Chapter 29:

An Amanojaku Doesn't Appear in This One

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice

Today’s evening number twenty-nine at the convenience store.Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

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“Welcome, irasshaimase.”Bookmark here

In walks a high school-aged girl in pink sweats, her blonde pigtails swinging back and forth as she looks around.Bookmark here

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At first glance, she seems like a regular girl — and I’m used to getting all kinds of...unique...customers now, so I call out the usual greeting. Well. Regular right up to the little green horns poking up out of her head. Yeah, I guess that’s normal enough.Bookmark here

Could she be the ogre couple’s kid? I could see them being parents.Bookmark here

The high-schooler (presumably) warily scans her surroundings, then heads straight for the sweets section.Bookmark here

She loads items into her basket in silence, then brings it up to the register.Bookmark here

“Will that be everything today?”Bookmark here

I scan through the items with a quick beep-beep.Bookmark here

“That’ll be seven hundred and eighty yen altogether.”Bookmark here

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The young woman nods and passes me a thousand-yen bill.Bookmark here

Oh thank god, she’s a paying customer. ...Wait, should I feel THIS relieved every time someone forks over a few bills? I mean, this IS a convenience store. Paying for things in cash should be standard.Bookmark here

“Thank you very much! We hope to see you again soon.”Bookmark here

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Right as I complete the transaction, the girl’s cell phone starts to ring.Bookmark here

“Hey, what’s up? ...What? Mom and Dad figured out that I’m not at home? Ah, yeah. They’re thrilled, huh? Oh... Hm, okay. Thanks for nothing. Won’t be long.”Bookmark here

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Whoa, what the hell?! What kind of parents would be happy that their teenage daughter was dashing off to convenience stores in the dead of night?! Shouldn’t they be concerned?!Bookmark here

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...Man, I just overheard some pretty messy family drama.Bookmark here

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She hurriedly stuffs her change into her wallet, looking like she’s ready to bolt.Bookmark here

“Wait, hold up.”Bookmark here

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I can’t help but interrupt her.Bookmark here

She glances up from her task with a puzzled look, and I give her my most comforting smile.Bookmark here

“You know, you don’t have to go straight home if you don’t want to.”Bookmark here

“Look, I’m sure you know everything about my family, so.”Bookmark here

She shrugs, like it’s no big deal. They’re not treating her so horribly that she thinks it’s normal, does she?Bookmark here

“Well, of course not. Still, after overhearing that conversation, I can’t help but be, uh, concerned. Why don’t you at least eat the sweets you bought here?”Bookmark here

“...Sure, whatever. Might as well. If I DON’T go home, then my parents’ll praise me, so I probably should just finish this all here.”Bookmark here

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She mutters defeatedly as she slinks off, and I drag my hands down my face in frustration.Bookmark here

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Oh my god... How can I possibly get through to this girl?!Bookmark here

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I mean, they’re saying that they’re glad she’s out of the house, and that they’ll celebrate if she doesn’t come home! What kind of abuse is she setting herself up for if she DOES go back?!Bookmark here

At the very least, she deserves to enjoy her purchase in peace...Bookmark here

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And ladies rave about our selection of soothing sweet treats. (Which is all she’s bought.)Bookmark here

She grabs a spot in the seating area, peeling back the lid of a flan and digging in with the little spoon that came with it.Bookmark here

Her face lights up with her first bite.Bookmark here

“Naaaaasty!!!”Bookmark here

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...Wait, what?! It’s THAT awful?! And who’d even shout that out where they bought it, anyways?! ...It almost feels like my manager and I owe her some kind of apology.Bookmark here

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“Gross! This flan’s just rock solid. Between that, the bitterness of the caramel and the sweetness of the egg, it’s an absolute disaster. I’ve never had anything this disgusting before! I can’t believe that it was that expensive!”Bookmark here

Whoa, it’s so bad it’s worth going into THAT much detail?! Would anyone really sit in a convenience store and complain that loudly about their stock?!Bookmark here

I mean, she said it was “an absolute disaster”!!Bookmark here

“Hm, okay. Cream puff, you’re up!”Bookmark here

For all that she disparaged the flan, she polished the whole thing off. Next, she unwraps a cream puff (with custard and cream filling).Bookmark here

Grinning from ear to ear, she takes a massive bite.Bookmark here

There’s a dollop of custard clinging to the corner of her mouth as she smiles even wider.Bookmark here

“This is just AWFUL! Man, convenience store pastries really are TERRIBLE! Ooh, this mix of custard and whipped cream is just the worst combo ever! Oh my gosh, I never want to taste this again!”Bookmark here

She loudly passes her verdict on the cream puff in between bites. Yeah, no! Come on! If you “never want to taste something again,” then why the hell would you keep eating it?!Bookmark here

I don’t know if she’s just not all that good at reviewing food, but... This is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone make sweets sound so...unappealing.Bookmark here

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Her last purchase is a strawberry crêpe that’s a little on the more expensive (and more elegant) side.Bookmark here

She tears open this package even more excitedly than the other two.Bookmark here

“Oooh, last and least, the thing I HATE the most on this planet — strawberries!”Bookmark here

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Then, what’s THAT you’re holding?! It’s stuffed to the brim with them!Bookmark here

Name-brand berries, at that!!Bookmark here

Bouncing in her seat, she takes one bite – and looks like she’s died and gone to heaven.Bookmark here

“Mmm! This is the WORST one of the bunch! Yeah, it’s that sickly sweet but sour combination that reeeeally makes them disgusting. It’s so heavy and dense, you can just tell they made it for guys!”Bookmark here

Hang on a second. Did she just call that fluffy, feminine crepe “heavy and dense” and “made for guys”?Bookmark here

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Come to think of it, all of her descriptions have been kind of...backwards.Bookmark here

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Like, how something is “gross” or “disgusting” while she acts like it’s delicious.Bookmark here

Or how she was cheerfully going on about “never wanting to taste something again.”Bookmark here

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Or how the most delicate desert in the store has “clearly been marketed towards men.”Bookmark here

Well. She’s not exactly wrong about that. My manager’s as rugged (looking) as they come, and he LOVES that sort of thing.Bookmark here

Wait. Then, isn’t she...?Bookmark here

I walk on over to the seating area to see if my hunch is right.Bookmark here

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“Hey, um, I couldn’t help but wonder, but... Have you been saying the opposite of what you mean this whole time?”Bookmark here

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“Mmph?!”Bookmark here

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She turns to me, her eyes widening as she quickly tries to swallow another huge bite of strawberry crêpe.Bookmark here

“Heck no!”Bookmark here

Or so she says, but she nods emphatically, as if to say... “Nailed it!”  Bookmark here

Aha. That explains the unusually descriptive reviews for otherwise “inedible” goods.Bookmark here

“I’m an amanojaku. What I’m thinking and what I end up saying totally match up. I’ve never been like this. Dealing with other people is SO much fun that I go out shopping all the time. But, I saw a write up in a magazine about convenience store sweets, so I just had to NOT try some. I figured that going super late at night would be more of a hassle.” Bookmark here

The amanojaku slumps in her chair, taking another bite of her dessert before she continues.Bookmark here

“It’s different at school. I’m terrified of being hated, so I don’t ever skip. My younger brother just started not going to middle school, so I’m not at all worried about him.”Bookmark here

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Makes sense that classes would be rough, too, if you’re stuck saying the opposite thing. I can see why she’d be anxious about her brother, if he’s just like she is.Bookmark here

“People always get what I’m saying at school, which is the best feeling ever. Of course, that means everyone’s super accepting! I’m totally living the dream.”Bookmark here

Yeah, I get that. If you can’t communicate with your peers, you’re going to have a tough time. Any kind of group work would be hell. And then, when you start to think that they’re just not going to include you at all...Bookmark here

“But, you know... Your brother decided to go for it. I’m sure he’s had his own share of issues, but he’s still out there, trying to move forward. If you want to go to school, then you should go! Even if you’re worried about how it’s going to go, this is the only chance you’re ever going to get to be a high schooler. You’ve got to just take a deep breath and dive right in. ...Still, I know that’s easier said than done.”Bookmark here

In my conversation with the amanojaku, I’ve pretty much switched over from “convenience store cashier” to “life coach.” I know it’s not really any of my business, and I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but... Now that I’ve hit twenty-one, if there’s one thing I know it’s that you don’t get a redo on your high school years. That’s really all I’m trying to say.Bookmark here

“Now or never, huh...? I mean, I don’t want to go to school! I don’t want any friends! But my little bro told me that he already went and didn’t make friends with a girl in his class, so... I couldn’t do that either, right?”Bookmark here

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The amanojaku glances up at me, her eyes shimmering with hopeful anticipation.Bookmark here

“Sure, you could! Your brother did, right? C’mon, you’ve got to seize your moment! Strike while the iron is hot! You can be whoever you want to be, you’ve just got to take that first step!”Bookmark here

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Well, now it feels more like I’ve upgraded from “life coach” to “motivational speaker.”Bookmark here

“I get that it bothers you that what you’re thinking and what you end up saying don’t match, but your expressions were all really easy to understand, so I’m sure that you’ll find some other people who’ll figure out what you mean. Besides, tsundere are all the rage right now.”Bookmark here

“...Huh?”Bookmark here

“A tsundere. You know — girls who don’t say what they actually mean. They’re adorable!”Bookmark here

She tilts her head to the side, clearly clueless, so I elaborate.Bookmark here

“C’mon, you see them all the time on TV and stuff. The girls who blush and stammer around the guy they like, but always tell him that they don’t care about him at ALL. That’s a tsundere.”Bookmark here

“What kind of brilliant person would be smart enough to LIKE being told they AREN’T appreciated?”Bookmark here

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...She makes a good point. Yep. This girl’s going to gather a VERY faithful following among certain kinds of guys.Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

“...Found you. Sis, you gotta spend even more time here.”Bookmark here

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A quiet-looking boy wearing a hat steps into the store, his face half hidden by his long hair.Bookmark here

“...Hey, Sora.”Bookmark here

“Mom and Dad haven’t been looking for you anywhere.”Bookmark here

Then, suddenly, the middle schooler focuses his attention on me.Bookmark here

He stares so hard that I swear he’s going to burn a hole in my skull.Bookmark here

“...Uh, what’s wrong? Is there, uh, something on my face?”Bookmark here

“...‘Muramatsu’? Oh, but...I guess they don’t look similar. Hey, um... Are you Kosame’s younger brother?”Bookmark here

“Huh?! You know Kosame?”Bookmark here

Go figure. Kosame Muramatsu, a first-year middle school student and my youngest sister, just happens to know the amanojaku’s brother.Bookmark here

“Yeah, she doesn’t sit next to me.”Bookmark here

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“Oh, really? What’s she like at school? She’s not giving you a hard time, is she?”Bookmark here

I mean, with how intently he’s staring at me, I’m sure she’s gotten up to SOMETHING.Bookmark here

“Yeah. Actually, I think she’s super ugly.”Bookmark here

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He mumbles his reply, turning away from me as he does.Bookmark here

What’d that punk say?! I swear, I’ll... Whoa. Hold up. Hm?! Or does he actually mean that he... Huh. Really?Bookmark here

“Come ON, sis.”Bookmark here

The smaller amanojaku is eager to leave, and the older one nods in reluctant agreement.Bookmark here

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“Are you guys going to be okay on your own?”Bookmark here

“Oh, we’ll be not fine. Our place is pretty far away. Thanks, mister. I won’t think about what you said about school.”Bookmark here

She gives me a bright smile, which is enough proof for me.Bookmark here

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Still, I walk them to the door, waving them off until I can’t see them anymore.Bookmark here

I guess even unusual people have some surprisingly usual problems.Bookmark here

...I swear, instead of a convenience store, we’re running a counseling service.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.