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The Beginning - Miho - June [Part 4]
"Miho. What's gotten into you lately?"
The dreaded question came up during dinnertime.
On the menu were grilled fish, boiled vegetables, tofu, and Himekura seaweed. An authentic Japanese-style evening meal of the Kurahashi household, with a faint sense of tension.
"Nothing. Well, I don't think there's anything?"
I feigned ignorance as I picked up a piece of grilled fish with my chopsticks, but...
"You seem to always be annoyed at things."
Mom saw through it all.
"Of couse not. Chiho, pass me the soy sauce."
"You're angry. Don't wanna."
"No more of that!"
Oh crap, Mom just put her chopsticks down on the table.
It was time to apologize. Although it had been wrung out with much reluctance, saying it did life some weight off my chest.
"I'm sorry too, Sis."
And why're you apologizing? Perhaps she thought Mom was angry at her as well, as she the soy sauce bottle out to me with teary eyes. I rubbed Chiho on her knees, and her body twitched in a ticklish expression.
"Listen to your Mom, Miho. I don't want you to say sorry. I want you to tell me."
Looking over us sisters, Mom picked her chopsticks back up.
"What's been troubling you?"
...Why go straight to that?
"Now, there's no way I won't know about this. You're just like your father. It's all written on your face."
"Wait a sec-- C'mon, stop saying weird stuff."
"Hey, what weird stuff, Miho? You don't like being similar to your true father?"
Dad, who had been silent up to this point, banged his emptied glass on the table. Totally drunk, totally noisy in speech and actions.
On morning shift days, Dad would start drinking immediately after he got home, ending up all intoxicated by the time everyone gets together for dinner. One might wonder how Dad, who is already quite noisy when sober, would be like when he's drunk,
"Ha~h, what a disgrace. And to think of all this time I've raised this girl-- This daughter whom I could even lend a brand new towel to-- And you're talking like that... Ha~h, what a disgrace. Makes me wanna jump into the sea."
Well, it's quite close to a nightmare.
"We get it, we get it. Just be quiet for a little while, will you?"
"Shaddup. You be quiet, Yukiko."
Mom poured shochu into the empty cup in an attempt to have him shut up, but having gained steam, Dad was unstoppable.
"Listen up... You're in High School. Worry all you want. You're still at the age to seriously worry about love or that stupid youth nonsense..."
Excuse me? Stupid? Nonsense? And your ferry broadcasts are also a source of worry, you know.
"Listen up, Miho. Worry. Worry while you still can. It's fine. Worry to the point that you think you might die, and good things will come to you. That's right, when I was in High School..."
Gah, this routine again. When Dad's drunk, he pretends to listen to the conversation, but he'd always end up taking over in rambling about stories of his past.
"Alright, alright, I'll make a write-up of your heroic saga some day. Right now I want to hear Miho's story. Now, say what you need to, Miho."
On the other hand, Mom is the one who would always listen to what I have to say. Really, I love her. I put my rice bowl down on the table and quietly arranged my chopsticks in front of it.
"To tell you the truth... It's about my future plans."
"Aren't you going to University? Using that-- what's it called... Red-Kai?"
"Z-Kai? I'm still undecided on it. I've been wondering, should I really be going on to University?"
As I made up my mind and said what I said, both Mom and Dad had a look of confusion in their eyes.
"Should you, huh... What do you think, Dear?"
"Yhuh-? Uh- Sure."
They then turned to each other, exchanging a look that seemed to have some hidden significance.
"Now, Miho. If you're worried about money, we'll manage..."
"That's not it! The thing is, well... I've been wondering what I'll even be doing there. Chihiro and Mayu-chan were saying things like it's for playing around, or to just go in case that it'll open up some future possibilities. But is it really worth it for me to go just like that? Higher education is what decides my path in life to an extent. I can't just make that kind of decision without thinking things through first."
I hadn't intended to speak this much, but those words have been weighing on my mind so much that they all rushed out.
Dad spoke up with a seemingly sober voice,
"You're really worried about some serious business there, huh..."
Then suddenly grabbed the TV remote and upped the volume by two ticks.
"What the-- Turn it off! Why're you even turning the volume up!?"
"Gah-- Don't know, don't care. When you said worry, I thought it'd be about a boy or your friends or all that jazz. This thing's some messy stuff. I'll leave it to your Mom. I got sports
news to catch-- Ooh, looks like Koshien preliminaries are starting already..."
Ugh, unbelievable. Is high school baseball preliminaries that more important than your daughter's life counseling? Of course I absolutely don't want to be similar to you, baseball freak...
After Dad had to leave the deep sea fishing fleet due to deteriorating physical health, he suddenly got into high school baseball.
Although before the he would sneer and say things like, "I can't stand watching clumsy play like that," he was hooked after watching a game live once. Came home totally awakened to Koshien's charm, so to speak. His reasoning was that, unlike the professionals that play as much as 150 games a year, one's high school baseball can end with only one loss, giving every game an emotionally moving drama of youth to go along with them.
"Ooh, check this out, Chiho. It's a special featuring Hayami Commerce."
"Really? Is Kawakita-kun on?"
On a side note, Chiho has received gifted education since when she first became aware of her surroundings, making her grow up in exactly the way Dad wanted. Now, she's so into high school baseball that, even though it's completely unrelated to Elementary School, she can be hyped up by things like the infamous Monster Rookie of the Tokyo High School.
"Yup, Kawakita's coming up. Doesn't look like he's in good form though. Even with Ogawa coming back to complete the team's main pitching and batting pillars, they still can't get a called game. Having a tough time, looks like."
Dad acted up like some kind of specialist and stretched his neck.
...Huh, so Ogawa-kun's recovered from his injuries.
I look a glance at the TV. Oh well... with all my complaining, I guess it'd be pretty hard to not be influenced at all by this family of mine, so long as we live under the same roof...
"...Hey, Dad. Mind turning the volume up a bit more?"
I readjusted my glasses and turned to face the screen.
"Ooh, so you're interested after all eh, Miho? I know you do, I know you do..."
Dad happily obliged, picking up the remote.
"What, is the life counseling session over already? Seriously, like father, like children..."
Pretending to not hear Mom's inexcusable remark for just this one time, I focused all my concentration on the TV screen.
And then, I really could not hear anything.
My consciousness was grasped in place.
The sounds stagnated, the visuals faltered. No voice entered my ears-- Not the announcer's, not Dad's, not Mom's, not Chiho's. No one else entered the focus of my eyes-- Not Kawakita-kun, not Ogawa-kun.
All of my consciousness was in one place-- Or rather, one person-- Even when the screen switched to other things, that one same scene repeated in my head.
"Miho? You alright?"
Before Mom shook me by the shoulder, I had momentarily forgotten where I even was.