When Shou came to, he found himself sleeping on his futon in his room. And outside the window he could hear birds chirping. This freezing coldness felt just like the early morning weather.
As he lay there, dazing for a bit as his brain began clearing up, he began to recalled what happened last night. And then, Shou’s face went pale. Like how the floor beneath him just gave way.
…….He cried himself to sleep.
Even though he had finally proved himself to be of help to this house! Katsuo was surely bound to be stunned at his behavior.
Shou felt like crying again but he gritted his teeth and resisted it. It seemed like his eyelids were swollen due to over-crying yesterday, looking like it had soaked in all of his tears yesterday. Ignoring it, he got out of his futon and began washing up. The water flowing out of the tap was freezing cold, but that temperature was just right for the him right now.
Shou then headed towards the kitchen. Katsuo might not had thought much of it when he gave Shou his room but the kitchen was right next to his room.
He wanted to make Miso soup and grilled fish for breakfast but he realized that rice hadn’t been prepared. It was because he had cried himself to sleep yesterday. He had always prepared the rice for the next morning before he slept.
” ….No choice.. ”
Shou mumbled to himself before changing his clothes and after which he left the house. It would bread for breakfast today.
” Shou….! Where had you been, idiot! ”
Once Shou entered the house, he was shouted at before getting wrapped in a hug by Katsuo.
” Eh…..Ka, Katsuo-san? ”
Shou was troubled. He must had done something wrong. What was it that he did? Thinking about it, he came to the conclusion that it was because he hadn’t make breakfast for today. His face paled as he apologized reflexively.
” I’m sorry! ”
” What are you apologizing for? ”
Katsuo released Shou from his arms as he asked Shou seriously. Seeing his face, Shou felt even more uneasy.
…….If this was to continued, I would be abandoned.
” I, I did not prepare today’s breakfast… ”
As Shou said with a trembling voice, Katsuo’s face changed.
” Come here. ”
Holding onto Shou’s hand, which had turn cold from going outside, Katsuo forcefully pulled him into the house.
” Where did you go? ”
After pulling Shou into the living room, Katsuo began asking.
” …… I went to the bakery to get bread for breakfast. ”
” I see. …..Sorry for suddenly shouting at you. But please, don’t go out without saying anything the next time. ”
…He thought Shou had ran away and died outside or something like that. Since yesterday that happened. His inside really went cold when he couldn’t find Shou.
After waking up, he went to Shou’s room only to find him missing. To Katsuo, even though he had no idea why Shou was crying yesterday, he knew that it seemed like happy tears.
Shou had never ever been willful and on the contrary, he had tried to be of use to Katsuo ever since he was here. Katsuo had always thought that it was wrong.
It looked to him that Shou was afraid of being abandoned if he ever did anything wrong.
Shou might think that he would be hated by him (Katsuo) for losing himself like that yesterday. Children should be willful and caused troubles to adults. And adults would forgive those behavior and slowly guide and raised them up. This was what that was normal to Katsuo but he finally realized, today, that Shou might not be thinking about the same thing as him.
No wonder Shou had always been showing consideration inappropriate of his age. To read and pay attention to others without others noticing he was doing it was what adults usually does. Katsuo felt stupid for not noticing Shou’s behavior earlier.
But above all.
The reason for not having a hear-to-heart talk with Shou was because of his pride. He thought that since he had raise a kid before, Shou’s father, he would be able to do it again. [TN: Look how your son turns out….]
He had once thought that it would be better to not mention Shou’s mother since she just passed away but was that a good thing?
Finally realizing the problem, Katsuo felt like his heart was going to burst. What had he been doing as his guardian?
” Shou. ”
The left side of the Kotatsu had completely became Shou’s place. Shou seemed to like that seat because it was the closest to his room. After sitting Shou down at his seat, Katsuo looked straight at him, calling his name.
Shou, sitting in the just-started-so-it-was-only-slightly-warm Kotatsu, jumped a bit when he heard Katsuo said his name. Katsuo then sat down opposite of him.
As expected, Shou, looking like he was scared of something, glanced at Katsuo.
” Shou? ”
Maybe his shout from earlier affected Shou more than he thought. Katsuo tried again, using a gentler tone.
” ….Ye… Yes. ”
The tiny voice was trembling. With the urge to click his tongue, Katsuo managed to squeezed his words out. Wanting to ask how he had lived with his mother. And what made him act like this.
To live while being in fear of being hated by others.
And Shou, if he ever had anything he wanted to do.
” Shou… How are you planning on living from now on? ”
” …..From now on, me? ”
Shou managed to squeeze some voice out as he looked like he was about to cry.
Shou must had thought he was throwing him away. ‘No matter, there was no way I could throw my cute grandson away, is there?!’ Katsuo felt like yelling that out as he hugged Shou in his arms but he knew that he can’t do that.
Katsuo knew. If he were to use words and theory to explain, nothing would changed. Shou would doubt his words immediately and think that it would not be applicable to him.
And his ‘not letting people hate’ way of living would continued on.
Shou still had a long way to go.
And so, Katsuo do not want just a short period of comforting. In that case, he would need to pry open Shou’s mouth.
He wanted to know why Shou had became this way.
If he did, then Katsuo had the confidence to help this little kid who tend to pile and do everything himself.
” …..Can I know how you lived before? ”
To Katsuo, who asked timidly, Shou had answered with silence. Shou, sat there as he tried to make himself smaller, his face slightly pale. As Katsuo thought, Shou’s mother had not been doing a good job in raising this kid. He also knew he was forcing Shou to think back to a dark part of his life.
Katsuo did not urged Shou, he simply sat there, and after a while, Shou raised his head.
And then Shou began to speak, stuttering and stumbling over his words.
How, from the day he could think, his father was already not around.
How his mother, in order to raised him, worked throughout the day.
How, in order to help lessen his mother’s burden, and to make her happy, he would do all the housework as he gave his all in studying.
But Shou’s mother remained apathetic to him.
No matter how he gave his all, he was never praised. It was vexing. Heartbroken. Lonely.
Shou’s tiny body began trembling and from the way he stopped time and time again to take a deep breath, Katsuo knew he was trying not to cry. He almost couldn’t stand listening till the end.
” ……Mum, had hated me. I finally realized it…. When I asked why, Mu-mum, mum said that it was because she….. hated my face. My face… she hated it…. ”
Before he realized it, Katsuo had tears flowing down his face.
” Stupid….. Idiot… ”
Katsuo hugged Shou tightly. There is no child who would be okay after knowing their own mother hated them. And above being apathetic, she had rejected everything Shou had ever did just because of his face.
Shou had always been carrying this by himself.
He must be hurting. It must had affected in how he believed in people. And even so, he was always smiling, and while covering his face, he was always moving in way to avoid people hating him.
Normal kids would be broken by now.
This kid was really strong, Katsuo once again thought.
” So that’s why you wanted to cover your face? ”
” Because….. isn’t my face disgusting? ”
Katsuo’s face must looked awful right now. From a normal perspective, Katsuo’s face was definitely the more disgusting one. But, he knew that it wouldn’t had any meaning in saying that.
” How so? Isn’t it cute? ”
As tears flowed down his face, Katsuo roughly rubbed Shou’s head.
” Shou, isn’t face simply one part of you? For example, if I am to undergo plastic surgery, I would still be me. No matter how I dressed myself up, I am still me. Do you understand? ”
Shou gave a tiny nod.
” Then… let’s say there is a beautiful Onee-chan. She might hate the dressed-up and after-surgery me because she thinks that it doesn’t suit me. Another might like me because she thinks I might be rich cause I have the money to do all that. And another might like me for me. ”
Katsuo took a breather.
” But, I am still me. Nothing changed. I might be trying to make some people like me but I am still me. In the end, it’s simply one factor. There is still a lot more. So, you are right. You can live on without your face. ”
Shou’s eyes trembled a bit.
No wait. Tears started spilling out of those eyes. It gathered under his eyes and not long, flowed down his face.
Shou suddenly moved.
” I tried my best! I know weaknesses can became a strong point for some people. Like how some comedians are great at making faces. But…. I’m scared! I can’t do anything! That’s why…. I am scared of being hated! ”
Katsuo smiled, his face wrinkling.
” Stupid, I am here, aren’t I? I don’t judge by face. Any grandson of mine is cute! ”
” That doesn’t make sense. You are not making any sense, Grandpa. ”
Saying that, Shou still had big fat tears falling down his cheeks but at the same time, the corners of his mouth rose and he laughed.