Chapter 8 – Somewhere Far
Quality Check: Kittsune
First Published on Ainushi
Basked in the light, the cute baby laughed and extended his hand.
Just who is this child?
The young girl thought as she held his hand.
She smiled when she saw the baby cheering in joy.
「Ne, who are you?」
She asked him, but of course there wasn't a reply.
She found it fun, interesting and even comforting to play with the baby.
She tenderly held his hand and absentmindedly pecked him on the cheek.
She got a reply after all.
She raised her voice in surprise.
Babies are not supposed to be able to speak after all, but she clearly heard his voice.
(Okaa-san, I'm Areido.)
She heard it once again.
(Okaa-san, Okaa-san, Okaa-san)
「I see, so you are my child…?」
She lovingly hugged her baby….
Just as she was about to rub her cheek against his….
She snapped her eyes open with a start.
Her sister was pouting before her.
「Mou! Onee-sama, you finally woke up!」
She spoke discontentedly.
But, the young girl did not notice the state of her sister.
「Was that all just a dream…?」
She muttered absentmindedly.
It felt way too real…
「….Onee-sama? What do you want to do?」
I specially came over to play, but she's just absentmindedly caressing her stomach. I can't help feeling unhappy.
But, but….seeing Onee-sama look this content, I can't bring myself to dislike it.
I might not dislike it, but I'm angry at the unborn child.
I want Onee-sama to pay more attention to me.
It's irritating and hard to bear, but that's her precious child.
Even if it's something I need to come to terms with someday, it won't be anytime soon.
「Ano ne? I've decided on the name.」
She spoke aloud abruptly.
I widened my eyes in surprise. I remember her saying previously that she will decide on a name after seeing her child's face.
Why would she change her mind all of a sudden?
「Areido. I will name this child Areido.」
That's clearly a boy's name.
What if the child is a girl? But, seeing how confident Onee-sama looked, I refrained from asking.
「I met my child in a dream.」
「That's a good name. I'm sure he'll grow up to be a fine and respectable man!」
I gave an insincere reply and looked up at my beloved Onee-sama.
「It's fine even if he doesn't become a great man, as long as he's happy, that's all that matters…」
She patted my head while giving that reply.
「Of course, that goes for you as well.」
As she added the last part in, she gave a smile befitting a Holy Mother's. I couldn't resist burrowing into her bosom to hide my joy and embarrassment.
Taiga Drama 『Ria ~The young girl known as the Holy Mother~』Official Novel Adaptation
With the light of the morning sun shining on me, who was in a side-sleeping posture, I slowly opened my eyes.
It's already morning…?
After rubbing my eyes several times, I placed my hands on the somewhat hard bed.
(TL note: something like heave-ho.)
I pushed myself up.
My everyday actions, like my sleeping posture, and how I get up has been changed due to my swollen belly and for the sake of my baby's healthy development.
Although what I really want to do is to roll about on the futon!
While screaming in displeasure in my mind, I stood up from the bed.
The area around my ankles were sore and painful.
Somehow, as I enter the final month of pregnancy, my body is getting more and more worn out, almost as if it's proportional to the swelling of my belly.
From time to time, I get into a really depressed mood and tear up.
Is it because I just woke up?
Even though I don't understand it well myself, tears were streaming down my cheeks.
I carelessly wiped them away and stood up as if the tears were just an illusion.
I'm a little… really, just a little stressed.
One of the causes of that is definitely water.
Day after day, I needed to draw water. It's really bothersome.
Fortunately, there is a proper sewage system. If the toilets were like those of the middle ages of Earth, I would have lost it.
Next would be food.
Since there are no fridges, how should I put this….
I actually think it's alright, having gotten used to it, but if I had a fridge, my life would be better.
There's also the lack of proper lighting, convenience stores, entertainment, medicine, hospitals, police post etc… The list goes on.
And I'm not sure if it's because I used to be male, or maybe all females experience this, but I've been emotionally unstable and honestly feeling afraid of childbirth. It's really pathetic.
I pat my back as I stood up with no little effort.
「I seem to be spending a lot of time in the toilet lately.」
While muttering to myself, I headed towards the toilet.
With the bucket of water that I prepared before bed, I washed my hands and then my face.
The inventor of the water pipe is definitely a genius. I never realised how convenient it was until I came here. I miss modern Japan.
「Aah~, I wanna eat ice cream…」
Haagen Daz, Garigari-kun, Yukimi Daifuku and Pino*. Ice cream used to be my favourite food but it’s just a faint memory now.
(TL note: they are all brands of ice cream in Japan.)
…Eh? It's not just my favourite food.
Now that I think about it, there seemed to have been other incredibly delicious food as well.
That's right, even just comparing cup noodles to any kind of food here….
The cup noodle is the clear winner.
I have already sighed several times since I woke up.
Shaking my head and slapping my cheeks, I tried to motivate myself.
I made a small victory pose.
The world I lost. The illusion I can never touch.
Even if I yearn for it, I can't attain it.
I still had a mountain of things I needed to do. Things that won't just leave me with an unpleasant feeling if left unfinished.
I got lazy once and procrastinated, and the result was well…. just horrible.
The sewage will rot and turn into slime, while the dust that accumulates breeds bugs.
It made the house unfit for pregnant mothers, and before long, even the food was affected.
Not understanding how it's like is a blessing in itself.
Ever since then, I stopped procrastinating on household chores.
If I think about it carefully, it's actually not a big deal anyway.
Doing housework is a good way to kill time.
I tilted my head.
A cute action unbefitting the soul of a man nearing 30 years of age.
But right now, I'm just cute Ria-chan and Ah-chan.
By the way, 『Ah-chan』is short for Aka-chan*.
(TL note: jap for infant/baby.)
When Mimoza-chan heard about it, she immediately asked what I will name the child after birth. From Ah-chan, I think I will name her 『Aria』.
I think Ah-chan is probably a girl.
Although Ah-chan used to be so energetic in the past, I have not felt much movement from her recently.
How should I put it… I get a feeling of calmness?
That's why I think Ah-chan is a she.
Although from the angle of Ah-chan's future, being male is better.
This world can be thought of as Earth's Europe during the middle ages.
It is rather hard on girls.
At any rate, the ideal for girls is to marry a rich husband, either as the wife or concubine. It is really, really difficult to attain freedom.
In many novels on Earth, after the girl is forcefully taken away by a noble, the lover will defeat the noble to get her back. It's a pretty common plot.
In these kinds of stories, readers get agitated by the noble's despicable actions and are relieved when the hero defeats the noble.
But, reality is different. Girls who are taken away would prefer becoming the lover or concubine of the noble rather than be with their former lover (hero). This is normal, considering how nobles possess more money and authority.
Things like love only comes into the picture in a world that allows for such luxuries. In reality, the marriage partner is chosen with survival as the topmost priority.
Even back on Earth, marrying for love only became common during the late Showa era. Prior to this, it was more common to have formal marriage interviews arranged for the couple.
In retrospect, perhaps being held captive by the King was sort of a blessing in disguise?
But of course, that's only going by the common sense of this era. For someone born during the Heisei era, it would not be a blessing but humiliation instead…
Even so, I am grateful to that person. I received this child from him after all.
I caressed my abdomen that carried Ah-chan.
Pumping my right hand up into the air, I hyped myself up.
Fighting spirit replenished, motivation max!
The weather is great now too, let's start with drawing water.
Getting water on rainy days is truly troublesome* so I'm glad the weather is fine today.
(TL note: I don't understand why she can't collect rainwater and save herself the trouble of going out.)
It'd be a problem if this develops into a drought, but there shouldn't be any concerns of that now.
In fact, the most troublesome rumour going around is the increased sightings of demons, a foreboding omen of the Maou's resurrection.
Demons include large lizards, so in a sense they are the wildlife of this world. Maou must be-. Pu-pu. What a joke.
Instead of bothering with this, it's better for me to finish eating quickly and finish my job of mending stuff and completing the mosquito net.
Once I have it, I wouldn't be bothered by bugs anymore. It's extremely crucial to my mental health.
Around noon, I ate some rye bread with beans and fish soup before picking up the needle and thread to continue this morning's unfinished work. Thereupon, a thought struck me.
What a waste of the fine weather today. Let's go for a walk!
It's important for pregnant mothers to get sufficient exercise, though I probably get enough of it from drawing water and other housework. Even so, going for a walk is different from housework. It's different in nature.
After storing the needle and thread back into the sewing kit, I pushed the chair back and stood up while patting my lower back. I then headed towards the door.
I grabbed a cape to ward off the cold and urged myself forward. Just as I reached out to grab the door handle, it moved away from me, faster than I could grab it. The door swung outwards and left me in an awkward posture. I barely managed to regain balance.
The one who opened the door noticed me and energetically pounced! I was hit by Mimoza-chan's frontal assault and coughed violently while taking a few steps back.
I definitely deserve praise for being able to withstand her surprise attack.
After all, I'm 11 but my body size is roughly the same as Mimoza-chan. Furthermore, I'm pregnant as well. That's why it's praiseworthy.
I complained to no one in particular.
「That's dangerous so don't do it again, okay..?」
I warned her with teary eyes.
When something is bad, I would clearly state so. When something is dangerous, I would warn of it to make sure it doesn't happen again.
This is the duty of a responsible adult… or rather, a parent's duty.
As someone who was about to become a mother, I needed to become good at such things.
But… with the personality of a Japanese salaryman, I couldn't word my warnings any firmer.
While I was immersed in my pathetic thoughts, Mimoza-chan was feeling down.
She sincerely apologized.
She really is a good girl.
I unconsciously hugged her tightly.
「Mimoza-chan is a good girl who knows how to apologise.」
All brats should learn from her.
「Yeah, Mimoza is a good girl.」
She said bashfully. She really is like an angel.
I thought I caught a glimpse of her snickering "that was easy"… must be my imagination.
I hope my child will be as cute as Mimoza-chan.
「Nee-sama. Here, a gift.」
She said while holding up a jute bag that smelt pleasantly of sweet fruits.
At the same time, her accompanying maid brought out some board games that Mimoza-chan's Onii-san developed for sale.
I guess she wants to play that today?
I was going to go out for a stroll and get some side dishes for dinner tonight… but well it's fine. I'll make do with salted butter potato and rye bread, and supplement the lack of nutrition with Mimoza-chan's gift.
「Thank you. Please come in.」
I carried Mimoza-chan and turned around to face the living room and gestured for the maid to enter.
No matter what we are going to do, it's better to do it inside rather than at the door.
Just then, I felt a sudden pain in my abdomen. This sounds crude, but it's a dull pain like the stomach-ache that comes with diarrhoea.
Eh? Did I eat something bad for lunch?
…no. Can't be.
I've been very careful with what I eat nowadays.
「Nee-sama, what's wrong?」
Mimoza-chan asked me as she noticed my strange state. Her maid looked worried as well.
「No, it's nothing.」
I shake my head and replied while firmly grasping Mimoza-chan's hand.
Since she noticed that I wasn't feeling well, Mimoza-chan's maid helped to serve the gift of fruits instead.
While taking a sidelong glance at her, I sat opposite Mimoza-chan. Before the two of us, Mimoza-chan laid out the game board known as 'chass'.
To be honest, it looks similar to chess from back on Earth. It looks similar, but I don't actually know chess well enough to say for certain.
Incidentally, Mimoza-chan's Onii-san developed other board games like 'Go' as well. But then again, I don't know 'Go' well either so I couldn't say for certain if it is like the one on Earth.
But because of that, it's kind of shameful for a near 30 year old ossan like me to be taught how to play these games by a 9 year old girl.
But, this is just the pride of a (former) ossan! When it comes to the actual match, I will definitely not lose!
What's with these childish lines?
All humans have things they can't back down from.
To put it simply, 『How can an imouto defeat her ane!』
However, I currently lacked the composure to say such things with certainty.
My aching stomach is making it hard for me to concentrate.
Even though the usual me would be driven towards winning by desire to not be defeated, no matter how bad the situation…
「Nee-sama, are you alright?」
「Y- yeah…I'm fine. Mimoza…I'm fine…」
Just smiling took all I had. I wasn't in any state to have an intellectual battle.
…Well, even Mimoza-chan who's not even 10 can tell that it's a forced smile. I was evidently in pain.
Yet I feigned nonchalance, while wiping the sweat off my forehead before making my move. Maid-san brought the dish of fruits over with a concerned look on her face.
Even so, I maintained my composure.
「Ah, that reminds me. Erm, have you decided on Ah-chan's name?」
As if she couldn't bear to watch anymore, Mimoza-chan asked.
「A girl's name? What if Ah-chan is a boy?」
「Well… what to do…?」
I was quite confident in my woman's intuition (*laughs*) that it's a girl so I didn't think of a boy's name.
The pain was worsening and it's getting harder and harder for me to maintain my composure.
Nonetheless, I desperately maintained the smile on my face and ate one of the fruits Maid-san had cut.
The sweet and sour taste of the citrus fruit spread in my mouth and calmed my tense nerves, though it's only for a short while.
Finally, the excessive pain made me slam my hands on the table with loud bang.
Their shrieks shook my eardrums.
Ignoring that, I finally…
Really, only now did I realise.
This is labour pain…!
「G-…giving birth…., I'm going into labour…」
Aah- shit. Damn it.
Why didn't I notice? Why didn't I understand?
Is it because I'm a male in spirit? Or is this something that no one will understand the first time round?
Aah- that's not it. These inconsequential things can be left for later.
For now, I need to quickly get to a church… someplace I can deliver at ease…
The church encourages childbirth and such, so at times like this, it's really reliable.
That's why, I have to go there as soon as possible… otherwise…
I will end up giving birth in public ☆
That would be a humiliation that will last me my entire lifetime. No way!
With a pale face, I impatiently stood up and knocked the chair away in the process. At this moment… basha! A large amount of liquid flowed out from my body, and a stench filled the air.
「Nee-sama is going to die! Gyaaaaa!」
Mimoza-chan screamed like a monster while crying.
I have no idea what Maid-san is saying, but she can't be depended on. Please speak Japanese. Even though this isn't Japan.
It's that. When you see people panicking more than you are, you end up becoming calm.
In other words, I can't depend on anyone but myself. For example, the water breaking. This means-
As I watched the two of them, I considered what to do.