First Story – Let Me Listen to Your Lingering Regrets Part 1
I knocked on the door of the office and when I opened it, a man whose legs were sloppily placed on the desk littered with several documents eyed me sharply and muttered.
“…What?” I intended to introduce myself but his remark caught me off guard so I mumbled unwittingly.
“I said, you’re ‘excellent’.” He said it like it was the end of the conversation, then grabbed a nearby book, put it over his face and positioned himself to sleep. Because a girl of my age came this year, I wonder if he doesn’t know how to act around me.
“Um, excuse me…”
“What is it?” He asked with drowsy eyes.
“Allow me to introduce myself.”
He impatiently scratched his head and let out a huge yawn.
I hurriedly straightened myself. Err, what should I say again?
Even though I practiced my greetings yesterday, I didn’t expect the supervisor to act this way so I momentarily lost my rhythm.
“I’m Yuma Nikaido. I was dispatched from the training institute for my practical training here starting today. I may be young and inexperienced in a lot of things but I’ll try my best. Thank you in advance for your guidance and encouragement.”
I bowed my head deeply to express my sincerity.
What a relief, my preparation bore fruit. I was able to properly say what I had rehearsed.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Shindo.” He said briefly and tried to put the book on his face again.
“Wait, Mentor!” I cried out.
In any case, what a sloppy person he is. With his deep facial features, he could pass off as a romantic actor, but his stubble was growing unkempt and he was wearing a crumpled shirt along with a worn-out black suit.
There were documents scattered all over the room and I don’t know which ones are important so I’m at a loss as to where to step.
The bookshelf looked like it’s infested with insects and heavy books were lying all over the floor. The phone on the desk is buried under a pile of papers so if it rings, it can’t be picked up easily.
The file cabinet is also open and several documents are stashed inside. Makes me wonder if those are sorted out.
On the sofa bed were a shirt and tie laid casually.
Could it be, this person lives in the office?
“So, I’ve heard your self-introduction. And I told you you’re ‘excellent’. What more do you want?”
“What do you mean by ‘excellent’?”
“It’s your grade. I only give my students an excellent. Great and effortless, right?”
That might be so but aren’t you giving it away too thoughtlessly?
“Mentor Shindo, that makes me feel troubled. I came here to be a full-time agent. Firstly, I think it’s common sense not to give a grade prior to seeing one’s ability and work ethic.”
“Good grief, don’t be so serious.”
Shindo finally got up from his desk and turned to me.
“That’s the first lesson. And stop calling me ‘mentor’. Rather than being in a mentoring position, I prefer working in the field as an agent.”
“In that case, isn’t it okay to accept an apprentice?”
“That’s the decision of the higher up. Not mine.”
“But earlier you said you wanted to show kindness to your ‘students’ by giving them an excellent grade.”
“For the sake of convenience, I have to call you my students. Ugh, what’s your name again, apprentice?”
“It’s Yuma, Mentor.”
“Apprentice, I hate being called ‘mentor’. Call me by something else.”
“Well, then, Teacher.”
“That’s no different from mentor.”
“That’s overly familiar. Call me senpai. Without Shindo.”
How childish can he be? “You should just have said so from the beginning,” I complained weakly.
“I just thought of it now. If a young girl like you calls me senpai, I’d feel ten years younger. It takes me back to my youth, how nostalgic. Anyway, I’m going to sleep.”
“We’ll soon be busy.”
Looking as though he won’t entertain anymore questions, he fell asleep.
“Is he really a first-class agent? Unbelievable.” I mumbled and looked up to heaven.
In our world, which is located between the human world and heaven, after some period of time since we came into existence, we are immediately enrolled into a training institute. There, we are ranked A to E, according to our performance. Then, we choose our own path. There are other professions like being a clerk in the Information Department but those who want to be an agent must finish their training in a short period of time and graduate from the training institute.
After that, agents are further ranked from first-class to third-class depending on their performance in the field. Among them, first-class agents are highly regarded as super-elite, who can resolve more than 95% of the humans’ lingering regrets. They comprise only 5% of all agent population.
Everyone aspires to be a first-class agent since they were born.
Looking back, I got a D at the training institute. It’s considered as somewhat of a failure.
Generally speaking, the training institute hates it when we think and behave independently but since they appreciate the hard work, even if my rank is low, I only needed to do my best. My apprenticeship this time was decided because of my connection to Professor Yoshizumi, one of the infamous heretics.
I’m not saying I’m not happy to work with a first-class agent.
I just thought that I could work at a first-class job in a first-class environment.
“As expected, none of these documents are sorted out properly, and the books are just piled up on the bookshelf… Ugh, a coffee stain. I’d have to clean this later.”
Even if grumble, I have to first work on organizing this room. Germophobes would definitely frown upon seeing this room. Even I find this intolerable.
For now, I just have to transfer all the documents and heavy books on the floor to the table. I can’t do anything else if I can’t at least see the floor.
The moment I started tidying up, he immediately mumbled grumpily.
“Men– Senpai, please get up. I’ll work on cleaning the room first.”
“No need. I know exactly where things are.”
“Don’t lie, I found a note marked with ‘important’ behind a fallen book on the floor. There’s no way you’d know exactly where things are. Organizing things allows you to be able to quickly pull out the information you need. Isn’t that right, First-class Agent?”
“You don’t have to call me first-class. Besides, it’s just a bunch of books and documents that we use when we need to.”
“That’s why, isn’t better to tidy up so you can easily locate things when you need to?”
“Okay, fine, I’ll be sleeping on the sofa. Do want you want.” Dismissing me nonchalantly, he lay on the sofa bed at the back of the room.
“Can’t you lend me a hand? I’m not sure which documents to classify as important and which not.”
“Just do it according to what you think. Consider this a test as part of your training.”
I looked up to heaven again.
The image of the first-class agent I had aspired to become is beginning to crumble.
When I was under the supervision of the strange Professor Yoshizumi at the training institute, he told me, “I’m pretty sure you can get accustomed to unconventional thinking better than other apprentices.” Is this what he meant?
After all, for underachievers like me, the odds are never in my favor.
No, no. This is my first test.
I won’t lose. Challenge accepted.
I rolled up my sleeves and started cleaning this mysterious place that has inadvertently turned into an office as if my life depended on it.