Kano Runs Away
“Kuzuhara-san, what’s wrong?”
When I was called by the manager, I suddenly came to my senses.
This is not good. I am in the middle of work…!
It is currently lunch time in Sumiretei, a well-established Western restaurant. Although it is a period of time wherein everyone is busy moving around, I was looking absentmindedly at the sky.
“I’m sorry. It’s nothing.”
While looking at me with curiosity, the manager placed the finished omelet rice at the counter.
“It’s rare . . . for Kuzuharsan to s.p.a.ce out. Did something happen?”
“N-No! It’s really nothing! I’m going!”
Picking the plate of omelet rice, I left the counter with a fake smile. I’m sorry, Manager! Far from nothing, but it is a big deal!
Yes, that incident happened one week ago.
For some reason a person I just met suddenly proposed to me. It would be strange if I don’t get upset. Moreover, the other person is a handsome monk……
Really, I don’t know what I am going to do. After parting with Hazekura-san, each day passed with my mind blank, as if my soul had gone out of my body. I could not do anything for a couple of days, but as my head calmed down, the question gradually came to mind.
Hazekura-san said that he had no luck for marriage, but with how cool he is, no one will definitely let him go. There must have been a lot of marriage talks.
And yet, why did he propose to me whom he just met? That doesn’t make sense. It feels like I am being hoodwinked by fox. [T/N: A fox in a sheep’s clothing.]
Nonetheless, there are rare opportunities to meet the monk when the Bon festival is over, and if we do not meet, Hazekura-san will forget about me!
That’s what I thought, but Mother told me a shocking fact today.
『Ah, Kano. Next month is grandmother’s second death anniversary. I ea~rnestly asked Hazekura-san during the Bon festival. Katou-san’s back is probably better now, but he said he also wanted to help.』
The moment I heard that, it was as if, ‘thud!’, my head was beaten with a blunt weapon. I remembered the words Hazekura-san said when we parted.
―See you again . . . So he meant that……?!
As I thought of what kind of expression I should make when we meet, I soon felt depressed. When I heaved a sigh, the manager approached with an anxious expression.
“Are you really okay? If you are sick, why don’t you take a rest at the back?”
The manager is a gentle man in his mid-fifties. He kept the style of this store which began nearly twenty years ago. The manager and I had been working together for ten years ever since I was I was still a part-timer student.
“I am fine! I am just a little tired from all the things I did a few days ago.”
Not good, I should not let the manager worry like this.
“Then that’s good. If they knew that the cute shop girl Kuzuhara-san is dispirited, all the regulars who are looking for Kuzuhara-san will leave, you know?”
“Oh, no. Manager, you’re kidding me. We should not make that happen, shouldn’t we―”
“No, it’s only Kuzuhara-san who does not notice that’s why……”
Manager somehow sighed and smiled wryly.
Well, whether I am well-liked or not, it’s true that a lot of regulars often talk to me. However, developing a romantic relationship with them . . . Such a thing never happened.
But this time, I am experiencing something that is different from before. To be told by something like “becoming a wife”, it is the first time that has ever happened to me.
What a very frank question. It was like a blazing fastball. I am sorry for being slow.
Well, you see, he is a handsome guy, has a nice voice, a slender figure and is also tall. It would never feel unpleasant to become a wife of such a fine man. But when he asked me to marry him, I said no. I don’t know what kind of person he is and I cannot marry a person I just met.
Besides . . . he is a monk, right? To be honest, I have no knowledge about temples, Buddhism and monks. An image of a strict world is also imprinted in my mind. I’m sure it is impossible for me . . .
“……That’s right. I will refuse properly.”
I don’t know why Hazekura-san liked me, but I think it is better for him fully understand himself if he was to marry.
“Alright, let’s work……”
Lightly slapping my cheeks and setting aside my feelings, I resumed working.
And so, the day of my grandmother’s second death anniversary came.
Although I got too worried, I completely forgot about Hazekura-san for about a week or so. I remembered again today, and I suddenly felt tensed.
I will properly refuse if we meet――With that in mind, I left the house with my family.
The temple that takes care of the burial and other ceremonies of our departed family members is a big temple with a history. The main temple building that can be seen from the main gate looked splendid, and the statue of Buddha which is normally kept away from public view was placed there. Today was a holiday, so the visitors could view it.
We, who were dressed in mourning clothes, were ushered to the waiting room and drank tea as we await for the memorial service to begin.
“Sister, are you fidgeting?”
While my younger brother, Tasuku, was pouring tea on a cup, he sent me a look of suspicion. By the way, the tea is self-service.
I was stunned for a moment but I somehow managed to appear calm.
“I-I am not. It’s been a long time since I entered a temple so I’m kind of nervous.”
Hmm, Tasuku said as he reached for some snacks, but his facial expression still looked doubtful.
“You are acting strange ever since this morning, you know?”
“You’re just imagining things.”
Grrr, Tasuku. Why do you have to be perceptive right now……?
“The hair at your back has become unkempt. Fix it at the restroom.”
While tearing the snack’s wrapper, Tasuku pointed at my hair.
As I quickly walk through the hallway, my shoulder sprung up when I heard someone speak behind me.
I knew who it was right away. However, as if paralyzed, my body stiffened and I could not turn around.
“It’s been a while, Kano-san. Ever since that day, there was not a single day when I forgot about you, but . . . how about you?”
Hazekura-san asked me.
To meet at such a place is just……!! What should I do . . . Despite my determination to refuse him properly, I felt perplexed now that he is in front of me.
However, since I cannot escape now, I gingerly turned around. Hazekura-san, who was wearing his priest’s robes, was smiling sweetly.
Flinching at his dazzling smile, it was difficult to speak.
“It-It’s been a while…… Err, Hazekura-san, I . . . have something to tell you . . .”
“Are you looking for the restroom?”
Oh, that’s right. Ugh . . . Just when I have mustered the courage to broach the subject . . . I felt dejected when he spoiled my speech, but I remembered why I was here in the first place.
“Yes, I was thinking of fixing my hair a little……”
“Oh, then if that is the case, let me do it for you.”
Upon replying, Hazekura-san suddenly came behind me.
“No, it’s fine. I can do it myself.”
“The memorial service will start soon. Rather than redoing it, it would be faster if we fasten it with a pin.”
While saying so, his practiced hands touched my hair.
Ugh . . . What the hell!! My heart is pounding badly…….!
No, my agitation is not the issue here. If I don’t say it now, I may not have a chance later……!
I made up my mind and raised the subject again.
“Uhm, Hazekura-san, about what we have discussed the other day……”
“……I have a rough idea of what you are trying to say,” Hazekura-san quietly replied.
He pulled out the pin from my hair, rearranged it and inserted it again.
“I wonder if you are talking about ‘what we haven’t talked about the other day……’?”
“Please forgive me but I cannot accept that word.”
Despite saying that, his fingers were gently combing my hair. Feeling ticklish and flustered, my body somehow became hotter.
Trembling, I desperately asked him who looked calm. He then got closer, and a sweet, deep voice entered my ears.
“I want to marry you.”
I-I can feel his breath on my ears……!! This person is doing it on purpose, absolutely on purpose……!! I instantly touched my ears and managed to speak.
“L-like I said! I feel bothered when you suddenly say that.”
Insistently reacting due to agitation, I inadvertently closed my eyes tightly, not wanting to stay here any longer. Having been conscious of him behind me, my heart have never stopped pounding.
Ah, I can no longer stand this situation……!! When I looked behind me, my eyes landed on Hazekura-san who was gently smiling.
“……The memorial service will start soon. Please return to the waiting room.”
As soon as he said that, Hazekura-san left with a rustle of his clothes.
I-I thought my heart would burst from too much palpitation……!! I placed a hand on chest while taking few deep breaths.
I often get ruffled whenever I see him…… I was not able say what I wanted to tell him at all.
Somehow, I was able to calm my turbulent heart before returning to the waiting room, but upon seeing my face, they wondered, “Why is your face red?”
Ugh . . . I’m sorry, Grandmother. The sutra won’t enter my mind . . .
After that, the memorial service for her second death anniversary began, but aside from the chief priest Katou-san, Hazekura-san also showed up for the sutra chanting, so I was not able to quietly listen. Since Hazekura-san was facing another disciple, our eyes would not meet yet still . . . I could not bring myself to raise my face.
After sutra chanting, we visited the grave and held a memorial service at the grave tablet, we then moved to the temple hall to partake our meal. About 30 relatives arrived and each went to their designated seats.
Chief priest Katou-san who performed the memorial service sat at the head of the table near the altar. I looked around and felt relieved that Hazekura-san was not present.
Sometime after the meal started, I saw my parents and my uncle affably chatting with the chief priest.
Hah~ Looking closely at Uncle, isn’t he drunk? Whoa, whenever Uncle becomes drunk, he starts talking about unnecessary things…… While concerning myself about that, our eyes met by chance.
“That’s right, Kano, you still haven’t married?”
Ah, it’s here…… Whenever he touches alcohol, he would always say this……
“Uncle, stop asking about that every time you drink. In such a place……”
Feeling fed up, I lightly glared at Uncle. However, Uncle kept talking incessantly without paying attention to my objection.
“Why don’t I introduce you to some guy?”
“No, thank you.”
Father, who was casually listening to the conversation between Uncle and I, interjected at this point.
“Kano, you don’t want to get married?”
Don’t tell me that Father is going to participate . . .
“It’s not like that. It’s because I am satisfied with my life right now!”
“It’s true! You should worry about Tasuku more than me.”
Shifting the topic to my brother, I managed to overcome the situation. Apparently, Uncle wants to introduce young girls from his company, so whenever he’s under the influence of alcohol, it often leads to this conversation. I’m really sorry.
When the gathering was gradually coming to an end, I stood and nimbly went to the restroom.
―The vegan cuisine was delicious but somehow, I felt tired.
I want to go home now.
Wiping my hands with a handkerchief, I left the restroom when suddenly, Hazekura-san appeared before me. I was too surprised that I jumped back.
Why is he here―?!
“Thanks for your hard work today.”
Disregarding that I was staring at him in shock, Hazekura-san lifted his back from the wall and bowed courteously. He was not wearing his formal clothes but has changed instead into ordinary clothes.
“No, it is I who should say so. Thank you very much.”
Pretending to be calm as I also thank him, Hazekura-san gently smiled.
“Your brother also came. He looked very much like you.”
“Really? I do not quite understand it, though.”
“……Although you looked lovely in that light blue once piece dress you wore sometime ago, the mourning dress also suit you very well. With how you look right now, I want to take you to my room.”
“……Ha……?” [T/N: coughcoughcough]
At the still smiling Hazekura-san’s bold assertion, I blushed fierily again.
“Please stop saying strange things. Do you always tell such a thing to female parishioners, Hazekura-san?”
“Oh, are you vexed? It is my first time saying such a thing, and to you.”
I am really annoyed when Hazekura-san shrugged his shoulder a little. He’s lying……
“I wonder. You’ve dated several women before, right?”
This person must be certainly rich in experience, I thought as I tried to trick him into telling the truth.
See? He confessed quite easily.
“However, there is no woman who I wished to spend my life with. All this time, it was the women who approached me.”
What was that?! Aren’t you super popular!?! I involuntarily sighed.
“That’s why I’m all the more . . .”
“And so, it is my first time to charm a woman. To be honest, I do not understand well. Kano-san, what should I do to make you believe that I am serious?”
Even if he told me, I also do not know. Firmly keeping my mouth shut, I stayed silent. Hazekursan, who looked a little troubled, peered into me.
“Won’t you tell me anything?”
“I-I don’t know! Because it is my first time to be in this kind of situation.”
In response, Hazekura-san extended his hand, somewhat gesturing about something. He then fixed his gaze on me.
“If you would grant me permission . . .”
“Can I hug you?”
―Huh?! My eyes became as round as saucers when I heard his crazy request. But as soon as I realized his request, my body felt hot.
I shook my head, glaring at him. But Hazekura-san did not change his expression.
“A kiss then?”
I promptly answered without hesitation. At my reply, Hazekura-san’s shoulder trembled with laughter.
“You really are indomitable. I guess it is not easy to win your heart, Kano-san.”
Despite saying that, I can feel some complacency in his attitude. No matter how I refuse him with various reasons, I’m sure I’m going to be dragged into Hazekura-san’s pace. I can feel it . . . Ah, I want to escape. Can I go home now?
“Excuse me. I should return now.”
I turned away from Hazekura-san, but just as I turned on my heels to return to the banquet, my arm was suddenly grasped.
“Since you refused when I asked for permission, I had to somewhat resort to a forceful means.”
As he whispered to my ear, my body was wrapped in Hazekura-san’s embrace in a blink of an eye.
―Wh-What should I do?! I am being hugged……!
The moment I realized this situation, my body solidified like a stone.
“That day when I chanted sutras, I was lucky to be able to support you, but I remember you were thin.”
While whispering, his palm gently stroked my back. As if handling a fragile thing, I almost entrusted my body to him. But now, it is impossible.
“Re…… Please release me!”
I tried to twist myself to escape from his arms.
“Did you hear the sound of my heart?”
After asking that, he gently pressed my head against his chest. I forgot about resisting for a moment and listened to Mr. Hazekura-san’s heart.
…………Huh, isn’t it beating quite fast?
Unintentionally, I looked up at Hazekura-san, and my gaze collided with him.
“……Really, how pretty……”
“At this rate, if I make you mine……”
Hazekura-san managed to mutter while looking at me with an enchanting gaze. Hearing that, I stiffened again for a moment when I came to my senses.
“Wh-What are you talking about?!! Can a m-monk say such things?”
“Monks are also human beings. At least in our sect, love is not a taboo. Even my parents are also in a love marriage.”
What he said was certainly plausible and I could not retort. At that lapse, Hazekura-san hugged me more tightly.
―Isn’t this somehow dangerous?
I-I have to escape as soon as possible…..!
“P-Please let me go!”
Feeling the danger to my body, I put some strength in my arms and pushed Hazekura-san, but he is unyielding.
“Kano-san, will you seriously consider marrying me?”
“Please stop teasing me already.”
Such a handsome man who never had a hard time with women, I want to refuse him for disturbing my peaceful everyday life.
“I am serious.”
The moment I said that, Hazekura-san’s hold loosened. I took the opportunity and strongly pushed Hazekura-san with both hands.
“……Please, never show up in front of me again.”
Hazekura-san, who was surprised, was rendered speechless. I turned on my heel and returned to the banquet without looking back. I then snatched my bag.
“I am going to walk home.”
After declaring to my family, who stared at me in puzzlement when I came back with a menacing expression, I left the temple to escape.