Chapter 59:


New Leaf!

A couple of days have passed since that day, but I’m honestly still so happy. The day I first visited Alente Bistro and met Valerie, Alan, Elyssa, and Mr Li…Bookmark here

I was sitting at the dining table devouring leftovers from Alente that was heated up using a microwave. But even in this state, it was so good. Like really good. Like, so good that it’s turning me into a borderline addict…Bookmark here

And it’s so good because I can’t taste that other taste… The taste was so salty…. The taste made me smell horrendous things… The taste ruined everything… That’s why I’m happy even until now — that taste is gone. I’ve eaten a few dishes, and none of them evoked that taste. That sour taste that brought about even more sour memories… This taste plagued me for so long, so that donut was my first time eating without any disturbance…Bookmark here

And I know it’s not just dishes from Alente that have this effect. Even Ren’s basic recipes prepared by me and my questionable cooking skills don’t have this scourge. So basically, what I’m saying is… I’m cured — my sense of taste is no longer being hindered. Yes… Now I can truly savour flavour! Exquisite food will no longer taste just okay, and bad food no longer has an excuse for tasting bad!Bookmark here

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I would usually be at work right now. However, I am home right now because a friend of Alan took over my shift and Valerie cannot afford to pay the both of us. The friend didn’t give an exact reason for temporarily joining, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with money — he is in college and I think tuition is expensive. But I’m newer, so shouldn’t I stay because I need more experience? But from a business standpoint, I guess it makes sense that the least experienced member is laid off — that’s just my guess. It’s for five days, so vacation for me!.. Well, I’m usually off for three of those days, so I guess it’s only a two-day vacation…Bookmark here

A couple of minutes after finishing my satisfying meal, I decided to do some school work. I could have chosen to play a game on the TV or continue watching entertaining videos online, but honestly, that got boring. I’d continue my show, but I completely finished it, and it left me with an empty feeling and hope for another season! So, I’ll do academic work. I shouldn’t complain because education is important — I like doing important things!Bookmark here

After about 30 minutes, I heard the door unlock. Was that Ren? It’s earlier than when his work ends at 3:00. And it’s way earlier than when he usually leaves work. What’s up?Bookmark here

I got up and went to the door to greet him.Bookmark here

“W-Welcome home, Ren. But aren’t you early? It’s only after lunch…”Bookmark here

He nodded.Bookmark here

“Hello. Yeah, that is because our boss let me go early.”Bookmark here

I put my hand on my mouth in shock.Bookmark here

“Eh!? Did you get fired!? Oh my gosh, what happened!?”Bookmark here

He shook his head. Yeah, I guess Ren would never do something that would get him fired — he’s the most reliable person I know!Bookmark here

“No, it is not that… Actually…”Bookmark here

He moved his bag from his shoulder and put his hand on the back of his neck.Bookmark here

“Starting tomorrow, I will be on a business trip. The Boss let me go early to prepare.”Bookmark here

My small smile was gradually turning into a frown… Bookmark here

W-What?.. What?..Bookmark here

“W-What? R-Really? Why?”Bookmark here

“Oh… Just some things relating to work.”Bookmark here

Oh…I see… Bookmark here

“For three days starting tomorrow, I will be away.”Bookmark here

Huh? Three days… That’s a lot…Bookmark here

“Um, R-Ren… How important is this trip?”Bookmark here

He’ll be away for three days… Why? Why did this bother me so much? Why was I dreading this?Bookmark here

“Pretty important I think. We have to help another office with a rather major project. I-”Bookmark here

“R-Ren, please don’t go!”Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

I… I don’t know why I said that. I did know why this bothered me so much, but the fact was that it did. I don’t know why, but I felt sad… Why did I feel so sad that Ren was going to be away? Was… um, I don’t know… Bookmark here

My arms started trembling… I was staring at the floor… I felt my chest become heavy… What was going on?Bookmark here

I’ve been alone for a long time — I’ve been homeless for six months and I’ve never been distressed by someone leaving…Bookmark here

“R-Ren… Ren, please don’t go! I… I don’t know, but please don’t go!”Bookmark here

What? Why did I sound so desperate? Why was I saying this?Bookmark here

“F-Forget work, I want you to stay!”Bookmark here

Why… was I saying this?Bookmark here

“Please, don’t leave!”Bookmark here

Why… was… I… saying… this?..Bookmark here

I said those things… But why did I say them? After I said them, I could feel my breathing become heavier.Bookmark here

Ren walked towards me. I didn’t see, but I think he tilted his head.Bookmark here

“Camryn? What is the matt-”Bookmark here

“W-Wait, n-no, don’t listen to me!”Bookmark here

I swiftly turned from him, keeping my head down. I was speaking intensely, but I shouldn’t be… Was I feeling angry? If I was, I shouldn’t be.Bookmark here

“F-Forget everything that I said… L-Leave… G-Go… Your work’s important, right? S-Sorry for saying those things…”Bookmark here

My back was still turned towards him, but I straightened myself and looked normal — despite my limbs shaking. I tried speaking cheerfully and throwing my arms up to mimic the effect.Bookmark here

“J-Just… Um… D-Don’t worry about me… H-Hey, I’m fourteen, remember? I can look after myself! You g-gave me that recipe book, so I can cook. I’m sure I can figure out the public transit system, and I have money from working, so I can get groceries! I… Um… I…”Bookmark here

Ren put a hand on my shoulder. Was it supposed to be reassuring? Or was it just meant to stop me from having this outburst?Bookmark here

“Camryn…”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah?”Bookmark here

“Camryn… If you don’t want me to go, then I won't.”Bookmark here

When he said that, I jumped forward.Bookmark here

“N-No! Ren, why are you listening to me!? Um…”Bookmark here

I put my hand on my face… I was about to reveal the truth, but why was I sad about it? It’s the truth, so there’s no way to change it.Bookmark here

“Ren, I’m just a child throwing a fit, okay? I’m just acting out because I want attention, okay!? So just ignore me and go, okay!?”Bookmark here

A minute for me holding the same position passed. My head was down… My legs were trembling… My arms were trembling… My breathing was heavy… But there was one new thing — my eyes were slightly wet. I was crying? But why? Am I sad because of the truth? Am I sad because Ren’s leaving? I shouldn’t be…Bookmark here

My feelings just don’t matter… Bookmark here

Ren put his hand on my shoulder again.Bookmark here

“U-Um… Camryn?”Bookmark here

He… Did he speak calmly? I-I’m not sure. He was speaking in his usual monotone voice, so it was kind of hard to tell.Bookmark here

“Camryn, I can see that you are distraught about the situation… And honestly, I am a little confused — do you want me to go or stay?”Bookmark here

“Sta- Wait, I mean go.”Bookmark here

I was not speaking in a loud voice — I already used most of my energy revealing these confusing feelings.Bookmark here

Geez, what am I saying? Just go… Seriously, I’ll be fine alone…Bookmark here

Ren removed his hand from my shoulder and walked forward. I raised my tear-stained eyes and looked at him… Basking in the afternoon sunlight peering through the window… Bookmark here

He shook his head.Bookmark here

“Um… I do not think that is right. You are obviously disturbed… And you are not saying what the true reason is, and honestly, that is okay…”Bookmark here

He turned to me to look me in the eyes — my distressing eyes riddled with tears. But his expression did not change… He was not bothered by my look.Bookmark here

“Look… Leaving you alone does not seem like a viable option, and staying would only do harm for the company… Therefore…”Bookmark here

He stared at me… He meant everything that he was saying.Bookmark here

“A solution to this is for you to come with me…”Bookmark here

“W-What?.. What!?”Bookmark here

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As I expressed my disbelief and opinion of his absurd proposal, Ren handed me a white handkerchief. Bookmark here

“Here, please compose yourself and we can talk properly…”Bookmark here

“Oh, t-thanks.”Bookmark here

He nodded as I swiftly whipped my face with it.Bookmark here

Ren put his hand on the back of his neck again.Bookmark here

“Yeah… You can come with me on the business trip. Really, it is no hassle.”Bookmark here

I was still shocked. I mean, the suggestion was just absurd.Bookmark here

“I mean, you do not have work for those days — you also have the day after off because of Alan’s acquaintance wanting to work.”Bookmark here

But…Bookmark here

“I will also be most likely working the whole time…”Bookmark here

But…Bookmark here

“There will be enough room given the hotel that was booked…”Bookmark here

But…Bookmark here

“We will drive to the city, so there will be no expenses there…”Bookmark here

But…Bookmark here

“I’ve never been to the city so I don’t know what it has to offer, but there you can still be entertained…”Bookmark here

But… Bookmark here

“Also, my co-”Bookmark here

“But Ren!”Bookmark here

He looked at me again when I interrupted him.Bookmark here

“Why are… Um… You know, I… Uh…”Bookmark here

But I did not know what to say… I obviously conveyed to Ren that I did not want him to go. It would be unreasonable to think that I was saying he should not work anymore given that he’s worked there for a long time, so he probably thinks I don’t want to be separated from him — how petty and sad. And as usual, he also alleviated my worries of being a burden to him. So I should probably accept, right?Bookmark here

“I…”Bookmark here

But it was not so easy to accept. I mean, from Ren’s standpoint, accepting would be fair, maybe even encouraged. But, it was not so simple. It… The thought of accepting felt so weird. I felt… ashamed for doing it. But I should accept it… My feelings… The only thing they do is make things complicated, and I hate it!Bookmark here

“Um…”Bookmark here

Ren put his hand on my shoulder again.Bookmark here

“Camryn, you do not have to look so sad… Seriously, you can come.”Bookmark here

I guess I have no choice. But it’s not like I don’t want to go…Bookmark here

“Sure, I’ll go!”Bookmark here

I really shouldn’t look so sad, so I smiled at Ren through my tear-stained face.Bookmark here

“Th-Thank you, Ren…”Bookmark here

Ren nodded.Bookmark here

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