“Okada-kun, what’s wrong? You looked dead during work today,” Riko-chan-san said, sounding worried.
“Riko-chan-san, have you ever breathed fire…?” I asked.
“I breathed fire before work today…”
Riko-chan-san made a bewildered expression. It seemed that she didn’t really understand what I was saying. I supposed that was to be expected. If someone were to tell me the same thing, I’d have to think that they might be crazy.
“Are you alright?” Riko-chan-san asked.
“Yes, I suppose,” I said.
Even after work, when we were walking along the road together, Riko-chan-san was still worried. My face must have looked terrible.
“Ah, I’ll take my leave here. I’m going to buy a turtle on my way home today,” I said.
“A turtle?” Riko-chan-san made an expression as if to say that she really didn’t understand me anymore. “Should I come along?”
“No, it’s alright.”
“I’m free, you know.”
“No, this is… I want to choose a turtle on my own.”
I’d kind of become very picky when it came to reptiles. I wondered if it was alright to be like this.
When I got home, my mother raised her voice in surprise.
“Takuya, what on earth is that?” she asked. That was her immediate response to seeing her son come home holding a water tank, a turtle and the various tools needed to take care of it.
“I’m going to take care of this turtle from now on,” I said, holding the turtle up so that my mother could see it.
My mother groaned, putting a hand on her forehead as if she was feeling dizzy. “You haven’t gone crazy, have you?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine.”
As my mother grumbled and complained, I set up the water tank in a corner of the living room.
“You’ve been kind of restless recently, haven’t you?” she said.
Indeed, I was an indoor-type person, the kind who would spend most of the day in the house unless they had something to do. Thanks to Mamizu, I’d been going places and doing things more often.
“I wonder if it means you’re feeling better,” my mother said with a sigh.
From an outside perspective, perhaps I looked as if I’d become livelier after changing religions or something. The truth was different, though.
“Wow” said Mamizu, her eyes sparkling. “It’s a turtle!”
Was it alright to bring a turtle into a hospital room? No, no matter how I thought about it, it wasn’t, but… I’d put it inside my bag and snuck it in.
“Amazing, you remembered!” Mamizu said.
“Because I received my pay from my part-time job early,” I said.
But isn’t Mamizu the only person in the world who would be this happy about a turtle? I thought.
“Hey, hey, what’s its name?” Mamizu asked.
“Name? A turtle is a turtle, right?” I replied plainly.
“Are you serious…?”
“That can’t be!” Mamizu shouted, sounding angry. Happy, angry, she was a hectic person as usual.
“Even Natsume Souseki1 just called his cat ‘cat’ without giving it a name,” I said. “It’s fine for this guy to be ‘turtle,’ right?”
“You’re not Souseki, are you, Takuya-kun! You’ve never studied abroad in London, and you’ve never become ill at Shuzen Temple!”
Mamizu was knowledgeable about strange things.
“Well then, you name it, Mamizu,” I said, finding it too bothersome.
“Huh? Can I? Can I?” Mamizu looked kind of happy.
“I’m anticipating that you’ll have a good naming sense.”
“You have no sense!” I was surprised by how terrible it was.
“It’s fine, right? It’s cute. Isn’t it, Kamenosuke?”
It seemed that ‘Kamenosuke’ had become established as the turtle’s name in Mamizu’s head. And so, the pet of my house was auspiciously named.
1. Natsume Souseki was a famous Japanese novelist whose portrait appeared on the 1,000 yen note. He is considered the greatest writer in modern Japanese history. He studied in London and vomited blood due to a stomach ulcer (which he later died of) at Shuzen Temple.
2. “Kame” means turtle, while “nosuke” is a common ending to a Japanese (male, if I’m not mistaken) name.