Fake Cinderella – Chapter 01

Awaking

(…… an unfamiliar ceiling……)

When I regained consciousness, a ceiling painted like the night sky filled my view.

(Mm, no constellations I’m familiar with……) I thought dazedly, before realizing with a start that this was no time to be thinking that.

(Uuuuum, that was probably me getting into an accident, wasn’t it.  The brightness was the car’s headlights… but there’s no way this is a hospital… no, maybe it’s one of those deluxe suites?  …. urgh, I wonder if the store was okay… Where the hell did I even leave my insurance card…?)

My head started spinning for real.

(No, no, no use thinking about it… let’s just call the nurse for now.)

I was shocked when I sat up while looking for the Nurse Call switch.

(… hot damn…)

What I thought was a ceiling was actually a canopy.

Moreover, the thing I’d been sleeping on was the same type of princess bed I’d seen in art museums.  And quite the luxurious one, at that.

Leaving aside the fluffy sheets, the bedcovers were covered in the most enchanting, delicate embroidery.  It was overrun with flowers that looked like they’d been plucked from the garden and sown straight on.  Spring flowers… though the colors were on the subdued side.

Honestly, I love these sorts of things.  I adore art and history museums, and I love these sorts of handicrafts, too.  If I hadn’t become a chef… in other words, if I weren’t such a glutton, I’m sure I would have gone into the arts.

“… what’s this?”

I suddenly realized, (Isn’t my hand… kind of on the small side?)

My hands were small, and my arms were thin.  More than that, my nails… were quite beautifully tended.  Even though I can’t grow them this long since I’m always cooking.

It felt off… like, it felt really off, but I hadn’t the slightest idea why.

When I went to climb off the bed, my legs were much shorter than I expected… and really, unmistakably small.

(I… did I shrink?)

While thinking that, other doubts were bubbling up in the back of my head.  Even though I was doing my best not to think too much.

I opened curtains that let through a limpid light, and turned a slow circle to observe the room around me.

(… This, this is definitely not a hospital.  Hell, this may not even be Japan anymore…)

A room that looked big enough to house a substantial restaurant… sunshine filtered through lace curtains pulled across enormous windows, and the bed feet disappeared into an expansive, fluffy carpet.

And overhead, a freaking chandelier… It’s not like this is a public space though, I don’t think?

(… y’know, for some reason I’ve got a really bad feeling about this…)

Those misgivings buzzing around in my head since a little while ago were starting to seem more and more likely……

(… I mean, there’s just no way.)

Think, I scolded myself.

I mean, there’s just no freaking way after all.

I denied the possibilities over and over again.

(A… child’s hand……)

A tiny, slender hand.

A long-fingered, pale hand.

There’s no old burn marks, and no scar from that time I cut myself with the petit knife.

My nails are so prettily tended, too.

(I…)

That’s why I had no way to avoid to avoid thinking about the possibility.

(… might have died…)

That night.

As I thought that, I felt a cold stab in the middle of my chest.

I dove into the bed, and pulled the sheets up until they covered my head.

It’s not like I was going to be any safer for holing up in bed, but being curled up small under the sheets helped me calm down a little.

But when I did that, it just made me realize even more, (… I’m… not hurt anywhere…)

It was practically a fact that I’d been involved in a car accident.

Furthermore, just going by the situation alone you’d know there was no way to get out of it uninjured.

I should definitely have been hurt.

So saying that I was completely unharmed was the same as……

(….. Like I thought…)

My feelings fluctuated dizzyingly between “maybe” and “after all.”

(L- like, being reborn… or something like that…?)

I mean, because my sense of “me” was still firmly in place.  But because this body didn’t belong to “Izumi Maya” at all… I mean, if that’s true, you’ll immediately start thinking you got reborn, won’t you?

(No- but- that’s not even possible, not even remotely possible!  …… no, but… it looks like I’ve become a kid or something…)

Moreover, the sensation of fluffy bedsheets and carpet underfoot were hallmarks of reality.

(I- It could still be part of a dream… surely… probably…)

But no matter how much time passed, or how many times I blinked, the scenery glimpsed from underneath the covers just wouldn’t change at all.

(Le- let’s get ourselves together here…)

Once more, just to confirm, I inched upright.

I left the covers.  I sank my feet into the carpet and stood firmly, looking around the room.

Direct sunlight intermittently flowed into the room and gave it a modest glow… the exquisitely ornamented interior, the furniture polished to perfection, and even the bouquets that decorated the whole room… an elegant extravagance.  An excellent sense of taste, rather than simply being expensive.

On the walls hung paintings and tapestries, changing the impersonal atmosphere into something warmly welcoming.

Everything looked like a scene from a grand old tale.  It was designed with women’s taste in mind.

(And the last blow is this freaking princess bed, huh…)

With pale, bright timber, pillars carved as if ivy crept upon their surfaces lifted the canopy.

The ivy was even carved down to the finest veins in the leaves… so real, that wood or not it would seem you could feel the texture of them on your fingers.

Really, it was such a fabulous bed that if things weren’t how they were, I would’ve enjoyed myself to the fullest.

(Rather than a foreign country,  It’s like I got tossed smack in the middle of a freaking fantasy novel.)

Frankly, I really love those sorts of stories.

Not from here… a story about a world far from reality.  But that’s because it’s a story.

I didn’t for a second ever wish to be thrown into the story like this.

(From the looks of things, it’s like the old English or French manor houses, I guess…)

It was like the country house I visited when I vacationed in England.  …… Well, country house in that it was out in the country, because rather than a “house” it was a “manor” or possibly a “castle,” all things considered.

The room I was in currently had that same atmosphere of luxury and dignity.

Out of nowhere, a picture on the wall just in front of me caught my attention.

The deep gold frame looked antique.

The background was clearly this very room, and painted there was a very young girl.

(Woooow, so cute!  Practically angelic.  I wonder if she’s connected to this house?)

She looked about 12 or 13.  Pale gold hair and blue eyes… her skin was practically see-through it was so white, her faces just faintly rosy, an absolute, picture-perfect beauty.  Wait, it’s a picture, but… what?

With a bitter smile, I realized… this thing….

Half in doubt, I raised my hand.

The girl in the picture raised her hand, too.

I tried sticking my tongue out.

The girl in the picture stuck her tongue out.

…… Correction, it wasn’t a painting.  It was a mirror.

“EEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHH?!”

I let out a rather magnificent scream, then, too overwhelmed to handle, I went straight back to bed.


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