Translated and Edited by: luccayn.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
We never knew when my family would come to complain if we stayed at my old house’s garden, so I packed my bags and we headed for the shrine.
On our way there, the black-haired goddess requested that she be allowed to gaze into my surroundings as women interacted with me, so we decided to pass by a convenience store. She figured she could find out more details about the curse if she looks more into it with care, even with the little faith she had.
Since I was curious, I consented to it as well.
The fact we were going downtown where there were more people around also helped, since the less danger to my life the better. Entering the convenience store nearby, I quickly began shopping.
“Mister, mister! These mugwort dumplings look amazing! Oh, and this tangerine jelly too…”
Ignoring the cat’s carefree antics, I grabbed a hot dog, some tea, and salad. I then went to the cashier without wasting a second longer.
“Mister? O, oh? He’s already at the register…”
Oh, cat… I can’t take my time shopping. You should’ve seen the clerk’s face as soon as I stepped inside this store, I thought to myself.
“What a drag…” I heard the clerk mumbling as she began passing my items, glaring all the while. She grabbed my first item—bang! Then the second—bang! And bumped the code reader onto the plastic case of my salad. That girl even ignored the label warning people to keep the salad warm. It’s like these words were invisible to her.
Continuing with the packaging, she purposefully placed the heavy stuff on top of the fragile; does she not get the concept of weight?! The icing on the cake, she threw my change onto the ground as if feeding some pigeons. She then went back to working behind the counter without so much as glancing back at me.
I’m a customer too, you know? Isn’t it cruel?
“Is this… what you go through every day?”
The cat asked me as we stepped outside the store with an appalled look on her face.
“It’s always been like this. Shopping isn’t easy either,” I replied, repositioning the bagged goods into their proper places.
Aw man, my hot dog’s crushed…
“Yikes… Hey, Shu-chan, any findings?”
Ever since the moment we went inside, the tall goddess had been intently gazing at me. Without a single word back there, she earnestly tried to make out as many things as she could.
“I don’t have it all figured out, but…” She started. “First of all, the reason you’re hated by the opposite sex is, without a shadow of a doubt, the curse you’re inflicted with.”
She apparently confirmed I was indeed cursed. Though I have to say, it’s one hell of a hex in this overpopulated world of mostly women, it’s even deadly.
“And… the contents of the curse are a bit special. It doesn’t just make them uncomfortable around you. It’s more like you’re taking over the hatred of man itself all around the world.”
“Hmm? What do you mean by ‘taking over the hatred’?”
In response to cat’s question, she hummed and began to tell an analogy.
“Let’s say a man marries a woman for her property. Because he did so for her assets, he doesn’t want anything to do with her itself and spends his days spending money around whimsically.”
Is there such a man? Well, it’s a metaphor…
“At this point, the woman is basically dead in the water. Even if she files for a divorce, the assets will be divided 50-50 according to the division of property. The division will include pension, so she’ll most likely lose a lot of money there. Alimony is also a thing, so by that point, she’ll be crying with not much left. Moreover, the label of ‘divorced woman’ is so severe in this day and age, it might be hopeless for her to marry again, let alone improve her own career.”
“Hmm, that’s a common story.”
Huh? Is this common? Leaving me puzzled, raven continued her story.
“She can continue in the marriage, of course, but she’ll never be happy. And because of the barren relationship she has, she can’t have children and will end up working to the bone to support her man. These types of guys don’t even care about women in the first place! They just bed another girl, play as they please, and the woman just sits there alone. As she grows older, she hits menopause and that’s the end of it. In her old age, she ends up babysitting the child of another.”
Whoa… What’s up with that? That sort of situation is so horrible, mine seems cute in comparison…
“Your curse is one who deals with the darkness inside women’s hearts. It collects the bottled resentment all over the world, and not just from a couple of people out there.”
That’s why they all hate me… Honestly, it’s a surprise I’m still alive given these horrid considerations.
“So what happens to a woman who’s resenting the man? Do their feelings clear up after his curse takes it?”
“I didn’t have enough faith to go that far. Perhaps, though, they might never feel dissatisfied since you’re hogging up all of their hatred.”
Every harassment, every wrongdoing, any crime committed by a man against a woman is collected and directed toward me: the resentment of all victimized women. Such enmity is then processed by loathing my presence, abusing, and even physically assaulting me. Then, the victims go about their lives as if they never held a grudge in the first place.
In short, I’m cleaning up another man’s mess.
So, if men stop doing all these bad things, will this curse stop affecting me?
…No, I don’t think that’s possible. It’s inconceivable for every man in the world to suddenly change their mind and stop what they have been doing for who knows how long.
“From what I’ve heard, this isn’t a curse, right? There are women being saved with his suffering, so it’s something more akin to divine punishment in terms?”
“I could only gaze it as a curse, perhaps due to my lack of current faith. As you said, though, it feels more like some sort of divine punishment rather than a curse.”
“Don’t just chalk it up to lack of faith. You should’ve seen more with sheer force of will; you just didn’t get it right.”
“You’re quick to bring up this stupid ‘sheer force of will’ mentality to the table. It’s not that simple, okay?”
“Your chest is simple,” cat shot back.
Then they started brawling again.
“Why are you two so naturally gifted at starting fights, huh? Calm down. Back to the topic, are divine punishments and curses two different things?”
“If we look only at the damage inflicted on you, mister, a curse fits just fine. However, if someone else is being saved because of it, it’s a different story. Curses are unproductive things that only cause suffering to another.”
“In your case, since you’ve indirectly atoned for another’s sins, you are the agent of atonement. Since the substitution of who should be punished is at the discretion of God, you are included in the divine punishment.”
“Does that mean I’m actually being punished by God? The theory that I was an extremely evil person in a past life is starting to sound all the more plausible now…”
“That wouldn’t happen after reincarnation.”
“It’s said the sins of the past are in the past, so perhaps this punishment befell you right after you were born.”
I hate that. I’ve lived my whole life as a genuine small-towner, so how come I’ve been the target of God’s wrath? Thinking about it, I better not do anything disrespectful to the two real goddesses right in front of me. You never know when you might step on their toes and piss them off… I don’t want to add any more curses to my life.
“Hey, stop it! We would never do something like that! Actually, if you stop breathing in my carbon dioxide, then you’ll be punished with death!”
“We would never do something so terrible! If it were me, I’d punish you by only letting you get into the bathtub every three days… Your musky, fertile water… Ehehe…”
“Give me a break, please… It’s hard to keep going with these innuendos… I beg you.”
“N, no, no! I wouldn’t do that, hehe! …Jeez, it’s just a joke, a joke!”
“I’m sorry, I was only half joking. I was just a bit annoyed with what you said…”
Half-joking? This means the other half was serious. Actually, didn’t you just say something pretty darn big right there, cat?
“…So, is this curse something that can be broken? I thought I’d stay like this for the rest of my days.”
“Hehehe! Shu-chan has been the only one doing the heavy lifting until now, so it’s my turn! I’ll break your curse!”
“I’m sure Tama-san’s convalescence can lift your curse, or rather, divine punishment. It’s a pretty powerful one though, so do you have enough faith?”
“We’re almost at the shrine, so let’s have you take another gaze there.”
“If it isn’t enough, I guess I’ll have to use my ‘sheer power of will’.”
“…H, hell yeah!”
She seems to be able to handle the curse, but…
“Is this something that can even be broken? Also, some women are being saved from despair with this thing, right? Won’t it affect them?”
“It will. From the second your punishment is lifted, their negative emotions will arise, and I’m sure there will be discord between couples like the example I gave.”
“Well, I’m sure some women will suffer, but that’s not something for you to worry about. It’s essentially something pertaining to you, only.”
“…Then, you don’t have to break the curse, right? I’m fine with it as is.”
“Huh? No no no, it’s not fine as it is! You shouldn’t be the one to deal with all of this BS. Why would you even say that?”
“Why? …I guess it’s because now I have someone I can talk to, which is the thing I’ve always dreamed of having… I don’t mind being cursed if it means the three of us can live happily together.”
“N, no, it’s still bad! I can’t allow you to live in constant pain!”
“She’s right! Please, let us break your curse! I’m begging you!”
The two tried to argue with me in desperation, though I couldn’t understand why they were so shaken.
“No, but someone can be saved this way, right? Then I’m fine with things as they are,” I told the two my thoughts.
The next second, however, the air froze.
It wasn’t the warm, loose atmosphere we had just before. Instead, it was skin-stabbing and bone-chilling, yet it wasn’t a drop in temperature. It was more akin to a looming sense of dread caused by sheer anxiety. Basically the dread of when you’re being given a hard lecture from a higher-up.
—Though it was nothing in that level. I could barely move, and every breath I tried to take was severely painful.
The two deities in front of me started emanating their indignation as their previously soft smiles faded. They were almost dolls devoid of humanity, yet, still ethereal nonetheless.
“You. What do you mean by what you just said? Did you imply you don’t need our help?”
Cat’s tone was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. It was commanding and crystal as a sky without clouds. I had almost forgotten these two were gods, and now my very being is certain of that fact.
“You. Your words are an affirmation of the status quo. Does that mean you don’t wish to be saved?”
Raven also begged the question. Their voices, their tones, and their actions were vastly different from before. Had I done something rude? Was it a mistake to act so casually with them?
I knelt down on the ground in a panic. The pressure was so much I couldn’t stop shaking.
“Aw… sorry…” She muttered something. “Cough. Answer. Why do you try to enjoy the curse? Why do you not seek salvation?”
“He’s kneeling… Aw…” The other one also muttered something. “Cough. If you do not seek help, we cannot do anything. Are you then asking us to overlook your current situation?”
I thought I saw their normal selves for a moment… or was it my imagination? In any case, I had to answer the goddesses’ questions.
They said salvation…
Salvation? What do they mean? I’m already saved. The fact these two are treating me like a normal human being is enough for me. What more could I wish for? Nothing.
I met these two and told them I had the happiest I had ever been in my life. I continued saying that if I could save others from feeling despair, I would be fine with the burden. To be completely honest, many women in this society have a harder life than I do.
If I were a woman… If I were in their position, I wouldn’t be able to handle the horrible feelings they’ve mentioned in their example. Marrying someone you don’t have a relationship with is no different than being alone.
It’s really hard to endure the pain alone… I’ve been at it for 20 years, so I understand. With no one to talk to, living with only your worries and anxieties as companions is hell. At the very least, going through and surviving is much more praiseworthy in my opinion.
That’s how painful it is to stomach suffering alone.
For that reason, I’m willing to shoulder a little bit of their pain.
I can bear it. If these two goddesses are with me, I can endure.
…That’s how happy I’ve become with these two barging into my life.
Thus, I told them my feelings without holding anything back. However, despite listening to my reasons, cat didn’t change.
“No one appreciates you. Your thoughts are mere self-gratification.”
I’m not asking for anything in return. If you believe it’s just that, you’re welcome to do so.
“If you don’t seek salvation, you will stay that way for the rest of your life. It is also sacrilegious blasphemy against us! If you don’t stop it, you will never find peace!”
The raven also threatened me, and her final words toughened. Is it really necessary to break the curse? It doesn’t matter, I don’t care. Leave it as is.
—While I was thinking that, something occurred to me.
Wait a minute… There is an exception to my decision. They’d stay with me no matter my decision, right? Right?! I hastily turned to the two.
“If you are going to leave me, it’s a different story! That’s the condition! I’d never allow the curse to stay and for you two to be gone! You said you’d haunt me for the rest of your lives, right? Take responsibility for your words! Don’t leave me!”
I pathetically cried out to the two. Hearing my words, their eyes shot open in surprise. They were stunned and turned their heads down, starting to tremble.
Oh no, they might kill me…
“K… Ack… Urgh…” She was holding it back. “Did you hear that, Shu-chan?! Mister told us to stay with him!”
“H, heh… Ehehe…” The raven stopped. “I, it’s true. I never thought I’d be asked t, that in my w, whole life!”
“He’s courting, courting! It’s a proposal! I’m the happiest woman in the tree kingdoms!”
“I can’t believe he’s p, proposing… It’s, hic, like a dream!”
Cat burst into tears, jumping and screaming words of happiness. Meanwhile, the raven twirled around like a happy dancer, filled to the brim with joy. Their tones had also returned to normal, so they don’t seem to be angry anymore.
But, um, did I propose? I had no intention of doing so, but it’s not like I can deny it now.
I feel like I’ve actually done it though…
“I’m sorry I startled you, dear. If you don’t ask for salvation, we can’t interfere. I was desperate because you told us not to help you.”
“I was trying to scare you into asking for help so we could save your life, but I didn’t expect you to suddenly propose like that. Oh, what am I going to do with my sopping bottom?”
“S**t, me too…”
Are you the same beings from a few seconds ago? How can you throw dirty innuendos like that as if you’re just breathing normally?! Have a bit of shame, will you?
They scared me, though. They really did.
“But mister…” The first one who got soaking wet called out to me. “I wasn’t joking. All I wish is for your curse to be lifted. It’s not something you can just place on a human being… As I said before, it is divine punishment instead of a normal curse, so I can’t bear to see you being punished in the name of God. I am one after all.”
“As for your concern about women’s happiness, that’s part of the marriage game, dissatisfaction included. If you don’t communicate with your significant other about your grievances, you’ll only exacerbate each others’ problems and your relationship will deteriorate. It’s not good to take over the consequence of another’s choices,” the second sopping goddess also continued to admonish me.
That being said, I continued to think about it…
“You have to be happy for yourself! That way, you can make others happy too!”
“How do you expect us to be happy when you can’t even walk to the nearest grocery store and buy something simple?”
Sorry to all women in the world, but God has a point. What I’ll do might be selfish, but I don’t intend to make these two sad over it.
I won’t carry your burdens anymore.
“S, so can I ask you to release me from this curse?”
“Leave it to me!” Cat stuck her thumb and gave the best smile of the day.
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