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――He slid his arms through the dress shirt’s perfectly ironed sleeves, and inserted his legs into the neatly folded trousers. Tightening his belt in front of the mirror, after an epic struggle he managed to tie up the dark green necktie. Then, putting on the navy blue blazer,
[Subaru: Student ・ Natsuki Subaru, complete…… It must have been about three months now]
Confirming in front of the mirror that his transformation was complete, Subaru exhaled a deep breath as if having finished a big task.
The reflection in the mirror, was of a school uniform that hadn’t been worn in a very long time. Being a blazer-styled uniform, it was a pain to have to tie the necktie every morning, as even to be stripped of a minute of precious sleeping time was extremely annoying.
Even after tying it every day for two years, it still hadn’t gotten better at all, and the knot still looked just as dopey. At the same time, there was a complicated feeling at the thought of this being his last chance to do it.
[Subaru: Should I try to get it perfect since it’s the last time, or should I do it like I always did it?]
Even while mumbling this, the answer already appeared in his heart.
Lightly flicking the swollen bulge of his necktie, leaving the awkward knot intact, Subaru turned away from the mirror. And, looking around the room, he picked up his backpack.
No matter how you look at it, it was the image of a model student ready to go to school.
[Subaru: Too bad it’s way past home-room, it’s already time for the third period to start. Leaving the house after the sun’s already finished rising, what kind of crap model student does that]
Scratching his head while smiling wryly, Subaru did a stretch on the spot, and headed out of the room―― but just before leaving, he turned around to take another good look at his old room.
In all his life, Subaru had never moved houses, so this had been the only place he could have called “My Room”. From the time he entered middle school, for almost six years, he had been sleeping and waking inside this room. ――This would be last time he would see this place.
Without a word, Subaru quietly lowered his head.
Into that one gesture alone, was instilled the memories of all those six years.
With a long, long bow, he finished his farewell, and then, enthusiastically lifting up his face, Subaru turned his back to his room. With the sound of the door closing behind him, he made his way down the stairs, to find Naoko waiting in the living room, with her sharp eyes opened wide with surprise,
[Mom: Oh my. When you asked for the uniform, I thought you were going to burn it. I made all sorts of preparations too……now it’s all wasted]
[Subaru: When your son asked for his uniform the first thing you thought of was pyromania? And while we’re on this topic, are those taros and skewered hot dogs you prepared assuming there was going to be a fire……?]
Seeing a whole array of ingredients lined up on the table, Subaru was at a loss for words at his mother’s happy-go-lucky reaction that defied all expectations. On the other hand, Naoko seemed completely unconcerned about Subaru’s twitching face as she looked over his change of clothes from head to toe.
[Mom: Eun eun, looks good. They make you look like an adult, and kind of cancels out the eyes, and make you look toned-down a bit]
[Subaru: Mom you’re currently robbing me of that tone-down as we speak!]
[Mom: Why are you so touchy? Want to lick some mayonnaise to calm down?]
[Subaru: I’m not really in the mood right now……]
The bottle of mayonnaise she held out――had a giant “S” written on the cap indicating it as Subaru’s personal mayonnaise. Only, Naoko seemed to have expected that reply from Subaru, and simply nodded,
[Mom: But Subaru, you don’t seem to actually like mayonnaise very much]
[Mom: It’s because you love dad and mom, that you lick it together with us, isn’t it]
Putting the mayonnaise with the Subaru-seal down on the table, spinning it round and round, Naoko said these words. And on the receiving end, Subaru’s throat clogged up. Shocked, his lips trembled and his breathing stopped,
[Subaru: Wh, what gave you tha……]
[Mom: Then, Subaru, the world or mayonnaise, which do you choose?]
[Subaru: Um, the world……]
[Mom: You see?]
[Subaru: What kind of example is that!! Why do you have a triumphant look on your face! A guy who would choose mayonnaise over the world doesn’t love mayonnaise, he just hates the world!]
Protesting against Naoko’s considerably off-beat remark, Subaru breathed heavily while scowling at the bottle of mayonnaise on the table. Then, with a small snort,
[Subaru: ……For how long, have you been thinking that]
[Mom: Since a long time ago. Dad and mom will always get depressed without mayonnaise, like the world is coming to an end, but Subaru isn’t like that]
[Subaru: The hurdle you expect of me is way too high, it’s throwing me into despair, you know]
Subaru deflated at his mother’s words. But his heart was not calm.
Subaru’s status as a Mayo-lover was not in question. Without fail, whenever condiments are concerned, he would never leave out mayonnaise. He’d naturally dip all deep fried foods in mayonnaise. His devotion was to the point of rubbing mayonnaise on already mayonnaise-flavored snacks.
But why, had he always been so attached to mayonnaise――
[Subaru: It looked like you two were really enjoying it, so I wanted to enjoy it the same way too. Now that I think about it, I’m a Father-con and Mother-con, a total Fami-con……](*Famicom is another name for the NES game console -tc)
[Mom: Without the SUPA in front?]
[Subaru: SUPER・FAMILY COMPLEX, aka, SUPA-FAMI… ugh nevermind] (*SNES :3 -tc)
In the middle of this completely pointless exchange, Subaru gave his head a shake and sighed. Then, slowly lifting up the mayonnaise bottle from the table,
[Subaru: ――Pffhhuaa. Uuuummu, so-good! After going so long without genuine mayonnaise, there’s just nothing like it! The improvised mayonnaise on the other side is pretty good too, but the unhealthy store-bought kind with the artificial-colorings are the real deals!! The ones over there are just mayo-neese](*It’s a mayo-lover jargon I think. Mayo-lovers are real, google “マヨラー” -tc)
Squeezing the almost-full bottle flat, he swallowed all the mayonnaise in one gulp. Savoring its sourness passing over his tongue, he let the burning sensation run down his throat and chest.
This, is the true MAYO-NAZING that mayo-addicts can never stop loving.
Using the back of his hand to wipe off a white stain left on the corner of his mouth, Subaru lifted up his head in front of the surprised Naoko.
[Subaru: I may not love mayonnaise as much as you two, but I am nonetheless a true and fervent disciple of mayonnaise-love. I swear it, on the bottle caps of all the mayonnaise I have licked to this day]
On a side note, the bottle caps of every mayonnaise Subaru had personally consumed in his lifetime were being stored away inside the closet of his room. The collection had since swelled to an uncanny number of 776. With the addition of the one just now, that number became 777.
[Subaru: It’s the triple-seventh. Help me put it in the closet later]
[Mom: Oooh~, three sevens is a pretty lucky number. We were so delighted too when your dad hit four sevens the other day]
[Subaru: That is literally love of an entirely different magnitude!]
His mother happily took the emptied mayonnaise bottle from him. For a moment, Subaru sulked at his sense of accomplishment being spoiled, but immediately recovering his expression again,
[Subaru: So um……I guess, it’s time I should go, then]
[Mom: Ah, if you’re going to the convenience store, buy some cream tarts while you’re there, I suddenly want to eat them really badly]
[Subaru: Considering what I’m wearing, can you use a little imagination before saying that!?]
Spreading out both his arms, he made that appeal. Seeing Subaru do this, Naoko laughed [Just kidding just kidding],
[Mom: But, you’re going to school now? Even though mom is really glad…… won’t you stand out if you get there so late? Why not just go tomorrow?]
[Subaru: Don’t cripple your son’s fledgling motivation right from outset. I only just barely got a little willpower put together by being a little harsher on others and a little more lenient on myself]
[Mom: If Subaru was that kind of child, then your mom wouldn’t have had such a hard time]
Even with Subaru sneaking that self-deprecating comment in there, Naoko still replied as if she didn’t get the point. Then, squinting her eyes and standing up with a [Al-right-then],
[Mom: Just wait a minute for mom to fetch her jacket]
[Subaru: Wait……you, don’t mean to come with me, right? It’s not some kind of punishment game where parents personally accompany their ex-hikikomori child to school, is it!?]
[Mom: Ok, but I won’t go all the way to school. I’ll just go up to the convenience store and get some mayonnaise and cream puffs. You’re a big boy now]
[Subaru: Wh!? Why does that sound like I begged you to come with me!?]
While Subaru was bemoaning the unacceptable flow of the conversation, his mother only casually dodged it with [Right right] while heading up to her room. And so, it was decided that she will accompany him half of the way to school.
[Subaru: Noonooo……give me a break. Gees]
As he said this, Subaru’s cheeks softened with a tinge of relief.
――Even if only for a little while, the time to say goodbye to his mother had been delayed, and thinking this, Subaru grew keenly aware of how weak he really was.
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I’m super excited for the ending of this chapter!! Careful not to spoil anything in the comments though :3
Chapter 19 Live Draft: