Part 2: I Became The Heroine’s Next-Door Neighbor
Why are you here…?
As soon as I saw the person standing in front of my door, I stiffened.
Still, I returned her greeting for now. Then a dazzling smile bloomed on her face.
The lady visiting my home was just like a lily of the valley, bathed in morning dew. Her luscious hair was as thin as silver threads, shining vividly in the midday sun and her light green eyes contained a freshness like that of newly sprouted leaves. My image was clearly reflected in those very gentle-looking, droopy eyes.
“I’m so happy! I didn’t expect to have a girl of my age living right next door.”
As she said so, her face was filled with delight.
“I’ve moved a few times in the past but each time, there was never anyone around the same age as myself and my younger sister.”
It was as if ‘let’s be friends’ was written in her sparkling eyes. I felt slightly overwhelmed because she seemed to be looking at me like a future friend.
By the way, she definitely introduced herself as Anne-Marie just now, didn’t she? Then, is she really what I think she is? The heroine.
I was suspicious at first but not only was her appearance the same as was described in the novel in my memory, I didn’t think it was possible for two women in the world to have such dazzling, world-class beauty. Furthermore, she was also living with her younger sister.
But why did the heroine move into the house next to mine…?
While I was at loss for words like that, the woman who introduced herself as Anne-Marie proceeded to speak.
“I happened to meet another neighbor just a minute ago and I was told you work at the biggest coffeehouse around here. Is that possibly the shop at the Blue Ferret intersection?”
When I heard the following question, I paused.
“…Yes, you’re right.”
After coming out from the institute, I found myself a job and lived like a normal person in my own way. And now, it has been about two years since I moved here and began working at the coffeehouse on Ferret Street.
Back then, when I was thinking about saving some money to quietly settle down somewhere, I picked a day to look for a nice house where I could live alone. Then I stopped by a nearby café for a cup of coffee and tried to relax for the first time in a while. I observed the scenery in my view for a while then I turned around and at some point, my surrounding was teeming with customers. I figured the shop had pretty good business.
However, when I was about to leave, the owner of the café suddenly dashed towards me and asked me if I could work there. Naturally, I felt perplexed and tried to refuse. But the owner so desperately pleaded with me, that if it wasn’t convenient for me, I could just come to the shop and sit down there like I just did. And so, I eventually got a job on this Ferret street with unconventional terms.
I had a day off once a week and today was my day off, hence why I was at home even at this time. So what Anne-Marie heard from the other neighbor was true. I wasn’t quite sure who the ‘other neighbor’ was, but if the information didn’t come from the pawn shop Mister, then it definitely came from the repair shop’s Mrs. Meriel.
Those two were the only people on Grey Ferret St that liked to talk about other people’s matters like that. I warned them last time not to leak my personal information like this, but they really don’t listen.
Ever since I took in the ruin fragments at the institute, my emotions had become somewhat dull. So I wasn’t exactly angry or upset, but the fact that someone was going around spreading details about me was a little annoying.
However, Anne-Marie was a tactful person. When she saw my awkward reaction, her face showed signs of remorse and regret.
“Ah…Sorry for asking you something so personal on our first meeting. That was rude of me, wasn’t it?”
Anne-Marie quickly apologized to me, like she had made a mistake.
“Um, I’m going to be working at the clinic across the shop from tomorrow. So I was so amazed that not only are our homes close to each other, our workplaces are too… And I got ahead of myself, I’m sorry.”
As she explained herself, she looked like she was at a loss for what to say.
…She was just like our Coco.
Seeing Anne-Marie like this reminded me of the dog I had raised in my previous life. I could almost see a pair of dropping ears and tail overlap on her frame. She looked so pitiful and I doubted anyone could remain angry after seeing her like this, even if their anger was in the middle of skyrocketing. Then again, I wasn’t even angry with her in the first place.
Perhaps because I was reminded of my dog, Coco, my voice was much gentler than before when I spoke.
“It’s fine. Since you will be working at the clinic, we’ll be seeing each other more often in the future.”
More than that, she said that she was going to be working at the clinic. Then I must be right. She really is the heroine of the novel.
Even though I was only saying those words out of politeness, the woman standing before me smiled bashfully, like she was really happy to hear it. I suppose I should say ‘as expected of the heroine’ because it was such an impeccably, bright smile.
Before she came here, she must have gone through difficulties to support her younger sister after her family was ruined, but surprisingly enough, there were no signs of that on her.
That aside, don’t tell me this place was where the heroine lived at the beginning of the novel? There should still be about a year or two before the story-line begins, and the novel definitely said that the heroine moved to a shabby house. However, the houses here were one of the best in this place. Could it be that she lived here, then her finances went downhill so she moved to a smaller place?
That idea seemed right somehow. As I looked at her bright and immensely naïve face, for some reason, I felt like it would be hard for her to make money. When you rolled around on the bottom of the ladder to some extent, you learn to get a sense of things from rough observation. The woman in front of me right now, to put it nicely, she gave off the smell of an innocent and naïve person who didn’t know how to be suspicious of others, and to put it in a bad way, she reeked of the smell of a pushover, the perfect target to eat clean.
In the novel, didn’t she even take in an unknown man that collapsed in front of her house and treat him with utmost sincerity? The author had squeezed in several episodes in the novel, emphasizing the heroine’s goodness as if trying to make her a Saint. Then, for tension in the story, bad people showed up frequently, attempting to use Anne-Marie’s nature or harm her.
And then they were all sent to cross the Jordan River by the fiendish sub-villain, Lakis. Of course, him doing that didn’t mean he did something good.
Well, either way…
Since Anne-Marie just said that she had moved around frequently in the past, this place was probably not her final destination.
I scoured my memory, but I couldn’t find anything in the novel related to the heroine’s home address. Nevertheless, when the novel began, the place where the heroine lived was the ‘hot-spot’ where the male lead and the sub-villain swarmed to, so a secluded place like this could not be the main stage.
Which meant, the heroine would be moving away next year or two years from now, at the very least. I didn’t really want to get close to her but since she would be my neighbor for a while, I didn’t mind something as simple as exchanging names.
“You can call me Yuri.”
“Wow. Even your name is so pretty.”
In the research institute, I was nicknamed ‘Arachne’ and when I previously lived in the slums, I didn’t have a name at all. So now, I was using the name I had in my previous life.
Anne-Marie began to speak as if she had suddenly remembered something. But it looked like it wasn’t easy for her to say it for some reason, and she bit her lips.
“…I heard there’s a ghost in my house, is that for real?”
When I finally heard what she said in a lowered voice, I was at loss for words again, but this time, it was for a different reason. I’m not sure how Anne-Marie took my reaction, but she hurriedly made an excuse.
“Of course, I don’t believe in such superstitions, but I’m worried my younger sister will be scared if she hears something like this…”
However, her cheeks were slightly red, so I couldn’t really believe her. Without any hesitation, I told Anne-Marie:
“There’s nothing to worry about. It’s just a false rumor.”
The reason why the house next to mine is rumored to be haunted, was because of me. But that wasn’t exactly something I could say straight to her face. Besides that, it has really been a long time, hasn’t it? That rumor came about when I first moved here.
It looked like simply hearing that it wasn’t true made Anne-Marie relieved, and she looked more at ease.
“I supposed that’s the case? I heard that the house has been empty for quite a while before I came here. That’s probably why it got attached with such a strange story.”
As I listened to her words, I felt like something was pricking my conscience (and here I thought I had lost my conscience.)
Anyways, I wondered how she managed to buy such a house when it made her so nervous. No one had come to the stay in that house for almost a year and a half because it was rumored to have ghosts.
Ah, maybe she got the house slightly cheaper because of it.
However, when I heard what Anne-Marie said as she smoothed down her chest in relief, I was forced to remain silent.
 The corner of her eyes point downwards??? How do I describe this?
 Sent to cross the Jordan River: sent to their death.