The Snow Maiden

I was always a straight B student. Because a C made me look dumb and an A wasn't worth the effort. Scoring an A is for suckers. This pissed off the wrong people (my parents), so I was punished by being sent out here: a village in the snow country. But instead of building character, I met this village's darkest secret: the girl in the snow. She was dead and she changed my life. - UPDATES EVERY MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY!

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Author's note

My latest story! I think it's the best yet :)
AA

9. Chapter 9

The next day wasn't easy. Well, any day with Aunt Reiko wasn't easy, but this was especially difficult. A woman of her word, she worked me hard and fast. No meals, no breaks. I cleaned the baths, the toilets, the kitchen. Washed the dishes, polished the floor, dusted the lamps in every guest room. She came in to check my work, looked up at the ceiling lights and asked if I dusted those as well. 


"No, I didn't." I figured it was better not to lie. Because Aunt Reiko will always find out.


She said, "Do it." 


I suppressed a sigh. "Why? The guests will never know." 


"But we will." 


With that, Aunt Reiko left. I dusted the ceiling lights. There was no dust on them. 


In the late afternoon Aunt Reiko went out to attend to some business, Miyazono said it was some kind of village meeting, and I used that chance to catch a break. I had literally not eaten a thing and my legs felt like rubber. 


I still had the can of chocolate milk Miyazono gave me last night. I took it out and was about it open it — but then I stopped. 


Yuki. 


She said she needed to try out all the drinks in the vending machine in order to pass on. But I had no money to do that. Ugh, if I was back in Tokyo, I'd have access to all the allowance I have saved up, or at least I could take on a part time job. Vending machine drinks weren't all that expensive, so a day's wages might be enough to buy one of each. But if you literally have zero income (despite working like a slave) then even a simple 150 yen can of chocolate milk becomes a prized possession. And I can't count on tourists dropping coins everywhere like a leaky pipe.


Alright, I've decided: I'll give this chocolate milk to Yuki as my second offering. It might not cause her to pass on immediately, but it will be one small step for a ghost, one giant leap for no one. 


Someone opened the door to my room. It was Miyazono. My mouth was half open; she didn't knock or say 'excuse me'. Has she forgotten her manners? Maybe she's going to become a Yankee girl. 


She said, "I knew I'd find you here." 


I said nothing. 


She said, "I'm taking a break. Want to come with me?" 


I got up and followed her downstairs to the dining area. She told me to sit down and I obeyed. Moments later she came out of the kitchen with two big bowls of udon noodles. She placed a bowl in front of me. 


"Eat up."


"But Aunt Reiko said I couldn't — " 


"Don't worry about. I asked her if I could make you something out of the leftovers and she said it was OK."


Gratitude swelled in my throat and I suppressed a tear. The last time someone treated me with so much kindness...I think it was when I was in grade school and...


"Itadakimasu." I grabbed the chopsticks and vacuumed the bowl empty. When I finished, Miyazono was staring at me with wide eyes. "What?" 


She said, "I've never seen anyone eat so quickly. Like this is your last supper." 


"I'm not going to get crucified." 


"If you get caught slacking off again, you might." She grinned from ear to ear and got to work on her own bowl. 


Now it was my turn to be impressed. She seemed dainty and a bit on the smaller side, but she could do physical labor like a man and she could eat like two. She finished the bowl even faster than I did. I stared at her. 


"What?" She averted her eyes, her face slightly flushed. "When you work hard then you need your calories." 


"Your mouth defies the laws of physics." 


"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?! Are you thinking of something perverted?" 


"Well now I am." 


We laughed and bantered and eventually Miyazono said, "You said you grew up in Tokyo, right? What's it like there? What's it like to grow up in the big city?” 


"You've never been to Tokyo?" 


She shook her head. "My parents aren't interested, so we've never even taken a trip to Tokyo."


"Hmm..." I had to think about my answer. I never really thought about how to describe Tokyo to someone who's never been there. I mean, I've lived there all my life, so it didn’t seem like anything special to me.  


Miyazono saw my struggle and she said, "Well, in comparison to this village, what's Tokyo like?"


"Hmmm....there's a lot more people, lots of people everywhere. There's no dirt tracks or forests, just roads everywhere. It's dirtier I guess, but there's also better food. But I guess the biggest difference is that in Tokyo there is always something to do. You can go shopping, play in the arcade, maybe go into a bookstore or maybe check out the thousands of restaurants on every street, or maybe go for karaoke. There's always something to do. But out here...it's too quiet. It's boring." 


"And the guys? Are the guys really handsome there?" 


"Uhhh...I've never really noticed that. But the girls are pretty." 


Miyazono grinned and she rested her chin on her palm. The corners of her eyes crinkled, like she had thought of something and was going to lure me into it. 


She said, "You really want to go back to Tokyo, hmm?" 


"Yeah, I guess.”


"You have a girlfriend waiting for you?" 


This time it was my turn to flush. "N-no." 


"No girlfriend...hmmm?"


If my dad hadn't forced me to come out here, then I might've gotten a girlfriend over the winter. There was that girl in my class that I've liked for the whole year, but it wasn't until recently that I had gotten her LINE as a result of a class project we had to do. Since then we've been texting more and more, and I was going to ask her out on a Christmas date, but now I'm out here...


Oh well...I can always ask her out when I get back.


Miyazono glanced at the clock on the wall and said that Aunt Reiko will come back in ten minutes. We cleared the table, quickly washed the bowls and then went back to work. 

 

And the next day I went to find Yuki.

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A/N: Yuki is back!!

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