I was dreaming.
I was in a dream, and I understood it to be a dream.
…Because this isn’t ‘me’ right now.
A much smaller hand than I have now.
These hands are not what I have now.
My nails aren’t trimmed and my skin is a different color.
Due to the fact that she rarely goes outside, Arthirea’s skin is clear and white, even though she doesn’t even pay attention to whitening her skin.
This is Maya’s hand…
And what unfolds in front of you is a view that you will never see now.
This is not Dardinia.
It is not in the garden of the Crown Prince’s Palace, or anywhere else in the Royal Palace.
And it’s not even in my own luxurious, residential carriage.
It’s my dad’s light piggybacked truck…
A hard sheet…and just a hint of a fishy smell.
“Oh my gosh, this is awful.”
I heard a voice.
A voice so nostalgic that I shuddered.
Hesitantly, I looked up at the driver’s seat—and there was my father, just as I remembered him.
At any rate, it was snowing so hard that the windshield looked completely white…it was already a blizzard, if you will.
This was probably that time…
I think I was in first or second grade of elementary school.
I had gone with my father to deliver something to a neighboring town.
It was a time when the signs of late spring were beginning to appear even in Hokkaido, where the seasons are said to be different from those of Honshu. It was still too cold to be able to say that it was spring yet, so I couldn’t let go of my long-sleeved clothes, but as expected, I had sent my heavy down coat to the cleaners.
The light truck my father uses for work is a little higher in the eye level than a normal car. I enjoyed climbing into the passenger’s seat and seeing the scenery from a different perspective, so as a young girl I would often accompany my father on his deliveries.
“Maya, look at this. You can’t see the road because of the snow.”
The snow was so heavy that I felt just a little bit of fear.
But then I looked up at my dad next to me and that was a relief.
…Dad’s here, hehe.
When I was very young, my father was the strongest person in the world. With him there was nothing to be afraid of.
In my blank vision, he slowed down to a lumbering pace and carefully gripped the steering wheel.
“I’m going to pull over at the vending machine up ahead.”
It’s a road I’ve passed many times, so I know exactly where to find it.
Still, in weather like this, the landscape that should be familiar to me seemed otherworldly.
“It’s all white…even though it’s already spring.”
“That’s right. I wish I could have done this tomorrow.”
If you park your car along that wall in a small clearing of space with just two vending machines lined up along the seawall, the passenger side of the car can escape the snow that’s pounding hard.
The gurgling sound is probably the sound of waves, and I grab the sleeve of my father’s jumper with a slight pang. He patted me on the head to make sure I was okay.
There isn’t a lot of snow around here. It’s so cold, but we don’t get blizzards like this many times a year.
Moreover, it’s April. It’s very unusual for Hokkaido to have this much snow in April.
“Isn’t the car full of snow?”
“If it’s about to get buried, Daddy is going to go shovel it. We’ve got shovels here too.”
I wasn’t quite sure what my father meant by his muttering about how glad he was that he hadn’t changed back to normal tires.
But I knew that we couldn’t go home just yet.
“Just wait a minute.”
My father gets out of the car. He came back a little later and had the usual cocoa and the usual can of milk coffee in his hand.
I accept the can of hot cocoa with my gloved hand. I ask him to open the pull-top and take a sip, huffing and puffing.
The rich sweetness and heat of the cocoa warms my heart.
When I was relieved, I was worried about my other family.
“Mom…I’m sure she’s very upset.”
In those days, cell phones weren’t common at all, and even pagers were not common.
If you had a sudden situation like this where you couldn’t go home, you couldn’t tell them or explain why.
…That kind of thing, might be a little like now.
Letters are the main means of communication in Dardinia.
The postal network seems to be quite developed, and mail carriages are said to be provided with special facilities.
However, it is said that they do not emphasize speed, so that people sometimes arrive home before the letter arrives.
The aristocracy have servants who serve as messengers or messenger masters for accuracy and speed, but in some cases, they have the option of using a courier pigeon.
In such a situation, the physical distance is directly proportional to the speed of information transmission.
In modern Japan, with the spread of mobile phones, it had become possible to communicate with people without time differences, but in Dardinia, that is just a dream.
I do wish I had a cell phone at times…
That way, I think we would be able to communicate more often and spend more time together.
That way I can go out to get a snack or something…and make better use of my spare time.
Of course, it’s not my spare time. It’s the sparer time of the busiest person in Dardinia.
But that’s not the main reason why I want to get in touch with you.
I just want to hear his voice.
I just want to talk.
As I’m talking to my father right now, like this, in my dream.
Even though I’m in a dream, I’m happy to see my dad, but I’m still thinking about His Highness…
It’s kind of embarrassing, but it also makes me a little happy.
“You know, today’s dinner is the stew that you like, Maya.”
“What? Is it stew today?”
My father’s face lit up.
“That’s right. Chicken dumpling stew! I helped make the meat buns!”
“Oh, what is that? A white stew?”
“It was a shame. Mum said we’d have to wait until we had enough to eat the brown stew that Daddy likes.”
My father loved my mother’s beef stew.
She got a pressure cooker for herr birthday last year, and it was wonderfully tender and delicious, even with non-domestic meat.
“I’m hungry, Daddy.”
Unfortunately, there was no food in the car at all.
Unlike my mother, my father wasn’t much of a sweet tooth, so he wasn’t in the habit of carrying snacks around with him.
“…Oh, well, I have cookies.”
On his way out, he wrapped his uneaten snack in a tissue and brought it straight to me.
“Here you go, we’ll split half-and-half.”
“No Maya, you should eat it all.”
“No, let’s split!”
When Maya held out a piece that was broken in half, her father gave her a tearful smile and accepted it.
The cookies from that time were very delicious.
They were nothing special, just commercial cookies, but sharing them with my father when I was hungry made them taste unforgettable.
It’s probably because of this experience that I always have something in my bag.
“Daddy is already full. Maya should eat the rest.”
“Well, I still have caramel.”
“Daddy is an adult now, but Maya is a little girl, and she’s going to have to grow up a lot…That’s why Maya’s going to eat it.”
Even if I ate half of it that wouldn’t have helped…”
And yet, my father laughed gently.
…What can I do, I’m about to cry..
I was nostalgic and happy…inexplicably adored.
“…What is it, Daddy?”
My father said something.
And yet, I couldn’t hear it well enough to ask back.
My father, with a straight face, was looking right at me.
“Please be happy.”
I never remember my father ever saying those words to me.
…Oh, but this is a dream…
My father’s hand was gently placed on my head.
It was a dream that I knew from the start.
And yet, I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I burst into tears.
…I’ll be happy, so it’s okay, Dad.
I wanted to reassure him, and I showed him a smile through my tears.
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