Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 13
Chapter 13 – Memory Puzzle
After lunch, Ai took a nap in the living room, while Yamato and Takashi got in the car and drove to Sakurada Minami Park, a nearby park for fun. The park was a huge one with a lake, and the family often enjoyed riding the duck boats and having picnics on the grass. Yamato rented a duck boat today as well and rode it with Takashi. Since he had to row alone, it was difficult for him to progress.
“Whoa, there’s a fountain.”
Yamato observed the fountain. The fountain shifted its shape in accordance with the music.
“Be careful when you lean forward.”
He did his best to row the duck boat to the fountain. Once returning the boat, they went on to play on the park’s facilities. There were various kinds of playground equipment, so the child tried his best to climb up and down the slides mixing with the other small children.
In the evening, they returned to the apartment. Ai was not present in the living room.
Is she sleeping in the bedroom?
Yamato had no choice but to get into the kitchen and make curry. Cooking was something he was proficient at, having done it since childhood. While he was cooking, Takashi was absorbed in playing the puzzle, concentrating on it.
While waiting for the rice to be ready, he started taking a bath ahead. Feeling exhausted, he unconsciously slumped into a daze.
In the dream, Mitsuru was once again standing there waving his hand.
For Mitsuru, he slipped and fell into the pond.
His father was so frightened that he jumped into the pond. At first glance, the pond looked shallow, but in reality, it was far from that. As his father hurriedly leaped into the water with his clothes on, it seemed as if he was holding Mitsuru on the surface of the water, but in no time at all, he was sucked in. Yamato extended his hand and tried to pull Mitsuru, but the moment he grabbed his hand, he too was dragged in and fell into the pond. Falling from his head first into the pond, there was no time to catch a breath. The pond was filthy, but looking up, the surface of the water reflected the sun’s rays and showed a brilliant azure color. The shimmering sunlight made the cold water sway against his body. Above him, the figures of Mitsuru and his father were in full sight.
Yamato didn’t have any knowledge of swimming, and since he kept his clothes on, his body sank deeper and deeper into the pond.
Never did he imagine that not being able to breathe would be this agonizing. Opening his mouth, the oxygen left his lungs as soon as he swallowed the water. It was too strenuous, causing him to thrash around uncontrollably as his body sank further and further down. However, it was a strangely mysterious moment as well. Earlier, the surface of the water was blue, but the deeper he drifted, the darker it turned and the less light it held.
Just as his consciousness was diminishing, he was suddenly pulled up. Apparently, the person who pulled up Yamato was someone who was fishing nearby, and he was securing his body to a tree with a rope. Mitsuru was pulled up first, followed by Yamato. Their father was subsequently pulled up by the emergency team, who searched the bottom of the pond and eventually found him, but he had already passed away.
Later on, it was revealed to him that the man-made pond was so deep that even adults were unable to stand on their feet, and the structure was such that if one were to fall in, it would not be easy to climb to the edge. Fishermen who were aware of this knew to secure their bodies with ropes attached to trees as a precaution while casting their poles.
Even after the accident, Yamato continued to sneak out to see the pond. He would step to the edge and look at the surface of the water. Remembering that life-threatening moment made his heart pound like it was being gripped, and he loved it. He even wished to enter the pond again but managed to stop himself. Eventually, the pond was buried in a landfill and disappeared.
Strangely enough, since the accident, Yamato has developed an affinity for water. His mother had recommended that he take swimming lessons as a precaution against accidents in the water, and since elementary school, he has been a great swimmer.
Finally, he awoke with a jolt. He had fallen asleep considerably. Before he realized it, Ai was in the bath, sitting across from him, asleep in the tub. Her arms and legs were wrinkled and her skin was completely white.
“Takashi! Come to the bath.”
There was no reply from Takashi. Yamato got out of the bath and headed to pick up him.
“Takashi, are you asleep?”
Yamato left the bath and made his way to the living room. Takashi was nowhere to be found. On the table was the completed puzzle.
“Takashi〜? Where are you?”
In a panic, he checked the bathroom, the bedroom, and the kitchen, but Takashi was not anywhere in sight.
“‘… Ai! Takashi’s not here!”
Yamato hurried over to the bathroom. However, the moment he stepped in, a foul smell pricked his nose.
Yamato covered his nose and mouth.
In the bathtub, Ai, all white and fuzzy and swollen, was submerged in the water.
Her stomach was oddly distended. Yamato involuntarily rushed to Ai’s side and stroked her face. The hair on her head peeled off along with the skin on her face, revealing flesh and bone.
Yamato vomited on the spot.
He retreated to the living room and stared at the puzzle, dumbfounded. It was the puzzle he had bought for Takashi yesterday.
“Takashi… Ta… Takashi…? Who’s that?”
Ai was expecting her first child. Yamato was brought back to the image of Mitsuru playing with a puzzle before his eyes.
That’s right… this is the puzzle that… my little brother used to play with…
It’s my little brother’s puzzle…!
Support Fan’s Translations
Note: Individual translators usually have their own ko-fi buttons.