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Mother Fumie and Former Truck Driver
Modern age, 2006— Ever since the world entered its twenty-first century, five years have passed.
It was a somewhat hollow age. The scenery of the new century wasn’t the envisioned “Future Society of Dreams.” Having said that, it wasn’t the “World ruined by nuclear warfare” either—so to speak, it’s a letdown. The people lived in this “Zero Age1.”
Nevertheless, science itself has steadily progressed ever since the nineties; provincial cities, such as N city, experienced the spread of the internet, personal computers, and cellphones.
In that unbalanced era, on a certain afternoon during spring.
Shimada Chika was on her way home from her elementary school when she saw the back of someone familiar near her house.
His name was Katayama Yoshitaka.
Still in his early twenties, he was an exceedingly weak-willed young man.
He got excessively surprised, and jumped in place.
The man reacted as if he was in a manga; thus, Chika was amazed.
“That scared me… Y-Yo, Chika-chan.”
“Yo—did you think I would say that? You, what’re you doing, sneaking around my neighborhood?”
The young man stared at Chika’s house from behind a telephone pole as if he was a spy or a burglar—the complete suspicious character-trait set.
“You, you’re gonna get arrested, you know? And this time, it’ll be prison, right? THAT time, you just barely got away scot-free, after all.”
“Haha, you sure don’t hold back, huh… To be honest, I wanted to visit your home.”
“My home? Why? Didn’t you just come by the other day?”
“Well, how do I put this…”
The youth, Katayama, for some reason, faltered while continuing to speak.
“Actually, I left my old company because THAT happened, so I moved to a computer company. I came to report that to you.
“Who needs your report? I don’t think my mom really cares.”
Although Chika replied like that, quitting his previous job was probably the young man’s way of showing his sincerity. Thinking that, she stopped herself from saying “Don’t come.”
“Katayama-san, about your new job, you shouldn’t call it a “Computer Job” you know? To people around my mom’s generation, I have a feeling that they think it’s a cinch of a job. You should’ve lied and told us you had a more troublesome-looking job.”
“Yeah, got it… Oh, and I had another thing to do“—
This way of speaking made it seem like the job change report wasn’t the main point; it appeared he had another objective in mind.
While Katayama was hesitating even more than before, that “another thing”—he started talking about his true intention.
“Uhm… When we met the other day, your mom, she didn’t look too energetic, so…”
The youth, Katayama Yoshitaka, was an extremely virtuous, honest-to-goodness person. The reason he came this time was also due to his disposition—even a child such as Chika knew that.
However, saying something like that, she had no response other than this.
“It’s your fault that she’s unhappy, though? Because you killed Onii-chan.”
To her response, Katayama simply stayed silent.
He had no words to reply with—Chika’s words were the undeniable truth.
“Although it is true, my mom—recently she’s been even more down; rather, it’s gotten worse since a while back. Then she made dad hate her, and because of that, he stopped coming home, and she became even sadder. However, you were the start of it, no? Ever since you killed Onii-chan using a truck. Someone like you—why the hell are you still coming here?”
“Oh, yeah… that’s right, sorry. It is exactly as you say. I shouldn’t have come.”
“Well, yeah. Those were my true feelings.”
It was one year ago from this point in time. The youth, Katayama, who was a truck driver, caused a traffic accident while working.
It was a deadly, fatal accident—he ran over Chika’s brother.
Chika, who was a child, didn’t know the full details of the accident, but based on the decision of either the police or the court, “It was the brother’s fault because he was walking down the road in the middle of the night without thinking,” or something like that.
In spite of that, each time this young man received his salary, he put a few ten-thousand yen bills in an envelope and visited the Shimada family every month since the accident, without fail.
“Real talk—because you show up every month, Mom keeps getting sadder and sadder, right? But I won’t say “Don’t come” or whatever since I want the money you bring.”
“Oh, yeah… I’ll properly hand it over.”
“Of course, huh. Maybe you’re thinking that you ran over the brother of an outrageous woman? But it’s not like I’m being greedy, okay? My father isn’t here anymore, so I’ll be needing the money. You were the cause of my family’s misfortunes after all, so I’ll at least have you take care of my tuition fees until I graduate from college.”
This young girl was a smart child. She examined her reality, and lived inside that reality.
Katayama silently hung his head low, but his head was filled with guilt towards Chika. Because of an accident during his work, he caused these people sorrow. He made a complete mess of another’s family. He didn’t have the guts to look Chika straight in the eye.
“Sorry. I’m… going to go home… Sorry for coming.”
“Yeah, well, I’m glad I made you understand that before meeting my mother.”
The youth, Katayama, started to leave with a gloomy look on his face, but—
“Ah, that’s right. Wait a sec.”
To him who had his back turned towards her, Chika suddenly called out.
“If it’s fine with you. I have something I want to consult someone about.”
“Yep. Rather than consulting, it’s more like complaining. You’re the cause of it, so make sure you seriously listen to it, okay? Wait a bit, I’ll go back to my house first and get THAT.”
Fifteen minutes later, in a family restaurant near the neighborhood.
“Drink bar and french fries, and also a cheesecake too.”
“I’m fine with just water…”
For Katayama, who gave a part of his wage to the Shimada family, a family restaurant was a luxurious location.
Because Chika was aware of that, she took the effort to talk in here. It was a small harassment—if she were serious, she would have brought him to an even more expensive shop, so something like this could be considered holding back.
“I’ll say this just in case, but I don’t particularly like you, all right? My life became complicated thanks to you, so I believe I have the right to harass you a bit.”
“Oh, yeah… Sorry. I know…”
“But I’m only mad at you about half—no, about one-tenth as much compared to my mom. I’m telling the truth here too.”
Even though her mother was her own family, one could say it was the rift between the mother and the daughter. Chika could calmly judge her brother much more objectively than her mother.
“My Onii-chan, he was a jobless shut-in after all. He didn’t come out of his room other than to eat. You could refer to him with the recently spreading term “Neet2” or something? Even though he was around your age, he lazed around without working. At first, when I heard he died in a traffic accident, I felt a little happy.”
“That—Chika-chan, you shouldn’t say things like that, you know?”
“But, it’s true. However, I didn’t think Mom loved Onii-chan so much. To think it would cause so much trouble in my family…”
Saying it like that, Shimada Chika’s household might have been broken from the start.
The brother, because of a pampering mother, had already become a failure, so the young Katayama’s accident was merely the catalyst that brought the existing problems to the surface.
“Well, right now, the thing about Onii-chan is whatever. The troublesome thing right now is THIS.”
After saying that, Chika noisily put a stack of papers on top of the table.
It was Ming-typeface3 printed A4 sheet paper, It didn’t even number ten sheets.
“Chika-chan, this is?”
“A novel—Fantasy novel. When I used my brother’s computer the other day, I noticed there was a floppy disk left in it. Inside of it, I found an unfinished, self-made novel—my mom started writing the continuation for it, annoyingly enough.”
In this age, floppy disks were already out of date, but other forms of storage media were expensive, so they were still being used in households and offices.
Although it was called “Unfinished,” the brother only left a few dozen lines, an itemized summary memo, and a mountain of messy and random reference materials—moreover, putting it as politely as possible, there was an excessively gaudy signature of a pen-name.
Even though her mother couldn’t even type properly with the keyboard, she insisted on completing it.
“Woah… that’s… amazing.”
“What is?! Don’t reply so irresponsibly! You, if you were in my shoes, would you be fine even if your mother had such an embarrassing hobby?!”
“Right? My mom, she didn’t understand that even after I said “Writing a light novel is embarrassing”—she showed me every time she finished writing a page, you know? Moreover, “Maybe I should show it to the neighbors…” Aah, jeez! Just thinking about it pisses me off!”
Chika was wrapped in anger as she downed her melon soda in one gulp.
And after she emptied the glass—Bam! She roughly slammed the glass and continued to roughen her tone.
“Then, the thing I wanted to consult about—how in the world can I get Mom to stop this?! This embarrassing hobby! This shitty novel!”
At this moment—
The youth, Katayama, who received her consultation, thought up something unexpected for Chika.
He could understand where Chika was coming from. She was in sixth grade—being embarrassed about her mother’s hobby was natural.
However, the bundle of papers put in front of him…
This is, don’t tell me…
It was short, so he finished reading in a few minutes.
Although it was true that it was still lacking in the technical department, its unskillfulness was what made it so fresh; every time he pieced the story together, it overwhelmed him—more importantly, the passion resembled obsession!
No, it was the embodiment of obsession itself. The characters felt so alive—it was as if life was given to them, and they were trying to show their gratefulness.
…This novel, maybe it is actually interesting?
At least, he was curious about the continuation.
The story, where in the world will it go after this?
“Chika-chan, your mom’s novel, how about you let her continue—“
“HAA?! Did the murderer say something?”
It was an overwhelmingly cruel word. Being T H R E A T E N E D by the girl, the youth became silent.
Even so, at this moment—after becoming a living corpse and having his whole reason to live stolen from him because of the accident—a tiny flame of passion lit up inside him.
This novel, I want it to continue… I feel bad about Chika-chan, but for Fumie-san, and for Takashi-san who passed away…
Although it was meagre, this may be a way for the two of them to reconcile.
It was a small flicker of hope.
Novel series “My son, even now, is living in another world in good health.”
After the smoke had cleared, the monsters had been completely blown away.
“Hero Takashi, what in the world was that…?”
“That just now was gunpowder; I made it.”
In this world where gunpowder wasn’t invented yet, it was an incredibly powerful weapon.
After Hero Takashi helped the knight, Sharna, during a pinch, he made some Japanese cuisine for her.
To Takashi, it was regular food; however, to Sharna, it was an unusual delicacy. Sharna’s heart was swayed a bit.
“Well then, eat up. How is it? Is it tasty?”
To be continued.
1 (Nickname for the ten-year timeframe from 2000 to 2009).
2(It only started being used universally a bit before this point in time.)