「What should I talk about then?」 「Anything’s fine…you can just talk about the things that come in your head.」
Sensei told me…
Katsuko-nee put a chair in the middle of the room… I sit down there…Wow, everyone’s looking at me. This is somewhat embarrassing.
「Margo…close the curtains」 「Got it Minaho」
Margo-san closed the thick curtains of the room. The room darkened quickly.
「Katsuko…light only Yoshida-kun」 「Okay, Ojou-sama」
Katsuko-nee operates the console on the wall… The light from the ceiling concentrates on me. The lighting is only on front and diagonal top. It’s dazzling that the people watching me disappeared. This looks like a drama stage.
「Is this okay?…It’s easier to talk now isn’t it?」
Yuzuki-sensei, that’s how it is, but…
「Somehow…I look like a spy that’s being interrogated」 「You can have that image too…anyway, it’s enough to talk about yourself…Also, everyone will be silent until Yoshida-kun’s talk is over. No one must ask in the middle of it. Make him focus in the talk…!」
Sensei warned everyone.
「…Then. Yoshida-kun. Please begin」
◇ ◇ ◇
Err…In the end, I think I should start my story from my grandfather. My grandfather from the mother side. It’s my mother’s father…that’s obvious. haha…!
My grandfather…is managing a somewhat big company. It’s a company my grandfather raised. He’s the founder. Well, he did his best, or rather…he built that company in his lifetime. That’s why that person has so much confidence in himself…he’s amazingly proud. Regular customers and business partners are being flattered but…he’s arrogant towards her family and his own company. Jii-san’s favorite phrase is「Don’t forget to give thanks at any time」 He’s always saying that. It’s written on a huge paper put on the company…and all of the people in the family says that without fail whenever I meet them… But…Jii-san himself never said 「Thank you 」to another person… When Jii-san was alive…I’ve never heard that person say「Thank you」… In the end, he must be thinking that 「A human should always thank himself」 It’s not 「Don’t forget to say thanks」but rather 「Thank me」…he was that self-assertive.
Anyway, he’s always bragging, stubborn, selfish…that I felt so much pity for my Grandmother. Even if you’re doing something else, when Jii-san calls you out, you need to go to Jii-san immediately. 「Make tea」or 「Bring the newspaper」or 「Change the channel of the television」he’s making such foolish orders. He’ll never move by himself. That person really loves ordering other people… He doesn’t like moving by his own will… That’s why…everyone hates my grandfather. The people in the company…even the family. That’s obvious. He’s always selfish…and just pushes various orders on the other people.;
My mother…was the eldest daughter of grandfather. My grandfather loves my mother so much that she was raised to be selfish. Mother had two brothers but those uncles were raised quite severely it seems, but…anyway, mother’s the only one spoiled. Mother loves confident and bossy grandfather… In the end…she has the same character as my grandfather.
My mother’s really bossy…She’s using the people in grandfather’s company like her own servants so everyone hates her. Since her character is bad…my grandfather seems to have made her meet marriage interviews several times but all of them refused. Well…that’s of course. My mother’s making fool of every human being in the world.
My father was a person brought up without a father and works to pay his studies…he was an employee of grandfather’s company. He just came from a good national university. He’s timid, taciturn and doesn’t meddle with other people…so he caught grandfather’s eyes… The two of them married by my grandfather’s order. My mother was 34 years old and my father was 26 at that time… I was born a year after marriage. I think it was when I was at kindergarten…My mother told me this way.
「I gave birth to you to only please father. But, I regret it after all. I shouldn’t have given birth」…
When I become aware, my parents are already sleeping on separate bedrooms… I thought that perhaps, they never slept at the same bed after getting married and pregnant… Those are my parents.
I lived together with my grandmother at my father’s side at that time…Obaa-chan’s taking care of me. Meals, change of clothes, sending me off and back the kindergarten…it’s all my grandmother. Both my parent’s never came… Grandmother does all the work in the family… But mother shouts abuse at grandmother. She’s like scolding an employee… 「You can’t even clean properly」or 「The meals taste bad」… She’s not doing anything… And yet, father doesn’t say anything… I always felt sorry for my grandmother. If I complain to mother because I feel sorry, mother will beat grandmother saying 「Your education is bad」… …She had her ribs broken and was hospitalized. So father who thought that the situation is indeed wrong…he consulted grandfather./ Then, somehow…it became a ridiculous story… My mother opened a shop outside… 「It’s a mistake to be in this house in the first place」she said. My grandfather took out all the funds on opening the store. It’s a French food restaurant. Then, my mother never came back at the house… She comes home drunk late at night and sleeps until early afternoon, then she comes back to the shop again. But…she looks like she’s having fun. She looks like she’s lively. Because my mother’s not getting angry at grandmother, I felt at ease… But…one year after that, my grandmother died. I was at the second grade at elementary school.
At the day of funeral…even though the mother of her husband has died, my mother did not come to the ceremony, saying 「I’m taking care of the shop」 My grandfather too…there’s no relative of my mother that came. My father and I went to the crematory alone… It was a desolate funeral.
After that, I’m pretty much alone. My parents comes back home but don’t eat there… My father never came near the house after grandmother died. I lived alone. The basic living expenses are put on the table at the living room and I spend them to buy my food. 3,000 yen a week, is put on every monday. Ah, they only supplement the money that’s left from the previous week., If there’s 200 yen remaining, then only 2,800 yen would be given at Monday. But…both of them forgets to supplement it often. There’s a lot of 「Bring this or that tomorrow」in the elementary… With those sudden expenses, there’s two or three days where I don’t have anything to spend. That’s why…I use money carefully. Oh right…during the summer vacation on my fourth grade, my father went to a long term business trip…and yet, my mother didn’t come home for two weeks… At that time, I endured the three days eating gummy bears. There’s one bag of gummy bears with cola taste so I somehow managed the three days… It was written on my friend’s manga that cola is nutritious. Then, I bought up only the cola flavor. Well, even when the food is exhausted, I will be able to somehow survive as long as I gulp down tap water.
Oh, I keep all the receipts of the things I bought and put it on the 『cashbook』to show it to mother. It’s to check if I’m wasting money or not. That said, my mother hardly looks at the 『cashbook』 But, she’s checks it without notice…and if it’s not done properly I’ll be beaten up every day without fail. Well, she’ll get angry whatever I buy anyway 「You’re always wasting money」she said.
That’s why, I hardly have any friends at my elementary school. I don’t have money. I don’t have bicycle so I’d just be a hinder to everyone… I can’t play. Well, it can’t be helped.
At my fifth grade. One day, my mother told me that she’d take me to the shop… She never brought me there before. She told me「It’s not a place for children to play for」…
Only on that day…I was made to wear clothes I pay respects at New Year at my grandfather’s house. My mother stops at the nearby department store before going to the restaurant… …She bought me a tennis racket. Though I said「I don’t need this」she bought it and pushed it to me forcibly… I hold to that racket and was taken to my mother’s shop… That’s where I… Met the cook and waitresses of the shop for the first time… My mother introduces me every time we meet another person. Then…my mother says that she’s having a hard time taking care of a selfish child. Saying that she’s working on the PTA children association at the town… Even though she never came at the parent’s association at my school… Finally, she says 「This child wanted it so much before so I bought him a tennis racket before coming here」… 「I’m really troubled with his selfishness」… I never said that I wanted such a thing though… My mother…is appealing on the people of the shop that she’s an 『Ideal family oriented mother』 Laughing… Making an unpleasant smile… Lastly…My mother went to a strange room called 『Manager’s room』… It was a really strange room. It’s a narrow room and yet, there’s a luxurious chair and a massager on it. There’s no ledger, note, nor computers. A young cook on his late 20’s was summoned there… I was there and yet…My mother spoke to the cook.
「…Sorry but I’m living a very happy family life…I don’t intend to have someone destroy it」…
The cook made a terrible sullen face then said「Understood」then he went out of the room. My mother looked at me… Then said…
「It’s really troubling when a young man gets serious immediately…」
I’m my mother’s child and yet… I’m just a fifth grader, and yet… She’s proud being popular…!
I… I came to hate my mother after that… I thought that she’s not like that before… That we might possibly be poorer than other houses… That’s why my parents are always working outside… That I have to stay at home alone. Because, when I meet my grandfather at New years…he always say.
「Your mother’s doing her best so you have to support her with your gratitude」
That’s why I believed. …And yet. Seeing at mother’s 『President’s room』…I cannot see my mother working hard at all…! On the way back…mother took away the racket. 「I’ll give this a present to Yasuo-chan」…She said. Surely it was the name of my mother’s next lover…I thought.
I went to a boarding boy’s school on middle school in the heart of a mountain. That’s my grandfather’s alma mater… At grandfather’s time, it wasn’t a dormitory system. It was merely grandfather’s hometown…
Mother sent me there only to please grandfather. I just thought of wanting to run away. Mother, father, and grandfather…from that house. That’s why I agreed immediately and entered the dormitory.
But to be honest…it was harsh. Because bullying where your money is taken is common. For three years, it felt like a prison. But…grandfather died the year before last…
Grandfather…was really hated. He’s rich and yet helped no one other than mother. When he died…the thought of his children thanking him because of the succession of the property anyway… Grandfather never lent money to his relatives even when they needed it by all means. He’s really stingy to the people of his company…and yet, he lived in luxury. He’s the only one who stayed at a high quality hotel at the company trip, and he purposely eats a special meal on the company’s party. That’s why…uncle succeeded the company after father, but nobody from the company would like to follow grandfather’s rule at his time. Thus…the company decided to reform… My mother got angry because of that. She stormed into the company. She had a big fight with uncle who’s the new president… Mother has nothing to do with grandfather’s company, and yet. Above that…my father’s working as an employee of that company…!
She said absurd things about seeking the succession of the property, and 「Hand over all the stocks of the company」and 「Make her an officer of the company」… In the first place, she was hated along with my grandfather by the whole clan. That’s why…mother has been completely ostracized from the clan… The New Year’s card doesn’t come anymore. Our family wasn’t called though there was a cousin’s wedding.
Father…seems to have a good position when my grandfather was alive though. After mother stormed in…he was demoted and proceeded to a subsidiary company. He’s somewhat pitiful…he was close to 50 and yet all of the unrelated work has been pushed to him. He grew old quickly…and became unenergetic. At the end of last year, when I consulted him about going to high school, he lost a lot of weight… He said「I’ll be taking night shift from the beginning of the year」
So I decided on my high school by myself. I hated the dormitory life…so I chose a school that I can commute from the house. I wanted to live with my father. Mother hardly comes back to the house anymore. In the end…mother succeeded grandfather’s old house. The house where mother was born and raised. The land and the building has some worth but…the clan hates grandfather so it was handed over to mother. Mother seems to have stolen it with her power, and was pleased…
Mother has always been a papa’s girl after all. She never became father’s wife. She never became my mother. She wants to remain as grandfather’s daughter al the time… She’s living in grandfather’s house alone now.
They divorced during my high school entrance exam. Mother suddenly sent a divorce paper to father via mail… I have a school report…and an interview too… She didn’t mind it at all and divorced…
「I don’t intend to meet you anymore. Talk to my lawyer about everything else」…
I never met her after coming home from the dorm middle school. When I came back, they’re already divorced… Well fine. I don’t want to meet that person again…
And my father. He had some slightly strange atmosphere… I thought so… Well, father…married the daughter of the president of his workplace, he married mother… Then…he endured it for 15 years… He endured it being worked around like a servant. He endured it because he was able to work… He can’t come back to the company like this, can he? He thought that it’s already hopeless… Then, my father. Disappeared at the day of the entrance ceremony of my high school.
He left a note saying 「Don’t look for me」only in the company… He seemed to have disappeared from the company in the middle of the night duty. The person from father’s company made a call in the house anxiously… It was just before I went to the entrance ceremony…
I don’t know what I should do. I was thinking of how should I live after this… What would I do if my father died…? What should I do…!!!
But…I have to go to the entrance ceremony anyway. My heart’s beating so fast… My sweat’s not stopping… My mind’s restless… I want to shout…but the voice doesn’t come out…
The ceremony ended, we went to each of our classrooms…it feels unpleasant. …Then …That girl Shirasaka Yukino…called out to me
「What’s wrong…are you feeling bad?」she asked.
I was uncertain if I was there until she called out to me. I felt that the human named me might not be there. That I’m the only one different among the new students at the entrance ceremony… What if I’m not a person that’s supposed to be here…
But…she called out to me.
「Thus…Oh , I’m here」I was able to confirm it!
I’ve always looked at her after that. …I gaze at her. It calms me down whenever I look at her…! I forget all the scary things in my head…!
When I return to my house…there’s a bank passbook card and a PIN written on a paper placed on the table where the 3,000 yen was put when I was in elementary school. My father stopped at the house after disappearing from the company. There was no letter. Just the passbook. But…I thought that my father didn’t abandonme… I felt a bit relieved… When I looked at the passbook…the electric bill and gas rate was automatically debited…so I thought that I’d be able to live in the house for the time being. After that…I got a call from the current president, my uncle, saying 「We’ll treat it as a leave of absence for three months for now」 Father was a diligent person…so he was not hated like my mother.
That’s why…I can spend my three months still. I thought of considering what’s next after this… Thus, I lived alone in the house all this time. I spent my money little by little just like when I was in elementary school. Buying food…drinking tap water. Like that…alone
◇ ◇ ◇
I talked about everything indifferently… Un…That’s right. That’s all.
「…That’s the end of my story」
Err…anything to add?…
「And then, last week, Yuzuki-sensei called out to me…and now I’m here」
The light is dazzling as ever. I can feel everyone’s glance but I can’t see their faces at all. It makes me uneasy that no one’s saying a thing.
「Uhm…I’m sorry for telling a tedious story. My story is boring isn’t it?」
Un…This might be trivial for everybody.
「…Katsuko…keep the lights on」
Sensei stands up from the rays of the backlight. Because it’s the shadow, I don’t understand her expression. I can only see Sensei’s tall and thin silhouette.
「…Yoshida-kun, can I ask you something?」 「Yes…go on」 「…Yoshida-kun…what do you intend to do after this?」 「…After this?」 「You intend to wait for your father’s return in three months, don’t you?…」 「Yes…Uncle promised to pay the salary cutting the salary by a percentage 」 「What would you do if your father didn’t come back after waiting for three months?」 「…I haven’t thought of it yet. I want to work part time but there’s no place that would hire without a guardian」 「…You’ll continue high school then?」 「If possible…but I won’t force it」
If there’s no money then it can’t be helped.
「…You don’t intend to go to university?」 「Well, no matter how you think about it, it’s impossible…I don’t have my father. I have to survive too」 「I can take out money for you to go to university you know…!」 「No…That’s no good」 「Why?」 「Because…it’s irrelevant to Yuzuki-sensei!」 「Aren’t you my 『Toy』?!」 「This and that are different」 「…What’s different?」 「Sensei has already done me a lot of things… I can’t depend on Sensei more than that」 「Things I’ve done?」 「That’s right! I’m here!」 「…Here?」 「If I didn’t meet Sensei…I would still be alone in that house. Alone in that dark room. Ah…it’s not good to waste electricity so I don’t turn on the lights when I’m alone. That was a rule since I was in elementary school」
That’s right… Just being here…makes me happy. I’m grateful to Sensei.
「I’ll change my question…Yoshida-kun, have you thought of your own future?」 「…No」 「You haven’t though of anything?」 「Well…there’s nothing to think about」 「There’s nothing to think about?」 「Since childhood, I never have an image of myself growing up. In my mind, my life would end when I’m around 20 years old…!」 「Do you intend to die by 20?」 「No way…I’ll continue to live as long as I do. But perhaps…I think I’ll die in a dark place, alone. That’s what I imagine. Since I was a child. When I was in elementary school, I cover myself in a futon alone in a dark room…Those feelings rose into me…and I remember grandmother’s lonely funeral. It’s really scary…but I already gave up. I can’t escape from it…」 「…Can’t escape?」 「Yes. People would die after all…alone」
I breathed deeply. What’s this…the air’s trembling. Ah…My pulse is fast.
「…Right now, I’m happy every day. I came to love a lot of people. There are people who says they love me too. That’s amazing. It’s unbelievable. I’m happy…that’s why I!」
The light is dazzling.
「I know that this kind of things will not continue forever. There’s no way a human like me can have such happiness…」 「…Are you thinking that we’re fooling you?」 「No, no, no!…Everyone’s so gentle that I understand! I know! I believe!…but」 「…But」 「I can’t repay the favor to everybody…I express my thanks to Sensei. But I can’t return the favor to Sensei. I’m grateful to Katsuko-nee. I’m grateful to Nei-san, Margo-san and Misuzu too. I’m thankful to Nagisa-san and Mao-chan. Yamamine-san, thank you for being so kind! Yuuka-san, thank you for cutting my hair. Hidemi-san, Tamayo-san, thank you for listening to a man like me! Morimoto on the other room, thank you」
Everyone, all of them…are gentle to me. Even though I’m just a stupid man who can’t do anything.
「Everyone’s so gentle to me, and yet…I can’t return anything. I can only do what I can with all of my effort…But that’s not enough!」
Un. I have to return what everyone gave me tenfold
「…That’s what you really think?」 「I do. That’s why…if I trouble everyone, I’ll go out immediately. I’m prepared for it always」 「That’s not what I’m thinking.」 「Well…Aren’t I a nuisance to all?」 「…You’re not a nuisance! Who told you that!!!」
Sensei’s voice is angry…! The usual cool Yuzuki-sensei…is scolding me severely!
「My mother has told me long time ago」 「…Your mother?」 「『I would’ve been free if you’re not here. You’re an annoying child…I shouldn’t have given birth to you You shouldn’t have been born』she said…! 「When did she tell you that?」 「When I was in fifth grade…when I was taken to the restaurant by mother while I hold a tennis racket」 「When your mother used you to break up with her lover…?」 「Yes…on the way back. Inside the car」
…I never forgot that. Inside the car in the night town. Mother…paints lipstick on her lips, then said it clearly. That’s the only thing I remember from mother’s mouth…
「That’s why…I shouldn’t have been born」
I hear a switch…then the lights turned on… The light inside the room has become equal in an instant.
…Katsuko-nee. Katsuko-nee spoke to Yuzuki-sensei.
「I’ve been with this boy for this past several days. But, he never said 『I’m hungry』or 『My throat’s dry』or 『I want to take a rest』 Not even once. He doesn’t even show that he’s enduring. And, He’ll do anything you say 「…Well, isn’t that obvious」 「After that, he’ll never leave anything whatever meal you give him. Delicious, delicious, he’ll say…he’ll never leave a crumb. Even the bread I make. I purposely made a lot of spaghetti this lunch but this boy did his best eating until the last pasta!」 「Because…Katsuko-nee specially made a delicious meal! Won’t I be incur divine wrath if I leave some alone?!」 「…Thanks」 「I’m the one who should say thanks. It was made for me. I only did what’s normal so it’s strange to thank me…!」
Margo-san talks to me.
「Yohsida-kun…don’t you think that your normal and this world’s normal is different?」 「Well…I’ve lived how I was told all this time? So I don’t know. Anyway, that’s the normal for me…」 「…You think that this is no good?」 「Yes…Surely I need to die at least a hundred times to return the favor to Katsuko-nee…! Yuzuki-sensei too, Nei-san, Margo-san and Misuzu…I’m in debt with everyone here! But I can’t return it! That’s why I must part from everyone someday! This can’t continue forever after all」
My heart hurts!
「I…must return to that dark room someday. No, I’ll be driven out of that room and will be sent to a darker, more desolate place. Alone. That’s a place suitable for me…!」
It hurts…it’s painful.
Misuzu spoke to me.
「…What?」 「Please give Yoshida-san to Misuzu」
Misuzu didn’t say 『Danna-sama』but 『Yoshida-kun』
「…What would you do?」 「I’ll marry him. I’ll devote myself to Yoshida-kun throughout my life. Misuzu will make him happy」
「…Misuzu. Didn’t you say that you won’t be able to marry throughout your life if you lose your virginity?」
Nagisa-san expresses her surprise.
「…I changed my mind. I’ll wait for Yoshida-san to be 18 and put him in the family register」
What are you saying?
「Then…are you going to make him carry the heavy burden of the Kouzuki house?」
Sensei asks Misuzu.
「I’ll break off relations with Kouzuki house. We’ll live with the two of us. MIsuzu has received 30 million in the bank from grandfather on my 15th year old birthday. How many years we can live with that money?」 「Let’s see…Yoshida-kun’s used to poor life so I think that you can live throughout your life with that money」 「Then, let’s do it. If ever we lack money, Misuzu will work. Yoshida-san will never be having a hardship throughout his life!」
Why are you doing that?!
「Misuzu, don’t be selfish! I’ll be raising him from now on!」
「He’ll become Mao’s brother…I’ll become his mother…!」
Hey…wait a moment!
「Right…Misuzu-sama. If it’s just 30 million yen, Katsuko has it too. Katsuko’s grown up, and isn’t tied to a house either. I think that he’s better with Katsuko…!」
「…Yes」 「Then, take responsibility. Shouldn’t you be living for Misuzu-chan until you die?」 「…Hey, Margo-chan?」 「What does this mean, Margo-sama?!」
Nagisa-san and Katsuko-nee protests against Margo-san…
「…I’ll leave your complaints later, I want to know Yoshida-kun’s answer first」
「Yes…If Misuzu wishes for it. I’ll compensate to Misuzu throughout my life」
I can’t do anything but that. Margo-san spoke to Misuzu.
「Yoshida-kun said that but…do you think that he’ll be happy?」 「I don’t know but…Misuzu will do her best」 「How will you do that?」 「…That’s」 「Let’s take it from a different angle. Misuzu-san, have you drunk tequila?」 「…No. Misuzu hasn’t drunk alcohol yet」 「Can you imagine the taste?」 「I can imagine wine and brandy from sweets…But I don’t know about tequila」 「Of course. I can imagine it. Actually, I’ve drunk it…」
Margo-san looks at me once again.
「Yoshida-kun…is lacking the experience that most of the normal people had. There’s a big hole. He…doesn’t know the taste of 『Happiness』」 「…The taste of 『Happiness』?」
Misuzu looks at me.
「That’s right…he’s someone who hasn’t experienced happiness, I think that he’ll only try to return anything you do with all his effort. He has lived alone until now so he doesn’t know how to depend on others」 「…It seems so」 「The current Yoshida-kun…Even if you take him, or even Katsuko-san and Nagisa-san looking after him, he’ll only think that he’s a 『Burden』 Then that won’t make him happy at all…」 「…But, Misuzu will take time…!」 「That’s right. Take it slowly…you must teach him the taste of 『Happiness』 Not Misuzu alone…but with everyone」 「…Margo-sama!」 「Isn’t it…Katsuko-san, Nagisa-san?」
Katsuko-nee and Nagisa-san looked at each other.
「…Right. Nothing will happen if we rush it」 「Let’s all love him」 「I’ll cooperate too…Don’t you think so, Minaho?」
「Megumi-san…what do you think?」
Misuzu asks Yamamine-san., Yamamine-san…
「I…I thought that I’ve been the most unfortunate person in the world. Yoshida-kun…I’m sorry…」
Nei-san stands up to her feet from those words.
「…That’s my line!」
Nei-san approaches me.
「At least, I had a little brother. Kei-chan was there. Yo-chan didn’t have anyone. He’s been alone all the time…and yet…!
Nei-san beats my chest…!
「…Don’t make me cry! Why are you talking such a sad story!」 「…I-I’m sorry」 「Don’t apologize! I’m the one who should apologize! Idiot!」
Nei-san beats my chest repeatedly.
「…I’m sorry. What should I do?」
I don’t know how to calm down Nei-san’s feelings…
「…Cry! Cry at my chest you idiot!」 「I can’t cry」 「…Why?」 「Well…there’s nothing sad about it…!」
Nei-san began to weep from my answer. Waawaaa…she sobs. Misuzu’s crying. Yamamine-san too… Huh…what’s going on?
「…I’ll become your onee-chan! That’s absolute!」
Nei-san told me while crying.
I’m just at loss.
Yuzuki-sensei scolded Nei-san with a strong tone… Then…Nei-san’s tears stopped.
Sensei spoke to me.
「Thank you for talking. I now what kind of child are you. I think that everyone should consider how they should face you from now on…」
Sensei’s pointed eyes look straight at me.
「On top of that…I want to hear another thing」 「…What is it?」 「Yoshida-kun…what kind of existence is Shirasaka Yukino to you…?」