Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 16
Chapter 16 – Blazing Ring
Arriving home, she was drained and exhausted. After showering at home, she lay down next to Hayato. The mere thought of Gaku made her irritable and sorrowful. To top it all off, when she shut her eyes, she burst into tears.
Even though there’s no point in continuing this relationship.
Akane made her way to the kitchen and retrieved an empty plastic bottle. Putting on her sneakers, she stepped outside and poured kerosene from the bright red polyethylene tank in the garden storage into the empty plastic bottle. Then, she placed a match in her pocket.
She sneaked out of the house and pedaled her bike to Gaku’s house. It was a 30-minute bike ride away. It was a ready-built house with the same kind of white walls and brown roofs. There was an open yard and a car in the parking lot. Tonight, the window in the living room was still open with the lock forgotten. Akane opened the living room window and slipped into the house without difficulty. Without letting her footsteps be heard, she stealthily ascended to the second floor. As she was about to open the bedroom door, she heard the voices of Gaku and his wife.
Akane froze in place. She felt a rush of blood to her head. Opening the plastic bottle, she poured kerosene in front of the door. Continuing on, she retreated to the stairs and threw a lit match into the kerosene. In a split second, a fire broke out and the blaze spread down the hallway. Without glancing back, Akane descended the stairs and stepped out of the living room window. Like yesterday, she concealed herself behind the utility pole across the street to keep an eye on the house. Within a few minutes, smoke began to form from the second floor. There was a scream from the bedroom. The bedroom window was open and the three of them were making some sort of noise from the balcony. Even from a distance, she could tell that the room was engulfed in a sea of fire. The three of them jumped down from the balcony.
While Akane was blending in with the crowd and watching the fire, a fire engine and ambulance arrived. The three of them were carried away on a stretcher. At that moment, Gaku shouted from the stretcher.
“You’re the one who’s going to be burned!”
“Heee!” Akane jolted up.
“Mom, I want tea.”
“Ah… Ha… Hayato…”
Again another… dream…
“Alright. Let me go to the kitchen…”
When she came back to bed, she couldn’t sleep at all and the morning dawned. Today, like yesterday, she got ready and sent Hayato off to nursery school.
When she returned home, her parents had taken the oil heater out of storage in the yard.
“It’s been getting colder lately.”
“Let’s start using it today.”
Her father was unloading a bright red polyethylene tank from the car. Akane was horrified at the sight of the same polyethylene tank from her dream.
“Hold… Hold on! An oil heater is dangerous for Hayato… I think it’s better to stay on the heater this year…”
“What… I prepared so much for this. Wouldn’t it be okay if we put a guard on it? I have one that I bought last year.”
Her mother produced a guard from the back of the storage room.
“If you need it, I can buy you another heater… I do more running around than I did last year too…”
“But I even bought kerosene.”
“Anyway, don’t use it for a while.”
Her parents put the oil stove back in the rear and placed the polyethylene tank in the front. Akane looked bitter and anxious all the way until the storage room was shut.
She looked up hastily when the manager called her. Akane had apparently been in a daze for a while in the staff room holding her time card.
“Tachibana, you’ve been acting spaced out, is everything alright?”
“I am sorry.”
“Have you been missing sleep? You seem to have dark circles under your eyes.”
Akane was startled when the manager suddenly raised her voice.
“What a cute ring! Did you get it from your boyfriend by any chance?”
How miserable I am to have bought the ring myself.
“I bought this at the antique shop that you mentioned.”
Sakura blinked her eyes and mouthed, “What?”
“It was a lovely store. This ring seems to have been remodeled, so I bought it at a great price. It’s the perfect size.”
“Do you mind if I take a look?”
Akane took off the ring and handed it to Sakura, who stared at it as if she were an appraiser. The ring was platinum and had three zirconias in a row. Sakura looked thoroughly at the inner workings.
“The three zirconia in a row interested me.”
“Indeed, the stones are lovely and sparkling. Thanks for showing me.”
Sakura returned the ring to Akane. “… Have you experienced anything strange since you bought this?”
“Anything strange? Not really?”
“Well then… that’s good.”
Akane stared at the rose earrings Sakura was wearing.
“Those earrings are cute too. I’ll come back and take another look.”
Sakura gave a bitter laugh when she heard this, but Akane paid it no mind and put on her time card and went to work.
After Sakura left work, Akane spent the rest of the day with the part-time staff. Once the store was closed, she pulled down the shutters and closed the cash register, then checked her phone and saw that she had received a text message from Gaku, causing Akane to almost jump for joy.
“Let’s not see each other anymore. Forgive me for my selfishness.”
Akane read the mail over and over again. From there, she fought to hold in her tears until she got home, but the moment she arrived home, large tears welled up in her eyes and she wept aloud as she stormed upstairs. When she tenderly hugged Hayato, the warmth of his arms soothed her slightly.
This is… for the best…
That night, Akane took out a polyethylene tank from the storage room in the garden.
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