Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 17
Chapter 17 – Blazing Ring
Filling an empty plastic bottle in the kitchen with kerosene and tightening the cap, she put a match in her pocket and got on her bicycle.
This dream… again…
Akane gazed up at the starless night sky in amazement.
“What are you doing!”
The following second, Akane’s mother pulled on her arm and nearly knocked her off the bike.
“Where are you going at this hour?”
Akane let out a voice akin to a scream. In the basket of her bicycle was a plastic bottle filled with kerosene, and in her pocket was a match.
This is not a dream! I was actually trying to set a fire!
“Are you okay?”
Akane staggered off her bike. “I… I… might be half-asleep. Sorry for startling you.”
“Oh no, it’s not safe. Hurry up and enter the house.”
Akane snuck the plastic bottle into the storage room after her mother had entered the house, then returned to the house.
What’s wrong with me…
Akane thought absentmindedly as she soaked in the bath.
No matter how heartbroken you are… you can’t afford this kind of arson…
After taking a bath, she laid down on the futon. The next day was an early shift, and the day after tomorrow and the day after that would be a consecutive day off, the first in a long time.
This time I need to sleep or else I will be running late!
Akane shut her eyes.
When she came to, Akane was standing on the second floor of Gaku’s house.
In her hands, she held a plastic bottle of kerosene and a match.
No more… not this dream again…!
That’s when she heard the sound of two voices reverberating through the hallway.
“I will leave my wife, so stay with me?” Gaku said. “It’s Akane I love the most.” Whispering then. “Akane is the only one who can hug me.”
Akane couldn’t help but scream. The two voices from the bedroom paused briefly.
When she opened the bedroom door, she saw that Gaku and his wife were naked and embracing each other. Akane was ablaze with rage.
“Ah… ah ah ah ah ah…”
The pair looked astonished at the sight, and his wife let out a shout.
“No! Who are you!”
“Ahhhhh!” Akane clung to Gaku. “Aaaaah!”
It was five days ago when Akane visited the antique shop. After finishing her late shift, Akane made a trip to the antique shop that she had heard about from Sakura. Coincidentally, the store was opened that day, and Akane entered the door with a sense of excitement.
“Good evening. May I have a look inside…?”
“Please do take your time.”
Akane was thrilled to see the shopkeeper’s sensual presence, but she moved her eyes to the products in the store. A quick glance at the shelves with vases, plates, mirrors, and puzzles caught Akane’s eye, followed by the opposite shelves with jewelry.
I wish I could get this jewelry…
Her first marriage was a quickie, so she didn’t receive a ring. In the back of her mind, she was hoping that her boyfriend, Gaku, would present her with a ring, but she knew that such a thing was a dream. Akane’s eyes landed on a platinum ring.
“Wow. That ring… is so cute!”
“Shall I serve you?”
The owner appeared next to her with a velvet-covered box.
Akane gazed at the ring that the owner brought out to her, feeling thrilled.
“This is a platinum ring, size 7. Originally, there were three diamonds embedded in the middle, but they melted, so zirconia was added. The whole thing has been reformed.”
“Heh… I can’t tell by looking. May I try it on?”
Akane inserted the ring on her right ring finger, and it was perfect.
“Is this… originally a wedding ring?”
“I can’t believe someone would sell… such a valuable piece.”
The owner looked at her smiling.
“How much is this?”
“Ten thousand yen.”
“What! Isn’t that cheap?”
“I discounted it since I remodeled it myself.”
Akane made a quick decision with no doubt. “I would like this please.”
“Understood. I will wrap it up.”
The owner returned to the cash register and withdrew a case for the ring, which he carefully enclosed in it.
“Why did the owner of this ring sell his engagement ring?”
The owner turned to her with a smile. “I don’t know the details.”
“Why did the diamond melt?”
“Diamonds are vulnerable to fire and can easily be melted by fire. Platinum, on the other hand, is fire resistant and can be refurbished like this to keep it clean.”
“It’s all wrapped up.”
Akane handed over a ten thousand yen bill from her wallet.
“Thank you very much. Please come again.”
Akane was trudging home, pushing her bicycle. What happened earlier wasn’t a dream. This time, she broke into Gaku’s house with kerosene and screamed in horror. Distraught and naked, Gaku threw himself down on Akane and his wife, who now understood the situation and let out a screaming cry. Hearing the child’s cries, Akane came to her senses. When she tried to return home, Gaku would say things like, “You’ve ruined my life!”, “You’re trespassing!” and, “I’m going to kill you!” but Akane shook them all off and dashed down the stairs.
“What… am I even doing…
“I am the one who’s cheating on his wife.
“I have done a wrong thing to his wife.”
The plastic bottle and the matches had been left at Gaku’s house. To make matters worse, the ring on her right ring finger was lost before she realized it. It seemed to have fallen off somewhere.
Kuma had visited the scene of a suicide that day. The suicide victim was a young man in his twenties. The man attempted to burn himself to death and was immediately taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Fortunately, it was only a part of the room that was burned, so Kuma, a liquidator of deceased belongings, paid a visit. The man’s wife was standing in the corner of the house, apparently distressed.
The man covered himself with kerosene, lit a match, and jumped off the balcony right in front of his wife. Kuma didn’t know the reason for the man’s suicide, but when he discovered a ring with melted zirconia on it, he was shocked.
Right at closing time, Kuma viewed the platinum ring on the cash register as he cleaned the store.
“Again, how is it that only the stone has melted? Is it the blaze of jealousy that awaits at the end of lust?”
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