Cat's Hour ~猫の時間~
“Student council, you say? That’s so cool!”
Ai-san took us in one of the classrooms to have a chat. It was not some shady place in the school, it was actually just a regular classroom that is not used during the nights. Of course, it’s not used during the night because there are no students, duh.
Ai-san spun around as if she’s having so much fun. Despite floating in the air, her skirt fluttered lightly, with every turn like a ballerina would.
She was cheerfully playing around all this time and having small chats with us, except that I’m just the only one she’s talking to. Mashiro-senpai is busy doing something in one of the corners of the room.
“Y-yes, that’s right. I’m Terushima, the secretary. That guy over there is our vice-president… Mashiro…” I hesitantly pointed to Mashiro-senpai’s direction, disregarding whatever he was doing over there.
The person in question doesn’t seem to be paying attention towards the conversation that I and Ai-san are having. I guess he’s not that interested.
But why in the world is he swinging the hoe as if he was training swordsmanship?!
“Terushima-chan, are you sure that the guy with cat ears is your vice president?” She’s looking suspiciously at Mashiro-senpai and obviously wondering why in the world does he have a hoe with him of all things.
On the other hand, Mashiro-senpai is swinging the hoe over and over again, not minding us one bit.
“Y-yes. Mashiro-senpai is the student council vice president,” I answered with a whisper and tried my best not to look at senpai’s direction.
Mashiro-senpai, I’m begging you. Please don’t embarrass me anymore. It might sound absurd but I’m having a normal conversation with Ai-san even though she’s a ghost, and by the looks of it, she’s obviously doubting your authority now. I’m betting that she’s thinking if you’re alright in the head.
“Is he alright in the head?” she asked in confusion.
“W-well… I don’t know…” I looked away from them.
Ah! I’m dying out of embarrassment here! Senpai, why would you do this to me?! After I stubbornly said that I won’t leave him in that situation, I’m already regretting it now. Haah. I should’ve run away when I got the chance!
“A-anyway, Ai-san, don’t mind him for now. The truth is, we’re investigating something about the break up of the couples in a particular class. Do you know something about it?” I diverted the conversation into another topic before I could pass out from thinking about what is Mashiro-senpai swinging that hoe for.
“I’ll hit that ghost,” he turned around and smiled menacingly at the two us which even made Ai-san shiver.
“S-senpai! Calm down first! We’re trying to settle this without blood!” I stood in front of him to make him stop from assaulting the ghost with a hoe.
“There will be no blood because we’re hitting a ghost.” He lift his hoe as if he’s aiming for Ai-san.
Are you even sure that you can hit her with that?
No matter what, it could still give a shock to her in the least so I better stop senpai for the sake of peaceful talk.
“Hiii! Terushima-chan, save me!” Ai-san freaked out as she shrunk herself in one of the corners of the room.
“Senpai, calm down first. Hitting them without hearing their part of story is unfair. For now, settle down first and don’t speak a word. I’ll do my best here.”
Despite his irritation, Mashiro-senpai took a seat in one of the chairs and behaved himself. For now, that is. He’s actually cooperative when asked nicely. That’s good!
“How was it, Ai-san? Do you know something?”
“Terushima-chan! Promise me first! Make sure that the demon won’t hit me with that hoe!” she begged in desperation with tears forming in the side of her eyes. I didn’t know that ghost can cry like this.
“W-well… I can’t really promise you that he won’t hit you. But you’ll be fine as long as you cooperate with us.” I beamed at her and give her a thumbs up.
“T-that’s not reassuring…”
Mashiro-senpai gripped the hoe and sent a glare towards Ai-san’s direction which startled the shit out of her, her face turned paler than earlier, making it seem like pure white complexion.
“I’ll cooperate already! Just let go of that hoe!” she wailed in fear while pointing at Mashiro-senpai with conviction.
Mashiro-senpai doesn’t look like he wouldn’t let go of it and held it more tightly instead. He also sent a sharp glance to her direction which made her cry even more.
“Why would I? I could just hit you with this and get the job done.” He gave an innocent yet menacing smile.
“Senpai, we should hear her out first!”
You should be thankful, Ai-san. I’m taking your side here because I don’t think you’re an evil spirit with your bright personality. I may be biased with this, but I want to understand where she is coming from with what she did.
Mashiro-senpai put down the hoe in the side and sighed in disappointment, his cat ears drooping down. What is he sighing for? He could still reach it from that position! Does he like the hoe that much?
“I’m the one who did it! I made it so that the couples would break up! I surrender myself!” Ai-san cried and raised both of her hands in the air as if she was surrendering to the police.
“Since when did this became a police interrogation?” I deadpanned at the situation.
I just took a deep sigh. This is becoming more troublesome, and it’s not as if we could detain the Ai-san in the school. She’s a ghost, for crying out loud!
“Why did you do it?” Mashiro-senpai butted in, completely taking the role of a detective in a police drama.
Oh, this is actually good. If we could just have a single table with dimmer lights, it could become an interrogation scene. We could also serve a ramen to make this more realistic.
I drifted off my own world and forgot the actual situation so I tried my best to snap back to it. Damn, that was close. I got carried away.
“W-well… I hate couples. They are just playing around, they are not sincere about it at all… I hate it! What’s with that ‘action speaks louder than words’ bullshit?! Don’t treat someone as if they are special if you don’t have any plan on taking a responsibility! Damn it! Actions can be misunderstood! You can’t just treat everyone kindly and expect them to think that it was nothing!” Our conversation about the break up incident shifted to Ai-san’s ranting out of nowhere which made me deadpan at her.
“Ah… I see.” I simply nodded in agreement.
She admitted it rather easily, huh. I’m expecting this to be harder than I thought but I think we’ll be fine since Ai-san has been cooperative so far. Of course, she fears the hoe.
“Senpai, what should we do now?”
“We should kick her out. That’s what I’m telling you, we should hit her and get the job done.”
“Senpai, how can you say that easily? Please don’t resort to violence, I’m begging you,” I said to him with a sigh of frustration.
“Then, we can exorcise her and have her pass on.”
“Ghosts have unfinished business with the living so they can’t go to the afterlife, if we could fulfill that, they could pass on peacefully.”
“You should have said that earlier!” I shouted at him.
“Why? We’re just going to waste time if we do that.”
Urgh, I can’t do this. I’m also at the end of my wits.
Shrugging at Mashiro-senpai’s logic, I faced Ai-san again.
“Ai-san, are you perhaps harboring a grudge from a previous romance?” I asked right away.
“T-that’s…” she looked away from me and tried to hide her flustered expression.
Ah, that face, she really got a grudge from previous romance. For sure.
“If we knock out the guy that hurt you, will you pass on already?” Mashiro-senpai suggested as if it was normal.
“Senpai, you can’t just resort to violence.”
“No… I don’t think he still remembers me.” Ai-san looked down and her voice sounded that she was deeply hurt by it. She was showing emotions different from her cheerful expression earlier.
“It’s fine.” She gave us a forlorn smile.
“We can’t just leave you here, you know. You’ll cause troubles to our students.”
“I know that.”
Ai-san bit her lips in frustration. It was hard on her too.
“Ai-san, do you have something that you desire before you became a ghost? It could help you pass on peacefully.”
“That’s…” she looked away as if she’s contemplating to say it.
“Just say it.” Mashiro-senpai unemotionally said to her.
She clasped her hands in front of her chest and tightly closed her eyes, “I want a love letter.”
A love letter…?
“I feel you, Ai-san! I haven’t received one either,” I blurted out of sympathy. I actually got carried away too since I haven’t received something like that before. “But why a love letter though?”
Expecting to hear a tragic story, I stared at her in anticipation.
“You see, I always—”
“Hold it right there, we don’t have time to hear a novel-length backstory,” Mashiro-senpai cut her off before she could even tell her story.
“Senpai! That’s insensitive!”
What’s wrong with him?! We could at least hear her out for a while!
Out of nowhere, Mashiro-senpai pulled out papers and pens.
He put everything in the desk and faced us with a bored expression, “We could just write one letter and get this done.”
Ai-san and I stared at Mashiro-senpai after hearing his idea.
Eh? That’s surprising, Mashiro-senpai actually suggested something good?
Mashiro-senpai and I started writing our love letters just as he suggested. On the other hand, Ai-san is now playing tag with Yami inside the room. Uuu, I’m jealous!
“Stop spacing out and keep writing,” Mashiro-senpai scolded me like what he always did in the student council office.
I faced the paper again only to be greeted by a blank page. I don’t have any experience in writing a love letter myself, and we didn’t know Ai-san as an individual yet. What should I write?
“Hmm… Mashiro-senpai, do you have any love experience?” I asked without having any expectation that he would answer.
“I do,” he answered with his emotionless voice.
My eyes widened to what I just heard. Did I hear that right?
W-well… Mashiro-senpai is good looking anyway, it won’t be strange for him to have a girlfriend. He’s also a serious guy so he might be the stick-to-one type as well. There’s no way he would just play around with girls based on his personality.
Oh, could it be the reason why he was cold to me was because he’s distancing himself to other girls? If that’s the case, he should have told me earlier! I’m not a threat at all!
“That must be nice, having a date with a girlfriend. How was it senpai?” I asked him out of curiosity without glancing at his direction.
“Hah? What girlfriend are you talking about? I never said that it was a romantic one,” he declared nonchalantly.
Haha, of course we’re talking to Mashiro-senpai here. Words can be easily misunderstood if it was him.
I just returned to writing a love letter despite having no idea on what I should write. I bet Ai-san doesn’t like a half-assed letter, but as if I have a choice! I don’t have any romantic feelings for her either!
“This is no good. It looks like a research paper,” she commented on my first letter.
“Mashiro-kun’s out of question. I’ll be glad to have a hate letter instead,” with a dark expression on her face, she reads Mashiro-senpai’s letter.
“Are you really writing your love?”
“Terushima-chan, your love is too shallow.”
Just as Mashiro-senpai suggested, we started writing letters for Ai-san. As you might’ve guessed, she doesn’t like any letters that we wrote. She’s more specific with this than expected.
“Terushima, I’ll hit that ghost,” senpai gritted his teeth in irritation.
Mashiro-senpai is already at the edge of his mind. We already squeezed all the sweet words that we know and write it in a letter but Ai-san doesn’t like any of it. Mashiro-senpai is also bad with words so I’m not expecting anything great.
“Calm down, senpai. You’re the one who suggested this.”
He grumbled to himself and grabbed another paper to write something, “I’ll give her a hate letter just as she said.”
And we’re now back to square one.
Haah, I glanced outside the window.
It was a quiet night outside, the moon is also shining brightly. I took my phone out and checked the time. It’s already midnight. I’m not good with staying this late. I’m starting to feel sleepy.
“Then, what if writing a letter about something you love? You could care less about me and just write a sincere love letter. I’ll accept it if it was sincere enough.” Ai-san said in a matter of fact tone when she noticed that we’re not going anywhere.
“You should have said that earlier,” Mashiro-senpai said in his cold voice and crumpled the paper again.
“Ahaha, my apologies.” Ai-san awkwardly looked away.
Hmm, something I love…
Of course that goes without saying!
I took eleven pieces of paper and Mashiro-senpai gave me a suspicious look as if he could guess what I’m going to do with them. I just smiled at him and we get back to writing.
I’ll pour all my heart with this. There’s no need for me to hold back. A ten-page letter is not enough to convey my love, that’s for sure. After all, I love them wholeheartedly… I love cats very much!
“W-wow… what’s with ten pages handwritten letter…?” Ai-san deadpanned at me while scanning through the pages.
“That’s my love for cats!” I proudly declared.
“I’m amazed how you can be useful with useless things.”
“This is not useless!” I defended myself and crossed my arms in front of my chest with a huff. “How about you, senpai? Did you write one?”
“I’m bad with words so I didn’t think that you’re expecting something from me,” he shrugged.
“Of course, I don’t.”
But that’s strange, I remember him writing something after Ai-san suggested a different approach. Never mind, it could just be his failed attempt in writing something. Right, that must be it.
“I think this is sincere enough.” Ai-san said with a nod. “I’ll take this with me in the afterlife.”
“That settles it then. I have one question for you.”
“Ask away!” Ai-san cheerfully said.
“Do you know anything about the god’s mission?”
Ai-san fell in deep thought and gave an observing glance over Mashiro-senpai. “Ah! You’re the kids who made a contract with that mischievous god! Well, too bad I don’t know anything. I suggest searching for someone who stayed longer in this school. For example, that girl in—oh! It’s already morning!”
She smiled at us gently as the light from the rising sun started passing through the window. “I guess I’ll finally go to afterlife now. Thank you, you two.”
“Wait! I still have one more!” I caught up to her and gave one more paper. It was just a one page letter that I folded nicely into an origami, I made sure that the contents will not be seen from outside.
“What is this?”
“If you met my mom in the afterlife, please give that to her. It was my love letter for her.” I said with a wide smile.
Ai-san held my letter carefully and gave me a reassuring smile, “Un! Leave it to me! Bye, bye!”
As the sun started rising in the horizon, light soon covered the dark skies earlier. The morning finally came, and with that, Ai-san, the ghost that caused couples to break up because she hates 'love', finally passed on and went to the afterlife.
“Mashiro-senpai, we did it, right?”
“Un. Good job over there, Terushima.”
“Hehe. I feel like it was worth it. Ai-san is actually just a pure maiden. Maybe if she didn’t become a ghost, she might’ve met someone that will give her true love,” I wondered to myself with a small smile.
“That’s true. She didn’t even wish to get revenge on the man that caused her to be like that.”
A yawn escaped from my lips in the middle of our talk, “Uwaah, I’m so tired…”
I was about to dozed off when the door of the classroom flew open with a loud sound that knocked some senses to me.
“Tsuki-kun! Terushima-san! Are you okay?!” Kurokawa-senpai is panting heavily when he slammed the door open.
“Kaichou! You shouldn’t run like that!”
“Kaichou, you’re fast...”
“You should calm down for now, Kaichou.”
The other three are also catching up their breath now.
“Uuu, I’m glad you’re okay.” Kurokawa-senpai cried when he saw the two of us unharmed. Looks like he’s really worried about us.
“No need to worry that much, Kaichou.” Mashiro-senpai said gently and gave him a head pat to calm him down. Kurokawa-senpai’s cat ears are drooping down as he continued to wipe his tears with Mashiro-senpai comforting him.
Fuuu, this is a healing scene.
“Un! We’re fine! So you don’t need to—”
I came to a stop when I found myself staggering and having a hard time keeping my balance. A dizzy spell hits me out of nowhere.
My eyesight was blurred and it was as if everything is spinning around.
Why do I feel like I’m falling?
I could hear voices calling for me and I tried to held on my consciousness to assure them that I’m fine. But it was futile. The last thing I remembered was everyone’s worried faces before everything turned black.
With a loud thud, I collapsed in front of them.
As I lost consciousness, I only thought of one thing…
Why didn’t anyone catch me?! That hurts like hell!
“UWOOAH!! What is this place?!”
The last thing that I remembered was collapsing in a classroom because of exhaustion from staying up until morning. When I came to, I’m expecting to wake up in the school’s infirmary, but I woke up in a place that seems like a Japanese inn.
I woke up feeling refreshed than ever, it didn’t feel suffocating. This might be the first time that I slept properly for a long time. The futon is so soft and the room gives me a comfortable feeling. I really feel like I’m in some kind of inn.
“This is nice… I won’t mind living in this cozy place.” I said in awe as I took a look around the room.
The tatami floors felt relaxing when I stepped on it with my bare feet. The traditional sliding doors are closed but light is passing through from outside, it could be around noon by now. There is also a subtle scent of incense that gave me a pleasant feeling inside.
While I’m scanning around the room, my sight fell upon a piece of paper in the floor just near the futon where I slept earlier .
“Hmm… what is this?”
I picked it up and opened it carefully enough not to rip the paper apart. There is a letter inside along with a dried anemone flower.
This is cute, putting dried flowers in a letter doesn’t seem common nowadays, but that exactly shows how much thought is meant by the sender.
My lips curved into a small smile when I read what’s written on it. Senpai is really bad with words, but I’ll just pretend that he meant well based on the anemone flower.
After all, anemone meant ‘sincerity’ in the language of flowers.
“Geez, this is not a love letter, Mashiro-senpai.”
That was the first handwritten letter that I got from someone.