Ben-To Vol 1 Ch 1 Part 5

The long time gap between this and the last update was because of irl stuffs and me being lazy. Hopefully the next update won’t take that long but no promises.

Proofreader/Editor: Muge

Part 5

As soon as class ended, without caring about the taste, I gulped down the melonpan from the school store and immediately moved on to the yakisoba bread. Let alone eating lunch, it was normal for people to still have their textbooks from the class before out.

Usually, I would take my time to enjoy the breads’ profound tastes instead of a time attack like this. I was hungry enough to eat a horse so it was unavoidable.

Last night, after escorting a conscious but unsteady Oshiroi to the women’s dormitory, I thought about eating the SoyJoy bar I received from the Fried God. But, an exhausted me decided it was a good idea to put the entire bar with the packaging intact into the dormitory’s microwave and then hit the “Start” button with all my strength.

I probably wanted to eat a warm dinner. It was a simple wish like that. A heartrending tale, so moving that you can put an equals sign between it and the tale about a young boy sticking close to a show window yearning for a trumpet.

However, what appeared before me was not a wealthy gentleman buying the trumpet for a boy he didn’t know, but it was a baptism by microwave. Right when I thought I saw something flash inside the microwave, the bar made a comedic puff sound, then exploded with a spark that tripped the dormitory’s circuit breaker.

…And then, my punishment was to not get any breakfast.

If you want to heat something up then the minimum you should do is to take it out of the packaging, I blamed myself…. But, if ‘The me from that time = a young boy sticking close to a show window yearning for a trumpet’ was really true, then, assuming the circuit breaker would have been fine and I was able to have the SoyJoy bar for a warm dinner at that time, there would have been a chance for me to become a top-class jazzman that brought joy to the whole world.

Even though I started from the very bottom in the Jazz life full of ups and downs, but in the end, I will be able to watch over my 7 children and 30 grandchildren while welcoming my final moments.

“It was a wonderful life. Even though it was the wrong time period, I was able to overcome even that to reach happiness. And, I’m very grateful for that. Thank you, God, and thank you, the beginning of everything, the SoyJoy bar that was heated by a microwave…”

In that moment, while my two hands can’t move anymore, those hands that once masterfully manipulated the trumpet will feel the warmth of my wife and sons’ grasping them tightly. And with that warmth, I will silently leave this world…

“What are you mumbling about while holding a yakisoba bread?”

“Thanks to the warm SoyJoy bar, I became a true jazzman, and, right now, this life is coming to an end while being wrapped in happiness.”

“What are you even saying? You’re making absolutely no sense at all.”

“Haha, no way, it’s not like I’m my old man.”

I slowly shook my head while wiping the small number of tears on the corners of my eyes.

“Anyway, lunch break will end in about 3 minutes so you should finish your lunch before it does.”

When I calmed down and looked at the source of that voice, I realized it was Shiraume carrying a bento cloth pouch in her chest.

“What are you saying, lunch break just starte….”

I looked at the clock hanging across the blackboard by reflex… Even though I just bit into the yakisoba sandwich, there was only about 3 minutes left of the 50 minutes lunch break…

…. Weird, I thought. What have I been doing, this last 45 minutes…?

Wait, calm down, you got to calm Satou Yoh, the true jazzman. Pretty sure I was thinking about the SoyJoy from yesterday… That’s right, I remember now.

Thanks to the SoyJoy bar, I became a true jazzman, and this life is coming to an end while being wrapped in happiness.

…Wait, that makes absolutely no sense at all.

“I, what did I…”

“Thanks to the SoyJoy bar, you became a true jazzman, and earlier, it seemed like your life were coming to an end while being wrapped in happiness.”

“… Uh, you’re making absolutely no sense at all.”

“And I said the same thing.”

I held my head with the yakisoba sandwich still in my hand.

“Time leap… No, in this case it would be… King Crimson 1?”

“Class is starting soon so I want to ask you this before it does.”

“Hm?” I turned my head towards Shiraume, who was standing next to my desk and continued, “What do you want, Shirau… Shiraume, Ume… Since the Ume part is repeating, has anyone ever called you MayMay (meme) before?2

“…No. I’ll get angry if you keep joking around like this. Is it okay for me to get angry?”

I’m certain that she doesn’t know about the popular ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’. She’s missing out on a third of life’s happiness, I retorted in my head.

“No, I’m not joking around at all, MayMay”

“Now I’m angry.”

Even though it was not supposed to be a joke, without a single change in her expressions, Shiraume slapped me with all she had. While it was from a neutral position, her slap still packed quite a punch. I was knocked out of my chair and the remaining noodle from my yakisoba sandwich splendidly splattered onto the floor in the same manner as gore in movies.

“Let’s move onto my question,” Shiraume continued in an unconcerned voice, “what is your relationship with Oshiroi-san?”

I didn’t see that coming, I thought. Oh right, yesterday, Shiraume was heading for the class next door to have lunch with a friend. That friend was probably Oshiroi then.

“Uh, even if you asked me that, I’m not really sure myself… Maybe a macho police detective and his partner?”

Because I believed in the three-second rule, a so-called law of the world, I picked up all the scattered noodle on the floor, put them into my mouth and then returned to my seat. But even though I did it in just two seconds, a strand of hair about one-meter long came out of my mouth for some reason.

“You’re still joking around, right? Is it okay for me to get angry?”

“What if I say it’s not okay?”

“Then I’ll still get angry.”

“And what if I say it’s okay?”

“Of course, I’ll get angry”

“Ahh, you’re already angry when you asked the question.”

“That’s right,” Shiraume’s response was accompanied by another slap and I was knocked down to the ground once again. The bell for the end of lunch break rang at about the same time as I landed.

“It seems like we ran out of time. I’ll listen to your answer the next time we meet. Goodbye.”

“See you, space cowboy,” I said while waving my hand. 3

And ate another slap.

Time was a cruel mistress.

She couldn’t be changed. She couldn’t be stopped. She couldn’t be reversed.

The only meager thing we could do was fiddling with the hands of the clock sitting on that shelf.

But, the flow of time still didn’t change in reality. And because of that, we could only look at that clock and laugh at the childlike idea of manipulating time.

… What is Ishioka-kun doing now? I wondered. The Ishioka-kun who was one hour late to the final exam in his last year in middle school. The Ishioka-kun who frantically tried to explain that his clock was one hour late. The Ishioka-kun who had a bad habit of mumbling while stressed and ended up receiving a zero for one subject because of that.

I heard that because of the zero, he missed the quota for recommendations and had to take entrance exams. And during that exam, he got stomach cramps from anxiety and couldn’t stay fully focused. In the end, he ended up going to a different high school than the one he wanted to.

What is he doing now? I repeated the question. What would he be doing now if he could turn back time?

Time was a cruel mistress.

She couldn’t be changed. She couldn’t be stopped. She couldn’t be reversed.

The only meager thing I could do was nonchalantly turn Ishioka-kun’s clock back one hour when I went to his house to study.

But, the flow of time didn’t change in reality. And because of that, I could only laugh at Ishioka-kun who looked at that clock and thought, “I can still sleep for another hour.” The Ishioka-kun who was at the bottom of the recommendations list with me…

But, well, there was no way this head of mine could plot such a scheme.

… What was I talking about anyway?

Ah, right, right. About how time was a cruel mistress.

Time was truly a cruel mistress. I ate lunch just earlier but I already felt hungry after only a few hours.

The idea of getting this or that to replace dinner for the time being floated in my head but I ended up deciding against such a drastic solution. However, the fact that I was poor didn’t change.

Do I really have to come to this exact place? Do I really have to stand here and look up at the bright supermarket’s store sign? Is Ishioka-kun doing well?… I had no answer for all of these questions.

And then, as expected, I also had no answer for why Oshiroi was next to me once again even though she was hurt yesterday.

“Why did you come here?”

“W-what about you, Satou-san.”

“Well, you see, I’m pretty much broke but I still want to eat a proper dinner so…”

Talking about myself like this feels like I’m making excuses, I thought. No, it was not a lie. Probably. But something didn’t feel right when I say my reason was only that.

Hunger and curiosity. Which one was it? Which was the main factor that lead my feet to this place? If I really had to pick, then I would say both. And yet, it feels like there’s still another reason.

“Even though you might get hurt again…?”

Getting beat up, being sneered at, losing my consciousness… And, I might not even get dinner again. But even then, my reasons for coming to this place were…?

“Then what about you Oshiroi? Didn’t you get beat up yesterday?”

She scratched her cheek nervously.

“I-if you ask me that, um, you see, because the day before yesterday was an all-out brawl, and yet, yesterday felt like everyone planned it beforehand… How should I put it, that kind of relationship where you can understand each other without any word in a blink of an eye, I find that’s amazing.”

“Yeah, that’s right, it’s amazing right,” I had no idea what she was saying at all. I also had no idea why she started giggling bashfully after I said that.

I think she meant that the group from before was able to mark another person, or rather an enemy in that situation, and confirm that fact through just eye contact.

“Even if you will get hurt again?” I replied using Oshiroi’s words from just now because the conversation was heading toward a bothersome direction. Her expressions immediately faltered for a bit.

“Because you see, that employee… Fried God?  He said it, right? It was because I touched them before they became half-priced. When I thought about it… it was pretty obvious. Everyone was disgusted because I touched those bentos right?”

“This again huh?” I said under my breath and let out a small sigh. Talking to her is like watching a movie from the middle, I have to figure out what’s going on from word fragments and…. Anyway, it’s just very bothersome.

“Let’s go,” to Oshiroi who was still grumbling while bending slightly forward, I said only those two words and headed inside the store.

“Eh, ahh wa-wait a minute. I’m sorry, did I say something that make you ang…”

Oshiroi’s voice from behind me suddenly trailed off as she made a faint gulping sound.

Before I could even process what was going on, my body shuddered as if someone poured ice down my spine. It was an intense gaze, a freezing gaze that felt strong enough to pierce right through me.

A sensation I knew so well now. It was, her gaze.

I turned my head and before me was, as expected, The Ice Witch.

“You’ve come again huh, pigs.”

Her voice was calm, and yet it was clearly filled with disdain. She then gave Oshiroi and me a single glance and, as if she looked at something foul, immediately turned towards the supermarket’s automatic door acting like nothing happened.

“This area is not a piggery. Get lost. Or I’ll crush you again.”

Unlike the disdain-filled voice when she walked past me from just now, The Ice Witch’s voice was so cold that it could be called the physical manifestation of absolute zero. It was a beautiful voice and yet, just hearing it alone was enough to send a shiver down my spine. It felt like my heart was being squeezed.

I clenched my fists as the memory of being trampled by her ran through my mind.

“…What do you mean by pigs?”

The Ice Witch continued through the automatic door as if she didn’t hear anything. I then raised my voice towards the closing door.

“What do you mean by pigs!? What the hell has been happening here!? What’s going o—”

Suddenly, I felt a floating sensation as my line of sight dropped and a pair of black quartzs filled my field of view.

“Pigs, refer to the shameless bunch like you two.”

From hearing the definition I’ve never heard before, the feeling of my collar being grabbed, and the fact that we were close enough for our noses to touch, I understood that she… The Ice Witch was right next to me. Even though she was just on the other side of the closing automatic door, in just an instant, she managed to head outside and grabbed my collar.

“Stop standing around the store’s entrance. And stop raising your voice in the store’s vicinity, even we don’t do it while waging war… You’re bothering everyone… You pig.”

“Try muttering another word, I’ll kill you right here,” her eyes continued.

The Ice Witch then released my collar and entered the store as if nothing had ever happened. I dropped down to my knees as the word Fried God had said to me echoed in my head. “Die” was definitely not a figure of speech.

“… Am I getting fat? She was implying I got fat, right?”

Oshiroi was making a downhearted as she poked her waist through her uniform. Despite having a petite build, Oshiroi gave off a rather squishy and soft impression.

“Ah no, not really…”

Oshiroi seemed to have a completely different idea of the situation so I only gave her a general reply; however, I got a feeling I was already half getting along with her.

My mind was filled with dread; and yet, when I looked at the disappearing Ice Witch’s back, it felt like I had found an answer.

I’ve finally found it, I could hear my heart racing. The reason why I came to this place again.

Because I wanted a delicious, yet cheap meal for dinner. Because I wanted to know what has been happening… And because I was frustrated.

Over the last few days, it felt like I was thrust into an unknown game, lost and then got mocked by my opponents calling me “weak.”

I wanted to shout “What do you mean by shameless when I don’t even know anything,” out of frustration after being called a pig, but I had to hold it in. Yelling here would just make me look pitiful, I thought, if I want to get angry then I should had done it from the start.

Then, should I just listen to Fried God and buy bento before they become half-off? No, that’s impossible. I already bought the latest Ultra Jump issue. And the latest volume of my favorite manga will be on sale next week. Those two items alone already cost over 1,000 yen, I continued to ponder.

I could have made do with a bare-minimum cold dinner. However, that was impossible. Humans were greedy. And I was greedier.

The only way for my hands to reach it is to actually try reaching out, my mind reached a certain conclusion.

After she had disappeared, I stood back on my two feet while fixing my gaze on the automatic door.

“Satou-san, are you going inside?”

“I don’t have money. I still don’t understand anything. And, I’m also frustrated… That’s why, I’m going.”

“…Um, that doesn’t make sense… Ah, just now, I didn’t mean to criticize you, eh, um… I-I’m sorry.”

“I don’t mind. More importantly, what will you do Oshiroi?”

“Er, um…. W-we already decided to go… right?”

I nodded at the girl who was acting confidently by placing her hands on her hips. We then headed inside the store to wait for the right moment to strike and were greeted by countless amazed gazes as if they were sneering at us by saying “You two again, huh?”

And once again, in just a blink of an eye.

When that time came, I was punched, kicked, and sent flying away… My dinner for today ended up being a Donbei again.

…It was still delicious, but… I wanted to have rice.

“So, this is what the early post-war period feels like.”

I uttered those words while sitting on top of a park’s bench. The Donbei’s broth slightly swayed.

And Oshiroi was making a complicated face.

 

 

 

 

  1. Is this a JoJo reference?
  2. Another JoJo reference. The name used in the original was ByeBye. Once again, Ume’s name in Japanese is 白梅梅. Another reading for 梅 is バイ so Yoh was asking about a potential nickname バイバイ(梅梅) which is bye-bye in English. I took the liberty here to change it to uMeuMe read as MayMay.
  3. He said bye-bye here but I took the liberty to substitute it with a meme.

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