Pygmalion Is Planting Seeds V1, Chapter 2
The school building stood, dyed by the evening light.
A heart at the point of breaking.
There was only a vague smile of bewilderment on her face after I confessed.
“Mamesaki., it makes me happy that you feel this way, but I never saw you in that kind of light.” As I heard her speak, I was finally aware that my love had fallen apart.
Those bittersweet twilight memories in the fall of my first high school year had happened before I even heard Isezaki and Misaki were going out.
15 minutes after passing three stations on the train, the townscape grew sparse.
Before the new city center was developed, this place was the heart of the town. Currently, not a single trace of it having been put to such a use, could be seen. The hustle of the upside of town that I left not too long ago, seemed like a distant world now.
Approaching my house, women, stinking from face powder and holding nylon tote bags in their hands, started to stand out here and there. They were going out for work it seemed. Wearing skinny jeans, while walking through the streets, their plump buts would sway in a lascivious manner.
Meanwhile, a drunk geezer, sitting on the stool folded in front of a liquor store, was loudly snoring. The amount of empty liquor bottles rolling around on the ground beside him, showed how much he drank. Seeing a comfortable figure of an old man drinking from daytime until the middle of the night, wasn’t that of a rare sight in this area after all.
My house was situated in the red-light district, or plainly speaking, the place where the obscene ambiance of prostitution flew around. Back in the day, it was a very prominent and prospering licensed red-light quarter in the country; a place that was even admired as the holy ground for lust seekers everywhere. Now however, it had became a spot where only vulgar, shameful women and filthy geezers reeking of alcohol roamed. A worn out district, left behind by the flow of time.
The windows of the erotic tea houses, joined along the street buildings, lined up dazzling lights throughout the road. Inside one of them with a half-opened door, I caught the sight of a well dressed up ‘flower’ kneeling down on the floor.
“This is the new girl who started yesterday. she may look quiet, but she’s pretty amazing once she undresses. How about 18,000 yen?!”
A middle-aged woman was standing next to her and bargaining with the new client, whereas that ‘flower’ did not speak.
The men who got possessed by the bewitching beauty of the girls inside, willingly opened up their wallets to pay up.
People who were seeking lust and obscenity, gather every night like summer insects swarming around a bug zapper. Those who seem to be at a loss and are going back and forth in the same alley, those who intimately exchange greetings with the old maids of the street, the night bargainers and the dead drunkards chased out from the stores. Various human relationships were unfolding in this district where the impure flowers were insatiably blooming profusely every single night.
Despite being accustomed to the street, the uncomfortable sense of stepping in the wrong place doesn’t cease to follow me around. A bit too stimulating of an atmosphere for the diligent youths of society.
Exiting the principal street, a short distance before the shopping arcade, silently stood an ancient geisha house. It was a building that remained with reconstruction, preserving its strong, indecent image. That was my house, or correctly speaking, Haruhito’s house.
Taking off my shoes in front of the door, a lively young looking person descended the stairs and came up to welcome me. “Hey, welcome back! You’re pretty late, aren’t ya?”
“I just dropped by somewhere on my way back. Nevertheless, you were quick to come back this time, Haruhito.”
“Dammit, that old man. At the moment when I was about to depart, he contacted me again. The company doesn’t provide me with the travel expenses here for god’s sake”
Haruhito worked as a freelance writer, so he quite often would leave the house for long periods of time to collect information. Not even four days ago, he left a message saying, ‘I’ll be away for three weeks’ and departed to Tokyo, but apparently, the information provider canceled the meeting at the last minute.
“I’ll be making dinner now, so wait for me in your room.”
In this house, Haruhito was assigned with the cooking duty. Being a freeloader, I felt bad about it, so I once tried making something instead, however, instantly after Haruhito ate a mouthful, his face turned green, and I’ve never stepped into the kitchen again.
Every time I eat the meal that Haruhito makes, I become relieved. After all, that Yurina woman he always hires when leaving for work, forget cooking, she doesn’t even know how to use a knife properly. It was the first time I saw someone washing rice using detergent.
[Admin’s note: Seriously? Detergent?]
Walking up the stairs, I entered my room.
There are four rooms in the corridor of the second floor. The wall between the first two was broken down and the room is now used as a workplace for Haruhito to set all of his documents in. The third room is Haruhito’s bedroom, with the last, innermost one being my own.
Previously, it was used as a temporary nest for prostitutes and clients to get ‘all well and harmonious’, which leaves off various awkward sensations, but when you didn’t think about that, the place starts to just feel like an old-fashioned wooden house.
I’m terribly tired today. Maybe it’s because I was nervous when I talked to Misaki.
Getting completely engulfed in drowsiness, I was quickly drawn to the land of sleep.
I saw a dream.
A dream that I’ve been repeatedly seeing since the day I graduated from middle school.
I was walking down a dark path, while my mother held my hand.
As if she forgot how to bend her neck, she was looking straight ahead the whole time, without turning her face to me.
I wanted to see my mother’s face and started turning round and round like a satellite, but for some mysterious reason, I couldn’t see it no matter from which angle I looked up from.
“Where are you going?” I would ask.
Looking as if she had been possessed by something, my mother didn’t answer my question.
With rushed steps, we continued to walk in the dark.
Those steps gradually got faster, making it harder for me to keep up with her.
I tried my best not to be left in this darkness alone.
With only that in mind, I chased after her back.
Suddenly, a ray of light appeared in front of the path.
My mother started sprinting at full speed.
“Wait, mom. Don’t go!”
I desperately reached out my hands towards the streak of light.
“Hey! Dinner is ready!”
I was drawn back to reality by Haruhito. My hand was now raised towards the ceiling, reaching out as if I could touch it… touch her.
Not even ten minutes had passed since I entered the room, and I had already been lost in a dream.
I opened the kitchen door to see the dinner arrangement already made. Placed in the center of the table was tonight’s main dish, a large plate of twice cooked pork, along with a spicy miso soup made from frying cabbage and meat in garlic oil. Haruhito’s special dish.
In the Mamesaki’s evening meals, meat is added to everything without exception, and the refrigerator always has a lump of it stored inside. I think we’re the only average family that stocks this amount of meat in their house.
‘It’s a human instinct from ancient times to fulfill their desire of eating meat.’
Or so Haruhito says.
“The ancient people ate it every time, and as a result, they acquired a more robust body than the one modern people have. The principal reason behind the fact that people shifted their eating habits from meat to focused diets was because of the increase in the price. It doesn’t have anything to do with their conditions. In that case, to obtain both a healthy body and mind, you need to eat meat whenever you get the opportunity”
He might be going on too much about it by using meat in every single meal he prepares, but I think he’s just worried about my health. My body was exceptionally small compared to most of the same age, not to mention the fact that I don’t have the least bit of manly sturdiness. Because of my childlike face, I was quite often interrogated by police officers whenever I was walking inside shopping centers.
Finishing dinner, I went back to my room.
I opened my reference book at the top of the desk, but Misaki’s face comes back to mind, because of that, I didn’t achieve any progress in my studies that night.
Misaki went missing.
I received this shocking information from a communication app one week after I last met her.
The sender was Isezaki.
According to my old classmates, they lost all contact with her three days ago.
Misaki’s parents work overseas, so they only go back home once a year. She even refused the housemaid they arranged for her, which makes her the only one living in the house. ‘My parents rarely get in touch with me, so I get the privilege to come back home whenever I feel like it’, she said that with a laugh, but who would think that her neglect and carelessness would ultimately backfire on her.
It seems that Isezaki was ignoring his university lectures to spend more time looking for her. His head was full of thoughts about Misaki the whole time to the point where everything else became irrelevant for him.
“If you know anything, no matter how trivial it is, please let me know!”
The bitter message he sent me made it clear that Isezaki was at the end of his wits.
Within the app’s chatroom, everyone was thinking about a way to find her, putting on the air of a detective or developing their own theory about the situation. They were all emotional about the fact that an old classmate went missing.
Gazing through the long series of conversations, a single idea sprouted in my head.
I want to find Misaki.
Assuming that she was dragged into a kidnapping incident, perhaps if I rescue her and bring her back safely, she will become my girlfriend, leaving Isezaki behind.
[Admin: Seriously? Lol. This guy.]
A faint delusion without any basis, that anybody would probably break out in laughter if they heard it. But for me, who still holds onto that burning unrequited love towards her, I can not help but think.
From the next day onwards, my simple daily life that was composed of nothing but going back and forth to the library, was now enhanced by the hard task of finding Misaki. I began ending my study sessions earlier than usual to walk around the town, seeking information. A self-satisfactory action I took for my own sake.
Of course, I do feel compassion toward Isezaki who’s doing his best searching for her as well, but on the other hand, deep inside my heart, he deserved it.
So, under this dark enthusiasm, I wasn’t able to find out any news about Misaki. It’s a reasonable result. There’s a limit on how much a penniless ronin, without any personal connections could investigate. In the first place, I don’t have the slightest idea of where she could go.
I also checked Isezaki’s state of progress every day, however, his impatience to find a single clue was sharply transmitted from the message letters. It seems that he wasn’t able to get in touch with her parents either.
A week passed since Misaki’s whereabouts were in the dark.
Isezaki’s eager investigation was still on-going. Same as him, I didn’t know when to give up and continued looking for her figure while roaming around the town, repeating the same days full of despair and weariness.
“Hm? Kuuya! It’s Kuuya!”
Ending my search in vain as usual, I was walking my way down the old street, illuminated by the small lights of the lampposts, when a young woman called out to me, her face stuffed with a lollipop in her mouth.
“What could a high school student be doing here in such a time? Wait, Kuuya is a high schooler? Ah right, you’re a middle schooler, I forgot”
“I told you that I already graduated from high school! How about you, Sary?”
“I was given a vacation yesterday, but I completely forgot about it and went back to work.”
Sary was smiling with a frivolous face like an innocent little girl.
Sary was a prostitute. Her looks were not bad, but she had a bad memory and would forgot about everything that was said to her after only walking a few steps. However, when it comes to remembering people’s names and faces, she was the best, to the point where she could memorize every single word her clients would say.
“By the way, Sary, did you ever see this person? She’s a former classmate of mine.”
I brought up the picture of graduation from my phone and showed it to Sary.
She tilted her head while looking at the frame and said “I dunno, never seen her~”.
Coming from Sary, I knew Misaki was nowhere around here.
“I’m sorry Kuuya, I’m not sure, but it seems I couldn’t be of any help to you. Want some candy?”
She took out the wet lollipop from her mouth and offered it to me. I gently refused.
[Admin: At least he’s not a pervert that you find in those other novels/manga]
“Thank you, but I’m fine. Don’t let it get you, everything is okay.”
“Is that so? I don’t know what’s going on but stay strong. Perhaps you want me to comfort you?”
The reverberation of the word “comfort” coming out from her mouth shook me. The word had a mature allure to it.
But again, I evaded her question with a vague answer and left. Turning around, I saw her standing figure waving her hand and sending me off. By now, she had probably forgotten the fact that I showed her Misaki’s picture entirely.
Sary quite obviously relaxed her guard around me, and it was not because we were friends, but because she was in love with me. I always pretend to not notice her feelings though. It’s not like I’m being faithful to Misaki or anything, but it’s just because I don’t feel like opening my heart to anyone except her.
A woman who has feelings towards me, and a woman who once rejected me in the past.
I wonder who’s warmth I should seek.
Another layer of weariness was appended to my already dead shoulders.
I came back home at the moment when Haruhito finished dinner preparations.
“You’ve been coming back quite late these days”
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to catch up to things, so I decided to stay in the library as long as possible”
I feigned tranquility and deceived Haruhito who was questioning me.
I was hiding from him the fact that I was looking for Misaki since I can see him scolding me saying something like, ‘someone who failed the entrance exams like you, doesn’t have the time to play the detective!’
Tonight’s dinner was fried meat and vegetables. A simple flavoring made up only of salt, but it went excellently well with rice.
“It’s fine to work hard n’ all but try not to stay out too late. You could end up having your skin peeled off by the skin-shin old maid you know.”
“What’s this skin-shin old maid?”
“It’s an urban legend popular among kids around here.The skin-shin old maid who appears in the night holding a knife and peels off the skin of children she catches.”
Since Haruhito’s job was often related to the true-stories and gossip magazines, he is pretty knowledgeable about stuff like this. Back in the day, he even got himself pulled into dangerous situations many times.
Nevertheless, an old woman who rips off raw skin?
It’s pretty disturbing, but too detailed to be true.
“Not sure where kids nowadays get these sorts of ideas to be honest.”
“Well, usually an urban legend always had a basis from where it generated. I remember the incident of the mouth ripping woman, the mysterious murder case that occurred near the city three years ago”
“The case where a child’s corpse was discovered in the mountains. It got featured in the media and became quite an uproar over here as well.”
Now that it was mentioned, something like that did indeed happen.
A five-year-old child admitted into an orphanage went missing when the nurse was distracted and was found dead a few days later, missing his right arm and having the skin of his back cruelly ripped off. That case caught the whole world’s interest, however, three years have passed since, and no news about the criminal getting arrested had been heard of yet.
“An urban legend is a derived work based on reality. By messing with the truth a little, sticking some decorations here and there, and giving it a backstory, it will turn into a successful modern fairy tale. So yeah, it’s not entirely made up. On the contrary, holding a substance of reality gives it a wicked sense. Especially those carrying a high self-consciousness and who often get under the wrong impression would be easily deceived by such talk. People like you”
Pft-ack-! Cabbage nearly came spewing out.
“Do I really look like someone who is often under the wrong impressions?”
“If you decide on something, you start stubbornly believing in it, and you won’t change your mind no matter what other people say. For better or for worse, you recklessly proceed in your own way. Even after hearing out someone else’s opinion and comprehending that you’re running in the wrong direction, you’re not gonna admit it, and you’ll continue running until you fall off a cliff. That’s dangerous you know, listen here…”
Before I realized it, the discussion turned into me getting lectured by Haruhito. Interrupting his words, I tried switching the conversation topic.
“By the way, what are the variations of urban legends?”
“Hm? What do you mean? Urban legends are the result of combining people’s interests and imaginations after all…”
I somehow managed to avert the where the conversation was going to.
“The motif could be different, but the story patterns are generally the same. The motif doesn’t matter if it could stir up your interest. Whether it could be about night taxis, unsolved murder cases, fast food, popular anime series, prohibited entry to some ruins of an old coal mine, or even the little girl who sells matches in winter.”
The little girl who sells matches!
After hearing Haruhito’s words, as if I was struck by thunder, a light bulb flickered inside of my head.
I found it! A clue that connects to Misaki’s whereabouts.
The little peddler girl in the street corners.
She was selling flowers instead of matches though.
It’s rather odd that I forgot about her existence until now.
They both know each other. By some chance, she could happen to know something about Misaki’s current location.
I swiftly finished eating my dinner…
“I’m going to borrow a reference book from a friend.”
and left the house behind along with Haruhito’s voice telling me, “you can just delay it until tomorrow!”, which I pretended not to hear.
Arriving at the shopping district, it was already 9:30 PM.
I continued wandering around the night town, praying not to be caught by a patrolling officer.
I knew that looking for her this way, was as hard as searching for a fallen seed in a sandy beach, but it was the only thing that I could do.
Making assumptions from the size of the store in my memories, it could not open in the principal streets with a regular footpath, so I focused on investigating large places and public parks since they hold enough space for a florist shop to set up.
Ever so often, the sky would groan with deep black rain clouds obscuring the stars and the moon. I remembered the weather forecast reporting that it will start raining in the middle of the night. My foot started hurting from the pain of walking. It’s not even definite whether she’s in this town or not, yet I couldn’t stop being restless about when I will be able to find her.
I didn’t spot the flower vendor’s stall that was silently hiding behind the alley, until 20 minutes before the date changed.
Without any customer to serve, the little girl was reading a book relying on the street light.
I rushed out toward the flower vendor girl, like a traveler who was delighted by finally stumbling upon an oasis.
“Oh, you’re the boy from that day. What’s with that tired expression, are you okay?”
“I was looking for you.”
Without giving myself a chance to arrange my breath, I instantly answered the little girl who was blankly looking at my face.
“The girl who was with you last time, Misaki, went missing for almost two weeks now. Nobody Can get in touch with her, and she didn’t leave a letter behind. Her boyfriend and I are eagerly looking for her, but we can’t grasp the smallest clue”
“And so, what does that have to do with me?”
“You’re an acquaintance with her, right? I thought you’d know something and was looking for you the whole time. Could you tell me if you happen to know anything about the matter?”
“That’s an unusual action to take for the sake of a friend. Why not just leave it to the police?”
“She lives alone separate from her parents, and her boyfriend refuses to ask the police. I know that acting alone won’t settle the matter, but thinking that maybe she was dragged into some incident, I can’t help but move around.”
“You’re quite enthusiastic, aren’t you? Is it really because of your friendship, I wonder”
Her teasing words pierced right through my chest.
I feel like she saw through my embroidered, innermost feelings for Misaki. I was at a loss for a response.
The little girl gazed at my face as if she found something of intriguing and gently stood up.
“Rain, it seems.”
A raindrop fell on my cheek as if it was conducted by the little girl’s words.
“I will be closing up the shop today, there were no customers either way.”
The little girl started loading an eight seater parked near the road with her flower pots.
Before the rain started regularly falling, she finished loading the car and with a slight jump, slid into the driver’s seat, as if it was nothing special.
“Come with me to the shop, I will explain everything once we get there”
The dark asphalt, which was dry only a few minutes ago, got polished by the falling rain.