Chapter 4 – Make-Up

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When and how do girls learn to do make-up?

On TV, you can often see children literally turning themselves into monsters using make-up when mommy’s not around, but I’ve never seen something like that in real life.

As for my own environment, I noticed that the girls in my class have started to do make-up about the time when we entered high school.

But not only at make-up are the girls ahead of us guys, but also when it comes to clothes and stylish haircuts. They must be more sensitive to fashion than us.

There are fashionable guys here and there as well, but that’s the minority. It tends to be acceptable for men to be indifferent about this sort of thing. Not that I want to claim that I’m the standard, but it’s a fact that I couldn’t care less about fashion.

I suppose girls read magazines to get better in this field? But I don’t believe that just doing that would do.

Which means that they must ask their friends or their mothers for advise on make-up and fashion.

But girls who do not have any friends and parents are at a disadvantage in that case.

Mm? Who I’m referring to, you ask?

Nah, I’m not thinking of someone in specific of course.

A wide range of bottles was placed on the desk.

Toner, milky and normal lotions, liquid foundation, cream… skin protection cream, hydrating cream, skin care cream… after-care articles to use after washing one’s face or applying a face masque, or before putting on any make-up…

Since I hadn’t had the slightest idea what to use when for what purpose, I’d just randomly bought a few things, but I was none wiser now that I had lined my purchases up.

In fact, this was only a small portion of the cosmetics available. All I could say at the moment was that face masques were still too high-level for me.

It was about ten in the evening, and I was holding my head in font of the mirror and a bunch of cosmetic products while still in a slip dress I had put on after taking a bath.

Supposedly, it is necessary do something about dry skin after bathing, but I didn’t even know why my skin would be dry when I had just taken a bath. And supposedly, toner and such must not only be put on, but actually has to be massaged in.

Anyway, there’s no use in sitting on my hands.

I decided to start while referring to my book.

I carefully poured some toner on my hands and moved them in circles over my face to massage it in. Following the instructions of the book, I also applied some to other places like my arms or the nape of my neck.

I was afraid that I would have to go through the same procedure again for the lotion and the foundation, but they were declared optional, so I omitted them altogether.

Thinking that the majority of all women were doing this every day, I felt deep respect for them.

I had just started doing cosmetics myself, too, but I didn’t know how long my endurance would last.

No, this is the wrong mindset.

I must absolutely not give up.

Otherwise, I will end up like…

I looked at a certain crumpled picture on the table.

I tried to flatten it in my palm, but the picture remained crumpled, and the person in it remained as wrinkled as an old woman.

The incident occurred several hours ago.

Towako-san was away for her usual purchases, while the two of us were looking after the shop.

During my break, I went out to buy some things. When I came back, I put the groceries into the fridge, and was about to place a castella cake, which I had bought to go with tea, on the table in the living room when I suddenly noticed a camera there.

It was a rather old-looking analog camera, and so I was tempted to take it into my hands.

That’s when it happened.

A loud shutter sound resounded.

I hadn’t operated the camera, so either I had touched a wrong spot or it had activated on its own.

Discomposed I put the camera down.

…No one would have been able to tell, but I was indeed discomposed; because I feared that the camera might be a Relic.

Because of their special powers, it’s impossible to predict what effect an unfamiliar Relict might have. Towako-san had the bad habit of just leaving Relics lying about from time to time.

How careless of me. I had been way too incautious.

I should have taken that possibility into consideration before touching it.

What if the camera had the power to suck up souls? In the past, we had come across a statue that would kill anyone who touches it, after all.

While I was mulling over these things, the camera produced a mechanical sound and printed out a photo. As it seemed, it was a Polaroid camera. But what was going to happen now?

I took the picture and took a look at it.

“Is this…?”

It was then that Tokiya peeked into the living room from the shop.

“Something wrong?”

“Ah, Tokiya. Look, this camera…”

“Mm? Ah, don’t touch it, okay? It’s a Relic Towako-san left there.”

“So it really was a Relic.”

“Hey, don’t tell me you actually used it?”

I quickly shook my head, hiding the picture behind me.

“Yeah, you wouldn’t,” he said, “But seriously, be careful! It was a real mess when I touched that wallet Relic, you can take my word on that.”

Of course, Tokiya had made just as many painful experiences with Relics as I. So if Tokiya was warning me about it, what kind of harm was hidden in this camera?

“T-Tokiya… What power does this camera have?”

“To tell the truth, it’s nothing sensational actually,” Tokiya admitted as he entered the living room. After he had come over to the table, he picked up the camera, and rotated some kind of dial, and eventually took a photo of the castella cake I had put on the table. After a few moments, another picture was printed out with the same mechanical sound like before.

He took the photo and showed it to me.

Needles to say, a cake was in it. In that photo, however, it looked spoiled—almost rotten—and had a slightly different color.

“Why does it look different?”

“Well, you can take photos of the future.”

“Of the future…”

“Aah, but there’s a catch…,” Tokiya said as he took a piece of the castella cake, and took a bite of it. “The picture only shows you how it would look after a certain period of time without taking into account that it might get eaten like now.”

“How much time would that be?”

“In this case, maybe a year? Do you see this dial? You can set the number of years here, according to Towako-san.”

“T-To how much was it set before?”


“I mean, w-was it also set to a year before you took this picture? It wasn’t, right?”

“Err, how much was it again? I didn’t really pay attention, but I think it was 16 years? Yeah, approximately. Only got a glimpse, though.”

“16 years?”


“Did you say sixteen years?”

“Yeah. Something wrong?”


He shrugged and went back to the shop as he shoved the rest of the piece into his mouth.

“I see, 16 years….”

I took a look at the picture, which I had accidentally crumpled up.

Deep wrinkles that weren’t due to the picture being crumpled, snow-white hair, ragged clothes—

It was a picture of a girl called Saki Maino, 16 years from now.

…In other words, me.
That was outrageous.

Even when considering that I had never paid attention to my skin, that was just outrageous.

But when I took out an old magazine, I found out that even elementary schoolers were doing skin care nowadays.

According to that magazine, you couldn’t start too early taking care of your skin because aging of our skin and body has become faster and faster in recent years for various reasons like an increased UV radiation or malnutrition.

Upon reading that article, I reflected on my indifference to this kind of thing.

As a matter of fact, there are all sorts of cosmetic products in the market nowadays, contrary to the past, which is frankly due to the fact that they’re needed.

I then started to read up on the subject and not only touched on the basics like creams and lotions, but I also discovered that make-up also aims to protect the skin from UV radiation and the like.

So far I had come to think that make-up served the sole purpose of showing off, and thus had considered it negligible.

I didn’t often spot Towako-san applying make-up, but she was indeed wearing thin make-up most of the time. And to be honest, she did look younger than her age. I had always attributed it to her nature, but I had been mistaken. Towako-san had made an effort to stay young.

…Why hadn’t she ever told me?

Having sensed a danger of sorts, I quickly went out and bought myself a range of cosmetic products, determined to start right away.

I could still make a change.

I looked again at the picture.

At my own crumpled appearance, sixteen years from now.

And then I vowed:

I’ll get pretty in no time.

Even a girl like me is familiar with the desire that any girl conceives.

The desire to be pretty.

Three days had passed since I’d started doing make-up and skin care.

I unnoticedly went to the camera and picked it up.

Would there already be a noticeable improvement if I took a photo now?

No, don’t rush things, girl.

Besides, I would instantly give up should there be none.

I put the camera down again.

One step at a time. No sweet without sweat. My effort is bound to yield fruit.

I’m not that much of a TV watcher, but I know how pretty stars are. They must be making an effort, too, behind the stage in order to shine on the stage.

To be honest, I’d rather do it in secret, too, but I won’t get anywhere with such a lukewarm attitude.

After all, the fact that I’ll be so horribly wrinkled in sixteen years also means that in the near future… maybe even in a month or so, I might start to age. No, the aging process might have already started and be progressing as we speak, just not visible to the eye.

There’s no way around it.

That aside, Tokiya hasn’t commented on my latest behavior.

Sure, I’m only slightly using make-up right now, but there’s no way he wouldn’t notice. He must be feigning ignorance. He’s quite the gentleman for not touching on the effort I’m making.

Anyway, time to study while it’s still my break!

It was then that I suddenly stopped flicking through the pages of the magazine.

I had found a special feature article.

“To all the girls who don’t get any praise from their boyfriends despite all the effort they make.”

…Let’s take a look.

N-Not that it bothered me that Tokiya hasn’t said anything about my looks. It’s purely out of academic interest.

“Hey, Saki.”


I had been so absorbed in the magazine that I failed miserably at closing it in a hurry. With even shakier hands, I quickly covered the magazine with my hands.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Nothing. But what’s your matter, anyway?”

“Toilet break. Can you look after the shop while I’m away? Not that I think that anyone would drop by,” he said and headed to the bathroom.

I may have failed at closing the magazine, but I’d managed to change to a different page with a report, so he had probably not noticed anything. That was close. Had he seen me read such an article, he would have surely started to wonder about me.

After confirming that Tokiya was really gone, I opened the feature article again.

“Beware! Do not think that boys are dense just because they don’t say anything about your effort to look pretty! Maybe your boyfriend deliberately keeps silent because he’s starting to get bored of you!”

He doesn’t say anything, indeed. Has he grown bored of me? No, we’re not in a relationship, so he can’t get bored of me. Wait. Can he also get bored of me without being my boyfriend?

I took a closer look at the article.

Miss A’s story. My boyfriend didn’t say a word when I changed my make-up. When I asked him about it, he just said, “So?” We split up a week after.

Miss B’s story. There was that boy at work. We had the same shift and we mixed just great. But when I tried putting some extra effort into my make-up, he didn’t even say anything. I asked him subtly about it. “Get back to work!” was his answer. Afterwards, I learned that he already had a girlfriend. I hadn’t been a love interest from the start.

“Wasn’t there something in their stories that you can relate to yourself?”

There is. Right now. So does that mean that we have started to get bored of each other? That Tokiya doesn’t have any interest in me?

“But fear not! Here’s the deal!

Operation ‘Amaze Your Boorish Sweetheart To the Bone! (Make-Up part)’ “

The article contained an in-depth introduction to make-up as well as a number of handy tips, and came with a comic showing a man with heart-eyes praising a woman to the skies.

Inspired by that comic, I tried imagining Tokiya calling me pretty.



I think I like that.

I-I’m not talking about being praised of course, but the idea of having a concrete goal, since I’ve already started to get fed up with cosmetics. It’s not like Tokiya were my boyfriend or that-certain-boy or anything, and I don’t particularly want to be praised by him.

…But if I was honest, I was also a tiny little bit interested in praise.

Even a girl like me is familiar with the desire that any girl conceives.

The desire to be called pretty.

After finishing her break, Saki started sorting the shelves, bustling back and forth in front of me.

She took an item from a shelf, walked past me to put it elsewhere and then passed me by again, now carrying the item she had just replaced. But it didn’t end there; apparently unsatisfied, she walked back with the item, crossing my field of vision again, and put it back to its original place, and then gazed at the shelf from afar to get an impression.

She was quite the opposite of me; I had made myself comfortable at the counter, waiting for our non-existent customers.

I followed her with my eyes just because, but Saki was apparently so engrossed in her work that she didn’t notice me, not even looking in my direction.


“Yes?” Saki asked, stopping her busy hands.

“Looks good.”

“Y-You think so?”

“Yeah, I definitely like what I’m seeing.”

“D-Does it really make such a difference?”

“Yeah. I didn’t expect such an effect just by rearranging the items in the shelves.”

“Yes, yes. A light touch of make-u… eh? The shelves? Items?”

“Yeah. Have you started studying interior design this time around?”

“Y-Yes! I really think that the impression matters!”

“I see,” I said.



“That’s all?”


“N-No, never mind.”

While something still seemed to be on her tongue, Saki went back to rearranging the items without saying anything.

When Saki walked past me, I noticed a nice smell.


“Yes?” she asked as she stopped on her way to the shelf.

“Smells great.”

“Y-You think so?”

“Yeah, it smells kinda stimulating.”

“S-Stimulating? Wow… r-really? But I’m not trying to do anything suspicious!” Saki said, for once slightly widening her eyes in confusion.

“Yeah. I guess you’re having stew for dinner? Sure is stimulating my appetite.”

“Yes, yes. A light touch of perfum… eh? Stew? Appetite?”

“Yeah. You’re already preparing the dinner, aren’t you? There’s a nice smell coming from the kitchen. I think I’m hungry now.”

“Y-Yes! We’re having stew tonight!”

“I see… I wonder if should get myself some microwave stew, too.”



“That’s all?”


“N-No, never mind.”

While something still seemed to be on her tongue, Saki went to the kitchen to adjust the heat of the stove without saying anything.

“She sure is acting strange today.”

She looked kinda disappointed even though I’d praised her. Or is that just me?

Speaking of strange things, I wonder what it is all about with that article. She may have covered it instantly, but I could catch a glimpse.

To be honest, I didn’t think she would ever be interested in such stuff.

Well, she’s still a girl. I guess that’s perfectly normal.

But if that’s the case, I’ll get her something from the school library one of these days.

A few days later.

This is strange. Despite my efforts spent on make-up, Tokiya just wouldn’t give me any feedback. I’d even ventured on perfume and lost to stew.

Not only did he not praise me, he didn’t even touch on the subject.

Had he really not noticed anything? No, that couldn’t be. He had noticed for sure. Had he really gotten bored of me then? But for that, he was associating with me too normally…

“Mm?” I muttered as I noticed a book on the table, one that I had not seen before. It wasn’t mine. Had Tokiya forgotten to take it home?

I was somewhat interested in Tokiya’s taste of books, so I picked it up and took a look.

From the hardcover binding, I had assumed it was a novel, but it turned out to be a theater script.

I’d had no idea that Tokiya was interested in theater.

The story was very much like a fairy tale.

Convinced to be the most beautiful woman under the sun, that woman would always try to become more beautiful every day. She received countless proposals, but she would turn every single one of them down because she thought that there was no man worthy of her beauty.

One day, she asked her magical mirror who was the fairest one of all, but the mirror replied with the name of someone else. Even though the woman increased her efforts to look more beautiful, the mirror never replied with her own name again.

The woman used her entire life solely for trying to look pretty with make-up and jewelry, and became old without gaining anything at all.

As time went by, the proposals subsided, and in the end, she died all alone.

“What’s this…”

The message of this story was written in the postscript.

“You’d better refrain from futile efforts.”

Something pierced through my heart.

What was the meaning of this? Of this strangely reverberating sentence?

Why had Tokiya left this book here today of all days?

“Ah! Perhaps… does he want to say that…?”

I hurried to my room and opened my dresser.

I was keeping the photo there so that nobody would find it. I really wanted to just throw it away, but I had deliberately kept it for the purpose of renewing my determination when I was about to give up.

The photo was there. However, I had no means of knowing that no one had seen it.

No, Tokiya had seen the photo for sure. Maybe he had known from the start. Maybe he had already seen the photo back when I took it.

He knew what I looked like in sixteen years from now.

And on top of that knowledge, he had left this script purposefully at a place where I would find it.

In order to say that my efforts were futile.

Before I knew it, I had thrown the script away.

I see. That’s what you wanted to tell me.

Of course you would notice, right?

Of course you wouldn’t get bored of me when you aren’t interested in the first place, right?

Why, thanks for that eye-opener!

I took my cream and my lotion, and patted them onto my face, using twice the amount and time than usual.

But this wasn’t enough by half, I was sure.

While applying make-up, I made up my mind.

It’s time for my secret weapon! Even though I may have sealed it because of its difficulty level…

I put away the magazine I had been reading so far, and took a different book out of the depths of my book shelf.

Very well, Tokiya! I’ll accept your challenge.

We’ll see if I’m really making futile efforts here.

I’ll make you lose your tongue.

Just you wait!

I’ll become the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen!

When headed to the Tsukumodo Antique Shop after school, I ran into someone who was leaving the shop with a contorted face. Figuring that Saki had done it again, I entered the shop with a sigh.

“Welcome, Tokiya.”

“Hey, what have you done to that… WHOA!” I yelled out as I shrunk back.

“What’s wrong?”

“Wrong…? That’s my line… ah, no…”

To my surprise, Saki had put on make-up.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t have been so surprised if it was just make-up.

No, she had put on some extremely heavy make-up, much like a member of a certain theatrical group that was popular among the girls at the moment. The group had become famous because of its members who wore costumes that were as gaudy as it gets along with heavy make-up, and because of their scriptwriter who was an unparalleled master at reinterpreting existing tales.

Eye shadow glaringly purple, eyebrows like drawn with a marker, eyelashes lengthened to twice their original length, cheeks redder than in the coldest of countries, lipstick as red as blood, and fancy glitter all around her face.


As fancy as it might look on the stage from a ten or twenty meters’ distance, it was just downright horrifying when seen from so near.

No wonder that customer went home with a grimace. We should be happy that he didn’t scream his lungs out. I was curious what the customer thought our shop was after this incident.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Ah, no, nothing. Um, why don’t you take a rest?”

“I don’t need one.”

“No, I’m sure you do. Aren’t you a bit tired? Yeah, you should be.”

“You think so? I’ll take a short break then.”

Losing to my persistence, Saki left the counter for the living room.

I changed my clothes, and sat down behind the counter, but I couldn’t suppress the urge to sneak a peek at Saki.

What on Earth happened? No, more importantly, is it really okay to ask her about it? Or should I pretend like everything’ss fine and dandy? But she’s making it way too blatant to feign ignorance.

Suddenly, the book she was reading caught my eye.

“Becoming An Actress Made Easy! (Make-Up for the Stage)”

That was the title.


“What is it?”

“D-Does this book also help improving your customer service?” I asked.

With a deadpan look… no, that look was way too dreadful to be called deadpan, Saki replied, “What are you talking about? How would make-up and customer service be related?”

“Y-Yeah, you’re right. Sorry for asking a strange question.”

Absolutely, absolutely. We’re not a cosmetics store after all… Wait. It’s like I said something strange now! I feel like our roles are reversed. Obviously, Saki’s the strange of us.

But that aside, how should I interpret her behavior?

O-Oh, it’s a good thing to have a hobby.

While I’m against putting something like that on during work, regardless how interested she is, I guess I’ll take a back seat and remain an observer.

Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Towako-san, please come home soon.


I winced in surprise.

“W-What is it?”

Saki walked up straight to me and held out a book.

At that moment, it finally dawned on me as if hit by a thunder.

That peculiar make-up was that of the theatrical group Saki had been reading a report about in that magazine a few days ago. Sure, after realizing that she was interested in such stuff, I had brought her one of their scripts from the library and put it on the table in the living room, but I hadn’t dreamed that she was fascinated by them so much as to imitate their actresses. No, maybe she was aiming to become an actual actress if her imitation was so close to perfection? No, no, she wouldn’t…

“Thanks for that book.”

“D-Did you like it?”

“Why, yes. I loved it.”

It seemed like this wasn’t about simple “interest”; her face was expressionless as always, but her eyes weren’t.

I sensed fire in her eyes, almost as though she was glaring at me.

By the way, this book was a reinterpretation of a story whose moral was “Do not only polish your outside, but also your inside,” and “Don’t envy others for their looks; you are you, and they are they.”

I hadn’t read the book myself, but the student who helped out in the library had told me so. Apparently, the message the author had written in the postscript was just a little prank and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Actually, that library helper had given me another book which she obstinately recommended to me. I had originally planned to return it unread, but if Saki was so much into this sort of thing, I thought I might just as well lend it to her.

I’ll leave that book on the table for her.

Mm, what should I get her tomorrow?

I found another book that day.

It was a script by the same group as the first time, and again it was a fairy tale-like story with a moral.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman living in a village. Her family was poor, her clothes ragged, and her face and hands stained from the daily farm work. Because of her seedy appearance, she was always laughed at.

Despite all that, the girl tried to enjoy her life to the fullest, when one day, a man came to her place in order to thank her for saving him when he’d once slumped down on the road.

He was actually a nobleman and asked for her hand, presenting her with clothes and jewelry more beautiful and expensive than anything she knew.

After she had cleaned away the dirt and put on her new clothes, she turned into a most beautiful lady. She married the man and lived happily ever after.

The moral of this story was written in the postscript.

“No matter how pretty your face is, if you don’t pay attention to your clothes and your hygiene, it’s all for nothing.”

Something pierced through my heart.

Tokiya was laughing at my desperate efforts in make-up, implying that even that wouldn’t change my seedy appearance in sixteen years.

Before I knew it, I had thrown the script away.

Very well, Tokiya. I’ll accept your challenge.

I’ll show you the result of my “futile efforts,” and make you lose your tongue.

Just you wait!

I’ll become the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen!

When I arrived at the shop he following day, Saki was wearing an extravagant black dress.

In her hands, she was holding a book titled “Becoming an Actress Made Easy! (Costumes for the Stage).” Indeed, the dress she was wearing was exactly that of a queen in the theater, and could probably only be found in a costume shop. I was surprised to see that she had even sought out such a special kind of shop.

Perhaps, she was seriously aiming to become an actress.

Her face was expressionless as always, but her eyes weren’t.

I sensed the fiercest flames in them, as though she was about to pierce someone with her gaze alone.

“Oh, you’re here?” she said.

“Yeah, I’m taking over here, so you can take a break.”

“Thanks for the book.”

“Did you like it?”

“Why, yes. I loved it.”

It seemed like she had already finished the book I’d brought her. Now that’s what I call passion, reading through such a book in one day.

By the way, the book was a reinterpretation of a story whose moral was “Don’t judge over things by the first impression, maybe you’ll find that they are really beautiful on a closer look.”

I hadn’t read the book myself, but the student who helped out in the library had told me so. The message the author had written in the postscript was again just a prank and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

I’ll leave the book I brought her today on the table.

Mm, what should I get her tomorrow?

I found yet another book that day.

It was a script by the same group as the first two times, and again it was a fairy tale-like story with a moral.

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom with a queen who wore a wig. One evening during supper, her wig was askew, and everyone except for her had noticed. Because her wig really was a secret, however, nobody could point it out to her.

Everyone present started to pay attention that they did not look at her hair and that they did not use any words that would remind of head hair.

But then it happened: Her wig caught fire from a candle. But she still failed to notice. The other diners wanted to kill the fire by tapping or with water, but it would end in a disaster if the wig fell off by accident. If they did not hurry up, the queen would burn herself, but if the queen found out that they knew about her wig, they would be sentenced to death. The air was tense when the nobles started to shake a few bottles of weak liquor and popper their corks. The liquor poured over all of them, including the queen, and made the dripping wet, preventing the worst. Incidentally, this is the origin of what we now call “Champagne Fight.”[1]

The message of that story was written in the postscript.

“Your hair is on fire, too. Better check your hair before it’s gone. Furthermore, this story is incomplete. A continuation is in the works.”

Something pierced through my heart.

Tokiya was laughing at my desperate efforts in make-up and fashion, implying that my untreated hair—the feature of beauty of every girl—will not only become disheveled but fall off entirely.

He even came up with an ironical implication that I hadn’t lighted a fire under myself, but on my head, and by giving me a half-baked book, he implied that my efforts are just as half-baked.

Before I knew it, I had thrown away the script.

Very well, Tokiya. I’ll accept that challenge.

We’ll see if my efforts end up half-baked.

I’ll make you lose your tongue.

Just you wait.

I’ll become the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

When I arrived at the shop the following day, Saki told me straight away, “I’m going to the barbershop today.”

In her hand she was holding a book titled “Becoming an Actress Made Easy! (Wig for the Stage).” She’s come a long way, I thought. Personally, I found her hair pretty as it was, but she seemed to differ.

Perhaps, she was aiming for the leading role and wanted to stand out most.

Her face was expressionless as always, but her eyes weren’t.

I sensed fire in her eyes, almost as if she wanted to curse someone to death.

“Oh, you’re here?”

“Yeah, I’m taking over here, so have a rest.”

“Thanks for the book.”

“Did you like it?”

“Why, yes. I loved it.”

It seemed like she had already finished the book I’d brought her. Now that’s what I call passion, reading through such a book in one day again.

By the way, the book was a reinterpretation of a story whose moral was “You look best when you’re just yourself,” and “Don’t trouble the people around you with absurd lies.”

Again, I hadn’t read the book myself, but I was told so. The message the author had written in the postscript was yet another prank and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

I’ll leave the book I brought her today on the table.

Mm, what should I get her tomorrow?

That day I headed to the barbershop to get some hair treatment.

Not to the barbershop I usually went, but to a much fancier place: a shop that combined various areas of the beauty business, from hair salons to make-up and nail salons.

Since that dress was sort of troublesome to walk in, I changed to my usual clothes, but I left my make-up as it was. The magazine said the UV radiation would hurt my skin otherwise.

“Welcome to…?”

Oh dear, where’s the object in that sentence? I understand they don’t know how to attend to customers here.

“I’m Saki Maino. I’ve made an appointment.”

“Ah, yes. We’ve been awaiting you. Please, this way.”

After I had been led to a seat, I was asked to sit down and was covered with a sheet. My body disappeared under the white sheet, with only my heavily made-up face poking out. It must have looked quite eerie, if I may say so myself. But it was all for the sake of getting a fine skin like an actress! I couldn’t be picky now.

“My name is Koumoto and I will be your hairstylist today.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

Koumoto-san nodded and touched my hair.

“You have beautiful hair. Do you care for them a lot?”

“No. All I do is apply the most necessary when bathing.”

I did use shampoo and hair oil, which I both borrowed from Towako-san, but nothing special.

But everything aside, having seen my looks in sixteen years, I couldn’t care less about empty phrases.

“How would you like to have you hair done?”

“Like this. And I’d also like to ask for a treatment,” I said as I gave him a cut-out from my book.

The haircut in the photo was coiled like a soft ice cream. While very offbeat, the cut was bound to be in vogue if an actress was wearing it.

Normal treatment was insufficient; in order to go one step further than challenged, I had decided to get myself a new haircut. There would be no room for any complaints after that.

“Err, this haircut?”


“Ummm, may I ask one thing?”


“Is there a reason for that make-up and this haircut?”

The air tensed inside the salon, as though someone had dropped a brick.

“A… reason?”

Is he asking about the Relic that has shown my future appearance? No, he wouldn’t know. But what is he referring to then?

“I mean, are you an actress and the play takes place tomorrow?”

“No, I’m not. I’m just a shop assistant.”

“A shop… assistant…”


“Excuse my rudeness, but may I ask what book this photo is from?”

“Um, just from a normal book about haircuts really.”

“Normal… Um, I really do not mean to be rude, but did you also refer to such a book for your make-up?”


“A book on what?”

“It introduced various make-up techniques for actresses. I thought it was best to start by imitating an actress if I wanted to get good at make-up.”

“Yes, of course… an actress.”

Why is it that I feel like he is overly carefully trying to say something?

Looking at his face in the mirror, it’s kind of contorted, and bitter.

N-No way…

I noticed a certain thing and reluctantly asked, “Do I look strange?”

While still trying to choose his words carefully, the hairstylist answered point-blank, “Very much so.”

I gazed at my unmade-up face in the mirror.

I hadn’t expected that the first thing I would do at the barbershop would be removing my make-up.

According to Koumoto-san, my make-up had indeed been that of an actress, but not what they would put on normally.

He also showed me a few magazines of make-ups, haircuts and fashion that was in vogue at the moment.

What I saw in those was not just far from what was in my books; it couldn’t have been any more different.

O-Of course, I had also thought that the make-up was a bit heavy, the clothes a bit gaudy, and the haircut a bit extravagant, but it was a fact that there were people who actually used that outfit. Besides, I had been convinced that I couldn’t get too aggressive after seeing myself in sixteen years and getting provoked by Tokiya. But as it seemed, my make-up had been too heavy, my clothes too gaudy and my haircut too extravagant. I was really grateful that I hadn’t put on my dress when I’d come here.

“Mm, mm! Au naturel suits you way better!”

“T-Thank you.”

I could see Koumoto’s satisfied smile reflected in the mirror. Too embarrassed to hold his gaze, I turned my face down.

I was so close to my limits that I couldn’t even be bothered that he had dropped his polite choice of words.

“Okay, can you look ahead for a sec?”

I had to turn my head upwards again. Right now, I was really grateful that my feelings didn’t show much on my face.

Koumoto-san was holding a make-up tool.

“We’re well-equipped because we also have a make-up and nail salon in the second floor here. Well, just look.”

After he had applied a few basic cosmetic products, he lightly applied a foundation on my face and traced my lips with a weak lipstick.

“This should be more than enough in your case. After all, you have pretty eyes, well-defined eyebrows, and nice long eyelashes. In fact, you probably wouldn’t need to do anything at all.”

He’s a pro, I thought when I saw how he managed to beautify my face while keeping it natural.

He also taught me a few tricks, and explained to me that there was no need for heavy make-up just to protect the skin from UV radiation.

I realized just how mistaken my shallow knowledge had been.

Now that I calmly looked back on it, I had to admit that my make-up had been gross. No one would walk around like that.

It seemed like I’d had, as was rare for me, lost my composure and become numb. How careless of me.

“Okay then, we’ll just adjust your hair a bit today and then give it a treatment, is that fine?”

Needless to say, I had decided against that strange haircut and just asked him to adjust the length a bit, after which he applied a treatment. While I was waiting for the conditioner to have an effect, Koumoto-san talked with me.

“By the way, how come you started caring about make-up and hair care? Is there a cause?”

“Um, to tell the truth, I was shown how I might look in a couple of years.” “Aah, one of those machines that can supposedly find out such things by analyzing the condition of your skin?”

I couldn’t tell him about the Relics, but apparently, there was an actual machine that did something similar.

“It was a real shock to see so many wrinkles and slack skin…”

“Are you sure? I don’t think so. You must have been fooled.”

“B-But that’s not all! When I started caring for my skin, a colleague at work indirectly told me that it’s all futile effort and that my hair and clothes were awful as well, so I wanted to show him…”

“Is he your boyfriend?”

What? What is he talking about all of a sudden. Tokiya and I, we’re not a couple or dating or anything.

But it’s not the first time I was told so. No, maybe I’m being told so quite often. Does that mean that we look like that to others? But Koumoto-san hasn’t seen us together… did he come to that conclusion from my way of talking about Tokiya?

Did I speak in a way that could be taken like that? Sure, we spend a lot of time together, and we’re calling each other by the first name, and I’ve already visited his apartment, and we also go out together once in a while.

Is this what we normally call dating someone?

Mmm, no no. There never was a confession or anything, and I don’t look at Tokiya in such a light. Ah, but I absolutely don’t dislike him. More like, of all people around me, he’s the closest to me… there’s no one else my age, so he’s the only one… Ah! With “the only one” I don’t mean that I can’t think of being together with someone else or anything, um, anyway, we’re not seeing each other, and we aren’t a couple, nothing of this kind.

Therefore, I bluntly said, “No. He’s not.”

“It took you quite a while to arrive at that conclusion, didn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

“No need to affect indifference…”

“I’m not. I’m always like this.”

“U-Uh-huh…” he muttered in reply as he smiled wryly for some reason. “Um, anyways, leaving aside what he told you, it’s important to care for your skin, but you shouldn’t get over-eager. You have really pretty skin and hair!”

“Y-You think so? Thank you.”

I’m relieved if a pro says so.

“I’ll stop trying all kinds of things then,” I said.

“Yes, that would be good. But you don’t need to stop everything! Just the minimum. You’re a girl; it’s normal that you would want to look pretty for a certain person.”

Apparently, Koumoto-san still had a wrong image of Tokiya and me.

Besides, this time it wasn’t about being pretty for someone, but a personal matter of being pretty. I had to admit that I’d been fooled by that article and got a bit over-eager because of Tokiya’s provocations, but he was really unrelated.

After that, we continued to chat a bit until the treatment finished, and in the end, I had him blow-dry my hair.

“Thank you for everything,” I said, including my gratitude for clearing things up for me.

“No problem. Please visit us again if you like.”

“Yes,” I replied. But when I wanted to pay the bill, I realized:

“…I’ve left my wallet at home.”

When she came back from the barbershop, Saki had removed that stage actor-like make-up.

The length of her hair hadn’t changed too much, but it was a bit cut into shape. I had been afraid of what strange haircut she would get, but fortunately, my fears ended up being unfounded.

Since she didn’t change into her actress dress, I assumed that she had finished the first phase of whatever she was trying to do.

I left out a sigh of relief internally.

I had decided to stop her if she were to do even stranger things.

“I think this make-up looks much better on you!”

“Huh? Eh? Ah, yes,” Saki uttered with a few blinks, apparently a bit taken aback. “I-I have to go out again for a moment,” Saki said shortly after arriving.

“Okay, but where are you going?”


“Why didn’t you do that when you came back?”

“I just recalled that I forgot to buy something! Anyway, take care of the shop while I’m away.”

With these words, Saki left the shop again. Almost as if she didn’t want me to inquire further.

This was bothering me. Something was weird. First that make-up, then those clothes, now this, I clearly smelled a rat.


After waiting that she had left, I followed her.

Without noticing me, Saki walked along the road.

Clearly, she wasn’t shopping. The super market she usually went to wasn’t this way.

After I had followed her carefully for a while, she stopped in front of a certain shop.

It was a beauty salon. With no hesitation, Saki entered the salon.

What’s the meaning of this? Why would she go to a barbershop again when she just came back from one? Was her extravagant haircut just not done yet?

While hiding behind a telephone pole, I peeped into the shop. A young man who was approximately twenty years old approached Saki upon noticing her. He seemed to be one of those charismatic hairstylist and it looked like they knew each other already. Was he Saki’s hairstylist of choice?

The two started to talk.

It was a normal conversation, but somehow they seemed to be rather familiar with each other. Even worse, I felt like I could recognize embarrassment in Saki’s trademarked deadpan look.

Could it be that he’s the reason why Saki started caring about cosmetics and fashion?

After they had exchanged a few words, the hairstylist tried to take her somewhere, pushing her a little.

Saki nodded once and followed along.

There was no way she would have to leave the department if she just wanted to get her hair done. No, coming twice alone was already strange enough.

Seriously, what’s going on here?

Heavily confused by the turn of events, I just kept standing there thunderstruck.

I was so embarrassed about leaving my wallet at home that I couldn’t tell Tokiya. Who knows how he would have made fun of me.

That aside…

I think this make-up looks much better on you!

Tokiya praised me.

That catchphrase in that magazine had been my goal, but I didn’t really want to be praised; I hadn’t started learning about make-up for that.

But I was happy… more than when I just imagined it.

Maybe, things like skin care, make-up and fashion, while bothersome, weren’t so bad after all.

A-Also, looks like Tokiya didn’t like that heavy make-up either. Why didn’t he just tell me then!

I made a few complaints internally.

While mulling over such things, I arrived at the beauty salon and asked for Koumoto-san.

While I was waiting for him, the person at the reception praised me, commenting that this make-up looked better. Praise never feels bad of course, but because Tokiya had already praised me, I wasn’t as happy.

I wonder why? Have I become used to praise just because Tokiya has done so once?

I was a bit ashamed of my conceit.

After a while, Koumoto-san approached me, and when I paid the bill while saying thanks again, he gently replied, “You didn’t have to pay today.”

The hairstylists around us who knew what had happened laughed.

First the make-up, then my wallet; it looked like I had become famous around here.

How embarrassing! I want to bury my head in the sand! I don’t look like that to anyone, though.

“Okay, payment received!”

“Yes, thank you for everything.”

“Ah, wait a moment!” Koumoto stopped me when I was about to turn around.


“Um, you know, we’re holding a shooting here today for our new advertisement, but our model had to cancel last-minute. We do have a few shots from other candidates that could be used for the advertisement, but it would be a real shame if the clothes and the set we’ve prepared was all for naught.”


“Wouldn’t you like to stand in?”


I think that my surprise became quite visible even though it was me.

“You would fit the image perfectly! What do you think? Just think of it as doing us a little favor. Ah, of course you’ll get a pay, and we’ll try to accommodate you.”

“Um, but I don’t want to have my hair cut.”

“Okay, no cut then.”

“Um, but I don’t have any experience in this sort of thing.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll have pros take care of your make-up, your clothes and hair, you just have to sit there!”

“Um, but… but…”

I couldn’t think of any other reason to turn him down.

“You’re interested in make-up and fashion, aren’t you? You don’t get pros to do that for you everyday, and you can even get tips from the specialists. And considering how you looked earlier, this is a great opportunity if you ask me.”

The how you looked earlier touched me in a sore point. I may not owe him a favor, but as a little token of gratitude…

“Besides, you can show that colleague of yours how pretty you are, and you may get some praise from him?”

“N-No need for that. But this might be a good opportunity to show him once for all.”

Yes. I didn’t want to be praised or anything, but I could show him.

As a matter of fact, I hadn’t forgiven Tokiya for his provoking attitude yet. In fact, I was burning to show him more than ever after I had learned a few tricks from Koumoto-san.

I had by no means taken a liking to being praised by Tokiya, and I did of course not want to get praised again.

“Please! Do us a favor!”


Contrary to my personality, I accepted being their model.

“Thank you, you’re being a real help here! Do you have any wishes? Please tell me in advance what you don’t want us to do.”

“Um, there’s one thing,” I said and voiced one request I had.

Quite a while passed waiting for her.

She would still not come back. Just when I started to worry that she had been involved in a dangerous incident and planned to go to her rescue, the hairstylist in question appeared.

He went outside and started to have a puff. He looked like he had settled a job.

I accidentally stumbled out of the shadow, and our eyes met.

Thinking I was a customer, he gave me a nod.

If I were to leave now, I would make myself suspicious as hell.

“Ah, excuse me. I’m looking for a girl who’s working at the same place like I am. Do you happen to have seen her?”

I then told him Saki’s name and her characteristics. I felt a bit stupid because I knew she was there.

The hairstylist pondered shortly, but then he nodded and told me that she was here.

“So you’re her colleague?”

“Eh? Have you heard about me?”

“I was in charge of her today, you know. She told me a few things.”

“I see. By the way, what has she come here for anyway? Wasn’t she already here earlier?”

“Aah, she has forgotten her… No, um, we have asked her to model for us.”

It seemed like he was hiding something, but the latter part of his statement was more shocking anyway.

“Model for you?”

“Is there anything wrong?”

“No, I was just surprised.”

I was indeed surprised.

She, a model? It was the surprise among surprises that she would accept such an offer. I thought that if asked, she would decline point-blank.

“Um, are you acquainted with her?” I asked the hairstylist.

“No, I only attended her today. You see, the model we had hired for our new advertisement couldn’t come, so we asked your colleague to stand in.”

Apparently, they weren’t as familiar as I had thought.

I unconsciously let out a sigh of relief. Not that I really was relieved.

“Ah, you’ve come just right. Could you come along for a moment?”


Without waiting for my approval, he dragged me into the salon.

While I do not know much about modeling, I was feeling like a doll.

One after the other, I was treated by professionals in hair style, make-up and attire, receiving praise and advise alike, and metamorphosed step by step.

I was told that I had nice skin. But that person, who incidentally was in her twenties, also warned me that I should be careful because it would get worse at once when I got older. Even though they were all so pretty, they all have worries respectively.

The person who was in charge of my attire had me take off my clothes and put on the new ones before I could even be embarrassed. I was told that my underwear was lacking sex appeal, but I didn’t consider that necessary.

After this and that, a new Saki was looking at me in the mirror.

Because my hair was done up in a slightly loose and twisted fashion, my neck was exposed, making me feel a little uncomfortable. In addition, I was also wearing black ribbons that went well with my clothes. As for the color, it was left silver but they applied some sort of a temporary black mesh.

To my delight, my clothes were mostly black and gothic-style. Unfortunately, though, there were no sleeves and the skirt was above the knees, leaving me sort of embarrassed. I tried to pull up the elbow-long black gloves and the above-knee-high black fishnet tights as much as possible, but when I did so, I was strictly told not to.

In regards to make-up, they emphasized my eyes with mascara and added a weak red touch to my cheeks, and finally put on bright red lipstick, resulting in an overall mature and provocative appearance.

I had never been as dressed up as now in my life.

I may have been indifferent to make-up and skin care so far, but that was not because I had no interest in this sort of thing whatsoever. I did have my own views on what looked good, and I always tried to select products that suited me and that I personally liked.

That being said, I had never taken it this far.

Beauty sure needs courage.

While this style hadn’t required that much courage because I had others do it for me, I shuddered at the thought of showing it to someone, especially Tokiya.

It was then that I heard Koumoto-san knock at the door and say, “Could you come, please?”

The shooting was over already, and he had been checking the photos, after which my job here was completed. Most likely, he had finished checking them and wanted to ask for my approval.

I opened the door.


When I did so, Tokiya was there.

I lost my tongue in surprise.

Why is Tokiya here? Why isn’t he doing his shift?

No, why is he staring so closely at me?


I somehow felt hot in the face.

Looking closely at me, Tokiya opened his mouth.

What is he trying to say, I wonder?

I’d had no intention of showing him, but since he had already seen it now, I couldn’t help but wonder about his opinion.

I felt a mix of anxiety and expectation.

While holding Tokiya’s gaze, I waited patiently for his words.

I think this make-up suits you much better!

His previous words crossed my mind.

Finally, he slowly opened his mouth again and said:

“Err, pleased to meet you.”

T-This jerk…

I immediately shut the door.

Tokiya didn’t recognize me just because of some make-up, some new clothes and a different haircut.

Koumoto-san had indeed said he would turn me into a different person, and I’d welcomed that because I didn’t want anyone to recognize me in the advertisement.

But I hadn’t thought that even Tokiya would fail to recognize me.

Is it really normal to mistake someone who you have spent so much time with?

I was somehow deeply disappointed.

“Hah,” I sighed unintentionally.

What are you doing, girl?

Where had I started to go astray?

I originally only wanted to prevent the future by starting to care for my skin, after seeing how I would look in sixteen years. Despite that, I was fooled by that article, reacted over-sensitively to Tokiya’s provocation and even started to put effort into fashion and my hair style, just to end up as a model before I knew it.

I had learned something new, indeed, but I had also clearly made a mistake.

I felt like I had completely mistaken the means with the ends, gone through a pointless struggle.

I looked into the mirror.

An unfamiliar Saki was there.

And a Saki who hadn’t been recognized by Tokiya was here.

Yes, I’ll admit it. I was in high spirits. I was in somewhat high spirits because of all the praise.

But those feelings had gone away somewhere.

They had disappeared in an instant, although I didn’t want to admit that it was Tokiya’s words that caused it.

Really… what are you doing, girl?

I removed the ribbons that had held my hair up.

My hair fell down.

“Let’s go home…”

In my disappointment, I noticed something.

Even a girl like me seemed to be familiar with the desire that any girl conceives.

The desire to look pretty…

…No… the desire to be praised by a certain boy.

“Err, pleased to meet you,” I said, greeting a beautiful but unfamiliar girl, but she ignored me and shut the door.

My gaze wandered to Koumoto-san who was facepalming besides me.

“Huh? Don’t tell me that this girl is…”

“Yes, it’s her.”


That was Saki? No way! But now that I think about it, I feel like it was her.

I wanted to see her again, but she had already closed the door.

“Look,” he said, pointing at the photos on the table.



Saki was in them. Completely different from how she normally looked, but Saki was in them, more beautiful than I had ever seen her. It was the girl that had appeared behind the door just a moment before.

“I hadn’t expected her to change that much, either! Incredible, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, quite so…”

I could only give him a vague reply because I was having a shock.

Honestly speaking, those photos didn’t look so much like Saki either. Unless told so, I may have not recognized her. In fact, I was still suspecting that he was fooling me.

However, once I had noticed a certain thing, I was dead-sure that it was Saki and nobody else.

I had found something proved it was her in the photos, although not noticeable to anyone else.

“What a pity. This was your chance,” he said.

“My chance?”

“Well, you seemed to have a fight.”

“Huh? I don’t remember fighting with her.”

What is he talking about? Did she talk badly about me when she had her hair done?

“But that aside,” I said, “did you recommend becoming an actress to her?”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“Lately, she’s been reading a series of self-improvement books titled ‘Becoming an Actress Made Easy!’ and imitating the make-up, clothes, and so forth of a certain theatrical group. Because I thought she was interested in this sort of thing, I brought her a few scripts of that group from the library, you see…”

“Your story is quite different from the one I’ve heard.”

“The one you’ve heard?” I asked.

“Yes. She told me that her colleague at work implied that her efforts were futile when she started catching up on skin care.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I!”

I had completely become lost, including the fight Koumoto-san had mentioned. Well, I was used to her occasional strange behavior, so that in itself didn’t come as such a surprise.

“So she doesn’t want to become an actress, did I get that right?” I asked.

“At least from what I’ve heard, she only wanted to learn from their make-ups.”

“But why did she suddenly start caring about make-up and whatnot?”

“Well? I don’t know, but doesn’t every girl have some interest in make-up and fashion?”

I couldn’t believe that that was all in her case, but I couldn’t think of a different reason. At the very least, there must have been something that sparked her interest.

“If there’s a misunderstanding between the two of you, you should probably correct it as soon as possible,” he suggested.

“Hah,” I uttered vaguely. He was talking about correcting it, but I didn’t even know what the problem was.

“Well, but whatever the problem is, you just made a blunder,” Koumoto-san said as he patted my back, half out of bafflement, half out of encouragement. “There are two types of people. Those who dress themselves up for themselves, and those who do it for someone else. What type do you think she is? If it’s the latter, you should have praised her. Not recognizing her was a complete no-go, of course.”

Tokiya and I returned to the shop without saying a word.

It seemed like he wanted to say something, unable to take heart, but I pretended like I didn’t notice.

Once we had arrived at the shop, I went straight into the bathroom to wash my face. I’d had them remove the make-up and redo my haircut, and was wearing my usual clothes, but I just wanted to wash off that uncomfortable mood.

Only after doing so did I feel fresh again.

I looked into the mirror and found my usual face in there.

In the end, they accepted my request not to use the photos of my different self for their advertisement. Truth be told, I was relieved.

I searched my pocket. In it was a lipstick. Koumoto-san had given it to me as a token of gratitude, since there was no payment in the end. It wasn’t a gaudy lipstick, but one with a pale color.

I tried putting it on.

Not to show Tokiya of course, but because I didn’t want him to think that I gave up on make-up because of him.

I was quite sure that he was going to praise me.

He might be in the belief that I hadn’t noticed because I’d closed the door, but I did know that Koumoto-san had given him some advise in front of the door.

I was sure that he would praise me like Koumoto-san had told him, and once he did so, I would reply like this:

“Oh, you do recognize it’s me if I only put on this much?”

With this sarcastic remark, I would conclude the matter.

I wasn’t angry or anything.

Apparently, it was a misunderstanding on my part regarding the scripts he’d given me, and I didn’t have the right to get angry at him just because he hadn’t noticed my make-up.

I was just a little disappointed.

But I didn’t want to stay like that forever.

This was a chance for Tokiya.

But if he didn’t notice, it was over. I wouldn’t care about him anymore.

That was my line of compromise.

I went into the shop.

Tokiya was sitting behind the counter and looked at me.

His gaze went to my eyes and then downward.


Here he goes.

My heart and my answer were ready to go. I only needed his words now.

“You put on the pendant, didn’t you?” he smiled.


A surprise attack. He got me. As careless as I was, I hadn’t expected that.

“Koumoto-san told me that you only accepted the job on condition that you may keep the pendant on.”

I unconsciously grabbed the pendant under my clothes.

It was a pendant inspired by the moon.

It was a present I had received from Tokiya.

I had requested not to remove it in exchange to model for them.

Oh boy… you didn’t have to tell him, Koumoto-san.

“Thanks, Saki!”

“I-I didn’t do it for you. I just like this pendant.”

“Your face looks kinda red.”

“That’s make-up!”

“Mm? Have you put on make-up again? I think you look best as you are!”

“O-Only lipstick!”

And here I am, giving it away myself.

…What a day.

While looking at Saki’s photos, I noticed that she was wearing a shining pendant.

It was the very pendant I had once presented her with. That’s why I became dead-sure that it was Saki… although I do admit that it’s pathetic to recognize her by a pendant.

A while after that incident, when it had settled down a bit, I asked her:

“By the way, why did you even start doing make-up?”

“I wasn’t interested in make-up, but in skin care.”



Saki mulled over something for a few seconds, but then she went into the private area of the shop and came back with a crumpled picture. Not only the picture itself was crumpled, but also the person in it.

“What’s this?”

“A photo of me from that Relic camera.”

“Of you?”

“You said the camera was set to sixteen, right? That means it’s a photo of me in sixteen years. But I don’t care. I will care for my skin and make sure that it won’t happen. Koumoto-san praised my skin, after all, and it looks like I’ve been successful so far.”

Saki held out another picture.

“And what’s this one?”

“A photo of myself in sixteen years I’ve taken just now.”

In it was the grown-up Saki. While she still looked younger than thirty, the air about her was that of a mature woman, much like Towako-san.

Saki clearly was in a very good mood.

“Why don’t you take a photo, too, Tokiya? Even if you’re male, you may get the shock of your life if you don’t care for your skin?”

“Aah, um, yeah, but that aside, isn’t that change a bit huge?” I asked as I compared the photos she’d given me and picked up the camera. “Is this thing broken or something?”

“Hey, do you have a problem with my new photo?”

“No, not with the new, but with the old one. How would you become like this in sixteen… oh?” While tampering with the camera, I noticed something. “Is this camera set to sixteen years right now?”

“Don’t you have eyes? Just look at the number down there.”

“…Ah…I understand now.”

“What do you understand?”

I patted her back and expressively asked her to listen to me composedly.

“The camera was not set to sixteen back then, but to ninety-one.”

Apparently, I had looked at the dial the wrong way and mistook “91” for “16.”

Now, isn’t that a funny discovery?

“Hey, isn’t that great? You’re going to be a pretty woman in sixteen… Huh? Saki?”

I had no idea why, but I felt like I was hearing the rumbling of an earthquake or an erupting volcano.

Huh? Saki? Wasn’t your deadpan look your trademark?


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