I respect my mom. I have respect like no other.
I heard that even monkeys can reflect on their actions, but what about respect?
Orangutans are called the wise of the forest, but I hear that chimpanzees can be surprisingly violent. As long as there is a leader of the pack, perhaps the animal kingdom is more strict about such things than one might think. But think about it.
My mother bought the apartment. I didn’t pay a penny for it. I should at least pay the rent. I don’t even pay school fees, and my mother pays for my food. She even gives me an allowance. I told her I didn’t want it, but she was adamant that I needed it.
Her merciful spirit is worthy of being called the Mother of Saints. I should mention that my mother’s name is Ouka, not Maria. Just in case.
This happened a while ago. When I first entered the school, I was a loner with few friends and a blank address book, so a smartphone was a waste of time and money.
So, I came up with the theory that “Yukito Kokonoe doesn’t need a smartphone”.
I tested to see if it was actually unnecessary. As a result, the only people I communicated with during the experiment were refreshingly good-looking guy and Himiyama-san, and that was only a very small fraction of the total number of people. I presented this result to my mother at home at night and told her how unnecessary a smartphone is, but instead of being pleased, she cried. That’s strange. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
My mother is paying for the phone. I just thought there was no need to waste money on such an unnecessary expense, but I guess I was wrong.
I have a reputation for making my mother cry in any way I can, and I am sure I would have won the championship for making my mother cry early.
After that, she wouldn’t let go of me, and we ended up sleeping together in her bedroom as the night went on. I was so nervous that I couldn’t sleep at all, but she was sleeping peacefully. I can’t understand …….
I always wonder. Is it worth it? In other words, I’m just a parasite on my mother. I don’t have any value that she would invest in me.
I intend to pay back the full amount of my investment in the future, but even so, living like this day in and day out seems to prove that I am worthless, and I feel somewhat sorry for it. I can never indulge myself in the present. I am determined to keep my dignity.
The universal wisdom in this world is “ingratitude” and “devotion”.
But I am only indebted to her, and I do not serve her in any way. That is not mutually beneficial. I am only exploiting her kindness.
–That’s why I think, “Why am I here?” I wonder if it’s all right for me to be here.
“I’m sorry. The reunion shouldn’t be that late.”
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, so you should go have fun.”
Mom has a high school reunion next week. Hooo. I wonder if I’ll be attending a reunion in the future. ….Just kidding, won’t happen. There’s no way. In fact, I don’t think they will even contact me. And then I would find out later that the event was held. It would be better if it was the case, but the most likely scenario is that the person is unaccounted for and treated as deceased.
“If there is anything you need, let me know. I’ll get it for you.”
“Just leave it to Yukito.”
Oh, she threw it all in my face. Is that really the right thing to do, Yuri Kokonoe, even for a maiden? I was inwardly chiding myself, when my sister’s eyes widened. Hii! I always wonder how she can read my mind! Is there some kind of radio signal?
“What’s wrong? Is there a bug?”
“I’m getting a little weird signal.”
I wave my hand, but there’s no way I can see it.
“Well, is there anywhere you want to go on vacation this week? Let’s go out together.”
“You don’t have to do so much. You should at least rest well on your days off.”
“I see. …… How’s school? Is there anything that’s troubling you?”
“No, I don’t think so. Thanks for the food. I’m going to take a bath.”
Dinner with all three of us together is always quiet. I thought that my presence would be a distraction for my mother and sister, who are of the same sex, so I put away the dishes and left early.
I made my mother, who was probably tired, feel uncomfortable. I told her to have a good time at the reunion.
I hope everyone can take a break from worrying about me and get some rest. I can’t call this much of a dedication, but I still have to do as much as I can.
That’s probably what my mother would want me to do.
“You got what you deserved.”
The horrifyingly cold words of my daughter are not enough to refute them. I tried to call out to my beloved son as he walked away, but the words fizzled out and lost their shape. At the dining table, where the lights seemed to have gone out, only my gaze wandered about in search of a figure.
Lately, my daughter has been in a very good mood. Unlike me, the relationship between Yuri and my child is slightly improving. I look at my daughter with envy and resentment.
After all those cracks and ruptures. I thought there was nothing I could do.
But I managed somehow. Maybe it wasn’t the power of Yuri alone.
Still, it was a faint hope presented to me that made me want to cling to it.
I am trying to increase our conversations, but it is difficult to say that it is bearing fruit. If I talk to him, he answers. But that is all. He never speaks to me.
I want to ask him about any topic, any trivial detail.
No, that’s not it. What am I doing, shifting the blame for this on him! I scolded myself for being a feckless fool. I bit my lip. There was definitely a time when he was like that. There was a time when he tried her best to tell me various things.
But I was the one who didn’t listen. Instead of listening and taking him seriously, I stepped on his toes again and again because I was busy. Blindly believing that there would be another opportunity.
It was not until much later that I realized that I had long since lost that opportunity.
“The first graders are going to have a class visit soon. I wonder if he’s going to talk to Sekka-san about it, since she’s the one who’s attending the class. I think he won’t say anything to Mom because there are only a few people attending. He probably doesn’t even want you to come anyway.”
“……So, it’s that time of the year already.”
The sound of it stung my heart. The class visit. THow many times have I had the opportunity to do so, counting from elementary school? And yet I have been able to attend only twice. I wanted to see him more, I wanted to know him at school. Such a big lie, just a mouthful.
He was already a high school student. Considering how many more opportunities I had left, the time limit was approaching. Not a single moment more could be wasted. Time was running out for me.
“It doesn’t matter. He’s not really interested in it so just go have fun”
“Stop. I wouldn’t! I would never do that!”
I refuted Yuri’s taunting words, but I had brought that on myself as well.
My sister, Sekka, said to me, “I won’t let you participate again, sister.” My son also told me. “You don’t have to come anymore.”. I should have asked for forgiveness sooner. I should have talked it over with him. I was afraid to face it, so I ran away and continued to avoid it.
There was no way my children would understand my flimsy words now.
“I will risk everything I have to get him back. I don’t have half-hearted feelings like you do. So–don’t get in my way.”
I, his mother, was overwhelmed by the fiery passion. The gushing willpower rushes over me like a muddy stream, and I shudder at the resolve. I almost shy away from it.
This girl will not hesitate to do anything for Yukito. Even if it means getting her hands dirty, even if it means making enemies of the world, or even the constraints of ethics.
“—— You are a very bad and good sister”
“—-I am not sure about that.”
Yuri got up, put the dishes away in the sink, and went back to her room. There was no moving. The tension loosens and a big sigh is let out. The harshness of youth. I could never imitate it.
I asked myself because I didn’t want to admit it. I can’t accept that my thoughts, feelings, and determination are not as good as Yuri’s. I can’t accept that. There should be no inferiority complex.
I am his mother. I love my son the most.
“What can I do……”
I covered my face with my hands and sobbed.
There was no time to spare. The time that I can live with him as a mother is not that long anymore.
When he graduates from high school, Yukito will probably leave this house right away. On the contrary, if I tell him to leave at this very moment, he might just do it. My son is always ready to do so.
Maybe I should discuss my parenting issues at the reunion. I come up with such an idea and immediately fall into self-loathing again. There is no way I can tell. I can see that I will be blamed by my friends for being the one to blame.
I’m sick and tired of spinning my wheels. I thought I could do a little better, I thought I could spend more time at home like this, I was happy to be able to face my son.
But I had done nothing so far, and this was only a second-hand experience for me.
I could not reach him. Yuri may have been able to reach him, but I am still smoldering, unable to find even a foothold. I am definitely different from Yuri.
Yuri has been facing her sins since the day she almost killed Yukito, without running away from it. She has been facing unimaginable days that no one can ever understand.
When he is not at home, Yuri often sits alone in his room and watches the scene in horror. To never forget what she had done.
The resolve that Yuri showed me torments me. The reason she went out of her way to ridicule me like that is because I am being tested by Yuri. —-being a mother, and being prepared to do so.
I take the cup in my hand and sip it without effort. I was left alone. No children around. This is what I have done. There was no way I could ever hope for an ideal reunion.
“Hey, what should I do, Yukito?”
I ask my beloved son who is not here.
The only sound in the living room was my sobbing voice.
As I soak in the bathtub, my thoughts wander aimlessly.
My sister, Hinagi, and Shiori taught me firsthand that I was wrong. So I decided to make a different choice. But that didn’t solve everything.
I was wrong. Then when and what did I do wrong? I know I was wrong, but I don’t know what I did wrong.
If I don’t understand it, there will be no solution. I will always remain like this and will never be able to respond to anyone’s thoughts.
A little duck floating in the bathtub stares at me with dull eyes. After getting out of the bath, all I have to do is do some light stretching, study, and sleep.
After drying my hair, I walked through the living room and found a pair of shorts that my sister often wears. I picked them up and put them in the laundry basket.
In front of my room, I found a tank top that I thought my sister would wear often. I picked it up and put it in the laundry basket.
When I entered my room again, I found a woman’s underwear on the floor next to my bed. I don’t know if it looks like something my sister often wears …… or not. Because I haven’t seen that many of them.
I tried to pick it up and put it in the laundry basket, but the bed was unnaturally bulging. It was obvious that someone was hiding in there.
“What if it’s a burglar? …… No, a bandit?”
The tension suddenly increases, but a wry smile spills out. Looking around the room once again, there is nothing valuable in here. The room is somewhat empty and plain, with blank walls and only a few personal belongings and a few pieces of furniture.
Calling myself a minimalist sounds good, but in reality, being a minimalist is not such a big deal.
I live here by courtesy of my mother, and if she says she doesn’t want me or asks me to leave, I’ll just leave immediately.
In other words, for me, this place is like a room in a hotel or inn. I don’t want to leave a trail of birds in my wake. I have already prepared myself, and there is no room for unnecessary things.
I always try to keep things tidy, and try not to make a mess or dirty as much as possible.
As long as I could study, it was enough as long as I had the space to do so. I promised them not to worry about my studies. It is my top priority to keep my grades up at all costs. I must not add to my mother’s worries any more than I already have.
Think about it. How would I feel if Mom, who has caused the family so much trouble in the past, where she sits in her room and plays video games in a carefree mood, not even studying? I would feel infinitely uncomfortable. I don’t want her to feel that way. I am just grateful that she lets me stay with her and even gives me a room like this.
How tolerant and kind the people of the Kokonoe family are! Normally, I would be in a position where I would have to go to my mother’s bedroom twice a day to worship. Thank you, thank you.
Hence, there is nothing in this room. There is not a single thing of value in this room that has been stolen by the bandit. I am sorry to the culprit who is still hiding, but let him give up.
The circle continues to go round and round in search of the answer to what is wrong and how long I have been wrong. I don’t even know if there is any truth in it.
“Hello, Mr. Bandit, what do you have here that you want?”
There was a fear that he might get upset. In order not to provoke him as much as possible, I spoke to him carefully.
With a thud, the culprit poked its head out of the sheets.
“It is you that I want!”
“Moooooootttthhhhheeerrrr! There’s a naked Zashiki-doujuuuuuuuuuu!” [TL: protective household deity in Tōhoku, appearing as a red-faced child spirit with bobbed hair]
I run away from the room with the brigand who starts talking like a wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. She looks like my sister, but it’s just my imagination, right?
I even put her underwear in the laundry basket as a getaway. Clean up the clothes that have been taken off.
I met up with Hiangi in front of the station. The movie we were going to see was a crime suspense in which a boy detective cyborg, who has been implanted with an adult brain through brain remodeling, is trying to avenge the organization while eradicating criminals in the crime infested Mad City.
According to advance information, this is a problematic film full of spectacular explosion scenes and splatter scenes, but why did Akane choose this film over all others? I can only say that it was a nice decision! It looks super interesting!
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Thank goodness you found it right away.”
“I don’t know any two-dimensional beautiful girls, so you’ve got the wrong per—-Huh Hinagi?!”
“Don’t give me a fresh surprise!”
I was so surprised that my eyeballs popped out of my head. ※It’s a metaphor.
“That was close. I thought a beautiful girl had accidentally popped out of a two-dimensional space.”
“You praise me too much!”
“You know. How much cuter can you get? I’ll throw a spacha” [TL: “Spacha” is a term used to refer to the function of throwing money to a live distributor. The official name is “Super Chat. The amount of money is displayed on the distribution screen along with the comments of the viewers who used the “spacha” function.]
“Even if you say that…”
She went beyond the dimension lightly. Who is this super beautiful girl, Hinagin?
Hinagin, you’re so beautiful! Right, everyone? Yukito B~F “That’s it.”
A few minutes earlier than the meeting time. Thinking about it, it’s been a while since I’ve seen her in her casual clothes like this. The impression is very different, although preferences have not changed that much.
Her clothes were much more mature than when she was in junior high school.
“I tried my best. Do you think it looks …… good on me?”
“E-Eeh!? L-Like this?”
The skirt flipped around. It’s the same kind of thing you see at idol shows.
The reason why I know so much about such things is because when my mother and sister buy new clothes and hold an unveiling party at home, they get sulky if I don’t call out to them. Are they children?
“Honorable Hideyoshi. My vocabulary is dead, so I’m just going to say pretty.”
“T-thank you. Come to think of it, you’ve always complimented me in the past. You’ve always told me how you felt, but I couldn’t always be honest with you. …… I’m an idiot, really.”
Hinagi turns her head down with tears in the corners of her eyes.
“…………. you’ve changed, after all.”
Those days when she was innocent, a few years ago when she was spiteful. And now she’s honest and a crybaby.
“I’m glad. I’m sure you won’t forgive me for that anymore. Shall we hold hands”
“It’s like a date.”
“It’s a date. I’ve always wanted to do this.”
Without hesitation or shyness.
There was no shyness or hesitation. She slowly opened her tightly clenched palm and turned it toward me. I hesitated and took her hand.
“What I wanted was right in front of me from the beginning, but I didn’t realize it. All I had to do was reach out my hand and it was there. It was always right next to me. I’m sorry I’m late.”
As if to remind herself, Hiangi spun the words one by one. It was like a confirmation process, and she was trying to move forward while making sure that she would not make a mistake again.
I still can’t remember how I felt when I used to love Hiangi and had hidden my intention to confess it to her. If I don’t find it, I’ll never be able to respond to anyone’s feelings.
That would surely be cruel. The people who have expressed their feelings to me so far have all summoned up their courage. No matter what kind of answer I gave to their feelings, I was expected to have feelings to match theirs.
Knowing that my wish had not come true and that I could not have them, I stopped asking for these feelings.
I thought to myself as my headache returned.
I wondered how I should respond to her.
“Thank you for going out with me. It was fun!”
“What are you going to do now?”
“Well, do you still have time ……?”
I slipped out of the crowded multiplex and checked my watch. It was around 3 pm.
The sun was still high at this time of the year, the time of the summer solstice. I had nothing to do. It was too early to go home. Besides, I had something on my mind.
“Please, ……, I just want to be with you for a little while longer.”
The face that changes from time to time is never boring to look at.
But I wonder if Hinagi has noticed that her expression fades from time to time.
“It’s not good right……. I’m sorry, but I still–“
“What are you scared of? Come on.”
I look around, and when I discover the object I want, I pull her hand forcefully as it is.
“Eh? Where are we going, Yukito!”
“You’re going to be punished.”
“A-At this time?! Outside, not in the dark?!”
“What are you talking about? Look.”
A few meters further on, I found the season’s most colorful flowers in full bloom.
“Beautiful, aren’t they?”
“Yes …… but why hydrangeas?”
I put my hands between Hinagi’s cheeks and kneaded them.
“W-Whyat are you doying”
“Do you have a clear view?”
Hinagi’s cheeks are soft. This is a memo.
I took my hands away from her chewy cheeks and turned to the hydrangea.
Hydrangea changes its color according to the pigment called anthocyanin. The beautiful indigo hydrangea now will change to a different color in a little while.
“The language of hydrangea is ‘pride’, flirtatiousness, and cold-heartedness. That fits me perfectly.”
Hinagi laughs darkly, self-mockingly. It is true that there are negative connotations, but the language of hydrangea flowers differs depending on the color, and many of them imply deep affection.
“No one has ever said that. I have heard stories like this. Someone who was struggling with debt said that when the repayment was finished, he suddenly had a clearer view and felt the four seasons.”
Don’t become a narrow-minded person. Hinagi. If you take a deep breath and look around you, you will find that there are so many beautiful things in abundance. You never know when or where you might meet someone wonderful. Take a look. That couple is kissing on the street in the middle of the day.”
“Don’t point at them!”
Today, Hinagi kept looking at me. Even when we were watching a movie, she was only looking at me. Before she could enjoy the movie, she was trying to drown out her anxiety.
If this continued, I was afraid that she would miss something else, something important this time.
“Now that you’re in high school. Enjoy it more. Have more fun.”
“I can’t. ……. Because if only I hadn’t done what I did —— no. If I had never pursued Yukito, if we had never met again, I would never have ruined Yukito’s life!”
Finally, I understand what was bothering Hinagi. She can’t stand the situation I’m in now. She regrets that she is the cause of it.
“I don’t really care about anything.”
This childishly familiar meddlesomeness hasn’t changed since she was a little girl.
“Then, next time I’m in trouble, you’re the one to help me out.”
“…… me, Yukito? Yes, yes! I’ll definitely, definitely do something about it. I’ll help you. If you’re in trouble, you can talk to me about anything!”
The distance between the two of us becomes so zero that I can almost feel even her breaths.
“That’s why–thank you.”
I gently wipe Hiniagi’s tears. The language of flowers of pink hydrangea is ‘cheerful woman.
A depressed appearance does not suit her.
“But let me correct one thing. I already had a wonderful encounter. A long, long time ago, when I was still a little girl. That’s the one thing I’ll never change, no matter what.”
I won’t be so boorish as to ask back who that encounter was. I hope that one day I will be able to remember the feelings that I have let go of, the feelings that I have lost.
“It’s before dinner, so let’s split it 50-50.”
It was past 6 pm. Akane-san would get angry at me again if I kept taking Hinagi around forever. If I don’t avoid building up the voltage of her anger any further…….
The specialty of autumn and winter is also eaten all year round in recent years. I split the baked sweet potato I bought in half and handed it to Hinagi.
“Thanks. It feels strange. A baked sweet potato this time of year.”
“It lacks a sense of season and sentiment.”
“I guess so. It’s …… delicious.”
I realized my serious blunder as I looked at Hinagi eating the baked sweet potato with a relieved look on her face. Am I an idiot? A baked sweet potato for a girl? There is no limit to insensitivity. I can’t complain even if I am disappointed.
Sh*t! What a mess I’ve made! Yukito, the greatest blunder!”
“W-What’s wrong, Yukito?!”
As I couldn’t hide my upset, Hinagi couldn’t hide her confusion, either.
“Rest assured, I don’t care how smelly your farts—-
“I won’t do that!”
I was smacked on the head.
“No, that can’t be true. Listen, it’s just an urban legend that idols don’t go to the bathroom.”
“That’s not what I’m saying, I said I won’t do it!”
“It’s just a physiological phenomenon and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You can do it as much as you want. Go ahead, be my guest.”
“Don’t be so quick to make me out to be a smelly person! It’s misinformation!”
“It’s low in protein, so it doesn’t smell that bad.”
“Well, that’s a relief! I mean, it’s not going to happen!”
“It’s high in fiber, which is good for your health. Rich in vitamins.”
“Or what, do you want to sniff? Do you want to sniff my farts? Hey!?”
“What? If you insist, I’ll do it. That’s all I have to do! Come on, smell it!”
“I’m going to say this from the heart of an old woman, but it’s better to hide that propensity.”
I”t’s your own fault! You really are an …… idiot. But —-I really love you …….”
As if the tension has been broken, she starts to laugh carefree.
She laughed until she was satisfied, and there was no more fading in the expression that came to her face.