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Mother Fumie and Other-World Transportation
Modern age, 2006, last week of June—From, That, Day, it has been a year.
This N city, in a certain prefecture, was a provincial city. The railroads were limited to express trains, and there were bus networks, so you could live without owning a personal car. Recently, the convenience stores and family restaurants also became comfortable; in the residential area, there were JUSCO’s (large-scale shopping mall) furnished with movie theaters.
Mobile phones could also be used on any company’s network, even though there were many areas within the prefecture where they couldn’t be used. Because of that, it could be said that this whole region became somewhere pleasant to live, although it’s not a metropolis.
In a corner of that city, in the living room of a modest built-for-sale house—
“Mom, stop making servings for three people!”
7 P.M., eleven-year-old sixth-grade elementary-schooler Shimada Chika said to her mom the same line she has always said every dinner:
“Our family’s dinner should be for two people—Mom and me,” she said.
The father rarely came home these last few months. It was almost like they were living separately.
They tried to keep their divorce a secret, but their daughter Chika knew of it.
—No, in the first place, from a long, long time before that, he has always come home very late. Memories of eating together on a weekday—the child didn’t even have those.
Therefore, the third portion of the meal the mother prepared wasn’t for the father.
It was the older brother’s share.
She had made a portion for the brother who died one year ago, Shimada Takashi.
“We need to save money, right? Then just prepare enough for two; otherwise, it’s a waste.”
It was the usual. This girl, she said the same thing every day. Ever since she eavesdropped on the matter of the divorce, her tone became harsher.
And then the one who she’d been scolding, her mother, Fumie, replied as expected.
“I’m sorry… but I feel like that child will suddenly come back…”
Today’s dinner was deep-fried chicken and potato salad.
Recently, Chika has been mindful of her weight—even then, she was thinner than the average girl. It was simply what a young girl her age goes through, merely dieting—because of that, “Stop making these kinds of fried food and lumps of carbohydrates…” she grumbled, even though she just said that yesterday.
But, this menu was the brother’s favorite.
T H A T man, who had a lot of food that he disliked, uncharacteristically complimented it—a menu that caused him to ask for seconds.
“—Basically, this mother made this food for the already dead brother, not for herself.”
With those thoughts, Chika became even more irritated, and her expression became even angrier.
“Chika, are you mad…?”
It was a lie. It wasn’t “Not really”—she was mad.
“I’m sorry, Chika. I’m really sorry… I—this month, I saw a dream of that child… And then, in the afternoon, when I went shopping for ingredients, the sky was really blue… A long time ago, when that child was still young, I remembered when we would walk down the road together and look at the sky… So this was definitely a re-ve-la-tion that that child will come back.”
“Are you dumb?”
Looking at the scenery and reminiscing about her brother was something understandable. Regardless of the fact that Chika was a sixth-grader, she was a young girl with a mature personality. She wasn’t so childish as to not be able to understand her mother’s sentimentality.
Even then, why did she think of that as a “Coming-home Revelation”?
And also, there was another reason why Chika was irritated.
“You see… Mother, do you really want big brother to come back? T H A T big brother?! T H A T K I N D O F B R O T H E R?!”
To the daughter’s words, the mother,
And so, she stayed silent and hung her head low.
of the angle, it wasn’t visible, but she was probably crying. As
one would expect, she had said too much; Chika also regretted her own
The mother, Shimada Fumie, was a brittle woman.
Enka-period—I suppose you could call it that. According to the men of that generation, no matter the era, women are brittle and fickle, like frail flowers being exposed to wind and rain. Those people drew their attention to the point that women need to be protected.
But now, the reason why it seemed as though Fumie was thrown away by her husband, ironically enough, was due to that brittleness. There had to be a limit, or rather, a breaking point.
Though these types were hated among fellow women, she wasn’t an exception. Each time her mother did anything, each time she let out a single word, the daughter, Chika, felt helpless as she became more and more irritated.
“F O R T H A T K I N D O F B R O T H E R, F O R M E T O G O T H R O U G H T H I S E V E R Y D A Y B E C A U S E O F H I M.”
Chika wrinkled up her eyebrows and took her dinner in silence, took no more than half, then returned to her room. This was also an everyday occurrence.
The mother Fumie would spend many hours eating dinner alone.
The eleven-year-old child went to her room, laid face up on the bed, and started spitting abusive language.
“Aaah, God! Seriously!”
It may be unexpected, but Shimada Chika didn’t hold a grudge against her father.
There was something inhumane about leaving a wife in this state, but even then, leaving the daughter with a mother like that was the embodiment of wickedness.
But even so, she was a sixth-year student. She only knew that a married couple was an extension of the relationship between a man and a woman.
She understood how the father felt. Even if she was the husband, she would surely not want to come home to a woman that was so irritating.
She was irresponsibly clever, and she was at a loss for what to do. Because she was a child, she shouldn’t need to show any understanding toward her parents, so she should think more about herself; that was what she thought to herself.
If only she was as childish as her male classmates, who were able to burst into laughter by hearing words like “poop” and “chonmage”1, she wouldn’t be suffering like this.
…My mom, I need to do something about her, huh.
Chika thought; she felt contempt for her mother. Be that as it may, it didn’t mean she completely and utterly hated her.
This was also something called the feelings between mother and child, I suppose.
Or maybe, “Because I’m a child, I can’t run away from my parents.” With that sort of resignation—with the shallow logic that this young girl possessed, she converted it into something convenient for her. In any case—
I need to do something… First things first, T H A T, huh.
The things her mother did, all of them were, for the most part, very tedious. However, she could just barely stay patient and endure it.
Save for one exception.
The T H I N G that she did in the middle of the night—anything but that.
In the middle of the night, the moon was shining brightly.
Shimada Fumie started a new hobby. In her son’s room with no owner,
the sound of typing on a keyboard awkwardly rang out.
Clack, Clack, Clack…
“—My son, liivng in, a livng room in another world in good health.”2
The thing she was writing was an amateur light novel.
A novel where a young boy had an adventure in a fantasy world.
Fumie was, in the middle of the night, while the world was sleeping, typing on the keyboard of the personal computer that was left behind as a memento letter-by-letter…
Novel series “My son, even now, is living in another world in good health.”
“Takashi, you did not die. You are to continue living in another world as a hero.”
The goddess’ kind voice—it could be heard directly inside his head.
Takashi, who was run over by a truck, opened his eyes and discovered he was in an unfamiliar place.
“This is…? Even though I should’ve died after being run over by that truck…”
What he saw there was, to Takashi, something he saw for the first time. However, he immediately knew where this was.
“This is, a Fantasy World…?”
It wasn’t a dream—it was exctly as that goddess said.3
To be continued.
1 The chonmage (Japanese: 丁髷) is a form of Japanese traditional topknot haircut worn by men. It is most commonly associated with the Edo period and samurai, and in recent times with sumo wrestlers.
2 Intentional, she makes typing mistakes.
3 Refer to 2.