I’m a high school girl and a rookie voice actress, currently strangling my classmate who is my upperclassman and a Bestselling Light Novel author.
This is my predicament at the moment.
Strictly put, this isn’t correct.
I should be saying this.
I’m a high school girl and a rookie voice actress, currently forced to strangle my classmate who is my upperclassman and a Bestselling Light Novel author.
This is my predicament at the moment.
Sensei has his hands reached out, holding down my hands that are pressed on both sides of his neck.
But he hasn’t exerted enough strength to crush my hands–
At least, it doesn’t seem like it’ll stop sensei’s blood flow.
But his neck and hands are pretty hot.
June 19th, Thursday.
On the day without the plum rain at work, I took the car Miss Akane drove to the station.
At the same time, I recalled the excessive events that transpired this week.
Justs the previous week, the After Record of ‘Vice Versa’ episode 11 ended without a hitch.
On this eleventh After Record, for the first time, sensei did not appear in the studio.
Meek and Madoko did not show up, so I spent the entire time watching the senior voice actors perform before me, save for the occasional part as a mob character.
Every time, I felt that everyone acted really well, and I hoped I could be just like them as soon as possible.
The anime visuals are really brilliant. The castles are similar to the real thing. It’s no wonder they had to obtain material. At the scene before the station, there was the convenience store where I always bought the potato chips.
Sensei probably wanted to see it too. So I thought, and realized that there was something I could tell him through mail, so I did.
So work ended. I heaved a sigh of relief, and went to the lobby.
“Hello Nitadori. You look really skinny now. Have you eaten well?”
Suddenly, I heard someone speak to me with Shin’s voice. This manner of greeting is too overboard.
I could only hear that voice actor up close and personal.
“Not at all.”
I answered. Ever since that incident, I never got to finish a proper meal.
“Have you slept well?”
I had difficulty sleeping every day. Sometimes, I would ingest sleeping pills.
“Hmm…did something happen between you and the person who isn’t around?”
He spoke with an overly intimate tone.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.”
I answered as I glared at him.
As a rookie, it was terrible of me to be treating my seniors like this. But at this point, I did not care.
Suddenly, the voice actor smile. It was a natural smile I had never shown before.
“Well, this is the real you, Nitadori. Not bad, a lot better now. It’s better to interact with others with this attitude, no matter who you’re dealing with. There’s no need to maintain a distance for no reason.”
He was not speaking with ‘Shin’s voice, but with his actual voice.
“Eh? I said that for fun. Am I right?”
The voice actor shrugged, and I answered him,
“Wrong, thank you.”
In the following conversation, we never held back. I earnestly prayed that nobody else heard these words.
“Hm? If it’s wrong, why are you thanking me?”
“Because you got me a little more energetic.”
“Oh, how cute–so Nitadori, a little request?’
“What is it?”
“An immediate answer? –That’s too fast of you!”
“Do you think the answer will be a little better fifty years later? It’ll be the same.”
“How hurtful. Be a little nicer to your boyfriend.”
“Hm, if I have one–thank you very much for your lesson and demonstration.”
“No problems. But if you have something to say to your boyfriend, I think you should be honest.”
“I have done so.”
“What? And you two are on good terms…beyond the level of boyfriend and girlfriend. Lovers even. I envy him.”
“Is that so?”
“That’s right. He does know your true identity, right, Nitadori?”
“I haven’t lived these years for nothing. You can ask me about anything you don’t understand. Go ahead.”
“Don’t mind if I do. I have a question.”
“Sure. Do we go to the restaurant outside?”
“No, here will do. So I shall ask. Do you think it is possible for ‘someone to nearly be killed, yet be forgiven’?”
“Wha–those are some surprising words. Why did he nearly get killed? Is that person the reason?”
“Not at all. Seriously.”
“What do you think?”
“Well…is he immortal like Shin?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“So you mean he dies when he’s killed?”
“Even so, to have others kill him without any resistance…I can only think of one possible reason.”
“What is it?”
“Hm, to answer here, or not? I guess we should go to the restaurant and enjoy some delicious tea together–”
“Just say it!”
“Woah, that’s scary…was that English? What does it mean?”
“It means ‘please tell me’.”
“I get the feeling that it doesn’t mean that, no, it definitely doesn’t mean that in Japanese…well, whatever. If I have to guess, there’s an unlikely chance, but I can only think of a reason. That is–”
“That ‘he was nearly killed a few times in the past, and has become numb to this’.”
“He was…nearly killed…a few times…?”
“In other words, ‘me’.”
“You see, not ‘I’ in particular, but ‘me’. Shin. In Reputation.”
“Just a little earlier, the voice director said this to me. ‘Regarding your screams when you die, be a little crisp. Makoto no longer fears death, so please act in a way that won’t make it seem like Shin’s really scared.”
“So ever since, when acting as Shin on Reputation, I would think ‘death isn’t scary’.”
“Is this useful as reference?”
“But then, you just said ‘he isn’t immortal, Nitadori.”
“Yes, but I never tried to see if it’s true…”
“You can’t go about testing that. What happens if he isn’t?”
“Well, so I say, what I said might not be correct. This is the only reason I can think of.”
“No problems. Shall we have a meal together?”
“No thanks, I will not be going. I have something to do immediately.”
“How cruel. Well, let’s forget about today–if there’s any trouble you face, please think of my face, Nitadori.”
While taking the taxi with Miss Akane, I kept staring at the smartphone.
“You’ll get dizzy, you know?”
I ignored her words as I pondered my choice of words.
‘Hey sensei. Did you have any near death experience before the time I choked you?’
There was no way I could send such a message.
“Your happiness will slip away, you know?”
Upon hearing her words, I sent a completely meaningless message.
I got an immediate reply, which was vanilla as well.
“Your happiness will slip away, you know?”
I don’t think there’s any happiness left that hasn’t escaped, right?
I nearly killed someone I respected, and got forgiven by him for some strange reason. I wanted to know the reason, but I couldn’t ask, and kept running away. Once I finally had the will to ask, he took sick leave.
I thought, if so, I would visit him at his house.
“What? You dropped something?”
“No, more like I forgot something.”
“What is it?”
“A little promise. But…it’s fine.”
So I said as I tried to wave it off.
“Sensei allowed me to visit his house! I can just go to his house. I can ask him through mail now!”
I couldn’t say this to Miss Akane.”
For surely she would tell me,
“Very well. I shall go along too.”
I will send him a message tonight.
So I quietly made up my mind.
It was until two days later, on Sunday, that I finally sent that message.
After school, I waited twenty minutes before leaving school.
Through messages, I affirmed that I could pay a visit. Though I knew his unit number, and had his mail address stored in my phone, I had the information written on a note, in case the phone did malfunction.
After four minutes of walking, i would be able to reach the apartment sensei was staying at.
Those four minutes seemed really long.
If only it was raining. I could have covered my face with an umbrella. However, the weather that day was so fine, I could not believe it was the plum rain season.
During the first two minutes, I was concerned with the other students who were headed in the same direction as me.
“Eh! Isn’t this Nitadori? Why are you walking here? That’s rare. Where are you going?”
I was scared at the prospect of others talking to me.
“Where are you going? Where are you going? Why aren’t you talking? Can’t talk? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello–”
Just imagining it caused a chill to run up my spine.
I could feel my face and body sweating.
It was so unbearable, I had the urge to remove my wig and glasses.
But even so, after three minutes, I could not see the other students. I was alone, walking on the streets.
Following this, I would be headed to the place with no escape room, to be with him, alone.
I was mentally prepared. Or rather, I was headed there for this reason.
In the message, I learned that sensei’s mother would be out for work.
I entered the entrance to the apartment block sensei was staying at, and pressed the room number to call for him. I no longer had the urge to run away at that point.
“In a battle, the scariest part is the night before the battle. That’s the fear of whether you can see the next night again. But once you step onto the battlefield, that fear disappears.”
At this point, I could understand the words Sin said.
Once I did hear sensei’s voice, the thick glass doors opened.
I repeated the same process before the elevator, and entered.
At the second to last apartment on the corridor, I made up my mind,
“I’m not going to run away before sensei, no matter what.”
I arrived at the door, and decided to calm myself down during the ten seconds before I pressed the bell.
At that moment, I was not muttering ‘time to play’.
So, what was the mantra? I could not think of any, so I never muttered. All I did was to have ten seconds to calm myself down.
Once I was sure I was at the right door, I stood at it, and took a deep breath.
The door opened.
I, not daring to raise a question immediately, could only continue with the act.
“Great retention of sunlight. Oh, nice view! It’s so windy! So cooling!”
To be honest, the room didn’t matter.
“Well, enough with that. Sit here, I have something to say.”
To be honest, I didn’t have the courage to say that to sensei, who was happily introducing the rooms to me.
So I decided to wait until he was done introducing the rooms to me, and I could at least cool down, before asking,
“Now finally, the workplace!”
So I prompted sensei. Truth be told, I was more interested in the place where ‘Vice Versa’ was born, as compared to the other rooms.
Sensei opened the door to his room, and led me in,
“So this is your workplace, sensei! The place where ‘Vice Versa is born! –May I come in?”
So I said, and then I entered.
I heard sensei lock the door behind me.
It might be hard to believe in Japan–
But in a foreign country, the school will teach female students this,
“For example, if you are called to the office by a male teacher (to a single room), and enter. If that teacher locks the door, do scream immediately.”
Goes without saying, the reason is obvious,
In other words, one can’t trust the other gender, even if it’s an acquaintance.
I instinctively called out,
“Ah, erm…I locked the door…well, it’s a habit.”
And sensei, stunned by this, uttered an unreasonable line,
Of course, most foreigners would lock their doors.
Same goes for my family. There are locks installed on the doors of the children’s rooms, and my parents would ask me to keep my key safe. When there’s no need to lock, the door will remain open, even when people are inside.
But in Japan, it’s said that many parents don’t allow their children to install locks in their rooms. I didn’t know which one’s the right thing.
“…even though I’m at home”
Saying that, sensei again reached for the lock.
He probably didn’t understand why I was so shocked.
Then, sensei started introducing various things in the room.
Like his work computer, the printed illustrations that were laid out, and so on.
They were interesting. To be honest, I was excited about these undisclosed illustrations and designs. As a fan of ‘Vice Versa’, he really showed me some amazing things.
“It’s really interesting! See you tomorrow then!”
I was utterly delighted. It would be wonderful if I could say these words and go home.
After this happy time–
“And there’s one thing I want to show you no matter what.”
Sensei suddenly said.
He then opened a drawer, taking out that thing.
It happened too quickly, and I was unable to imagine what he wanted to show me.
“I think you probably would want to see this thing you haven’t seen in a while.”
Once I saw the thing he showed me–
I really felt that the determination of humanity was all pointless.
After crying a long while, I regained my courage.
I washed the tears off my face at the basin, and returned to the living.
For I had something to say to the one standing at the balcony, basked in the sun.
“I’m very happy. Also, I remembered a lot of things. While they aren’t good memories, those past memories made me who I am.”
As I stood in the middle of the living, I blurted out whatever I wanted to say.
Sensei’s staring right at me, and I did not know what he was thinking.
Though I did not know, I had to say,
“I have something important to say.”
I said it. The die is cast. Once this is over, there is nothing to be afraid,
“Wh-what is it…?”
“First, I have to apologize to you, sensei. For peeking at the manuscript on my own discretion, and for trying to strangle you. And then, why did you forgive me? Please tell me the reason. I am not going to leave until you say so.”
So I wanted to say,
But the moment I was about to speak up, the door opened, and a cheery voice rang,
My voice was in sync with sensei’s.
Our necks moved in the same manner.
Sensei and I looked at the corridor in unison, and at the bright rectangular space before us, there appeared a lady.
Of course, at that instant, I knew who she was.
She was the other occupant of this house, sensei’s mother. This mother managed to provide some gifted education simply by moving houses.
She was supposed to be working, but for some reason, she had returned home.
What surprised me more than the fact that sensei’s mother had returned home, was her beauty.
Once she saw me, she squealed,
This pretty lady hurriedly removed her court shoes, stumbled on the corridor, and approached me.
She was shorter than me, about 160cm or so, dressed in a plain white blouse and navy blue skirt. She had a nice slender body.
Her black hair was tied up,, and she had a pair of large, bright eyes; some tear bags too.
What a beauty.
While everyone’s preferences differ, I don’t think anyone on this world will say that she’s ‘not a beauty’. If I have to use a cliche, she’s so pretty that I can buy a claim that she’s ‘a Japanese movie actress’.
Age-wise, as she”s sensei’s mother, she’s probably 35 at minimum, but she doesn’t look that old. Miss Akane looks younger than she really is, and she too might be the same.
Aunty’s storrming over.
“Wait! Wait! Wait”
She spoke with a loud voice as she entered the living, stopped before us, and called out the name of her one son (of course, the real name)
“Wh-what’s going on? What’ happened? Who is this? Did you abduct her?”
She spoke with same surprise, some delight, and some bewilderment as she looked back and forth between sensei and me.
For the first time, I learned this was how sensei called his mother.
“Calm down, let me explain.”
Sensei was strangle calm for some reason.
I didn’t know why he was so calm. I didn’t think he would have expected his mother to return home. Maybe it’s because he’s at home?
“Okay! And so?”
With a curious look, aunty widened her eyes.
I was looking forward to how sensei would introduce me–and bracing myself.
Looking at the current situation, it’s rather troublesome. But sensei can’t just not introduce me.
First, sensei introduced me by name, as to be expected,
“This is my classmate, Miss Eri Nitadori.”
And then, he slyly explained,
“Currently, she’s the only one at school who knows that I’m an author. She’s sitting right behind me in the classroom, and I let slip my secret. She’s a fan of ‘Vice Versa’.”
It seemed sensei would always maintain the two secrets, the ‘I’m a voice actress participating in the anime production’, and that ‘we’ll go to Tokyo together every week.
“So after school, we would chat a a bit–and when I mentioned that our house is close to school, she said she wanted to see the unreleased illustrations. In the end, I couldn’t refuse her completely, so I invited her here today.”
Brilliant explanation. Nothing to nitpick.
Then it’s my turn,
“Erm, hello! I’m Eri Nitadori!”
With the vibe of someone approaching a microphone, I bowed to aunty as I said this. I made sure not to bow too deeply. Given my usual habit, I would give the most formal greetings.
“I was really surprised to learn that sensei’s an author in high school. I really love ‘Vice Versa’, and read the entire series. Sensei told me lots of things, and it made me happy. Of course, I haven’t told this to anyone else!”
These were facts, so it was easy for me to say them all out.
Aunty spoke with relief and surprise. And then, she looked at me.
“Eri, is it? Can I call you Eri-chan then?”
Due to shock, I squealed.
“Ah, that was so cute. How about it, Eri-chan?”
Aunty’s bringing her pure face close to me.
Even when looking up close, she’s pretty.
As someone of the same gender, I can be impartial enough to say that she’s a beauty.
She’s kind and earnest. In other words, she’s someone genial.
I heard that she’s a nurse. If such a person’s giving gentle, delicate care to a patient, that should be great encourage to the patients.
“E-erm…s-sure, it’s fine.”
I stammered. Nobody had ever called me ‘Eri-chan’ since elementary school.
Back then, I was in a foreign country, attending ‘remedials’, and only partaking in Japanese lessons on Saturdays when I did not have to go to the local school.
It’s embarrassing, but I didn’t hate it.
“Okay! Thank you! It’s not good to stand and talk. Have a seat! Relax!”
“Yes.” Before I could say so, sensei simply replied,
“She’s going back now. There isn’t much time left.”
That’s a lie. But I agree with the action.
The moment sensei’s mother returned home–
I had no choice but to give up.
I finally had the chance to speak up, but I got interrupted.
Even though I was sad and depressed, I couldn’t pin the blame on aunty. She’s returning home after all.
And even though she welcomed me, I couldn’t stay for long.
There was only one choice I could choose.
“Yes, I have to return home soon.”
I had to lament my misfortune, and head home.
For even if I did leave the bathroom a minute earlier, aunty would have returned home right when sensei’s about to say what was on his mind.
If that happened, what would happen next…?
On this day, I saw the letter I once sent.
That alone was worth the trip.
So I thought as I decided to leave.
“I see. Such a pity!”
Aunty said, and then grabbed my hands from both sides.
I exclaimed in shock. She then raised my hands right to my chest,
“Eri-chan, my weird son here shall be in your care then! I don’t understand at all, but it does seem he ‘only’ has the talent to write!”
“Y-yes…I can’t really talk to him in school, lest the secret is revealed…”
I answered as I thought of something else.
“This person’s hands are really warm” so I thought.
In fact, my hands were overly cold.
But even so, this person’s hands were really warm, so comforting.”
“If my son is to say something weird or do anything infuriating, feel free to vent your rage on him!”
I already did that. I once strangled him in my rage.
I once tried to kill your one and only son.
If in the future, I have a child, and raised him up.
And then, he was killed at the age of seventeen, the reason being ‘he tried to kill off a beloved character in his work’–
What would I think?
I knew the answer.
“I will kill him.”
I probably would have such a thought.
It’s time to go back.
“Erm, well, goodbye. Glad to meet you.”
I lied, and slowly withdrew my hands.
“Hm, such a pity.”
Aunty finally was willing to let go of my hands.
And then, she ordered sensei,
“Send her off!”
Sensei remained calm however, and asked his mother why she returned earlier than expected.
“Ah, am I disturbing you?”
“No, not at all.”
“Well, there’s a colleague who wants to swap shifts with me, so I’m working night shift tonight. I’m going to sleep a bit and then go out.”
Aunty said. So she means she’s going to work on night shift instead of day shift? How long are the working hours?
Sensei didn’t seem surprised. So this is a common occurrence after all?
I wasn’t familiar with the working habits of a nurse at all, so I couldn’t comment.
“Eri-chan! Come back again!”
In the end, I bowed to aunty, who sent me off at the door.
Sensei and I were walking side by side on the corridor, and we entered the elevator that arrived immediately.
“Thank you for today–really.”
“No worries–well, sorry that my mother was being all excited.”
“No. She’s really a cheerful, beautiful, outstanding person! She’s a nurse, right? She’s probably popular with the patients.”
I said that with sincerity.
“She’s pretty sloppy at home, actually. Also, she’s normally not that excitable.”
Sensei showed a rare smile.
I was wondering that this person would actually be so bashful when praised, and was relieved. It was true that aunty was a little overly excited.
We took the elevator down, and arrived at the empty atrium. The automatic doors opened.
“Too bad we were cut off before you could say anything–if possible, let’s talk tomorrow.”
I still had the next day. Also, sensei hinted at me.
I had decided. Once I returned home, I would take out that precious thing. The next day, I would keep it in my clutches.
“Here should be fine, right? I don’t have my keys. Can’t go back once I get out.”
Sensei, standing on the inner side of the doors, was a little sheepish,
“Of course. Thank you for today. See you on the train tomorrow!”
On the 19th, I was on the car headed from home to the station, and I told Miss Akane of what happened the previous day.
“Oh my, that happened.”
I thought she would be fuming at me for heading to sensei’s house without her consent, but she was not.
She probably assumed that since it happened, it was pointless to be angry, right?”
“Milady, don’t you think you’ve done well? Another step forward.”
And then, she praised me, something i did not expect.
I guess Miss Akane really trusts sensei? Or maybe she felt that he’s not much of a threat?
Leaving that aside,
“I can consider myself unlucky for being unable to say that…but today should be fine!”
“Oh? Where did this confidence come from?”
“Because I have something that brings me courage. Today’s me is very strong.”
“Did you steal the chopper from the kitchen?”
“This isn’t funny, Miss Akane.”
“My apologies–however, I have some interest in that. If things do go well, do you mind showing me that thing?”
“Hm, what should I do?”
Of course, I answered that, following intending to do so once everything went well.
“Looking forward to it.”
Miss Akane probably understood this too, as she happily continued.
There was still some time until the station,
“Speaking of which, now that you mentioned it, I do remember something. Sensei’s name is–”
Miss Akane suddenly started talking about sensei’s real name.
That’s true. So what?
I affirmed, and Miss Akane said,
“I see…actually, I heard some rumors, regarding sensei’s mother.”
“Eh! From where? When did you hear it?”
It was really unexpected, and I was surprised.
“I had an acquaintance who stayed in the general hospital for quite a while, and this was what I was told. Well, that name’s really common, so I couldn’t be sure…”
“It’s said that she’s the most famous nurse in that hospital. First off, she looks far younger than her given age, a Japanese beauty who resembled an actress, and she’s very popular with the men. Work-wise, she’s capable and hardworking–”
There’s a likely possibility.
“Also, it’s said that her hands are warm. Anyone who’s not feeling well; will really feel comfy and warm when held on the hands or patted on the back. So said him along with the other other patients. A lot of people use the cliche ‘white angels’ to describe them, and she is one such person.”
“It’s her! Miss Akane! No doubt about it!”
And I started to think,
Was sensei so ‘gentle’ to a startling extent because of aunty’s influence?
As he’s raised by an ‘angel’, he’s able to forgive even when he’s nearly killed?
It’s just a one-sided imagination on my part. If I want to know the truth, I’ll still have to ask him.
I recalled the warm hands of sensei’s mother, and said,
“Her hands felt so warm when they touched me…”
“Your hands are always so chilly, Milady, so her hands will obviously be much warmer, no? Did you scald yourself?”
“That’s cruel of you, Miss Akane…”
“Do people not say that ‘those with cold hands have warm hearts’–?”
She hardly discussed such things, so I was surprised,
“Are you comforting me?”
“No, I am not done. What I am saying is that ‘that is a load of nonsense, that the inner body temperature fluctuates according to the time, location, and target.”
Miss Akane’s the same as usual, absolutely brutal.
“When dealing with others, a person can become an angel, or a devil. In other words, whoever one becomes will be determined on who they are.”
“I will kill anyone, all to save meek!”
My mind was suddenly filled with the imagery of that day.
“…I have a question, Miss Akane.”
“What is it? We’re reaching the station, so keep it short.”
“Do you think someone who was once a devil can become an angel?”
Miss Akane immediately answered me,
“Certainly, and the reverse holds true too.”