Chapter 0:



“Here you are, love.”

I was bent down next to her futon, and I held out a freshly brewed cup of her favorite chamomile tea.

She sat up, her wrinkled eyes glistening with the same gratitude as always, and she gingerly took the cup from my hands. I watched as her breath rippled over the surface, wafting the steam away.

She took a sip, and there it was. Her smile, as addictingly sweet as it’d always been.

“Thank you, honey.”

I smiled back and moved to raise myself up from the ground.

After overcoming the searing in my joints, and what felt like the gravity of a dying sun, I shuffled to the kitchen to enjoy my own cup of tea. Unlike my wife, I preferred cold brew, which I could more or less drink in one go.

More importantly, I also liked my tea sweet.

I checked over my shoulder. When I was sure my wife hadn’t followed me to the kitchen, I snuck two spoonfuls of sugar into my cup.

It tasted heavenly.

When I returned to the bedroom, my wife had set her cup down next to her pillow. She was slowly massaging her legs, as if watching me earlier had made her own pains act up.

She looked up at me and chuckled.

“We’re getting quite old, aren’t we?”

“Yeah. I think you could say that.”

“It’s... exciting in a way though, isn’t it? One of these days, we’ll fall asleep for one last time, and then we’ll wake up to our next great adventure. Maybe I can get reincarnated into a fantasy world, as the beautiful daughter of a powerful duke..."

I took a moment to process what she’d said, as I turned off the lights and lowered myself onto my futon. While still difficult, it was much easier than getting up. The dying sun did most of the work.

"Did Saki-chan convince you to try another one of her manga? You're going to call me a broken record, but—"

"Yes, yes. I'm far too old to be reading such childish stories. But it makes Saki-chan happy... and it makes me happy.”

She grinned.

“Who are you to talk, anyway, you with all your robot and spaceship anime, clogging up our shelves?"

"...Hey. I've told you countless times. Those are timeless classics."

"And who's to say 'Delightful Disaster: Reincarnated as the Duke’s Devilish Daughter’ won’t become a timeless classic too?”

I turned to face her, and gave her “the look.”

“Yeah, you’re right. It probably won’t.”

A few moments passed in silence.

“So, The love interest in this new manga. Is it the crown prince of the kingdom?”


“Then that’s who I’ll need to reincarnate as.”

“You, as a prince? Ha!”

“Now what in the world is that supposed to mean?”

“And would you even be able to survive in a medieval world? Sugar wasn’t all that common back then. Yeah, I know what you were doing in the kitchen, old man. Could you imagine? An otherwise handsome prince who has a beer belly from eating too many sweets?”

“‘Otherwise handsome.’ Yeah, I’ll take that.”

She laughed.

"Hah... Honey? If there really is a next life... make sure you find me again, okay?"

“Start a world-famous cake shop, and there’s no way I won’t.”

"Okay. And once you find me, you should ask me to marry you."

“I’ll be pining for you every day, until that happens.”

"And then, perhaps...”

Her tone suddenly shifted.

“Because I’ll be young again, we can try anew..."

To be parents.

I took a deep breath, slowly. It wasn’t a topic we talked about much, but the air seemed to thin whenever it did come up. I reached over and gently ran my fingers through her hair.

"Ah. Honey. Remind me to prepare some sweets for Saki-chan in the shop tomorrow. Maybe some of those French white chocolates, the ones we recently started stocking."

"Her mother won't be happy."

"Her mother is my niece, and she owes me over a million yen."

"Ha, fair enough."

As the room fell back to silence, I felt the return of a familiar, nagging fear. It reappeared every night before I went to bed, one that only grew stronger with time. Because it was impossible to know. Any night could be our last.

Even this one.

“Good night, love.”

“Good night, honey.”

“See you tomorrow.”

I reached my hand out from under my blanket. When I found hers, I took it and held on tight.

Just in case.



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