Author: Inaida Sou
Translator: Kei of ChocoCats
○ 256 DAYS AGO
[Good morning. This is the Town Hall informing, it’s 6 o’clock in the morning. This is the Town Hall informing, it’s 6 o’clock in the morning. Let’s do our best today as well.]
In the area where Grandpa lives, speakers are installed in each house to call for evacuation in case of disasters. To prevent any possibility of the speaker being faulty, they broadcast an announcement every morning at 6 o’clock. Forgetting the fact completely, I jumped out with that sudden roar. Maybe because I usually woke up at 4 o’clock to make a lunch box and prepare surprises for my brother, I’m feeling absent-minded. After folding up the futon, I walked out of the room while sighing and heads to the bathroom, where my brother had just finished washing his face.
“Mai, good morning. It’s unusual for you to get up late.”
Is it surprising because it’s rare? Well, if he were surprised by such a simple thing, that would surprise me too… “Excuse me for a bit.” My brother said, fixing his bed hair as I start washing my face.
“Even a perfect brother can get a bed hair, huh…”
“Doesn’t it hurt when the bubbles come into your eyes?”
“It is. It’s super painful.”
“Then don’t look up here and rinse your face properly.”
I rinse my face while smiling bitterly. My brother muttered, “I’m glad Grandpa seems fine, even though he has surgery.”
“…Your respond seems a bit weak, what’s wrong?”
My brother tilted his head to my words. I can’t stop thinking about last night’s atmosphere as if saying grandpa’s time is near. But maybe it’s just my own imagination…
“Yeah. Because I love Grandpa, Mai. So, if there is something else…”
“…I was worried that Grandpa’s sickness is actually not as simple as he said.”
“…Well, just a feeling.”
My brother seems trying to digest my statement. Don’t tell me, maybe he listened to yesterday’s talk…? And now he’s trying to confirm it…? If so, it’s better to stop this talk.
“I’m hungry, I wonder if breakfast is ready.”
With that said, I try to go to the kitchen. However, I was pulled back by my elbow.
“You still have bed hair. I’ll fix it.”
“It’s okay, I’m living with the latest fashion style.”
“It’s already become an ancient style.”
My brother put me back in front of the washbasin and starts to brush my hair. Is it because my hair was unbearable to see, or because he did not want the topic to end abruptly?
“Did you hear anything from Grandpa yesterday?”
It seems that it was the latter. I cheated by saying, “Nothing, but he was talking about what if he died.”
“Well, funerals would be a problem, isn’t it? It seems that Grandpa was treated as an oddball by other relatives after all.”
When I asked back, my brother raised his index finger and lower his voice, saying, “Oh, it’s a secret.”
“It’s hard to say, but he’s weird, isn’t he? His voice is loud, and he can’t read the mood. Also, his willpower is too strong… Grandma was a dependable person, so her relationship with other relatives is fine, but still, there is a distance.”
“We used to live together when I was little, so I can see that there is a distance between the relatives.”
My brother sounds uneasy. But somehow, I felt he might be lying. He can act well, and I don’t know which is true. I’m sorry for doubting, but I’m worried about the relationship between my brother and grandpa.
“But even if Grandpa is weird, I still like him.”
“…Yeah. Well, because Mai is good friends with that temple child, right.”
“Yeah. My friend told me, that when he came to the house, he was so surprised. Gothic Lolita, but it’s all pink.”
“Yukari insisted that it’s a Sweet Lolita, not a Gothic Lolita, and stop disrespecting my friend. People can like whatever they like, as long as they don’t bother other people.”
My brother’s face stiffened when I strongly protested. “But…” he immediately counters my words while smiling.
“I watched it on TV the other day. We won’t know what such an otaku kid would do, they said he might be a potential criminal.”
“Such thing is irrelevant.”
“Is that so?”
“I mean, hobbies have nothing to do with crime. I might kill people in games, but no matter what I think I still have my fundamentals as a human being. Also, there are a lot of people who have normal hobbies but still want to kill or beat up people.”
For example, my brother. I almost blurted it and stopped myself in a hurry. This is bad. I got too worked out because he talked badly about my friends. Rather, why did my brother suddenly say bad things about Yukari-chan?
“But I think the people who always want to kill people or who have a hobby of killing living beings, have it hard.”
“If someone loves music, he can just listen to some music, and it’s fine right. But if a person who loves to kill people really wants to have fun, he’ll get caught. He can’t do what he loves, and he’ll have to endure it in his life forever. I think it’s hard to think about it.”
For the time being, I decided to follow my brother. Even though I don’t know if I’m following up properly.
“It’s better for such a person to die, right.”
“I don’t think he’s better to die. After all, his behaviour is just an excuse, he can just kill insects or play killing games to substitute killing humans, dogs, or cats.”
“Won’t it escalate his desire to kill humans if you let him kill insects or play such games?”
“But isn’t it more dangerous to suppress it?”
Rather, why am I giving my brother an opinion on how to deal with cruel personality humans? My brother should have been more familiar with this rather than I. When I suspiciously asked, “Also, why do you really get into such kind of talk?” My brother, who always trying to blend in like normal people, said while laughing, “Ah, no, I was just curious after watching the psychopaths in a movie.”
(Nah, he just wants to justify himself and see if Mai can accept him as he is lol)
“Oh, I see. Are you scared?”
“Yeah. It’s scary. I was wondering what to do if those kinds of people were actually close to me.”
Does he, perhaps say that because he wants to meet someone who might understand in a roundabout way? But when I look at my brother, he gave “a third-year middle school student who is afraid of psychopaths” kind of look, so I can’t really understand his thought.
And before I knew it, my hair is already done fixed. I thanked him and left the room.
I was wondering if there was any good excuse to leave Grandpa’s house alone, but that concern was easily resolved.
Because while I was eating breakfast, grandpa called me out and said, “Mai is going out with Ojii-chan today.” My parents want to accompany us, but grandpa said, “Let me relax with my grandchild occasionally.” I was wondering what about my brother, but it seems grandpa will go out with him in the afternoon.
“Hmm, waiting for a traffic light is quite boring, huh.”
After eating breakfast, grandpa drove me to the next town. There are only mountains and wide rice fields around the grandpa’s town, but this town has family restaurants and supermarkets. Probably because I’m used to looking at trains and station construction buildings, so this scenery feels fresh.
“Maybe Ojii-chan isn’t used to it because there is no traffic light around your area.”
“Yeah. Because it’s rare for people to walk around. But racoons and snakes often pass through the road, so we can’t speed up too.”
After a while, the traffic light turned green. The car starts running and the view from the window begins to change.
“Soon… I’ll be returning my license to the country, so I won’t be able to give you a ride like this anymore.”
“Is it because you are already elderly?”
“No, because I will have surgery on my head. Even if there’s nothing serious, it’s still not good for an old man who had head surgery to drive around, right.”
I’ve seen in the news on TV that grandpa and grandma had an accident before, and because dad is overly worried, I saw him have a fight with grandpa. I only saw the fight over the phone, but I could hear grandpa say something like, “I didn’t even get hurt, so why must I stop driving?” and “I will still drive until I’m 100 years old!”.
“…Ojii-chan, why did you go to the shrine?”
“Why, if you say that you will be cursed, you know?”
“What, you said it yourself that ‘there is no God, and I must do everything by myself‘, didn’t you?”
In my words, Grandpa looked embarrassed.
“Well, I’m in preparation for head surgery. I kinda want to rely on God.”
“Is it that serious? The illness.”
“it’s not that serious. It’s just about opening my head… Oh, we arrived. Over there.”
Grandpa pointed to a flower shop nearby, with a blackboard sign on its pale pink roof. Maybe because it’s winter, small fir trees and Christmas flowers were lined up on the edge of the eaves.
“Is Onii-chan’s mother the owner of that store?”
“Oh. Don’t mention Makoto’s name no matter what, okay? Because we won’t know what might happen after all.”
I actually don’t have any idea what to do. But the shop, facing the main street, is open. When I left grandpa’s car and went to the store, a little girl was drawing a picture at the store counter. At the same time, a woman wearing an apron stood there and smiled at me while saying “Welcome!”
“Is there anything you are looking for?”
“No… well, it just… the flowers…was beautiful from a distance… so I thought I’d go take a look a bit.”
“Oh, I see. Thank you. Please look around leisurely.”
Grandpa gave me 2,000 yen to buy flowers in case of emergency. So, it’s fine to buy some flowers later. While pretending to be choosing flowers to buy, I steal a glance at the clerk…or should I say, my brother’s real mother.
By looking at her, she’s just a really normal person. The cool atmosphere in her eyes is similar to my brother’s, but instead of my brother’s hard to approach beauty, she gave an impression of a gentle and friendly person.
Also, the girl at the counter looks more like her daughter than my brother.
The girl is drawing animals and flowers colourfully. When I was staring at her, she asked me, “Onee-chan wants to draw too?”
“Ah no, I just thought your drawing is really good.”
“I’ll ask Futaba-nee-chan to decorate the shop with this!”
…Not mother? Perhaps my question was shown in my face, my brother’s mother said, “This child is my niece.” Her appearance of stroking her niece’s head while smiling gently is giving me a vibe of a good mother, and I feel her action is really coming from her heart.
“…Uhm… I’m sorry I lied.”
“My name is Mai Kurobe. Today, I came to ask about my brother.”
Then, as I imagined, my brother’s mother’s face turned grim. It’s not an angry or wary face, but more like an anxious face about something.
“Youko, why don’t you show the drawing to grandma?”
“And please tell grandma that an old acquaintance came to the store. Can you?”
My brother’s mother told her niece, she quickly headed to the door to flip the ‘open’ tag into ‘closed’ before finally facing me.
“Did you come alone today? How about Makoto?”
“I came with Ojii-chan. My brother is at Ojii-chan’s house. He must be studying because he has exams, so he won’t come here.”
My brother’s mother nodded understandingly to my words. Then she brought out two chairs from inside and urged me to sit down.
“… It might be a quite long story, is it okay?”
As if testing me, her gaze turns cold. I met her eyes and firmly nodded.
“Did that person remarry?”
My brother’s mother, who took off her apron, stares straight at me. I replied, “yes, about four years ago, so I have no blood connection with my brother.”
“…I see. So, what did you see? Or has Makoto done something to you?”
“No, he hasn’t done anything (yet). But… I’ve always felt uncomfortable.”
“Well, that kid is smart. And if something is deemed harmful or bothering him, he’ll eliminate it right away. Like me.”
Like…her? When I looked at my brother’s mother’s face, she nodded with her eyes down. As I expected, this person didn’t even raise her hand to my brother. She was the one who was accused of child abuse and was eliminated by my brother.
(*playing Agatha’s All Along* there you get it guys, it’s not her mother, it’s been Makoto all along!)
“He’s been smart since he was little. He was also kind-hearted. He didn’t fight with his friends for toys, nor did he whines or be unreasonable like any other child. When I told my friends about it, they were so jealous of me, but I’m actually scared of him. “
“Yes. It seems like every escape route is being blocked. For example, if there is a very good student at school, and an inferior student is saying that the good student actually doing bad things behind the scenes, no one will believe it, right?”
Certainly, no one will believe him. Because he’s a good student, he surely won’t do bad things. If the relationship between both students is not good, some people who don’t know anything might blame the inferior student for being jealous.
“I thought that if Makoto did something wrong in the future and I scolded him, no one will be able to accept it. After all, that was the case.”
With that said, her eyes that were staring straight at me looked strong-willed. I think she knows him so well because she was with him all the time. After all, it was her who raised him.
“Since then, I’ve been watching Makoto, so he won’t do anything strange. To not let him do anything wrong. But compared to me, he was much more intelligent and cruel. He doesn’t look like a young child.”
My brother’s mother grasped her hands tightly.
“One year later. Suddenly I got a call from the kindergarten. They said there were some bruises on Makoto-kun’s back. It wasn’t just recently, but it looks like a year’s accumulation of bruises. I don’t know what it was. When I was panicking, my paternal grandmother came with a child guidance centre, and they accused me of abusing Makoto. At last, I just realized that I’m being eliminated.”
“My brother… At that time…”
“Yes, he had a face like a child who was just abused, frightened by her mother, and he was crying ‘help!’ When I finally left the house with my grandmother, he looked back at me and sneered. And because I was so upset, I impulsively said… ‘Monster… You aren’t my child’, even though he’s obviously my child.”
Monster. Perhaps my brother looked back to make the evidence more obvious as a finishing touch. However, I had mixed feelings about how it felt if my parent said that I was a monster.
“Then I got divorced right away. They said I wasn’t obliged to pay the damage payment, but my place to live suddenly disappeared, and my parents died early. When I was in disarray, my sister helped me up. That child’s parents’ house is in the prefecture, but I got permission to stay within the prefecture.”
“But to think that he has a stepsister now… Are you a junior high school student now?”
“Yes, I’m in the second year of junior high school.”
“This is just a little advice for you, it’s better if you go to a boarding high school outside the prefecture. And you better stay away from Makoto. If he realizes that you know his true nature, he will turn your life upside down.”
“…That might be true, isn’t it…”
I vaguely reply. “Don’t tell me… you…” my brother’s mother said with a surprised face.
“I might not be able to change his nature, but I just hope at least he won’t hurt or kill people. I don’t know if I actually can do that… but I definitely want to do something about it.”
Before I knew his true nature, I liked my brother to the point I wanted to marry him. I might lose that feeling when I knew that he would become the mastermind murderer in the future, but I still treasure those times that I spent together with him all this time. And there are also the lives of his classmates. I can’t just run away alone.
Listening to my statement, my brother’s mother’s face looks complicated. I’m sure she’s actually a kind person because she cares about me, the person who suddenly appeared and claims to be her son’s stepsister, to the point she warns me about his true nature. After talking for a while, I left the store afternoon.
I approached grandpa’s car and knocked on the window. As soon as I got into the car, I immediately inquire about the question I’d been wondering about today.
“Ojii-chan, you were 80% sure that Onii-chan wasn’t actually abused, so you sent me to see her, weren’t you?”
“How did you know?”
“Because Ojii-chan is always kind and worried about me. Even though you gave me a modified security buzzer, you still wouldn’t let me go to meet someone who abuses a child alone, right?”
“So, it’s because I’m overly doting on you, huh?”
Grandpa laughs like a child who got his prank exposed. But I continuedly to say, “but it’s not only that.”
“You were supposed to have an injury, but you are trying to drive, it was too unnatural. And you said that you fell from stairs*, but the hospital said you collapsed*? Usually, if you fell from stairs and faint*, they will say the same thing as what you said, right? So, which is true?”
(*I’m sorry I couldn’t find better wording for this, Mai said two different words, one is ‘fell down’ 落ちた, which means to slip down or fell from stairs, and the other is ‘collapsed’ 倒れた, which means he lost consciousness, in a sickbed, or in critical condition. When she said, ‘fell from stairs and fainted’, means he lost consciousness but not in a dangerous way. In short, Mai is pointing out the fact that the hospital and grandpa’s story do not match up.)
“…the thing about me collapsed, it was two months ago. It wasn’t recently… I wonder if it’s because I collapsed at the wrong place.”
“But if you collapse at this season, you might freeze to death.”
“Nah, it’s a place with many people pass by, but the garbage trucks that collect garbage only come there at fixed times though.”
(No, don’t ask me, this is so confusing that two translators were dead from laughter in wondering why the garbage truck-kun has a cameo here…)
“…Two months ago, was it when you discover the thing in your brain?”
“Yeah. That’s why I will have surgery next month. The doctor says that although the probabilities are low, the chances of me going crazy aren’t zero. So, while I’m still sane, at least I want to make sure about Makoto’s mother. But then again, I thought it was better for you to go and confirm, rather than me.”
“You are really attached to Makoto. So, I thought I should let you know the danger. I thought you won’t believe it if I just told you. So, I think it’s better if you talk to a person who had experienced it once even in a roundabout way. But when I saw you in the bathroom this morning, I was surprised because there was a clear distance between you and Makoto.”
Indeed, I just learned that my brother was a psychopath this summer. Before that, I was so obsessed with my brother, no matter what grandpa said, I won’t believe he was dangerous. So, grandpa took the trouble to pretend he fell and summoned us, so I can meet my brother’s mother. However, some doubts still remain. When did Grandpa think that my brother wasn’t actually abused by his mother?
“When did you realize that Onii-chan wasn’t being abused by his mother?”
“…I don’t have any particular chance to. However, I just couldn’t forget the eyes of Makoto’s mother, who called Makoto a monster. Besides, Obaa-san seems to have hit Takayuki once.”
“Oh. At that time, I was working abroad, and Obaa-san took care of Takayuki alone. But one day I got a call from Obaa-san who told me to help her. I went back to Japan in hurry, afraid if something went wrong, I found Takayuki who seems have been beaten, crying.”
“I see, so that had happened…”
“I’ve always thought that Obaa-san’s eyes were different from Makoto’s mother’s eyes, and maybe Obaa-san thought, ‘maybe that might happen to Takayuki too back then’, so she couldn’t forgive Makoto’s mother and tried to protect Makoto more. The more I think about it, the more I believe that he’s not normal. Let’s say it’s just an old man’s intuition.”
“And when I had to go to work, I showed a movie to Makoto, but he always rewinding the part where people are dying all the time. Because Takayuki was a quiet child, I thought Makoto might be like that too. But after you came to the family, I started to think differently.”
The fact that comparing me with my brother made grandpa think that my brother’s behaviour was strange might mean that grandpa was not aware of my brother’s true nature in the manga.
“I wonder if Onii-chan and I are really different.”
“The eyes and laughter are obviously different from a normal child. I have no evidence, it’s just my intuition. But a month from now, when I did my surgery, that intuition may disappear. I might think so because at that time there is a tumour in my head. But before that happened, I had to do something.”
Somehow the urgency can be felt because grandpa was afraid that he would think differently after his surgery.
“Hey, Mai. What do you think of Makoto? Does Ojii-chan’s thought wrong?”
“I also have the same thought with Ojii-chan. Nothing is wrong. I think it’s correct.”
I think my brother is really the kind of person that grandpa and his real mom thought. He likes to hurt and manipulate people as he likes, and he’s not interested in people’s feelings. But that person is also my brother.
“Ojii-chan, I’ll do something about Onii-chan, so I want you to have surgery with confidence and get well fast.”
I said that straightforwardly without hesitation, after a while grandpa laughed as if amazed.
“You really like your Onii-chan and this Ojii-chan, huh? Makoto and I are happy to hear that.”
“Ojii-chan aside, is Onii-chan really happy?”
“Oh, he’s smart. He’ll be able to live alone. But he feels different from a normal human being. It’s loneliness. So, I’m sure it’s better for him to have someone like you who can accept everything.”
Live alone. When I think about it, certainly, he can live alone.
When my parents went out and the two of us stay at home, my brother does everything flawlessly. I’ve never seen anything that he’s not good at.
A brother who does anything perfectly. For some existences that can accept my brother… I think there might be many. Such a person can be a lover or something like that.
My brother looked at dad and mom in a cold atmosphere. And he looked at me as if I were a hindrance.
He has a lot of friends, and although he has been liked by his surrounding, I’ve never seen him showing an act of kindness.
“…When we get home, you will be going out with Onii-chan, right?”
“Yea. I have to be careful not to be killed.”
“Stop it, it’s not even a laughing matter.”
Grandpa started the engine and the car begin to move. Without exchanging words, I look at the rapidly changing scenery in a daze.
Someone who will understand my brother… Certainly, just this morning, I heard about the same topic from my brother. However, neither friends nor lovers can suddenly be able to understand him. Humans are not like clay or cloth that can be created.
All I can provide to him are just surprises. It’s not working very well, though.
“Ah, Ojii-chan, is there a hardware store around here?”
“Yep, there’s a big store ahead. Do you want to go there?”
“Yes, please! I have something I want to do.”
Looking at the distant sky, I thought about my brother.
T/N: Whew, didn’t expect it took this long to translate this peculiar chapter. This chapter revealed a lot of things and Makoto’s mom’s story got me in tears. Makoto has been such a person since he was a child whew.
To avoid confusion, here is a character list from me:
Kurobe Mai: our cute and energetic MC.
Kurobe Makoto: MC’s psychopath older brother, 1 year older, not blood related to our MC.
Takayuki: Makoto’s dad, married to Mai’s mom.
Asami: Mai’s mom.
Futaba: Makoto’s real mom, divorced Takayuki when Makoto was still in kindergarten.
Ojii-chan & Obaa-chan: Makoto’s grandpa & grandma from his father’s side.
Yukari: MC’s best friend, a cute girl with a sweet lolita style.
Iwai: MC’s friend and student council treasurer.
I will add more if there is more character name’s to add.
Okay, I always broke any promises I said, so I won’t promise anymore. See you on the next chap which Idk when will be posted, hopefully soon.