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
After finishing my breakfast, I say goodbye to my parents, then I’m out of the house.
There’s five of us in my family — my mom and dad, my big brother, my big sister, and me.
I’m Kosame Muramatsu, and I’m in my first year of middle school.
My big sister Kumoko’s a high school second-year, so she’s already gone ahead to catch her train.
It’s only the start of June, and my backpack already feels like dead weight.
I had a fever, so I took three days off of school. I think that’s what’s making my backpack feel heavier. And the route I take to get to school looks kinda...different.
But the kappa who’s always floating in the river is still there. He watches me pass by, so I give him a big smile and a wave.
When I do, the kappa sinks into the water with a sploosh. Every time. I guess he must be a little shy.
“G’morning, Kosame! Feeling better?”
Akane, one of my classmates, comes running up to me with a smile.
“Yep, I’m totally fine!”
“That’s great! I was worried about you. Ooooh, right. We got another transfer student while you were out.”
“Already? Sora just started here, too. So? What’re they like?”
“Weeell, she’s...weird. She calls herself Princess Kaguya, and she keeps saying that she was born from bamboo.”
“That’s so cool!”
I mean, that’s pretty rare, right? Being born from like, plants not people.
I can’t wait to meet her.
“Wait, Kosame... You don’t actually believe that, do you?”
Lost in my own thoughts, I miss Akane’s skeptical question completely.
When we finally get to school, a bunch of my other classmates come rushing over to greet me.
“Hey, Kosame! How’re you doing? Better?”
“It’s good to see you again! Three days is a long time!”
“You had everyone worried about you!”
You know, those kinds of well-intentioned comments.
My classmates are really nice like that.
When I take my seat, my neighbor — Sora Amanojaku — won’t stop staring at me.
“Good morning, Sora.”
“Got something you wanna say?”
“...I was just thinking it’s too bad you’re feeling better.”
Sora’s a kind of ogre called an “amanojaku.”
I know ‘cause he told me so himself. He sits next to me in class.
He’s not the least bit scary, though.
His horns are pretty tiny, and his face is more cute than creepy.
Sora says that amanojaku’ll say one thing when they really mean the opposite.
So, he doesn’t talk too much. But he’s caring. Like, he’ll split his dessert with me at lunch, or help me with my homework.
“Thanks, Sora. You’re a nice guy.”
He glances away as his cheeks turn pink.
Well, whatever. He’s always like that.
I scan the room, looking for the new transfer student. I finally spot her, sitting by herself in the furthest corner, scribbling something in her notebook. She’s got her hair up in higher pigtails than anyone else, and she’s wearing an eyepatch with a heart on it.
Huh. She’s not exactly what I was expecting. But, I made up my mind to try and talk to her during recess.
So, when a few of my classmates asked if I wanted to go to the washroom with them, I lied and said...
“Eh, I already went.”
So I could go have a chat with Princess Kaguya instead.
She hasn’t left either — she’s just drawing or doodling or whatever in her notebook.
I sit down in the empty chair in front of her desk, swiveling around to face her.
The poor girl practically jumps out of her skin, hiding her notebook behind her back.
“Don’t bother with her, Kosame. She’s a weirdo.”
“Yeah, she keeps claiming that she was born from a stalk of bamboo, and that her parents live up on the moon.”
“She’s always looking down on us, too. I mean, she gets super mad if you don’t call her ‘Princess’.”
Well, all of my classmates are nice to me, but...
This side of them isn’t so great.
They’re pretty quick to turn on anyone who’s even a little bit different from them.
Sora’s fate was up in the air at first, but he’s got the whole “mysterious hottie” trope working for him, since he spends most of his time reading instead of chatting it up with his classmates.
So, the girls are happy to watch him from afar (‘cause he’s good-looking), and the guys have given up on trying to start fights with him, since he doesn’t respond to their teasing.
I think Sora’d like to be more talkative, but he’d definitely get bullied by the rest of the class if he was.
Princess Kaguya, on the other hand, doesn’t seem like much of a lone wolf.
“Did I miss something?”
“Uh, only her whole self-introduction! She was going on about how she was a princess, and that she was going to make us ALL her servants, so we’d better hurry up and bow down to her! ...C’mon, who does that?”
“...Yeah, and? I mean, she still introduced herself.”
I look over at Princess Kaguya, and she buries her head in her arms.
“So, wait. If your parents are up on the moon, how’d you end up in some bamboo down here?”
“What do YOU care? You’re not going to believe me, either.”
She snaps back at me without moving, her voice muffled by the desk.
“Hey! Don’t you talk to Kosame like that!”
“I DO believe you.”
I don’t even bother acknowledging my other classmate’s outburst.
“I’m all for being different, so I think it’s pretty cool that you weren’t born like most people. What’s the moon like? What kind of things do YOU like? I wanna learn more about you.”
“What, so you can tease me about it?”
“You ARE! And then you’ll go laugh about it, just like everyone else!”
Princess Kaguya looks back up, tears shimmering in her eyes.
“I swear I won’t. C’mon, let’s be friends.”
I hold my right hand out to her, and she stares at, then back up at me, then back to my hand like, “Seriously? What d’you want me to do with that?”
“If anyone laughs at you, I’ll set ‘em straight. You can say whatever crazy stuff you’d like, and I’ll still stick with you.”
“...You really mean it?”
“You’ll even be my gym partner?”
“Sure, no problem.”
I’ll have WAY more fun with a moon princess than anyone who thinks it’s cool to laugh at people who’re different.
Like, I love that Sora only uses opposites.
Humans’re boring. They outnumber anything cool on this planet — and most of them don’t have anything unique to bring to the table.
That, and whatever they don’t understand, they don’t accept.
But, ever since I was little, I’ve always gone for the least popular option. I’m all for the weird and unusual!
‘Cause I don’t want to be like everyone else.
So, whenever I meet someone who’s a little different, I go out of my way to get to know them better.
“You really, REALLY mean it? You’ll be my friend?”
“Pinky promise. If I’m lying, you can kill me ten times over.”
“...You’re sure about that? I really would, you know!”
See? She’s not holding anything back.
Princess Kaguya sloooowly reaches out with her left hand. When she finally grabs mine, I respond with a firm handshake.
“Cool, that’s that, then. So, what were you drawing?”
“Oh...! It’s um...well...”
But the bell rings, and our break time’s up.
When I get back to my own seat, Sora’s staring at me. That usually means there’s something he wants to say.
“Kosame, you’re pretty normal, huh?”
“...Nah, I don’t think so. But thanks, Sora.”
No, really. I’m as basic as they come.
Anyone with special abilities, or who’s a different species, or maybe just kinda quirky — that’s who I admire.
When I’m older, I wanna move to another realm and become a demon lord or something. Heroic adventurers are a dime a dozen, but there’s only ever ONE demon lord.
I wouldn’t like, beat up a demon lord and take over their territory, though. That’s too obvious. I mean, if someone like ME can come up with a plan like that, then someone even cooler’s definitely already done it.
Anyways, the rumor that ended up going around was that “the fever fried Kosame’s brain.”
And everyone just left it at that.
After school, Princess Kaguya let me see her notebook.
In it, she’s drawn a picture of herself in goth-loli clothes, holding hands with two other girls — a devil with two black wings, and an angel with one black wing, and one white one.
“Who’re these guys?”
“My new friends! They’re an angel and a devil.”
Princess Kaguya has the biggest grin on her face as she points at each of the figures on either side of her.
“Whoa, an angel AND a devil...?”
“Yeah! The angel’s got one black wing and one white one, but they’re still technically an angel. I think. The devil’s one of the Demon Realm’s prodigies. They promised to tell me more about the Celestial Realm next time.”
If anyone normal was listening to this, they’d probably think she’d made all this up just to get some attention.
But I think it’s awesome.
“You have GOT to introduce me.”
“No problem! You’re my friend too, so they won’t mind.”
When my classmates asked me to walk home with them, I turned them all down so I could leave with Princess Kaguya.
“This is...! The first time I’ll be walking home with a friend!”
She looks really excited about this.
Yeah, I’m glad I reached out to her.
Eventually, our paths split. We wave goodbye, then I’m on my own again.
“Heeeey, little lady.”
“Hey, Pops! How’s it going?”
Along the way, I run into the jinmenken — the scruffy shiba inu with the old man face.
He tells me all kinds of crazy stories.
We often sit and chat, side by side, on one of the benches at the park.
“So, you were sayin’ that school was boring, but how’re things going now?”
“Good! An amanojaku just transferred in, and he sits next to me now. I had to take a few days off, ‘cause I was sick, but when I got back, there was another new girl. Princess Kaguya. She’s funny. I think middle school’s gonna be pretty interesting after all.”
“Izzat so? I guess you’ll eventually get tired of chattin’ with this old dog...”
The jinmenken’s shoulders slouch as he mumbles in reply.
“No way! I’ve got you and the kappa, plus Sora — he’s the amanojaku — and Princess Kaguya says that she’s from the moon, which is cool. You guys are all WAY more fun. And who knows? There might be a party of like, adventurers, or even a demon lord wandering around somewhere, too! Doesn’t thinking about that kind of thing get you all fired up?”
“Well, whatever floats yer boat, little lady. You’ve got spunk, that’s fer sure.”
Without thinking, I reach out to scratch the top of his head, and he gives me this look of unspeakable embarrassment.
“Eeeh, I’m not usually one fer head pats, but I’ll let’cha have this one.”
Or so he grumbles, but his curled tail is wagging in unrestrained happiness. And I think that’s adorable.
“See you later!”
“Drop on by and tell me more about’cher school some other time, alright?”
When I finally make it back to my own neighborhood, the sun is starting to set.
Just up ahead, I can see someone else I recognize.
“Huh? Oh, Kosame. You on your way home? Were you okay to go back to school so soon after catching that cold?”
“Yeah, it was fine. How about you, big bro? What’re you up to?”
My big brother Haru’s the best. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, he holds up a plastic shopping bag in answer.
“Just on my way back from some shopping. What’s up? You look like you had a good day.”
Rustling through the bag, Haru pulls out a bottle of apple juice. He twists the lid off and starts gulping it down.
I skip straight over all the boring, normal stuff, and get straight to the day’s big news.
“When I got in today, I found out that we had a new transfer student! Her name’s Princess Kaguya!”
My brother does a spit take, apple juice spraying everywhere. He stares at me in shock, the drink dripping down his chin.
“You okay, Haru?”
“...Yeah, I just... Never mind.”
Wiping his mouth with a handkerchief he pulled from his back pocket, Haru looks at me with, well, serious concern.
“Y’know, we’ve had a lot of new people lately! I’m friends with Sora now — he sits beside me — and I think Princess Kaguya and I are gonna get along great! School’s gotten soooo much more interesting.”
“...Yeesh, I wonder if this runs in the family... Right. So, if any weirdos try...anything weird...you tell me, okay? Ugh, like those five stalkers, er, suitors of Princess Kaguya’s, or... Nah, mostly just those guys.”
He shakes his head, but I have no idea what he’s muttering about.
Besides, if we’re talking about stalkers, then he just has to look behind him. Who’s the woman in the red dress hiding in the shadows, big bro?