This is Chapter 3 from Volume 2 of the Kanon light novel series.
The text is from Baka-tsuki.
Musical notes flowed into the court.
It was a slow yet articulated melody.
“It’s from the hall, I think.”
Shiori looked at the side building between the school buildings.
I also turned to that building.
I didn’t know the details, but a famous man built this classical hall, and it had been the only building remaining here after the re-installment of the new school buildings several years ago.
“Balls are being held there recently. They’re practising, I guess.”
“Oh, yeah. I saw tables and table clothes being moved inside. They should be materials for the ball.”
“Seems so. I don’t really have much interest in balls anyway.”
“Because you’re a transfer student, Yuichi-senpai.”
“I think it’ll be the same even if I’m not.”
The ball is free to join, but it’s a scheduled event in school. Nayuki told me before. Still, lofty words like balls felt far from me.
“I want to join the ball. My sister told me last year that it was great.”
“Did your sister join the ball herself?”
I continued, carefully avoiding from mentioning her sister’s name.
“No,” Shiori said, shaking her head.
“She only had a glimpse. The boys wear evening suits, and girls beautiful gowns. The chandelier on the ceiling twinkles. It’s like a dreamy world.”
Shiori said, indulgently, as if she saw it with her own eyes.
“So why don’t you join the ball?”
My question caught her back from her fantasies. She lowered her head in embarrassment.
“Evening gowns don’t suit me.”
Shiori fingered around her cape, looking down at her fingers.
Should I tell her that evening gowns do suit her?
But I could feel that Shiori could smell flat out my flattering intention.
“Well, maybe your height and breast size don’t quite fit an evening gown.”
I pretended to make a joke.
“Why do you have to state those things I’m sensitive of?”
Shiori moved her eyes to me.
“Do you mind?”
“…a little, yes.”
Shiori’s face reddened to the question. Her pale lips contracted; when it opened again, she would speak her usual phrase.
“I hate people who say things like that the most.”
Look, I said so.
“Yuichi-senpai, please don’t laugh!”
“Sorry. I now know you also have normal girly troubles.”
Shiori pushed a bit her small chest, which seemed to be the roots of her anxiety.
“Hey, you still have next year and the year after. Maybe you’ll grow taller, and your breast bigger. Then you can join the ball with good reason.”
“Yeah. Next year. Height aside, won’t it trouble you if a miracle doesn’t happen to your breasts?”
I thought she was still angry, but with a closer look, I saw she showed a face of looking someplace far away, a face she hadn’t shown for some time.
It was a face that depressed me.
I called to her again, placing my hand on her cape, for if I didn’t, I was afraid she would just vanish off to some place. It seemed I had forgotten this feeling I once had.
Nevertheless, Shiori just reverted to her usual smile.
The music had gradually left us.
“Lunch break is almost over.”
Shiori looked at the school hung in the centre of the south-wing school building. Usually, she would never look at the clock before the ending bell.
“…so, see you tomorrow.”
That was all I could say. After that, Shiori smiled, gave a bow, and left.
We didn’t promise every single day to meet the following day. Besides, I didn’t ask her about her sister, so she shouldn’t be bothered by this. Her smile, before she left me, was the same as ever.
Still, it disturbed me that she didn’t say ‘see you tomorrow’.
Tomorrow? You would come tomorrow, right, Shiori?
Facing her back, I wished my strong feelings would be sent to her.
The following day, listening to the melody from the hall, I spent my lunch break in the court by myself.
It was the cold. Her cold worsened because she went out every day. If I had disciplined myself to tell her to go home, things wouldn’t have taken this turn, I told myself.
There was something about her weird behaviour yesterday, but even if I recollect our conversations, I couldn’t find any problems within.
When the ending bell rang, I shivered in the penetrating cold, walking back from the court to the corridor. There I saw a girl I hadn’t seen before.
The ribbon on her uniform was green, so she was a junior.
I didn’t know what she was doing, since this corridor only leads to the court, and I decided to pass through her, having no interest in striking a conversation with her.
But the girl called for me instead.
“I have rubbed off the dirt before coming in.”
“I’m not a cleaning committee member.”
“So you’re a volunteer.”
The girl looked helpless, so I decided to wait silently for her to proceed.
She then gathered her thoughts and spoke, “…well, are you the person who always stay with Misaka-san in the court?”
“Misaka…you mean Shiori?”
“Sorry, I’m not sure of her name…I have only spoken once to her.”
“If you’re talking about the girl who wears casual clothes and stays with me, that’s Shiori.”
“Hey, could you possibly be a discipline committee member? Shiori has a reason for wearing casual clothes.”
“Why are you always trying to make me a committee member?”
The girl looked even more helpless now. I furrowed my brows and scratched my head.
“So, who are you?”
“I’m Misaka-san’s classmate.”
“If you’re her classmate, you should know well she’s on a sick leave because of a cold? She came to the court to do some recovery, I guess.”
The girl cocked her head, making a doubtful voice.
“Isn’t it a cold?”
Shiori did say it was a cold, or perhaps a common flu. But it didn’t really matter which it was.
“I don’t know the reason for Misaka-san’s absence…but…”
She must have been scared by being looked at by a senior, staring at the floor, loss for words. I tried to use a gentle tone.
“If you don’t mind, could you tell me what you know?”
“…all I know is that ever since Misaka-san came to the opening ceremony of the first semester, she hadn’t come to school any more.”
Determined that she had a cold, I was struck speechless.
“On the first day of school, the person who talked to me because I was too nervous to talk with anyone was Misaka-san. She was slim, and was pretty when she smiled. I thought it would be great if she could be my first friend.”
My heart was throbbing, noisy as hell.
I suppressed the premonitions surfacing my heart.
“Even the teacher remained silent about Misaka-san’s absence. But I was worried…later, when I saw her through the window by chance, I thought it was a dream. But when she came every time at the lunch break, I…”
“You want to ask what it’s all about? Shiori being with me and stuff.”
The girl nodded.
“Is she really having a cold?”
“That’s what she says.”
I couldn’t discomfort this gentle girl worried about Shiori. I assured her with a smile, “Anyway, Shiori looks energetic now. I’m sure she’ll be back to school soon.”
“…I guess so.”
“Thanks…though it might seem weird for me to say this, I’ll tell her next time I see her that she has a friend worried about her.”
The girl smiled covertly.
“Please tell her I’ll be waiting to meet her at the classroom.”
“I’ll be sure to do that.”
Giving a bow similar to Shiori’s, the girl ran off along the corridor.
Let alone running, I was not even in the mood to return to my classroom.
Alone, and suppressing those rushing premonitions, I was at the verge of being crushed.
With unsteady steps, I went to the tuck shop that was about to close and bought an ice cream.
After that, I went to the court and ate that myself.
It wasn’t nasty, but it was cold, and no one would have a single idea why someone would eat ice cream here.
But I couldn’t stand my inner tension if I didn’t.
When lessons were over…
“Is Kaori here?!”
“Woah. Why didn’t you come to the lessons just now, Yuichi?”
I was sorry for ignoring Nayuki, but I was too drained to answer her. I directly headed to Kaori and said, “What’s Shiori’s condition, actually?”
“…what do you mean? Who’s Shiori?”
Kaori said, tensed.
“She’s your younger sister. Why do you have to pretend you don’t know her?”
Driven by impulse, I clutched her wrists and pressed on. “Hey, what are you doing?” Kitagawa asked, while Nayuki said in a bit of fear, “Don’t be so loud, Yuichi.”
“Didn’t I tell you before I didn’t have a sister?”
Still, Kaori’s face was stiff.
I glared her, staying still; she didn’t move her eyes away from me either.
Nayuki pulled Kaori’s sleeves.
“It’s fine. Nayuki, you have club activities today, right? It’s time you go.”
Kaori smiled to Nayuki as usual, and also thought of something to tell to Kitagwa, “Don’t you have a part-time job today? You’ll be late if you don’t hurry.”
Nayuki and Kitagawa knew well that she wanted them to leave.
“Okay, I’ll go.”
“Please don’t fight.”
The two of them turned around and left the classroom.
Kaori and I were the only ones left in the classroom. Other classmates had already gone to their respective clubs or returned home.
The classroom was silent and still.
Kaori suddenly stood from her seat and looked down from the window. She was standing beside my seat, where I could look at Shiori’s usual position and the bench we sat on.
Maintaining a suitable distance from her, I looked through the windows like her.
There was no one at the court. Refraining from looking at me, Kaori said, “Even though I don’t have a sister…”
“…can I ask you something?”
Kaori’s tone was lifeless.
“Aizawa-kun, do you like that girl you call Shiori?”
Kaori still looked only at the court, as if there was someone she was looking for there.
I told her honestly.
“I believe that’s a yes.”
Perhaps it began from the day we first met. When I saw the petite girl with snow on her head, at a loss, it turned this interesting encounter into a heart-stirring instant.
When I saw her at the court, I thought it was a dream, for she was a dreamy, illusory young girl.
Eventually, this girl entered my heart as a formed body named Shiori.
Now, her single day’s absence had made me lost my usual cool, my heart wild and worried.
Kaori leaned on the glass with her forehead, her beautiful wavy hair fluttering on her shoulders.
“I don’t know Shiori think of me, though.”
“So I’m worried about her. Not only her condition, but also because she was sadly hated by her ‘loving sister’.”
Kaori’s shoulders twitched, but she still kept her eyes away from me.
“That’s all I want to say. It matters nothing to you if you don’t have a sister. I’m sorry for making you talk with me on something that has nothing to do with you.”
And thus I left the classroom, leaving her alone.
I spoke as though I had some great reason, but if Shiori still didn’t come to the court tomorrow, I wouldn’t know what to do after that.
The following day, the school was boisterous since the morning.
The usual desolate hall was now decorated beautifully and glamorously to make its occasional appearance remarkable. Many students walked by with heavy suitcases. Those must be the clothes they would be changing into for the afternoon ball.
Those that wouldn’t join the ball were excited to look forward to the half day off because of the activities.
“Forget it. If no one is listening, there is no reason to continue. Let’s end here.”
Sighing, the teacher closed the textbook. And thus we had free time to our disposal.
Everyone was engaged in time-killing conversations: “The student council would pull off a good ball this year”, “This is a good chance to look at well-dressed boys and girls,” and the like, while I was resting my chin on my hands sullenly.
“Yuichi, you’re not joining the ball, right?” Nayuki invited me to a conversation, “I’m not going either, and since I don’t have club activities today, why don’t we go to the shopping district together?”
I know a shop that sells delicious strawberry parfait, Nayuki said, smiling.
“What a pity.”
“Let me go with you, Nayuki.”
Kaori patted Nayuki’s shoulder.
“Kaori, aren’t you joining the ball?”
Kitagawa asked, holding a bag, seemingly prepared to change his clothes.
“Why am I going? Oh, you’re going, Kitagawa. Have fun.”
Kitagawa looked lonely.
Kaori said flatly at Nayuki to discourage her from worry, “Let those sullen people run off to places like the court and hide themselves.”
“Kaori, did you really not have a quarrel with Yuichi?”
“No, we didn’t.”
I answered in Kaori’s place and stood up. It was discomforting for both of us if I stayed this cheerful place.
As what Kaori had said, I decided to hide myself at the court.
I still didn’t see Shiori the day after that day.
Perhaps she would never come. If that was the case, I could still indulge in the short memories I had. With that in mind, I opened the steel door to the court.
“You’re late, Yuichi-senpai.”
For a moment I thought it was an illusion, but the girl at the corner of the court was looking at me with a smile. She hadn’t vanished.
I swallowed the trembling voice that would embarrass myself. On my way, I tripped several times on the snow before staggering and running to the young girl.
“I was absent for two days, so I don’t really have the right to reprimand someone for being late, I think.”
“What happened in these two days?”
“I didn’t feel really good.”
“Is it better now?”
“I haven’t fully recovered yet…”
But I came because I want to see you, Yuichi-senpai.
I imagined her reason for coming and let myself swim in joy.
Unfortunately, Shiori might have known Kaori was around, so she went through all the trouble to let me come here and see her.
Still, I would never know, and nothing was more important than seeing Shiori right now.
“The ball is about to start after all those preparations.”
Shiori looked at the hall, the origin of flowing musical notes in the court.
“Did you come for the ball, Shiori?”
“How could that be possible?” Shiori said, spreading her cape that had always been covering her.
“I can’t make it with this outfit.”
“Well, why don’t we find another place?”
I had planned to date her again.
Shiori replied immediately.
“…yeah, I want to date you.”
I answered, feeling myself blushing. On Shiori’s face was a smile like a small flower blooming.
“Let me bring you somewhere I know, Yuichi-senpai.”
What a miracle.
I thought, looking at Shiori’s small face.
When I couldn’t see her, days seem like years to me while I single-mindedly thought of her. When I could, that feeling would vanish, replaced by a feeling that I had been with her for a long time. Her real reason for absence, things about Kaori, and all other worries would vanish into the depths of my heart.
“Yuichi-senpai, do you still remember this place?”
Trees aligned on both sides of the shaded path.
“I remember Ayu escaped and came here to eat her stolen food.”
Shiori laughed at my bitter remark on Ayu.
“Then it’s where I first met you, right?”
It was here, Shiori said, gently putting her hand on a tree in the middle of the road.
“Yuichi-senpai, do you remember what happened then?”
“Most of it.”
I wasn’t sure of what I had been doing, but I could recall what happened to Shiori in every detail.
“I remember all of them. I remember everything you and Ayu-chan said.”
“You have a good memory.”
“Because they truly are precious memories.”
“They don’t span enough time to be called memories.”
“Memories have no relation to the length of time.”
The wind blew, Shiori’s hair fluttered.
“I think…it depends on how important that instant is to that person…and how significant it is…”
She said, hitting the crux of the matter, without even giving in much thought.
“Was it really that important?”
Ayu suddenly knocked on a roadside tree that made snow fall on Shiori’s head—I couldn’t understand how this had to do with her profound words.
“Because you and Ayu-chan were the real deal.”
“When I got back home that day, I couldn’t stop laughing.”
Shiori left the tree and continued walking.
I immediately followed behind. From my point of view, it was only teasing Ayu, but if it occurred precious to Shiori, let her think that way.
Shiori turned around and spread her arms, her cape fluttering like a small cloak.
“So there’s such a place around…”
This place was a wide park surrounded by trees.
Like a round coliseum, there were stairs leading to the lower middle area. It was a plaza with a large stone-made fountain, streaks of water flowing and dancing like mist.
White snow imprinted itself: on the branches, on the rocks of the fountain, and on the ground.
“This is the place I like the most. I found it while looking for places to draw still life.”
The scenery was certainly beautiful and illusory, suitable for drawing still life.
With light footsteps, Shiori ran down the stairs to the plaza.
I followed her slowly. When I had come to the plaza, I felt as if standing in the middle of a snow-carved stadium. There was, however, no audience.
“This is great. It’s like we have rent this place.”
“Because today’s not a holiday. We can even play baseball here.”
I gathered the snow on the ground, mashed it into a ball, and lightly threw it.
Looking at the parabolic arc it drew, I said, “We can also have a snowball fight.”
Shiori followed suit and made a snowball.
“Do you want to play?”
Shiori kept on making more snowballs.
“But we don’t have a special reason to do so here…”
She made more snowballs. Snowman and snowballs should be games you didn’t want to play any longer if you had born and raised in this town. Shiori, on the other hand, made those snowballs with gusto as if this were her first time. She didn’t even seem to care about her hands that had become red from the snow.
“Can’t we play?”
Well, there wasn’t anything against playing. She was pretty loaded anyway. Heaving a sigh reluctantly, I held one snowball.
“Okay, let’s have a snow fight until our hands fall off.”
“We have to make more snowballs.”
“Do we have to stuff rocks inside?”
“Please don’t smile while you say those horrifying words.”
That would just glue my eyes on her hands.
“Okay, so the number of snowballs is even.”
“Aren’t those snowballs all made by me?”
“The one who goes first wins. Here it comes!”
The snowball I threw hit her hand.
Cold snow threw through the side of my face.
“Hey, you aim the face…phhuu…impressive!”
When I opened my mouth to speak, I ate some snow, which excited me.
“Woah, Yuichi-senpai, using tow hands are terrible!”
“You can even maintain your speech while you hit back the snow I threw at you?”
A person scoring 0 in whack-a-mole would definitely fail to beat her.
“It’s just a coincidence.”
That she may say, but she was throwing snowballs at me as quick as professionals made sushi in a sushi-go-around. Showing off the reflexes I developed from martial arts games, I evaded her attacks and found chances to throw some back at her.
As a result, although our hands didn’t fall off, we had a great time in the snow fight, and we didn’t stop until we were so tired we couldn’t even raise our hands.
Worn off, I sat on the edge of the fountain.
“It's really tiring, eh?”
Shiori sat beside me, puffing white smoke. But there was no sweat on her.
I stretched my numb shoulders a little.
“But what the heck are we doing? Going to a park with no one around on a working afternoon, throwing snowballs at each other until our hands hurt.”
“Do you even have to ask?” Shiori adjusted her cape and said matter-of-factly. “We’re dating.”
“I see. We really are.”
It was a simple and good date so far.
Lifting her head, Shiori closed her eyes.
“The wind feels good.”
My body warmed from the snow fight, the winter wind felt good.
With her eyes shut, Shiori allowed the wind to embrace her.
Slowly, she opened her lips.
If I were to touch these lips, I may…
“Yuichi-senpai, are you hungry?”
“Yeah! I’m starving to death!”
As I cursed my stomach for giving such a clichéd response, I ranted.
“Speaking of which, we haven’t even eaten lunch yet.”
I nodded, with a bit of embarrassment.
“Because we came here directly after meeting at the court.”
“Sometimes people pull carts there and sell stuff.”
Shiori pointed to the direction from where we came.
“Will anyone still do business in this season? And it’s not even a holiday.”
“Perhaps, if we do a lot of good deeds every day.”
“…okay. The shopping district is too far anyway.”
I didn’t have much confidence in my usual route, but it was fine to have a stroll around the park.
We had a little walk. Shortly after, we saw a big umbrella: we lucked out.
“See, I do a lot of good deeds.”
Shiori turned around at me, smiling happily. Rather than ask her ‘Is it a good deed for a patient to run out?’ I instead flashed a smile back at her and took out my wallet.
The lady with her hair dyed gold really matched the style of selling roadside stuff.
Frankfurt sausages, fried noodles, and okonomiyaki.
Juice, cola, and ice cream.
“I want cola and fried noodles. What about you, Shiori?”
“I want ice cream.”
“But Frankfurt sausages look good.”
“I want vanilla-flavoured ice cream.”
“Oh wait, isn’t this okonomiyaki made Hiroshima-styled?”
“There are even eggs under its bottom.”
“I hate you the most, Yuichi-senpai…”
“Have both of you decided?”
The lady had been opening and closing the box for the ice cream, and almost adding cream to the okonomiyaki before restraining herself to do so. The eyes hidden behind her golden hair glared at us directly.
“Yes. We want cola, fried noodles, and ice cream please! Oh, and since it’s the winter we’re talking about, we are going to have vanilla ice cream for sure, hahaha.”
Trying to get away with a dry laugh, I paid swiftly and returned to the fountain with Shiori in a hurry.
The unexpected tension made me hungrier. Looking at Shiori who ate her seemingly delicious ice cream in this cold park, I quickly finished my high calorie fried noodles and cola.
“Here, have some vanilla ice cream for dessert.”
Shiori held a spoon of ice cream at me.
“No. I’ve had enough vanilla.”
“…I’ve eaten it. When you’re not around, I had them alone in the court.”
“Was it good?”
I shook my head, “It’s too cold when I eat it by myself.”
“Besides, I enjoy looking at you eat rather than eating it myself.”
“I don’t know whether I should continue eating after you say that.”
Shiori sucked on one end of the spoon, her head lowered, her face a bit red.
The water splashed in the fountain.
We had been here for a while, but this was the first time I heard this sound.
The wind blowing onto my body felt cold again.
The signs of evening came early in winter.
“The ball should be in its climax now.”
Shiori placed her hands in front of her chest, holding her cape.
“I think it’s more fun having a snow fight with you than dancing in a dressed-up ball.”
“Do you think balls are better?”
I moved my legs to get closer to her.
Shiori didn’t continue, but I wasn’t really aware.
She had finished her ice cream.
This short silence was soothing.
“Something sprang into my mind just now.”
Shiori lifted her head, as if suddenly remembering something.
“Isn’t the scene we are in now like those scenes we often see in soap operas?”
She spoke as if she was just a spectator.
“Do you enjoy soap operas, Shiori?”
“I actually watch all the soap operas that are aired.”
“Then, what scene is it like if it’s a soap opera?”
I pretended to adjust my sitting position and secretly get even closer to her.
I took the finger at her chin she used to think and moved it aside.
I moved my face to her. She then closed her eyes. I placed my hands on her shoulders. Those were small, shockingly weak shoulders.
A sweet fragrance of vanilla.
In front of the fountain, our lips softly came together.
“Is this too cliché?”
“Let’s see…” Shiori looked down as if she was going to bury her body into her cape, “I don’t hate cliché episodes.”
Touched, I wanted to hold her shoulders. But since she stood up suddenly, I lost the chance and so my hand could only swap thin air.
“Because…don’t we wish we could at least see a happy ending in a story?”
Shiori said, but to whom I didn’t know.
“Because these stories are the happy endings humans wish for,” Shiori turned around, smiling with a hint of loneliness, “They feel wonderful.”
“That was my first kiss.”
Shiori gently stroked her lips with her tender fingers.
“I’m happy it was you who took it, Yuichi-senpai.”
After that, when I returned home, the paradoxical feelings of ecstasy and anxiety crashed my heart, as if they were about to explode, which didn’t fade even late at night.
I kissed Shiori.
I was elated.
It was even more delighting to hear Shiori said she was happy.
But the lonely face she held after that was the face I could sometimes see, the face looking far away.
The more I stirred her true feelings, and the more I see her smile, the more I couldn’t stand the other face she had.
Don’t we wish we could at least see a happy ending in a story?
So what she meant was that happy endings only occur in stories? Then even the relationship she had with me…
I held my head. I was really going to explode after five seconds. Before that happened, Nayuki called me from the other side of the door.
“Are you free now, Yuichi?”
“There’s a phone call for you…from Kaori.”
Slowly, I lifted the face buried in the pillow.
“Are you going to pick it up?”
I was well aware of what was going to happen.
This phone call was the only switch to prevent myself from exploding.
Or perhaps, this switch could just straight off blow me into pieces.