This is Chapter 2 from Volume 2 of the Kanon light novel series.
The text is from Baka-tsuki.
“Kaori Misaka? Yeah. She’s my elder sister.”
Shiori’s overly prompt answer was unsettling.
“Um. Were your biological mothers different and you two didn't see each other after you were born? Or were one of you raised in a rich family while the other one in a poor family who managed by delivering newspapers?”
Shiori widened her eyes.
“You know too well, Yuichi-senpai.”
“So what’s the deal?!”
If we weren’t in a court stacked with snow, I would have thrown myself to a side and rolled on the ground.
“If it were true, though, it would be as fantastic as a soap opera.”
Shiori smiled and ate her ice cream.
Since our first meeting with her here, I had been coming to the court every lunch break.
We didn’t make any special promise, but she would also come every time. And even when I ask her whether she had something else she wanted to eat, she would just reply she wanted to eat ice cream.
I still worried over her ice-cream-fueled body, but succumbed to her unreasonable smile, I continued buying ice cream at the tuck shop for her.
Of course, my primary worry remained to be whether she should even go out with a cold.
“Yuichi-senpai, why don’t you eat ice cream today too?”
“The nasty frosty feeling invading from my mouth to my body and then assailing my heart is too much for me! Stop asking me to eat ice cream!”
I was indulged with such delightful conversations that I always lost the chance to tell her to stay at home to take care of her body.
The more I learn about Shiori, the more I feel that the initial impression of dreaminess and fear she made had transformed to a small girl who smiled adorably.
“By the way, about what I mentioned earlier.”
I said with caution because I found her eager to encourage me to eat ice cream.
“About my sister?”
Shiori seemed to be sending ice cream into her mouth with her wooden spoon, but she had nimbly been sending it to me.
“My sister and I are just normal sisters in a normal family.”
Shiori shook her spoon and ate the ice cream herself.
The way she spoke the word sister hinted a bit of playfulness.
With her natural tone, I couldn’t help but pursue, “Then why did Kaori tell me she didn’t have a sister.”
The smile on Shiori’s face disappeared.
It was too late to regret what I had said. Shiori said nothing, and ate two mouthfuls of ice cream. The joy we were in was lost.
What an idiot I was. How could I have been so unattentive?
I wanted to punch myself in the face.
Nevertheless, Shiori slowly faced me and showed her usual smile.
“Then it must be my mistake.”
“Yes. A person you know have the same name and surname as my sister.”
“My sister must be in another class.”
Could that be? Even if there were really someone else named ‘Kaori,’ it is uncommon to find the surname “Misaka’. For two people to have the same surname and name in the same school? Who’s joking?
“It seems otherwise, but I think I’ve probably got it wrong.”
I decided to refrain from asking.
If Shiori claimed so, let it be.
“…Yuichi-senpai, do you like the snow?”
Suddenly kneeling down, Shiori gathered the snow beside her feet with her hands.
“I hate it.”
“Because it’s cold.”
I could tell there were other reasons, but I couldn’t remember since they happen to fall in the empty gap of memories.
“I like snow very much.”
Shiori made a small snowball with the snow she gathered.
“Because they’re beautiful.”
She then rolled the snowball on the snow ground. Upon touching the icy snow, her white fingertips turned red.
The snowball gradually became larger, from a table tennis ball to a tennis ball, then to a soft ball.
“Yuichi-senpai, want to make a snowman?”
Shiori lifted her gaze from the snowball to me.
“Yes. Right now.”
“I don’t mind. But aren’t you born here? Didn’t you make a hell lot of snowmen when you’re small that you don’t want to make them again?”
This might be the case for me. Every winter I would pay a visit to this town, making snowmen and playing with Nayuki. We even competed to see who could make more snowmen, and brought those we like home that gave trouble to her mother Akiko.
I liked snow too, back then.
“I want to make a big snowman.”
Shiori looked up, as if checking her goal.
“Around 10 metres.”
“That’s out of the question!”
That’s a snow statue, not a snowman.
“We have a lot of resources for that.”
“Even so, it’s still out of the question.”
Shiori placed her index finger on her lips. It seemed this was her habit when she was thinking of something.
“Do you know this, Shiori? A snowman is basically composed of three balls. For it to be 10 metres long, the ball’s diameter would have to be at least 3 metres long. Even if we could make a three-metre snowball, how are we going to put it on a body with a height of seven metres? Do you understand why it’s out of the question now?”
“Yuichi-senpai, you’ve got a lot of spirit.”
“Even if I have the spirit, it’s out of the question!”
“I hate people who talk like that.”
“When I was small, I had always dreamt of making a big snowman.”
But as she continued, the edge of her mouth lifted up.
Feeling that the heavy mood had gone, I heaved a sigh.
Now I knew that I wanted to help her wish come true.
“I get you. Let’s a big snowman then.”
Shiori’s eyes flashed adorably. They were eyes that would waver your heart. A little flustered, I avoided from looking at her.
“But we can’t do it now. We need a lot of time and effort, so let’s spend an entire day outside when you’ve fully recovered.”
“I can’t promise you that it’ll be 10 metres.”
Shiori curled the lower part of her cape in circles with her fingertip.
At the same time, the bell for the end of the lunch break rang.
“Let’s call it a day, then.”
Shiori gave a bow, and turned away as usual.
Then an icy blowing wind coursed through the court.
In a panic, Shiori pressed down her flying skirt and cape.
“I didn’t see anything.”
Though extremely unfortunate, this was true.
“The wind is up. You should get home.”
Shiori walked as she turned away.
“Can you go home by yourself?”
“I’m not a child anymore. Of course I can.”
“Only children make snowmen.”
“I hate people who talk like that.”
Her grumpiness was confined only in her voice, for her face betrayed a smile. I found out that I felt good when she articulated the word hate.
Good, now ensues my journey of letting her hate me more. With that inner declaration, I raised my head, looking at the windows of the school building.
It was only a second, but I could swear I saw a long, curled, unmistakable hair.
I was looking at my classroom.
Had been Kaori been looking at us?
Fine snow began to fall, and hence I hurried my pace back to the classroom.
“You’re back, Yuichi.”
Nayuki greeted me with her usual slow tone.
It was weird for someone living with me to say ‘you’re back’ at school.
“Did you have your lunch outside?”
I didn’t want to spill all the beans and inform her of every detail about someone who wore their causal clothes to school every lunch.
“What could be so delicious to eat that you have to go outside and risk the cold?”
But Nayuki seemed she was more interested in what I ate than whom I met.
Her easy personality did save me some trouble, thankfully.
“It’s ice cream.”
I stunned her.
“Yeah. Oh, and I remember it’s the vanilla flavour.”
“I don’t think anyone would go outside in this weather to eat vanilla ice cream without any reason.”
“Yeah, you’ve got to have some reason behind.”
Kitagawa heard our conversation and chipped in.
Nayuki faced Kitagawa and said, “Well, probably he couldn’t wait for the weather to get warm.”
“Then that means he just likes ice cream.”
Even Kaori, who had arrived to her seat, came in.
“Does it matter? Everyone has their own likes and dislikes.”
Kaori came to a swift conclusion.
The afternoon session started, and our conversation ended without a clear resolution.
Back on my seat, I stole a glimpse at Kaori.
She spread her textbook and her notes on her table, as usual.
But I was certain something I said about Shiori bugged her.
I would just have to wait till after school to ask her again.
Sadly, before I even closed my textbook after the lesson, Kaori was gone from the classroom.
“She’s in a big panic.”
It seemed she scurried away.
“Her club’s very busy, I heard.”
I have to leave too, Nayuki said, stuffing her textbook into her bag slowly.
“Nayuki, you’re in the track team. So what club is Kaori in?”
“You want to know?”
Before Nayuki got to answer, Kitagawa nosed in again.
“No. Not really.”
“100 yen and I’ll tell you.”
“Do you want to spend 100 yen if you were me?”
“Ugh, my head hurts.”
Let it hurt, then, with that said, I left him alone and got out of the classroom.
Outside, the snow had been falling for some time.
On the following day, the entire court was white. The footprints Shiori and I left, as well as the small snowballs she and I made yesterday, were all covered by massive amounts of snow, leaving no trace.
“The usual, unspectacular court looks great too.”
Shiori glanced around the court, eating ice cream today as well.
I was wolfing down my sandwich while slurping my beverage.
Although I had something I wanted to tell her, my nervousness did not give way.
As such, I ate in an unintentional rush.
“This is a scene I want to capture and draw.”
Shiori formed a rectangle with her index fingers and her thumbs in front of herself. It was the usual gesture for photographers to set their frame.
“Shiori, do you draw still life?”
“…I like drawing.”
A faint red layer fell on her white cheeks.
“I haven’t been drawing lately, though.”
“What do you draw?”
“Sceneries. When my body was better back then, I used to take my sketchbook with me wherever I go. Then I also drew people…I mean portraits.”
“I see. Sounds quite formal.”
I imagined how she would look like, taking her sketchbook to a corner of the street, some natural scenery, landscape and whatnot.
With her weak demeanor, Shiori must have suited drawing really well.
“It’ll be great if I can have a look at your drawings.”
“It won’t. I’ll get embarrassed.”
Her face grew redder.
“I’m not good at it.”
“I don’t know any technical stuff as well.”
I wanted to see it only because she drew it.
“So…I can let you, but you mustn’t laugh.”
“Okay, I won’t.”
Even though she was all smiles, if she couldn’t bear the embarrassment, I must restrain myself from any crude act of teasing or laughing. Even if it happened to be beyond my apprehension, I would need to find any appreciable aspect to praise her.
Thus I made up my mind. Well, of course I didn’t tease or laugh at her when I really saw her drawings later on…
“By the way, Shiori.”
Having gobbled up my sandwich, I entered the main theme.
“School ends after the morning class tomorrow since it’s Saturday. So there’s no afternoon break, isn’t it?”
“I believe so.”
Shiori looked down in slight regret.
“So, if you don’t mind, and if your condition allows, shall we go somewhere outside school?”
“Do you mean a date?”
Shiori said, in an unusual high pitch.
“Well, if you want to say it’s a date…”
I could get embarrassed too with that word out of my mouth.
“Kind of. We’re usually in school anyway.”
I though of a lot, but I decided not to pursue in asking her relationship with Kaori. Since Kaori was escaping the problem, I might only be bothering Shiori with my thoughtless questions.
And more importantly, I enjoy the time I had with Shiori now.
“It’s a date, isn’t it?”
“Well, um, I can’t say it’s not.”
“I’m excited. A date in the weekends has always been my dream.”
With her repetition of the word date, I wanted to take off and hit home, but I exercised patience by forcing my feet into the snow.
“So let’s meet here after I finish tomorrow’s lessons.”
“So, for the meeting tomorrow, it’ll be nice if you can take a good rest today.”
“…I know. So, see you tomorrow.”
Shiori gave her usual bow and left.
I was overcome with the sophisticated feelings both of expectation to see her excited outside school and also how I should respond to her referral of this as a date.
A date meant I had to take her somewhere as a male. But I had just come here, and couldn’t quite remember things in the past, places I know where quickly exhaustible.
Was this a good idea?
And so the weekends arrived.
“Woah. There are so many people.”
Shiori expressed her novel awe at the wave of people in the shopping district.
“Sorry. Shiori, you must have come so many times you don’t want to anymore. But this is the only place I can think of.”
Shiori shook her head.
“I don’t go out usually, so the last time I’ve been here was when I was a child.”
“Yes. If this shopping district hasn’t changed, I remember there’s a shop I like around here.”
As if picking up her memories, Shiori walked around, and I followed behind.
“There. It’s that shop.”
At the corner of the shopping district, beside the arch door, there was a small shop selling kid stuff.
When I first came to the shopping district after coming to this town, I had also stopped in front of this shop.
In front of the door of the shop were a machine selling capsule toys and large bottles filled with nostalgic glass pebbles. It was a shop loaded with all kinds of stuff.
When I was small, I had also come to this shop.
“And right when I have almost got my hands on my memories, you crashed into me.”
I turned around.
The toy feathers shook behind the bag.
Shiori also turned to the voice.
“I’m Shiori. You’re Ayu-chan, am I correct?”
Shoiri greeted Ayu with a smile. Ayu said, “So you’re Shiori”, and returned a smile.
“So you’re with Yuichi-kun today?”
“Yes. We met several times at school later on, and today Yuichi-senpai is taking me out to play.”
“I see. You did say you were in the same school as Yuichi-kun.”
They were in the same school, sure, but Ayu didn’t even notice the odd situation of Shiori wearing causal clothes but Yuichi wearing a school uniform.
“You’re by yourself today, Ayu-chan?”
Shiori was a bit nervous, but Ayu was so friendly she seemed like an old friend.
“Yuichi-kun, are you two dating?”
“Does it look like that?”
Asking her back, I was troubled that Ayu’s question could make my heart jump.
“Then what does it look like?”
“Hm…like a close brother and sister, I say.”
“Is that so…”
Shiori looked deplorable, but then she immediately changed it into a smile.
“If you don’t mind, would you come and tag along?”
Hearing Shiori’s question, I almost couldn’t hold down thrown-off voice.
“Is it okay?”
Ayu exchanged glances with Shiori and me.
Was it really okay for Shiori?
She said it was a date, and she looked forward to it.
But Shiori only nodded, smiling. I could only follow suit.
The three of us went for a stroll at a CD shop.
I looked for the new albums of the genres I enjoyed, while Ayu and Shiori poking their heads behind me.
“Yuichi-senpai, you like to listen to this music. “
“Shiori, which ones do you like?”
“I can’t tell you.”
I asked her several times, but she wouldn’t tell, maintaining her smile.
“Yuichi-kun,” Then, Ayu whispered, “I saw Ayu holding onto something.”
“Which one? Is it really some love song?”
Ayu’s face tensed.
“I don’t know, but there were scary drawings on them.”
Well, the cover might be scary, but the contents could still be a love song.
I too tensed my face and nodded.
After a roundabout trip in the shop, we went to the arcade.
I was good at this stuff.
“What? You haven’t played video games before, Shiori?”
“And this is my first time going into an arcade.”
“I only know those machines that grab dolls.”
With that amount of knowledge, I wouldn’t impress them even if I show my adept gaming combat skills.
So I decided to play those common games for starters.
Air table tennis was one.
“This should be easy. Grab this oval object and hit the red flat ball. You lose if the ball falls into the hole in front you.”
“Ayu and Shiori. Try and play against each other.”
Sending the copper coins inside, I stood in the centre to view their battle.
“Let’s start over here. Go!”
Ayu swung her arm energetically, but the ball moved on the table like a snail.
“My heart is beating so fast…it’s coming…heh.”
Shiori countered it seriously, but the ball moved even slower.
“Ugu, it’s scary. Yo!”
“Ayu-chan. Let’s do this. Go!”
I couldn’t stand their conversation that disfigured the game’s beat.
“It’s my bad that I let you two battle. But, hey, Shiori, you should take off your cape when you’re playing. Ayu, won’t you put down your bag before you move?”
“I didn’t notice.”
I was so drained I couldn’t even make a sarcastic remark. And thus we went to the next gaming machine.
“You should know this, right? You only need to use this hammer to hit those moles shooting from those holes.”
I handed the plastic hammer to Shiori.
“I’m so nervous.”
“Good luck, Shiori.”
Ayu cheered her at a side.
Coins inserted and button pressed, the modified children’s song played and the game commenced.
Shiori’s eyes swam back and forth at the popping and shrinking moles, her hands tightly holding the hammer.
“I-I’m aware of that.”
At last, Shiori hit on a hole with nothing there.
“Your timing is wrong, Shiori.”
“It’s here, Shiori.”
“I know…it’s just…oh…wait…”
Shiori called for them with her might, yet the moles vanished within their holes with their laughing malice.
After two minutes…
Shiori put down the hammer sorrowfully.
The moles continued laughing for their victory, and the score was displayed.
“This is the first time I saw a score of zero.”
“I don’t have any sporty nerves after all.”
Shiori threw the cape over herself, a bit grumpy. She had moved for a while, yet no sweat was on her body.
“Well, that’s a kind of skill and achievement on its own.”
“I hate people who say things like that the most!”
“It still hurts me.”
“Yeah, it’s your bad, Yuichi-kun.”
Ayu stood at her side.
“By the way, the next one is you?”
When I decided to give Ayu the hammer, she raised her hand in rejection.
“I don’t want to play this.”
“Why? Isn’t this a good chance to challenge and reach a double score record?”
“Ugu…I’m fine with that.”
Ayu pointed at the doll-grabbing machine.”
“Okay, let’s play that, then.”
“I’m sorry, I have to go now.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Well, I just remembered that I have something I’m looking for.”
“Speaking of which, it’s evening now.”
With Shiori’s reminder, I looked at the clock at the service counter.
“Then we should leave too.”
It was about time we returned home.
“So, see you.”
Ayu parted ways with us at the small shop where we met.
I waved my hand to the Ayu who was about to run off, “Remember, even if you’re hungry, don’t eat and drink without paying.”
“Ugu…I’ve got into good terms with the taiyaki old man.”
Turning around for a short reply, Ayu ran off.
Shiori and I stood together, seeing those pair of dancing wings off.
The sun was reaching the horizon, long shadows casted on the streets.
“Ayu-chan looks healthy.”
“Because that’s the only good thing about her.”
“…I’m a bit envious.”
With her back facing the setting sun, Shiori looked at the moon crawling over the lower part of the sky.
“You’re going to become healthy soon, aren’t you?”
I stole a look at her face.
She threw a glance at me and smiled.
After a short walk, somewhere close to the exit of shopping district, we went down our own paths home.
“Today was enjoyable.”
I murmured almost in an inaudible voice.
“I hope next time it’ll only be you and me.”
Shiori looked embarrassed and surprised.
“But it’s not because I hate Ayu.”
The last drop of the setting sun fell on Shiori’s raised face, dying it with a beautiful colour.
“You didn’t want to call it a date, so I was worried whether it was boring to be with me.”
That was why she invited Ayu.
Again I felt that behind her thoughtless smile there were different sorts of feelings and emotions.
Following the natural course of action, I touched her face, feelings its coldness, feelings its softness.
“Let’s have a real date next time, Shiori.”