Warm Place Chapter 28

Author: Korota
Translator: Aoitenshi


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Reminiscence —Her Last Wish—

 

 

I’m meeting Hiori today like usual. So, I’m treading through the forest behind the mansion to reach our designated garden. Since I’m the only person here, the place is quiet. She would usually arrive earlier than me. Although, there are many times when she’s not feeling well, so I end up coming earlier more often now. Thinking to wait for her, I take a seat on the root of a big tree.

It would be bad for her and her baby if she gets too tired. Although, when I suggested for us to meet up less often, she shook her head in refusal. According to her, while excessive exercises are harmful, failing to exercise is also bad for her body. I don’t have much knowledge about that, and thinking that I might need to learn ahead, I went to the bookstore to browse a few pregnancy books. Although, an acquaintance spotted me, and she had a strange misunderstanding. It was a disaster.

“Phew…”

I expel a sigh, and I look up to the sky. A warm, gentle breeze brushes against my cheek.

 

“……”

I think back to the time when she told me about the matter that had been ailing her. Just the other day, with a frightened look on her face, she confessed to me about what she had been hiding. At that time, I was aghast, my head went blank, and my mind stopped running for a while. But when I finally managed to comprehend her words, grief, anger, and self-loathing spring forth within me.

That was the first time I ever hated someone so much. I was surprised that there existed a dark and violent emotion, swirling inside me. There was a man who had driven Hiori to a corner, bringing her unhappiness, and I despised myself for not being able to do anything for her, for not even realizing it. I felt sick from the emotions that are stuffing my chest. But, I realized that she was the one who had it the worst, so I desperately endured it in.

After hearing everything from her, I thought of confronting the man in question directly, but she stopped me. It seemed that she didn’t want me to meet him at all. With blood gathering in my head, I was going to shake her off. However, the sight of Hiori desperately trying to restrain me makes me abandon that thought, reluctantly.

 

‘I beg you. Don’t tell a soul about this. Don’t do anything, either.’

 

When she pleaded me so vehemently, I couldn’t say anything back. I had no idea what else I could do to my swirling emotions, I didn’t know how to save the girl in front of me, I knew nothing at all. In the end, I could only hug Hiori in silence.

——I was vexed. I was so vexed, so sad, so anxious. It felt truly, truly bitter, and I believed nothing else could be worse than that. But surely, the girl in my arms was the one who took the brunt of it all; that thought rent me apart. Why did she have to suffer like that? What wrong did she ever do?

…It seems that her parents don’t know about it, which means that the only ones who know are Hiori, the man called Kashima, and me. I told her that she should inform her parents at least, but she refused. Although I had known that she was on bad terms with her parents, I didn’t realize that the ravine between them was so deep. I don’t know anything about her…… The realization hits me hard, whether I like it or not.

And, what do we do with her pregnancy? Hiori’s told me that she didn’t want to give birth to her baby, which I think is actually the best choice. Hiori can’t be called an adult yet; she’s still a child. And most importantly, she didn’t conceive the baby with someone she loves… she did not get pregnant because of her own choice.

But, her baby is innocent. Even though the blood of that detestable person flows within its body, that has nothing to do with anything. That’s why, even though I’m going out of line, I want her to bear her child. I understand that I’m just being selfish. Giving birth to a child, and raising them—I can’t even imagine how arduous they are. I know, it’s because I never had to raise a child that I can be so naive.

Regardless, she is the one who gets to decide. That’s why, I will not object to her decision. No matter what she chooses in the end, I’m going to support her.

 

“Hiori… she’s late—”

 

I’m not used to be one waiting. I feel like checking the time, and I search for my cell phone in my pocket. But, I start getting flustered as I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

“…Oh crap, I didn’t bring my phone.”

I recall leaving it in my room earlier. It’s way too late for me to realize it now, which makes me heave a sigh. Well, it’s not like I often have an urgent business, not having a cell phone with me for a day or two is not really that big of a deal. That crosses out the option of me going back home just to get my cell phone. Besides, I think Hiori is coming soon. I’ll just wait here patiently.

Hmm— but on the other hand…

“Hrm, I’m getting sleepy…”

Being in an area where I can feel the warm, pleasant sunshine for a while assails me with drowsiness. I can hear birds chirping, and tree leaves rustling—the perfect lullaby, tempting me to sleep. Aah, I’m at my limit. But, she will scold me if I fall asleep here. I desperately keep my heavy eyelids open, and I rouse my mind to remain awake.

‘…hh! …!’

(A voice?!)

My slipping consciousness returns at once when I hear someone speaking. At first, I thought that Hiori has come, but I can’t see anyone nearby. It makes me wonder where the voice is coming from. I think I’d never heard any sounds coming from the mansion before, which means that there is someone in the garden. If I’m spotted loitering here, both Hiori and I will get into a trouble. Anyway, I make haste to the thickets, and I squat down to hide myself from view. Then, I look around to see if there is anyone around while keeping myself hidden.

(! Someone is close by…)

I spot people from the other side of the mansion. It seems that there are two people quarreling about something. Although, the distance makes it difficult for me to tell who they are, and I can’t hear the content of their conversation, either. Even though it’s rude to eavesdrop, I’m worried about the grim mood that they’re exuding. In the end, I approach them stealthily while pricking up my ears. I take a peek from under the cover of the grasses and trees, and I can see a woman who looks very similar to Hiori who is in a quarrel with a somewhat eloquent, young man.

“Like I said, it’s a misunderstanding!”
“What misunderstanding is there? You confirmed it yourself. You were with my daughter!”
“B-but, that’s…”

The woman fiercely intimidates the man, who looks in dismay. It’s like I’m looking at the scene of carnage that often appears in TV dramas, although in flesh. I’m listening to their squabble like it’s someone else’s problem, but her next words blow all of my composure away.

 

“Why did you lay your hands on my daughter… on Hiori?!”

 

Daughter…?!

 

I hurriedly close my mouth when I almost let out a shout in surprise. Although, it seems that they didn’t hear me since they continue bickering at each other. I pat my chest in relief. Still, I didn’t know that woman is Hiori’s mother…… no wonder they look alike so much.

“You told me that you loved me. Were those all lies?!”
“N-no! I wasn’t lying! Believe me.”
“Then why did you impregnate that child?!”

(She knows that Hiori is pregnant?!)

I’m surprised. I thought she didn’t know about it. But, regardless of how distant they are to each other, they’re living in the same mansion anyway. She would have noticed it in due time. Then, I send a glare to the man who is being cornered by Hiori’s mother. So… he’s the one who hurt Hiori, Kashima Masayuki.

(Calm down… me…)

I hold down the urge to jump out and punch him in the face. I’m clenching both my fists so hard that it might bleed, but I release them and touch the ground instead. The only thing that I would achieve with that is my own gratification——in contrast, her situation will worsen further. My hatred is brimming over, so I clench my teeth in order to endure it.

“It’s her… your daughter was the one who seduced me! I was driven to the corner, and I couldn’t refuse… t-that’s how it came to be! It’s the truth!! …You’re the one I love…!”

“………”

Just, what did that man say just now?

After what he did to Hiori, he’s still spouting this nonsense, shifting all his guilt to her? Just how rotten is that man? Just how much should I hate him?

“………hh!!”

Stop joking around. Stop joking around!

With my hands, I pin down my legs that are trying to move. I close my lips before I can scream. I think that I’m close to crossing my limit. The next word that leaves that man’s mouth might be when I intervene between the two and let my anger run amok.

“I see… that child… I see, so that’s how it is…”

She starts muttering in an almost inaudible voice. She wears a blank expression, and light has disappeared from her pupils.

“H-hey…”

Noticing her strange behavior, the man draws back and takes some distance. Hiori’s mother totters with unsteady legs. I thought that she is trying to go somewhere, but she is actually retrieving an item that has been placed nearby. What she now holds in her hand is something that is very similar to a knife—a sharp pair of scissors that is used for flower arrangement.

“Does she want to torment me…? Fufu… fu… fufufu…”

Although there is a smile on her lips, her face betrays that very expression. She is so terrifying that I feel a shiver down my spine. I never knew that a smile can be so frightening.

“W-what… are you… doing with those…?”
“………”

The woman doesn’t answer him. But, I have a really bad premonition. All this time, she is looking towards where Hiori’s room is. Thump, thump, my heartbeat resounds as I hear warnings in my head, telling me that things aren’t good, and that I can’t let it go as is.

Staggeringly, she starts walking towards where Hiori is, with her eyes and mouth crooked, with a pair of scissors in her hand. It’s easy for me to imagine what is going to happen. When I do, I win out of my fear, and I rush out of the grasses.

“W-who are you?! Where did you…”

The man reveals his eyes wide open, startled by my appearance. He looks frightened, and he lets out a yelp, which is so pathetic to be coming from a grown man. So, this is the man who hurt Hiori? Yeah, it’s all because of him that she…… no, this is not the time for that. What I need to do right now is not to condemn him, but to stop her mother.

I spread my arms before the woman, showing that I won’t let her advance any further.

“W-wait! Hiori didn’t do anything! It’s your misunderstanding!”
“You…! W-what are you blabbing about…?!”

When I raise my voice, Hiori’s mother twitches, as she raises her head a bit.

“…I believe… you are the child who always comes to meet Hiori.”
“So… you know about it…”
“……”

It seems that she has known about my sneak visits all along. Although, it makes me wonder why she never comes out against it. I can’t tell if it is out of her parental affection, or perhaps she is only being apathetic about her.

“Why is it always that child…? Why is she loved so much…?”
“Eh?”

She smiles in self-derision. Her previously blank pupils are now filled, with madness. However, she’s not directing them to me, but to the man behind her.

“Even though I love you so… why won’t you love me back?!”
“Eek! W-what the hell is wrong with this woman! You’ve gone… mad!”
“You told me… you told me that you loved me, didn’t you?!”
“…Oh shit! Don’t get near me!”

There’s not even a hint of kindness in the man’s voice, only words of rejection. He’s more than prepared to flee out of fear. When the woman looks at the state he is in, she shows a weak smile, before staring off into the distance.

“I see. In the end, no one loves me… no one would…”

Grasping the scissors tightly in her hand, she firmly walks away from the main building. There’s no doubt that she’s heading to her own daughter’s room.

“…I told you, it’s a misunderstanding! Hiori really did nothing! Please calm down and listen!!”
“Don’t get in my way.”
“?!”

She thrusts the scissors towards me, threatening me to get out of her way. In the face of a life-threatening situation, my body is petrified, refusing to move. In my paralyzed state, she walks pass me from the side. One step, and another; she is approaching the target of her hatred ever so slowly, but surely. I think of solving her misunderstanding. However, all my shout falls on deaf ears, and they don’t even serve to impede her movement. Her mind must be occupied with nothing but her hatred towards Hiori.

What should I do? What can I do to stop her?

Nothing comes to mind no matter how I try to think with my confused mind. On the other hand, she’s gradually approaching Hiori while I’m thinking. I need to hurry and stop her, before I lose her.

Before I lose my irreplaceable, precious one.

 

 

“hh!!”

 

 

My body moves again… but not because I have thought up of something. Instead, my body moves on its own because I must stop her. I cling to her from behind to restrain her from going any further.

“I told you, not to get in my way!!”
“Gh?!”

When she shakes me off forcefully, I feel as though my whole body is being blown away, as [something] is thrust into my abdomen. Stab, I can feel the sensation of a foreign item infiltrating my body.

“——ah…”

All of a sudden, intense pain assails me. I timidly look at my abdomen, at the scissors thrust into it. Blood slowly seeps into my clothes, dyeing them red.

“…eh… ah…?”

Noticing what she has done, she hurriedly pulls the scissors out.

“————hh!!!!”

The shock that I receive from having the sharp tool extracted from my body makes me let out a soundless scream. I feel burning pain and heat in my stomach. It’s the most painful experience that I’ve ever had. The pang almost makes me faint, but I use all my spirits to hold on.

“…ah… gh… aaah…”

It hurts so much that I want to writhe around. Cold sweats are rolling down my cheek, and I can feel my body temperature dropping little by little.

“hah… huff…!”

I cover the bleeding part of my stomach with my hand. I almost fall to my knees, but I keep my strength to remain standing.

No… I can’t… pass out here.

If I fall asleep now, what is gonna happen to Hiori? My abdomen hurts, so much, so much that I can’t bear it. But strangely, the one I’m concerned about is Hiori, not myself.

“I… what did I just… why did I…”

Her expression that was full of hatred has changed into that of bewilderment and shock.

 

“Fuck… y-you… murderer! U-uwaaaaah…!!”

 

The man who has simply watched the entire course of events utters horrible jeers to her, and runs off unsightly. This is the extent of the person who spouted love to that woman. How awful and cruel it is. Hiori’s mother only looks at the retreating figure of that joke of a man in a daze. The red scissors slip off from her limp fingers to the ground.

“You’re… you’re wrong… Hiori isn’t… at… fault… She was assaulted… the victim…”
“………”

She looks at me with blank amazement. It seems that she’s finally willing to listen.

“You’re… his victim, too……”
“……hh”

I couldn’t feel any love whatsoever from his attitude. The only sentiments he gives are sadness, despair, hatred, anything but love. But, even so, perhaps Hiori’s mother did receive the phantoms of love from that man. Even though it was a farce, she still spent those times in happiness.

“You’ve been… deceived… by his lies…”
“You’re wrong… it’s because of that child… she snatched him away from me.”
“…Hiori didn’t do anything… like that.”
“That child detests me… There’s no limit to what she can do…”
“It’s true that Hiori hates you… both her parents. But, still, she definitely won’t snatch… anything, anyone important to someone else.”

Hiori is a taciturn girl who always says cold things, but on the other hand, she’s a really kind girl. No matter how much she hates someone, she won’t do anything that would hurt them. But due to her clumsiness, she holds it within, taking everything upon herself. All this time, she keeps it to herself, suffering all alone. The only person that she’s hurt is nobody but herself.

“Please, believe in her.”

It’s becoming harder for me to speak, so I take a deep breath. I feel the strength leaving my body in every word I speak. But, I won’t stop.

“You’re her mother. If you won’t believe in her, then who would? If you don’t love her, then who would?”

I don’t know what I’m saying to her myself, but I try to convey everything that I want to say, as though I’m screaming inside.

“Don’t run away, from your own child. Even if she rejects you, please face her straight on. Keep conveying it to her, until it properly gets conveyed.”
“………”

I know nothing about the relationship between Hiori and her parents. Actually, who am I to say in this respect?

“I beg you, don’t point your hatred… to your own daughter…”

But, I can’t remain silent about it. I’ve got to tell her. This pair of awkward mother and daughter has been bound by various shackles, and they couldn’t build a proper bond between them.

“Please, protect Hiori… I beg you…”

 

…because I might not be able to protect her anymore.

 

But, I don’t say that part aloud. I wonder if I’m still sane for asking this kind of request towards the person who just stabbed me. On the other hand, she is looking at me with her narrowed eyes, showing an indescribable expression. She no longer looks terrifying, but the expression she’s making now makes me worried instead.

“It’s already too late… for anything to be done.”
“Of… course not…”

I pick up the bloodstained scissors lying on the ground next to me, and I hold tight the sharp tool that had pierced me.

“Ah… haha… I’m so clumsy… I fell down over nothing… and I ended up getting stabbed in the stomach by accident. Aah— it’s so… stupid of me…”
“…What are you talking about? I was the one——”
“You’re mistaken. It’s not… your fault. It was an… accident. Please know that… I was the one who… got myself stabbed.”
“There is no mistake! I stabbed you, with the intent to murder you! Because you were getting in my way!! And, I’m intending to kill my daughter, too……”
“Yup. I’m the one who got in your way… right? If only… I could resolve the… misunderstanding… better…”
“No, no!! Everything… is my fault!!”

She intends to snatch the scissors from me, but I seize her hands. Although there is barely any power in my hands, she doesn’t seem to be trying to get away. With my trembling, powerless hand, I hold her hands with all my might, believing that my wish will get conveyed to her.

“It must… have been lonely for you… all… this time…”

When I put more strength in my grip, I can feel her giving a start. She seems to be confused, as she looks at me in a daze. Aah, somehow, she looks really like Hiori right now. She would look at me the same way whenever she’s shocked by my actions. Right after, she would turn into a scowl and scold me, though.

“Hiori has been… feeling lonely, too. She may have said that she hated both her parents… but I’m sure… in truth… she’s lonely.”
“………”
“So please… be her support… and… protect them… both Hiori… and her child.”

Her eyes are quivering for a moment. But, seeming to have found her determination, she looks at me straight in the eye. And…

“You’re a foolish one.”

She faintly smiles. Her lack of ability to smile is really similar to Hiori. It must be the reason why I want to protect this woman, I think.

“…I’m sorry.”

After muttering those few words, she lets go of my hands and slowly walks away. Although, instead of walking towards Hiori’s room, she’s heading to the main part of the mansion.

“I wonder… if she’ll be okay…”

It seems that I’ve managed to prevent the worst from happening. But, there is still something else I must do. I still have to convince Hiori that I’m the one who hurt myself.

“Ugh… uh..”

Maybe because I’m feeling relieved, the pain returns to assail my abdomen, as though I just remember it. I still have some talking to do with that man, but my body is already at its limit.

(Is this the end for me…?)

I grasp the bloodstained scissors. While I still have strength in my legs, I drag along my feet to reach the place where we usually meet up. When I reach the usual spot, I lean on the big tree as I sit down. As long as I’m here, Hiori will be able to find me.

“Haah…”

I wonder what Hiori will think when she looks at my condition. With how kind she is, surely, she’s going to worry more than she needs to. I don’t want to make her worry, but I have no more energy to move. At least, I’ll feign my composure to deceive her.

(…Hiori?)

I put up with the pain, until Hiori finally arrived. My consciousness has been flickering for a while, so I failed to notice her earlier. I can feel my body being shook around, which is how I notice that Hiori is here by my side.

It seems that… I don’t have much time left.

I look towards Hiori with my unfocused eyes, and I can see her blurry face. Aah, my eyes are getting hazy… I try to concentrate, and I can see her expression somehow or another, which I carve in my heart. She looks really worried, and sad. I feel a bit regret. I try to smile in order to ease her worries, but it doesn’t seem to be working much. She always looks composed, so I find it a little cute when she’s flustered like this. Well, I know it’s rude of me to think like that.

“…I’ll be right back.”

She is returning to the mansion to call the ambulance, and I gaze at her from behind. To tell the truth, I want her to stay with me, but I no longer have the strength to say anything, nor to reach my hand to her. Aah, there are so many things that I still have to tell her. The only thing I can do now, is to pray that everything will turn out well.

 

 

 

Hiori.

 

 

 

 

From the day I met her—since we were children, we were always together.

 

Our houses were nearby, so maybe it would be appropriate to call us childhood friends.

 

She should have been two years younger than me, but she always acted so haughtily.

 

To make it worse, she was from an old, rich family which would make her a high-class lady fit for a painting.

 

If I was late to a meetup, even for just a minute, her mood would worsen and I would become the target of her insult.

 

If I received a bad score on a test, she would lecture me with a stern look on her face for hours.

 

If I fell over nothing, she would give a very cold look in her eyes, so much that I thought she was going to kill me, albeit in a figurative sense.

 

She treated me poorly again and again, which would have inflicted a mental trauma to normal people. I arrived to the thought that she might have hated me all along. But when I resolved myself to ask her directly, apparently, that wasn’t the case. It was fun spending time with her, so it made me really happy to know that she didn’t hate me. Although, I don’t know what she really thought of me, even now.

It’s okay even if I wasn’t her number one, or two, even if she did not think of me as anyone special… it’s okay.

 

 

 

It would be great if she thought of me as a friend.

 

 

 

 

(haha…)

 

 

I reminisced a time when she ate a cookie I made with an expressionless face, and murmured that it was delicious. ‘Is it really delicious?’ I asked, but she got angry, telling me not to make her repeat herself. She was a girl that rarely smiled, and she would never say her true feelings aloud. That’s why even if I call her my childhood friend, I hardly know anything about her.

 

I thought it would be best to be quiet about things that she didn’t want to tell others about.

 

 

(I was so stupid…)

 

Since she would get angry at me every time I received a bad mark, my grades ended up going up. Although, it seems that the stupidity in my head never changed. If only I was a bit smarter, things would not turn out like this.

I reap what I sow.

(There’s nothing I can do about it.)

Even so, perhaps it would have been better if I did what I could. After all, it is so much better than regretting things I didn’t do.

(Still, I’m sure she’s really angry.)

My eyes can’t see anything anymore, my ears can’t hear anything, either. I can’t see her displeased face, nor can I hear her icy voice anymore. It makes me feel lonely, and pained. But taking on the positive side, I don’t need to listen to her scolding because of it.

(Ah, it doesn’t hurt anymore.)

I have lost my eyesight, my sense of pain, as well as the strength to move my body. Although I can’t confirm it, I am sure that a large amount of blood is flowing out of my body—I am dying. I can no longer be saved.

(I’m going to die.)

Now that I think of it, I once joked about how I wanted to die with a smile on my face. I think she said something in reply, while looking displeased.

(But in the end, I didn’t have the time to put on a smile.)

I wish I could say something to my mother, father, to my younger sister for the last time. I wish I could see everyone’s faces, for one last look. Thinking back upon it, I have so many regrets, but there’s nothing I can do anymore.

(I wonder if I managed to protect her.)

It’s frustrating that I can’t do anything anymore, but please… let her be happy. I want her to be really, really happy and smile.

(I think, it’s soon.)

My consciousness is fading, and I can’t think anymore. I am slowly disappearing from this world. Her face dimly appears in my mind, it was the last that I saw of her—a face full of sadness. It doesn’t have to be a smile, but at least, it would have been better if I could see her usual face.

 

I’m already prepared to die. Because no matter how I struggle, it’s a fact that I can’t escape from.

But…

you know, I…

 

 

 

(…I don’t want to die.)

 

 

 

 

I want to be by her side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to live in this world, in the world where she lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I’m… sorry…)

 

 

 

Without being able to convey those words, and with those prayers, I slowly take my last breath.

 

 

 

 


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6 thoughts on “Warm Place Chapter 28

  1. ugh…..!!!! Oh my….!!!!!!
    sigh… The end is coming soon, really looking forward to it.!! and the extra chapters too.!! haha

    — Thanks for the chapters~ ^^.

    Liked by 1 person

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