TL: Suprise!! This is a sponsored chapter. I want to thank them for donating. I really appreciate it. Enjoy the chapter
DSLRs vs. mirrorless cameras. In my mind, there was a competition between the two. The result was 5 – 4, but I will say it here. I want to say out loud that amateurs are looking for simplicity rather than high image quality. My mother has always been about that. For example, she want to take pictures of her children! (Well, it’s more of my sister, isn’t it? She’s beautiful. I’m sure she doesn’t care about me.) So she decided to buy a full-size digital SLR camera a few years ago.
Let me be clear. It’s really heavy. If you include the lens, how many kilos does it weigh in total? I don’t know why she didn’t choose an APS-C camera, or why she didn’t go for a lightweight mirrorless camera. But the full-size digital SLR camera, which she doesn’t carry around very often, due to its poor handling, has become a treasure trove in my home now. In addition, she has five lenses, including single-focus lenses. It’s a waste of money.
“I’m going to start working from home. I’ll only have to go into the office once or twice a week, so I’ll have more time to spend at home.” (Mother)
She was smiling and was in a rare good mood. That’s what my mother, Ouka Kokonoe, said to me. I don’t know what the right response is to that, so I just give her a nod.
“I’m happy that my workload will be reduced overall and I’ll have more time to spend with you guys.” (Mother)
“Really? Great, so mom is going to make lunch for us from now on?” (Yuri)
“Yes and I’m sorry that I have left you in charge” (Mother)
“You are working. Don’t worry about it.” (Yuri)
I was carefully listening to the conversation between my sister and mother. Huh? I don’t know why I feel like as if my sister has stolen the words I was supposed to say to my mother, but am I mistaken? In my family, I am in charge of making lunch boxes, not her. Shouldn’t I be the one to say “don’t worry about it” to my mom?
However, I’m not the kind of guy who would cause drama. I have a heart as wide as the Seto Naikai [an inland sea in Japan]. If I’d leave the chores to my sister, there will be nothing, but disappointment, but I can only hope that she will take this opportunity to learn how to do chores. It’s a kind of training for wives-to-be, but my sister is beautiful, so I’m sure she’ll have no trouble finding someone to take her in.
There’s only so much I can do around the house without getting caught, if she’s going to be home more often. I’ll just have to spend my time like a trained bear in a circus.
It was on a Saturday when we had this exchange. On my way home from the electronics store, I was astonished by the improved performance of mirrorless SLR cameras, until I was hit by an unexpected rainstorm. You didn’t tell me it was going to rain today! As I was sending resentful complaints to the weather forecast, I spotted a troubled-looking woman with a moving box in front of my apartment.
“What’s wrong?” (Yuki)
It was raining all of a sudden, so it was natural that I would get wet, but with that moving box in the way, it was blocking the path to my apartment. She was a mild-mannered, strange-looking woman, probably about the same age as my mother. I’ve never seen her before.
“Who are you?” (Woman)
“I’m a resident here, am I in trouble?” (Yuki)
“Oh, really? So we’re neighbors now.” (Woman)
“What do you mean with …… now?” (Yuki)
“I’ve just moved in. I’m Misaki Himiyama. It’s nice to meet you.” (Misaki)
“My name is Yukito Kokonoe. So, what happened?” (Yuki)
You don’t need to ask what has happened, you could already tell what was going on by looking at her, but it’s common courtesy to ask. This is how smooth communication takes place, and it is not to be taken lightly. She smiled softly, whether she knew about my benevolent intention or not.
“I will carry it.” (Yuki)
“I’m flattered, but it’s raining and you want to go home, don’t you? But thank you, anyways.” (Misaki)
“Don’t worry about it. This is also a part of the smooth communication.” (Yuki)
“What are you talking about? But is it really okay? (Misaki)
“Well, well, well. You’ve got a very old-fashioned way of saying things. (Misaki)
“Seriously? I’m a JK though. (Yuki)
“JK means high school girl.” (Misaki) [joshi kōsei = female high school student]
While we were having this exchange that reminded me of the generation gap, we arrived at Himiyama-san’s room. It was an apartment for a single person living right next to our house.
“I’m sorry, that you got soaked I’ll get you a towel right away.” (Misaki)
“No, don’t worry about it.” (Yuki)
“I can’t do that. Can you come up here?” (Misaki)
I was nervous as hell to suddenly be invited to the room of a woman who lives here alone, but Himiyama-san’s house was filled with cardboard boxes, as if she had just moved in, so I didn’t feel particularly self-conscious. I was relieved. No, that’s not the point. I’m a man, after all. I shouldn’t be alone with a grown-up woman. That was my excuse to myself.
“I’m sorry. I haven’t finished unpacking yet. Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?” (Misaki)
“Thank you very much. I’d prefer a cup of coffee if possible. Did you move in this week, Himiyama-san?” (Yuki)
“Yes, I did. I was worried because I didn’t know anyone, but I’m lucky to have met you so quickly.” (Misaki)
Why are you sitting next to me? Don’t people usually sit face to face in such situations? A sweet smell softly tickled my nostrils. Is this the pheromone of a mature woman? Even though she was much older than me, Himiyama-san was still a very beautiful woman. However, my steel mentality would not be shaken by something like this. I’m amazing.
“Are you going to live by yourself?” (Yuki)
“I used to have a fiancé, but our fertility treatments didn’t work out. He was the heir of an inn, so his parents didn’t approve. I really wanted to have a baby.……” (Misaki)
Eh? Why’s this girl talking about something so personal all of a sudden? I’ve never met her before. Is there some kind of aura coming from me? Come to think of it, there was a time not too long ago when this happened with a senpai goddess (I forgot her name). …… Is this the power of the misfortune with woman? I mean, could it be that I’ve fallen for Amazoness’ sweet trap?
“Maybe if I were able to conceive a baby then, I wouldn’t be alone like this.” (Misaki)
(Monotone) “Oh really?.” (Yuki)
I was no longer speaking in katakana. Cold sweat was trickling down my back. The danger alert of my life experience was ringing loudly telling me that I might be in trouble again. If I don’t get out of here right now, I’m dead. No, my virginity is at stake!
“If you don’t mind, can we be friends from now on?” (Misaki)
“Yes, of course. …… Yes.” (Yuki)
My reply was awkward, but I didn’t want her to notice. My opponent is a veteran of many battles. I’ve never been in a relationship before, so I’m no match for her. She smells so good. Why are you talking to me at such a close distance? Do you like me? It makes me self-conscious!
“I’m going to go say hello to everyone later.” (Misaki)
“You see, the city is also called a concrete jungle, and unlike the countryside, there are many cases where people don’t know who their neighbours are, as there is little social interaction between neighbors.”(Yuki)
“That is hard to believe. Didn’t you talk about smooth communication before? (Misaki)
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” (Yuki)
“I’ll get some soba noodles.” (Misaki)
I had a weakness for older women.
“Oh, who is it?” (Mother)
Later that day, after surviving a dangerous Saturday, our doorbell rang around 7:00 P.M. Today was Sunday and Mom was home. She was dressed in a loose cut shirt and leggings, which was too much for my eyes. All I could do was look away. I was afraid of my sister looking my way for some reason, so I shut out my thoughts. Yes, once again, her beauty is outstanding. I wonder if she’s concerned about her weight?
“I’ll open it.” (Yuki)
It was Himiyama-san who came to see me. I hadn’t seen her for a day, and I immediately started to sweat.
“Good evening, Yukito-kun.” (Misaki)
“It’s been only one day, Himiyama-san.” (Yuki)
You see, the distance between us has been shortened without even realising. When did we become such close friends? It’s a typical pattern of doom.
“Who is that, Yukito ……,? (Mother)
“This is Himiyama-san, who just moved in next to us.”(Yuki)
My mom will take care of it. Thank God. I wanted to get out of here, but the circumstances of my acquaintance forced me to stay there. I don’t know why Himiyama-san won’t let go of my hand. Why did you grab my hand?
“I hope we can be good neighbours.” (Misaki)
“Yeah same. If you have any problems, please come visit us anytime.”(Mother)
“Thank you very much. See you later, Yukito-kun.” (Misaki)
“Yes, you too, Himiyama-san.”(Yuki)
She softly pats me on the head.
“Oh, I’m sorry. You’ re so cute that I treated you like a kid. I’m sorry, that was rude. (Misaki)
“Oh. I’ve never had anyone do this to me, you’re just like my mother. Sorry, that’s rude.”(Yuki)
“Oh, really? I’m kind of happy to hear that. I’ll see you later.” (Misaki)
“Okay, good night.”(Yuki)
Himiyama-san is leaving. I somehow managed to survive. Even though they are neighbours, they probably don’t see each other that often. That’s a relief.
I didn’t realize that this one act would cause a big disturbance later on.
A big sigh spilled out of me. I went out onto the balcony to cool my head. The cool air caressed my cheeks comfortably. Raindrops dripped from the sky, soaking the area. Misaki Himiyama. She had a soft personality and was easy to talk to. She must be a good person herself. We are the same age and we may have some kind of interaction in the future. However, it was something else that was making my heart as dark and cloudy as tonight’s sky.
“I envy you …….” (Mother)
Envy. Longing. Desire.
It’s a complicated mix of emotions.
The last exchange they had… They looked like they had a happy mother-son relationship. This is what I would like to be like. I can’t imagine how happy I would be if I could treat him like that. If we could have a pleasant conversation like that, I’m sure I would know more about my son than I do now.
I can’t even do that anymore. The relationship between mother and son is so awkward and bland that I can only think about it now. I couldn’t improve it, I didn’t know how to do it, and it kept weighing me down. I was supposed to take pictures of my children with the camera that I bought, capture the moment of their growth, and film them together. Now the camera is covered in dust. When was the last time we went out together? Just the three of us, mother, son and daughter. I couldn’t even protect the bond between the three of us.
I couldn’t get the words that Yukito had said.”I’ve never had anyone do this to me,” and, “You’re just like my mother.” What am I, then? I chuckle to myself. I wonder if I even can call myself a mother. I wondered when the last time was when I pampered my son, but no matter how much I tried to remember, it was useless. He has never been pampered.
I didn’t look at him, didn’t ask him anything, didn’t let him say anything. Because of how foolishly I behaved towards him in the past, it made him act the way he does towards me now. The next thing I knew, this had become the norm, and I no longer needed anything from my son. What I saw in his eyes was resignation. He expected nothing, asked for nothing, and gave up on everything. It was my own fault for making him that way. When I realized that it was too late, I could say that everything that happened after that, was my fault, that I was the one who caused it.
And little by little, the relationship breaks down, becomes weak, and grows in the wrong direction. Without even realizing it, we both got hurt. What will happen to us if we continue like this? Maybe everything won’t be fine.
Anxiety took over my heart. I shook my head. If I were to face my feelings honestly, my emotions would be uglier and relieved. I was genuinely jealous as I watched the two of them interact at that moment. The fear that dwelt in a corner of my mind.
Was it possible that my son would be stolen?
I have to admit that I felt that way somewhere. It can’t be true. He is definitely my son by blood. But does that make me a mother if I’m just blood related to him? I had my own doubts. In fact, I could say that it was the only way to prove it.
Maybe he doesn’t think of me as his mother.
Otherwise, would he seriously question the fact that I am his mother? And then continue to explain this theory to me that I found him under a bridge?
I’m sure he thinks he’s not loved. That much is certain. No matter how much I deny it with words, my past attitude will not allow it. The love that should have been given and enjoyed is missing and insufficient. His emotions have not been developed and his heart has withered. The result can be seen now.
I wondered if she, Misaki Himiyama, would be able to give such love to him. I remembered her eyes; even though I must have met her only once, somehow I felt that her eyes were filled with affection. Also, she was strangely attached to my son. I want to do the same, but I can’t do it.
But if I’m not the one who’s trying to give him affection, then maybe I’m no longer useful to him.
No, I don’t want that–!
Why was I working so much? It was for my family. I don’t want to let it go. I don’t want to give up as a mother. A fierce emotion swirled in my heart. This is a family of only three people. There was no way I could go on like this with regrets.
My work has settled down and I no longer need to go to work as often. I was fortunate enough to be able to switch to working from home, which allowed me to spend significantly more time with my family. Perhaps this is my last chance. My last chance to straighten out the relationship I’ve been turning my back on and face it straight on.
If I missed this opportunity, it would really be too late this time. I wanted to believe that there was still time. I could still get it back. I’m sure we can start over.
But it was too difficult.