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I was led to a twin bedroom suite filled with amenities. I wouldn’t have expected less from a hotel owned by the Kaburagi group.
Unfortunately the fridge had nothing except water and ice thanks to the nature of our visit. It really hit me that I wasn’t going to be eating for a while.
I decided to relax on the sofa for a bit with herbal tea. We were going to meet up with the others later for a walk in the park.
“Say, Okaasama, would Otousama not have been a better choice to bring to a fasting? I do believe that he needs it the most in our family.”
“Your father has work. And fasting would not make him skinnier.”
“More importantly, it seems that Kaburagi-sama is very fond of you, Reika-san,” she commented happily.
…I suppose it might have seemed that way to others.
“As expected of my daughter! You are so terribly cute after all. Of course she thought you were a match for Masaya-san!”
Whoa, whoa, stop that, Okaasama. You just made a leap across the Grand Canyon of logic.
After spending some time getting Okaasama back under control, we went and met up with the others.
The staff led us on a stroll through the huge garden, and the older ladies were apparently still talking about what happened earlier.
“Even Kaburagi-sama approves of Reika-san. Your daughter certainly has a different kind of quality to her.”
“My, ohoho! Ladies, please don’t flatter her so.”
Okaasama sounds arrogant even when she’s turning down praise. I could tell she was in a fantastic mood. As the women continued to pay my mother lip service, suddenly, I remembered that there was one other person here my age. I started feeling a bit bad for Akimi-san.
After that we all headed to the same room and had drinks for dinner. I was still completely hungry… Couldn’t we have at least had seconds? I wasn’t looking forward to repeating that on the next two days.
Next on the itinerary was a massage as the beauty salon. It was actually kind of focused on my midsection. A stomach massage? Uhyahyahyahyahya! It tickles! Gueh!
I woke up the next morning with a sad-looking stomach. Breakfast was in drinkable form again. I want to eat something solid…
There was a pool and gym available for us to use, but I could muster up the energy for a walk at best. How do you expect people to move without food…
As for Okaasama, after our lunchtime drinks she immediately headed back to our room to sleep. I guess she was basically giving up. In her place I went with the madams to do some yoga.
It was easy yoga; simple poses designed around a class to help us relax. I was so hungry though that my stomach kept making embarrassing gurgling sounds.
The housewives around me were happily chatting away. They sure had energy~ Where on earth were they getting that stamina from.
Actually they were so energetic that they started asking me questions like,
“Reika-san, do you have anybody you like?”
“Masaya-san from the Kaburagi family is in your school year, isn’t he?”
“What about Shuusuke-san from the Enjou family?”
“Has your Oniisama decided on a lady yet?”
They sure loved gossipping about the lovelives of the young…
Dinner was in drinkable form yet again. I was sick of this…
Sure, they changed the flavours each time but still…
Okaasama was whining on the phone to Otousama.
Since it was night time I had time to study from a textbook, but my empty stomach had completely removed the will to do a thing.
I decided to go for a walk to help my mood. Just as I stepped out, I came across Akimi-san.
Hidden behind her back was a bag from the hotel patisserie.
Just as I had decided to pretend that I didn’t see anything, Akimi-san hesitantly brought it forward.
“The drinks just wouldn’t fill me up…” she said with a self-depreciating smile.
“Yes, I understand. I certainly feel famished,” I smiled politely in return.
Ah, come on now. Don’t look like that. It’s not like we’re hospitalised or anything, so if you want to eat, just eat.
“Reika-san, could we chat a little?”
The two of us went for a walk in the garden.
The lighting had made it incredibly beautiful. The two of us made our way over to one of the benches and sat down.
“After meeting you, Reika-san, I’ve been thinking… I really am a cowardly waste of space, aren’t I.”
“Eh?! Not at all!”
On the contrary, I don’t think you’ll ever meet a bigger coward than me. The Japanese have a saying, you know? ‘A Three-Day Priest’; basically somebody who gives up at the drop of the hat. If I didn’t know any better I’d say they created that phrase just for me.
“The more they tell me that I can’t eat, the more and more I want to.”
“…I understand how you feel,” I nodded vigorously.
Why does my stomach always growl the moment I decide to diet?
“I’ve been fat since I was little. I’ve tried losing weight a few times, but I always give up… The name Akimi(refulgent beauty) is wasted on me.”
Whoa, whoa, you think the name Reika(resplendent flower) fits me any better? It means that I’m supposedly as lovely as a flower, you know? So lovely that all I do is eat all day, a lay-about tanuki pup who even got mistaken for a pregnant woman once.
So there’s really no need for you to smile so sadly with your bag of pastries, okay?
“It must be nice being you, Reika-san. You’re so beautiful. I often hear rumours about Takateru-sama taking his younger sister out. He must be so proud of you. I’m envious.”
“Umm, I am not quite sure what you mean…”
“…I have an older brother too. But he hates me because I’m fat and ugly, no doubt. Not once has he invited me anywhere.”
Uhhh, yeaah, I think that’s less Oniisama bringing me out, and more me tagging along, but…?
“Even Kaburagi-sama has her eye on you. You’re really so amazing, Reika-san. Your father, Chairman Kisshouin, brags about you everywhere too, you know? Gosh, it’s amazing how proud of you he is.”
What the heck are you doing, damned tanuki! Just wait ’til I get home!
“My father is too doting with me. Goodness, this is embarrassing. I must warn him the next time I see him. And I will have you know that I am simply fat in places that others cannot see. My midsection for instance. Something that I seem to have inherited from my father, unfortunately. My stomach is a veritable marshmallow at the moment.”
“A veritable marshmallow? Goodness, you do say hilarious things,” she laughed with a kind smile. She was definitely on the chubby side, but that just made her cuter and more relaxing to be around. Really, there wasn’t any reason for her to look down on herself so much. I suppose she kind of reminded me of Hanachirusato from the Tale of Genji?
I decided on cheering her up. That’s why I started telling her all kinds of stories where I was the butt of the joke. Stuff like,
“Actually, once while wearing my school uniform the hook on my skirt popped when I sat down,”
or “So the moment I put it on in the changing room I heard a rip, so I bought it and never wore it again,”
or “This one day I ate a whole cake by myself and was bedridden from the stomach ache.”
Akimi-san listened to me as she laughed, but I had an inkling that she thought I was just exaggerating.
Far from exaggerating, these stories were just the tip of the iceberg.
Unfortunately I still had plenty of embarrassing stories like “that time I was swinging from a rope and nearly stacked it,” or “that one time I crashed into the class rubbish bin,” and other such unmentionable tales.
Still, it looked like it worked a little. Akimi-san offered me a butter cookie in the shape of a leaf from her bag.
Butter cookie! I wanna eat! But I’m fasting right now! Why must you tempt me so!
Sensing my inner turmoil, Akimi-san smiled and told me,
“You know, it isn’t just me that’s sneaking out at night to eat, you know? Pretty much every single participant has been doing the same thing.”
“I think it might only be your mother and you that’s actually fasting properly. The hotel staff keep quiet even if they see you. If they didn’t, how would I have bought these?”
Okaasamaaaa, we’ve been deceiveeed!
I’d wondered how everyone else was so energetic.
“…And here I was, so hungry that all I could think about was food…”
“Huhu, then shall we eat?”
“No, I think I shall hold on for a little longer. It would feel somewhat frustrating otherwise.”
“I suppose it would for you, Reika-san. Do your best.”
Since the air was beginning to get a bit chilly, the two of us decided to return to our rooms. Just to keep appearances up, I lent her my scarf to hide the bag of pastries with. She thanked me with a smile.
Do you think we’ve gotten a little closer?
Our final meal consisted of rice congee. Haaah~ Yummy…
Next to me, Okaasama seemed to be in total bliss. I get how you feel. I really do.
“The fasting course is now complete,” announced the staff.
And with that, we all prepared to leave.
Time to go home. Please let me go home.
The two of us went through our goodbyes before climbing into the awaiting car. Akimi-san even waved me goodbye as I left.
Otousama and Oniisama were waiting with warm food prepared.
Obviously due to her weakened spirit, Okaasama was overcome with emotion and clung to Otousama in an embrace. Truly the Beauty and the Tanuki.
I tried the same thing with Oniisama as well, but when I did it he dodged. Why!