Warm Place Chapter 4


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A New Morning

“Hinata~! If you’ve finished tidying up over there, can you give me a hand over here~?”

Hinata. That’s my name, given to me by my second mother after I reincarnated.

“Okay, okay— just wait a bit.”

I put off organizing the reference books and walk towards the room where the voice came from. There, I see my mother buried in a large heap of clothes. Ouh, what is she doing?

“What are you doing, Mom?”
“I accidentally kicked away the cardboard box where we kept our clothes, and I ended up like this. Can you help me?”
“What can I do with you…”
“Hinata, you’re so kind~ That’s my girl~”
“Sure, sure. Just move aside.”

I gather up the clothes that are scattered about, then I fold them carefully before storing them in the dresser one by one. While I’m folding the summer clothes, I spot one T-shirt with a cute character illustration from an anime that I know. Although, I’ve never seen this shirt before.

“……Mom, is this yours?”
“Oh my. I had bought that for you, but it went missing before I could hand it over.”
“…Ah! Speaking of which, you told me you wanted a new clothes, right, Saki? I’ll give this one to you.”
“I don’t want that embarrassing shirt.”

I show the clothes to Saki, my younger sister, but she openly refuses it with a frown on her face.

“Then, should Mom wear it instead?”

“”Don’t.””

Mother has a catastrophic fashion sense. That’s why we buy our own clothes instead of asking her. There was a time when I asked her to buy me a shirt, and she picked an aloha shirt or something. Looking at Mother who is wearing a bright, seven-colored underwear makes me sigh in secret.

“Oh, right. Hinata, there was a phone call earlier. Apparently, your uniform will arrive tomorrow. Can you retrieve it yourself?”
“So, my uniform’s ready.”
“And Saki’s uniform, too, while you’re at it.”
“Roger.”

This spring, Saki will be sitting in her second year of middle school, while I will become a sparkling new first year high schooler. After various deliberations, I took the entrance examination to the high school where I had enrolled before.

Since I already have the knowledge to reach the university level, it doesn’t really matter which school I pick. But in the end, I decided on that school because it is close to home. I have mixed feelings about attending the same school again, but it is hard for me to give up on the charm of being able to sleep in until the last minute. Although, I didn’t think that I would have to attend school again all the way from the beginning. It somewhat feels as if I am repeating my grades.

“I’m gonna have a new school life when spring break is over, huh~ I think I feel a bit anxious.”

I don’t feel that way because I am going to attend as a new student. But unlike me, my sister will be there as a transfer student. It might be a bit difficult to join the already existing class groups.

“You’ll be fine, Saki! You’re cute, so you’re going to be super popular!”
“No way. I just wanna be normal.”
“Saki has always been popular with both boys and girls, after all. That’s my girl!”
“Okay, okay. Help me tidy up these clothes, Mom. And Saki, if you’re free…”
“Oops, I haven’t finished tidying up my things, so I’m gonna pass!”

Before I could finish talking, Saki returns to her own room.

“She got away.”

Sheesh, my sister sure is good at running away.

“Say, say, Hinata. Look, does it suit me? Do I look sexy?”
When I turn to look, I see Mother twisting and turning, wearing my middle school’s sailor uniform.

“Take. It. Off. Now!!”

“Eeeh~ I still look super sexy in it, right~?”
“How about you place your hand on your chest and recall your own age?!”
“37… yup, I think I still have more than enough to spare.”
“That’s surely more than enough to go way past the boundary.”

Mother jests, and I rebuke—tidying the place takes longer than I thought, but we’re finally done.

 

 

*

 

“Bfwoh!!”
“Kyaah! That’s so dirty!”

I woke up in the morning, and I found milk lying on the table. I was drinking it when I saw Mother… wearing the embarrassing shirt that I discovered yesterday. I ended up spouting the liquid in my mouth in reflex.

“Hinata, sheesh~ you’re spilling the white stuff on the floor.”
“Can you stop using such a weird phrasing the first thing in the morning?! And take off that shirt now! I’ll use it to wipe the floor with.”
“T-take it off, you say… Aren’t you so bold this morning…”
“Stop blushing! And stop taking off the lower part of your clothes! Why do you always take things to that direction?!”
“My, this is a bonding between mother and daughter, you know?”

She must be mistaking the word bonding with something else entirely! Oh Mother, instead of interacting as parent and child, I think you’ll end up building a forbidden relationship between us!

“Gee~ Both of you are so loud—”

Rubbing her eyes, my sister appears while looking displeased.

“”Sorry.””

“I’m hungry, I wanna eat breakfast already.”

She makes a loud clattering sound as she sits, then she taps on table with her index finger, showing her displeasure.

“It’ll be done soon. Wait just a bit, okay?”

Mother flusters as she returns to the kitchen, whilst I take a seat in front of Saki. I open up a newspaper lying on the table, and I roughly scan through the business column. I spot the word [recession] written several times in the newspaper. It makes me worry if I will be able to get a job in a few years to come. I hope the outlook will pick up a bit by then. Recession is bad.

“…Onee-chan, it’s rare for you to be up so early like this.”

I’m a real sleepyhead, so I am often late to school. On holidays, it is normal for me to stay in bed until past noon. She must be finding it strange for such an undisciplined elder sister like me to be awake so early in the morning.

“I couldn’t sleep well yesterday. I’m not used to sleeping in my new room yet.”
“Hmm~”
“I’m a delicate person, you see.”
“Keep your sleep talking for when you’re asleep.”
“Ah, you’re so cruel. Although I may not look like it, I’m actually a frail maiden who gets hurt easily….”
“Is that so? Anyway, gimme the newspaper, I wanna see the entertainment column.”

Saki has activated her ignore skill… I feel hurt.

“…Here you go.”

I close the newspaper that I spread open before passing it to Saki. Then she spreads it up on the big table. she is looking at the newspaper like she’s going to devour it. I take a look myself; there is a famous singer and an actress who are getting a divorce, written in big texts. As someone ignorant with fads, I don’t get it at all.

We are reading the newspaper together, and after a short while, Mother brings our breakfast. We stop reading the newspaper and start eating our meal. I nibble on the well-toasted bread that is spread with strawberry jam.

 

“Our neighbor came to say hello last night.”

Mother suddenly started a conversation, so I temporarily put the toast I am eating back to the plate, and I drink some milk.

“When? Anyway, what kind of person was it?”

We’re going to be knowing each other from now on, so I’m a little bit interested.

“It was a cute girl, Hinata, the same age as you. She was polite with her words, and she acted so elegantly. Mom was surprised.”
“So much that I wanted Onee-chan to learn from her. But it’s just impossible.”
“…Ah, I see. Saki was there, too.”
“I was free.”
“She’s living together with her mother. Although, her mother was away at work yesterday.”
“Hmm~”

The same age as me… huh. I nibble on the toast again, wondering about the girl next door from Mother’s story. Should I go there to say hello if I have the time today?

“It was a feast.”

I clap my hands together and announce that I have finished my meal. Then, I take the now empty tableware towards the kitchen. Facing Mother and my sister who are still eating their breakfast, I make a big yawn.

“Okay then, good night.”
“Haah?! Are you going to sleep again, Onee-chan?!”
“Wait a second, Hinata. Are you going to sleep again when you’re already awake? If you go to sleep right after you eat, you’re going to turn into a whale, you know.”

Isn’t it supposed to be a cow?

“I didn’t sleep much yesterday, so I’m sleepy. Fuaah, let me sleep till noon~”

To the two who look like they’ve given up on me, I swing my hand to and fro. I return to my room right away and I dive in my bed vigorously. Uuhm, the bed and pillow feel soft and fluffy.

“There we go.”

I change my position from lying face down to face up, and I dazedly look at the beautiful ceiling.

“Fuaah…”

Due to lack of sleep, and perhaps because yesterday’s fatigue from tidying up still remained, the sleepiness hits me soon enough. While feeling out of place from the unfamiliar smell of my new room, I slowly part with my consciousness.


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