Monogatari Series:Bakemonogatari Volume1/Mayoi Snail 005
“The lost cow,” said Oshino Meme in a low, annoyed groan that made it sound like he had been forcibly woken up midway through 1000 years of being peacefully sealed away. He didn’t have low blood pressure, but it seemed he had a difficult time waking up. The difference from his normal sociability was striking. “That would be the lost cow.”
“Cow? No, not a cow. She said snail.”
“If you write it with the kanji, it has cow in it. Oh, Araragi-kun, were you writing snail in katakana? You must have a low IQ. It takes the kanji for spiral and changes the water radical on the left to the insect radical. Just add the kanji for cow at the end and you have snail.”
“Spiral...to snail, hm?”
“On its own, it’s pronounced ka or ke, but it’s really not used often outside of the word snail. A snail’s shell does have a spiral on it after all. It’s also similar to the kanji for calamity...and maybe that’s a little more symbolic. There are countless monsters that lead people astray, but when it comes to ones that obstruct one’s path...well, surely even you are familiar with the nurikabe, Araragi-kun. If it’s that type and is a snail, then it must be the lost cow. In this case, the name refers to its essence not its form, so a cow and a snail are essentially the same. As for its form, art of it with a human form remains. Araragi-kun, most of the time with monsters, the person who came up with the name and the person who did the art are different people. You can pretty much say that’s true for all of them. Generally, the name comes first. I say the name, but really it’s more of a general idea. Well, it’s kind of like the illustrations for a light novel. Before the visual form of a character is made, a general idea about the character exists. It is often said that a name represents the body, but the body being referred to there is not the physical body or the outer appearance. It refers to the essence of what it is...Yawwn.”
He really did sound tired.
However, that eliminated a lot of the superficiality of his personality, so it made him easier to talk to. Speaking with Oshino could be truly tiring.
A terrestrial pulmonate with a spiral shell of clade Stylommatophora.
Slugs were much more common to run across, but that was a type that had retrogressed away from having a shell.
If you sprinkled salt on them, they melted.
After we left off, Senjougahara Hitagi, Hachikuji Mayoi, and I had retried and continued five more times. We tried everything from shortcuts that led directly there to overwhelmingly long and out of the way detours, but every single one of them turned out to be magnificently wasted effort. We knew for sure that we were near our destination, but we were simply unable to reach it. In the end, we even tried going from door to door, stopping at each and every house, but even that was fruitless.
As a truly last resort, Senjougahara used some special function of her cell phone (I didn’t really understand) that was a navigation system using GPS or something.
However, her phone lost its signal just before she could download the data.
It was at that point that I finally, reluctantly, and much too late truly understood what was going on. She had not said anything, but it seemed Senjougahara had sensed this much earlier and Hachikuji likely understood the situation much more deeply than either of us.
For me, it was a demon.
For Hanekawa, it was a cat.
For Senjougahara, it was a crab.
And for Hachikuji, it seemed to be snail.
That meant that I could not simply give up on it all. If it had been a normal case of a lost child that we had been unable to resolve on our own, we could have taken her to a nearby police box and felt good about how we had helped out. However, that side of things was involved...
Senjougahara was also opposed to simply bringing Hachikuji to a police box.
Senjougahara had been immersed in that side of things for years.
If she felt that way, there was no mistaking it.
However, that also meant it was a problem that Senjougahara and I could not deal with on our own. Neither of us had special powers to that end or anything like that. All we were able to do was know that it was a problem on that side of things.
It is said that knowledge is power.
However, merely knowing left us utterly powerless.
It was a quick and dirty solution and we didn’t particularly like having to take it, but at the end of our discussion, we decided to consult Oshino.
He had saved me...no, us.
However, he was certainly the type of person you would want to avoid being around as much as possible if he had not saved you. He was over thirty yet had no permanent residence, and had been sleeping in an old abandoned cram school ever since he first came to this town over a month ago. That alone would be enough for a normal person to draw back.
–For now, I have an interest in this town.
That was what he had said.
As such, he was a true wanderer who could easily disappear at any time. However, we had met him the past Monday for Senjougahara’s issue and on the Tuesday to settle things afterwards. Also, I had met Oshino just the day before, so he was surely still in that abandoned building.
That left the issue of how to contact him.
He had no cell phone.
That meant the only option was to head there to speak with him directly.
Senjougahara had only just met Oshino the week before and she really barely knew him, so I was the natural candidate to go, but Senjougahara herself volunteered.
“Would you lend me your mountain bike?”
“Sure, but do you know where to go? I could draw you a map, if you like.”
“Araragi-kun, you are not going to make me happy by worrying about me if you assume I have as poor a memory as you. In fact, it will upset me.”
Her words upset me.
They truly did.
“To be honest, I had wanted to ride this mountain bike from the moment I saw it in the parking lot.”
“So you were being honest when you said it was the best... I had assumed otherwise because you aren’t the most honest person.”
“Also,” said Senjougahara, whispering into my ear. “Do not leave me alone with that child.”
“I won’t know what to do.”
Well, I guess that isn’t too surprising.
And I bet Hachikuji wouldn’t like it much either.
I handed the mountain bike’s key to Senjougahara. Senjougahara had previously said that she did not own a bicycle, so loaning my precious bike to her might have actually been a bit dangerous, but I had a feeling that the bike would be fine with her.
And so I ended up waiting for Senjougahara to contact me.
I had returned to the bench in that park of unknown pronunciation.
Hachikuji Mayoi sat next to me.
She sat far enough away that another person could sit between us.
She could run off at any time if she wanted to.
In fact, her position made it look like she was about to.
I had explained to her the issues that Senjougahara and I had held as well as our continuing circumstances related to those problems, but that seemed to have only made her raise her guard even further. I had hoped to lower her guard a bit, but my failed attempt had just made things worse. I had no choice but to start back from square one.
After all, trust was incredibly important.
I guess I should try talking to her.
One thing had caught my attention before.
“I thought I heard you mention your mother before. What did you mean by that? I thought Tsunade-san was a relative of yours?”
Apparently, she was once again making use of her right to remain silent.
I doubted the same method would continue to work, and that method had only been any fun because it had been a joke. If I continued to use it, it would start to seem – even to me – like I was serious about it.
“Hachikuji-chan, I’ll let you have some ice cream, so could you come a little closer?”
Hachikuji immediately slid herself closer to me.
...Apparently whether I actually make good on my promises doesn’t matter.
In fact, I had not even given her a single yen before, so she was quite an easy person to manipulate.
“Anyway, about what I was saying before...”
“What was that again?”
And the right to remain silent was back.
I continued speaking anyway.
“Were you lying when you said it was a relative’s house?”
“...That wasn’t a lie,” said Hachikuji in a peevish tone of voice. “My mother is one of my relatives.”
“Well, I suppose that’s true, but...”
Isn’t that just splitting hairs?
And why would a girl be out on a Sunday with a backpack, heading for her mother’s house?
“Also,” said Hachikuji in the same peevish tone. “Even though I called her my mother, she unfortunately isn’t my mother anymore.”
Living only with one’s father.
I had heard a similar story quite recently.
That was the story of Senjougahara’s family.
“Tsunade was my name up until I was in third grade. When I was taken in by my father, my family name changed to Hachikuji.”
“Hm? Wait a second.”
Things had started to get a little complicated, so I started organizing the information in my head.
Hachikuji is in fifth grade, her family name was Tsunade up until the third grade (that must be why she got so angry about what I said about that name), and her family name changed to Hachikuji when she was taken in by her father. ...Oh, I get it. When her parents got married, her father must have taken on her mother’s family name. The married name doesn’t have to come from the guy. So then they got divorced and her mother, Tsunade-san, left the house and moved here...Actually, it was probably to her parents’ house.
And then Hachikuji set out this Sunday, on Mother’s Day, to visit her mother.
That name was a precious name her mother and father had given her.
“Ahh, and here I was acting all superior and telling you to stay home with your parents...”
I could see why she hadn’t wanted to hear that from me.
“No, this is not because this is Mother’s Day. I always want to head to my mother’s house if I have a chance.”
“But I can never reach it.”
Her parents had gotten divorced and her mother had left the house.
She could no longer see her mother.
She wanted to see her mother.
And so Hachikuji had tried to visit her mother.
She had put on that backpack and...
And she had...
“So you met it then.”
“Met it? I don’t know what you mean.”
No matter how many times she had tried to visit her mother after that, she had never once made it to her house.
Simply hearing that she had tried countless times and failed every time may have made her sound stupid, but I felt it was wonderful how she had not given up even after all that.
It was not really right to compare, but her trouble seemed quite a bit safer than the troubles Hanekawa, Senjougahara, or myself had dealt with. She had no physical trouble and no mental trouble. Instead, she only had the phenomenal trouble of not being able to do something she should have been able to do. The problem was not something within her.
The problem was external.
Her life was not in danger.
She could live her everyday life without any real difficulty.
Even if that was true, I decided that – no matter what – I would not speak about her problem like I knew what I was talking about. No matter what had happened to me over spring break, I had no right to say that kind of thing to Hachikuji.
And so I aimed to say nothing unnecessary.
“You certainly have it tough,” was all I said.
That was what I really, truly thought.
In truth, I wanted to rub her head.
And so I tried to.
I ended up getting my hand bit.
“Oww! What the hell was that for, you brat!?”
“Ow! Ow ow ow!”
This was no joke, play-bite, or way of hiding her embarrassment. She truly was biting down as hard as she could. I could feel Hachikuji’s teeth ripping through my skin and ripping through my flesh. Without even looking, I could tell blood was spewing out. It really was nothing to joke about.
Why is she doing this!? Wait, don’t tell me I fulfilled the requirements for this event without even realizing it!
Does this mean the battle has begun!?
I took my other hand and clenched it into a tight fist. It was as if I was trying to crush the air. I then drove that fist into Hachikuji’s solar plexus. The solar plexus was one of the vital areas of the human body that nothing could be done about. As her teeth remained deeply embedded in my hand despite that blow, Hachikuji was quite something, but for an instant, the strength of her bite lessened. I used that opening to use the ridiculous strength of my arm. Hachikuji was digging into my flesh, but that left the rest of her unguarded. And luckily, Hachikuji was standing up slightly from the bench seat.
I took the hand I had punched her with, opened the fist, and held her up with it. In the process, I felt something surprisingly filled-in for a fifth grade girl, but I was not a lolicon, so it had so little effect on me that you might as well say it was nothing. I used momentum to swing her completely around and upside down. As she was still biting my hand, the area around her neck was all twisted around, but that was no problem. As long as she was biting my hand, any attack near her head had the danger of coming back to bite me...literally. Due to flipping her over, Hachikuji’s body was displayed before me like a pile of tiles to be broken with a karate chop, and that was my target. More specifically, my target was her solar plexus where I had already punched her once.
It worked perfectly.
Hachikuji’s teeth finally let go of my hand.
At the same time, she coughed up something that looked like gastric juices.
And then she lost consciousness.
“Heh...Actually, I guess this isn’t funny.”
I shook my bitten hand to loosen it.
“After the first time, this kind of victory is so empty...”
Standing there was a high school boy who had punched an elementary school girl twice in the most central of the human body’s vital spots, knocking her unconscious, and who had then started putting on airs of nihilism.
And as before, that boy was me.
Striking, grabbing, and throwing were one thing, but out and out punching a girl was out of the question.
Araragi Koyomi had done more than enough to be deemed the world’s worst man without even needing Senjougahara to prostrate nude before him.
“Ahh...But it’s because she bit me all of a sudden.”
I looked down at the bite wound.
Gehh...Wow, I can see the bone... I didn’t know a human could do this much damage with a bite...
However, even if I could feel the pain, that level of wound would heal before long even if I just stood there.
As the wound closed up fast enough to see, it looked like a video being fast-forwarded or rewound. It reminded me just how different an existence I was from the norm. Being reminded of that put me in a bit of a dark, bitter mood.
Honestly, you’re pathetic.
You think you’re the world’s worst man? Don’t make me laugh.
Do you really think you qualify as human anymore?
“That is a scary look on your face, Araragi-kun,” said a sudden voice.
For an instant, I thought it was Senjougahara, but it couldn’t have been. Senjougahara would never speak in such a cheerful voice.
Standing before me was the class rep.
It was Hanekawa Tsubasa.
It was Sunday and yet she was wearing her school uniform. Although I suppose that was normal for her. An excellent student like her enjoys being dressed like that. With the same hairstyle and glasses as always, the only difference from when she was at school was the handbag she was holding.
“You look surprised to see me. Well, I suppose that’s for the best. Heh heh heh.”
Hanekawa showed me an excellent smile.
It was a very carefree smile.
In fact, it was the same as the one Hachikuji had made before...
“What are you doing here?”
“U-um, what are you doing here?”
I was unable to hide my agitation.
I had to wonder just how much she had seen.
If that mass of diligence, that living example of proper conduct, that pillar of innocence that was Hanekawa Tsubasa had seen me acting violently toward an elementary school girl, that would be very, very bad in a completely different way than if Senjougahara had seen.
I didn’t want to be expelled after making it all the way to the third year.
“Why do you need to ask me? I live around here. If either of us being here is odd, it’s you Araragi-kun. Are you in this area for any particular reason?”
Senjougahara and Hanekawa went to the same middle school.
Since it had been public school, they must have been in the same school district. In that case, Senjougahara’s old domain being within Hanekawa’s area of activity was not surprising. Since they went to different elementary schools, they must not have lived in the exact same area though.
“No, not really. I’m just here to...y’know... kill some time or-...”
I just said I was killing time.
“Ah ha. I see. Killing time. How nice. Not having anything to do is wonderful. It’s so freeing, isn’t it? I guess I was killing time too.”
She really was a different being from Senjougahara in every way.
They were both smart, but I suppose that is the difference between top class and the top.
“You know how difficult it is for me to be at my home, right, Araragi-kun? Since the library isn’t open, Sundays are my walking days. It’s good for my health.”
“I’d say you’re worrying too much.”
The girl with the strangely shaped wings.
At school, she was a mass of diligence, a living example of proper conduct, a pillar of innocence, the class rep among class reps, and impeccable, but she had some discord in her family life.
Some discord and a distortion.
Due to that, she had been possessed by a cat.
She had been possessed through a slight gap in her heart.
That may have been a good example of the fact that no one could be truly perfect, but when that problem had been resolved and she had been freed from the cat, her memories had been lost. And so the discord and the distortion had not been dealt with.
The discord and the distortion remained.
“The library not being open on Sundays seems to display just how uncivilized the area we live in is. Ah ha. I really don’t like that at all.”
“I don’t even know where the library is.”
“C’mon now. Don’t say things like that. It makes it sound like you’ve already given up. There’s still time until the entrance exam, so you can do it.”
“Hanekawa, sometimes baseless encouragement can be even more painful than direct abuse.”
“But you can do math, right, Araragi-kun? If you can do math, there’s no way you can’t do the other subjects.”
“Math is easy because you don’t have to memorize anything.”
“You certainly are uncooperative. Well, whatever. I’ll just leave you with a “c’mon, now” for that. By the way, Araragi-kun, is that your little sister?”
Hanekawa pointed toward Hachikuji who was lying on the ground next to the bench.
“My little sisters aren’t that small.”
“They’re in middle school.”
“Umm, she’s lost. Her name is Hachikuji Mayoi.”
“It’s spelled with the first kanji of truth and the first kanji of dusk. And her family name is-...”
“I know how that must be spelled. You often hear the term Hachikuji in the Kansai area. That’s a very historic and pompous sounding name. Come to think of it, I think the temple in Shinonome Monogatari was named...no, wait. The kanji are different.”
“...You know everything, don’t you?”
“I don’t know everything. I only know what I know.”
“Oh, I see...”
“Hachikuji Mayoi, hm? Now those are two names that go together well. Oh? I think she’s woken up.”
I looked over at Hachikuji and saw her blinking her eyes. After hesitantly looking around as if to check on her surroundings, Hachikuji sat up.
“Hello, Mayoi-chan. I am this boy’s friend. My name is Hanekawa Tsubasa.”
Her tone of voice was straight out of Taisou no Onii-san.
Or in her case, I guess it would be Taisou no Onee-san.
Hanekawa was probably the type that would have no problem talking to cats or dogs in baby talk.
In response, Hachikuji said, “Please do not talk to me. I hate you.”
Does she say that to everyone?
“Oh? Did I do something to make you hate me? You shouldn’t say that to people when you first meet them, Mayoi-chan. Uri uri.”
However, Hanekawa showed no sign of being affected by Hachikuji’s words.
She also easily managed to pull off what I had not: rub Hachikuji Mayoi’s head.
“Hanekawa, do you like kids?”
“Hm? Do you not?”
“No, it isn’t me that doesn’t.”
“Hmm. Well, yes, I do like children. When I think about how I used to be like this, it gives me a nice warm feeling inside. Uri uri.”
Hanekawa continued to rub Hachikuji’s head.
Hachikuji tried to resist.
But it was useless.
“You’re so cute, Mayoi-chan. Ahh! I just want to eat you up. Your cheeks are so squishy and soft. Kyahh!! Oh, but...”
Her tone suddenly changed.
It was now the tone she occasionally turned on me at school.
“You shouldn’t bite people’s hands like that. In this case, he was fine, but a normal person would have been seriously injured! Meh!”
She hit her. With her fist. Like it was nothing.
The quick transition from kindness to being struck left Hachikuji in utter confusion and Hanekawa used that opportunity to forcibly turn her to face me.
“Okay! Now say you’re sorry.”
“I-I’m sorry, Araragi-san.”
That impertinent brat whose tone of voice alone would be polite apologized.
It was quite a shock.
Wait, this means Hanekawa had been watching for a bit before she approached... I see. I get it. Normally thinking, when you’re bit to the point of your flesh being torn out, self defense is justified. And come to think of it, she’s the one that attacked first with the fight from earlier too...
While Hanekawa was not all that flexible, she was still not that much of a stickler for the rules.
She was merely fair.
From the way she had handled that, Hanekawa seemed used to dealing with children. I was pretty sure she was an only child, so she had done quite well indeed.
Incidentally, I had already realized that Hanekawa treated me like a child at school, but let’s not think about that too much.
“And Araragi-kun, what you did was wrong too!”
She used the exact same tone on me.
She seemed intent on forcing me to think about how she treated me.
However, she actually realized what she had done and cleared her throat before starting over.
“Well, anyway, that was wrong.”
“You mean...punching her?”
“No, I mean you need to properly scold her.”
“Of course, you also shouldn’t have punched her, but if you’re going to strike a child – or anyone for that matter – you need to tell them what they have done to deserve it.”
“That is what it means to talk it out.”
“Whenever I speak with you, I always learn something.”
She really had a way of draining the poison out of a situation.
She proved that there were good people in the world.
That alone made me feel like I had been saved.
“So you said she was lost? Where does she want to go? Is it nearby? If so, I can probably show her the way.”
“Umm, Senjougahara went to get someone to help, so...”
Even if she had a connection to that side of things, Hanekawa had no memories of it. She knew, but she had forgotten. I felt it was best not to pick at those memories like a scab.
I appreciated her offer, but...
“It seems to have taken a lot of time, but she should be done soon.”
“Huh? Senjougahara-san? Araragi-kun, you were with Senjougahara-san? Hmm? Senjougahara-san has been absent from school recently, but...Hmm? Oh, come to think of it, you were asking about her the other day...Hmm?”
She’s getting suspicious.
Hanekawa’s powers of misunderstanding were about to explode.
“Ahh! I see! So that’s it!”
“No, I’m pretty sure you have the wrong idea...”
I knew it was wrong for an idiot like me to deny the answer given by a genius like her, but...
“Your powers of delusion outdo even those of those girls that are into yaoi.”
“Yaoi? What’s that?
Hanekawa tilted her head to the side in confusion.
The genius student did not know this.
“It’s an abbreviation of ‘YAma nashi Ochi nashi Imi shinchou’.”
“That sounds made up. Fine, I’ll look it up on my own.”
“You certainly are diligent.”
What if this leads to Hanekawa straying down the wrong path?
It’ll be my fault.
“Since I seem to be interrupting, I will be going. Say hello to Senjougahara-san for me. Also, today is Sunday so I won’t say too much, but make sure to restrain yourselves some. Also, we have a history quiz, so don’t forget to study. Also, the major preparations for the cultural festival are about to begin, so work hard. Also...”
After that, Hanekawa added on 9 more alsos.
She may have been the next great user of “also” after Natsume Souseki.
“Oh, Hanekawa. Can I ask you one thing? Do you know of a Tsunade-san that lives around here somewhere?”
“A Tsunade-san? Hmm...well...”
She seemed to be searching her memory. I got my hopes up that this meant she might know, but...
“No, I don’t,” she said.
“So there are things you don’t know.”
“Didn’t I tell you? I only know what I know. For everything else, I am no help at all.”
It was true that she hadn’t known what yaoi meant either.
It seemed things would not be resolved so easily.
“Sorry I was unable to meet your expectations.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Then I will be going. Bye bye.”
And then Hanekawa Tsubasa left the park.
I wonder if she would have known how to pronounce the park’s name.
Maybe I should have made that my question.
And then my cell phone started to ring.
An 11 digit number was displayed on the screen.
Sunday, May 14th, 14:25:30.
That was the instant I obtained Senjougahara’s phone number.
 Translator's Notes
- Means "Without climax, without resolution, with profound meaning".
- An author who wrote a book called "Sorekara" which is what Hanekawa kept saying.
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