Feel free to join our discord server: https://discord.gg/e4BJxX6
Mother Fumie and Ham Potato Salad
—Clack, Clack, Clack…
“—That just now was gunpowder; I made it.”
Early morning, two o’clock—to Fumie, late-night hours meant it was time to write.
Washing tableware, sewing the dust cloth that her daughter will use at school tomorrow, checking the household accounting book, and silently peeking into the child’s room to make sure her daughter wasn’t staying up late—coinciding with the end of her “Late-night Housework”, she underwent a splendid transformation.
She stopped being a housewife, and became a novelist—a fantasy novelist.
—Clack, Clack, Clack, Clack…
“—Well then, eat up. How is it? Is it tasty?”
That night, just as usual, Fumie was sitting in front of a CRT monitor in her late son’s room.
Suddenly noticing “something,” her index fingers stopped moving.
“…I wonder if Takashi can cook?”
Once it hit her, she stopped typing on the keyboard.
“…Wake up… Hey, Chika, wake up, please.”
In the dead of night, child’s room—
Shimada Chika woke up due to her mother’s voice. The fluorescent light seeping in from outside the door made her eyes B L I N K repeatedly.
The alarm clock near her bed showed an outrageous time. To an eleven-year-old sixth-grader like her, the middle of the night was a whole other world. The amount of times she had woken up at this time only numbered a few.
However, even though it was supposed to be “If you’re awake your parents will scold you” hour, the one who woke her up was, in fact, her mother.
“What the, Mom…? Did something happen?”
Her mother’s voice was serious.
Chika’s temple hurt because she was still sleepy; despite that, she frantically opened her eyes, and listened carefully.
It was something she wanted her daughter to hear in the dead of night. It was definitely something important.
And so, the mother, Fumie, said…
“That child, do you think he can cook?”
Chika’s mouth was agape.
“…Haa? What are you talking about?”
“Again, cooking. And also gunpowder. Takashi’s going to make gunpowder and cook in a fantasy world, but do you think he can actually do that? While he’s being surrounded by enemy soldiers, he escapes using gunpowder that he stealthily made. Is gunpowder really something that can be made alone? And then, after he made his way through the pinch, he needed to cook some food for the knight, Sharna-chan. But I’m worried whether or not that child can cook… Since Japanese food doesn’t exist in that world… is there something that Takashi could make to catch Sharna-chan’s interest?
“Based on Takashi’s setting, she is the strongest female knight called ‘Pyro Eye’, Sharna Flameheim. Born of the famous Flameheim family, she was frequently invited to the princess’s banquets because of her numerous achievements on the battlefield. What kind of food will make her happy? Hey? Chika, what do you think? Hey? What should Takashi make for Sharna-chan?”
At first, Chika thought she was joking, or maybe it was some kind of sick prank.
Her mother didn’t seem like the type of fun adult who would do something like that—even so, if it was a joke, she could still understand. To think she would wake up her daughter who was in elementary school at 2 o’clock in the middle of the night,
“What should Takashi make for Sharna-chan?”
To say something like that… However—
“Fuwaah… Mom, who cares about that…”
To the young girl’s answer mixed with a yawn, Fumie suddenly raised her voice.
“T H A T ‘ S N O G O O D ! T H I N K A B O U T I T M O R E C A R E F U L L Y !”
Realizing her mom was being serious, Chika’s drowsiness was instantly blown away.
“Chika! How could you say something like that?! Saying ‘Who cares’… Even though it’s something important so that Takashi can get along with Sharna-chan! Even so, you say ‘Who cares’?! How horrible… I didn’t think you were such a horrible child! Do you hate your Onii-chan?! You, what kind of child are you?! Don’t you feel sad about your Onii-chan?!”
“I didn’t mean it like that though…”
In reality, Chika didn’t like her brother—she also didn’t feel particularly sad about him.
Nonetheless, she wasn’t so detached from the world to the point she could say something like that. She could properly read the air. Inside the dark child’s room in the dead of night, her mother, Fumie’s, glare was the only thing shining.
“Ummm… H… Hey, Mom, Onii-chan can definitely make gunpowder.”
“Don’t say something so halfhearted!”
Chika wanted to quickly go back to sleep, so she probably thought to suitably match the conversation. That in itself was correct, though Fumie had the face of an enraged animal baring its fangs.
“It’s true. There was a manga about making gunpowder in Onii-chan’s collection. Sulfur and Charcoal, and… umm, Shaltpeter or something?”
To her daughter’s words, her anger subsided in an instant.
“Chika… are you telling the truth?”
“Yup. It was drawn in full detail. He can make it—it was written in Onii-chan’s script, right? Whether in that super long summary or setting, he wrote it because he knew how to make it.”
If anything, there was the possibility that he wrote about “making gunpowder” due to the influence of that manga—Chika had that thought, but still, she didn’t say it out loud.
“Oh… Ah, I’m sorry for shouting like that, Chika…”
“Oh, yeah. It’s fine… Then, can I go back to sleep?”
“Yes… But wait just a bit longer—about cooking… that child, he should’ve never cooked before…”
Her brother was a NEET, so he always stayed home; even so, he never helped with any housework. Chika was aware of that as well. He definitely couldn’t even use a microwave properly.
In spite of that, she wanted him to cook.
Based on the setting and summary, the protagonist—that is, Takashi himself—had written it as though he could cook. At this moment, Chika held disdain for her brother from the bottom of her heart.
Nah, if I’m going to say that, then there’s the gunpowder, too… There’s no way you would be able to make something like that just by reading manga. That big bro, he’s actual scum.
In reality, it wasn’t that easy. Even the sixth-grader Chika knew that much.
“Hey… Chika, what do you think?”
While feeling irritation towards her brother, the young girl responded to her mother’s question.
“Hmm~, right~. Ah, oh yeah. Wouldn’t deep-fried chicken be fine? Since Onii-chan loved deep-fried chicken.”
It was an extremely childish, and at the same time, silly reply that was said on the spur of the moment.
Even though she was actually a very mature and smart child—no, she replied like this because she was such a child.
“Deep-fried chicken? That child, can he make something like that?”
“Yup, it’s fine! Because Onii-chan stared at Mom so much while she was cooking deep-fried chicken. He was embarrassed, so he only peeked silently, though.”
“Oh dear… Really? That child, he did something like that?”
This was also not a lie. She only saw something like that once. However, it wasn’t because he was interested in how to cook it, but simply staring to convey “Is dinner not ready yet?”
Despite knowing full well of that, Chika continued—as expected, it was very child-like. The purest she had ever been. As if she went back to being a kindergartener.
“Onii-chan really liked Mom’s deep-fried chicken, huh! That’s why, he can definitely make it!”
“Oh dear… Chika, you, jeez…!!”
The mother, Fumie, silently gazed at Chika’s face for a while.
Without knowing the meaning behind her gestures, Chika steeled herself.
Oh no, is she going to shout again?
However, right after that, all of a sudden,
She hugged her daughter’s body.
She was hugging as hard as she could. It was very unexpected. Chika suddenly felt something warm on the back of her pajamas. It was due to her mother’s tears.
The mother, Fumie, was crying.
Along with her large tears, both of her arms were trembling. On the young girl’s back and shoulders, droplet of tears continued to trickle down.
“Chika… I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”
Why was she crying? Why was she apologizing?
Did she regret what she had done after returning to her senses? Because she unreasonably yelled at her daughter?
Or maybe, it was because she was in a more complicated and egotistical state of mind?
The answer to that, even the daughter, Chika, had no clue. Yet, she—
“…Nuh-uh, it’s fine. It’s okay. It’s fine already.”
Just because she had to reply.
After her mother continued to cry like that for about twenty minutes, she silently left the child’s room.
In truth, Chika didn’t forgive her mother or anything. She didn’t think it was fine, either.
It was a bother, so she only replied with “It’s fine.”
The next day, in the afternoon.
Not too long ago… Just one year ago, Fumie was a mother she could be proud of.
Shimada Chika hoped to become an adult just like her—beautiful and kind, smiling all the time. It didn’t seem like she graduated from a renowned university, but Chika never thought that she was stupid even once. If there was something that Chika didn’t understand from a book or TV, she would carefully explain it until Chika understood.
Her cooking skill was so-so, but she liked making sweets, so every time Chika’s friends came over she baked madeleines and cupcakes, and she helped her make valentine chocolate, too.
Before, her friends would combine their voices and say “Chika-chan’s mom sure is great,” “It would be nice if my mama was like Chika-chan’s mama,” full of jealousy.
That lovable mother.
Even though hating her and getting into fights with her was something that never happened until now…
No—not quite. Relatively speaking, there were times when I’ve hated her before, huh…?
For example, when she was still in kindergarten, the lovely maiden, Chika, invited the number one most popular guy in sakura-class, Kyou-kun to her house. “My mom’s baking apple pie today, so come play.” She said.
After that, she invited him a few more times; each time she fed him her mom’s home-made sweets, Chika quickly grew considerably closer to the young boy.
She felt like she was “feeding” him like a pet for a bit.
At each and every opportunity, she brought the young boy to her house and fed him snacks. Still, at times, she intentionally didn’t give him any snacks—she prepared “miss days,” so she silently suggested to him the thought of “If I want to eat sweets, I need to come to her house every day.” She took hold of the young boy’s heart.
No—she only thought she had taken hold of his heart.
However, reality was different. On a certain day, The young boy, Kyou said in front of Chika:
“—I love Auntie. Auntie’s beautiful and gives me sweets. When I grow up, please marry me.”
Thus, his ardent confession began.
Her mother was, just as usual, “Oh dear,” and kindly smiled, but Chika was mad.
“Don’t ever come back, dummy!”
After kicking the young boy’s butt with all her strength and chasing him out of her house, she yelled “You old hag!” to her mom. This was the first time she ever seriously called her mom a “hag” ever since she was born.
By the way, after that happened, similar things happened a few more times. Moreover, it was all due to multiple boys.
Come to think of it, the boys who came to love mom, they were all similar types, huh? They were all kids who were somewhat absent-minded…
The young boy from kindergarten, Kyou, was the same. Kind and simple, saying it roughly, all the boys were “Somewhat unreliable-types.”
They were slightly absent-minded, but they were earnest “good boy types”—such were the boys Chika fell in love with.
My mom might have S O M E K I N D of pheromone that attracted those types.
At any rate, it was true that there were times when she bore a grudge against her mother. Even so, including this time, they could be counted on both hands. Compared to other grade-schooler girls, it was a very small amount of times.
—However, that was also a memory of the past.
It was only up to last year. Now it was different.
I wonder, how did it end up like this…?
Within the classroom in the afternoon, while the spring breeze flowed in through the windows, Chika was lying face-down on the desk while dreaming about memories of her past and her current agony, when suddenly—
“Shimada, wake up. Class is over.”
Having her shoulders shaken by the boy sitting next to her, she woke up.
He also popped up in her dream, that young boy. It had been six years since then..
“Kyou-ku… Fujioka? Why are you touching me? Lecher.”
“You didn’t wake up even after I called out to you, so what else could I do? You slept through the middle of the sixth class, you know? Teacher said ‘I will scold her later, so tell her to go to the staff room when she wakes up.’”
That teacher was very strict about dozing off. It appeared she had a new reason to resent her mother.
If she apologized by saying “Thanks to my mother’s eccentricity, I couldn’t sleep,” then maybe he would shorten his scolding?
“Oh yeah, Shimada, were you trying to call me ‘Kyou-kun’ just now?”
“No way. It was just your imagination.”
It was a lie. She did actually try to call him that.
“Right. Oh, and—can I go to your house sometime soon?”
“HAA?! Why? What do you want?”
“Not me, my mom wanted to go, you see. She heard about Auntie not feeling too well, so she’s worried.”
The mom of the young boy called Fujioka was a kind madam. She probably got worried because Chika’s mom had become incredibly withdrawn ever since Chika’s brother died. However—
“I understand why Auntie would want to visit. But why would YOU want to come?”
“No reason. Just my mom kept nagging me to come along.”
“Is that really it? Don’t tell me, you’re still in love with my mom?”
“Oi! Don’t say weird stuff! That’s a story from kindergarten.”
Even as he denied it, the young boy’s face was reddening.
“You, why are you blushing? Don’t tell me, you really…”
“No! It’s not like that!”
“Then I don’t really mind.”
More importantly, the Fujioka mother-child pair coming to her house was the problem. Was it really fine to show Fumie’s current state to other people—to a classmate and his mother?
Chika was deep in thought for a short while, then—
“Hmm… Actually, no! Don’t come over!”
“You don’t need to hate me so much, you know? Then just let my mom visit. Honestly, I don’t really care about going anyway…”
“That’s not the problem! Not just you, but your mom, too! You definitely can’t come! I’m happy Auntie is worried about Mom, but… How should I say it, anyway, NO!”
After thinking about it deeply, she came to that conclusion.
She didn’t want to expose Fumie’s current state to other people.
“That so? Anyway, ‘If anything happens, come talk to me,’ my mom said.”
Shortly after, Chika received a scolding for about thirty minutes in the staff room; afterwards, she went home alone.
Auntie Fujioka sure is a good person… I can’t rely on her for this problem, though.
That auntie was a person of good heart. She treated Chika favorably—however, she liked gossiping and had a loose mouth, so she wasn’t someone that one would like to talk about delicate matters with.
Fujioka Kyouya has changed a lot ever since that time. His personality became more like a normal boy, and he started calling himself using “Ore1.” He wasn’t so absent-minded anymore—his appearance also changed. Maybe it’s because Chika fed him too many sweets when he was in kindergarten, but he became completely obese. Chika also felt a bit responsible for it.
Based on appearances alone, Fumie hadn’t changed at all. Of course, internally, she’d changed remarkably…
If he finds out that Mom’s divorced, I wonder if Fujioka will propose to her again?
If only he was eighteen years old, she would’ve let Fumie remarry and make him look after her.
Well, if he saw Mom’s current state, he definitely won’t feel like doing that, though…”
While thinking that, she arrived at her house.
After she raised her voice at the front door,
“Oh my, welcome back.”
Not from inside the house, but the reply came from the garden.
“…? Mom, what’re you doing?”
Taking a quick look at the garden, a straw hat-wearing Fumie was digging a hole using a shovel.
Maybe she felt like planting flowers or vegetables? However, in spite of that, she was digging at a spot with bad sun exposure. While Chika was being filled with astonishment, her mother softly laughed and said:
“A letter, I thought about sending one, you see.”
An answer that Chika did not even imagine—and it was also an answer that she did not want to hear.
“A letter? By digging a hole in the garden?”
Somehow or other, it seemed like she’d nearly finished digging the hole. The depth was just short of thirty centimeters. Inside of that, Fumie placed an envelope.
It was an envelope that looked like something a high schooler would use with its flower pattern. Proudly holding it, she gently placed it in the bottom of the hole with both hands, and filled it with dirt once more.
“Who’s it for?”
After asking so,
Something like that, it was obvious. If she asked, it would definitely be an unpleasant experience.
Sure enough, Fumie replied predictably.
“It’s for Takashi. I found out how to make gunpowder at the library. Also, I wrote a recipe for deep-fried chicken. That child, if he wasn’t able to remember, it would be a problem, right? I sent a potato salad recipe along with it as well.”
See? As expected.
“Mom, you see—“
“No, Chika, Don’t say it. Even I understand, you know? That something like this is just some sort of a good luck charm.
“That so? As long as you understand, then that’s fine, I guess.”
“Yes… Since Takashi’s living in another world, after all. Unless the earth goes into a time slip in the future like in a manga he read when he was a child, there’s no way it would reach him in another world—however, after thinking about i, I needed to try it no matter what.”
—Chika suddenly felt a chill run down her spine.
It wasn’t because she was trying to bury a letter. No, of course that bothered her as well, but the one that bothered her the most was,
“Since Takashi’s living in another world, after all.”
That brief sentence.
“Don’t tell me, Mom—“
“My, what’s wrong?”
“…Nah, it’s nothing.”
In the middle of saying it, she stopped as expected.
“Don’t tell me, Mom—do you actually believe Onii-chan is in another world?”
Imagining the chance that she would reply with anything but a “NO,” it made her too scared to continue her question.
Her mom hit the ground several times with the shovel to flatten it—it seemed like it wasn’t the first time she had done this. Looking closely, there were several other mounds that resembled it in the garden.
At the same time—Queens Planning Ltd.2 was a small company in the corner of a residential district.
The employees numbered eight people. Its office is on the third floor of a long and thin building inconveniently located 15 minutes away from the station.
Its business practices were a bit ambiguous, they made home page designs for businesses, scouted web designers and programmers, and ran computer schools that catered to middle and high schoolers and such; they tried their hand at multiple projects. In this IT era of the Zero Age, it was a type of company that spread here and there in the world.
In the smoking area of that kind of company,
“Isoi-san, this is a bit of a private matter, but…”
The former truck driver, Katayama Yoshitaka, who was currently a trainee employee, called out to a bearded senior worker who was biting on a mild seven (A cigarette brand that existed at the time of the story).
Katayama heard of his former job from the other workers, which was—
“Is it true that you were employed at a publishing company?”
An editor at a publishing company in Tokyo.
“Hm? Yeah, well… I was, as an editor of stuff like manga and novels.”
“Novels?! That’s perfect. To tell you the truth, there’s something I want you to see.”
Katayama merrily held out a stack of papers toward him. It didn’t even number ten sheets, they were paper sheets with a novel written on it.
Novel series “My Son, Even Now, Is Living in Another World in Good Health.”
What Hero Takashi cooked up for Knight Sharna was deep-fried chicken. She enthusiastically gobbled down the deep-fried chicken and ham potato salad.
And the gunpowder was made by carefully mixing 10 grams of sulfur, 15 grams of charcoal, and 75 grams of saltpeter. He remembered it from a manga he read. If it wasn’t mixed carefully it might explode and cause burns on the body, so he cautiously mixed it well.
Hero Takashi and Knight Sharna’s journey will continue.
In order to defeat the Evil God Emperor.
To be continued.
1 Impolite term to refer to oneself in japan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_pronouns#List_of_Japanese_personal_pronouns
2 limited company; company structure for small businesses, established in 2005 and abolished in 2006.