up with my long-time boyfriend, and I was enjoying my solitude to the fullest.
I didn’t want useless men in my office or in my personal life.
Oh, so this was how the number of unmarried and late marriages was increasing…
I shoved my feet, which had been dangling barefoot under the long table in the break room, into my heels, stood up from my seat, greeted the familiar faces in the smoking booth, and left the break room.
Well, I guess I would brush my teeth, fix my makeup, and get back to the battlefield.
It was about ten minutes before the firelights glowed and the night came for the restaurant.
The area near the main entrance on the first floor was still full of people, some returning after shopping, others rushing in.
Everyone at the counter was still serving customers, but I had a free moment and headed to the backyard to pick up a delivery I hadn’t been able to get to yet.
I left the store with a note and walked swiftly through the shoppers.
In front of the employee door, I bowed to the store and opened the door, which was heavy as a fire door.
As expected, no one went to pick up deliveries at this hour, just before closing time.
I pulled out a cart placed by the side of a deserted aisle and hurried forward, feeling sorry for the security guards if I went too late.
A long-established department store that had become decrepit.
The store had been renovated, reinforced and cleaned up, but the backyard had been put on the back burner.
I felt the history in the bare concrete as I pushed the cart down the darkly lit aisle.
Around the corner, in a corner of the contractor’s parking lot, there was a baggage drop-off point.
There was no security guard in the small booth that looked like a janitor’s office, and there was a cardboard box on the ground in front of it.
I could tell from the packing tag that it was from our manufacturer.
I cut out the slip, stamped the copy, and stuck it in the document holder at the security booth counter.
I was about to load the cardboard onto the dolly I’d brought with me when I saw the delivery company’s truck pull into the parking space… Onward.
You had to park backwards because you were unloading right, but there was a space in front of you to switch right, so was this person a newbie- or the driver lying on the steering wheel!?
By the time I knew I was in trouble, it was too late.
The truck came barreling by me at full speed, knocking down several old pillars, and finally stopped when it hit the wall of the building.
And then, just like that, with a strong, thunderous sound like the shaking earth, the old concrete footing cracked, and the ceiling fell.
I wondered if this was considered a traffic accident, even though it hadn’t hit me directly, and that was the last thing I thought about.
… Ah, I knew it, Kudou, I won’t forgive you.
Isn’t death caused by working on holidays covered by workers’ compensation?
…Hmmm? I felt like my face was getting all wet.
Oh, my neck, that tickled… Ah, my God, okay, I understand, so stop licking me, you’re lifting my cheeks up.
‘Woof woof’, what, this hot breath, a dog? Eh, a dog!? Eh, the tongue!?… Uwah! What’s with this big, long, hairy dog that looks like an Afghan hound!
Oh, my God, you scared me! Eh, what is this place? It’s empty? An Afghan Hound with the blue sky in the background? … Ah, I was lying on the ground.
And the Afghan hound was looking at me.
That, I was at work, wasn’t I? Wasn’t seeing the blue sky strange because the store was about to close? If you could see the sky, it would be the night sky.
Ah, but you couldn’t see it because there was no sky in Tokyo.
Why are you here, Chieko-sho? I’m Takano, not Takamura.
What, that, I remembered.
Work, I was working.
I sold cosmetics at a department store.
So, I helped at the third store today.
Then? I had been so busy… And delivery.
Yes, in the backyard… That.
I was dead.
…Oh, I see, was this Heaven? That’s right, blue sky, breeze blowing softly… A dog… I was not sure about the dog, but it was not Cerberus or anything, so it was heaven.
I’m glad I’m not in hell.
… You were dead, me.
Consciousness remained even after death, didn’t it?
If this was heaven, I wonder if I could see my mom and dad.
I wonder if my grandmother was there.
She was going to be angry that I came too early.
Brother, sister-in-law, pardon me for leaving first.
I would probably get the worker’s compensation, so please take care of the apartment and clean up the mess.
I’m sorry for being the sister who was a workaholic until the end.
It had been a series of ten shifts, so it was a mess, but I had little furniture or stuff, so I don’t think it was that hard… I’m glad I ditched my boyfriend and his things six months ago.
Oh, the strawberries were probably ruined.
I wanted to make jam.
I don’t need a funeral or a grave… I don’t know if they remember we were talking about this at a bar a long time ago.
If you’re going to do it, keep it simple, and have seasonal flowers, something like that.
I don’t know… I don’t know why I feel little regret.
I guess I had lived my life with a certain amount of attachment, and I wonder if dying meant letting go.
It’s kind of simple, isn’t it, me?
The wetness of the ground was very realistic.
It was like the smell of the soil, or the green the leaves that seemed to seep into my clothes.
It was comforting to think back to my childhood when the neighborhood bank was my playground, but heaven was not above the clouds.
Oh, by the way, where was the Afghan hound… Well, that’s fine.
It was a very friendly dog.
I was just… I was a little tired.
Not just my limbs, but my whole body was heavy.
No, I had been asleep, and I hadn’t even gotten up once.
I felt like my body’s made of lead… It didn’t matter, I was dead.
I think I’m going to go back to sleep…no-w…
In the corner of my waning consciousness, I thought I heard the barking of a dog and the soft, troubled voice of a woman in the distance.
Gastroentritis as known as the stomach flu, Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection marked by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting, and sometimes fever.
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