Chapter 32 – This is my world
“How long are you going to keep sleeping there! This idiot~!”
At the same time as hearing such shouting, my blanket was suddenly thrown off me.
“……Eh, eh, what?”
It was too sudden that my eyes became round from the sudden event, and the person who threw my blanket off was glaring at me.
“……Eh, m, mother……?”
“Mother? ……What’s the matter, you must be feeling bad. Are you still asleep?”
“……Eh, huh? ……G, good morning. Mom.”
I looked up at mom who was standing there imposingly. Her eyes were somewhat low-set and her face was a little round, seeming rather like a raccoon.
Then, “you’re a high school student already, act properly already and check your hair and clothes” and when I looked at myself in the full-length mirror that had been forcibly installed in my room, I saw an ordinary raccoon-like face that greatly resembled my mom’s.
What’s this? I felt like something was wrong. Was my face supposed to be like this…… No, it is indeed this face…… But, right now my face is more……
“What are you wasting time for! If you don’t hurry up, you’ll be late!”
Mom was being mad at me, and when I looked at the clock…… It was already cutting it really close. I jumped out of bed in a hurry, and started preparing for school.
I took off my pajamas and put on a sailor uniform, and I quickly splashed my face with some water to finish washing up.
Mom said “at least do something about your hair” like she always does, but, no matter how much I tried to straighten out my stubborn bedhead it wouldn’t fix itself at all, and I gave up.
Well, right now my hair is relatively smooth because Anne will properly take care of it for me every morning, but…… Huh? My hair right now? Anne will take care of it for me? Who’s Anne?
Once again, I really felt like something was wrong. Something’s off. Did I…… forget something really important?
Ah! It’s already this late! If I don’t really hurry up, it’ll be bad!
The suspicions I had disappeared in an instant when I saw what time it was. I don’t have any time anymore to be leisurely thinking about such things.
I hurried up and got to the living room as fast as I could, where my older brother who was a college student was having a relaxing breakfast. My other older brother who was already a company worker as well as my father seemed to be off to work already.
“G, good morning. No matter how old you get, it seems that you won’t wake up unless we take the blanket off you.”
As my brother said so with a wry smile on his face, mom quickly brought over a lunchbox for me.
I thanked her, and when I received the lunchbox, my stomach immediately went “growl~.”
There was a delicious breakfast lined up on the table before me, and my stomach felt quite empty, but there really wasn’t enough time for me to be eating.
I looked again at the table, in search of something that I could eat while on the move, but I found nothing.
Since there was no helping it, while getting on my bike, I rummaged through the refrigerator to look for something that seemed edible and stuffed it into my mouth.
With that goodbye, I headed for the entrance, and when I looked back mom had a startled look on her face for some reason. Behind her, my brother had exploded into laughter for some reason.
“Wait a minute, why are you guys being like that……”
Mom looked like she was about to say something, but I didn’t listen because there wasn’t any more time left. I left the house while riding on my favorite bike from middle school. My mom seemed to be running lightly after me, and I heard her shouting after me.
“At least have something like bread in your mouth!! Why is it a cucumber!!”
While pedaling my bike, I chewed on the cucumber that was serving as a substitute for my breakfast. It’s probably a cucumber straight from grandmother’s field, it’s so fresh and delicious, but there’s still a lack of flavor from eating it raw, I’m regretting a little that I didn’t get some miso as well.
While stuffing my mouth with the cucumber, and being barked at by all the dogs in the neighborhood, I somehow managed to reach school right when the bell was ringing to signify the start of homeroom.
I hurried up and got to the classroom, and it was a bit noisy still. It seems like the homeroom teacher’s not here yet.
“Just barely safe.”
As I said so, the teacher entered the door right behind me.
“Unfortunately, you’re out.”
The teacher standing on the platform was looking at me coldly.
Then – because I had broken a new record for number of times being late…… During lunch break, I was called over by my homeroom teacher, and had to listen to a lecture.
Lunch break was already half over when the lecture finally ended, while being depressed, just like that, I headed over to A-chan’s classroom.
She’s been my best friend since middle school, and is an otaku as well, but we were separated into different classes during our second year of high school, so visiting A-chan’s class during lunch break to talk about otaku things while having lunch has become our daily routine.
At seeing me appear so much later than usual, A-chan said –
“You were late again, and got called out by the teacher, really, when will you ever be able to get to school on time?”
It seems that she knew about me being late to school and getting called out by the teacher, and she had an amazed look on her face.
“I stayed up a little late last night, so I couldn’t get up in the morning.”
When I gave my excuse, A-chan’s face became even more amazed.
“Were you staying up all night playing games again? Please think about the proper use of time a little more.”
“……Mmm, I may have gotten a little too absorbed.”
After becoming a high school student, I had gotten completely addicted to the otome game genre ever since receiving one from A-chan. Whenever I would get my hands on a new game, I would completely forget the time in my passion for gaming.
“To the point where you stayed up all night again…… Did you get a little farther in ‘Fortune Lover?’”
“Fortune Lover” is an otome game that I bought recently for which I have been sacrificing my sleep time in order to desperately play it as much as I can.
“Mmm, I’m about to complete the self-important Prince Alan’s route.”
One of the capture targets in “Fortune Lover,” Alan is set as quite the self-important prince.
……But, even though he’s a bit arrogant…… He’s basically very nice, and he doesn’t feel as self-important as in the game settings.
……Huh? …As in the game, what? ……I wonder exactly what I’m thinking about. It’s almost as if I’ve met the actual game character……
“What’s the matter?”
I was suddenly interrupted while I was thinking by A-chan who was looking worriedly at me.
“Ah, mmm. Nothing’s the matter. Ah, I have to finish lunch quickly!”
Since I’ve already lost nearly half of my lunch break to the lecture, I’m going to have to eat as quickly as possible if I want to finish lunch at all. What’s more, my stomach’s so empty because my breakfast was only one cucumber. I opened up the lunchbox that mom prepared for me.
While finishing lunch, I had a fun time talking otaku things with A-chan like usual.
Waking up in the morning, going to school with one of mom’s lunchboxes, and happily chatting with my friends.
That’s my daily life. Even though it’s no different from usual – For some reason, I felt very nostalgic today, that I was missing something.
It would be good if these kinds of days would continue on forever. Why is it that I was thinking this way?
Then over the next few days, the otome game was proceeding smoothly. Right now I’m in the midst of capturing the evil sadistic Prince Jared.
But…… I wonder what it is. I keep feeling like something’s wrong. Especially whenever I’m playing “Fortune Lover,” the feeling gets stronger.
It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten something important…… I keep having this strange sensation. But even so…… No matter how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t remember anything.
And so, the days continued like this, until lunch break one day. I was eating lunch together with A-chan like usual.
“How’s your progress with ‘Fortune Lover?’”
“Right now, I’m in the midst of capturing the evil sadistic Prince Jared.”
When I answered her, for some reason, A-chan made a troubled face.
For some reason, A-chan feels a little different from usual today. I can’t pinpoint anything specific that seems off, but for some reason she felt more mature than usual today.
“How’s school, is it fun?”
“……Eh, ah…… Mmm.”
Once again, the question that A-chan asked, was a bit strange for some reason. I replied, and stared at A-chan who was different from usual for some reason.
That’s, A-chan’s face like it always is, the face that I’ve always seen since middle school…… Or it was supposed to be……
Involuntarily, I let out a sound of surprise.
What is this, for a moment, I saw a beautiful girl with white hair and red eyes instead of A-chan there.
Such a thing…… It’s so unbelievable that I rubbed my eyes over and over again, and I looked at my friend’s face again. Then, I saw the face that I had always seen.
I wonder what’s going on today…… Was it just my imagination……
Staring at my friend like this while frozen solid, a very mature smile appeared on A-chan’s face.
“I’m having a lot of fun. Having met you, and being able to spend time with you like this again. But…… This isn’t supposed to be your world.”
This isn’t my world? What on earth is A-chan talking about?
“You already have a world of your own. And, there’s a lot of people waiting for you there.”
“……A-chan…… Exactly what do you mean?”
At the confused me, A-chan gently smiled.
“Hey, listen, everyone is calling out for you.”
Right after A-chan said so, I suddenly heard voices.
“Katarina, please wake up! I can’t even think about a life without you anymore!”
“Wake up, nee-san! You promised that you’d always be with me forever!”
“Katarina-sama! Please wake up! I won’t be able to keep working hard if you’re not there!”
“Get up! How long are you planning to sleep there! You stupid girl!”
“……Katarina, open your eyes, please.”
“……I’m begging you. Katarina-sama, please open your eyes.”
There are all such nostalgic voices…… Voices that I had been hearing for forever.
As if some sort of fog was obstructing my memories, I had strongly felt like something was wrong. The fog that had kept blocking my memories was disappearing.
Nostalgic voices…… My stepbrother and friends…… All the people important to me…… Why is that I could have forgotten such important people to me.
The fog completely disappeared, and my memory became clear. And before I realized it, I remembered everything.
It’s just as A-chan said. With my slightly nagging but a very gentle family and my otaku best friend, and my favorite otome game, this world is very comfortable. However…… This isn’t my world anymore.
I have a new world now. A new family and friends…… There’s so many people important to me in the new world as well.
And, everyone is waiting for me there.
“I have to return to my world now. There’s a lot of people important to me waiting for me there” is what I strongly thought. Then, I heard some sort of strange popping sound in the classroom.
When I looked around me in surprise, without realizing it, all the other classmates that should have been there had disappeared.
There was only me and A-chan in the classroom. The floor was beginning to crumble and fall apart. Then, I saw a bright light in its place.
Ahh, I understand now that if I jump down here I’ll be able to return to my original world.
“Ah, that’s right! A-chan! When I return to my world I have to go help Maria! Since it’s A-chan, do you happen to know where Maria is? Tell me!”
Since she’s beaten the entire game, she should know everything.
“I know. Maria’s inside the school still. There’s a hidden room in the school. It’s -”
A-chan told me the location in detail. As she was telling me so, the floor was falling apart more and more, and I was going to be sucked into the light.
There’s no more time…… If only I had remembered sooner, there’s still so much more that I wanted to talk about.
“Ahh, one more thing. Why did the student council president……”
Why did he look so pained and about to cry that time when I asked him that question. Finally, the floor around my feet was beginning to crumble as well. Along with the crumbling floor, I was about to be sucked into the light.
A-chan was looking at me with very gentle eyes.
“Since it’s you, everything will definitely be alright. Just like how you saved us, you’ll save the president as well. His real name is -”
“Eh? Saving? Real name?”
Being confused at hearing things I didn’t understand, I asked her back, but my body had already been sucked into the light.
I could barely see A-chan’s face anymore. This must be my farewell with A-chan. My best friend that’s always been with me since middle school. It’s all thanks to her that I was able to become a high school student without a problem. She’s helped me so, so, much. And yet…… Because of the sudden accident – I wasn’t even able to tell her farewell or thank you. This is my last chance.
“A, A-chan. I’m really happy to have met you again after so long! Farewell, and thank you for everything up to now!”
I shouted at A-chan who I couldn’t see anymore with all my might, I wonder if it reached her.
“I’m also really happy. Right now, I’m by your side again as Sophia. Farewell, and thank you, my important best friend.”
A-chan’s last words didn’t reach me.
When I opened my eyes, I saw Sophia crying a river of tears before me.
And, behind her, Jared, Keith, Mary, Alan, and Nico were there as well. The people most important to me. Ahh, I’ve returned to my world.
Sophia hugged me when I woke up, and cried even harder. Mary who was always so calm was completely in tears as well, and also hugged me. Everyone else was looking at me with relieved expressions.
I understood very well how worried everyone had been about me.
This is my world. This world with all the people important to me. That’s why – I want to protect this world and these people.
I definitely won’t allow you to make such a terrible bad end!