Dragon Life - Chapter 60
The dream is contradicted by reality. The siblings and the fireworks festival.1
Translated by Ninish~
My name is written with the kanjis for Italy, Capital, and Fragance, like this 伊都香, and is pronounced as Itoka.2 As you heard it. It is not the pronunciation for the question: 'Is it a thread?' (ito ka?), though!
The origin is that when I was born, my father was making a fuss because, 'She has a white birthmark on her face!', but it seemed like it was a thread from a towel or the like, so then he went like, 'Nanda, ito ka?', which means 'What is it, is it a thread?' but it sounds like 'What is it, Itoka?', and this made mother laugh;so that's the reason.[^3] 'Wai-, don't give people names like that!', it's that kind of story. My younger brother too;it is said that as a baby he had some white spots on his face and they mistook them for birthmarks or something like that, but my father once again spouted, 'Nanda, satou ka?' which means, 'What is it, is it sugar?' but it sounds like, 'Nanda sa, Touka,' which means, 'What is it now, Touka?'. And so they named him 'Touka.' To repeat the same mistake as with me, serves them riiight! Giving him a girly name too, serves him riiight! By the way, I had been eating donuts sprinkled with sugar, and some of it had stuck to my mouth, so when I peered at my younger brother from above, it fell on his face. The cause was me!
Unexpectedly, it looks like our parents aren't troubled over choosing names for their children. Well, since at least they didn't choose kanjis that were cringeworthy or nerdy for the names, then I guess it's fine.[^4]. However, because of them, through my elementary school days my nickname was 'Spinning Wheel' (Ito-guruma). Why, you ask? Isn't it obvious that it was because our act for the sports festival was 'The Sleeping Beauty'? My luck when picking roles was bad and I drew the old lady of the spinning wheel;well, that is to say that I was the evil witch. 'Spi~nning Whee~l!' 'D'ya even have a spinning wheel at ho~me?!' It goes without saying that I kicked those boys flying away. I was glad that in middle school my nickname finally became 'Itoka-chan.' Yet along the way it became 'Ito-chan' and then 'Itoko-chan,' because apparently 'Itoka-chan' was hard to pronounce. 'Ito-chan' is nice but 'Itoko-chan'... ...Itoko sounds the same as 'cousin,' and I ain't no cousin of yours![^5] In middle school there were some 'chuuni' boys too, so they'd go 'Whose cousin are yooou, buhahaha!' but since I was a lady I endured it while gnashing my teeth.[^6]
My high school is in the neighborhood, and is a quite ordinary public school, so it has a sailor uniform. However, the summer uniform is unlike others and is of a blue so deep that it's almost black;because of this it's sweltering in the summer, and yet it is quite popular amongst the students. The skirt has a single line in it, which is quite unusual and only a handful of schools across the country have this design, but I think it is cute.
Ninish: Imagine something like this but with only 1 line in the skirt.
I'm not attending any clubs. Viva the go-home club! By going home you can play as much as you want.
I'm a Public Morals committee member. Why, you ask? It's because there were no volunteers so the teacher chose me of his own accord. Apparently it was because I wear my uniform exemplarily. It goes without saying that I felt like dying when I heard the reason.
I am spending such a daily life, but unfortunately it's the midde of summer vacation now. My daily routine is to wake up at noon and to stay up late every night. What I do within that time frame will be left to your imagination. Yesterday I definitely sulked in bed out of spite... ...Eh? Somehow my memories seem unclear. Well, I should have woken up at noon today too, but maybe the dream I was having was a bad one. I don't particularly feel like it was a bad dream, but I don't remember the contents anyway. I can't draw any conclusion on it.
’’Oh siblings of mine! Would you like to go to the summer festival with me!?!’’
My oldest brother hastily enters the living room from the entrance hall, without saying a word before proudly holding up a poster. It shows an illustration of spectacular fireworks with children frolicking about merrily.
’’Ah... ...Right, it was today. Just go on your own, Honoka-oniichan.’’
I turned around to look at it just once from where I was holding an ice cube in my mouth while watching TV with my legs crossed on the sofa, but that poster's pasted all around the neighborhood so I'm already tired of seeing it. Touka too is savouring some ice while keeping his eyes on a magazine, ignoring our brother completely. By the way the origin of my older brother's name goes without saying. His name is written as 仄圭, with the kanji for Faintly plus the one for Square Jewel, and read as Honoka. When he was a new born baby, my father spouted, 'He gives off a faint sweet smell' ('honoka ni amai nioi ga suru'), which sounded like he was saying, 'Honoka gives off a sweet smell,' and so my older brother was given quite the lovely name, just like Touka.[^7] Well it's obvious that he'd smell like that because babies smell of milk, duh.
’’Whaaaat! This kind of things are fun precisely because you go with a lot of people!’’
’’What 'lot of people,' there's only three of us.’’ (Itoka)
My parents are on vacation in Hawaii. How would it be fun, with just us siblings;moreover we'd have to be within a whole crowd of riajuus.[^8] I'd rather stay home lazing about, just like I like it.
’’You'll go with me, right Touka?!’’
Touka glanced up from his magazine at out brother for just a moment, but his face scrunched up as if to say, 'So bothersome.'
’’Oh, now that you mention that, Touka intended to go with his girlfriend, did he.’’
Unlike our elder brother who has declared to be completely free, I'm certain that Touka has a girlfriend whom he has dated for a month. I remember running into them once on my way back from school. Touka looks my way, sighs, and then he stares down at his magazine again.
’’She broke up with you, maybe?’’
’’Oh, no way. When was it? I saw you together last week, maybe you broke up recently? Oh my.’’
’’Please just shut up.’’
He's looking at the magazine with his back turned at me as if to say 'Please leave me alone', but I don't think that he actually has his mind in that fashion magazine filled with delicately smiling rich ladies. He said that he was going out with her because she confessed to him, but it looks like that was not the case.
’’Including this one, how many times has it been? That's why people call you playboy.’’
’’You're the only one who calls me that, and I ain't no playboy.’’
’’With your bleached hair, the piercings, the colored contacts and your destroyed uniform, which part of you doesn't look like a playboy? Please adhere to the school's regulations properly.’’
’’That's fashion! And they don't tell me anything about it, so it's fine. Besides, it's because you go around saying things like that that people call you 'a model student;' if you don't enjoy yourself more then you're just wasting your life away!’’
’’Please don't say stuff like 'rules are meant to be broken' like Oniichan does. The most important thing is to live without causing trouble. Moreover, even if you don't have the smarts, as long as your appearance is flawless the teachers will like you.’’
’’Wow that's scary.’’
What's scary about it. To live without causing trouble, that is the most important;moving forwards without meddling into troublesome matters and avoiding all unpleasant things. This is the so-called 'if I may say so myself,' but if you're not smart, in order to properly enter our society the most essential point is to enter the group of the 'good human beings'.
’’Good! We'll be going to the festival to heal Touka's broken heart!!’’
’’How does this have anything to do with that!’’
Apparently Oniichan still hasn't given up, as he's raising a poster of playing children in front of the television. Did he possibly take it from somewhere before coming here? That seems like it.
Oh, my interest for watching TV has been blown away. When I finish eating my ice cream, I throw the stick into the garbage bin and stand up from the sofa.
’’Come here, Hana, let's take a bath together.’’
I picked up Hana who was happily snuggling up to my legs and headed to the bathroom with her.
’’Wh-what?! That's outrageous, I'm so envious! Your Oniichan will go too...!’’
’’Niichan that's a crime. How old do you think you are.’’ (Touka)
’’Where is the crime! Where's the problem with taking a bath with your family members!’’
’’Well then, will you join me?’’
'Where's the fun in entering the bath with fellow men', our brother refuses with a serious expression.
And so things became like this.
’’Okay! What do you want to eat? Onii-chan will splurge today!’’
The jinpei-wearing Honoka-nii is now amidst the children, wearing a mask of a famous character on his head, and water balloons in both hands. Is this what a respectable adult should look like? Touka too, is wearing a jinpei of mismatched colors, with a fox mask that he was forced to wear by our older brother, and which unexpedtedly suits him. By the way, no one will have a fanservice scene of me wearing a yukata, because I'm wearing my usual hooded sweatshirt plus shorts. Sometimes I get mistaken for a man, but I'm used to it so I don't particularly mind. My chest is a precipitous cliff, my bad.
(A jinpei is traditional wear for men, common in summer festivals. It's like a japanese styled shirt + shorts)
Even so, this crowd is incredible. This fireworks festival once a year seems to be a magnificent event event in this area, and I'm surprised because even some regional cameras have come. It's a large-scale fireworks display which invited some famous talents and entertainers. I'd rather watch it from atop a roof while drinking some soda, however.
But if you treat me, I won't hold back.
’’Well then, I will have takoyaki and yakisoba, ikayaki and candied apples, issenyaki and some grilled corn. Oh, I want some umemochi too~’’
takoyaki (octopus meat balls) - yakisoba (fried buckwheat noodles)
ikayaki (grilled squid) - issenyaki (it has other names too. don't know what it is tho) - umemochi (plum mochi)
’’Eating is a source of happiness;it is my motto to eat without leaving behind any delicious thing. You have a problem with it?’’
Even if it is grotesque to the to the eye like a sea cucumber, or is smelly like a durian, or a human bein ...Eh?
...Wait a moment, me. Why are you considering humans as things to eat? Maybe because of the cannibal movie I saw the other day? Aah, that's scary. It's insane for humans to eat other humans. I'm left shivering.
’’Th-that's all right! Oniichan will buy it all so just wait for me! And once I have come back do call me Oniitan from now on! Hahahahahaha!’’[^9]
I wonder why his tension is so high. I can't keep up with him.
Staring at the back of our brother who run away like a villian spouting his parting words, we fell silent, and I ended up making eye contact with Touka.
’’What do we do now?’’ (Itoka)
’’Hm... Oh, should we scoop up a goldfish?’’
’’We can't keep one, because of Hana.’’
’’Someone once wrote, 'Do it for the sake of doing it.' Besides, didn't you like goldfish scooping?’’
’’That was when I was little.’’
Although we just went with the flow and ended up coming to the festival, since we came all the way here it'd be a waste to go home without watching fireworks. Anyhow, with the idea of, 'Since there's some time left before the fireworks start, let's kill some time', we started circling around the boots, but most of them are the customary ones that'd be popular with the kids, such as goldfish scooping, quoits and pingpong. While I'm wondering if there would be something fun to do, I casually shift my line of sight somewhere else and notice a store where gifts are arranged on a shelf. A simple table is set up in front of the prizes, on top of which is a toy gun.
’’Okay, how about target shooting?’’
When I point at it with a finger, Touka goes, ’’...Got it, just for the sake of doing it.’’
Although he seems dissatisfied, he's good at shooting practice despite his looks. I ask him to aim at the portable game console and he easily takes it down for me. Hm, despite being my younger brother he's quite good. Hm? Why a game console and not a stuffed toy? It's obviously because the price of the game console is higher. Sorry that I'm an opportunistic person.
Doing this and that, time goes by and it is almost time for the fireworks to be launched. As we wander around looking for a place to watch them, Touka extends his hand to me, passing me the thing he must have bought at some point without my notice.
’’Hey, Neechan, you like this, right?’’
What he hands over is a white, fluffy, and sweet confection that is rolled dozens of times around a stick. Nowadays it's often wrapped in a bag stamped with different characters, aiming to become a snack for children, but this one is completely bare.
’’Cotton candy? So nostalgic. Thanks.’’
I receive it and take a bite, and the sweetness of sugar unique to cheap confections spreads within my mouth and melts away in a blink of an eye. I remember that once, long ago, since I loved them a lot, I bought several of them and carefully brought them home;but when the next day came, they were damp and sticky and that ended up making me cry, huh.
But, somehow, ...I wonder why, but this, makes me feel a stir in my heart.
’’What're ya standing there in a daze for, didn't you like this?’’
I like it. I unconditionally love sweet things. Moreover I like more the old-fashioned sweets. But, what's this? I don't understand. But I know it. What do I know? Just something. That this looks quite similar, to something.
’’I don't know.’’
’’I think I 'm about to remember something, but remember something, but I don't know what it is.’’
It looks quite alike, but it's something different. I wonder what it is. It was at the tip of my tongue;this feeling of wanting to remember but not remembering is the worst.
The sun is setting, and the slightly cooler air felt pleasantly fresh on my skin. I feel like I'm having a cold seat, perhaps my summer cold has truly come back.
’’If it's something important, you'll remember it sooner or later, right?’’
Still, there is a part of me that can't agree with that.
Ah, I feel like I'm suffocating.
’’Good evening, Itoka-san. And Touka.’’
A calm voice calls calls our names from nearby. While holding the cotton candy in my mouth, I turn around to the sweet smile of a refreshing boy.
’’Naoki, am I Neechan's freebie product? We're even in the same class, you're such a heartless guy.’’
’’Sorry, sorry; I just didn't think that you'd attend an event like this.’’
Naoki smiles bitterly when Touka curses about 'Niichan dragging me here.' His face a little different from a Japanese person, as he is half Japanese and half French. He has black, short hair, but his blue irises are eye-catching. He's Touka's one and only best friend;they have been childhood friends since way back. But now's not the time to be describing Naoki.
’’Is your physical condition okay?’’
’’Yeah, considerably so.’’
Naoki's constitution is so weak you could attach a 'super' in front of 'weak'. He often visits the school's infirmary, and at the school festival he gets simple tasks like being a scene shifter. Even though it could be said that he became a refreshing person, to participate in an event like this where he could be easily exhausted by the crowd, even though he's fine at the moment, it makes me worried that he may collapse at some point.
’’Don't lie, your face looks sick.’’ (Touka)
’’...I can't help it. ...Actually, I'm on my way home from the hospital, but I saw Itoka-san and I tried coming over.’’
’’Don't push yourself, you have to go home and rest. I'll send you back, so let's go?’’ (Itoka)
’’But, the fireworks will start soon.’’
’’We can still watch the fireworks next year, but Naoki is more important.’’
When pulling Naoki's arm and going out to the sidewalk by following the path along the food stalls, everything becomes quiet like the enthusiasm of the crowd just now was all a lie.
’’Hey, just what is Niichan doing?’’
Rushing over from the back, Touka comes after us.
’’Let's just leave him behind to his own luck.’’
’’No way. I'll send Naoki back, Neechan, you go meet with Niichan and come back home together with him.’’
’’Why should I do that.’’
’’Just do it! It won't do you any bad!’’
’’Eehm, I'll be fine even if Touka doesn't-’’
’’I will send you back!’’
Hey younger brother, you don't want me to hold onto Naoki that much? Sorry that your Neechan hasn't known such a deep friendship's love. 'I geeet it,' I say, as I decide not to bother the two of them anymore. To watch a fireworks festival just with my older brother may be too lonesome for a girl of a marriable age, but well, maybe such a thing is good from time to time too.
As I'm seeing them off, I see Touka pushing Naoki as if he was in an ill mood.
Don't hit sick people, Touka!
In the end, I reunited with my older brother who came from the back with his arms full of souvenirs. We later returned by strolling at the roadside while watching the fireworks, and stuffing our cheeks full with the things he bought. Perhaps one day, these would become good summer memories for me.