As soon as Christmas was over, the New Year swiftly arrived.
And when it comes to the New Year, it’s a time of festivities that children eagerly look forward to, such as relishing the tasty osechi cuisine, savoring the delectable mochi, and receiving the coveted otoshidama (monetary gift).
Although we had little recollection of such past experiences, we could only conjure up a vague image in our minds.
While sitting cozily under the kotatsu (low wooden table frame) in the living room, I couldn’t help but ponder the exact activities that people engaged in during the New Year’s celebrations.
It was then that I heard what seemed like the sweet voices of angels conversing.
“It seems that people eat rice cakes during the New Year!”
“I want to eat it with soy sauce or butter soy sauce.”
“Chifuyu is curious about the walnut sauce.”
“I’m interested in New Year’s osechi”
Oh, Just as I was convinced that I had heard the celestial voices of angels, I soon realized that it was only the sound of my sisters chatting away.
So careless, so careless.
Perhaps I was getting old and starting to have hallucinations.
“What about you, Chiharu?”
“I’m okay as long as everyone can eat what they want.”
“What? I don’t want to hear that.
We are talking about what everyone wants to eat in New Year.”
“Oh, right… Well, I’m kind of looking forward to kamaboko.”
“Kamaboko, that thing that you can eat infinitely… drool.”
Chiharu couldn’t help but drool at the thought of the food.
Yes, it’s great to be honest with your desires.
“Hey, it’s about time; “isn’t it ugly, your 2021 harmony” is airing right now; can I change the channel now?”
Chiaki switched the television channel.
Recently, our activities as sisters have expanded dramatically.
We used to mostly hang out in our own rooms, but since Christmas ended, we’ve been spending more time in the living room.
We now have dinner together as a family of five and watch TV.
Since then, Oniisan’s trust level has grown, allowing us to broaden our range of activities.
I’ve noticed that Chinatsu talks to him more frequently than before, although I hope this is simply a result of their strengthened trust.
While Chinatsu still struggles to maintain eye contact with Oniisan at times, their daily one-minute conversations have now extended to a minute and thirty seconds.
Despite Chifuyu and Chinatsu’s increasing comfort around Oniisan, it’s clear that Chiaki remains the most at ease with him.
In addition, her activity range was beyond vast.
“I’m getting hungry,” Chiaki said
With that, Chiaki headed towards the kitchen and began rummaging through the refrigerator and nearby cabinets.
“I’m impressed by her fearlessness, or rather, her lack of restraint…”
“Yeah, I feel the same way….” Chifuyu said.
“Chiaki’s honesty is one of her best qualities,”
“Maybe it’s because you spoil her too much as the eldest sister,” Chinatsu said
“She turned out to be a good kid, though,”
I know better than to expect a reasonable response from that stupid older sister brain of yours,”
Chinatsu sighed, exhaling heavily and sinking deep into the kotatsu.
She grabbed a cushion and used it as a pillow to get comfortable.
“Are you feeling sleepy?”
“Yeah, I am.
That’s why I’m going to sleep,”
“If you sleep now, you won’t be able to sleep tonight,”
“I can’t help it.
This warm kotatsu is inviting me to sleep,”
“Well, it’s still important to maintain a healthy lifestyle,”
Chinatsu said that and drifted off into dreamland.
Well, it’s winter break, so it’s okay to break the balance of life a little.
“I found some Sakusaku Panda-chan chocolate,” Chiaki exclaimed.
“Akinee, isn’t it better to show some restraint?,” Chifuyu said
“Kaito said it’s okay to not hold back,”
Chiaki returned to the kotatsu with a bag of snacks and a glass of milk.
Milk goes well with chocolate, doesn’t it?
“But maybe you should still hold back a little…”
“Kaito said it’s okay, so I won’t hold back!”
“That’s not something you should….say with such a smug look on your face….”
Chiaki opened the package and began eating the Panda-chan chocolate.
The crispy texture and the sweetness of the chocolate must be delicious.
“This is so sweet and delicious!” she exclaimed.
“….Is it really that good?”
“It’s amazing! Do you want to try one?” Chiaki offered.
“….I’ll have one,”
As they enjoyed their snacks, they chatted and relaxed in the warmth of the kotatsu, feeling content and at ease.
As I watched Chiaki eat, I found myself naturally craving something to eat as well.
I’m sure she’ll be able to appear on TV variety shows in the future.
“Ahh… it’s sweet…”
“I know, it’s delicious!”
“I love Kaito for letting me eat this kind of chocolate!”
“Hey… isn’t it better not to say things like ‘I love you’ too much?”
“Well, others might misunderstand…”
“Huh? You know, like love and stuff?”
“Love? How would that happen?”
“Since Kaito is a man, he might overreact to that kind of thing.
I read in a book that even just picking up an eraser for a guy can make him misunderstand things.
So it might be better to refrain from saying ‘I love you’…”
“Hmm? I think it’s okay to say ‘I love you’ if I really love him.
Kaito is not that kind of simple-minded guy.”
“Well, just in case…”
“If that happens, I’ll take responsibility and marry him!”
Involuntarily, I raised my voice.
Chifuyu also stood up in surprise.
“No, no, there’s an age difference! You have to follow proper order when it comes to that kind of thing.” Chifuyu said.
“There are as many forms of love as there are people, Chifuyu.
You can’t judge it based on some standard,”
“Well, that’s a really deep thing to say! But, um, marriage involves issues like money and stuff,”
“Kaito said he’s pretty well off,” Chiaki added.
“Oh! Right… um, but still, marriage is a big step!” Chifuyu exclaimed.
“The Marriage thing… was just a joke,”
“Eh!?” Chifuyu was taken aback.
“Heh, it seems my acting skills were convincing enough to fool my little sister,”
It turns out it was just a joke.
Even Oneechan was completely fooled by her act.
“Chiaki, you’re amazing.
I fell for it too,” I complimented her.
“Fufufu, praise me more,” Chiaki giggled.
“You’re going to be a Hollywood actress in the future,”
Chiaki’s straightforward nature is absolutely adorable, but despite her excellent performance, Chifuyu seemed a little too shaken up…
“W-what? So it was only a joke…? That was too hard to grasp…” Chifuyu said
“There’s no way little sister could see through her older sister’s acting!”
“….You’ve been noisy for a while now.”
Chifuyu let out a sigh of relief, and Chiaki puffed out her chest with an “Eheheh”.
Lately, I’ve noticed that Chiaki’s body seems to be growing little by little.
I have a feeling that she will become a wonderful girl with a beautiful body one day.
Suddenly, Chinatsu woke up from her nap.
She had been sleeping on a cushion, so her hair was a little disheveled.
“Oh, sorry, Chinatsu.” I apologized for waking her up.
“I’m not talking about Haru; it’s Aki’s voice that woke me up…”
“Oh, sorry about that.”
“You should apologize properly… I don’t know if I’m feeling sleepy or not anymore… Ah, there’s chocolate…”
“Are you going to eat it?”
“Yes, I am.”
Chiaki handed Chinatsu a piece of chocolate, and Chinatsu promptly popped it into her mouth.
The sweetness of the chocolate completely banished her drowsiness, causing her double eyelids to open wide and brighten even more than before.
“Mmm… delicious,” she said.
“Don’t forget to thank Kaito properly,” Chiaki reminded her.
“I know, I know,” Chinatsu replied.
“Well then, that’s settled! By the way, Chinatsu, you sure do love to eat,” Chiaki teased.
“Hey, I don’t want to hear that from you.
You’re the biggest foodie of us all, Aki,” Chinatsu retorted.
“Hmph, I don’t want to hear that from you either.
Chifuyu, what do you think?” Chiaki asked.
“I see Akinee as a big mouse and Natsunee as a little mouse,” Chifuyu replied.
“What? What do you mean, mouse? Anyway, it’s fine for now since we’re eating chocolate.
But, Fuyu, you better remember what you said for later,”
“I-I’m sorry, Natsu-anee,” Chiuyu apologized.
“I’ll make you spill out everything,”
Saying that, Chinatsu popped the chocolate into her mouth like a bowl of soba noodles.
It seems like Chifuyu may have to endure Chinatsu’s teasing later on.
After all, Chinatsu had a tendency to counterattack like she was prickling back…
“Oh, Chinatsu, you’re eating too much!”
“It’s fine, let’s share, let’s share.”
“But it’s my snack!”
“Once you put it on this desk, it becomes our shared responsibility as sisters.
Come on, Haru, say ‘aahh’.”
“Is that okay?”
“Haru and my cute little sister Chifuyu can have some, but you can’t, Chinatsu.”
“Eh?!” Chifuyu was surprised for some reason.
Following Chinatsu’s “aahh” I ate the chocolate from her hand.
Just the act of my sister saying “aahh” makes the chocolate 100 times sweeter and 100 times richer.
“…Is Chifuyu really cute?”
“If Chifuyu isn’t cute, then what is?”
“Thanks for the support, Haru-nee.”
After being told by Chiaki that she was cute, Chfuyu paused and reconsidered her reflection in the mirror.
Does she look at herself in the mirror every day? She’s nothing but cute.
I wish she could fully grasp the fact that she’s cute and have more confidence in herself.
Next time, I’ll jot down all the cute things about her in a notebook.
I bet Chifuyu will be delighted!
Fufufu, my hand can barely keep up with my brain… As I chuckled to myself, our leisurely time together passed by.
“Somehow, I’m getting a headache… “
“Hey, hey, are you trying to leave me alone in the office?”
“That’s not my intention.
Well, it’s almost time to go home…”
“Don’t take the day off tomorrow, okay?”
My head hurts and my joints feel sore.
Could it be that I caught a cold? It’s a bit embarrassing as an adult to not be able to take care of my health, even though I’m diligent about washing my hands and using mouthwash.
Despite my efforts, it seems I’ve fallen ill.
To avoid potentially infecting my daughters, I’ll wear a mask as a precaution and stop at a pharmacy to pick up some over-the-counter medication on my way home.
After stopping by a nearby convenience store and purchasing some cold remedies, the journey home seemed longer than usual.
I’ve decided to keep dinner simple tonight—I’ll stir-fry some meat with frozen fried eggplants and add the seasoning I bought to give it some flavor.
As a side dish, I’ll boil some water dumplings.
As I arrived home, I thought about making an easy meal using the leftover dried daikon and white rice.
“Welcome home, Kaito.
You seem a bit down, are you feeling okay?”
I’ll make dinner soon,” I replied.
Chiaki’s greeting made me feel a little better.
After quickly washing my hands and rinsing my mouth, I changed clothes and went to the kitchen.
“Oniisan, you’re wearing a mask and your face is red.
Do you have a cold?”
“Don’t worry about it.
Could you clear off the kotatsu for me?”
I had a rough idea of what to make and didn’t need to do much prep work.
Despite feeling sluggish, I wasn’t too tired to cook.
In just a few minutes, the meal was ready.
I plated the food, and the sisters carried it to the table.
“I don’t want to catch a cold, so I’ll change and go to bed.
Could you soak the dishes I used in water?”
After changing in the dressing room and wiping myself down with a hot towel, I grabbed the OS-1 water, my phone, and an ice pillow, and headed to my room.
I needed to get some rest as I had work and breakfast to prepare for tomorrow.
If I get a good night’s sleep, I’ll feel better in no time..
“Kaito, he didn’t seem well…”
“Yeah, Oniisan seemed just really tired…”
“That’s right… With all the work and meal preparation he’s been doing, it’s no surprise he’s exhausted.”
Each one of us must have had her own thoughts seeing our usually strong Oniisan weakened.
Although there was food on the kotatsu, no one had touched it.
Naturally, our thoughts turned to what we should do and what we could do.
Among us sisters, it was Chiaki who first decided on a course of action.
“Alright, let’s nurse him back to health!”
“Can you do that?”
“I can! I’ll make a cold towel!”
“You know, we’ve always been told not to use the stove.”
Yes, Oniisan made it clear that we were not to use fire under any circumstances.
He said we could use the IH stove once we got older.
“Well then, let’s sleep together!”
“If you also catch a cold, we’ll be in trouble.”
“….Anyway, let’s start with a cold towel!”
Chiaki got up from the kotatsu and headed towards the kitchen.
She filled a metal bowl with ice and water, then brought a towel from the bathroom and soaked it in the bowl.
“This feels so cold…” Chiaki couldn’t help but mutter as she squeezed the towel with both hands like a rag, despite her hands shaking from the chill.
She then headed upstairs with the towel in hand.
We heard Chiaki’s footsteps as she climbed the stairs, and after a while, she returned to the room.
“He thanked me!”
“But he also told me not to come anymore because he didn’t want me to catch his cold.
He said he could cure it with OS-1 and reminded me to turn off the kotatsu light before going to bed.”
“Okay, got it.”
Although me, Chifuyu, and Chinatsu all wanted to do something to help, we didn’t.
Only Chiaki took action.
It’s amazing how proactive she is…as the eldest daughter, it made me feel a bit pathetic.
I need to find something that I can do too…
My head felt cloudy.
I wasn’t sure if I was asleep or awake.
A young girl’s image from my childhood appeared in my mind.
I couldn’t see her face clearly, but her silhouette was familiar.
Oh no, she wasn’t associated with good memories…
I was having bizarre dreams due to my cold.
I realized that I needed to take better care of my health.
Using an ice pack as a pillow helped me sleep better, but suddenly my forehead felt cold.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a silver-haired, odd-colored-eyed girl…
“Are you okay, Kaito…?”
“Chiaki… You took care of me?”
“As much as I could.”
“I appreciate it, but don’t stay here if you don’t want to get sick too.”
I’ll stay here until you’re better.”
“Don’t say that.
If you catch my cold, I’ll feel even worse.”
“Yeah, I can’t focus on anything else with all this worry.”
“I see… In that case, I’ll head back.”
And could you also tell everyone to turn off the kotatsu light and go to bed?”
With a cheerful response, Chiaki headed towards the door.
“Get well soon! I…We all love Kaito because he always cares about us!”
Me… Oh, right.
…Chiaki’s smile was cuter than my previous life’s knowledge.
I’ll sleep like my life depends on it and get rid of this cold.
That’s what I decided in my heart.
TN: It should be noted that in the last part where Chiaki says, “ I…We all love Kaito” there was emphasis on the word Watashi=I.
In case you didn’t know, Watashi-tashi=we, so there was a play on words where Chiaki put great emphasis on “watashi” before saying tashi, bringing it to Watashitashi=we.
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