Chapter 4 | The Mother’s Truth

There is one luxury hotel in the city center, a 20-minute drive from the boy’s apartment.

When the limousine pulls up on the porch in front of the hotel’s entrance, Ayane gets out of the car first.

Then, she urged the boy to get out of the car in a reverential manner.

The boy got out of the car with a fearful look on his face and looked around the hotel with a nervous look on his face.

Of course, the boy had never been to this hotel before. In fact, he had only been in the vicinity of the station once, when he was taken there by a senior employee of his part-time job.


“Shall we go? This way please.”

Ayane leads the way, and the boy simply follows.

He passes by the hotel staff who bow to him and gets into the elevator.

The atmosphere remains soft, but the boy feels uncomfortable, unable to speak to Ayane, who is standing there silently.

Eventually, the doors open with the sound of a dry bell, and he steps out of the elevator.


It was a fancy, Chinese restaurant.

Indeed, in the car, he was asked if he liked Chinese food, but the boy’s image of the place was a neighborhood ramen shop.

While the boy was frozen by the gap, Ayane said to the staff member who greeted him.

“I am the Sumeragi, as had been requested. May I?”

“Y, yes. I have been waiting for you. Please come this way.”

(Huh? I believe you said “Ayane Shibusawa”? Is “Sumeragi”, uh, is that the name of her company or something?)

He felt uncomfortable with Ayane’s words, but he didn’t know anything about her yet, so he didn’t need to think about it. Since he had come all the way here, he had no choice but to follow her obediently.

They were led by a staff member dressed in a Chinese dress, which the boy had only seen on TV and even that he rarely saw on TV, to a private room at the far end of the restaurant.

In the center of the room, which was about 6 tatami mats in size, was a round table with a revolving table, which was unique to Chinese restaurants, for 5 to 6 people.

The boy was shown to a seat at the far end of the room, and Ayane sat down next to him on his right.

Soon after, another beautiful woman in a Chinese dress brewed a cup of tea with a flowery aroma and placed it in front of them.

Then she bowed, saying, ‘Excuse me,’ and left the room.

The boy’s expectation that he would be handed a menu was not met, but remembering that Ayane had made a reservation, he recalled that his order had probably already been placed.

His thoughts were right on target, and not long after, the door to the room opened again and the food was brought in.

However, the quantity of food was extraordinary.

The table was quickly filled up with the dishes that came in one after another.

“Oh, um, is there anyone else coming?”

The boy asked Ayane with a smile and she shook her head.

“No, I’m the only one coming with you. But you are a third-year junior high school student and you are growing up, so I wanted you to eat what you like as much as you like.”

The boy was surprised at these words.

It was too much for him, and he could not imagine how much such a dish would cost in such a high-class restaurant.

The boy is a small eater, to begin with. He couldn’t help but feel that it was a waste of money.

Ayane, seeing the boy’s confused and concerned expression, added a few words as if in a panic.

“It’s okay if you don’t finish it. The leftovers will be transferred to a take-out container and my colleagues will have them later, so they won’t go to waste.

However, I don’t want them to be spoiled too much, so please help me reduce the amount as much as possible.”

The boy understood that Ayane was saying this out of consideration.

So he gave a bashful smile and a small nod.

“Huh?!”

Immediately, Ayane turned away from the boy with a strange breathing sound and a slight tint around her eyes.

“?!”

“I’ll have some of that, then. If there is something you like, you can order more, so please don’t hesitate to tell me.”

The boy tilted his head curiously at Ayane’s expression. Ayane said a few words quickly and began to arrange the dishes on a small plate.

After taking small portions of each of several different dishes, she hands them over to him.

“Oh, Thank you very much.” 

The boy, who did not know how to start eating, accepted the plate and began to eat.

“Oh, it’s delicious.”

The boy involuntarily muttered as he munched on the brightly colored shrimp.

The employees of his part-time job had taken him out to eat from time to time, but this was incomparable to them, and definitely the most delicious food he had ever eaten.

The employees were happy to treat the boy to a meal to make him happy, so it was hard to say which was better, but he still found himself smiling as he tasted the wonderful food.

He also tasted the steamed chicken.

The boy does not know the name of any of the dishes.

The only Chinese food he knows is ramen, dumplings, mapo tofu, and a Chinese salad from his school lunch. [TLN: Yes, ramen noodles are chūkamen which is a Chinese-style noodle]

In no time at all, he ate the food on a small plate, drank the soup, and sipped the fluffy steamed bread-like substance.

And in the meantime, he again received the food that Ayane had shared with him.

“Thank you for the meal.”

The boy said and clasped his hands together as he finished his second plate of food.

Ayane, who was about to take a new plate of food while watching the boy, was surprised.

“Is that all you want? Did it perhaps not suit your liking too well?

Ayane asks the boy impatiently, but he shakes his head and says, “I’m already full.”

The boy ate only one dish, egg soup, and one Chinese-style steamed bun called a flower roll, which was far from enough for one person.

Even an old man, let alone a growing boy, would have eaten more.

However, the boy’s face looked very satisfied, indicating that he usually eats small meals.

A boy of his age who should have a big appetite eats as much as an elementary school girl.

Ayane’s face contorted in pain for a moment as she realized the reason for his small stature.

However, she quickly mended her expression and called the staff to take down the food.

“Oh, um, I’m sorry. I ate too quickly.”

“You don’t have to worry about it. I may look like this, but I’m a fast eater and I eat well.”

With these words, she calmed down the boy who was flustered.

After the food was brought down and another cup of Chinese tea was served, the room was once again just the two of them, the boy and Ayane.

The boy felt as if the time had come.

He had no idea what he wanted to talk to Ayane about, even after she had treated him to such a meal, but he had a feeling that it would not be a bad idea, judging from Ayane’s demeanor.

“Well, I guess it’s time for me to tell you something.”

“Y, yes!”

Ayane smiled at the startled boy and continued her story.

“I want to start off by saying that this is not a bad story. Oh, I sound like some kind of solicitor or scam artist when I say it like this.”

Ayane puts her hand on her cheek as if she is troubled.

Such a childish gesture is quite charming and makes the boy blush a little.

“Well, there are many things I would like to tell you, but let me take you through them in order.

Well, the first thing you need to know is your real name, Tatsuya Inoue-san.”

“My real, name, you mean?”

For a moment, he did not understand what Ayane was saying and asked back.

Ayane nodded to the boy with a serious face.

“Yes. Your real name is ‘Haruto Saienji’. The name Tatsuya Inoue, which you used to call yourself until today, was given to you by the woman you thought was your mother, Masami Inoue, whose real name is Akiko Sato.

And Akiko Sato is not Haruto’s real mother.”

“Eh?”

The boy, Haruto, was perplexed by what he was suddenly told.

At the same time, however, he also felt that there was something that made sense to him.

He had thought about it many times before.

Why doesn’t his mother show him affection? Why can’t she buy me anything I need?

Some of his classmates in elementary and junior high school had single-parent families. Some of them came from economically handicapped families.

Even so, he heard stories of children who were bought something by their parents or ate delicious food on their birthdays.

However, Haruto could not recall ever being given anything by his parents.

For as long as he can remember, he was already being abused and tortured.

Some men were living in the house with him, but none of them helped Haruto.

It was always the people outside who helped him.

Each time, he thought to himself.

I wonder if I am not their child.

However, when he learned that in reality, real mothers sometimes abuse their children, these thoughts went away.

Now, when Ayane told him clearly that she was not his mother, he felt more than a little shock, but also a sense of ‘Oh, so that’s what it is after all.’

Seeing this, Ayane continued her story, but her next words took Haruto by surprise.

“That woman is the kidnapper who took you away from your mother.”


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