you for the umbrella and towel. I had fun today.”

Tize bowed towards me.

“Granny Bonnie, thank you for treating me. The Coffee is tasty. I will be glad if we can meet again.”

She then lowered her head at Granny Bonnie.

“Oh, you don’t need to mind me. We can meet again in this shop.”

Granny Bonnie answered with a troubled face. Tize nodded cheerfully, then walked towards the shop entrance. Her small wings flapped to show it’s presence. Tize turned and bowed one last time before leaving.

“What a serious child. She is the furthest thing from being indecent.”

“Like I said, it’s wrong to label others as indecent.”

Granny Bonnie picked up her cup and finished her Coffee.

“For her to wander around at this hour, she must have her reasons. And her wings are like that too.”

“Her wings?”

Compared to the Bird Tribe I saw on the streets, Tize’s wings were really small. I thought Granny Bonnie would tell me more, but she shook her head.

“It’s unethical for me to tell you behind her back. Alright, brew me another cup.”

Placing the cup on the counter, Granny Bonnie reached into her pocket. She took out a smoking pipe and set the tobacco. She struck a match without any hesitation, and lit the tobacco. She flicked with her thumb to put out the flame, as if she was doing a trick.

Granny Bonnie puffed out smoke, which rose slowly to the ceiling and covered the lights.

“Ahh, delicious.”

She exclaimed.

Realizing that I was staring, Granny Bonnie offered me the pipe.

“Alright then, have a puff.”

I shook my head.

There were no age restrictions for alcohol and smoking in this world. Everyone was free to decide that for themselves. But it was common sense for the adults to stop children from touching those things.

No one would stop me at my age, and I could indulge in them freely. However, I learned in school that smoking and alcohol were harmful addictions. I was taught to not indulge in them before I was twenty, so I didn’t accept her offer happily. So I shook my head.

“I see. Well, you can try a puff when you feel like it. You will then understand that Coffee and tobacco is the perfect combo.”

After saying something a little bit concerning, she started puffing happily.

I watched the Coffee extracted from the Coffee Maker. I stirred with my spoon and quietly enjoyed the smoke fragrance lingering in the shop. Granny Bonnie slowly tapped the table with her fingers, and hummed softly.

After pouring the extracted Coffee into a cup, a fragrance that could rival the tobacco entered my nose.

In the Café late at night, Coffee, tobacco smoke and a quiet hum flowed gently.

Chapter 3: The Woman Who Ghostwrites Love Letters, and 『That』

The night belongs to adults. At least, that was what I thought. Like normal people, I had stayed up late before, but I wouldn’t wander the streets or go out to play with friends. Even more so after coming to this world.

This wasn’t the world I was born in. This wasn’t earth or Japan. I didn’t know if this world was a planet like earth. The moon would rise at night, and the sun rose in the day, and I could see stars. So there should be a solar system and galaxy. But maybe I would find a cliff at the side of the sea, and realize that the world was actually supported by turtles… That was a possibility too.

This was a different world after all. There were people with animal ears, wings or tiger-like faces. Some were actually morphed from dragons. Under the city was a bottomless Labyrinth, and adventurers would battle monsters there and challenge its depth.

My common sense was useless in this place. The culture and customs were completely different.

I suddenly came to this world one day. I was walking normally along the streets, and fell into some kind of hole. When I came too, I was in this world. I didn’t know how to go back, and couldn’t blend in easily, and had to work to make a living.

Today, customers visited my late night Café too.

"The format for the official documents are fixed, so you can forge them easily if you are familiar with them."

The big sister sitting at the counter said.


I seldom hear that term, and couldn’t help asking.

"Yes, Forgery. But it’s really scary if I get exposed, so I never did that!"

She clenched her fists and said firmly. Her eyes were wide open with the corners drooping, giving her a gentle impression. But the lower half of her eyes were covered by the thick lenses of her spectacles.

"Erm, Celine-san."


"Can I ask you again about your profession?"

I asked carefully. Celine-san cocked her head for a moment before clapping her hands.

"Oh, sorry if I caused any misunderstanding. It’s fine, I’m in a legal line of work. I’m a ghost writer."

"Ghost writer?"

This was the first time I learned of such an occupation.

"Well, there are people who can’t write but still want to post letters, right? My job is to write letters on their behalf."

"Oh, I see."

Everyone in Japan could write, which seemed obvious since everyone studied in schools. But there wasn't any mandatory education in this world. There were large academies, but only a small number of students could study there. Many people were illiterate, and the community was built with that in mind, so even an illiterate like me could live normally in this world.

"What are those letters usually about?"

"Most of the things I write are love letters. The female employees from shops and mansions would approach me when they had time to send letters to the people they fancy. Sometimes, they would ask me to read the letters they received."

"I see, love letters, huh."

"I had to write plenty of sweet lines every day, which fills me with bliss."

Celine-san smiled wryly. She looked kind and gentle. She said she was always writing love letters, which made it harder to link her with "forgery".

I asked her about that, and she said to me with an awkward smile.

"Forgery is the traditional sideline for ghost writers. For example, the letter of recommendation to meet with a dignitary, or a request letter. Forgery has become a culture."

The culture of forgery…… That sounded incredible.

I intentionally looked around the deserted shop, then leaned in close to Celine-san.

"Erm…… is the forgery business profitable?"

Celine-san played along and leaned in close, answering quietly.

"It’s very, very profitable. And the ghost writers won’t be held accountable, so everyone is doing it."

"But not you, Celine-san?"

"Because it’s scary to be targeted by some big shot. I prefer a quiet life, a normal marriage and then live a peaceful life."

I nodded deeply, agreeing with what she said. Peace and quiet, what beautiful words they were. I wanted that too.


Celine-san sighed.

"I couldn’t say that if I had no money."

Her melancholic face was gloomier than the dark clouds before a storm.

I could empathize with that, and nodded reluctantly. The Café was running late in the night, and wasn’t pulling in much money. I earned a lot when the tourists first flooded in, so I could afford to only open late at night, but without that money, I might not be able to stay calm. I still had customers late at night, but the revenues couldn’t be compared to day time operations.

Celine-san and I both sighed.

You could buy anything with money—— I didn’t want to think that way, but you would feel insecure without money, and there were problems you couldn’t solve without money.

But the two of us being depressed wouldn’t help with anything. I heated the Coffee maker to change the mood.

"The usual Café au lait?"

"Oh yes. More milk please."

Celine-san always asked for more milk and less sugar. She liked her Coffee with a lighter taste. I brewed Coffee for a certain person everyday some time back, so I could quickly remember my patrons preference now.

When the water boiled, Celine-san took out a few envelopes from the seat beside her. She placed the envelopes on the counter, then took one and took out the paper inside.

"A letter?"

"Yes." Celine-san nodded. "Aside from ghost writing, I also help deliver and receive letters. It isn’t convenient for my customers staying in shops to receive letters, and there are letters that require more privacy."

So there were such situations too, I nodded in agreement.

"This one had to be sent out. I wrote them, so I need to check for any typos and the address before posting them."

She then cast her gaze on the letter, a faint smile on her lips and gentle eyes behind her lenses.

When I poured the Café au lait into a cup, she had read through it once. She folded it carefully and returned it to the envelope.

"You look happy."

I said when I served the cup to Celine-san, which made her turn stiff.

"Really? But that might really be so."

She took a sip of the steaming Café au lait, then put it down gently.

"Whenever I read these words, I would remember what happened when I wrote them. Like how my customers speak, or when they become bashful and stammers. If I could turn their feelings and her bashfulness into words and post them out, it would be great. I often think about all that."

"That’s a great idea."

"The recipient will read my words, but the contents and the feelings don’t belong to me. However, the passage will be really dry if I do that…… So I will fall in love when I write those words, but only when I’m writing."

Celine-san smiled bashfully.

"Only when you’re writing?"

"Yes. I will feel the words of the sender, and think of them as something I will say myself. That way, the words will naturally become gentler."

Celine-san smiled.

"But that’s just what I think."

I shook my head and smiled at her.

"No such thing, I think that’s a wonderful thought. I never thought about words having feelings before."

"Oh, that’s not true," Celine-san waved her hands in denial. "I’m just doing so, but I’m not sure it is really true. That’s just for my self satisfaction."

"Self satisfaction is fine too. If I want a ghostwriter, I will want one that values self satisfaction."

Celine-san shifted her gaze away and bit her lips, as if to suppress a smile. She then fidgeted with a lock of hair and pulled it in front of her shoulder.

"…… You have a way with words, shopkeep. Your big sister is blushing."

"I’m just saying what’s on my mind."

I also smiled, but felt embarrassed when I saw how bashful she was. Was my line just now too pretentious? The customers here all had strong personalities, so my standards for what was normal had become vague. I need to pay more attention.

"Ahem." Celine-san coughed dryly and read the other letters.

I continued tidying the cabinet and stopped bothering her.

The shop was very quiet. There were no birds chirping or the noise from foot traffic usually heard in the day. The occasional sound came from tipsy pedestrians chatting as they walked, and loud laughter from bars in the distance. Even those noises would fade with time.

As I hung my lanterns and operated in the night, I felt the Café was like a secluded hideaway. Those who would venture here either had quirky personalities or some troubles in their hearts. Granny Bonnie labelled them as "indecent", and I felt a sense of camaraderie with them.

I could hear the rustling of the paper, the sound of me putting things into the cabinet, and the chime of the door.

There was a customer. I turned back to look, and a small figure came in.

"Oh, it’s Tize. Welcome."

"…… Good Evening."

It was the girl I met in the rain a few days ago. She had clean and colorless white hair, and small wings on her back. If she was as old as she looked, around 13 years old, then she was the youngest customer to visit at this hour.

Tize timidly approached the counter, then sat down two seats away from Celine-san.

"Did you catch a cold from the rain last time?"

"No, I’m fine."

"That’s good, what would you like to have?"

Before Tize could answer, a voice came from the side.

"Erm, so you’re Tize?"

I was surprised, but Tize was more shocked than me. She blinked at Celine-san.


Celine-san smiled embarrassedly, then waved her hands.

"Sorry for scaring you. I’m not a bad person. Granny Bonnie told me about you."

"Granny Bonnie told you?"

I searched my memories, and did recall Granny Bonnie speaking with Celine-san before.

"She said she’s going back for the day, and if a child named Tize came, she asked me to treat the girl to a cup of Coffee, and even gave me the money for it."

She was acting like a nice grandmother again, but that was Granny Bonnie’s style too.

Tize looked at us in a daze, unable to keep up with what we were saying. She finally snapped out of it, and shook her head:

"That won’t do, I won’t want to impose. I will be fine."

"But Granny Bonnie gave me the money, so for the sake of this big sister, can you agree to this? Or else, Granny Bonnie will blame me."

Celine-san said with a troubled face. Not many people could refuse her advances.

Tize looked at me with pleading eyes.

"Erm, big brother, what should I do……"

Seeing her furrowing her brow, I couldn’t help smiling.

"Then just do as Granny Bonnie asked. And thank her the next time you see her."

Tize lowered her head and hesitated for a while before finally nodding.

"Big sister, erm, thank you."

She then bowed politely to Celine-san.

"Oh, it’s fine, don’t mind it. I’m just spending money on Granny Bonnie’s behalf."

Celine-san waved her hands frantically.

What a harmonious scene. Granny Bonnie picked my wallet again today, and left after drinking her free Coffee, but she left the money to treat Tize to a drink. She really cared about Tize, but I hope she would leave some kindness for me too.

I prepared the Coffee maker and started brewing,

"I’m Celine, nice to meet you."

"I’m, Tize. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"How old are you, Tize?"

"Erm, I’m 13."

"How young…"

I heard Celine-san say with a trembling voice.

"What about you, Celine-san? You’re twice Tize’s age, right?"

"Can you not be like that, shopkeep? It pains my heart…"

With that, Celine-san held her temple.

Tize looked at her worriedly.

"…… Do you feel, unwell?"

"It’s fine, Tize. Sometimes, adults are shocked beyond words by their own age. Especially when they learned the age of children."

"Please don’t explain it so clearly, alright?"

Celine-san demanded with a low voice.


"It’s fine. You’ll understand one day, Tize…… What about you, shopkeep?"

I realized that Celine-san was staring right at me behind the lenses of her spectacles.

"I don’t mind telling you, I’m not even 20——"

"That’s good enough, thank you. I don’t want to ask any further."

Celine-san cut the conversation short, took off her spectacles and pressed her palm onto her eyes. She muttered: "Ughh…… reality is cruel… When did I get so old……" and the likes. What it felt like to get older wasn’t something Tize and I could imagine.

Tize raised her hands before her, wanting to reach for Celine-san but stopped herself. She repeated that several times. She was wondering whether she should speak to Celine-san. She then turned her adorable puppy eyes my way.

I shook my head gently, and she stopped moving with a shocked face.

Give up, Tize. It was useless for us to console her with regards to age…

After hesitating for a while, Tize made up her mind and said to Celine-san.

"Big sister, is still young."

I found it hard to believe that was Tize’s voice. It felt closer to a piano or some other otherworldly instrument. I was enchanted by the sound, and even forgot to understand the content. Celine-san must be feeling the same way as she looked at Tize in a daze. After a long pause, she realized she was mesmerized by that voice, and laughed out loud.

"Oh, I made a child younger than me worry. It’s fine, big sister is fine! Thank you."

"Y-You’re welcome…"

Tize turned beet red. That expression on her delicate face gave off the impression of beautiful and cute, making both Celine-san and me gasp.

I suppressed the urge to stare and poured the brewed Coffee into a cup, and served it to Tize. Tize then bowed and thanked me.

Tize’s face was still red, but she looked entranced by the Coffee, and didn’t care about other things. But the way she was holding the cup with both hands looked like she was blocking her face with the cup. It was obvious that she was hiding her bashfulness.

Celine-san could tell that too, and said to Tize with a gentle smile:

"Tize’s voice is really pretty, big sister is surprised."

Her hands trembled a little. Tize didn’t move, and her face turned stiff.

"No… That’s not true."

Instead of being humble, that sounded closer to rejection. She sounded tense and looked uneasy.

Celine-san saw through that in no time, but that wasn’t because of her age or experience though.

"Oh right. Tize, can you help big sister with a problem? Big sister will be grateful!"

She said to Tize with a cheerful tone.

She didn’t press the matter nor apologized for the earlier question, and changed the topic instead. This was only possible for those who were considerate and good at dealing with others. As expected of Celine-san.


Tize looked at Celine-san puzzledly, not understanding what that was about.

"Actually, big sister wants a lover…"

"No, you are being too real here, what are you asking a 13 years old girl?"

I couldn’t help retorting.

"I’m serious, shopkeep."

"That will just make the mood heavier. Topics of love for adults aren’t romantic at all."

"Yes, first, you have to increase my chances of meeting people."

"You are answering seriously!? Tize, you are really going along with this!?"

Unexpectedly, Tize gave a serious answer. I was surprised.

Celine-san’s spectacles gleamed, and she stood up and swiftly sat down beside Tize.

"That’s right! I can’t meet the right people with my job…! My clients are mostly women or the occasional unattractive old men asking me to forge documents!"

"You are getting too into this……"

No, I could actually empathize, to Celine-san, this was a big problem. But a twenty something grown woman seeking a thirteen years old girl for advice wasn’t right. As the Café Master, I was wondering whether I should hit the brakes on this.

"Erm, what kind of men, do you like?"

But Tize continued seriously. She wanted to solve Celine-san’s problem. When I was thirteen, I never thought anything about romance. I was engrossed with battle card games with my friends, and the video games on sale. There was a saying that girls were mentally older, and I did experience that before.

"Hmm……" Celine-san supported her chin with her palm. "First, he should have a stable job. He needs to be gentle and understanding of my work. And… I don’t mind his looks too much, but he must be clean and hygienic!"

"I see……" Tize nodded. "Is there anyone like that around you?"

"None at all. Being a ghostwriter doesn’t help with my love life."

A grown woman and a girl who wasn’t much taller than a chair. The two of them talked about love like similarly aged friends, and both of them had serious faces.

I couldn’t laugh at them or join in the conversation, so I decided to stay on the sidelines and check the stock for seasonings. A courier named Shilulu would usually deliver the things I need, but she was incredibly busy right now, and dropped by much less frequently than before. So I had to buy the minor goods myself.

While I was opening the cabinet and checking the seasoning jars, their conversation didn’t stop at all. It was basically Celine-san and Tize asking.

"Right, so I can do it that way…!"

Celine-san suddenly said loudly. I turned to her in reflex, and found her staring right at me. Our gazes locked just like that. She then smiled slyly and waved at me. I didn’t want to go if I could help it, but there was no room to run in this tiny shop.

"…… How can I help you?"

"Shopkeep, can you not show me that reluctant face?"

Celine-san smiled wryly and waved at me. She looked just like a neighbourhood housewife… No, I better stop that description.

"Actually, Tize just told me a great idea."

I looked at Tize when she said that. Tize shirk away and averted her gaze.

"Shopkeep, are there any good people amongst your customers?"

"…… Which means, you want me to introduce them to you?"

"That’s right!"

Celine-san nodded firmly. I see, she was going with that method. This was commonly seen in Japan. The nosy neighbourhood housewives would probe single people about what they thought of other single people. Modern people didn’t really like such behaviour, but many marriages were hitched because of that, so in this era where there was a limited chance to meet people, they served an important function. But I never imagined that I would play that role one day.

"I see……"

Was there really a customer who happened to meet her requirements? I started to think. Celine-san and Tize looked at me with expectant eyes. That would just trouble me further.

"Weland-san just got married. Ject says he is too busy with work… I wonder if Monte is married or not……"

I thought about the boss of the up and rising company, maybe he was an ideal marriage partner.

Thinking about it carefully, I realized there were a few good candidates amongst my patrons.

"I could think of a few people."


Celine-san’s face brightened.

"However, they are all day time customers."

"…… Day time?"

Tize cocked her head puzzledly.

"Actually, the night time operation is just temporary. As you know, the Songstress is in town, right? So there are a lot of tourists during the day."

After saying that, Tize suddenly lowered her gaze. She pinned her hands between her thighs, making her look one size smaller.

"I see… But I can’t come during the day."

Celine-san twirled her hair with one finger and sighed.

"Erm…… Sorry."

"Oh, y-you don’t need to apologize, Tize! I should be the one apologizing for asking you such a complicated matter."

"No, it’s, fine."

Tize hung her head sullenly again. Celine-san looked around frantically and tried to find a new topic. Her inspiration struck, and her gaze fell on me.

"Oh right, Tize, are you hungry? This shop has lots of strange food!"

"Can you not call them strange?"

"Strange…… food?"

"Like I said, they are not strange, just exotic."

"Yes, they might be strange, but they taste great."

"Listen to what I’m saying."

Celine-san acted as if she didn’t hear me. Whether that was true or not didn’t matter, women had the upper hand here.

"Look, as thanks for your consultation, big sister will treat you to something good."

Tize wanted to turn her down timidly, but Celine-san had already raised an index finger at me.

"Shopkeep, give me an order of 『that』!"

"What is 『that』? This is the first time I heard of it."

"It’s 『that』, 『that』!"

I didn’t get it at all. Besides, Celine-san said in the past that "My tummy will turn flabby if I eat at night", and never ordered any food before.

But I knew she was saying that for Tize’s sake. So as the Café Master, I had to take this reckless request.

"It’s 『that』, huh. Got it."

"As expected of the shopkeep!"

Treating that as a compliment, I walked to the fridge. I took the request, but what should I do now? It was already this late, and the customer was a girl. This shop’s menu was limited in the first place.

I looked at the fruits in the fridge. Red, round, soft and grape-like, and a sourness like strawberry. After seeing it in the market, I bought it to make breakfast. Aside from that, there were also some eggs. These two things formed a line in my mind.

I took out the eggs—— because it was late at night, I only took two. And some milk and yogurt.

First, I prepared two containers, cracking the eggs and separating the yolk from the whites. I then put the egg whites in a container and stow it in the fridge to cool. An important step was to ice it quickly.

I then added milk and a little yogurt with the yolk. I then took out two small bottles from the store room. One was a low-gluten flour, and the other one was called "bread baking powder." I could bake soft and fluffy bread with that powder, and I used it like baking powder.

I sifted both of these powders carefully to remove any impurities. This wasn’t like the old world with quality control bordering on hysteria. However, the ingredients were much fresher too, so I decided not to mind that.

After the sifting was done, I added the powder to the yolk, then mixed it into a gooey dough. I set it aside, then took out the iced egg whites. I sprinkled sugar into the egg whites, then picked up a whisk and breathed in deeply. How nice would it be if I had an electric mixer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one, so I had to rely on myself.

I put the whisk into the yolk and beat it swiftly. I keep beating with all my might.

Swoosh swoosh swoosh.

Phew…… I will take…… a little break…….

"Big brother, that looks tough."

"Really now, what are you doing, shopkeep?"

"……? Weren’t you the one who said to make 『that』……"

"! That’s right. It’s 『that』!"

With cheers from the audience, I started moving again. Swoosh swoosh swoosh.

Air was mixed into the egg whites, turning it from liquid into foam. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but the fatigue was strong too. My hands got slower with time, not just from fatigue, but also resistance. However, I still need to beat it, until it turned into meringue. My efforts turned into a white fluffy lump. When I pulled the whisk out of the bowl, it left a beautiful sharp tip at the top, a sign that I was successful.

I scooped up about a small teaspoon of it with the whisk, and mixed it with the yolk dough. When they were completely mixed, I added the rest of the melingue. If I mixed carefully without breaking the gentle texture of the melingue, I could get a soft dough. The eggs and flour dough bloating to this size was incredible.

"Look, Tize! The dough is so fluffy!"

"What is it… How intriguing."

"Will it feel good if I bury my face into it?"

"! Maybe……"

If possible, I hope the two of you won't waste my effort.

I then boiled water and let my sore right arm rest a while. Adding a thin layer of oil to a pan, I put it over a weak flame.

After shifting the dough to the pan, the bloated dough was still round like a puff. I quartered it, added a little hot water and covered it with a lid. The heat couldn’t be too hot when steaming it. I tilted the pan and could hear the water evaporating with a whoosh. I felt hyped at the sound, imagining how it would turn out.

Judging that it was almost done, I removed the lid and steam flowed out, followed by the fragrance of baked dough. I couldn’t help smiling at this fragrance.

"! It smells delicious, Tize!"

"…… Yes!"

The bottom of the dough had turned golden brown like a shiba inu. I turned it over, added some hot water, and closed the lid.


While the other side was being cooked, I opened the fridge and took out the fruits (can I call it grape strawberry?) and cut it into bite size. It would be perfect if there was some whipped cream, but that would be difficult in this world. How unfortunate.

I opened the lid, and was greeted by round, fluffy things. It looked as if it would wobble with a poke like pudding, that was how thick and soft it was.

It was cooked perfectly. The good thing about steaming over a weak flame was the low chance of failure.

I plated them on two plates, and added the fruit on top. The bright red colour was really enticing. I then added a generous helping of honey.

I served it with a fork beside the plates.

"Here is what you ordered. A blissful serving of Soufflé Pancakes."

Their eyes were sparkling as they looked at the pancakes before them. Everyone would like fluffy and beautifully burned desserts.

"What is this, it’s soft and chewy!"

Celine-san poked at it with a fork.

Tize mimicked her and picked up her fork.


She then opened her eyes wide, immersed in the soft sensation. It would be better not to poke too much, it would spoil the presentation.

"Soufflé means expand. The melingue I whisked was mixed together with the dough and baked, giving it a thick and fluffy texture that isn’t normally possible."

"It’s really fluffy! It melted right away in my mouth, Tize!"


"Well, I guess you don’t need me to explain."

They ignored me completely and immersed themselves in the Soufflé Pancakes. No, that was fine. Food had always been the main show, while the chef had a faint presence.

"Hmm——! So blissful!"


Celine-san squinted while Tize kept nodding with puffed cheeks. Seeing how happily they were eating, my right hand felt satisfied.

Soufflé Pancakes were usually served as breakfast, but eating breakfast late at night was great too.

I listened to their joyous voices and started tidying up the kitchen.

"Oh, this suits Café au lait perfectly!"


"So it goes well with Coffee too? By the way, Tize sure is mature, drinking Coffee without any sugar. Uwah, that cheeky face…… big sister feels outdated."

Tize patted Celine-san’s shoulder. They had grown close after talking about love.

"Ughh… I had never liked bitter things… Shopkeep, give me one Café au lait. Tize, would you like one too?"


"Shopkeep, please give Tize a cup of Coffee."

"Yes, coming right up."

I stopped washing the dishes and prepared the Coffee Maker.

"Oh, another serving of 『that』 too!"

Celine-san looked at me, and Tize gazed my way with sparkling eyes.

I looked at the ceiling, waiting for my right hand to answer. My right hand didn’t say anything, having resigned itself.

"…… Yes, right away."

Should I make use of my modern knowledge and invent an electric mixer? Or maybe I should seal 『that』 away.

Tize and Celine-san cheered, and started a passionate discussion about the blissfulness of eating fluffy snacks at night. Tonight’s Café was as rowdy as the day.

Chapter 4: We are the Indecent Alliance

That night, Granny Bonnie and Tize sat at the counter. Tize had been visiting nightly for a while now. Didn’t her parents say anything about her late night outing? Or maybe, she snuck out?

I had questions, but I couldn’t question her directly. There were places even the closest people wouldn’t breach into. And besides, she and I weren’t that close, so even if I did ask, it was probably just being a busybody.

More importantly, Tize became close to the night time patrons very quickly, especially the older ones. They were probably doting on Tize like a granddaughter. Tize was happy too, so I didn’t think it was all bad. But I had my doubts about the influence of Granny Bonnie.

"So listen well. People can pay attention to two things at once. When they are looking here, their hands are unguarded. Pay attention to their hands, and their body is open. That’s the trick, to skillfully divert their attention."

"Oh, I see."

Tize nodded with a serious face as she listened to Granny Bonnie’s explanation.

"Hey boy, don’t move."

"No, erm, I have work to do."

"We are the only customers there. Enough, just stand right there."


I couldn’t refute her, and just stood in the empty space made by shifting the tables away. Granny Bonnie and Tize stood right before me.

"The first step is to pretend to be normal, then divert his attention to where you bump into him, and use that chance to pick his wallet."

Tize nodded seriously.

"What are you teaching her?"

"Picking pockets, of course."

Granny Bonnie answered nonchalantly.

"No, you don’t have to teach her that. She is a youngster with a bright future."

"Here, give it a try. Bump into him, then pick his wallet. The important thing is to be fast, without any big movements."


"It’s no good… those two won’t listen…"

Tize clenched her fists before her chest, looking very motivated. She then walked towards the practice target—— me, who was standing still. I gave up on resisting, and walked forward as directed.

When we passed by each other, Tize stumbled and bumped into me.

"Oh, sorry."

It was a light bump. Even from this close, her face was really delicate. If her face wasn’t red from nervousness, she would look just like a doll. And I could hear Tize’s voice from this close. Her voice made my back itchy.

When I realized it, Tize had left my side, and I checked my apron pocket to find my wallet missing.

"I did it……!"

I looked back, and Tize was holding my wallet with both hands with a satisfied face.

"You have talent." Granny Bonnie nodded. "And you’re beautiful, and can easily play the men on the palms of your hands."

Granny Bonnie then looked at me with a mischievous smile. Granny Bonnie didn’t miss the moment when I was entranced by Tize. I coughed dryly to brush that off.

"Here, your wallet. Thank you very much."

"…… You’re welcomed."

Tize returned my wallet. I put it in my pocket then said with my hands on my hips:

"Granny Bonnie might have taught you that, but don’t do that to anyone else, okay?"

"So I can do it to big brother?"


Tize looked up at me. Her expression was calm, but her eyes were filled with expectations. Her gaze could win against any arguments, so I had no choice but to nod dryly.

"That’s great!"

When I saw her clenched her fists happily, I felt fine being her practice dummy for pickpocketing. No, that wasn’t fine at all.

"You are such a pushover."

Granny Bonnie said to me without hiding her nefarious smile.


I neither confirm nor deny.

"Since the practice target said so, Tize, try it again."


Tize jogged to Granny Bonnie with her small wings flapping. It was good that she was happy, but it would be better if she was doing something decent. I couldn’t help thinking that way.

"This time go at him from behind. When you’re squeezing in a crowd, and your body is in close contact, you should do it this way. First, put your hand on his shoulder or back. Here, this hand.”

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