Chapter 9 – Farewell, Thank you, Hello (part 2)
First Published on Ainushi
「Why are you apologizing all of a sudden?」
Kindly but firmly, Kaa-san directed a strong gaze at me. Don’t gloss over the issue, speak your mind – and speak clearly.
That’s why I lowered my head deeply once again, for a whole 5 seconds.
I wanted to apologize to both my parents.
「I’m sorry for dying all of sudden…. I’m sorry…」
It might just be a selfish desire on my part, but I’ve become a mother.
「I am now a mother, so…」
Because of that, I felt like I now understood the pain that parents felt when separated from their child.
How much sadness did she suffer from my* death?
The creases must be deeper than when I* was alive.
(TL note: “ore” masculine pronoun)
I now knew that time does not heal all wounds. I finally understood that.
「I wanted to apologize.」
She heaved a sigh of astonishment and seemed worried for me.
But I was no longer her son.
I no longer had the qualifications to receive her worry….
「Well, you are definitely no longer my son. My son wasn’t such a beauty too.」
Kaa-san said it in a joking manner.
「But no matter who gives birth to you, no matter how your appearance changes, the fact is that you are my child.」
She reached over the table and hugged my head.
「So don’t apologize.」
Her voice sounded so sorrowful.
Aah, I see.
It must be sad to be told something like that by her own child.
Seriously, I’m such an unfilial child.
I almost apologized once again without thinking, but stopped myself just in time.
Instead, I packed all the gratitude I had into the following words.
「Although 『I*』ended up dying early, I’m glad to have been born as Kaa-san and Tou-san’s child. Thank you.」
(TL note: “ore” – masculine)
Though, as expected of Kaa-sa; she is always in control of the pace of the conversation.
「I only have complaints. All the investments we’ve spent on you ended up going to waste after all.」
「Horrible! How can you say that!?」
Ah, how long has it been.
It has really been so long since I last spoke in such a rough manner. I’m about to start crying…
「But well, it’s good to see you doing well, you know?」
She joked again when she saw me on the verge of tears.
「….it doesn’t change the fact that I’m dead.」
While feeling grateful for her small act of consideration, I replied with a slightly quivering voice and forcibly held back my tears.
「Besides, I’m still pregnant? And the contractions are killing me? How am I considered well*?」
(TL note: feminine cutesy way of speaking here)
「….well, that might suit your current cute appearance… but when I think about your former appearance, it feels somewhat unpleasant.」
「Unpleasant… I think that’s the first time someone said that to me after I’ve changed into this body…?」
I pout my lips and glare at her reproachfully.
In response, she laughed cheerfully.
However, she quickly stopped.
「Even so… to become a mother at such a young age…」
This time, it’s my turn to laugh. It was a bitter laugh however.
「V-various things happened」
「Various, you say….is your partner a good person?」
「Rather than a good person….he’s more like a perverted lolicon kidnapping rapist?」
「What!? Are you alright?」
「I’m fine. I’ve already escaped.」
「That’s good then… wait, that’s no good for a pregnant mother!」
「It’s fine, it’s already over after all. Sorry for worrying you.」
I unconsciously slipped into my old tone.
But that likely won’t ever happen again.
My previous self has long since ran out of time.
A time that I can’t return to.
The unbridled happiness that I was feeling now caused the stress that I had built up from labour to melt away like snow.
I spoke a lot.
Of my current family.
Of a friend I finally made.
I spoke of a great deal of things.
The time I have now, here, is almost like a miracle.
If God really does exist, this was really such a tasteful thing to do.
As a true blue Japanese, God is God (LOL) to me. But, I could feel the beginnings of faith in God about to sprout. For now, I’ll just thank God honestly with 『Thanks ☆』in a cute manner.
….Nonetheless, this must be a lie. My vision is distorting after all.
Is there water in my eyes?
….No, my very existence was flickering. That’s the feeling I’m getting.
Even though I’d like to stay here a little longer….
「….Seems like time’s up」
Saying so in a regretful voice, she pulled me closer and wrapped her hands around mine.
It’s the wrinkle-filled hands of an elderly.
And upon these wrinkled hands, tears landed.
*Pota, pota, potata…*
There was a large amount of water dripping from my eyes. They are by no means tears.
As I told myself that, I sniffed.
「Although I said I won’t watch over you anymore….but you really do make me worry….」
There’s no need. I’m not kid….no wait, I am a child now.
With my baby growing bigger, my awareness as a parent grew, and I ended up forgetting that I am a 11 year old bishoujo ☆.
「Take this with you at the very least.」
She pressed something into my hands.
I took a look at it….Geez, when did she prepare something like this?
Or should I say, why the heck does she have this?
「A long time ago, before you were born, Mother-in-law….your Obaa-chan gave it to me. It’s supposed to be returned to the shrine, but it was kept preciously together with the maternity book. If there is an expiration date, then it probably has already passed that, but well it’s better than nothing. Hold on to it.」
Expiration dates really do exist for these….
Nevertheless, I was happy. Very much so.
「Thank… you… I’ll… take good care of it….」
This will be my lifetime’s greatest treasure. I’ll definitely take good care of it, Kaa-san….
But, with this….already….
I sob uncontrollably.
「Farewell….I can’t come…again…」
「Mm, I know. That’s why….『Bye bye』」
Born as a daughter of nobility, Rifirudeidoa, abducted by the King to become concubine Fria, and finally becoming just Ria, I have already heard countless 『Bye bye』.
Holding the precious present to my chest with one hand, I opened my free hand widely and waved. And I acknowledge it. I mean, it’s fine, isn’t it?
It might be embarrassing for my previous self, but it isn’t embarrassing for my current self, Ria.
I gave up putting on a brave front and let my tears flow out unrestrained.
「This will be our last meeting, smile, please.」
At her rebuke, I stopped saying bye bye tearfully and roughly rubbed the edges of my eyes.
And with my best smile, I….returned to my world.
The last sight of Kaa-san was….just like me, tearfully smiling.
The windchimes were loud and incessant.
I don’t get how it’s supposed to be a seasonal song. It’s just noise to me.
I don’t know why my son liked it so much.
「What’s with this…. Just when I finally got to see a good dream.」
The sun was already setting before I knew it.
The light permeating through the window was deep red.
What a pointless way to spend the day.
I was a little amazed at myself for doing so.
Heaving a deep sigh, I stretched my body and felt my bones creaking.
It is natural for an old woman getting on with the years to get a sore back from sleeping on the table since noon.
After a few more cracks, I stood up.
Even places that I’ve never paid attention to started creaking as the years pass. I smiled wryly to myself.
At this moment, the sun’s rays reflected into my eyes. Squinting from the glare, I followed the source of the reflection.
On the table were 2 cups.
Left in them were water and half melted ice.
Drawing in a sharp intake of breath, I stopped breathing due to shock.
I soon regained my composure and searched the drawers in a panic, looking for the item that should be there.
I found it in no time.
Or more accurately, I found that it’s no longer there.
The item that I received from my mother-in-law when I was giving birth.
It was kept carefully with the maternity book, but there are no traces of it now.
Aah- if so, I hope I handed it over properly….
I intended to carry it to my grave.
If there wasn’t an expiration date on it, then I would have passed it on to his wife….
But well, that child wasn’t very popular with the ladies, so I would have had to carry it to my grave.
Even so, to think that he would become a silver haired beauty.
Kami-sama sure knows how to do things.
I took the cup that child drank from and rubbed the edge where the traces of her lips remained.
My late son returned as a girl.
This is truly worthy of being called a miracle. Even as someone who does not have strong belief in God, I feel thankful.
It’s enough to make me consider putting my hands together in prayer.
But, just what should I pray to?
Taoism’s ancestors or Buddha? Christianity’s Jesus Christ or Virgin Mary?
「But I’m Japanese after all.」
After giving it some thought, I decided to face the shinto household shrine and clap my hands twice before it.
For the first time in my life, I bowed deeply and sincerely.
「….I now have something to boast about when my stupid husband gets back.」
For a brief moment, I felt content.
The dark walls of home usually feels so lonely.
Since losing my child and with my husband always somewhere else, I’m usually alone at home.
But, today was different.
Even though my child went off to a faraway world and turned into another existence, he is still living life to the fullest.
I may not know if he attained happiness, but I’m sure this time….
That’s why I have to live the rest of my life in happiness too.
「I assumed that I’d be able to meet him once I died, but that doesn’t seem to be case, huh.」
Chuckling to myself, I was resolved to living a long fulfilling life.
She turned into a widow not long afterwards.
Though mysteriously, she was not lonely.
Ever since that day, she began various hobbies that kept the loneliness away.
People began to naturally gather around her and their daily lives were lively and fun.
「Well then, what should I do today?」
That’s right, she’s living happily.