This is Chapter 6 from Volume 1 of the Kanon light novel series.
The text is from Baka-tsuki.
Was it a dream again?
When I opened my eyes, it was already morning.
But Nayuki who had went to sleep with me was not by my side now.
Was yesterday night only a dream as well?
“The sun is coming out~”
At this moment, Nayuki came in smiling.
I was struck speechless.
“What happened? You woke up earlier than me, changed earlier than me, and even…”
“Breakfast is already prepared~”
“It’s not a miracle~”
Though pouting, she talked as slow as usual.
“When mum’s not around, I’ll wake up early.”
“And I’ll feel embarrassed if you see me sleeping.”
“I’m tired already of seeing your ‘ku‘ing face.”
“That’s different from how I slept this morning.”
She was so embarrassed even her neck became red. I started to remember how she looked yesterday night. But if I think too deep about it, I couldn’t imagine what would happen, so I began my morning work without saying anything.
Having changed my clothes and descended to the first floor, I found the breakfast Nayuki said she had prepared there.
Toast with strawberry jam, strawberry milk, and strawberry Yakult for dessert.
“Woah. It says the Capricorns have the worst luck today.”
Ignoring me, Nayuki watched the fortune program on the television.
“Okay, I’ll make do with it.”
Wolfing down the sweet and sour and even red breakfast, I was painfully reminded that Akiko was a necessity in this family.
“Good morning, Kaori.”
“Oh. Good morning, Nayuki. You two are coming together back again now?”
Kaori slapped my shoulders.
I tensed abruptly.
Kaori and Nayuki looked at me and said in unison.
What upset me was that I became more happy than angry when I was made fun at. I must have got some aftermath symptoms through some setbacks.
At this time, oddly, Kitagawa came into the classroom even later than Nayuki and I.
“I planned to stay up last night and study, but I somehow fell asleep and ended up almost late when I woke up.”
“You’re a hard-working person to stay up studying.”
“Ohoh, it’s my first time to be praised by Kaori-sensei.”
“I’m telling you,” I looked at both of them with the corner of my eyes (Shaft mode), “you two try to tease Nayuki and I whenever possible, but aren’t you two getting along pretty well?”
“Don’t say such sudden weird stuff.”
“Wah. Their faces have become red~”
As they continued saying, “Please stop” and “It’s enough, I felt I had taken my revenge.
Then for some time I could tease them with this topic, but still, perhaps Nayuki and I couldn’t prevent ourselves from being teased by them at the same time…
“Look, the teacher’s coming. The exam’s coming up.”
Kaori said, as if heaving a sigh. We thus returned to our seats obediently.
But actually, I didn’t really care when the exam was starting.
After the exam, I could probably find a place to go out with Nayuki in the weekends, or even get Kaori and Kitagawa to come along. I only left space in my mind for such joyful things.
And this serene day ended.
We were having our next exam. An unfamiliar teacher came into the classroom and said something to the supervisor.
The supervisor nodded and called Nayuki and I, telling us to hand in our exam papers immediately and go to the teacher’s lounge. Our exam papers would be graded by what we had written so far.
Nayuki showed a sign of unrest, but we couldn’t just bother others in their exams, so I hurried Nayuki outside the classroom.
In the lounge waiting for us was the message of Akiko involved in a car crash and had been sent to the hospital.
“How did that happen?”
I supported Nayuki, who was about to collapse.
“So let’s head over to the hospital right now. We had called a taxi already.”
Fazed, Nayuki said nothing, at a loss. The teacher rested his hand on my shoulder and said, “You’re Minase’s relative and also their family member. I hope you can work hard to be Minase’s pillar.”
I didn’t need you to tell me.
Although we went to the hospital by car, the fastest transportation tool in this case, we had to, incidentally, pass through the place of the accident.
I moved Nayuki’s head near my chest so as not to let her see the place.
Although she leaned on me, I couldn’t tell whether she had seen it through her still, lifeless eyes.
The car had crashed into such an irregular shape that one couldn’t tell what it originally looked like, its broken pieces of glasses scattered everywhere on the road. On top of that, the snow stacked at the side of the asphalt road was dyed with traces of red.
I couldn’t stifle the stuff rushing into my chest, so I couldn’t help pressing my mouth. This wasn’t disgust evoked by an imposing reality.
Neither was it the fear of imaging how Akiko would look like.
…the snow dyed red.
On the icy snow lay a body.
A girl suddenly vanished in front of Yuichi…
There was nothing he could do except for crying for her…
It was depressing.
It happened, and it was so depressing it shut one’s memories.
It was the last shard of memory from my forgotten memories.
There was a girl I had got along really well in that winter.
We ate taiyakis, teased each other, and played together. On that day, she dyed the pure, white snow red with her blood and vanished in front of me.
And since then, I had grown to hate snow…
Even when we had reached the hospital, Nayuki and I were prohibited from seeing Akiko.
“We had done all we could, but her condition is still at stake. Even if her condition turns better, and she lives on, the possibility of her to retrieve her consciousness remains…”
That was all I could remember from the doctor’s explanation.
I also heard some simple explanation from the police.
In the morning, on the pedestrian road returning home, Akiko was hit by a car that failed to make a turn.
The driver, injured only slightly, told us that even though he made a loud noise when making the turn, Akiko only noticed it at the last moment.
Akiko must have tired herself out through the work all night without sleep that rendered her vulnerable.
It pained us even more since Akiko had always looked as if these things didn’t matter to her so much.
Even now, of course, she made no mistake in this accident.
Problems such as how we should talk with the driver were beyond our imagination or control already.
We had to decide them later when my parents come.
Even though I contacted my parents at once upon arriving to the hospital, my father, unfortunately, contracted a serious flu since last week.
“If I force your father to go there, he might get pneumonia, so I’d get there, even if it's only by myself. But before I come, you have to be Nayuki’s pillar.”
My mother said the same thing as my teacher.
Nayuki and I had thought of living in the hospital together, but as Akiko hadn’t gained conscious, and the hospital staff would keep an eye on her every moment, it made no difference if we stayed at home.
“Please contact us if anything happens—no matter when—even when it’s midnight.”
With that said, Nayuki and I returned home.
Nayuki spoke nothing from the moment she was informed of the incident to this very moment on the way home.
Her wan face lost its expressions, still and lifeless. It is doubtful of whether she had even heard what the doctor or the police said.
When we came home, Nayuki suddenly turned her head to the door of Akiko’s room and said, “Mum…”, softly.
I silently held her hand.
But she just drooped her hand without strength and didn’t grasp my hand.
“The sun. The sun is coming out.”
Nayuki’s voice in the alarm clock was the only thing that stayed serene as ever.
The house was quiet, containing no voice. The fragrance of morning toast was lost.
The air conditioner should have been turned on, but this morning felt much chillier than usual.
I tried to knock Nayuki’s door when I got out.
There was no response.
I called her again, but as it proved useless, I tried turning the knob.
The door was knocked.
“Nayuki, I’m eating breakfast now and going to school. I’ll place yours outside the door, so you can have it if you like. If there’s any news from the hospital, please make a phone call to school immediately if you can. I’ll be going to the hospital right after the exams.”
Having that said outside the door, I descended to the first floor and made toast. Then I spread Nayuki’s favourite jam on it and put it, along with her favourite milk, outside her room in front of the door.
I had thought of requesting for absence at school, but looking at Nayuki’s condition, I believed I could only take care of my own stuff, so I headed school alone anyway.
At school, Kaori and Kitagawa was equally worried about Nayuki’s condition and Akiko’s.
“Nayuki gets along really good with her mother.”
“Is it fine to leave Minase at home alone?”
“Mmm. I’m worried about her, but considering Akiko’s condition, I don’t think she would do something as silly as getting herself sent to the hospital too.”
Kaori approached me.
“You have to help Nayuki out. You have to protect her.”
Kaori’s voice trembled.
“I…I’ve known about you a long time ago because Nayuki had always talked about her ‘cousin Yuichi’ happily.”
“She also told me you aren’t a person easy to understand because you get embarrassed easily, but you’re a gentle boy. She hadn’t seen you for many years, but those winters she spent with you playing had always been joyful. Anyone, not only me, would discern that Nayuki loves her cousin Yuichi upon seeing those eyes she had. I’m honest.”
Kaori had always been, since the first day of seeing me, looking at me with eyes of ulterior meaning. I could understand why now.
I hoped, if possible, I could know this in a better time and place.
“When you left the town, you had always been the person Nayuki loved the most.”
Kaori’s words engraved into my heart deeper than my mother’s or teacher’s.
Even during the exams, Kaori would sometimes remember about Nayuki and quietly choke in sobs.
After nearly idling and staring at space for three times in front of the table, the exams ended.
Kaori and Kitagawa called to me when I headed off to hospital.
“Work hard, though I should say I’m sorry for saying such a meaningless thing.”
“I believe Nayuki’s mother’s condition would get better.”
I felt, however, that it was impossible unless there was a miracle. Besides, I thought of Kaori saying that it’s called a miracle because it wouldn’t happen.
In fact, Akiko’s condition hadn’t changed any bit.
That is to say, her condition would drift downhill at any moment.
For confirmation, I asked the nurse, who told me that Nayuki hadn’t come to the hospital.
I waited for a while, but Nayuki still didn’t appear.
Phoning home, I was only directed to the voice message box. She must have been locking herself in her room since this morning.
Returning home and looking, I found the toast I placed this morning outside her door in its original state.
It had turned hard, of course.
I then made dinner alone. Anything simple like fried rice would work. With that done, I took it to Nayuki’s room.
“Nayuki, dinner is made. I made it. Don’t you want to try some?”
I knocked, but got no response.
“You haven’t even eaten breakfast. If you don’t eat, you’ll collapse.”
I felt Nayuki’s presence inside, so she was there, just not giving any response.
I could empathise with her sorrow and her desperation.
I also loved Akiko. And more importantly, I had just remembered, painfully, the sorrow of losing someone important.
I lightly heaved a sigh and placed the plate in front of the door again.
I didn’t know whether I could sleep if I got on bed, but it seemed the thing human most desired when they are fatigued is sleep. So I quickly fell into my dreams when I laid down.
A small knocking sound woke me up.
It was midnight.
The sound just then might have been Nayuki taking the plate in the corridor.
Worried, I quietly crawled up from my bed.
I slowly and meticulously tiptoed to Nayuki’s room.
The plate was almost not even touched, but there was something gone on the plate.
“Nayuki. Have you eaten, Nayuki?”
I tried hard to call for her. No response. But if she had eaten some of the rice I made, then there was hope.
“Nayuki. You’re awake, aren’t you? At least speak something, Nayuki.”
I kept knocking the door. Impatient of getting no response, I grabbed the knock and tried turning it. Out of my surprise, it opened easily.
“…I’m coming in.”
Nayuki’s room was not lit. When we prepared for the exams, her room was a warm, fragrant room. Now it was filled only with stuffy and heavy air.
Nayuki was in the corner of the room.
The faint moonlight from the side of the door revealed a person tightly holding her knees, showing eyes as dull as I had never seen, still and lifeless.
I approached her and called her, wanting to softly touch her shoulders.
It was a soft voice, but embodied straightforward rejection.
“I don’t want to see anyone…”
Compared to Nayuki’s rejection, her desperate and pitiful look distressed me more.
“How’s the dinner I made?” I forced a smile and asked her. “Did you eat it?”
“It tastes bad.”
Nayuki only moved her lips with the slightest motion.
“It probably got cold. If you ate it just when it was made, it would be a lot better. I have tried it myself.”
“…it’s the same even when it’s warm.”
“No way. That’s the best dish I can make in my cooking skills. Okay, I’ll make another one and bring it here.”
Her voice trembled gradually. I stopped pretending to be bright.
“…of course, if you compare it to Akiko’s cooking…”
“Get out, Yuichi.”
Upon hearing Akiko’s voice, Nayuki increased her volume.
“It would have been better if I hadn’t eaten the food you made. When I had it, I thought that mum wasn’t here and I felt even more sad.”
“Akiko’s still here!”
I followed suit and increased my volume.
“Get out, Yuichi.”
I grabbed her hands which she was going to cover her ears.
“Do you think Akiko would be happy if you just sully yourself here and escape reality? Akiko might be saved. She definitely would be. It's Akiko we’re talking about. Unlike any other normal person, she wouldn’t get affected by others and her surroundings. How could she just disappear that easily!”
“…then, are you going to make a miracle happen and save her?”
I couldn’t help remaining silent.
Nayuki only moved her lips saying I couldn’t. She then diverted her eyes off me and returned to her dull and blank eyes.
It might even be better if she protested or threw a tantrum.
It was only heart-wrecking to see the girl I treasure fall again in despair.
I let go of her body. Nayuki rolled on the floor like a doll, and then as if remembering something, she lovingly caressed the carpet on the floor.
“I have always been living in this house. There has been several years, in this street and in this house, that I lived only with my mother.”
Nayuki wasn’t exactly speaking to a specific person.
“I don’t remember how my father looked like. It has always been my mother and I, but I don’t feel lonely. My mother is gentle and she taught me a lot of things. For my mother, for school, and for the house, I have also worked very hard for this life.”
In my heart there were a lot of heartfelt memories of Akiko and Nayuki: when I was small, I expressed my dislike when Nayuki brought an abandoned cat, and Akiko made herself busy looking for willing owners. Every morning, Akiko would wake Nayuki up tediously. In the nights, Akiko would make sushi for Nayuki, giving up her sleep.
“I have always been able to smile and work hard because my mother was around.”
But while she spoke, she lifted her head and looked at me. No, perhaps she was looking at the darkness behind me.
“…But now I am, left alone…”
“You’re not alone, Nayuki!”
I couldn’t help saying.
“Don’t you have friends? Kaori, Kitagawa. They’re worried about you. Also, me too…”
“I’m also here. And Akiko would be coming back.”
Slowly, Nayuki shook her head.
I wanted to embrace her, but the girl in front of me was too far from me. My stretching hand could not reach her.
Reflected under the moonlight, Nayuki’s face was wan. On that face there occurred the first change.
“There is no way I can smile anymore…”
Large teardrops surfaced on her eyes.
“I can never smile anymore…”
Tears gushed and rolled through her cheeks onto her pajamas. Her adorable cat-paw-printed pajamas absorbed several teardrops.
“There is no way I can work hard anymore….no way I can be strong anymore…because mum isn’t here anymore…mum…mum…”
Then she sobbed like an abandoned cat with sorrowful sounds hysterically.
There was nothing I could do except for looking at her from a side.
On the following day, it snowed since the morning.
I couldn’t quite remember when I returned to my room or when I slept.
The alarm clock had already pointed to the time for class.
But I had no plan to go to school anyway.
I managed to woke up, but I had no appetite for breakfast and just stared into space in my room.
I was startled when the phone rang for its first and only time: my mother called and informed me of my father’s condition: he had stabilised and they would come in about two to three days.
“Is Nayuki fine?”
When my mother asked me, I didn’t know how to answer her.
Sobbing, Nayuki rejected my words and my actions, telling me there was no way she could smile anymore.
How could I become her pillar for her when she was rejecting me?
Nayuki remained the same, having no trace of coming out of her room.
I headed outside without any specific goal. It was cold outside, and even snowing. Although I know this was merely an escape, but I just couldn’t stand passing time lifelessly at home and lamenting my powerlessness.
Come to think of it, it was just as distressing for the people at school to know about this, so I just staggered my way to the snowing streets, pacing back and forth.
Then I headed, though I didn’t mean to, to the entrance of the shopping district.
Beside the arched door was a shop selling kid stuff.
It was the shop I bought the red glass pebble for Nayuki, which she used it as a snow rabbit’s eye.
It was also in front of this shop that I met the crying girl that winter.
And as if waiting for me today too, Ayu appeared in front of me.
“Hey, why aren’t you taking a bag of taiyaki today?”
Finding her hands empty, I went to the taiyaki shop with her for a look.
But the shop closed today.
“What bad luck…”
Ayu and I leaned on the steel gate on the door of the shop.
We looked silently at the snow under the roof of the taiyaki shop for a while.
“…Do you remember I once said I was looking for something here?”
Ayu suddenly said.
“Eh…oh, yeah, you did.”
Between this short silence, I was actually thinking about Nayuki.
“I have already found it…the thing I had been looking for.”
I only answered with my mouth in reflex.
“Yuichi, you don’t look very energetic today.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. I understand you very much. I can tell from how you look.”
“Understand me very much…”
Ayu nodded, the wings behind her on her backpack moving along.
“Then can you know what situation I’m in?”
“Try talking about it.”
It was unbelievable. With that face and body of a child, she looked in no way of a similar age of mine, yet a warm, nostalgic aura in her was embracing me.
I was told to be strong and be Nayuki’s pillar. These demands constricted my heart, but upon meeting Ayu, I was soothed.
Gradually I started talking about it, about how I felt it too deep and too much a burden at first, but then was captivated by Nayuki, about how I knew Nayuki also waited and thought of me, about how our hearts once crossed. But because of Nayuki’s mother Akiko’s accident, Nayuki’s heart was broken by sorrow and rejected my support.
Ayu listened to what I said quietly.
“What should I do? I can not make miracles happen. Will a person like me make Nayuki feel better if I’m not at her side?”
Ayu slightly lifted her body and stroked my cheeks with her mitten. A warm mitten. My feeling rushed into me. I wanted to expel all of this sorrow and cry like a child.
“It will happen. A miracle will definitely happen.”
Ayu gave a light kiss on my forehead.
“Yuichi, you treasure Nayuki-chan more than anyone else, don’t you?”
“You want to help Nayuki-chan from the bottom of your heart, don’t you?”
“Then it’ll happen. If you really wish for it, if you wish for that simple, sincere wish for your important person, it definitely will be granted.”
If I really want to help Nayuki-chan…
If I really wish for it, I wouldn’t give up after being rejected a few times.
If I really wish for it, I should have trusted in Nayuki to the last moment.
Though I reckon I have a weird personality, I wanted to believe in Ayu right now.
I looked at Ayu with a feeling of being saved.
Snowflakes fluttered behind Ayu’s white wings, melted, and vanished.
The snowflakes flashed for an instant as they became waterdrops, the toy wings gleaming. In my eyes, they looked like real angel’s wings.
No, perhaps, Ayu was the one who looked like an angel.
“…because I’ve found what I looked for, so I might not come back again.”
Ayu stepped back from my side.
“I don’t know if I’ll see you again, Yuichi.”
Walking out to the snow from under the roof, Ayu’s presence faded like the snow.
“But I’ll never forget you, Yuichi.”
“…I’m leaving, Yuichi.”
Without saying goodbye, and never will, Ayu ran on the snow and vanished.
The last thing I saw on her was her usual energetic smile.
I called her in front of her room.
“Have you fallen asleep?”
She couldn’t be sleeping, but she gave no response.
I didn't care and continued, “I’m waiting for you.”
I planned and considered for this.
“I’ll be waiting at that place from now on for you, Nayuki. That place you’ve waited for me in that winter.”
It was at the bench in front of the station that I didn’t go to meet her.
With that said, I also put an alarm clock in front of the door.
“I’ll place the alarm clock I have long borrowed from you here. If you sleep now, you’ll wake up upon hearing its ringing sound.”
There was no response coming from the other side of the door.
“I’m off, Nayuki. I’ll be waiting for you.”
Having said what I needed, I left the house again.
Dusk arrived, the snow outside fiercer.
Even the residents who were used to the snow in this town had to open umbrellas on the streets.
I only wore a jacket and walked outside, letting snow to fall on my body.
In front of the station, white collars going back home and students in groups made the place busy and bustling with excitement. The neon lights on the buildings shone the snow fields, creating a beautiful scene. Beside the rotary, the bench that had no upper covering was covered with stacked snow, no one sitting on it.
I brushed off the snow with my hands and sat on the icy seat.
Speaking of which…
I was also here, a few weeks ago, in a similar weather, waiting for Nayuki.
I couldn’t even figure out why I had come to this town, only regretting for coming.
I had hoped I could leave this town again, as early as possible.
But after waiting for Nayuki for two hours, I found her in front of me, her hands holding a can of coffee as apology.
When I think about it now, I would ponder whether Nayuki did that to me as a revenge for what I did in that winter.
But Nayuki wouldn’t be the kind of person to scheme such a thing.
No matter how you look at it, she was…
Remembering her out of the blue speech, actions, and mode of behaviour, I laughed to myself.
Nayuki, on the other hand, had now shut her heart in despair.
It was winter too, but our situations were reversed.
The only thing I could do was what she did for me that day. Even if she would reject me, I could only bluntly allow my feelings for her to overcome myself and trust her.
Snow piled up on my head. Staying still, I only saw one stranger, a girl, coming to me and saying, “Is everything all right?”
“Okay, don’t worry. This is only a little punishment game.”
I smiled to the girl. “Don’t force yourself too much”, the girl said, and left subsequently.
The punishment game was only something said on the whim, but perhaps it was unusually the right answer.
What I had done to Nayuki couldn’t possibly be compensated by seven strawberry parfaits.
I wouldn’t say anything like staying strong, Nayuki.
Neither would I say work had and try to smile.
But I hope you could trust me.
That you could trust me that I treasure you, Nayuki.
If I really wished for a miracle to happen, then it would. That was what Nayuki said.
As such, I would wait for you in the same way, putting all my feelings for you for this miracle.
If I win, and you come, then a miracle will happen.
Pedestrians passing the station gradually decreased.
The bus with its destination lighted red came out from the rotary.
It was the last bus today.
The shops had long closed.
It was so cold my hands, legs, and nose became numb; still, I kept waiting.
At last, the last train had gone off, and the lights of the railway station turned off.
When I checked the time, it had already been the next day.
Has she not come yet?
I had thought that it would have been better if I had not come, and disappointment was natural.
In that winter, Nayuki must have had the same feeling.
When I closed my eyes, Nayuki’s childhood face appeared.
She was sitting on the bench alone, worried, looking at the falling snowflakes.
She waited many, many hours for me who didn’t come.
Probably she might have thought of just letting herself to freeze into an ice cube.
As this was I thought at this moment.
It’s called a miracle because it doesn’t happen.
I couldn’t really pull it off. I certainly had no privilege for Nayuki to believe in me.
At this moment…
“The snow…is piling up.”
All of an instant I thought I had returned to the dream I first had.
“Yuichi, the snow is piling up.”
It was reality. In the snow, the girl with snow covered on her body stood, panting.
The young girl’s long hair and clothes were covered with white snowflakes.
“You look cold.”
“You’re about the same.”
The young girl smiled, brushing snow off my hair with her finger.
On her face was a smile I hadn't seen for a long time.
With a smile on her face, water droplets in her eyes glowed.
“I still have no way to be strong~”
“…so,” Nayuki put her hands on my shoulder, looking at me lying dead on the bench, “Can I rely on you, Yuichi? Can you be my pillar?”
I maintained my posture and answered simply, “Sure.”
“Is it okay to believe in it?”
“I won’t delete it. I’ll keep it as evidence. Even so, can you do it? Can you promise me?”
“Yuichi, you’re just saying okay and yeah.”
“I promise you.”
If I could put it into words, I would say a lot to Nayuki to express my feeling. I wanted to hold her and respond to her with my body warmth.
But because of the overflowing emotions in me I couldn’t really connect them with language.
Also…also, it is embarrassing to say, but because my mouth was numb, my body cold, I couldn’t really move.
I regret a bit for working so hard to say what I wanted to, and I endeavoured to move my lips.
“If I break the promise, I’ll treat you a strawberry parfait at the hundred flower house!”
“No. I won’t forgive you even if it’s a strawberry parfait.”
How harsh. Then that meant I couldn’t break it.
Nayuki’s face closed in to me.
“This is the present for being late~”
Nayuki closed her eyes.
I closed my eyes as well.
“About my feelings…”
My numb lips were warmed by Nayuki’s lips.
“I had always…”
She could finally make it.
In my memories, that girl with braids who had a snow rabbit in her hand was smiling.
“..always loved you, Yuichi~”