On the fourth day, he helped clean up the aftermath of the festival.

" I made too many," his mother said, tying up a little pouch.

" Too what?" he asked, distracted, scrubbing a pan in the sink.

" Ever since, even though it was years ago... It'll be almost ten, soon, won't it? I made too many of the... everthe candy. You'll take them, won't you?"

" Yeah. Of course," he answered absently.

" How'd it go with Lotte?" his mother asked.

" Oh. It didn't, really," he said. " I felt a bit bad about letting her down again."

" She's liked you for a long time, you know," his mother said, putting a box into the top of the kitchen cabinet. " I thought since... you'd started visiting the library last summer, you were coming around to it."


The sound of water.

" Do you have a girl in the capital you like?" his mother asked.

" Sort of," he half-lied.

This world's Mariposa didn't even know he existed. He didn't really think he wanted to marry her anyway. It'd be too strange.

" You should get married soon," his mother said. " While all the pretty girls are still around your age."

" You and Dad were a few years apart," he said.

She looked away, a bit downcast.

" Well, you know... that was that, and this is... your time," she said.

He'd never heard her speak of it like that before, but, then again, she didn't speak of his father very often either.