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.
These were the words that pulled me back to reality. All the happiness I’d felt up to mere moments ago was reduced to nothing, and I was back into the pits of despair I’d grown so used to.
“Why…?” I stammered. It was all I could do.
“Who do you think rented this house? Of course I have a spare key.”
Mikiko answered my questions with an air of indifference. Casually sipping out my own cup, she sipped on its contents before grimacing. “Oof. This tea tastes awful. You should buy better leaves.”
“Sigh. Not a shred of consideration for a guest… You really lack tact.”
Still and frozen, I answered to her every insult. I knew what she said was wrong and strange, but a part of my very being refused to deny or argue against her. With what seemed like the umpteenth sigh, she finally raised a hand to me.
“Enough. Sit down already.”
“Yes…” I took my own seat across from her at the table. The sound of her quaint sipping, so unlike my own place, was enough to send my heartbeat into disarray. Sitting in formal seiza position, I gasped for breaths awaiting what was to come.
Another sip later, she finally brought up what seemed like the main topic. “So, where is it then?”
“‘It’…? What do you mean by ‘it’?”
I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about. Truthfully, I had very few belongings to begin with, so there was hardly anything I’d brought from her house.
“You really are clueless, aren’t you? Useless idiot… Yuto-kun is a much smarter kid than you. Better in every single way, even. Ugh, honestly.”
“I scored higher than him on the tests…” I couldn’t help but blurt that out, despite my heart almost jumping out of my throat.
“Hah! Wasn’t that just a fluke? Don’t get cocky just because you won once. Besides, I heard from him. You were tutored by Saki, right? If you couldn’t top the class with that much help, it’d be an embarrassment.”
I fell silent at her sharp critiques, especially when she mentioned Saki.
“And I heard you won against Yuto-kun and became the general affairs officer at the student council. Is that correct?”
For a moment, however stupid it was, a spark of hope lit in my chest. Would she finally praise me? Needless to say, it wasn’t even close.
“You must’ve bribed them or something along those lines. Didn’t you?”
“No! No, I didn’t!”
“I mean, there’s no other way Yuto-kun would lose to someone like you. Oh, but you did have a talent for being a lowly servant. If we’re talking about that, then he loses a hundred times over.”
Every little thing I did, no matter how great an achievement, was belittled to the ground. She remained a dictator as she’s ever been, and I was the obedient slave. Within the confines of my own self, I wondered what did I ever do to her.
“Anyways, where is it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about!” I spoke the truth.
“Hah, I’m talking about your bankbook, obviously.”
It clicked. She had been referring to the money my father left behind. The very state of my small house was evidence enough she had been searching for it.
“…What are you going to do with it?”
“Use it, obviously. Besides, that money was rightful property of Takeo-san and me. In that case, I have the right to have it.”
“What? You want to argue? Ah, I see. You did steal it after all.”
“No, I didn’t!”
“For you to forget all the favors I’ve done, hmph. I raised you all by myself, and now you’re stealing my money? Terrible child…”
Her words seeped into my heart like poison. I felt it in my gut, like a parasite which wanted out. Still, I held it in like I always have.
“Come on. Hand over the bankbook! If you do, I might forgive you.”
“…Fine,” my body moved on its own, powerless against what loomed over me for years.
I apologized to Saki in my heart, guilt filling me up from the inside. Still, no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t defy that woman. Heavy-hearted, I pulled out the dresser where it had been hidden. However…
The bankbook wasn’t there.
“What are you doing? Hand it over already!” She yelled, but it wouldn’t make the little booklet materialize. It was nowhere to be found.
“It’s not here…”
“What? Don’t lie to me! I know you took it!”
Mikiko grabbed me by the collar, rage burning in her eyes, as she pressed for answers. But there was nothing to confess to. I searched the hiding spot repeatedly, but the little bankbook wasn’t there.
“No matter how much you threaten Akito, it’s useless, Mother,” a familiar voice spoke from the front door.
“Long time no see, Akito,” she waved at me as if it were just another Tuesday.
“…Saki, why are you here?” Mikiko scrunched her face.
“Dumb question. I had a bad feeling, so I turned back as soon as I could.”
“Right. Then please wait a bit. I’ll be done soon,” her mother shrugged her off, laser-focused on the prize.
“I already told you it’s pointless, didn’t I? I have what you want.”
Saki took out my Father’s bankbook from her bag. When had she managed to steal it? I asked myself, but it went unanswered as Mikiko released her grip on me, turning to her daughter with a porcelain smile.
“Good girl, Saki. Now, hand it over to me,” she took a step, her expression brimming with pride for her daughter doing the right thing. However…
“No way in hell I’m giving it to you, old hag.”
With an even bigger smile on her face, Saki slapped away her mother’s outstretched hands.
I’d never seen Mikiko so confused in the years I’d spent with her. Before she could say anything, however, Saki’s face dropped into a scowl, and she spat more than said her next words.
Before her mother could react, Saki winded and threw the strongest punch her arms could muster into her face. Not expecting that, Mikiko slammed her back against the wall, twitching and writhing like a fish out of water.
Saki was the one to break the ensuing silence.
“Ahh, it feels so good! Feels like fifteen years worth of anger just melted away!” Her perfect smile was akin to someone getting first in a huge test. Accomplished.
“Saki?! What are you doing?!”
“What am I doing? Just giving that old witch a taste of my iron fist.”
“No, not that!”
She shouldn’t have gone so far, even if she had been trying to protect me. My body quivered as I was about to hell her that, but Mikiko interrupted me.
“Why? Another dumb question. If you think about just how much you’ve mistreated me, it’s quite obvious!”
“I raised you all by myself! Why did you do something like this?!” She howled through the pain, ugly and snotty, unconcerned for appearances.
Saki only looked down on her mother with unwavering confidence. “You raised me… huh?”
“Y-Yes! That’s right! You’re only able to have what you have, eat well, and be alive because of me!” Her mother continued to assert herself, but couldn’t hide her surprise at Saki’s outburst.
“Hah! Then think back to what you did to me before you married my stepfather! His father!”
“Before she married Dad…?” I sensed something unusual in Saki, something I hadn’t before. What did she feel toward her mother when all was said and done?
“What’s that got to do with anything…?” Mikiko tilted her head.
“You really don’t remember a thing, do you…? Forget it. Just leave now. I recorded everything that happened earlier, so if this happens again, I’ll turn it over to the police. Okay?”
Hearing Saki’s threat, Mikiko stood up calmly.
“Remember this… Don’t act like you don’t know the consequences of doing this to your own mother.”
“Maybe look up the word ‘mother’ in the dictionary before you come back to haunt me, b*tch!” Saki spat.
As Mikiko left, she never stopped glaring at me with pure, distilled vitriol.
T/N: Before any of you say anything, understand Mikiko is a source of trauma to the MC. No one can just “man up” to the trauma easily, and most don’t often do.
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