Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 14
Chapter 14 – Memory Puzzle
Yamato, once the puzzle was put in the bag and he was dressed, drove the car to “An antique shop BEAR”. When he parked in front of the shop, he could see the shop from the stone pavement. The shop was lit up and the owner was sitting in front of the cash register, the same as before.
“Welcome… Oh, you’re the customer from yesterday, aren’t you?”
“Um… I bought… this puzzle yesterday, and I think the ‘MS’ in this puzzle is… my little brother’s … Where did you get this…?”
“… I assume there are many of the same ones in circulation.”
“This is the puzzle that my little brother used to play with when he was young. My mother had written his name with initials on the back of the puzzle.”
The owner listened attentively, nodding to Yamato’s story.
“It was my mother’s cherished possession throughout her life. Last year my mother passed away… and I had to get rid of everything she had at that time… At that time, I requested a contractor to clean up and sell the items… Could this be the item that was purchased there?”
“I wonder. Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with information that would identify the individual.”
Yamato couldn’t help but feel the blood rushing to his head. “You know what! I am asking you to tell me! So just say it!”
Without a second thought, he threw the puzzle in his hand at the owner. The shopkeeper avoided him and switched to an expressionless manner.
“Your brother drowned, didn’t he? Such a tragic loss.”
Yamato couldn’t resist shedding tears and silently picked up the puzzle before leaving the shop.
On the way home, Yamato recalled the time he was rescued from the pond in tears. Next to him was a limp Mitsuru, and the fisherman was desperately trying to revive him. Yamato cried and called out his brother’s name over and over. Even so, Mitsuru could not be saved.
How does the owner know about Mitsuru?
As he approached the house, Yamato shivered, remembering vividly what had unfolded last night.
“I am off to take a bath.”
“It’s getting cold, I think I’ll go in.”
While Ai was showering, Yamato dipped into the hot water by his head first. He could see her big belly wobbling. It was as though he had fallen into that pond from that time. What attracted him intensely upon seeing the puzzle was not the jeep but rather the pond. That same pond. Yamato continued to remain in the water.
“Wait!” Ai pulled Yamato out as if in a panic. “You’ve been under for so long, I thought you had drowned〜”
“Oh, this amount is just average. How long can you dive, Ai?”
“Just a little.”
Yamato rose from the bath. “Now, try to dive?”
Ai pinched her nose and dove down with an “eek”. In about 10 seconds, she tried to climb up, so Yamato pressed down on her face with his hand.
“Take a good look at the water surface. It’s blue and beautiful. Can you see Mitsuru and papa?”
Ai used her hands to try to float up and release Yamato’s hands.
Ai grew quiet for a moment, but as if in a state of panic, she stuck out her hands and attempted to climb out of the bath.
Yamato entered the bathtub with a bang and mounted Ai on her pregnant belly, pressing her down. Ai was in a frenzy, flapping her arms and legs in different directions and struggling to lift herself up. Yamato thought about the puzzle. That pond behind the jeep… looks just like the one I drowned in. Papa and Mitsuru were there, too. I wish I could go back to that pond and gaze up at the surface.
Right, how about the baby you’re carrying, what do you think of the name, Takashi? That’s my dad’s name.
My dad was a car enthusiast, so he used to take me to Sakurada Minami Park to ride the boats and have fun on the playground equipment.
Too bad here isn’t the pond.
Yamato made Ai sit down and then sat across from her and drifted off to sleep.
Kuma, a liquidator of the deceased, was visiting an apartment building where a request had been received. It was the scene of kodokushi of an elderly person, and the body had already been transported and cleaned.
“Pleasure to meet you.”
“How long will it take? I would like to have it cleaned up as soon as possible, and if possible, I would appreciate it if I could purchase the items here.”
The room was relatively spotless and not strewn with stuff, but if you actually brought out all the stuff, it would amount to a significant quantity. Most of it was trash, but jewelry, watches, and wooden puzzles were purchased from different vendors.
“Then we’re all done here.”
The man was the son of the deceased. He didn’t seem to be grieving and appeared to be eager to get home.
Upon returning to “An antique shop BEAR”, Kuma took the wooden puzzle he had purchased off one piece at a time and carefully polished and varnished it. The initials “MS” were handwritten on the back. Kuma did not dare to erase it but left it as it was.
“This picture. The pond’s been repainted.”
Behind the jeep on the wooden puzzle was a picture of a pond, but the original image seemed to be a different landscape. Kuma stared at the pond with a sudden chill. The picture of a drowning person was so small that one had to look closely to distinguish it. Looking through a magnifying glass, he saw that it was a boy.
“I wonder when we will he be saved?”
The owner meticulously varnished the piece.
This episode is written in first-person perspective but since the previous chapters are all written in third-person perspective, I follow the same writing style to prevent inconsistency and for the following chapters, I will do the same if it happens again
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