When the girly’s last sports day ended, it was the true start of her studies towards her university examinations.
She would study every day, and even when she came back home, she would lock herself in her room, continuing to study.
“Don’t… push yourself too hard.”
The woman says, worried about the girly.
The man took advantage of his continuous breaks to invite the girly out for a relaxing drive or an overnight stay. He went looking for lodges that allowed for pets so that I could go along with them. Even as excited and keen for the family trip as the girly was, she would always carry her flashcards with her, and take a look at them whenever she had the time.
The foe of summer, that is to say, the heat.
In the summer, the girly would pretty much only study in the living room where the aircon was usually on, and strongest. Since the man seemed to have also graduated from a famous university, he would help the girly out with her studies. The woman would always choose a good time to come in, signaling their break, bringing with her a cold dessert or drink.
Next to her, was the cushion I always used. Whenever she would get stuck somewhere in her studies, she would pat the one sitting next to her, me, and once she understood what she had been stuck on, she would turn back towards the table, rinse and repeat.
“Good work, Kuro.”
After the girly had left for an early bath, the man said to me, who was glancing at the notes, textbooks and worksheets laid across the table.
Even I, who would always take a nap in the afternoon, had started to pretty much only sleep in the early mornings and nights after the girly began her university exam studies. Since my body had gotten older, and aged, I would like a little more sleep, but it wasn’t like I needed a lot.
I wanted to do something for the girly.
I replied back to him with a, “You too.”
Apart from the mornings, the man would always accompany the girly to study regardless what day it was.
Speaking of which, it seems like he’s starting to get a few white hairs recently. And if I was to look real careful then, I could also see tiny wrinkles around the man’s gratified, and smiling eyes.
Seeing that the man seems to have also matured and aged, made me feel extremely emotional.
However, compared to me, the man was still young. With how old my physical body was, it was still reasonable for me to call him the young one.
Time has taken a toll on both of us huh, young one.
I say to the man, and let out a yawn.
Tying up her light brown hair, the woman came in with a refreshing-looking outfit called a one piece, and placed a glass with ice in it, in front of the man.
“It’s Darjeeling tea.”
The man gave a down-to-earth thanks, and took a sip. The woman let a graceful smile surface and called to me, “Come over here, Kuro-chan.”
I followed behind the woman who had come out. In the place where my dish for drinking water was placed, was a cool glass.
Inside it was a water and ice, and a clear sound rang out as the ice hit each other.
“Kuro-chan, you did great.”
I gave a heartfelt thanks to the woman for her care.
Giving the water a try, I felt relief for my dry throat.
Summer vacation ends, the seasons change for the cooler, and the girly pushes her studies even more.
When the girly finishes school, she would go to tutoring, and the woman would welcome her back home late at night. Even on the weekends, she would be trapped inside the tutoring center all day long, and once she comes back, she would quickly eat dinner, take a bath, then wouldn’t come out from her room after that.
Her skin has become completely white, and her hair, tied up into a ponytail, has now grown as long as the woman’s. At the dining table, the man praised the girly, “You look just like your mum when she was younger.” And the girly responded, happily laughing, “Maybe I’ll keep it this long, and take care of it properly once my exams are done.”
My sixth winter, the girly said that she had an important exam, and was, since the early morning, studying in the living room in her uniform.
Since the heating had already been set up in the living room, it was really, really warm, and given that the girly has always been afraid of the cold, I curled up on top of the girly’s knees. Even though I was just sitting there, my body would still become very warm.
“It would be nice if you get an A grade.”
The woman said to the girly as she set up the dining table. As the man was reading the newspaper, he sneakily takes glances in their direction, seemingly worried about his daughter.
“Yeah. I didn’t get a recommendation, so I’ll just have to show them what I got.”
The girly shrugs, smiling nervously.
This girly was truly, very nicely raised. She was patient, and always forward-thinking.
That was definitely something worth praising, even for someone like me.
She was such a good child. There’s no doubt in my mind, that she would have a bright future ahead of her.
The girly ate her food slowly, as if to fight off her nerves, and then left the house with the woman. The man who sent them out to the door, picked me up and said,
“She’ll be fine. That girl will be fine, it’s her after all.”
The man’s words, said as if to remind himself, came true later on.
The girly, happy at her good grades, kept hard at her studies, seemingly having tasted her hard work pay off. At the end of the year, she went out to a shrine with her classmates to celebrate the new year, whilst also getting their first shrine visit of the year and a prayer, so that they would be able to pass the exams, before coming back home.
I, kept by the side of the girly, who would study nonstop.
Whenever the girly was home, I would always be by her feet, watching over her.
As the day of the important exam came closer and closer, a strong sense of nervousness also started to gradually build on the girly’s face. I would try to soothe her nervousness by staying by the girly’s side, the man would try to unnerve her with some gentle words, and the woman would care for the girly by making a warm meal.
When the girly would lose her appetite, I would even ravage through my own dinner right in front of her. She would laugh, looking at me stuffing my face in my food. Hearing the girly say that, looking at me had somehow mysteriously opened up her appetite, made me very satisfied as I continued to fawn on her.
If I had to say then, this way of encouragement was truly painful for my aged stomach.
The day of the exam, the girly had been ridiculously nervous since the morning.
The whole family took the car, sending their cute daughter to the exam location. Since I had also tagged along, I had been on the girly’s knees right up until she got off the car.
And thus, for these two days, we acted as the girly’s chauffeurs.
The girly passed her exams. It was an incredibly joyous occasion but, the girly didn’t let out her classic bouncy, radiant smile.
It seems that, the real challenge was yet to come. Which meant that she still had another exam to take, at her college.
After some time passed, the girly had to go take a written exam at the college.
On that day too, we all went out to send the girly off, and all welcomed her back.
During the time she was waiting for the results, although she was tense and nervous, she would also have a relieved look on her face, as if to express her feelings, having finally been able to separate herself from study. Not caring at all about the scenery layered with snow, she went to the shopping center and beautician with the woman to relax.
Both the man and I, just devoted ourselves to staying home.
The man was desperately catching up on the work that had piled up during the time the girly was taking her exams.
The day the results were to be announced, the girly went to the place with her friends to check the results.
We were anxiously waiting for the girly to call us. The moment the sound of the phone rang out, the man quickly grabbed onto me, who was about to rush out, and headed for the phone. However, the woman was still faster, as she took up the phone and said in a hurry, “Hello?”.
“Mum! I passed! I passed! Omg, I’m so happy *hic*! Miiko and the others passed as well *hic* … sorry, I’m just… so relieved that my… tears, just won’t stop…”
We could hear the girly’s trembling voice, her sniffles, and the wave of happy shouts in the background.
The man who sensed the situation, cried out a “Yattah!” as he raised me up higher. I was happy as well, and let out a loud, “You did it girly!”. And the woman cried as she held onto that message machine, crying out, “That’s good. Congratulations!”
Like this, the exam of the Itou family’s girly, ended successfully.
The girly had a very sunny expression on her face as she went to her high school graduation ceremony. I stayed at home and the man and woman who went to the ceremony showed me the photos but, there was actually a photo with me in it next to that photo.
Naturally, I couldn’t go to the girly’s school, but I met up with them before dusk. They came home, picked me up, suddenly putting me in the car, and had taken me to a certain place.
The place I was dragged to without a clue, was a photo studio that had “Pet allowed” written on it.
As a celebration for the girly’s graduation, the whole family had taken a photo as a commemoration.
In the middle was a chair, which the girly sat on wearing her school uniform, and by her two sides was the man and woman, whilst I laid down on top of the girly’s knees. A strong sense of family came over me as I once again felt that I was a part of the family.
I was truly happy.
I wanted to tell the girly who had just graduated, “Congrats.”
Which is why, I tilted my head to the side as cute as I possibly could, and had that pose of mine be engraved in that commemoration photo.