Chapter 1 - Cream-Coloured Girl

Edwin Arnold couldn't win her. The girl with the cream-coloured hair. Not even once. At least, as far back as he could remember. He had faith in the muscles in his arms and considered himself a fairly sharp thinker, but... that belief was shared by him alone. Since the moment they met until today it had been nothing but a losing streak for Edwin, and he couldn't even bring himself to sigh over it.

The tolling of the large clock served its timely reminder of the day's passage to those in the old coffee shop. However Edwin, who had recently turned 19, ignored the clock's tones and kept toiling away at his seat next to the counter, hemming and hawing over his work.

'This article isn't good enough.' Edwin checked it over three more times and dutifully incorporated all of the review comments. As he began underlining and marking his work again, Edwin sighed.

If his article passed the review meeting this afternoon, it would finally be published. He couldn't afford to get sloppy today. Especially today. This one just had to be perfect.

Edwin looked up in the direction of the counter.

'What do you think, Agnès?'

'Err, dunno.'

With a single yawn, her cream-coloured dance rolled. That curly hair, unchanged unlike the Agnès of two years ago, appears to be dancing as if a wind was blowing.

The store's not even opened yet, then why is she up and about already this early? He wondered as she aptly wiped the moisture from the glass she was holding and returned it to the cupboard.

'Okay, look! ...I mean, would you mind looking at this? Did you know? This newcomer right here is taking a shot at this column!'

Edwin put his hands together and bowed his head.


Edwin knew very well that Agnès, two years younger than him, can do it nonchalantly. That's why she always ran into problems, he guessed. As she took another cup to wash, she glanced over the paper and said:

'Only three misspellings. I'm surprised. Oh hey, isn't that date wrong?'

She was right. Edwin returned to his seat and immedatiately started checking with his red pen in hand.

'That took long.'

'What!? There must be something you want to remark! I'm betting my life on this column!'

'Isn't it a cooking column?'

'Even if it is, an article is an article.'

'Whatever...I just think that working as a reporter doesn't suit you, Ed.'

Even if he is slow writer with a limited attention, he wasn't the least sensitive. He managed to pass the news agency's exam after additional practice, but would he really be able to do what reporters do?

That's also what Agnès has been wondering about for a while.

Why does Ed, who was never a great student to begin with, wants to become a reporter so badly?

She immediately regretted it. Ed quickly gathered his manuscript and stood up, grinning broadly.

'Hmph...A journalist of righteousness is awesome!'

Expecting good news, Ed stormed out of the door, leaving only the bells on the door to break the silence.

Yeah yeah, figured as much.

The cat sleeping by Agnès' side shrugged its shoulders and loudly meowed.

第1回 クリーム色の少女

 エドウィン・アーノルドがその少女に勝てたことは一度としてなかった。少なくとも覚えている限りは一度もだ。腕っ節には自信があったし、これでもそこそこ頭も切れる……つもりなのだが、出会った瞬間から今日まで、ぐぅの音も出ないほど負け続けている。  そう、2年前のあの日からずっとだ。

 大時計がコチコチ鳴って、その年季の入った喫茶店に今も時間は進んでいる事を知らせている。でも19歳になったエドウィンは、そんな事にはお構いなしにそのいつものカウンター席でウンウンと唸っていた。  「いやいや完璧だろう、今日の記事は」もう3回も見直したし、取材してきたコメントもちゃんと盛り込んだ。ペンでカリカリとアンダーラインを引きつつ、エドウィンはもう一度唸った。       午後の編集会議で通れば、ようやく自分の書いた物が紙面に掲載されるのだ。今日という今日は手が抜けなかった。ここは一つ、万全を期すとしようじゃないか……。  エドウィンは上目遣いでカウンターの先を伺った。 「……アニエス、どう思う?」 「さあね、しらない」  一つあくびをしながら、クリーム色の髪が横切っていく。アニエスの2年前と何も変わらないその癖っ毛は、動きに合わせてくるくると巻いて、風も無いのに踊っているかのようだ。  まだ営業時間じゃないんだけどなー、どうしてこの人は朝っぱらから押しかけてるのかしら。そんな事を呟きつつ、手にしたグラスの水気を素早くふき取って食器棚へと返していく。       「いいから見てくれ! ……いや、お願いします見てください。 知ってるだろ?新米記者の俺がコラムを取るチャンスなんだって!!」 エドウィンはぴたっと手を合わせて頭を下げた。 「……………………………………」  エドウィンは2つ年下の自分にも、衒(てら)いもなくそんな事ができるのをアニエスは知っていた。だから困るんだよね、もう。また1つ洗いあがったコップを取りつつ、アニエスはチラリと視線を走らせて言った。 「スペルミスが3箇所もあるわ。わぁびっくり。あと日付が間違ってるんじゃない?」 なるほどな。エドウィンは即座に赤ペンに持ち替えてチェックを始めた。

「……イマサラだけど」 「なんだよ。言いたい事があるならいえ!俺はこのコラムに命賭けてるんだ!」 「お料理コラムだけどね」 「お料理コラムでも記事は記事だぜ」 「まあね。……でも、エドに記者の仕事は向いてないと思うんだ」 だって記事書くの遅いし、注意不足だし。鈍感じゃない。私が特訓してあげたおかげで通信社の試験にパスできたのはいいけど、そんなので記者をやっていく、なんて無理じゃないの?  アニエスはずっと前から不思議に思っていたのだ。 どうみても勉強が得意じゃないエドが、どうして記者なんて目指したのか。  でもすぐに後悔した。エドが原稿をトントンと揃えニヤリと笑って立ち上がったからだ。 「フン……正義の記者ってカッコイイだろ!!」  朗報を期待しててくれと言い残したとき、エドの姿はもうなく、ただカラカラと扉の鈴が鳴っていた。



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