Chapter 1:


Tomorrow is Closed

“Fuck me.”

I clutched my mouth over and over like I was wiping it after eating a sloppy burger, but it was stupid for two reasons: for one, I hadn’t eaten anything all morning, so logically there couldn’t have been anything to wipe, and for two, you should never do that with your bare hands anyway unless you’re a disgusting NEET who plays video games all day and has complete disregard for personal hygiene due to depression. Except I’m not a disgusting NEET who plays video games all day and has complete disregard for personal hygiene due to depression, so maybe I should say that I was feeling my beard, but I didn’t have a beard because everyone knows Asian guys don’t have beards unless they were born in America, are whitewashed, or don’t want facial hair in the first place, or are significantly older than 16.

I tried composing myself. “Bro, I need a favour.”



“You can’t just go up to your older sister first thing in the morning and say ‘fuck me’ with a serious expression. Or any time of day, for that matter.”

“Should I have made it less serious?”

Sumire placed her fork on her plate without rattling it. Gently and gracefully, as she always did when it came to anything (very annoying). “Do you really believe that’s the issue at hand?”


“Honestly, truthfully—do you think your expression was the problem?”

“Don’t you think you’re asking too many questions?”

Sumire didn’t seem completely pleased with my response, but she didn’t press me any further. Instead, because there was no more out-of-place cutlery to rearrange without ruining the ridiculously bourgeois arrangement of silverware she’d laid out the table in, she decided to part her see-through bangs (elegantly), sigh (imperceptibly), and then take a sip of coffee (gracefully).

“Tell me the problem, my beloved brother.”

“Ew,” I said reflexively.

“Tell me the problem, you ungrateful piece of pond scum.”

“That’s a little bit better, but the delivery is still slightly unnatural. You need to work on—”

“Look, are you going to waste my entire morning like this, or should I just emotionally neglect you like our parents did, my beloved brother?


That was very uncalled for.

I took a quick glance at Sumire (I realised I’d been staring at my feet clad in We Bare Bears house slippers) and noticed she was just gently stirring her coffee. No outward emotion, no sign of emotion, no nothing. Not even the slightest hint of disappointment or scorn.

“S-so,” I began.

“So,” she replied.

“There’s this girl.”


“And she’s standing at the beach, right?”


“S-so, there’s this girl standing at the beach, and she’s wearing my school uniform, right?”


“So there’s this girl, she’s wearing my school uniform, and she’s standing at the beach and dipping her feet into the—”


Sumire’s coffee cup was placed onto its plate with just a tiny bit more force than necessary.

“Kaoru,” she said, her voice as emotionless as ever.


“Why do you refuse to let me know what’s happening in your life? I just…”

For a moment, I genuinely thought I was the one responsible for finally making humanity’s strongest woman succumb to the weight of the world.

“Forget it, let’s just put a pin on that. I’m going to make your breakfast… you’ll be late for school at this rate.”

And as quickly as that moment came, it was washed away instantly like a line in the sand.

Sumire got up and pushed her chair in with the absolute perfect amount of force, then took her half-finished mushroom omelette to the back—supposedly to clean up, but anyone who knew her for more than 10 seconds understood she was the kind of person that optimised everything, including not wasting precious calories. And I had the (mis)fortune of knowing her for seven years, so one could conceivably argue that I was acquainted enough with her habits to understand she was going to cook while eating, a highly time-efficient action. However, this line of logic followed to its natural conclusion would result in the observation that someone truly obsessed with optimisation would have cooked both omelettes simultaneously instead of separately (barring any considerations regarding temperature), which would imply that some sort of misrepresentation or exaggeration about her personality on my part had taken place, but that assumption misses out on key context such as the fact that I had told her approximately a week ago that I no longer required her to cook breakfast for me because I didn’t want her to be tired in the mornings since she was slaving away at a corporate job to support a freeloading younger brother at 26 randomly pawned off to her following indescribably traumatic family drama and that she didn’t deserve any more unnecessary stressors in her life, and so.

In conclusion, I didn’t say anything to her and pulled out my phone.


[bitch: Mitoma-san, make sure you have your section of the PowerPoint slides for our presentation ready by Miyagi-sensei’s class. I just logged on with my laptop and saw your section is totally blank.]

[Or at least have the courtesy to tell your group leader you’re skipping school before presentation day. I saw you were up at 3am last night playing Nyarupong.]

I put my phone back in my pocket. Phones are the root of all evil in modern society, and I choose to be a good person. Actually, simply putting my phone into my pocket wasn’t enough—I decided to turn off my phone entirely at that moment, being the good person that I was (and still currently am). Then, being not just a good person, but a virtuous one, I further decided to go to my house’s landline and unplugged it from both the electricity source and the other socket that I didn’t understand and still don’t really because I reject evil and choose not to engage with Satan’s machinations.

Then, just as I was going to ascend to sainthood by heading to my room to cut off the last vestige of a worse time from when I was horny for the devil, my PC, the doorbell rang.

“Go answer it,” Sumire called out from the kitchen.

And so I did. I opened the door.

Except there was no one there.

“Oh my god. It’s a ghost.”


“Oh my god, it’s actually a ghost.”


I redirected my gaze downwards to the source of the noise, and it turned out to belong to a girl with strawberry pink hair (some would argue bubblegum, but bubblegum’s not necessarily a colour, moreso a flavour, plus bubblegum comes into multiple colours which makes me question the first person who ever used bubblegum to describe a colour since it isn’t specific enough to properly communicate an author’s mental image which some would argue is important) and oversized bubblegum pom-pom earrings which definitely did not belong on a twelve year old—which made me conclude she must’ve stolen it from an older sister, or perhaps her mother had a more promiscuous rather than motherly disposition.

“Oh. Didn’t see you there, kiddo.”

“Really? It was funny the first seventy times, Kaoru-kun. And you’re not even that tall for a guy!”

“Hey, joking about sensitive topics and insulting people isn’t cool. Some might even argue that’s an even bigger personality flaw than being short.”

“What in the— whatever, man… I’m going in.”

The girl tried to brush past me with all of her 150cm midget strength, but I effortlessly stopped her in her tracks.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea right now, Mari.”

“What happened to kiddo?”

“Serious happened,” I continued. “No but really, I think Sumire isn’t having the best day. Just go to the 7-11 and get some bread or something. I’ll pay you back at school.”

“Why? What did you do to Big Sis Sumire?”

“You can’t call her that, that’s my word. And why did you immediately assume I did something?”

She whipped her neck upwards and stared directly into my soul.

“Because when are you ever not being ungrateful?”

As she did, I caught a whiff of her perfume—something flower-ish… or fruit-ish… I don’t know, I think it’s feasible that a 16-year-old isn’t able to differentiate between the various scents available to girls his age—and it momentarily reminded me of the fact that, yes, even though I joke about Mari being a kid, she is still my classmate, and I am a teenager, and she does smell good, and I did just stop her in the doorway with my massive frame pressed up against her, and she is in school uniform, and she is decently endowed, and—

“Tr-true,” I said, stepping away. “V-verily, one must applaud y-your perspicacious discernment. I humbly confess that my interactions with Sumire do tend to exhibit a certain predisposition towards persnickety behaviour.”

“Huh? Why are you blushing?”

“Huh? You actually understood what I just said?”

Mari started awkwardly digging her shoes into the pavement. “O-oh, so you do see me that way. That’s awkward…”

“In what way?”

“In this way,” she said, twirling a strand of pink hair.

And then she launched herself at me.

I felt Mari’s hands wrap around my back.

Because I do too,” she whispered.

I felt my heart leaping out of my chest.

I felt my stomach tighten.

I felt something involuntarily rise in my—

“What the actual—”

Just kidding, you heightist dickhead.

And just like that, she broke off the hug, then showed off to ‘the audience’ what I can only describe as an impressive dual row of pink braces.

“Teehee. Tell Big Sis I’m so sorry we have the crappiest little brother ever.”

“Th-that makes absolutely no sense. I’m bigger than you. And absolutely unrelated.”

“Think of it as tier two friendzoning, then.”

“That still makes no sense.”

Sisters are into their brothers all the time.

Without replying, Mari started bouncing towards the lift, which greatly pleased me. But then she decided to talk anyway.

“Oh, by the way, I think Big Sis would feel better if you let me into the house. But since this is your way of looking out for her, I’ll let you have her way.”

“Huh? What makes you think that?”

“Sisterly intuition.”

“You aren’t her sister, though.”

“Womanly intuition, then.”

I didn’t feel like saying ‘You’re only sixteen, though’ considering what she had just done to my body, so I just nodded and watched the lift doors open from my apartment door. Incidentally, my calves were getting tired from being overly flexed.

“See you downstairs, Kaoru-kun. If you aren’t at the 7-11 by 8 I’ll just assume you’re skipping school again.”

“I’m not skipping,” I lied, completely undecided.

After hearing the lift doors close, I went back to the dining table and saw Sumire sitting there. In front of her was a selection of my favourite breakfast items… and next to that a bowl of granola with dried strawberries and milk plus a glass of Pocari Sweat.

“That was a long conversation. Was it Tsujimoto-san?”

“Please don’t address her so formally. It’s gross and unbecoming of you.”

“Why didn’t you invite her in?”

Words escaped me for a little bit. Why did I not, actually?

“I… uh, I thought you’d prefer it if I didn’t.”

Sumire blinked.

“That’s thoughtful, I suppose. What should I do with the food, though? Oh dear…”

I dragged the bowl of cereal over. “I’ll just eat it. I was hungry today anyway.”

Sumire blinked again.

“I suppose?”

She picked up her purse and headed to the door as I stuffed my mouth with food. “I’ll be heading off first, then. You took quite a while talking to Tsujimoto-san… I’ll be late if I don’t head to the station right now, so I’ll leave you to it.”

“Yup, sure.”

“Remember to rinse the cutlery before you put it in the washer.”


“Oh, and remember to rehearse for your presentation before Mr. Miyagi’s class. Yukimura-san from your class called, and she seemed to be very worried that you were getting overwhelmed about it.”


Bits of granola fell out of my mouth and back into its milky soup.


“I suppose that’s what you wanted to talk to me about? Well, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Yukimura-san seems reliable. And you’ve always been loquacious, so I’m sure you’ll find something to present about. Even if it’s mostly nonsensical.”


“Well, I’m off. Take care, my beloved brother.”

The moment I heard my apartment door close, I dumped all of Mari’s favourite cereal into a plastic bag and threw up inside of it.