Monogatari Series:Bakemonogatari Volume1/Mayoi Snail 008
And an hour later, Senjougahara, Hachikuji, and I arrived at the location of the address on that memo. We arrived at the place the girl Hachikuji Mayoi had been in life had headed for on that Mother’s Day.
It had taken quite some time.
And yet it had been so easy.
However, it did not seem out of place.
The sight before my eyes did not seem out of place.
“Senjougahara, are you sure this is the place?”
“Yes, I am sure.”
Her assertion left no room for argument.
This was Hachikuji’s mother’s house, the Tsunade household.
It had become a completely empty lot.
It was surrounded by a fence and signs saying “Private Property” and “No Unauthorized Entrance” were staked into the bare ground. The rust on the edges of the signs made it clear that they had been sitting there for quite some time.
It had not been turned into a road like Senjougahara’s old house, but since no trace of the house remained, it was essentially the same.
“...How could this happen?”
What that shut-in Oshino Meme had suggested as a secret trick for our situation had been something so simple it made you think “Is that all?”. Whether you called it the lost cow or the snail, the classification of monster it fell under was a ghost. For that reason, she essentially did not accumulate informational memories.
Apparently, it was standard for that kind of monster to not exist.
She was an existence that did not exist as an existence.
If no one was here to see her, she was not there.
To explain it using what happened today, Hachikuji had suddenly appeared and begun to exist the instant I sat on that park bench and looked over toward the sign. Or so Oshino had said.
In the same way, Hachikuji must have suddenly appeared when Hanekawa had looked on the bench next to me when she passed by the park. As a monster, she did not have a continuous existence. Instead, she appeared the instant she was seen. In that way, the lost cow was not something you “met” in quite the same way as other monsters.
She was only there when someone was looking there. The observer and the observed. Hanekawa would likely have given a detailed and apt analogy from her scientific knowledge, but I could not think of anything appropriate. Senjougahara probably could, but she did not mention it.
At any rate, she had no informational memory. In other words, no knowledge.
She had of course been able to lead someone unfamiliar with the land like me astray, but she had also been able to do so to Senjougahara who could not even see her. She had even been able to cut off the signal of Senjougahara’s cell phone. And as a result, the target would forever be lost.
She did not know what she did not know.
And even if she did know, there was nothing she could do about it.
For instance, the rezoning.
The cityscape had changed so much in just the past year, so the differences from 10 years before had to have been quite something. We did not take a shortcut, we did not take some roundabout way, and we did not head straight there.
By choosing a route made up entirely of new roads a monster like the lost cow was unable to deal with it.
Monsters did not age. A little girl monster would always be a little girl.
She would never grow up and be an adult.
–So you’re the same as me.
Hachikuji had been in the 5th grade 10 years before, so she should really be older than Senjougahara and me. And yet she spoke of her memories of fighting at school like they had happened yesterday. She truly did not have standard memories.
She did not.
They were simply not there.
Apparently, Oshino had said it was like putting new wine into old wineskins.
That unpleasant man had seen through to the truth. He could not see Hachikuji, he had not heard that much about our issues, and he did not even know much about this town, and yet he had acted like he knew everything.
Nevertheless, his words had led to our success.
We chose an amidakuji-like path following the newly constructed roads that had the nice dark asphalt. As much as possible, we avoided the old roads or the roads that had merely been newly paved. We even used the road that passed through where Senjougahara’s house had been. We finally reached our destination after an hour.
The area should have been only a 10 minute walk from that park and it was probably only 500 meters as the crow files, but it still took us over an hour.
We made it to the destination.
We finally made it.
But it was merely an empty lot.
“I guess everything can’t go perfectly...”
With how much everything had changed, it would have simply been too perfect for the destination alone to remain unchanged. Even Senjougahara’s house had become a road in less than a year. Also, our strategy to get there would have been useless if there had been no new road right up next to the destination. The possibility of the destination itself having changed should have been obvious from the beginning. But at the same time, having it not go so perfectly seemed to make it all a waste. It felt like it had lost all meaning. If the very end was a failure, it had all been a failure.
I guess not everything goes the way you want it to.
I guess not every dream comes true.
If the destination is gone, won’t the lost cow truly be forced to wander forever? Won’t she truly be a lost snail that circles around and around and around without end?
Oshino, that bastard with the psychedelic Hawaiian shirt, might have seen this very ending coming. And yet – or perhaps because of that – he had...
Oshino Meme had such a frivolous way of speaking. He would never give parting words, he would never give you an answer to a question you did not ask, he would not act unless you asked him to, and he would not necessarily do so even if you did.
He was fine with not saying things he really should have.
I heard Hachikuji sobbing next to me.
I had barely been able to contain my shock at the sight before me, so I had completely forgotten about Hachikuji. When I should have been concerned with her, I had been lost in thought. I finally turned toward her.
Hachikuji was crying.
However, her head was not hanging down. She was staring forward.
From the angle of her gaze, she seemed to be looking at the house that was no longer there.
Hachikuji moved from my side and ran forward.
Oshino had likely seen all the way to that ending and would likely say it had been obvious.
He was a man who did not say what he really should.
Honestly, I just wish he had told me from the very beginning.
I wondered what Hachikuji could see now that she had arrived.
Senjougahara and I could only see an empty lot. The area had completely changed, but what did the lost cow, Hachikuji Mayoi, see there?
What had appeared there for her?
Development and alterations to the land meant nothing.
Not even time mattered.
The girl with the large backpack quickly dimmed, grew hazy, thinned, and then suddenly disappeared from my vision.
I could no longer see her.
She was gone.
But the girl had said “I’m home”. That place was no longer her separated mother’s house and it no longer had any connection to her. It was now nothing but her destination, but she had still said “I’m home”.
It seemed she had arrived home.
I felt that was a lovely end of the story.
A truly lovely end.
“Well done, Araragi-kun. You were fairly cool,” said Senjougahara finally.
Her voice had almost no emotion in it.
“I didn’t really do anything. Really, you were the one that did all the work this time, not me. I wouldn’t have even been able to pull off that secret trick alone. Your knowledge of the area was necessary.”
“That may be true, but that is not what I meant. I was surprised that it had become an empty lot, though. Perhaps the entire family moved when the daughter was killed in a traffic accident on her way to visit. Of course, I can think of plenty of other reasons.”
“Yeah, and come to think of it, we don’t even really know if Hachikuji’s mother is even still alive.”
Or her father for that matter.
I suddenly realized that Hanekawa might have actually known. It had seemed the Tsunade household had perhaps rung a bell with her. If she had known that the house no longer existed for some reason, she was the type to keep silent about it. At the very least, she was not an extreme stickler for the rules.
She was merely fair.
At any rate, the issue seemed to be resolved.
It seemed to have ended much too quickly. I then noticed the Sunday sun beginning to set. It was mid May, and the days were still short. I had to get home soon.
Just like Hachikuji had.
I also realized that it was my turn to make dinner.
“Well, Senjougahara. Let’s head back to get the bike.”
Senjougahara had originally tried to lead us on the mountain bike, but she had quickly realized the uselessness of a mountain bike when travelling with those walking and that it became something she just had to push along as she walked. And so she had left the bike at that park.
“Yes. By the way, Araragi-kun,” said Senjougahara who was still looking toward the empty lot. “You still have not given me a response.”
For that, you mean?
“Um, Senjougahara. About that...”
“Just so you know, Araragi-kun, I hate romantic comedies where it is obvious the two will get together at the end but lukewarm developments keep them at an in-between more-than-friends-less-than-lovers state chapter after chapter just to keep the story going.”
“Incidentally, I also hate sports manga where each match takes an entire year and yet you know they are going to win in the end. I also hate battle manga where it is clear they will defeat the final boss and bring peace to the world, but the battles with weaker enemies go on forever.”
“I think you just covered every shounen manga and shoujo manga in existence.”
“So what will you do?”
She was not giving me a chance to think.
The atmosphere made it clear I could not evade giving a proper answer. I am betting not even a boy who is confessed to by a girl who has all of her friends around her would feel as oppressive an atmosphere.
“Um, I think you’re a bit mistaken, Senjougahara. Or maybe you’re being a bit impatient. It is true that I helped to resolve your problem last Monday, but if you act like you owe me some huge favor...”
“Oh, are you perhaps worried about that ridiculous theory that says people are more likely to fall into a romantic relationship in dangerous situations while ignoring human reasoning and giving no thought to the fact that extremely dangerous situations have a way of revealing the true nature of one’s comrades?”
“Ridiculous? Well, I suppose you’re right. You’d have to be an idiot to confess your love to someone while on some dangerous suspension bridge or something. But I still think you’re feeling too much of a debt of gratitude toward me. To be honest, whatever the situation or circumstances were, I don’t feel right having you feel so indebted to me.”
“That was just a pretext. By giving you the initiative, I hoped to get you to confess to me. That was why I said that. You lost your chance, you foolish boy. That is the last time I will set someone up like that.”
Now that was a bold statement.
And is that what she was doing?
Was she trying to tempt me?
“Do not worry. I do not actually feel such a great debt toward you, Araragi-kun.”
“...Is that so?”
Are you sure?
“After all, you would save anyone. This morning, I did not have quite as strong a grasp of who you are as I do now, Araragi-kun,” said Senjougahara smoothly. “It is clear now that you did not save me because it was me, but that does not matter to me. Even if it had not been me that you saved – for example, if you had saved Hanekawa-san and I had only watched on from the sidelines – I believe I would have still felt that you are special. Even if I am not special, knowing that you are special is just so much of a thrill. Well, that might be exaggerating a bit, but if anything, you are certainly fun to speak with, Araragi-kun.”
“But...we haven’t talked all that much yet.”
It was worse than that.
Because of the very concentrated amount of time we had spent together last Monday, last Tuesday, and that Sunday, I almost overlooked the fact that we had only ever spoken on those three days.
It had only been three days.
Even if we had been in the same class for three years...
We were practically strangers.
“That’s right,” said Senjougahara with a nod of agreement. “And that is why I want to speak with you more.”
She wanted to spend more time with me.
So that she could get to know me better.
So that she could fall in love with me.
“I do not think this is anything quite as cheap as love at first sight and I am not patient enough to build up all the necessary groundwork. However, I still feel a desire to put effort into loving you, Araragi-kun.”
“...Is that so?”
When she put it like that, she was right.
I could find nothing to say in return.
You had to work to continue to love someone. Love was a very proactive emotion. In that case, doing things as Senjougahara suggested was fine.
“I believe this is an issue of timing. Merely becoming friends might have been enough, but I am greedy. I only want to go for the absolute extreme. Just think of it as having gotten stuck with a horrible girl,” she said. “It is because you are kind to anyone and everyone that this is happening to you, Araragi-kun. This was your own doing. Oh, and you need not worry. I am perfectly capable of distinguishing between gratitude and certain other feelings. After all, I have imagined all sorts of things involving you over the past week.”
“It has been a very fulfilling week.”
She had a very blunt way of saying things.
I had to wonder just what I was doing and having done to me in these imaginings of Senjougahara’s.
“If you prefer, you can think of it as being unfortunate enough to have caught the eye of an easily love-struck fairy tale maiden who is starved for love and will do anything for anyone who is even slightly kind to her.”
“You were unlucky. You should curse your normal actions.”
Does she not even hesitate to put herself down?
And after having all that said to me...
...God, I’m lame.
I’m just pathetic.
“And Araragi-kun, now that I have said all that...”
“If you refuse me, I will kill you and then run away.”
“That’s just a normal murder! You need to die too!”
“That’s just how normally serious I am.”
“...Sigh. I see...”
As I thought over what she said, I sighed from the bottom of my heart.
She is quite fun to be around.
It felt like a waste to have spent only those three days of the past three years with her. I, Araragi Koyomi, had wasted so much time.
I was truly glad that I had been the one to catch her back then.
I was so glad that Araragi Koyomi had been the one to catch Senjougahara Hitagi.
“If you cowardly ask for time to think about this, I will forever hold you in contempt, Araragi-kun. You should not embarrass girls any more than is necessary.”
“I know, I know. It might not be my place to do so, but can I add a single condition to this?”
“What would that be? Do you want to watch me shave my excess hair for a week?”
“Of all the things you’ve said so far, that is certainly the worst!”
And that was due to both what she said and when she said it.
After a few seconds, I spoke to Senjougahara.
“I say a condition, but I guess it’s more of a promise...”
“A promise? What would that be?”
“Senjougahara, never, ever again pretend to see something you do not see or pretend not to see something you do see. Never again. If anything seems odd, say so. Don’t try to be considerate. Due to what we’ve experienced and what we know, we will likely have to bear this burden for the rest of our lives. We know of these things’ existence, so promise me you will tell me on the spot if it seems there is a discrepancy in how we view something.”
Senjougahara had her usual composed face with no readable expression, but I could still sense something from that short, immediate response that could be taken by some as having been made without proper consideration.
It was my own fault.
It was due to the normal actions I took.
“Okay, let’s go. It’s gotten pretty dark, so...um...I guess the normal protocol would be for me to see you home.”
“Two people cannot ride on that bike.”
“It has those rods, so two should be fine even if three would be impossible.”
“The rods you put your feet on. I don’t know what they’re called, but they’re attached to the back wheel. One of us can stand on them and put their hands on the other’s shoulders. We can decide who sits in front with a game of rock paper scissors. The snail is gone, so we should have no problems returning home. The way we came was way too complicated to remember, so Senjougahara...”
Senjougahara was still standing in the same place.
While standing there, she grabbed my wrist.
Senjougahara Hitagi had restricted herself from coming into contact with others for so long, so that was the first time she had ever reached out and touched me like that.
We touched each other.
We looked at each other.
And that showed that we were there.
We could each tell the other was there.
“Perhaps we should actually put it in words.”
“Put what in words?”
“I do not want an assumed relationship.”
For a girl that desired the absolute extreme, merely replying in English would have lacked something. However, my limited knowledge of other languages would have made any other language seem half-hearted and it would still be a rehash.
“I hope it catches on.”
In a general sense, that made Hanekawa’s delusion 100% accurate.
It seemed that class rep really did know everything.
 Translator's Notes
- This is the improved version of moe she came up with in part 002.
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