Volume 1 Chapter 3 Shirogane Aqua, Starting a Part-Time Job at a Café
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
After returning to my parents’ house, I decided to train my sluggish body by starting muscle training and morning runs. Being a shut-in for so long, I had a slim build with barely any muscles. My family tried to stop me, saying it was dangerous outside, but I insisted it was necessary for my social reintegration. Who would have thought that trying to break free from being a shut-in would result in being told to stay shut-in… In this world, there are crimes like s*xual assault and kidnapping against men too, so as a precautionary measure to avoid being recognized as a man, I take safety measures like pulling my hoodie low when I go outside. Thus, stepping out of the house, I slowly began my run.
It was early January, and the temperature had dropped below 10 degrees Celsius (50 F), causing my breath to turn white. Though there were few people around, I could see others who, like me, were out for an early morning run or walking their dogs. Of course, it was only women walking outside. As I started to warm up a bit, I increased my pace and headed towards the halfway point, my set goal for today. Maybe I’ll extend the distance a little since I’m feeling good?
When I stopped a bit ahead of my usual turning point, I took a sip of hot water from the thermos I brought from home to moisten my throat. While replenishing my fluids, I observed the surroundings and noticed a café.
”Oh… I didn’t know there was a café here.”
Searching for new unknown shops while running was one of the things I enjoyed, even in my previous life as well. Approaching the café slowly, the rich aroma of coffee brought a sense of happiness to my senses. I gently peered inside through the window. The interior had a retro Mediterranean atmosphere that was popular in the Showa era. It felt chic and reflected the owner’s refined taste. There was an elderly lady with a kind face sitting at the counter, probably preparing for opening.
By chance, my eyes met with the elderly lady, whom I assumed to be the café owner, through the window. She smiled at me and slowly got up from the counter, stepping out of the shop.
”I’m sorry. The café is no longer open.”
The elderly lady placed her hand on her knee and gently rubbed it.
”I injured my leg… I apologize to the regular customers, but maybe it’s for the best.”
The elderly lady diverted her gaze to a sign hanging on the adjacent building. I followed her gaze, and it indicated that there were plans for construction.
”This area will be demolished in April and turned into an apartment building.”
As I looked around, I noticed that many buildings, not just the café, were old. Each building had its own charm, and although I liked the atmosphere, it might be an inevitable change.
”Oh, by the way. Since you came all the way here, would you like to have a cup of coffee before you go?”
Saying that, the elderly lady invited me inside the shop. As I entered, the aroma of coffee was even stronger than before, tickling my nostrils. The cups, saucers, beans, and miscellaneous items displayed on the shelves behind the counter created a pleasant atmosphere. I felt a bit rude for still wearing my hoodie and apologized internally, but as per my family’s instructions for safety, I decided to keep it on even after taking a seat.
”Here you go, please enjoy.”
Sitting at the table, I looked around, and a hot cup of coffee was presented in front of me. I savored the aroma of the coffee and slowly tilted the cup to my lips. I usually prefer sweet coffee, but since it smelled so good, I decided to enjoy the original taste of the black coffee.
The rich aroma and smooth, rounded flavor brought comfort to my tired body from the run. After savoring the coffee, I expressed my gratitude to the elderly lady, saying it was delicious.
”Hehe, thank you.”
The elderly lady squinted her eyes, looking somewhat sorrowful.
”I wanted to keep going at least until the end of March. I even posted a job advertisement, but since it was a short-term position, hardly anyone applied. It’s a pity, but there’s nothing I can do.”
Upon closer inspection, there was a hiring notice posted at the corner of the café. The hourly wage was decent, and age was not an issue. The duration was just until the start of high school, which seemed perfect. Something clicked inside me, as if it was a good opportunity.
”Um… If it’s alright with you, can I help out?”
”Eh… ore?” (Note: ore : “I” only for male)
I lifted my hoodie that was covering my face slightly, showing my face to the old lady. Then, I apologized for keeping my hoodie on for so long.
”Oh my, you’re a boy. I’m sorry for talking so casually without realizing.”
”No, please don’t worry about such a small thing. But more importantly, how about it? If it’s okay with me… if it’s alright for you, I’d be happy to work until I start high school.”
This would be a step toward reintegrating into society. There would be plenty of standing work, which would help improve my physical strength, and I could earn money as well. Frankly speaking, it had more benefits for me. Moreover, there would be many regular customers who would want to have this delicious coffee once again before the café closed down.
”For me, it’s a grateful offer… Are you sure it’s okay?”
”Of course. I’ll get permission from my family today, so I think I can start working from tomorrow.”
”It’s alright. And if your family says it’s too much or if you change your mind, it’s okay to stop. Don’t push yourself.”
Even though I had already made up my mind and planned to convince my family, I decided not to force the issue. It might worry them, but staying at home until April didn’t seem like the best option, and everyone would immediately start spoiling me.
”Don’t worry. Thank you, I appreciate it. Starting from tomorrow, let’s work together… um…”
At that moment, we both realized that we hadn’t introduced ourselves yet and smiled.
”Nice to meet you, I’m Shirogane Aqua.”
”I’m Nanama Yachiyo, the owner of the café Tomarigi. Nice to meet you, Shirogane-kun.”
After exchanging introductions once again, we shook hands and parted ways for the day.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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