They were just in front of a building when the old lady started to speak.
The western atmosphere differs from the surroundings old Japanese-style houses where the relatively new milk-white walls stood out.
The comfortable two-story building has a composed atmosphere that miraculously blends into surroundings.
Towards the left of the heavy wooden door there is a small glass-siding showroom being decorated with a single picture as if it is welcoming guests. It is a beautiful picture with several small blue flowers blooming.
If you look up, there is also the words 『Tsuyukusa』on the wooden signboard.
That means the flowers depicted in this picture are probably Asiatic dayflowers*. (Commelina communis) I am not familiar with ornamental flowers but now that you mention it, it certainly looks ephemeral like the morning dew.
Curtains on the second floor are closed so there is no way to see what is inside, but it seems to the owner’s residence of this building.
He turned and faced the picture of the Asiatic dayflowers once again.
It was three sweet blue flowers painted with oil paints. Two big petal opened and bloom as if it’s head is dangling. It has light green leaves and bright blue flowers. This is just a simple painting being drawn.
What kind of place did it bloomed? what was the weather when the painting was drawn? Those kind of information won’t be included so it all leaves up to the viewer’s sensitivity.
It makes the viewer’s want to see other works by the person who painted this picture.
On the corner of the picture, the alphabet ‘M’ was signed. It might be an initial, but it is equivalent to having no information being presented.
Even the weight on his back is gone.
Keito finally realized the fact that the old lady have disappeared. The feeling of loneliness came before the sense of relief. Then, he regretted for not doing something more.
He gotten curious about the house in front of him. Maybe the old lady is in there. It’s unknown what is inside, but it probably has a store where the name on the board perfectly describes the store. They shouldn’t be barring any entry and he have some money on him.
When he opened the creaking door, the sound of a galant and depressing sounding bell welcomed him.
The noise of the pouring rain could be heard from behind. Don’t know if that considered as fortunate but the rain seemed to get heavier as he entered.
The room is illuminated by bright orange color lights, but there is no sign of people. There wasn’t voice welcoming Keito, only the violent sounds of the rain resounding.
Half of the room in front of him is aligned with four tables and chairs. Looks like a coffee shop.
The remainder of the interior space were divided by the a partition and can’t be overlooked. There is a crack on top part of the wall and light is shining through it. On the right side of the partition, there is an entrance that leads to the inside. There is no door so it looks like you can enter as you wish.
However, it would be considered trespassing if there isn’t any staff around. Keito was hesitant if he could remain here.
He called out loudly a number of times but there is still not reaction as expected.
He thought of going home but the picture on the wall is still on his mind.
A total of nine paintings were used to decorate the room, three were placed on the left and right side of the coffee shop’s space and the wall behind.
Apparently the picture on the table is similar to the artist had five points, while the rest were considered to have four points by other people. Each of them has different traits, but I think whichever one of them is good for looking from a distance.
The time when he was criticized was the time Keito had decided. He approached the drawings by bringing the it closer to him.
Among the artist, one of them drew the picture of the Asiatic dayflower that was displayed on the table and left a ‘M’ sign. In that five points, portrait painting got three points whereas still life* and landscape painting got one point each.
Targets of the portrait painting and the background were all over the place so there is no sense of unity.
Facial expressions drawn are equally poor, however I was interested that from the slight variation of the shade, you are able to look into their thoughts as a model.
What they really think? That is also up to the viewers.
Keito remembered the <shadow> he saw occasionally when he noticed the old lady.
The person who drew the picture have the presence similar to that of a <shadow>. He looked on as his heart shook. What a picture full of anxiety
The landscape painting that depicts a thick forest received the same impression as the still life painting of several books being place on the table.
One other artist wrote his signature by enclosing the word ‘朗’ in a square. Judging from the signature, I am guessing the artist is a guy? The landscape painting that is full of delicate touches is worth four points.
With such cheerful atmosphere like a Satoyama* that exist somewhere in Japan, scenery of the city’s street corner, Parent and child cats frolicking, this is a great choice for Keito.
When he look at the pictures, he became interested about the entrance that leads to the back next. As he look into it, the entrance became the hallway with pictures exhibit alongside the walls. It looks like an exhibition room.
Should he head towards there? It feels awkward to go further in when there is no one around though.
Should I return?
Just as he was thinking of it, a loud sound could be heard in the quiet store.
Surprised, he looked up but there wasn’t anyone around. Looks like it came from the top, in other words the second floor.
For some reason, it felt like the sounds is telling him not to go home.
In the end, Keito advanced.
The brightness is slightly lower compared to the cafe’s, allows him to look at the drawings more composed under the orange lights.
The exhibition was done by the previous two people as expected, but there are numerous pictures with the signature ‘朗’.
After receiving a clear impression from several paintings, the difference in atmosphere makes his heart astir when paintings with signature of ‘M’ appeared.
While stopping in front of each picture, the sound of his own footsteps was chasing behind him like raindrops when he was walking slowly.
At last, the steps to finish watching the final part of the painting has begun.
It is just a coincidence that that picture was placed there.
Overlooking the sea. A sandy beach before himself. A lighthouse in the distance and seas extending to the bottom reflecting the dark evening sky receiving a gloomy impression.
Keito have some recollection about this scenery.
It is the sea in the town of Tohoku where Keito’s grandparents are living. It was that beach that he played with five people when he was little.
It was the beach where she sleeps.
And――there was the same figure of a girl standing on that day.
A childhood friend of his who should have died in the spring two years ago.
Why――is Shi-chan over there?
Keito’s field of vision wavered for a moment.
I see, she is also a <shadow> huh.
That’s good enough. I have miss you.
He have been seeing <shadows> ever since spring, he must have been praying somewhere in my heart.
That someday he could see her again.
However――what should I do?
Reach out for her hand?
That’s right, her hand――