After I fed Mei some peaches, the atmosphere became awkward so I told her the scope of today’s class and what she had to submit.
After talking for a while, Mei fell asleep again so I left the room.
「Excuse me, where should I put this plate?」
I called out to her mother who was cooking in the kitchen.
「Ah, just leave it there. Has Mei gone to bed?」
「Yes. So, I think it’s time for me to leave.」
I’m done with my business so I’d like to leave already. I think it’s too much for me to stay here since the clock is about to strike six. Yuna said her teacher asked her to do something so she can’t go home early. In short, I have to eat out before going home. However, around this time, I usually cook so I can’t calm down.
「Oh, you can stay here. I’m already cooking enough for Amane-kun to join us.」
「Ah, I apologize for that.」
「I thought you were going to join us for dinner, or do you have something to do?」
「No, I only thought it was already late so I’m thinking of eating out.」
「It’s settled then.」
I don’t know this fluffy feeling but, I can’t seem to refuse her forcefulness.
「Then, please let me help you. I cook every day so I think I can help.」
If I only waited for dinner, I had nothing to do so I decided to help. I washed my hands and came back to the kitchen.
「I’m planning to cook shogayaki so please chop and garnish this ginger. 」
I quickly cut the vegetables that were passed to me. Mei’s mother seems to be surprised at my dexterity. She asked me to garnish for her so I stood by the stove. I’m at someone else’s kitchen so I have to be careful to not pick up seasonings like I usually do. I also need to make sure that the seasonings match the tastes of Akari-chan and Takuya-kun.
「By the way, how much do you know about our family, Amane-kun? 」
When we were cooking side by side, I was suddenly asked by that.
「I heard from Iori-chan that it is somewhat complicated. 」
「Then, let me tell you the whole thing. I want Amane-kun to know it. 」
I don’t know why but for some reason, she decided to tell me the circumstances of the Hirose family. I’m only helping you cook. I had to stop since it seems like we can afford to take some time.
「To put it simply, it is our children who have complicated relationships. Looking at Mei’s perspective, her only full biological sibling is Iori.」
I said “I see” as I sighed.
I feel like it’s more complicated than I imagined.
「Takuya is not related to them by blood and Akari has a different father. As for why, I remarried 5 years ago. So, Takuya over there is my stepson and the child between my current husband and me is Akari. Mei is probably overwhelmed with the sudden arrival of her new father and younger brother, my pregnancy, and the change of her environment as she went to school. She started going out with some not-so-nice girls and even started dying her hair.」
“She used to have beautiful black hair like mine.” she continued.
A black-haired Mei, that’s something I would love to see. I thought about it while trying to escape reality.
「I see. But, why are you telling me this?」
「I think it was around the end of last year that Mei started to smile naturally again. Until then, she had only been helping me take care of the little kids. She also started to talk about school a lot.」
Doesn’t that only mean that her rebellious period ended? A wild thought popped into my head but I didn’t say anything and just continued listening.
「There’s always a certain boy in those stories and I’m sure he’s the one who brought Mei back. At least that’s what I think.」
End of last year? I was in a different class from Mei back then and we almost had no contact. But, why do I care?
「I thought that boy was Amane-kun.」
「I can’t explain. Just call it a mother’s intuition or maybe a woman’s intuition.」
I guess she rephrased it to give me something to think about. I mean, how can I not?
「Maa, I know you’re probably troubled after hearing that from me out of the blue but I wanted to say that I’m grateful to you.」
The atmosphere became awkward. As I continue what I’m doing, I hear voices asking “What’s for today’s dinner?”.
「Yeah, it’s oniichan!」
「My children seem to miss you. You’ve done enough here so can you help me take care of them?」
I wash my hands and return to the living room. Takuya-kun and Akari-chan pulled each of my hands as if they’re waiting for me. Iori-chan was also there and was solving problems at a low table in the living room. She sends her gaze to me as if saying she’s waiting for me too.
It looks like I still have a lot of things to do. I wonder if I have enough strength to deal with it.