Spinning Penguin Drum Novel: Chapter 1

Finally got this finished. I’m gonna try to do a tag-team thing with someone from /a/ to see if we can catch up to the show (they’re working on chapter 2 right now)––unlike No. 6 this is doable with Penguin Drum because of how closely the anime follows the novel, btw. Anyway, took forever because lol attention span and even though page-count wise it’s not any longer than an average No. 6 chapter, word-count wise (of the TL) it’s like 2x as long.

I did a quick once-over, but not a proper edit. I would refrain from posting, but I’ve been looking at it so long I just kind of want to get it up. I’ll go back and fix shit later (plz2pointout dumb errors if you spot them).

[EDIT] Made some corrections. Thank you commenters!

<< Previously: Prologue.

Chapter 1

The house we live in was built in a not-so-bad part of town. It’s a little single-family bungalow––a remnant of a bygone era. Under the simple, dull red roof, next to the old wooden sliding-door to the foyer, is a bright red mailbox. Just a little bit of laundry fills up the narrow yard along the side of the wall covered blue, yellow, green and pink painted siding. Thankfully, the yard is bordered by a vacant lot. Since there’s only some playground equipment in it, on sunny days like this, the living room is filled with warm light. I think, warm, bright, direct sunlight must be good for you.

As I––and I don’t mean to brag, but––expertly chopped the green onions this morning, I remembered a dream I’d had earlier.

A faint track rose out of the darkness, and then, sometimes there was a little lamp next to a tunnel that would illuminate everything. The darkness seemed to continue forever and there was a pleasant rumbling. It was the view from the front-facing window of the foremost car of a subway train. Whenever I started to wake, it would fade from view. Once, a goblin or something, seemed to jump out at me, you can’t blame me for being afraid. Yet, I didn’t avert my eyes. No matter how closely I listened, there was no hint of the car coming to a stop for a station, there was no announcer, or any hint or voices of other passengers.

No music leaking out of someone’s headphones or the sound of clothes rustling could be heard either. Only the thunk-kthunk, thunk-kthunk of the train running down the tracks reverberating throughout my body.

I would start to get lonely and only hoped for the next station to come soon. Since it’s a subway, if it doesn’t stop at the stations on schedule, it’ll be a serious problem. If it doesn’t let me off…

I awoke just as I was about to scream, realizing it was a dream. I ended up waking up ten minutes before my alarm was set to go off because of it. Seeing my brother asleep next to me put me a bit more at ease. I killed some time doing a bit of cleaning and half watching the morning news. Then I made the Miso soup just the way Himari likes it, with lots of little pieces of Tofu in it, and then I took the cucumbers, Himari’s favorite, out of the rice bran and placed them neatly in a small bowl. This rice bran has been in our family for a while. Out of this stinky, light brown mess come pickles. In the past this really astonished me. I’d see my mom calmly put her hands into it and think “Woah.” I mix it quickly with vinyl gloves on and with that I’m done.

To think, I’m a high school boy who owns rice bran––it even makes me roll my eyes.

I turn off the hotplate and taste the soup straight from the ladle. I nod, satisfied with myself. White rice and warm, hearty Miso soup is the standard Takakura family breakfast. I suddenly realized that I was the one keeping that tradition alive.

My brother woke up and put his futon away. Our house was starting to get moving.

Three sets of rice bowls and chopsticks were laid out on the little table in our tatami living room.  Warm, white steam rose out of the rice cooker. The supermarket fliers and coupons I’d been saving were stuck to the refrigerator with Himari’s adorable magnets. Our shoes were neatly lined up in the entryway. Another “perfect morning.” A perfectly satisfactory morning.

I glanced at the photos on the cupboard as I carried the tray of bowls filled with Miso soup. Sitting in the middle was a landscape photo of the three of us when we were younger and our parents.

There was no father or mother in this perfectly satisfactory morning. So, I make breakfast as their successor.

I hate the word “fate.” If birth, meetings, partings, success and failure, fortune and misfortune, are all predetermined by “fate,” then why were we even born in the first place. Why are we alive at all?

Salted eggs, warm Miso soup and pickles.

“Kanba, Himari, breakfast is ready.” I called to them together.

There are people who are born into wealthy families. Those born into poverty. Beautiful people born of beautiful mothers. And those who are not. And there are those who are born into famine and war. If those are all the result of “fate,” then doesn’t that make God incredibly irrational and cruel?

But, ever since that day, we became well aware of the fact that we would never amount to anything.

“Let’s eat!” Himari said, in a voice that said she was happy from the bottom of her heart and brought her hands together with an infectious smile. Today, Himari, who usually takes a long time to get ready, had already neatly brushed her hair and put on her shiny lip balm. I was relieved to see that her color was good today.

“Let’s eat,” Kanba and I followed suit.

“You really went all out with breakfast today,” Kanba said half-heartedly, rubbing his sleepy eyes. But, when Himari  picked up her bowl of Miso soup with both hands, blew on it delicately and slowly brought it to her mouth we watched her intently, trying to burn the image into our memory.

Her long eyelashes rested delicately on her beautiful face. Her thin, pale throat moved faintly as she swallowed.

“It’s delicious.” Himari said, smiling ecstatically.

“You like it, Himari?” Kanba asked without taking his eyes off her.

“Yeah. I haven’t had hot soup like this in a while.”

“Right. Soup was always cold when it got to you in the hospital.” Kanba said a little solemnly.

I smiled since it was pointless to worry. Himari dropped her gaze to the soup.

“Yeah. But, even more than that it’s because Sho’s soup tastes just like Mom’s.”

“Himari,” that’s right. We know that all too well. There’s definitely something this morning is missing. Yet, as long as we eat together around the table like this, we’re still a family. Because we are family after all. There’s no other reason. But then again, that’s more than enough.

We’re keeping the Takakura family alive.

“I know, right? He’s already a perfect house-husband, isn’t he? He can tell what’s a sale and what’s junk, he does laundry, irons flawlessly, and he’s good at cooking too.”

Kanba said cheerfully and Himari laughed in response and said, “Sho would make a good wife, wouldn’t he?”

“Is that so?” I wasn’t really trying to make the soup taste like Mom’s. But, since I am my mother’s child, maybe I favor the same seasonings or something like that. And if Himari likes it, all the better.

“Hey, did you notice anything different about this room?” Himari said abruptly.

“Huh? I’ve been rolling over it this morning, but I haven’t noticed a thing.” I said stupidly. Rolling? That’s what tape does. I was just doing some light cleaning this morning. Our vacuum is old, noisy and dusty, so it’s no good for pre-breakfast cleaning.

“Are you making something again?” Kanba turned his head quickly.

Himari had rather eclectic tastes. She liked western clothes and even though she had small hands, she was quite crafty and could often be found making something at the sewing machine, or knitting. There were some creations of hers that neither Kanba or I could make heads or tales of, but she probably thought they were “cute.”  Himari’s room and the living room were adorned with those cute, “new friends,” of hers.

As Himari put it, she wanted to fill the world with cute things. So, all that was left to do was ask what it was, and Himari would just say “who knows” and play dumb. I don’t really get it.

“The correct answer is: curtains!”

Himari’s voice sent our gazes to the curtains. I didn’t roll over the curtains this morning for sure.

“Oh, in the corner.” I noticed nearby a pink curtain with “I’m home” embroidered delicately in cursive, followed by a small floral pattern. “I didn’t notice it.”

“Let me see,” Kanba butted in from the side. “Himari, you’re really good at embroidery.”

Himari smiled, pleased with herself.

-

As far as the X-ray was concerned, there’s no way we could have understood it completely, no matter how many times they explained it to us. Plus, we didn’t really care about understanding it. We just wanted to know if Himari would be okay.

“I’m terribly sorry, but there’s nothing else modern medicine can do for her. Himari has only a few months left. Or perhaps even––” Dr. Washizuka said evasively.

“No way.” I felt the life drain out of me. There was that familiar smell, peculiar to hospitals. Dr. Washizuka’s disgustingly clean white coat. The light box brightly displaying Himari’s insides.

” ‘Or possibly even,’ what? Bullshit, is that something a doctor should say!”  Kanba stood up angrily, knocking the chair over in the process, and seized Dr. Washizuka.

“Kanba!” I stood up to stop him, but Kanba had already grabbed his collar.

“Money is no object. And if we can’t do it in Japan, send her overseas. If it’s organs she needs, she can have mine! So don’t say there’s nothing you can do. Please don’t say that.” Kanba let go of him and collapsed at his feet, his head to the ground. “Please save her. I’ll pay the price however steep. I’d even trade my life for hers, so please, save Himari!”

I was at a loss for words. The reality of the situation hit me when I saw my brother fall apart. But I couldn’t shout like Kanba; I could only stand there. Just stand there as all sorts of emotions and memories washed over me.

“Mr. Takakura. Doctors aren’t gods.” Dr. Washizuka said, quietly and devoid of sadness, but in a clear voice. Then he put a hand on Kanba’s shoulder and urged him to raise his head.

“There was never any God to begin with.”  Kanba, still on the floor, clenched his fist tightly even though his hand was shaking. All I could do was look on vacantly. I hate the word “fate.”

Himari was discharged. So that she could spend time with us until her life was extinguished. We laughed endlessly as we shouldered endless despair. We awkwardly said “welcome home” along with her beloved stuffed animals and dolls in the entryway.

Our sister was cuter than anyone else in the world. We couldn’t fathom her not being here. We couldn’t accept that reality. And more than that, she hadn’t been stolen away from us yet, and more than anything it hadn’t been stolen away from her yet.

I came back to my senses with a slow and high groan. Himari had already left the table and was sprawled out on the little red sofa.

“Himari, are you alright?” Seeing that she’d left her food half uneaten. I guess she still can’t eat very much.

“Yeah, I’m full already. Ah, that was so good!” She said happily as she sighed and patted her stomach. “Thanks for making breakfast.”

While sipping on his warm, post-meal tea, Kanba scolded her, “Hey, mind your manners, Himari.”

“But today’s ‘Himari Day,’ so it’s okay.” She said, puffing up her cheeks and then letting the air out.

” ‘Himari Day’? First I’ve heard of it.” Kanba replied, shooting me a glance.

“Sho said that I could do whatever I like today. So, today’s Himari Day!”

“Oh ho, I see.”

I grinned broadly and looked away from Kanba, I plucked up the pickles one by one a and crunched down on them.

“Hey, Kan, Sho. This is bliss, you know.”  Himari said, eyes closed.

Himari’s long hair spilled over the sofa. She didn’t have much to wear in the hospital, so her hair became her favorite, gentle-hued night gown. [2 – yes this sentence is weird] Just her pale, thin arms and legs stuck out.

Kanba stared at Himari, but before long laughed gently as if sighing.

“That’s right. You and me and Shoma are all here, together in this house. This really is bliss.”

Bliss. I couldn’t really understand that feeling, but, they seemed so happy, I just couldn’t butt in and ruin it.

“Hey, hey,” Himari got up quickly, making a face like she’d just had a wonderful idea. “Do you think the penguins are still at that aquarium?”

-

I wonder when we started saying, “we’ll be back,” even when no one was home.

Himari Day was a wonderful, sunny day, we started heading to “that aquarium.” We got on the subway at Ogikubo. The reason Himari wanted to take such a roundabout route was that she’d missed taking the line that our family had used most frequently in the past. So naturally, since today was “Himari Day” we did as she wished and departed on our nostalgia trip.

Himari wore a blouse with lots of frills and a thin ribbon tied in front. Her waist looked so slender with that wide, flower-like skirt. And her long, western boots completed the doll-like image. Her cheeks were flushed with excitement. Kanba was sitting absentmindedly, still a little sleepy.

Hanging onto the ceiling strap, looking at the two of them, I was surprised again that there were only three of us here. Himari, all decked out in frills, was surely smiling right next to us.

“Hey, Kan. Do your otter impression.” Himari said, tugging on Kanba’s sleeve.

“Huh? Otter? Oh.” Kanba turned red.

“The last time we went to the aquarium as a family, when we got home, Kan, you just kept going ‘I’m an otter! I’m an otter!’ with an orange on your stomach.” Himari said and burst into laughter.

“Come on, cut it out. I was a little kid. You remember things like that really well, don’t you?”

“Well, it was fun back then, wasn’t it?” Himari said as she looked out the dark window.

I wasn’t paying attention, so I didn’t notice the gloomy expression Himari had for a second. But, Kanba was sensitive to such things and caught it, and, half-flustered said, “hey.”

“Shoma. Your, uh, seahorse impression was a masterpiece too.”

“Huh? What?” I was looking at myself reflected in the train’s window and the darkness flowing behind.

“What’s with you? You’ve been spacing out this whole time.”

“It’s nothing. It’s just been a while since we all went out for some fun.” So, I was dreading it for some reason.

“It really has been a long time. It’s kind of like a dream.” Himari murmured. “Sorry. I made us take the long way.”

For whatever reason, both Kanba and I fell silent, but Kanba just managed to eek out a, “We don’t mind,” in response.

I looked at the darkness flowing outside the window. In the darkness, suspended in the glass window, was the reflection of my sort of stupid face.

-

As I should have expected considering it was a holiday, Ikebukuro’s Sunshine International Aquarium was packed. Families, couples, groups of girls, and us. Even I was pretty excited when we were buying tickets for the first time in ages.

It’s a pretty obvious thing to mention, but the darkness inside the subway is a different sort of darkness. I felt like I was being sucked in by the blue of the heavy glass. Inside, everyone was holding hands and calling out to each other, we walked so that we wouldn’t be separated and stopped to peer into the tanks. A tank with big fish swimming calmly, a tank with colorful tropical fish. A tank full of strangely shaped deep-sea fish and swaying seaweed.

“Tell me if you don’t feel well.” My trustworthy elder brother said.

“I will. But I’m fine now.” Himari said, cheerfully looking around the place like she’d missed it dearly.

Kanba guided us around the aquarium, careful to make sure that no one bumped into Himari. Playboys really are a different species. Even though we’re brothers, we couldn’t be more different where girls are concerned.

The penguins packed onto the artificial rocks, stood up and waddled around, formed a line, jumped into the water and swam smoothly.

Penguins in the water are almost completely different animals compared to how they are on shore, coming and going so elegantly, almost like they’re flying, beautiful and swift.

“Wow. Penguins are really good swimmers.” Himari squeaked out in admiration as she leaned over the bars, looking at them. I’d completely forgotten that penguins could move like that.

“Yeah, they are, even though they look a little silly on land.” The penguins’ wings looked sort of like fins and sort of like hands.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate hearing that from you, Shoma.”

“Probably.” I glared at Kanba for a second and at nearly the same moment he pulled his phone out of his pants’ pocket. He checked the screen momentarily and then said, unconcernedly,

“Sorry, I’ve gotta take this.”

“Another girl? If you’re not careful it’s gonna come back to bite you in the ass some day.” I said in a shocked tone and sighed.

“It’ll be fine. I’ve got this.”  He said as he disappeared into the crowd. Actually, I know all about it. Once, Kanba had an ex-girlfriend who called and texted him all day non-stop, but even when that’s not the case, Kanba is really cruel when he dumps girls. I ran into him once at school when he was returning a love letter. It was dreadful––he just said, “not right now,” with an expression like he was taking out the trash.

All sorts of high school girls, all dressed differently, came looking for my brother to confess to him. And then would be sent back.

Whenever they’d ask him what, “not right now,” means, he’d coolly answer, “It means I already have too many girls right now.”

“He’s ‘got this’?  Yeah right. Oh no, no, no, I don’t want to catch Kanba’s icky playboy germs.”

Himari was looking at something, making a face different from when she was staring transfixedly on a cute penguin. She didn’t respond to me or even turn around.

“That penguin…” Himari mumbled. She pointed gently.

“Huh? Which one?” I said, looking around the area she indicated slowly. The penguins were doing what they usually do, the ones on the shore were bumbling around and the ones in the water were moving briskly. I looked at Himari’s face again.

“Which one?”

“Hey, don’t run! It’s dangerous!” A sweet, but firm, motherly voice sounded. I hadn’t intended to listen to it, but before I knew it my ears were focused over there.

A boy ran past us wearing a penguin hat. He stopped just as he was about to crash into us and cried out in a shrill voice, “Mama! There are so many penguins here!”

“Don’t shout.”

His smiling––despite having just yelled at him––mother and his protective father caught up with him.

“The penguins aren’t going to fly away. Here you go.” He gently picked up the boy. “Hello, Mr. Penguin,” he said, showing the boy the tank from atop his shoulders.

The boy smiled like he was about to explode with happiness and his father held him tightly.

“He’s really into it,” his mother said, smiling more.

It was a perfectly satisfactory morning. The scent of hot Miso soup wafting from the kitchen. Family laughing together. The clear autumn sky. Our nostalgia trip. Just what was so different? Everything?

Just what sort of face am I making right now? Whatever it is, I don’t want Himari to see.

“Himari, let’s buy some souvenirs. I’ll buy you anything you want as a present today. How about that?” I said as cheerfully as possible.

“Really? Oh, right, because it’s Himari Day,” Himari said with a smile on her face.

“Kanba’s still on the phone over there, so let’s go.”

I wanted to get out of there. Of course, it’s not because I disliked the penguins. And it’s not like I had anything against that family. But I still wanted to get out of there. I’ve always thought I was more a pathetic and helpless person than I seem to be on the outside. So, at times like this, my chest feels tight. I feel like I’m choking on sorrow, like my lungs have collapsed. I know Kanba and Himari are both dealing with it. They don’t really think about smiling like everything’s fine. But, I just can’t put on a face like nothing’s wrong.

Himari’s tiny body was right there in front of me, but I wasn’t sure if I could protect her by myself. My shadow stretched out on the floor was very thin, I was shocked when I realized how small it was compared to me.

But, that went without saying.

~

The walls and shelves of the aquarium gift shop were all painted the same ocean blue. Himari was looking all around at the sea animal toys and stuffed animals.

“Sho, what’s your favorite sea animal?” Himari said, carefully examining all the stuffed animals. She innocently gave her impressions as she searched through them. This one’s cute. And isn’t this one’s nose too big? And we saw one like this today, didn’t we? And so on.

“Oh, yeah.” All of a sudden, it struck me that now’s about the time salmon and flounder are in season. “Umm.” And soon scallops will be in season, won’t they?  Squid, herring and sea urchin are too expensive for me to get my hands on, but we were just looking at them floating around in one of the tanks.

“Do you just not like fish?”

When I snapped out of it, Himari was looking at me anxiously.

“No, no! It’s just like, the penguins are really cute and all, but everything else is really neat too.”

Himari hmm’d and laughed before heading off to another corner. I guess this proves that I’m no house husband, just a glutton.

“Himari, what’s your favorite sea animal?”

“Hmm, all of them!” she said, flashing a smile. I could only smile in response to that unexpected answer. I see, so I can do it.

“Hey, this one’s amazing! It looks like the real thing!” Himari said, hugging a giant otter plush toy.

“It’s so fluffy.” It was almost like I could see a heart at the end of that line.

“Woah, it is.” I raised my voice, more surprised at what I saw on the dangling price tag. Expensive. I hadn’t anticipated this either. But, I did just say that I’d buy her anything.

“Oh, but,” Himari began as she plopped the expensive otter back down on the shelf. Fabulous. “I’ve got Kan to be an otter for me, so I don’t need it. I’ll get him to do his impression when we get home.”

“He won’t do it now, he’s too old.” But, I guess Kanba is to thank for her giving up on that otter toy. He’ll have to sacrifice himself in exchange for this expensive toy.

“I’ll get him to do it. Today is Himari Day after all! And you’ll do your seahorse.” Himari said, quite pleased with herself.

“Huh? I have to do it too?” I’ve never heard of anyone doing a seahorse impression before. Apparently I had done it in the past, but I don’t really remember. How do you even imitate an animal like that? It doesn’t move or emote nearly as much as an otter. I wish I could ask myself. “The seahorse impression?”

“Yes. Because today––” Himari reverently took a penguin-shaped hat from a nearby shelf and put it on her head, puffing out her chest. “––I’m the queen!”

“Himari, that’s––” It made my eyes sparkle on their own. “Perfect! It’s disgustingly cute!”

“I know, right?” Our queen spun around. I couldn’t defy that charming and happy face. I decided to make that hat Himari’s present.

Looking at the hat wrapped up properly in patterned paper as a present, I thought I didn’t do half bad. I did pretty well didn’t I?

“What color ribbon would you like?”

The clerk showed me samples of ribbon. My eyes were immediately drawn to the pink and red colors like on our house, and without hesitation I answered, “Pink please.”

“Hey, I was looking for you.” There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to find Kanba standing there, scowling.

“You’re one to talk. You were off somewhere talking on the phone.” I said in protest, as I nodded to the clerk when she handed me the paper bag.

~

“So, where’s Himari?”

“Huh? She should be right over…” I looked all over the small gift shop, but Himari was nowhere to be seen.

“Dumbass, why didn’t you keep an eye on her.” Kanba frowned.

“She was just with me.”

“Help! Someone call an ambulance!” A dreadful voice rang out in our ears. “A girl collapsed in the courtyard!”

“There’s no way.” I went pale. “No.”

Kanba started running without a word. I followed after. We ran down the stairs. I saw a sign for the sea lion show, and just inside, near the stage, a crowd of people had gathered.

“Himari!” Kanba rushed into the crowd of people, headed for the center. We pushed people away to get through. As we past through them I shouted, “I’m sorry, she’s our sister. Let us through.”

My feet twisted.

Himari was lying face-up in the center of the crowd.

“Himari! Himari!” Kanba gently took Himari in his arms and called out to her, but Himari’s eyes remained closed and while her pale pink mouth was slightly open, she didn’t respond.

Since the ambulance has alREADY BEEN CALLED, YOU NEED TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL ASAP. Someone said. It wasn’t really far away. It was probably one of the aquarium’s employees. But, the sound of my heart pounding was so loud I couldn’t be sure. {the shift into all caps isn’t an error––the original text shifts into all katakana mid-word}

“Please.” Kanba said in a whisper. Himari was being carried in on a stretcher.

I was just standing there, unable to do a thing, again. The only thing I could feel clearly was the muscles in my face freezing little by little.

~

Himari was sleeping in the ICU after the doctors did everything they could for her. Just moments ago she was laughing, but now she was silent as a doll. Droplets of water condensed on her oxygen mask. Aside from that there were several other tubes we couldn’t identify. A small monitor was displaying Himari’s faint heartbeat.

“Miss Takakura! Himari Takakura!” No matter how many times they shouted, she didn’t respond.

We couldn’t even call out to Himari from behind the large glass pane. The doctors and nurses were rushing about, doing something. Just looking at how they were acting made it clear that Himari was in critical condition.

“Pulse falling!” “Doctor!” Dr. Washizuka rushed over to Himari’s side and at the same time, the little jagged line and the numbers on the monitor stopped moving. The number was zero. The jagged line wasn’t jagged anymore, it was just a line.

Kanba and I both knew what that meant, but neither of us could say a word. Next, it happened. A doctor or a nurse confirmed the time and looked at us with pity. And then he would tell us. Himari’s life had come to an end at such-and-such time. And that he was sorry for our loss.

I regret to inform you, Kanba and Shoma Takakura, that your dear sister has died. Something to that effect.

I felt a chill over me and I felt like I was floating. My face was probably paler than Himari’s, laid out on the bed and no longer breathing.

“Kanba,” I eeked out.

Kanba’s color didn’t change. He didn’t laugh or cry. He wasn’t angry or hateful. He just looked over at Himari in a daze.

“Mr. Takakura, no, Kanba, Shoma. I am sorry for your loss.”

Dr. Washizuka had started speaking and finished before I noticed. Just what does, “I’m sorry for your loss,” mean at a time like this? I think it’s just a way to say, “that sucks,” with more pity.

If this was just a dream, I would wake up now, get Kanba out of bed and go to Himari’s room. Regardless of whether it was 3 a.m. or 6 a.m. Even if my brother, the notorious over-sleeper, complained. We’d wait next to Himari’s extravagant canopy bed, holding our breath, waiting for her to rise.

In the high-ceiling-ed morgue, the light from the setting sun streamed in through the window. It had a strangely solemn atmosphere, almost like being in a foreign church.

Atop the tiny bed, Himari laid wrapped in a plain white shirt with a white cloth covering her face. I looked at my brother, leaning against the wall as I clung to Himari’s shirt, my face drenched in tears.

“Why did it happen so fast?” I cried. My throat closed up, I couldn’t speak well.

“I guess that doctor wasn’t a total quack.” Kanba said in a particularly cold voice. “He said that it was a miracle that she was alive, let alone walking. And that we should prepare for the worst.”

The morgue was still cold, no matter how much light it got. There was that peculiar, dead person smell and voices echoed well.

“This was Himari’s fate. She didn’t suffer and died in a place that she loved. She was probably happy.” Kanba let out a big sigh and got off the wall. Seized by tears, I heard Kanba’s words and scowled for a different reason.

“At any rate, we need to get in contact with Uncle Ikebe. We can’t handle all the paperwork and arrangements.”

“How dare you,” I forced out in a soft but unwavering voice. I stood up angrily and seized Kanba by his collar without hesitation.

“How dare you say that in front of Himari. How can you say something so cold in front of our sister!” I tightened my grip on Kanba’s collar with unusual strength.

“I’m just accepting reality.” Kanba responded, indifferently.

“What reality!” I slammed Kanba into the wall, still gripping his collar. He hit with a thump. But it didn’t change Kanba’s posture or expression.

“What fate! Why did it have to be Himari! Why did Himari have to end up like this! Why did it have to happen to a kid who was just happy to eat breakfast with her family!”

I started to sob again. I hung my head so he wouldn’t see my face. I’m sure my eyes were already swollen and red.

Kanba brought his hand to my head. He lifted up my face and looked into my eyes. His eyes were unusually gentle, like a big animal’s, and he made a solemn expression.

“This is probably our ‘punishment.'”

It felt like I’d been stabbed in the heart. It’s not like the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. But, it was just a coincidence, I wrote it off as my childish, overactive imagination and locked it away in a little black box in the corner of my mind.

Punishment. That’s what it is. We’re hopeless children even if we’re punished. If we just keep living like this, we’ll probably hurt someone. Was that what Himari was burdened with? Little Himari, all by herself.

“Survival Strategy!”

Kanba and I were startled by the sudden shout. Kanba was staring in awe at Himari’s corpse. I shrugged and slowly looked over.

Somehow, Himari was sitting upright, wearing the penguin hat we’d just bought at the aquarium. The white sheet that had been covering her face fluttered down onto the floor.

“Hi- Himari?”

The shout didn’t sound like Himari. The voice was surely the same, but, the power, intonation and intensity were all wrong.

Maybe it was because of the setting sun, but Himari’s infinitely empty eyes glowed red.

“I have come from the destination of your fate. Rejoice, for I have temporarily extended this girl’s life. You peasants should get on your knees and thank me!”

I didn’t know what to say. I glanced at Kanba and he was dumbfounded too.

Himari’s adorable face was adorned with a daring smile, “If you wish to preserve this girl’s life,” she said grinning.

I tried to keep listening, about to fall over.

Suddenly, Himari composed herself and looked at us in turn with a cold expression. I was terrified, but then, the penguin hat just slipped off her head and plopped onto the sheets.

“Ah-” Without thinking I rushed over to pick up the hat.

“Huh? Sho? Kan?” It was Himari’s usual, gentle voice.

“Hi-Himari? Is it really you?” I’d already forgotten about the hat and blankly stared at Himari’s face. “Where am I? What happened to me?” She anxiously looked at the bed she was sitting on.

“Uh, um…” I couldn’t form words. Now, I was sure the Himari I was talking to was the Himari I knew.  But then, who was that other Himari? And how is a dead girl looking at me like this now?

Kanba walked up from behind me and said confidently, with a smile on his face, “You just fainted at the aquarium. Nothing serious.” Then he looked at me, asking me “isn’t that right?” with his eyes.

“Ye-Yeah. That’s what happened. You probably got worn out from all the people. Since we were having fun all day.” Yeah. All that was important now was that Himari was alive, in front of us. I guess thinking that Himari was dead was just a mistake. Just some kind of mistake.

“Thank goodness. You’re alive, Himari!” I said, hugging Himari without a thought. Tears came pouring out when I tried to speak. They were different tears than before. “I’m so glad.”

“What’s wrong, Sho? You’re overreacting.” Himari put her little hand on my shoulder. The warmth of that hand was better proof than anything that she was indeed alive.

“You’re right, I am overreacting.” I laughed awkwardly, forcing my mouth into a smile as I wiped my overflowing tears on my shirt sleeve over and over.

“Huh?”

It was Kanba. He had a severe expression on his face as he looked at the penguin hat crumpled on the bed sheets.

“Kan?” Himari said in a weak voice again in response to Kanba’s overly serious expression.

“No, it’s nothing. I guess you still have to be careful not to overdo it, Himari.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

He’s probably thinking about how Himari seemed to turn into a different person just a minute ago.

Just what was that? I think it’d be pretty weird if that was just Himari acting. But, Kanba hasn’t talked with it like it was Himari, I don’t think I could have done that. I don’t know what to say.

Maybe it really was a dream. Or maybe a nightmare. I did have a strange dream this morning, didn’t I?

“I’ll go get Dr. Washizuka.”  Kanba said quietly, patting Himari’s head just to make sure she was really there. And then we exchanged glances.

What do we do? This is the morgue and Himari died once. Kanba definitely didn’t want to cause a scene with Dr. Washizuka in front of Himari.

“It’s already evening,” Himari said as if it were strange. “This room is kind of weird.”

“It’s… some kind of special examination room, you see, uh, Dr. Washizuka said it was just to be safe. He did a really in-depth exam. He didn’t find anything though.” I couldn’t speak very well. But Himari just nodded and accepted it, “Oh, so that’s what happened.”

“I’m sorry. I’m nothing but trouble.” Himari said with a sheepish smile.

“N-Not at all! Look, since today’s ‘Himari Day,’ let’s do something even more extravagant, my queen.”

It was definitely already dark out. Next we’ll go home, I’ll whip up a quick dinner, we’ll eat together, drink hot tea, lie around a bit in front of the TV, take turns in the bath, say good night and go to sleep. Himari Day will end without any problems.

When I looked at Himari’s gently smiling face, I felt relieved that everything had returned to normal.

~

A few days passed and it seemed like nothing was wrong with Himari. She was far from ill, in fact, she was incredibly energetic. A shocked and awed Dr. Washizuka enthusiastically told Kanba and I, “It’s unbelievable! She’s made an incredible turn around. And what’s more, she’s stable now. It’s a miracle.”

“I’ll pull my own weight around here too from now on. It’s not fair that you have to do all the work by yourself, Sho.” Himari was wearing saxe blue sarrouel pants with big, white polkadots and black suspenders. Her top was a refreshing crew neck cutsew and her hair was cutely done up in two [buns]. She looked much healthier than usual.

“I help too.” Kanba added drily and then yawned.

“Kanba, the most you ever do is clean the tub.”

Not even bothering to protest, Kanba stuffed his mouth with eggs.

“It’s hard work.” Maybe if you actually did it you’d sound more convincing.

“Look who’s talking.”

Completely ignoring my sarcastic comment, he just stared off into space with sleepy eyes as he worked his chopsticks deftly.

“Seconds!” Himari said with vigor and held out her small bowl.

“Are you sure?” Kanba asked without thinking.

I started to smile. “Sure.” I took the bowl.

“I’ll only fill it up part way so you don’t over do it.”

“I’m fine now. Dr. Washizuka said I should do what I can.” After she said that, Himari looked down, a little embarrassed, “I wonder if I can go back to school soon,” she murmured.

I felt my chest tighten as I looked at Himari. From the corner of my eye, I could tell that Kanba was making a meek expression.

It’s a miracle.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what Dr. Washizuka had said. If this really was a miracle, she really would be able to go back to school sooner or later. But, I couldn’t say that so easily.

We were still terrified. There was a chance that the miracle could end. “I wonder if I can go back to school soon,” she said with a smile on her face––if that wasn’t going to happen, how am I supposed to console her? I’m sure Kanba’s wondering the same thing.

It’s not really that we’re all that similar, but we’re more like identical twins when it comes to caring about Himari.

“Here you go.” I handed the bowl back to Himari. My eyes drifted to the penguin hat resting on a globe in the corner of the room.

The old, crackly intercom rang.

“Coming!” I opened the door and there was a young delivery man standing there, out of breath.

“I have a refrigerated parcel for you. This is the Takakura residence, correct?”

I signed for the package and took the cold box from him. There was no return address. If it wasn’t from Uncle Ikebe, I had no idea who would send a refrigerated package to us. The phrase “perishables” was scrawled carelessly in the contents column.

I carried the surprisingly heavy box into the living room and slowly opened the package.

Inside there were three big, black, round objects. They were frozen solid.

“What are they?” Himari said, peering in curiously.

“The packing slip said perishables, but that’s it.”

Himari poked at the objects and raised an absurd concern, “Are we going to be able to fit them all in the fridge?”

“Are they food? Giant eggplants? Some kind of seafood?” Kanba said, looking at Himari, defenselessly touching them, with concern.

“I have no idea. Who are they even from?”

“Hey, Shoma, school.” Kanba reminded me.

I panicked and looked at the clock on the wall, there’s no way I could get to school on time now.

“Oh crap.” I grabbed my school bag and got up. “Ok, take good care of Himari today then,” I said as I rushed to the door and shoved my feet into my loafers. As I threw the sliding door open I heard from behind me,

“See you later!”

I turned around and Himari was standing there, smiling and waving.

“I’m off!” I started smiling unconsciously. Ah, I thought, this must be what they call bliss. It’ll probably be alright. It probably doesn’t matter anymore. I looked up at the clear white autumn sky, I cheerfully made my way to school––of course it goes without saying that I was late. But, even that made me happy since it felt like a normal, happy day.

~

I’m in 2nd year, class A at West Garden Public High. After lunch a languid sleepiness fills the room. The weather looks a bit threatening outside, I hope Kanba or Himari notices and takes the laundry in.

And on top of that, our teacher, Mr. Keiju Tabuki, was giving a sleep-inducing biology lesson, it was intensely boring. Even though he’s still pretty young, our bird-watching homeroom teacher wasn’t particularly loved or hated by us, his male students; he wears these glasses that are so ugly you really have to wonder where he bought them; his most notable feature is his personable smile and how he can lecture about frog embryogenesis in a voice like he’s chanting a sutra.

“And so, after the frog egg is fertilized, it undergoes segmentation and the number of cells increase. It enters the morula stage and before long it becomes a blastula. Then, just like the fertilized sea urchin eggs we looked at last time, part of the blastula slowly turns in on itself. This is a process called gastrulation, after which the blastula becomes a gastrula.”

Oh man, I could really go for some sea urchin right now. Speaking of which, was I even listening to his lecture about fertilized sea urchin eggs last time? I must have drifted off a bit, I’m being careless with my studies.

“After this, the exoderm, endoderm and mesoderm form. Their shapes and functions begin to change as the cells begin to differentiate.” Mr. Tabuki said and then looked at his wristwatch and ended the lecture.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Any longer and I’d be drowning in dreams of sea urchins.

“That’s it for today. Next time we’ll be watching a video about embryogenesis so you can see the process directly.” Mr. Tabuki said, closing the textbook. “Any questions?”

Everyone was completely silent.

“Then, that’s it for today. Frogs are cute aren’t they?” Mr. Tabuki was the only one smiling.

He loves animals, that’s for sure. After that, the bell rang and Mr. Tabuki left the room.

I was honestly enjoying my good fortune at that point. God is usually so cruel, but on some kind of whim he changed our fate with a miracle. Even we might still have some right to happiness.

There was a penguin scribbled [on the desk] next to my notebook. That hat. That whole thing was strange. This is kind of blasphemous, but maybe that hat was God? Or maybe it was Himari? It doesn’t really make a difference if it’s a penguin or a frog. Right now, I’m happy.

~

I had a lot to do after school. Shopping, laundry, cleaning. Making dinner, peeling pears or some other fruit to eat with everyone. Laughing while watching some stupid TV show, making sure that Himari doesn’t eat too many sweets.

I guess it’s obvious, but little by little, Himari’s possessions filled the house. Face wash and lotion, a brand new tooth brush. The hair dryer neither Kanba or I use very often. New shampoo and conditioner. A treatment for long hair. Himari’s clothes and undergarments were mixed into the laundry. Her bright colors and smells were slowly filling the house. Himari had really come home.

“Hey, little Takakura. Do you wanna get some tea on the way home? There’s this really cute girl at work.” My classmate Yamashita crashed into me from behind and hugged me as he chattered on and on.

“Sorry, I’m in a hurry today,” I said forcing a laugh. I’m amazed at how annoying and excitable he can be.

“Aw, you’re so cold.” Yamashita said hugging me without an ounce of malice and came close to my face. Being cheerful is nice and all, but I’m not good at dealing with people who are this playful. I’m aware of how un-high-schooler-esq I am. Today I was mostly worried about things selling out at the supermarket.

“Come on, your brother would totally come. Since us normal folks aren’t like your brother, Kanba, you’ve gotta make an effort!”

Obviously. Even though we’re twins we’re still individuals. My brother, Kanba, has always been popular with girls and known how to put on an act. I’m probably not unlike him in some respects, but I’m a bit of an airhead so even though I’m such a skilled and diligent house husband, I’m totally incompetent at getting girls to like me.

I just didn’t have time to respond to Yamashita’s light mood.

“Alright, just get off me,” I said and pushed Yamashita away. Three girls were passing by us.

“Ooh! Those are girls from Ohka Garden High! They’re pretty fine.” Yamashita got excited right away and tugged at my jacket sleeve. “Do you see her? That girl in the middle. She’s kinda hot.”

They’re pretty famous for wearing those elegant, black turtlenecks under their sailor uniforms.

The girl in the middle Yamashita was talking about with her hair in a bob glanced back at us. She probably heard Yamashita talking. I looked away.

“Oh, that girl looked at me didn’t she? Yeah, she totally did! I wonder what grade she’s in. Ah, I wonder if I should ask her her name. Too bad your brother’s not here.” Yamashita made binoculars with his hands and stared at their backs.

Thankfully I managed to walk off without Yamashita noticing.

Of course it’s not like I’m not interested in girls. I think it’s nice when idols and pretty actresses are on TV, I get excited. But, it’s no good. Aside from having too many obligations right now, I have a massive wound. {note: this is literally “giant wound on my leg(s)” but it’s an odd idiomatic usage from what I can tell, he probably doesn’t have an actual wound on his leg}

If I started dating a girl I was in love with, I’d have to show her that wound. This massive wound that just won’t heal, I couldn’t ask her to accept me in spite of that. I’m not that brave.

~

I was about to go through the subway gate when I touched my pants pocket and noticed that my subway pass was missing. I looked through my school bag, but I never put it in there.

“Huh?” I checked my pants, jacket and shirt pockets but couldn’t find it.

I definitely had it coming to school. I must have dropped it between now and when I got to school. We had to change for P.E. today so I probably left it in my locker. Anyway, I guess I should go back to school to look for it. I’m sure I’ll miss out on that sale though. I doubt Kanba would go shopping for me either.

As I whined to myself, I felt a strange tapping sensation on my thigh. I turned around and there a plump little penguin was looking at me with its sparkling, round eyes and handed me my subway pass.

For a while, I just stared at the penguin like creature. People just walked passed us not seeming to notice a thing.

“My pass.” I took the pass, what else was I supposed to do? The penguin almost seemed to nod slightly.

“Oh no, the sale!” In a panic I checked the time on the clock by the gate and when I looked back down at my feet the penguin had vanished.

“Huh?” I tilted my head, perplexed, and ran through the gate and hopped onto the subway.

If that was just an illusion, how do you explain the subway pass in my hand?

~

When I finally arrived at the aforementioned supermarket, there was no cabbage to be found beneath the sign with “On Sale!” written in red letters.

“I guess I was too late.” I sulked, crestfallen. And then I caught sight of that penguin from earlier steadily holding out half a cabbage. It silently handed the cabbage to me and waddled off somewhere.

“Hey, wait–” I looked at the cabbage in my hands and saw “Organic, Pesticide Free – 350 Yen” written on the wrapper. “Expensive!” I muttered unconsciously. It was probably just trying to be nice. I don’t remember being owed a favor by a penguin though. My memory’s gone a bit fuzzy ever since that thing with the penguin hat. Lately, it’s all penguins. In all sorts of crazy situations.

I returned the expensive cabbage to the shelf, we couldn’t afford a 300 yen cabbage, so I bought a more reasonable one. I put it in a small, fold-up nylon bag with other cheap groceries and daily necessities. I’ve collected quite a lot of points this supermarket for a while. I grinned stealthily.

When I left the supermarket, it was dark outside and rain was starting to fall.

“Oh no, it’s raining. I wonder if they remembered to bring in the laundry.” I looked up at the sky and sighed lightly. I could see ash colored clouds softly floating about in the formerly white sky. There was a tap at my leg again. When I looked down, there was a plump little penguin holding an open umbrella.

I wasn’t so tired that I wasn’t self-conscious, but I called out to a mother and child as they left the supermarket.

“Um, excuse me, do you have a moment?”

“Yes?”

“This is kind of an odd question, but, what’s up with this penguin?” I asked, pointing at the penguin standing there blankly.

“Excuse me?” The mother made a blatantly suspicious face and moved as if to protect her little daughter and hurried to get away from me. “Mommy, what was that boy talking about?” “Shhh, don’t look at him. Hurry up.” She said. I’d only ever heard that line on TV.

I looked down at the penguin. My eyes met its more or less expressionless black eyes. I got away from the penguin without taking the umbrella, turned my back and left as fast as I could.

The rain had drenched my clothes and the vegetables. I could smell the asphalt. It was getting cold. Before I knew it, I’d run away from the penguin. My wet bangs clung to my forehead.

“What the heck was that!” If I run I should be home soon, but the rain’s just going to get worse and I’ll be totally soaked. I turned back hesitantly and it was waddling after me. It swayed back and fourth, still carrying the open umbrella. I became even more scared. I ran at full speed until I was in front of the house and opened the door.

“Oh. You’re back.” Kanba said sticking his head out of the kitchen. “Why are you all wet?”

“I’m home. I am beat. Something really weird happen…ed…” I was struck dumbfounded as I looked inside. There was a plump little penguin, just like the one that had been following me, blinking its little, black eyes.

“What happened? Didn’t he find you? I even went through the trouble of having him bring you and umbrella…” Kanba said with an innocent face.

“What do you mean ‘didn’t he find you’?” I said as I hastily took off my loafers. I headed into the living room, avoiding the penguin at Kanba’s feet and I saw Himari sitting on the sofa knitting next to another similar penguin. I felt dizzy.

“They’re the perishables from this morning.” Kanba answered as if there was nothing strange about it and pointed at the empty box.

“Perishables?” He couldn’t mean those round, frozen things, could he?

The door to the entryway opened behind me. A penguin closed the umbrella, softly closed the door, and came inside.

“Just what’s going on here?”

“Nevermind that. Dry off before you catch a cold.”

“Fine.”

First I went into the kitchen and put away my haul for the day.

“Welcome back, Sho. Here’s a towel.” Himari tossed a bath towel onto my head.

“Thanks, Himari.” She made me crack a smile.

“We took in the laundry.”

“Thanks.” A relentless little penguin followed at Himari’s feet, but didn’t treat it like it was anything strange or out of the ordinary and patted it on the head gently.

Why am I the only one surprised by this? This is getting ridiculous.

~

I changed into dry clothes and dried my hair with a towel as I sipped my warm tea. Kanba was sitting leisurely with his legs crossed, sipping tea too. The tea warmed my body and the sound of rain calmed my mind.

Himari was playing with one of the penguins. The penguin was sitting opposite Himari, wearing a felt hat with a big ribbon. Himari was smiling, poking at its cheek, touching its tail, showing it the stuffed animals she’d made and so on. The penguin quietly gazed at her expression and gently poked at the stuffed animal in her hands with its beak.

“So, what’s going on here? Why are there penguins running around our house?”

“Why? It’s just how it looks. They were in that refrigerated package. They seem to understand what we’re saying, so we can use them to run errands and stuff.”

When I heard the word ‘errands,’ I remembered the thing with my subway pass, the cabbage and the umbrella and glanced at the penguin who’d been following me.

“I dunno. I mean, isn’t this kinda weird? Having three penguins running around the house? Plus, can’t…” If I’m right, only the three of us can see them.

“…no one see them but us?” Kanba said without hesitation. Kanba pointed to the top of the table with his eyes. A package of familiar Ikebe sweets was sitting there.

“Did Uncle Ikebe stop by?” Our uncle’s family runs an old confectionery shop. He’s always worried about us since we don’t have an adult around so he comes to check up on us from time to time. He always brings the same sweets with him.

“Oh right, he came to check on Himari. These guys were running around in front of him, but he didn’t notice at all.” Kanba said as he started opening the package of sweets for whatever reason.

I’m used to eating them and they’re not particularly appetizing right now, but they’re the sort of gently-flavored sweet I kind of want to eat from time to time.

“Anyway, even if that is the case, aren’t you and Himari a little too comfortable with this already? How can you act like this is normal?”

“Freaking out about it isn’t going to change anything. Plus, sitting there absentmindedly holding your teacup, you look like you’re getting pretty comfortable with the situation yourself.” He took an individually wrapped manju out of its package and started eating it without hesitation.

“I am not getting used to it. I just don’t know what to do.” Though, in the end, I was just sitting around with my brother and sister as usual, not doing anything about it.

I stopped talking and took a deep breath.

“Survival Strategy!”

Kanba and I were confused by the sudden shout and turned to see what was going on.

Himari wasn’t where she was just a moment ago, playing with the penguin. In fact, she wasn’t even in the living room.

White smoke obscured my view. I covered my eyes with my hands. I thought I should say something, but something really soft kept touching my forehead and cheeks and I just couldn’t think straight. I nervously opened my eyes and I saw that it wasn’t smoke, but layers upon layers of lace and frills.

As far as the eye could see, glittering stars were scattered about like beads in the endless darkness. I’d never seen such a place. It was sort of like space, but we’d never actually seen space before.

The three penguins were lined up in front of the fluttering lace.

There was a familiar, but brilliant smell. An intense rhythm was streaming out from somewhere, as if someone was steadily turning up the volume. And there were all sorts of multicolored lights.

I made eye contact with Kanba, who was sitting crosslegged not too far from me, for a moment, but neither of us had any idea what to say to or ask each other.

I could hear the clicking sound of footsteps. And then, from inside the soft, white, endlessly fluttering waves into that alternate dimension, Himari appeared wearing that penguin hat. But, the hat’s expression had become oddly mature and it had become more gaudy, like a crown. Wrapped in white light, she opened her arms wide, elegantly, like a ballet dancer, and her long hair blew out almost like angle wings.

Her eyes glowed with a sharp, red light.

The round, puffy collar that supported her little face, was wrapped generously in dark pink ribbon. She froze, gracefully as a doll and I saw the tips of her fingers dressed in shiny black gloves.

A black, vinyl corset with white frills emphasized Himari’s slender frame and a long skirt ballooned out from under it and dragged along the floor. High-heeled thigh-high boots clung to her delicate legs. They were also a shiny black––it was certainly a penguin dress.

Himari stepped forward with a cool expression and suddenly looked down at us and smiled.

The intense rhythm slowed to a more gentle tune––it was almost like everything was connected to Himari’s actions, even time itself.

As Himari leaned over abruptly and quickly looked over our faces, the rhythm swelled again. It was louder than I ever thought possible and just as I instinctively covered my ears, Himari’s voice broke through.

“Listen, you lowlifes who will never amount to anything!” Himari straightened her back and swung her arm out over our heads. A strange light poured out from her fingertips to just over our heads.

“Acquire the Penguin Drum!”

It was definitely the same voice we’d heard that day in the morgue. It was Himari’s and not at the same time. There was an intensity to the voice, as if it had roared out of the pit of her stomach.

“What are you talking about, Himari?” I said in a confused tone.

“I am not your sister. I have come from destination of your fate.”

Our sister had just said to our faces that she wasn’t our sister. Obviously I wouldn’t think a normal person would have red eyes and wear such a crazy dress. But, Himari just looked like Himari.

“It’s the hat.” Kanba said with confidence. “The hat is controlling Himari!”

“No way, isn’t it just a souvenir we bought at the aquarium?”

“For now, I am temporarily extending this girl’s life with my power. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. I’m calling in your tab!” The instant Himari said that, the smoke started blowing again. Himari’s hair danced around.

Kanba was staring intensely at the incomprehensible sparkles.

“What tab!  I don’t remember agre–– Woah!” I heard a thump and I think a square appeared below my feet and all of a sudden I was plunged upside down into darkness.

My mind was fuzzy. That mysterious, shining light and that intensely over-the-top rhythm that matched not-Himari was getting further away. I lost consciousness.

~

Himari slowly approached Kanba. She seductively held out a hand and touched his chin, raising it just a little bit.

Instead of answering Shoma’s question, Himari brought her face so close to Kanba’s raised head that their cheeks touched and then she whispered into his ear. In a voice like sweet, sweet honey, like how the first thing Kanba says just after he’s yawned when he’s half asleep sounds,

“Let’s initiate the Survival Strategy.”

With her free hand, she tore open Kanba’s shirt and touched his bare chest. And then thrust her hand into it as if there wasn’t even skin there.

“Uhh”

Himari’s hand was deep in Kanba’s chest, groping about as if she was looking for something.

“Ah, ahhh” Kanba gasped in what seemed like pain, but there was a hint of blush staining his cheeks at the same time.

Before long, Himari smoothly pulled out a shining “something” from deep within Kanba’s chest and held it up to the sky. It shone with blinding light, spinning and floated up to the sky and before long it had disappeared into another dimension.

~

It was the dead of night and although the rain had stopped, the atmosphere was still restless. You don’t normally notice it at all, but the drip, drip of the kitchen faucet at night was strangely noticeable. Shoma was sleeping lightly and talking in his sleep like he was having a nightmare.

Kanba got up carefully as to not wake his brother, and took a deep breath. He headed to the kitchen and fixed the faucet by smacking it. Then, he hesitated a bit before going to check on his sister.

Shoma and Kanba slept on futons laid out next to the table in the living room, but Himari had her own room. Her room had a different feel to it than the rest of the Takakura house. There was a big red canopy over a little bed in the middle. Himari had made both the canopy and all of the pillows piled on the bed. The area around the bed was overflowing with things that she loved.

An angel blowing a trumpet, candle holders, mushroom-shaped lamps each gently illuminating the area, and on the retro-sewing machine stand was an old sewing machine, scraps of cloth and ribbon and a bobbin of lace. Embroidery thread, beads, and buttons of every color were scattered about. Books piled up next to the closet after they’d been read and several of Himari’s “cute things” were stacked on top.

Next to a wobbly wooden stool Himari had picked up somewhere was a basket full of yarn and knitting needles. There was always something she was in the process of knitting in there too and when she finished with whatever it was it ended up decorating something in the Takakura house.

The curtains, her favorite pink, wrapped about the bed as if protecting its contents and Himari was lying there with her penguin, eyes closed, looking like a real princess.

Long hair. The buttons on the bodice of her night gown were undone, baring her white skin.

The faint moonlight cast a pale-blueish light on Himari’s slender neck.

Kanba stood next to the bed and brushed Himari’s bangs away from her forehead.

As he was involuntarily entranced by Himari, he thought about what it meant to be human.

Why are we born? If it’s only to be born, age, and grow old, just earnestly passing the days until we die, is it some kind of grand punishment or is it just some sort of intensely unfunny, cynical joke? Or if we just live to live, aren’t the creatures that simply adhere to survival strategies more elegant?

If there really is something we can call “God” in this world, I just have one question for him: Does fate really exist in the human realm?

Say there was a person who disregarded fate, instinct and even his DNA to love someone, who didn’t mind all of himself for someone else’s sake, could you really call him “human” anymore? Are such feelings forgivable?

“Just wondering.” Kanba said with a self-deprecating smile. He fixed the collar of Himari’s night gown and planted a kiss on her forehead. He pulled away from her and again, painfully gazed at Himari.

It seemed like for one reason or another Kanba detested the word fate.

Again, he brushed her hair more gently than ever before and pressed his lips against hers, breathing softly. It was a reverent kiss, almost like the one the prince gave to wake Sleeping Beauty.

Whether fate exists or not, Himari’s lips were surprisingly soft and sweet, and tasted of deep, deep darkness.

-

Next: Chapter 2 >>

———-

[Chapter 1 (Japanese) PDF]

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28 comments
  1. Minty said:

    definitely interesting to hear it from Shoma`s point of view. oh the siscon

  2. anti said:

    Great chapter, I kept an eye out while reading it and saw a few parts which definitely need to be edited: other than that, it’s fine to my untrained eyes!

    Since the ambulance had alREADY BEEN CALLED, YOU NEED TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL ASAP.

    I’ve collected quite a lot of points this supermarket for a while. I grinned stealthily.

    Plus, can’t…” If I’m right, only the three of us can see them.

    “…no one see them but us?” Kanba said without hesitation.

  3. Reaper said:

    Thank you very much!

  4. Silverspot said:

    Thanks a lot, Haro! That was a really nice read. Specially because I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere with cellphone internet…
    I’ve spotted a few typos here and there, but nothing major. (aquairum, “you’re” instead of “your”)
    Good luck for the remaining chapters.

    • >“you’re” instead of “your”

      I am ashamed of myself.

      • Silverspot said:

        I admit I chuckled. Too much 4chan will do that to you amirite… It happens to me all the time.

  5. Raine said:

    Oh, hi, thank you for all the hard work you’ve done so far… I love reading novels, but it is difficult for me to find them, since I don’t speak japanese and in my country we hardly find anything besides Naruto or Bleach. But I do translate things into my language (which is Portuguese), and I was wondering, do you let people use your translations to translate into other languages? If so, would you let me translate No.6?

    If you don’t like it, that’s all right ^^’ But thank you, anyway. Mainly for No.6 (oh gee, I’m so happy I can finally read its novel!).

    Thank you again!
    Raine

    • I don’t really care what people do with my translations. Translations of translations are a bad idea on principle, but, again, it’s really up to you.

  6. a said:

    Here is a list of typos and grammar errors I have found: http://pastebin.com/jaaw6uPW

    In some cases, the original text was missing some words (e.g., “I was about to go through [the] subway gate”), so I added what I thought would be appropriate in the corrections.

  7. Xeijan said:

    Thank you!~

  8. nodoka said:

    can you please kindly share the whole book with me? I really want to know the rest of the story!! Here is my email address:honeymin@gmail.com.Hope you can send a copy to me. Thank you very much

  9. namenamo said:

    Just started reading this out of curiosity, but I have so much emotion reading this chapter, I mean the sadness, and the humour, the tragedy and the bittersweetness. And the siscon. I just. I can’t say much right now but thank you for translating. I bet it’s difficult to translate a real novel, and the context sounds complex too. Keep up the good work.

  10. Apart from the uh siscon (didn’t even know it was abbreviated like that XD) at the end, I really enjoyed this chapter.
    Thank you so, so much.
    I think you have me hooked on this.

  11. cake said:

    > “Shoma. You’re, uh, seahorse impression was a masterpiece too.”
    >You are
    Stop that

  12. Scorcher said:

    Hey this is good stuff…why don’t you put it on bakatsuki…I’m sure a lot of people will read it there…
    Looking forward to next chapters…

  13. Bomber D Rufi said:

    Thanks for translating this. I’ve become more obsessed with Penguindrum than fangirls are with Tiger and Bunny. Glad I found this place and your translations. Please keep up the marvelous work!

  14. sasas said:

    Penguindrumm rocks! keep translating this

  15. Lina ~ said:

    Now that i read this i can tell that the anime was really well adapted.

  16. PenguinLoverxD said:

    continue it, onegaii ^^

  17. Tiffany said:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! :D

  18. Eli said:

    Thank you for translating this. I hope that you continue it.
    ^^

  19. Mukuru said:

    Thank you very much, Haro! [: I’m glad to have found this, I believed that there was no translation of the Mawaru Penguindrum novel such as this until now. ;w; By the way, Haro, do you think you could bundle up what you’ve completed on a PDF format in English, please? I’d enjoy reading it on iBook. Though, if not, that is also okay. I’m just glad to be able to read it at all. ouo

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