As I said in the last post of the previous version of this story ( s/3189505/1/An-Unlikely-Magical-Girl-and-an-Unlikely-World-War) I had done too many mistakes, plot-wise and technically, that if I ever tried to edit things away, this story will collapse. Also, I had felt, and been informed, that too many technical aspects of the story had turned off readers just from the first chapter alone.
So, without further ado...wait.
I should show what the different font types in this story stand for:
Normal font is Japanese being spoken by the characters, whether in narration or "in dialogue"
Italic is English being spoken by the characters
'Italic between apostrophes' are thoughts.
Bold is for words that had emphasis.
"Ang mga salitang" inside the apostrophe's that are in different languages are meant to be read and pronounced as they are, since well...they are different languages.
Now that's over with...without further ado here it is.
"Tomorrow will be the start of the most ridiculous operation in Japanese military history," my boyfriend and fiance suddenly said as we cuddled, still basked in the afterglow of certain activities silently done some time ago under a thin and big cotton blanket.
"Of all the topics you choose to talk about after having sex, you pick the one we had sex to forget about?" I replied incredulously in a whisper, since our daughter was deeply asleep in the same tent as us.
"That just goes to show how disturbing tomorrow's plans are to me."
Before replying I moved. Then I turned around in the sheets to talk to my boyfriend face to face, even though I can't see him in the darkness.
"I know it's disturbing Ichigo. You explained it to me in excruciating detail. But we have no choice, remember?"
"No we don't. But still, civilians in the command post of the last military force still able to launch an offensive in Japan? Everything I knew about the Self Defense Forces is telling me we shouldn't be here."
"How do you prefer me to be helpful? Grab a gun and go along with them?"
"No. We stay back in Oyama with our parents Kurumi. The magical ring's effect is one hundred kilometers in radius, remember?"
"Who's going to defend us when they find us? They already found us once, when Shizuoka was liberated."
After a few moments of silence, Ichigo let out a sigh of defeat and frustration.
"...how did we ever get here in the first place?" he muttered.
May 3, 2013
My four year old daughter tugged at my skirt as I was picking up the change from the counter.
"What is it Ao?"
"Mama, can I have a YanYan?"
She quickly pointed at the candy rack beside the convenience store's cash register.
"Ao, it's almost Six in the evening'," I said while putting the change inside my wallet. "There's dinner at home. Why do you still want a snack?"
Ao beamed a cute smile at me.
"It's for dessert."
I mentally shivered at the thought of biscuits for dessert. In my opinion the only proper desserts after dinner were ice cream, fruit salad, halo-halo or cold purin in either Japanese or Filipino style.
"You don't like Yan Yan, Mama?"
"I never liked biscuits," I said while picking up the two bags of groceries from the counter. After I did so, I faced Ao.
She nodded glumly and followed me towards the door of the FamilyMart. Halfway there, I caught my reflection on the convex mirror above the door.
I looked sloppy and unmotherly because of my rumpled blue t-shirt and the visible grains of cooked rice sticking to the end of my jeans. Thankfully everything else had no problems; my shoulder length hair wasn't frazzled by the day's activities, my face had been washed before going out to buy groceries and my natural light brown skin looked nice whether dry or not.
"Ao, stay here beside me. I'm just going to fix my clothes."
As I quickly readjusted my shirt using the mirror, I recognized a pair of ordinary young housewives who stood behind me in the line to the cash register. They were the spouses of two new privates in the 13th Infantry, 12th Brigade of the JGSDF, based right across the street from our doorstep.
They were whispering to each other and shooting gleefully scandalized looks my way as they gave their groceries to the clerk, in complete disrespect for the family of a superior officer to their husbands.
I sighed in exasperation over having to once again introduce myself to the newcomers in the neighborhood, three years after we moved here and I got outed as a teenage mother to the neighbors and classmates.
'Two months. Two more months until I can officially marry Ichigo. Then we can finally start looking like an ordinary family.'
After I fixed the shirt and brushed the grains of rice away, I turned around and stared at the two gossips. The women quickly acted innocent and started paying for their groceries.
"Mama?" my daughter asked as I huffed and picked up the groceries.
"Let's go Ao," I said with a smile. I didn't bother answering her implied question seeing as it was still too early to let my daughter discover that people like those gossips exist.
We walked out of the FamilyMart store and onto the streetlamp lit sidewalks of Matsumoto.
May 3, 2013
"Ichigo, you should be studying now," Mom said as I laid out the plates on the table.
"I'll do that later on with Kurumi," I said while putting down the last plate on the table.
I smiled to myself at seeing my handiwork; five sets of plates for the main dish, bowls for rice and miso soup, and chopsticks. All that remained to set the table was the food.
Before I was able to move towards the rice cooker, Mom intervened.
"Really Ichigo, let me finish this. Go back to your room and start studying. I'll call you when Ao and the brat get here."
I mentally sighed at Mom's continued refusal to call Kurumi by her name. On one hand, Ao was now almost five years old. She already knew enough words to understand what Mom was calling my wife. On the other hand, 'brat' was infinitely better than the early days when Mom was calling her 'whore.'
'I'll talk with her this Sunday. This really has to stop before I marry Kurumi.'
"Very well Mom. I'll go prepare our study materials upstairs."
After Mom waved me away with a smile, I walked out of the kitchen dining room, and into the hallway that connects the entrance, the stairs, the converted living room, and the bathroom.
May 3, 2013
As we walked home, Ao asked a question.
"Mama, why are those old women looking at us like that?"
"Old women? What old women?"
If I recalled the scene earlier correctly, no one in that line was old enough to warrant being called a senior citizen. At most some might be forty years old, which counts as a middle aged person instead of an elderly.
"You know the two women who were whispering to each other while looking at us."
I stared at my daughter and giggled at the hilarity of hearing my daughter call those two gossips 'old', when they were only a few years older than me. And then the ramifications hit me.
If Ao thought people the age of Ichigo's and my parents were old, then logically she would think that people became parents at my age. Which would be a very, very bad thing.
'...when should I tell her about our circumstances?'
I shook those thoughts out of my head and answered.
"Ao, forget about those 'old women.' They're just people with too much time on their hands."
"But you feel angry when they look at you like that, Mama."
"I'm not angry."
"Mama, you're lying. I could feel you were angry at them when you looked back at the two whispering old women."
I was puzzled by Ao's statement, because I wasn't angry at the time I looked back.
'...or was I?'
I quickly changed the topic.
"Ao, tell me, what would you do if those 'old women' look badly at us again?"
"I would run up to them and tell them to stop picking a fight with you Mama."
I felt a fuzzy feeling at the sight of Ao wanting to protect me from the world, just like her father always did for me since we started going out. Unfortunately, I had to nip this in the bud.
"Don't do that Ao."
"Why Mama?" Ao asked as we sidestepped an old man walking his black haired dog.
"Because that would just create more trouble where there is none. See...those 'old women' probably had been taught to be like that to people who didn't conform to society's rules."
I gave her a sad smile, when I saw her looking at me in puzzlement.
I smiled at my forgetfulness. Ao might be a smart child, but she was still four years old. There were still many words that she wouldn't understand.
"A society is a group of people with a set of rules that they all follow. Still with me Ao?"
"Now, I did something outrageous according to society's set of rules. Because of that, many people would not be nice to me."
"That's mean. What did you do that was called...what you just said?"
At hearing her ask about what I did that was so outrageous, I instantly pretended I misheard her question.
"Outrageous is something that makes people become angry upon learning what it is."
I hoped that Ao would forget the question that I didn't want to answer anytime soon; however it was to no avail.
"Mama, you didn't answer everything. What did you do that was out...rage...ous?"
'Was I like this as a child? If so, I hate you karma. I hate you, hate you, hate you.'
"Ao, not now. Maybe when you grow up, ok?"
Ao pouted, and stopped walking.
I quickly looked around us for anyone who could see this tantrum.
After seeing that the nearest people around were drivers of cars occasionally running by, and the old man we passed by earlier, I looked down at my daughter.
"Ao, is this something that you really need to know now?"
"Because you always feel angry when people look at you like those two old women did earlier. I'm justworried for you, Mama."
I softly sighed and hugged my adorable daughter.
"Ao, the answer isn't something you will ever like. Trust me."
"I, Ikeda Kurumi, your Mama, do swear that the reason why other people aren't nice to me is something that would make you sad."
"But if that is so, shouldn't you say sorry so those people would stop being not nice to you?"
I snorted at the idea of apologizing to people who aren't my parents about this topic.
"I wish some things had happened differently, but no. I'm not going to apologize."
'I'm not apologizing for having given birth or for taking care of you. Never. I'm your mother, and mothers take care of their children.'
Ao looked up at me in confusion.
"So, you aren't sorry for the reason some people are not nice to you?"
I let go of Ao and started walking again, while she skipped at my right side.
"...most of the time."
There were moments when I regretted becoming pregnant, like my fights with my future Monster…Mother in law back in the early days of cohabiting with my boyfriend. Or when I completely drifted apart from my friends back in Yokohama because we just…couldn't connect with each other anymore.
But those were only moments of weakness on my part, which was nothing compared to all the love I had received from my husband to be, my daughter, parents and new friends here in Matsumoto.
There was also one piece of advice that gave me strength through all those months. They were Mama's words when I left home to live with Ichigo and the Ohta family. She said "Firmly hold onto yourself, and stay resolute. The path you are walking is a righteous one in the eyes of many."
We walked home in silence.
May 3, 2013
After I finished placing our study materials on the desk, putting our school bags to one side of it, and arranging the seats for me and Kurumi, I was left with nothing else to do but wait for Kurumi and Ao to come home from the FamilyMart down the street.
A quick look at the little clock on the desk told me it was two minutes past Six, which meant that the most optimistic estimate of when Kurumi and Ao would arrive home would be around five minutes from now due to the groceries and the distance.
Since I wanted to study together with my wife, I just occupied myself with looking around our room while waiting for her.
At one side of the room were two cabinets, filled with all of our clothes. One cabinet, bought and given to us by Kurumi's Dad for her and Ao's use, was a beautifully decorated, pink wooden cabinet that came as a set with a full body mirror, clothes racks, drawers and some hangers inside it.
The other was made by Dad and I on one fine Sunday using plywood, nails, sandpaper, door hinges, screws, a cabin hook that he bought from a local hardware, and a hammer and screwdriver that he borrowed from Camp Matsumoto.
The futons were beside the cabinets, all rolled up and ready for use when it's time to sleep.
Behind me was our desk and the windows and curtains, while the wall directly opposite me was where the door and the switch for the lights in the room were placed.
The last side of the room was a gallery of pictures, either put inside hanging picture frames by Mom or wrapped in plastic and attached to the wall with thumbtacks by Kurumi.
The pictures showed pretty much all the most important events of my life up to this was my first picture, where I was swaddled in a blanket and cradled in Mom's arms a few hours after birth. There's when Mom started teaching me how to read and write, at the age of three. The first time I went to school when I was six years old. My tenth birthday. My first picture with Kurumi. Our first date. First kiss. An innocuous selfie of us on the day we made Ao. The day Kurumi started living with us. My first picture with my daughter, our first family picture, so on and so forth...
The pictures gave a tug at my sense of responsibility, so instead of just wasting time unproductively I stood up from my chair and started doing some stretching exercises.
Five or so minutes of exercise wasn't much I admit, but every little effort to maintain a healthy body would be helpful towards passing the physical fitness tests of the Japanese Self Defense Forces.
May 3, 2013
We were now almost back home, which was on the other side of the three way junction directly in front of us.
As I waited for the pedestrian lights to change, Ao started waving in the direction of Camp Matsumoto, on the other side of the street to my left. I quickly took a look.
The guard on duty was hesitantly waving back at Ao. Moments later he then stood back to attention. I didn't know why, but I felt worried all of a sudden.
"Do you know that soldier Ao?"
"He's Mr. Moriya, 's father. Do you remember when I told you about Aya?"
Ever since she had been able to walk Ao always had weekly outdoor excursions, since it's sad if she's always at last week's excursion, where she was accompanied all day by Mother and Father while Ichigo and I studied at home for yesterday's tests, Ao made friends with a girl who was the same age as her at the public park north of here. She then told us all about Aya at dinner.
I kneeled down and made Ao turn towards me.
"Ao, Mr. Moriya's on duty. Don't distract him anymore from now on or Father would have to scold Mr. Moriya."
"Because Mr. Moriya is supposed to be guarding the gate. And if he is to do that properly, he's not supposed to be distracted by anyone. Do you understand?"
I smiled as I saw my daughter nod obediently.
May 3, 2013
I had been doing sit ups for thirty seconds when the air suddenly felt unnaturally cold. I quickly glanced at the windows. After seeing that they're tightly shut, I stood up from the floor and looked around.
The door was closed. And Dad and I fixed the roof above last year.
The curtains suddenly shut close, the lights turned off, and the door locked on its own.
In the unnaturally silent darkness, I got onto the balls of my feet and into an unarmed stance, ready to fight inside our bedroom.
May 3, 2013
Moments after the pedestrian lights turned green, we finally got home.
Our home was a two story building with unpainted wooden walls, a typical Japanese roof made of ceramic tiles, a very little garden that separates the house from the sidewalk in front of it and a small fence made of finger-width sticks and a heavy duty rope Father got from somewhere.
As I was about to turn the doorknob, something soft, sticky and wet hit the back of my head.
'I didn't just get bird droppings on my hair, right?'
"Mama, is that jelly on your hair?"
I quickly wiped my hair with my left hand. As soon as I brought it to my face, I sniffed at it.
As Ao said, it was Konyaku. I stepped back, leaving the shopping bags at the door, and looked at the sky, wondering if someone dropped konyaku from a passing airplane.
The streetlights around our home suddenly flickered.
"Mama, what is that?" Ao nervously said while hugging my right side.
"It's probably a power fluctuation."
Across the street, I saw Moriya walking out of the guardhouse with a flashlight in hand.
The lights flickered again, and made the headlights of a passing car our only source of light for a brief moment.
"Mama, I think someone is watching us."
I looked everywhere for this person who Ao thought was watching us.
The lights flickered once again, and I finally saw something that made me shiver.
It was a furry grey rat as big as my foot, with a blue ribbon tied around its neck. It was standing up on its hind legs, looking at us with intelligence that did not belong to an animal.
"Ohh. It's a cute, scary feeling mouse."
I stared down at my daughter.
Ao noticed me after a few more moments of weird baby talking.
"What's wrong – "
The flittering streetlights interrupted her.
When the lights came on again, I saw the rat looking at us while standing on a…
'Faded pink cotton wallet... nylon zipper which has its paint peeled off long ago...Hello Kitty keychain…isn't that my wallet?'
"Is that your wallet Mama?" Ao herself asked.
I quickly patted down my left pocket, feeling nothing inside of it. I then looked down and pulled the pocket inside out.
Upon seeing that there was no wallet inside my pocket, I looked back at the rat while wondering how the wallet fell out. I quickly saw what it had in its teeth and paws: a ten thousand yen note.
And it looked like it was going to tear the money apart.
"No! Bad mousey! No biting Mama's money. Put it down, put it down now."
Ao walked nearer to the damned rat, lecturing it like it was a trained animal.
The rat tore the note apart in one smooth motion.
"The money," I mumbled in shock.
Father's salary as a Sergeant First Class was enough for three people, not for five. So ever since I moved in with Ichigo I had been using the money in my savings account to supplement his income.
"Don't you dare break the money card!" Ao suddenly shouted.
This time the rat held my JP Bank ATM card in its jaws.
"Oh no you don't!" I yelled.
I took a step forward and leapt, hands outstretched to catch the fucking rat.
Time slowed down enough for me to notice a bone-chilling detail.
The rat was looking at me with incredulity. Then it quickly jumped between my closing hands.
'WaitwhydidIju – '
I belly flopped on the sidewalk hard enough that I spent the next few moments trying to get air back into my lungs. Once the pain was gone I looked at my hands.
I had both the wallet and the torn paper bill in my palms. All that was left was to retrieve the ATM card.
"Give the card back!"
I looked at where Ao's voice came from. And then I screamed.
I truly, deeply thank everyone who had a hand in the reviews of this story, from Stardestroyer and Spacebattles to Xnxx and Fictionpress.