Chapter 2 — Coming of age, a ceremony needed for emancipation. Part 10
He seemed to have realized what I meant from my behavior alone, but still, he simply shrugged.
“If I had a cute girl working here, even if it was only for the looks, at least some customers would come. That’s what I was thinking…”
I placed the cup back on the table, causing a new wave of ripples in it.
“If what you want are customers, then I think choosing a better spot would be a wiser option.”
“But I like this place.” He shrugged again as he said this.
I didn’t have anything else to say, so I finished drinking my tea.
“Would you like a refill?”
“I’ll take you up on the offer.”
“Think of this as a form of special service for a beautiful girl—it’s my special blend.”
He happily served another cup—this time, its color was more like green tea.
The scent wasn’t bad, and there was something like apple mixed into it.
I drank it–––and spat it out.
It was sour, bitter, spicy and sweet, all at the same time. This kind of drink would probably be the product of preparing proper tom yum goong and then mixing it with aojiru1.
In any case, it tasted like pure evil.
I was seriously choking but he just laughed as he watched me, delighted from the bottom of his heart.
I poured what was left of the tea on his annoying face and slammed the cup on the counter.
The entire stand shook, and a crack appeared on the cup.
He took out a handkerchief and wiped off the tea trickling down on him, then threw it away.
“Thanks for treating me, now good bye.”
“Ah, I’m sorry, did I actually make you mad?”
At that moment, a rustling noise came from the forest.
My entire body suddenly grew tense.
By instinct, my hand shot into my pocket and grabbed the pocket knife. Shiro leaped down from his seat and protectively stood in front of me.
But all that came out were a couple of small children.
“Woah, what a large dog!”
It was a girl and a boy—the boy being the one who had just shouted.
They were probably still elementary schoolers, and in first or second year at that.
The boy was wearing brown knee length pants and an ultramarine sweatshirt. His hair was cut short and unevenly, with a lively face beneath all that. The girl was wearing a yellow dress, coupled with a jacket of the same color as well as long socks that had a cat pattern printed on them.
She kept looking back and forth between Shiro and the boy repeatedly. Maybe because of the cold weather, her face was slightly red, and her slightly longer than shoulder length hair was tied with a hair band.
Strangely enough, they were positioned in a similar manner to me and Shiro as the boy stood in front, guiding the girl by the hand and shielding her.
At once, all the tension that had been building up inside me dispersed. The boy then ran towards Shiro, his eyes sparkling.
The girl followed him, as if being pulled along by him. She looked scared, but it seemed that she trusted the boy as she wasn’t refusing to follow him. For a second, Budworm and Mouse flashed through my mind.
“Hey big sis, does he bite?” He seemed to really want to touch Shiro, and kept trying to reach out with his hand.
“He doesn’t. He’s really gentle.”
As soon as I said that Shiro roared.
Deliberately opening his mouth wide, he bared his fangs. He was making fun of them.
The children fell to the ground, terrified.
Then the boy stood up and spread his arms out to shield the girl, his shoulders trembling in fear.
I lightly hit Shiro on the head with my palm.
“Don’t go scaring them now.”
He nodded lightly and his ears fell lifelessly, looking like a kid who had been caught red-handed pulling a prank.
“I’m sorry, you two,” I told them.
“It’s fine, I don’t mind,” the boy said.
Nervously holding her yellow skirt, the girl said timidly:
“Still, that’s a big dog…Do you think I could ride on his back?” She was still scared, but her curiosity seemed to overpower her fear.
“Yes, you can. Would you like to try?”
“Is it alright?” they asked together.
“He’ll do it as an apology for what happened earlier, right?”
I heard Shiro sigh deeply. I just held my hair back and giggled to myself.
1. Tom yum goong and Aojiru: Tom yum goong is a type of hot and sour Thai soup and aojiru is a Japanese vegetable drink commonly made from kale or young barley grass. In other words, something really bitter. Return to the text.