Chapter 2 - Fragments of the Past
What I mean was that, even though the rooms I walked past had their doors open, I couldn’t see what exactly was inside. I couldn’t see clearly, as if it was swathed in a black fog. That was also one reason why the young me was able to pass by those countless rooms.
I just knew. There was no way a closed door would open by itself. The open doors meant that someone like me had already gone inside. Therefore, I was hesitant to go through the doors. I felt like the “reason” the person who went in couldn’t come out was inside that room.
The door, gaping wide open, looked like a monster’s mouth rather than a door—a mouth that swallowed a person.
…Then what was different about the room with the door ripped off?
There was one commonality in between all these recollections that popped up randomly. These memories were too clear compared to other things from the past. Well, these memories were probably vivid because they were things I was remembering in particular. This “experience” was also the same.
Before I had the chance to look around the room, I found “one thing.”
There was one person in the middle of the room. The child looked around my age. It seemed like the lullaby was sung by this child. I could tell from one look that this child was in the same situation as I was. The child wasn’t surprised to see me in the hallway. They only grinned.
“So you came,” the child said as they waved. Come here, quickly. Over here. It was like they were calling over a stray cat. “It was hard being alone this whole time.”
I approached the child and held their hand. I was also anxious because I was alone. A frightened person would feel relieved when they saw another in a similar situation because they would feel comradery. I felt friendliness from the child despite meeting them for the first time.
The child’s hand was very thin. They looked skinnier than me. The clothes they were wearing were also worn out. Their hair was so long and shaggy that I couldn’t tell the child’s gender. The child said, in a voice as fragile and smooth as the beautiful singing, “You know, I… know a lot of things that other people don’t. That’s why people hate me. I’m all right because I’ve been alone for a long time, but I was still lonely. And it hurts sometimes.”
I tilted my head to the side. I couldn’t understand what the child was saying. “Doesn’t knowing a lot mean you’re smart? My mom bought me a bunch of books because she wanted me to become a smart person. Why don’t you like that?”
“I don’t know. My mom wails and screams if I go near her.”
‘Oh, stupid me.’ I should have realized that there was something off about what the child was saying then. I should have at least realized that the child before me wasn’t normal. However, I was raised under my mother’s protection and love, so I never experienced danger. I didn’t know how to be wary of strangers.
Instead, I ended up feeling sympathy at “wailing and screaming.”
“If your mom were like my mom, she would have praised you. She said knowing more things is better. She said that that was how you succeed in the future. My mom is always worried that I don’t study.”
I didn’t have any younger siblings related to me, but I played with my younger female cousin once a week when she came over. My cousin forced a girl doll in my hands and made me play house as the mom. She said that since she only had a dad, she didn’t know what moms were like.
Perhaps it was because I had a cousin like that, but I ended up talking as I would to a child younger than me. “My mom said that adults don’t know everything, make mistakes, and do the wrong things, so if there was something you didn’t like, you should say it directly. She said that was how to get along with other people.”
Moreover, the child in front of me was small, even though we were around the same age. Once I started seeing the child like a younger sibling, I really felt like they became my sibling, so I said more firmly than before, “That’s your mom’s fault.”
The child didn’t show much of a reaction despite my words. They looked as if they heard a story irrelevant to them and stared at me. Then, I understood why the child looked at me like that, when they said, “No, my mom did nothing wrong. She just hates that I have that kind of thing.”
“That kind of thing?”
“If not for that, I wouldn’t make my mom and others suffer.”
The child looked so depressed that I asked, “…If it’s too hard on you, do you want to give it to me?”
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