Reminiscence -side Hiori-
Day by day, Mother and Father repeat their quarrels without ever getting tired of it. They’re so noisy, and repulsing.
I can’t bear listening to the abuse and foul words that enter my ears, so I cover them tightly. But even so, it doesn’t prevent me from hearing Father’s loud, rough voice, as well as Mother’s hysterical voice. The cause of the fight is without a doubt Father’s act of adultery. They’re both already tired of each other, and they should’ve separated already.
But it’s not because of my existence, their child. Rather, it’s for the sake of preserving the [family]’s dignity. Those people bear no affection towards me at all. I don’t have the least of affection to them, either, so there’s no problem in that regard.
I really want to go and sleep. However, as long as I haven’t finished my lessons, I have no freedom. On the other hand, I can’t concentrate on my studies because of the unsightly quarrel of those parents. As a result, I’m not progressing as I had intended.
——The Kurasaka family is a lineage that has existed since the ancient past. For that reason, I, as a child of the same lineage, must become a human being befitting of my name. That’s why my parents force me to engage in self-study and lessons. And I follow through my parents’ expectations without complaint. I only live as I’m told. I detest both my egotistical parents, and my obedient self.
“For what purpose, am I alive…?”
That instant, I answer within own heart that it is for my parents’ sake…. It’s a cruel, painful life.
Feeling that I heard a sound from outside, I open the window to ascertain the source. I survey the garden, which is rampant with vegetation, but nothing seems to be amiss. Perhaps it was the sound of trees or grasses, swayed by the wind.
With that assessment, I decide to close the window, when I notice a small oddity. From a big tree, I can see a blue cloth jutting out from it. Perhaps it is some clothes that were blown over. Normally, I would’ve thought of it as a trivial matter. But for some reason, I can’t take my mind off it.
I carefully check around the area so that I won’t be found by my parents, or the servants. Then, I place my hands on the window and bend my body forward to jump outside. My room is on the first floor, so I have no trouble landing safely. Although if someone sees me, I will be lectured for a week.
I slowly head towards the tree from where the cloth is jutting out. When I look behind the tree, I find the truth that’s beyond my expectation.
There is a young girl who looks slightly older than me, sleeping so pleasantly while leaning on the trunk of the tree. The cloth that I saw from the window is apparently a part of her clothes. I wonder how this child entered the vicinity. The entryway is heavily guarded by security; only acquaintances should be able to enter the mansion. She doesn’t appear to be an acquaintance of Father or Mother. I have never seen her before, either.
Perhaps aware of my presence, the sleeping girl opens her eyes slightly and looks at me.
That’s what I want to know.
But more importantly, it’s a big problem that she’s entered this mansion without permission. It’s wise for her to hurry and leave before anyone from the family finds her. There is a high chance that she will be discovered if I send her back from the entryway, so it’d be better if she returns from where she came.
“Where did you get in here from?”
“I got lost when I was exploring behind the mansion. Then, I got tired and sleepy from walking, so I was sleeping here.”
Hwaaa, she makes a big yawn, and she smiles impishly…. Her smile is too bright for me, and I end up averting my eyes.
That aside, I never knew that there is a hidden entrance from the forest behind the mansion. Rarely any people come to this garden, so perhaps only a few know about it.
“Huh? I’ve seen this before…. It’s the bi~g mansion near my home.”
“Do you live in the neighborhood?”
“Yup, it’s really close. Not even five minutes, I think.”
She’s living very close to here. It’s strange how we never get to know about each other. Although, perhaps it’s inevitable since I can’t go outside freely.
“Say, do you live here?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Hmm— but I never saw you at school…”
“I took an examination to a different private elementary school.”
“Heeh, that’s amazing—!”
I can see that she’s praising me from the bottom of her heart, which makes me feel embarrassed. It wasn’t a big deal, but she still praises me for that. It makes me so happy that I turn silent.
“Hey, what’s your name?”
“I see—! It’s a pretty name! I’m…”
When she’s about to say her name, I spot a servant walking by the passage that leads to my room. They must be coming to confirm whether or not I’m studying…. Irritating.
“I’m sorry, you will be scolded if someone sees you here. You should go home.”
“I see~ Then, I’ll come again! Next time, let’s talk about lots and play!!”
“My name is Sekiguchi Tsubaki! See you, Hiori!”
Before I have the chance to tell her not to come back, she has ran dashingly towards the trees. She must be good at sports. I’ve already lost sight of her, either because she is nimble, or perhaps she is quick on her feet.
“What a strange kid…”
I expel a sigh, and I hurry back to my room before the servant comes. That child… will she come here again? Will she come here for me again? While I believe that she is going to be a bother, at the same time, I am looking forward to it.
Ludicrous. What am I hoping for? I have known since long ago that it is meaningless to hope. Now, and in the future, I will always act like the doll I am as I tread my life as my parents say. Forever… by myself. Without anyone else.
——Even though that is what I had come to believe.
Following what she had declared, she went out of her way to see me again and again. I explained about the situation and told her not to come anymore, but she still did anyway. Thus, I inquired her why she still came here when I already told her not to.
“Eh? It’s because I want to play with Hiori.”
She gives me an immediate reply like it’s a matter of fact.
“Don’t you have other friends for that?”
“I do, but I want to play lots with you, Hiori.”
When I cast my eyes downward in silence, she peers into my face, worried.
“Ah, but if I’m bothering you…. Actually, I must be really bothering you. You’ll get in trouble if they find me, and you have to study, too.”
“I don’t care about all that.”
“It works as a refreshment for me, so you can come whenever you want to.”
Tsubaki looks happy as she smiles. Looking at her, my chest heats up. I want to tell her that I am the one who feels happy whenever she comes to play, but my obstinate personality prevents me from voicing that out. I didn’t want her to come, but now, I hope that she will.
I didn’t want to let her in this rotting mansion. But, I wanted to play together with her. While I had nothing, she gave me a lot of things. It was thanks to her that I could feel happiness in this home. I spent the sparse free days that I had to visit her house, or to go shopping together with her. Then, I managed to attend the same middle school as her…. We were separated by our grades, so we were together for only one year. But even so, the fact that I could commute to the same school made me happy.
Since the day I met Tsubaki, my days were fun.
My parents had their disagreements as always, and I hated to hear their quarrels to the point that I felt sick of it. But more than all that, the time when I could be together with Tsubaki was my happiness.