Hearing the countless lively voices and sounds, I awoke from my short nap. The solemn sky has turned dark and overcast, and lights were already flickering about.
Whilst listening to the lady’s familiar voice as she busily struck up deals with her customers, I stuck my ear out from amongst the rubbish bags.
From what I could make out of the humans conversations, today wasn’t a holiday. So why is it so busy?
I cautiously poke my face out onto the streets. There were crowds of people at every shop, and the number of people and cars were higher than usual too. Normally the lady would bring me dinner around this time but… as I think that, I look over at the lady’s shop, and see her running around frantically.
Doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to have my meal any time soon.
I went around to the back of the rubbish bags. If I kept waiting out on the streets, there’s no doubt I’ll be caught up in something annoying.
Just when it had turned completely dark, and the amount of people coming about had calmed down, the lady finally came. On the paper plate that she placed in front of me, there was a pile of fish meat, a lot more than usual.
My stomach was just starting to feel hungry, and I gratefully ate it up.
“I haven’t seen Itou-san around today. Have you?”
The lady mumbles to herself and asks me.
Speaking of which, I haven’t, I think as I resumed eating. Besides, you’re really asking the wrong person.
After all, I don’t care a bit if that man comes or goes.
“Oii~! It’s time to close shop”
“Yea yea, I’m coming.”
The lady answers, returning to the shop.
I continued eating, staying cautious towards the street that had a lot less people than before.
“Hello, are you still open?”
Hearing a clear male voice from across the street, I suddenly look up.
In front of the shop that the lady was about to close, stood a young man I didn’t know, wearing a black suit.
“Yes, we’re still open.”
“Thank god. Then, I’ll have one of this…”
As I heard that exchange, I dropped my gaze to my food.
I subconsciously felt annoyed at the me who looked upwards, and frowned.
‘I am not waiting for that man or anything. That’s right. It doesn’t concern me if that guy comes or doesn’t.’
I had finished half of the food on the paper plate.
Since there was this much I’m already full. There’s no need for that man’s can at all.
The small shops on the street start closing and the amount of light lessened. The humidity level increases for a second, and I, having finished my food, caught a waft of the peculiar scent that would arrive when it would rain.
After closing her shop, the lady comes by, and picked up the emptied plate whilst looking left and right of the street.
“Hmm, Itou-san didn’t come out today, huh.”
‘Hmph, so what?’
Grooming my face with my paws, I took a fleeting glance upwards at the lady.
It’s not something you should worry about, I call out to her, and a smile returned on the face of the lady who looked somewhat disappointed.
“Well then, see you tomorrow.”
‘Ahh, see ya.’
After hearing my reply the lady left.
Silence returned to my surroundings.
Suddenly, a small drop of rain hit my head. Looking up, a little drizzle started to fall.
As I felt my black fur getting wet, I sat down right before the street and gazed upwards.
‘I’m gonna drenched. If I don’t go find some shelter.’
Even as I thought to think about that, I found myself unable to move from that spot for some reason. I looked to the left and right of the street, and quietened down, feeling that what I was doing right now is troubling.
‘It’s not like I’m waiting for that man. Definitely not.’
My body shook feeling the chilling cold, and lied down under a pipe behind the rubbish bags. With my size, even this pipe could be used to shelter me from the rain somewhat.
What was a shame was that, since the ground was wet, my entire body was soaked in the end anyway.
(Oi, little one. You’ll die if you keep that up, you know?”)
Hearing a voice from above me, I looked over indifferently.
Along the pipe that ran on top of a ventilation fan, there was a large grey rat.
That damn rat said to me worriedly.
(If you keep following this path, there’s a place to shelter from rain. All of us are over there. Us rats, and all the dogs and cats in this area are on quite good terms. There’s some other cats there as well, yea? Come over, little one.)
‘No, I’m fine.’
Leave me alone, I reply coldly, and returned my gaze. From above me, a surprised voice could be heard.
(No, that’s no good, little one. You’re still so young, and small, your body won’t be able to hold on. You’ll end up dead soon.)
Before the rat could even finish his sentence, the rain started falling harder.
The rat stepped out forward as if he felt guilty for not being able to convince me, then, turned to me once again.
(If you change your mind, we’re always open.)
‘Ahh, if I change my mind.’
I answer and curled up on the wet ground.
Ever since my sense of self was born, I’ve never clung onto life itself. It’s just that my instinct, that had been working even before that sense of self was born, has been telling me to continue living.
Compared to my siblings, I’ve always been the furthest from the understanding the desire to live, and am without a doubt the one closest to death. (Dying mindset)
‘Ahh, it’s cold.’
Giving a short opinion, my body continued shaking. Even though I’ve never thought about how to warm up my body, my instincts seem to want me to live and so I naturally curled up into a ball, and closed my eyes as I felt my heat being trapped within my body.
Honestly, living is such irony.
In order to grow up we need food, as well as a guaranteed bed and place to stay.
I wonder why that’s necessary in this cold grey world.
Suddenly, I could hear sounds of rushed footsteps from across the street.
Stepping into puddles, the sound of running footsteps came closer towards me and stopped right by my side.
The rain that had been falling on the pipe above me suddenly stopped.
I look up curiously, and standing there with an umbrella, blocking the dim lights from the street, was that four eyes called Itou.
The man takes a deep breath, settling down as he smiles at me awkwardly and said.
I look at the man casually and called out to him, ‘I’m full, I don’t need your food.’ However, the man didn’t seem to mind that, and casually stuck his arm out, scooping me up into them.
It’s so warm being in his arms.
That warmth gave me a sense of comfort subconsciously, and I gave up my thoughts of running away from him.
As the heat from the man’s arm and clothes were flowing into me, I understood that the water which was trying to snatch away my heat was going onto him.
‘Sorry, young one.’
I say that as I look up at the man, all the while feeling somewhat troubled.
Even now, the man looked as if he was going to cry.
“I’m so sorry I was late to pick you up. But I’m here for you now.”
The man says and then gives me a big hug.
Nobody told you to come pick me up, I responded, but the man didn’t answer.
Somehow, I came to understand that he didn’t seem to be able to let me go.
After a little bit, the man says to me.
“Come to my place. I have a bed and warm food prepared.”
As the man walked forth, I turned back to look at the place I’ve been staying at until just now. We gradually leave it, and I couldn’t see it anymore through the cover of rain and darkness.
‘Oh well, guess I’ll go to your place.’
I say, and then closed my eyes as I curled up in his arms.