I was nervous, so I unknowingly applied a little more force, and the crayon snapped in half.




Ey, I should draw more carefully.


I put the broken crayon halves aside and painted over the rest with a slightly larger piece.


Leaves in dark green and even paler green.


And since I drew Mom, me, Uncle, and Grandfather, the painting was plausible.


Oh, I think I’m pretty good at drawing.


Confident, I called Uncle who was sitting on the desk chair in the office.


“Uncle, you know.”


“I don’t.”




No, I haven’t even said anything yet.


I bit my lip and frowned, then smiled again.


Yes, if Uncle says he doesn’t, then he doesn’t!


“Uncle, then, you don’t know.”


“I… Hey.”


Uncle, who had closed his eyes, opened them, annoyed.


I didn’t miss the opportunity and held up a large drawing paper that I had worked hard on to Uncle.


Should I draw you too? Look at this, I draw very well!”




At that, I smiled contentedly.


Then  his face frowned even more.


“Why are you smiling when I say no?”


“Mom said that Uncle is a person whose mind and speech are different, so I could understand you the other way around!”


“…A very mother-daughter pair.”


“I’ll draw Uncle too!”


“Do whatever you want.”


I called Uncle several more times after that, yet he didn’t answer.


My family, and then Uncle, and then Mom and I, and then Uncle and I, then my arm hurt and it was no longer fun.


Uncle kept closing his eyes, as if I was mistaken for the gaze I felt from time to time.


I guess he just closed his eyes without sleeping.


I put down my almost worn-out crayons and walked up to Uncle, snooped around.


“Is Uncle sleeping?”




“Uncle, if you’re not sleeping, play with me.
I finished drawing.”


I continued to hang around him and doze off.


“Uncle is busy, though.”


Contrary to his casual tone of voice, Uncle crossed his legs across the desk, cupped his hands on his stomach, and closed his eyes.


“You weren’t busy until just now.”


“Suddenly busy.”


Uncle replied without even opening his eyes.


“You’re lying…”


It’s been that way ever since, but it’s ridiculous that he suddenly became busy.


Uncle doesn’t even think about looking at the pile of papers next to him!


I continued to hold onto him.


After a while, Uncle finally responded.






I tugged at his arm as if I was about to jump.


“Shall we play corpse?”


Uncle, who had been motionless with his eyes closed the entire time, asked with one eye open.


I approached his face and asked.


“How do you do that? Isn’t it… scary?”


Where is there such a scary name for a game?


“No, it’s fun.”


Uncle grinned.


Something fun.


If I’m not attracted to those words, I’m not Aika!


“How do you do that? I want to.
I want to!”


“The one who is good at pretending to be a corpse wins.
Uncle is very generous and will let you first, so go ahead and pretend you’re dead.”


A game of pretending to be dead, I’ve never played that with Mom.




I thought about what would be a comfortable posture to beat Uncle.


“Don’t do it if you don’t want to.
One, two, three…”


“No! Uncle, then can I lie down and pretend to be dead? Can I just stay still?”


I hurriedly interrupted him and ran to the thick, wide carpet to sit down.


And I hurriedly put away the drawing papers that I had been working hard on.


“Do whatever you feel like.
If you don’t move until Uncle calls you, you win.
Then I’ll buy you a present.”




You have to stay still and breathe until Uncle calls, understand?”




I was suspicious of him being kind, but I hurriedly lay back, fearing that Uncle would change his mind.


My head was facing the ceiling, so I couldn’t see his face.


‘What gift am I going to ask him for? Shall we have a snack together tomorrow? Shall we go out together and buy flowers? I could ask Grandpa and the three of us to go out to play.
I want to do all three of them…’


“You have to close your eyes.


“Ah, yes!”


How did he know? I also closed my blinking eyes.


How long will it take to beat Uncle? I think at this point, I’ll fall asleep.


Even in the most comfortable position, I felt my body itching.


But for some reason, it seems that the surroundings are becoming more and more quiet…


Squeak, there was the sound of a chair.


Fearing that Uncle would find out, I even held my breath.


And, how long has it been?


Along with a dull sound, Uncle’s footsteps went far away somewhere.






Mom, I must have fallen asleep!


I glanced around and looked at Uncle’s desk.


I was lying on the floor, that’s why I couldn’t see Uncle.


Yet strangely, I felt like I was left alone in the room.


I plucked up a little more courage and moved my head around.




Uncle isn’t here.


He also seemed to have disappeared quite a while ago.


He left me behind! Uncle tricked me!


When I tried to look after him.


“Uncle is really a stupid idiot.”


I hurriedly brushed off my skirt and stood up.


I went to the door and stopped, then I turned around.


“Still, I have to give the drawing to Uncle.”


I came back and collected the papers scattered on the floor, placing them on Uncle’s desk so that they could be seen.


And that too, right in the middle between the cup Uncle drank from and the pile of papers.


“I will really hate you if you throw them away.”


With both hands on my waist, I narrowed my eyes and glared at the documents that were taller than me.


“…Mom, and even Uncle, why do they work so much?”


It would be nice if all of that was gone.


Glancing and fiddling with the papers, I found an envelope next to it that was as full as the papers.


There was a mixture of things that Uncle hadn’t opened yet and things that he had already opened and checked.


Wouldn’t Uncle’s work be a little less if I helped him?


If I read it instead and pass it along, he might like it.


Mom liked it when I was by her side, helping her while she was working.


Hmm, no.
Why don’t we just leave it alone?


I mean, Uncle doesn’t know.


“Then, just clean up the spilled things…”


“Stop moving.”


Uncle appeared as I reached out to clean up a few things that popped out.


I was frozen as ice in the position where he stretched out his hand.


An envelope with Aika written on it caught my eye.


Huh? It’s a letter for me.


After three seconds of silence, I stopped thinking for a moment and turned my head to look at Uncle sullenly.


“Uncle is a liar!”


“You got me.”


He strode over, one hand stuck in his trouser pocket, then he picked me up and threw me away from the desk.


“Ah, wait…!”


Gosh, there was a letter for me, though!


“I was going to let you go because you were my uncle!”


“Then shall we do it again?”


“Ah, no.
But Uncle is really bad.”


I hesitantly took one step closer to the desk again.


“Then you can go back to the old man’s house.
Go say it.
Uncle is so bad that you won’t be able to live with him for the rest of your life.
Hey, what kind of trouble you’re going to come up with again.”


I’m coming up with any.”


Shaking my head, I clung to Uncle.


Fortunately, he heard, swing, again and didn’t move.


“Very much.”


“Uncle, do you have to read all those letters?”


“Yeah, so don’t disturb me.”


“I won’t disturb you.”


He glared at me for a long time with one eyebrow raised, then turned his head away with a sigh.


“Do whatever you want.
Instead, Just know that you will be kicked out the moment you interfere.”


But you know, Uncle.”




“Hng, I only want to read the letter I received…”


“Why would you get a letter.”


“I did! It says Aika over there! It was sent from the Imperial Palace!”


I reached out and picked up the protruding letter.


Uncle’s face became more ferocious.


“How do you know it came from the Imperial Palace?”


“That lion crest! Mom told me.
I know all the other family crests well.”


“You know the crests?”


And the…”


Knock, knock.


“Milord, this is Gerard.”

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