Mandarin Orange, Kotatsu, And A Found Cat - Chapter 23 Dinner By The Cat
“Welcome back. Satou-san.”
As I opened the front door, Mashiro peeked out from the kitchen to greet me.
She had a ladle in her hand, and I could smell something good.
“Have you been cooking, by any chance?”
“Yes, I was. I’ve just finished making miso soup, so it’s ready for dinner.”
I didn’t think it was possible, but I took off my shoes and headed to the living room, where I found a table with plates, cups, chopsticks, and side dishes on it.
Rice and miso soup, grilled fish as the main dish, dashimaki tamago (rolled egg), natto (fermented soybeans), and various other dishes were well-balanced on the table.
“M-Mashiro made all of this…?”
“Yes. It’s been a while, so I’m not sure if it turned out well.”
Mashiro said in a lightly humble way, and began to serve the miso soup.
I stood there dumbfounded, looking back and forth between her back and the food on the table.
Now that I think about it, she had asked to be allowed to use the kitchen and refrigerator this morning.
I had allowed her to do so, since I considered Mashiro to be a part of my family.
I wondered if she had made such a request in order to cook this dinner.
This morning’s breakfast alone was a shock, but Mashiro continued to amaze me.
I don’t cook much, and the contents of my refrigerator are probably pretty limited, but I wonder how she can make something so gorgeous.
“The miso soup is ready, but would you like to eat dinner first? I’ve already heated a bath for you.”
“I-I’ll have dinner first as usual. Thank you.”
I wanted to praise myself for being able to reply calmly.
I’m trying to give a normal response, but inside I’m not entirely sure how to deal with this situation.
I woke up in the morning and breakfast was ready, I shouldn’t be surprised by that much.
But when I got home, I found that a hot and sumptuous dinner had been prepared, and the bath was even heated.
What is really going on here now?
In the exact same way as this morning, I said my thanks before eating, picked up my chopsticks, and turned my attention to the scene in front of me.
Starting with white rice and miso soup, there was grilled fish, rolled egg, salad, pickles, and natto.
This was a typical Japanese menu for home cooking.
I start with the miso soup that has been calling to my nose since I got home.
I held the bowl and drank it slowly, as if I were drinking a cup of powdered green tea at a tea ceremony, trying not to burn myself.
The words came out of my mouth naturally, without any conscious thought.
It was the first time since I was at my parents’ house that I had dinner prepared for me, as well as breakfast, and it was also the first time since I was at my parents’ house that I drank homemade miso soup.
“I’m glad it suited your taste.”
Mashiro was relieved to see that I was impressed by the taste of homemade miso soup for the first time in years.
There was no way that something that took so much effort to make would not be good for my palate.
I felt like a father being treated with filial piety by his daughter, and I felt like crying.
“I felt like a father being treated with filial piety by his daughter. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Of course. It’s for Satou-san.”
My heart was already filled with various emotions, but Mashiro pushed me even harder.
From the first time I picked her up, I knew she was a smart and polite cat, and she really was.
“I’m sorry I’m always getting things from Mashiro. I can’t do anything for you, but thank you.”
“What are you talking about? I’m the one who has received so many precious things from Satou-san that I can never repay you.”
“That’s not true.”
We stare at each other without giving up, and halfway through we start to laugh.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Oh, no, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
I couldn’t help but smile at the way Mashiro was getting so angry at me, but if I told her that, she would be even more upset.
Mashiro was basically a docile cat that didn’t claw or purr when touched or petted.
However, when you actually talk to her, she seems to have a stubborn personality that doesn’t bend to others’ opinions.
“Besides, I like cooking quite a bit myself.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. So please don’t worry about it.”
I see. I guess it’s because she likes to cook that she can make it taste so good. A cat that likes to cook is an interesting attribute.
Once I’ve tasted this kind of food, I’ll never be able to go back to eating convenience store bentos.
Even if I’m not at Mashiro’s level, I need to be able to cook for myself a little better, otherwise I’ll lose my dignity as a house owner.
I think it would be quicker to ask Mashiro to teach me how to cook. …No, that’s not the way to go.
As I was wracking my brains, Mashiro put down her chopsticks and straightened her posture.
Even though I didn’t say a word, I could tell that it was something important, and I put down my chopsticks too.
“Satou-san. Can I ask you one more favor?
“Of course. Anything you want.”
“Thank you very much. Then…if it’s okay with Satou-san…”
Mashiro took a small breath.
“Can I cook for you every day from now on?”
So, she asked me for a favor.
This was the first time Mashiro had asked me for anything since we met, aside from the morning.
There was nothing negative in it for me, but she looked at me with a serious look in her eyes.
It meant exactly what she said. It means that I will be able to eat this delicious meal for a long time to come.
But that’s not the only meaning that the word has in general.
I’m sure Mashiro doesn’t mean it, but I can’t help but feel my heart pounding.
The fact that Mashiro told me this right after I was planning to cook for myself made me feel like I had lost my nerve.
I had a vague sense of reticence about why I should bother her, even though I didn’t know her well yet.
…As it is, it is unquestionably Mashiro’s intention. If that is the case, then the answer has already been decided.
“…All right. If it’s okay with you, Mashiro, please take care of me from now on.”
I stared straight back into Mashiro’s eyes and nodded deeply.
I’m not going to refuse what she wants to do, no matter what. This is something I’ve already made up my mind to do.
Hearing my words, Mashiro replied in an unusually excited voice, her eyes narrowed and she smiled cutely.