The Groom and the Auto-Memories Doll
The Morning Moon ascended in azure. Its faint form was not enough to overwhelm those who lived under the light of the night sky’s Moon. However, just as the full moon, the moon of a gentler color that melted into the sky had a charm that would stop time and make people contemplate it. Combined with the pastoral poem-like landscape of prairies and small flowers that spread beneath it as far as the eyes could see, it was like an illustration out of a fairy tale book.
Amidst such a heavenly scenery, without so much as batting a lash at the moon, a young man ran about intently. In his extreme hurry, he had dressed himself in a pair of pants and a shirt. He wore nothing but that.
The area was named Eucalypt Basin and had plenty of undeveloped land, with the distance from town to town and village to village being of about half a day. Regular service vehicles passed by only once a day, and if missed, local residents and travelers had no choice but to rely on their own feet or other means of transportation. Looking for a person in that world of rice fields seemed easy considering the small number of obstacles, but in reality, it was not.
The amplitude itself was the main hindrance when pursuing someone. Thorough searches took too much time. It was difficult to notice even if a target moved from the place being looked through to another.
“Dammit, why did things turn out like this…?” the young man impatiently wiped the sweat trailing down his forehead with his shirt’s sleeve.
The feet that had been running in the fields until then had slowed down, only walking, and eventually stopped. Perhaps as he did not have time to put on shoes, he was barefoot. His feet bled, maybe from having stepped on twigs or rocks. Was the one he looked for worth a chase obsessive enough for him to acquire such injuries? The youth himself incidentally wound up reflecting on it.
In spite of the question that had been born within him and the lack of a precise answer to it, the young man resumed running. The small white flowers he stepped on were dyed in blood. The dismal pain braked his thought process.
“Call… my name, Mom.”
Should he go back or not? Abandon the one he searched for or not?
If he were to choose not to, he simply had no choice but continue looking. In such circumstances, indecision was the biggest waste. For instance, perhaps a clue could be found those infinite fields.
A dark red ribbon suddenly flew into the youth’s vision. The red fluttered into a world of nothing but greens, blues and whites. In front of him, a red unlike the one from the blood he had shed gently flowed in the breeze. Instinctively, he stretched his hand out to it. He slowly took into his palm what seemed like a present from the heavens.
The young man turned his head towards the direction of the wind. He could see silhouettes. They were the figures of a few people surrounding a motorcycle. One of them had left the spot and was running towards him. Once closer, he could tell it was a woman. On top of that, she had a captivating beauty. Her golden hair hovering amongst scattering flower petals, she stopped before the youth and stared intensely at his face.
Her blue orbs held a mysterious charm and made him feel as if they stripped him naked.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance. I rush anywhere my customer desires. I am from the automated dolls service, Violet Evergar
den.” Like a puppet, she bowed gracefully.
Much like her appearance, the sound that came out of her finely shaped crimson lips was lovable and pure, but the contents of her words were mismatched for such a place. The young man was no customer of hers either, nothing but a stranger.
Perhaps thinking the same as him, she corrected herself, “I made a mistake. Pardon me. This is like an occupational disease; I end up automatically saying my introduction speech to whomever I meet for the first time…”
“No… it’s okay. Erm… I’m Silene. Could this be yours?”
As she nodded mutely, Silene handed her the ribbon. He himself was surprised at how much he trembled as their fingertips touched. Although covered by gloves, her fingers felt stiff and were obviously not human.
“Here you go. Also, there’s something I want to ask. I’m looking for someone…”
“A silver-haired woman in her 60’s who specializes in hairdressing?”
“Y-Yes. My mother used to work as a hairdresser in the past… How did you…?”
The girl held down her hair, unraveling in the wind due to being untied, and pointed at the direction she had come from. Despite hardly visible because of the distance, a short person that he believed to be his mother was there.
“We were looking for you as well.”
No matter what she did, she was a woman beautiful enough to become a painting, Silene thought.
The ones who had taken care of Silene’s mother were an Auto-Memories Doll and a postman in the middle of a journey. It seemed they were on standstill as their motorcycle had malfunctioned, and had sighted his mother wandering around the meadows.
“She said she was going up to the mountains to look for her husband and son. It’s weird for someone to be walking around wearing rolls at early morning, right? We were already having problems, but when people see someone even more troubled than themselves, they stay composed. V.” while fumbling with the defective motorcycle, the man opened a hand towards the young woman.
“My name is not ‘V’. It is ‘Violet’.” Placing her side-locks behind her ear, she squatted down. Taking a tool from a bag lying on the ground, she handed it to the man.
Ignoring her remark, he resumed working silently. “Take a look at V’s hair. She said it was pretty and asked ‘please let me touch it’, so we let her play with it just like that. I was caught up over here. V was entertaining the Granny. And then you showed up.”
“My mother… is a little… wrong in the head… We’ve caused you trouble.”
“Seems so… well, fellows like that aren’t rare. It’s easy for thoughts and memories to become confusing on their own. You don’t even have to be old for that to happen… It’s not working… Enough. Gimme a hand towel.” Easily wiping off black oil stains, he stood up.
He was a bit taller than Violet. His light blond hair was of a shade that resembled sand. His hairline was short, yet a part of his forelocks hung lengthier on one side. His cool, sky blue orbs bore thorns within their softness.
Just by looking at the curves of his body, one could tell he was wearing tight laser pants. In contrast, his upper part was clad in a loose spring-green shirt and suspenders. The heels of his boots were too tall. Said heels were cross-shaped. It was quite a flashy get-up. However, even if he took off all of it, he had the looks of someone that could effortlessly lead a woman or two by the nose.
“This… is completely hopeless. Out of all things, for it to break in the middle of this countryside that has nothing but grassland is just…” The man roughly wiped off a bead of sweat with his arm. He seemed rather fatigued.
“Benedict, I really should run to the city we parted from and request help. It is faster to go back than go forth.”
Not hearing Silene’s attempted statement, the man – Benedict – scowled at Violet’s words. “Even if you possess a strength so ridiculous that it’s almost like a joke, there’s no way I could let a woman do that alone. Even if you say that way is closer, it’s still pretty distant. Also, the outcome would be that I’d be scolded by the Old Man.”
Violet slightly tilted her neck. “Is that so? Benedict, you are already clearly exhausted by the everyday postal deliveries and take on the additional duty of picking me up along the way, so in this situation, is it not better for the one with more stamina to make a move? Being male or female is unrelated. This decision is for the sake of our survival.”
“Hum, like I said…”
“Nope, I can already see it. Old Man going like, ‘Benedict… you… why did you make Little Violet do something like that? You made her run?’ and then criticize me about the manners of a gentleman that he’s so good at.”
What he impersonated with so much emotion was most likely an imitation of a certain postal company’s boss.
“You… will answer anything when asked, right? You can’t lie.”
“I do not lie to President. There are only truths in my reports.”
“Then, isn’t it no good after all?”
“I will tell the truth but I will give you cover, Benedict. I will say that I was the one who proposed it.”
“Your covering fire is the best when it comes to actual ammo but it’s fruitless effort when it comes to everyday conversations, so stop that.”
“Hum!” As Silene spoke loudly, the two finally looked his way.
Perhaps tired from walking so much, his mother was asleep as he carried her on his back. Violet brought her index finger next to her lips.
Silene smiled bitterly. “If you’re having a hard time, I’ll guide you to my village as thanks for taking care of my mother. Can you push the motorcycle? If you can go on pushing, it might take a little while, but I’ll show you to someone who can fix it.”
“You’d do that?”
Silene nodded. “The village is a bit crowded at the moment, so it will take some time… that’s right. If you could… stay there for a day, we could work it out. We do receptions as well. To tell the truth, a wedding is going to happen. In this region, whenever someone is getting married, the entire village gathers to open banquets. During them, we invite and welcome anyone. It’s coincidentally the best time to entertain guests.”
“Do you have drinks?”
“What about dancer girls and good food? Also, places to sleep.”
“About women, erm… Mister Benedict. It would depend on you, but we’ve got everything else ready.”
After balling his fists and revering the heavens, Benedict turned to Violet and offered both hands. Violet stared at them fixatedly.
“You do it like this. Like this.” Benedict vehemently took Violet’s hand and made her raise it together with his. “We did it.”
“‘We did it’?”
“You don’t have to do that much.” Benedict laughed. “This is part of that thing called fate. I have no idea who they are, but let’s join the toast of this happy couple.”
Silene also laughed at Benedict’s words. Upon looking once at his mother on his back, his smile soon disappeared, but he forced himself to muster out a cheerful voice, “Yes, I’m from the household of this happy couple.”
The place Silene led them to was a village named Kisara. Its houses had been built as to form a semicircle. In its center was a hall with a stone pavilion and a well. Most likely, they were the only things in that space at first, but currently, a crowd crammed around the pavilion. It was filled with women to the point that one could ponder whether every woman in the village had assembled there. They were vigorously cooking and decorating the hall with ornaments.
Violet and Benedict observed the scene as if it were something unusual. As Benedict asked Silene where the men were, the latter pointed at a set of tents located just a little apart from the village. The lined-up tents made of colorful cloths shone outstandingly against the blue skies and green land. It appeared they were being put up to serve as temporary bedding for guests. By the looks of it, those people truly meant to warmly welcome whoever came by without rebuffing anyone.
For the time being, the group was headed to Silene’s home. The village’s only roadway was narrow and full of things – flowers blooming all over wooden vats placed by the front doors, dried crops, cats slipping past their legs. From somewhere in that midst, the sound of bells rang. Silene explained how several chimes that produced sound by colliding with each other upon being blown by the wind were the village’s specialty articles of folk craft.
Looking upwards, they could see cords passed through the houses’ windows across the street, from which their residents’ laundry hung. Chimes hung from them as well. Young girls chatting with one another pulled in the cords as though having fun. While they did so, the chimes simultaneously rang. When Benedict turned his gaze towards them, they let out a laughter akin to a scream and closed the windows.
The village had a tranquility that did not exist in big cities, characteristic of small communities.
Once they had passed the narrow road, it broadened at once, and beyond it was an isolated house that was bigger than the rest. Although not so well tended to, bushes of roses grew in its garden. Two anxious-looking women stood in front of the entrance.
“Aah, so she was all right?!” The one who rushed over as fast as she could was a middle-aged lady clad in an apron dress.
After a deep sigh, Silene spoke to her in a low tone, “Don’t ‘she was all right’ me. Are you okay with this? Don’t tell me this always happens…”
“Yesterday night, I had properly locked Madame’s room. Master, could it be you went there afterwards? Did you lock it? It only opens from outside.”
“For the few years that everything has been entrusted to Master, I haven’t gone looking for Madame like that.”
“My bad. That was my bad…”
The air of their exchange could not be described as pleasant.
The other woman walked to Silene’s side. She had brown skin and gracious facial features. She bowed her head to Violet and Benedict, who wordlessly watched everything. It was then that Silene finally realized there was someone other than his relative beside him.
“S-Sorry… I’ll introduce you. This is… erm… the one who will become my wife tomorrow, Misha. And my mother’s servant, Delit. I don’t live with my mother. Misha, Delit. Those two took care of Mom.”
They understood how much the last statement meant they were supposed to show gratitude towards the duo with the expression he showed right after. Both Delit and Misha let them into the house as if dealing with saints. Following that, they had a busy time. The bride and groom, who were about to marry the next day, seemed to have greetings to give in various places, and so had gone out by themselves. They apologized for being unable to entertain the guests appropriately, yet Violet and Benedict were satisfied enough just by having a place with a roof to cool down at and saw them off without minding it.
As it was close to midday, the servant Delit treated the travelers to a meal out of consideration. Perhaps due to being significantly tired, Benedict wound up falling asleep immediately after eating, as if his battery had run out. At first, he had started nodding off, and soon, unable to withstand it, he rested his body against the sofa and closed his eyes.
The work of a postman consisted of all-day delivery duties. Moreover, he had driven to pick up Violet on the way of his trip, and as his motorcycle had broken, he had worried about the repairs, therefore becoming completely exhausted.
Seated on the same sofa, Violet silently allowed him to sleep by her side as he leaned against her, and once everything became quiet, she finally observed the environment. There were chimes on the house’s window as well. They rang in jingles. The sounds of Delit washing dishes could be heard from the kitchen. Along with Benedict’s sleeping breath, the afternoon of an extremely peaceful summer day ensued.
Albeit not feeling sleepy, Violet closed her eyes. It was as if she had come to know the gentleness of the sounds of everyday life composed her surroundings for the first time. Her new home, the Evergarden household, was a mansion which size could not be matched unless so many of the village’s houses were put together, and therefore, it was strange for her to be in a house where she could merely exist and relax without having to do any work. However, as soon as she heard a clatter coming from the front door, she reached for the handgun inside her jacket.
“My, my. Might it be the person that will fix the motorcycle?” her footsteps echoing, Delit walked up to the entrance.
Looking at her side, Violet could see Benedict thinly opening his eyes. He also had his fingers on his handgun. “It is all right to continue sleeping.” She told him, and he closed his eyes again as if relieved.
The two of them were slightly alike. Due to their hair and irises being of similar colors, they almost looked like siblings when next to one another.
Wondering if there were anything she could do to offer assistance, Violet was about to head to the entrance as well, but upon noticing that someone was calling amidst the everyday life sounds, her feet halted. She had heard it coming from the second floor. She then remembered that Silene’s mother had been taken to it as though being pushed back when they had arrived at that house. Climbing the wooden stairs, Violet stood at the corridor of the second floor and stayed put to listen once more.
“Darling…?” The voice of an elderly woman resounded. “Or could it be Jonah?”
She was most likely mistaking Violet for a family member.
“It is Violet. You tied my hair this morning.” As if replying to her, Violet whispered by the room’s door.
It was a small village, yet the banquet would gather all of it. One by one, they bowed their heads in gratitude to everybody. It was by the time the Sun had set that Silene and Misha had gone home.
“My, the bride is not from around here?”
“She understands our language. But her speech is broken. It’s cute.”
“Silene, treat her well. Doesn’t it feel like she can only rely on you?”
Giving greetings had not made him feel particularly disturbed, but after them, he was pryingly interrogated by older women about his fiancée, Misha. As Silene had done most of the talking on behalf of the timid Misha, who was not too good at conversations, his throat was parched.
“It’s gotten dark, huh?” Misha muttered curtly and Silene nodded.
The village would normally be calm at sunset, but today, it had been rather noisy. Everyone is was on festive spirits. Just when he was thinking that everything was for his and Misha’s sake, Silene had come to understand that a wedding ceremony was not only for two people. He then took hold of Misha’s hand in a natural manner.
“Fufu.” She let out a shy giggle. “The people of this village… are kind.” Perhaps feeling at ease when speaking only to Silene, she started talking. “My brother, who had raised me in place of our parents, passed away in the Great War. I’m glad I’m able to marry you. I was able to… have a family again.” She smiled bashfully. “Miss Delit is great at cooking. She has taught me what foods you like. Mother’s house… is big. It’s grandiose, and makes me think… that everyone can live in it.”
Although it was a peaceful chatter, Silene wound up coldly spitting out, “You don’t have to be so cautious.”
Misha’s stopped walking. Her hand, still connected with his, was pulled as he continued going ahead, causing her to stumble. “I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m… sorry too.”
“No, I’m the one who’s sorry… I said something… uncalled for. I… even… know… that you left that house because you hate it and your mother.”
What Silene had become enamored with in Misha was exactly that. She was honest, caring and kind.
“But, I haven’t properly asked why you hate them. It’s better to cherish your parents.”
And she had principles.
Sweat beaded in the hand he was using to hold hers. Silene wanted to let go to wipe it but did not do so, instead tightening his grip even more. He did not wish to instigate disgust in the person that would always be by his side from then on.
“Nothing… gets through Mom.”
Unlike Silene, who would not meet her eyes, Misha directed her gaze straight at him. “Yes.”
“It’s been that way since I was little. She isn’t like that because of her age. I used to have a father too, and… an older brother… but one day, my father took my brother and left.”
“I was too small so I don’t remember it well. It was probably… the usual… their relationship as a married couple was bad. They… fought very often. I had seen either of them stomp out of home a lot. That’s why I thought he would surely be back soon that time too…”
But he had not returned.
why did Dad take Brother and not me?
Was it because his brother was the firstborn? Their age gap was of only three years, yet he had always felt that his father would prioritize his brother in whatever he did. For instance, in the order of giving away presents, frequency with which he would pat their heads, or the difference of the words he used to praise them. From others’ point of view, none those would be a big deal, but children are sensitive to such things.
——I’m sure… he took the one he was most attached to. That’s what I feel.
“From that point on, Mom started getting weird. Slowly, slowly… she broke, like a screw falling off a machine. First, she started calling me by my brother’s name. Whenever I would say, ‘no, I’m not Jonah, I’m Silene’, she’d apologize and correct herself. But it didn’t stop at just saying the wrong name.”
Misha placed her other hand along the one that was joined with his. She was attempting to smolder the hardships that her lover had faced during his life. It was but a simple gesture, yet it made Silene unbearably contented. He was able to strongly reconfirm that it was something he had yearned for.
“Mom started to hallucinate that I’m either Dad or big brother Jonah.”
His past self did not have such joys.
“When she thinks I’m Dad, she scolds me while crying and hits me. When she thinks I’m Brother, she simply hugs me and asks where I’d been. This has continued on for several years.”
Silene did not think of himself as pitiful.
“But, see, when I got my growth spurt, I became taller. I actually don’t resemble Brother or Dad at all. I really… think that was… a good thing.”
However, he also did not think of himself as a happy one. In retrospect to his childhood, there was never anything enjoyable. He had to start working as his mother became unable to, and would be feeling miserable when coming home.
“I was free from being mistaken with someone else.”
It was a succession of occurrences.
“But then a new curse was cast on me.”
A sorrowful succession of occurrences.
“Now I’m the one that doesn’t know who I am.”
In order to put an end to them, he had to be apart from her.
“Mom also doesn’t know who I am. She only remembers the me from my childhood. Delit told me… that she’s been looking for me lately. Isn’t it… kinda laughable? I had always, always, always…”
Precisely because they were family, he had to be apart from her.
“…always been by her side.”
Although it could be considered heartless, that was the last thing Silene wanted to give up on. The villagers already knew, but it was his first time discussing it with an outsider. He had grown up, learned how to work, launched himself into the outside world, fallen in love with a girl he had found there and was at last freed from his sadness. He would not let anyone interfere with that.
“That’s why I won’t live with Mom.”
Silene was desperate to haul the happiness that he had finally managed to grasp onto with his own hands.
As they got home, Delit came to greet them outside with a, “I’ve been waiting for you.” She was holding several letters in her hands. They had brought about a huge incident in the absence of the two. Congratulatory telegrams from far-away friends and relatives who would not be able to make it to the ceremony had arrived.
The town Silene and Delit lived in was at a short distance from the village. He had actually wanted to hold the ceremony there and leave his mother out, but Misha had not agreed to it. “If you have at least one parent, you should show it to her,” she had told him. For that reason, the people they were currently associated with had become unable to attend.
“What should we do about these… according to marriage etiquette?” Silene coyly asked the old Delit.
“Well, they must be wholeheartedly recited. Haven’t you requested anyone to do that?”
Silene turned to face Misha. The couple had not been taught by the nearby elderly one about situations in which they would have to make requests and were unfamiliar with nuptial protocol.
“We’re in trouble… if it has to be someone from this area… maybe the lady from the general store?”
“No way… we can’t ask so suddenly. The ceremony is tomorrow.”
“Then, Master, this means you also haven’t thought about your love poem for the bride. You have to do that too.”
It was a traditional custom for the bridegroom reciting a poem written by himself containing his feelings towards his loved one in the middle of the ceremony.
“I was thinking about not making one since it’s embarrassing…”
“That’s no good! A wedding ceremony without that… would be a disappointment to the people invited.”
Upon being admonished with an incredibly threatening attitude, Silene shrank back.
“Holding a ceremony in our land means getting ready and spending efforts so that we can share a wonderful moment in exchange of being congratulated by many people. We cannot discard traditions. Everyone… is volunteering for a lot of things, aren’t they? That’s due to mutual support and encouragement. You’ll be damned if you don’t earnestly correspond to that sincerity.”
Who in the world were they supposed to seek for help?
Perhaps as they were having a heated debate, one of their guests opened the window and poked her head out as if inquiring what was going on. She held a letter in her hand as well.
“Aah, isn’t there someone who’s just perfect for the job?!”
“No, but… they’re guests.”
“But she’s an Auto-Memories Doll, right? Isn’t recitation and writing their forte? Master, you can leave it to her.”
Despite Delit’s optimistic words, Silene’s constraint was more prominent, rendering him unable to say anything.
“I accept. I will take on the reciting and writing… as a one-night favor.”
Unexpectedly, Violet was the one to assume the responsibility. Not even a full day had passed since they had met, yet he somehow felt he would not be able to say such things himself. Silene thought she was a modest woman.
“It is an important ceremony, after all.”
The words of Violet Evergarden weighted heavily on Silene’s heart.
The bridal costume from the outskirts of Eucalypt Basin consisted of a red robe with detailed goldthread embroidery. On the bride’s head lay a flower crown, and a rose-colored make-up was applied on her eyelids and lips. In contrast, the groom was clad in a white robe. He carried a shield that represented the protection of their household and a small sword painted in gold, as it was a symbol of wealth.
The groom and bride walked receiving blessings from the people in the street that morning. Afterwards, a banquet was held in the village’s hall. The stage of the ceremony, which the female villagers had been preparing since the day before, turned out splendid. The hall’s pavilion was decorated with white seven-sisters and red roses and two seats made of vines were set up. A long tables and chairs had been lined up as to surround the pavilion and guests were already seated on them. They greeted the arrival of the young couple with applause.
Only on such day, those who would usually be working assiduously were also dressed up and participating. Gorgeous ornamental hats, vividly colorful dresses. And adults are not the only ones dressed up. The figures of children running and walking around with angel feather ornaments on their backs were adorable.
Once the ceremony began, an orchestra started playing and the food was served. Next, it was time to dance for a while. Initially, the women that received dance lessons displayed a group choreography. People gradually mixed up with it, but when the blond postman made his entrance, the cheers from female villagers rose. As Benedict danced about brilliantly in boots much like the ones women wore, after he was done, rather than being by both of his arms, young lady villagers as pretty as flowers cornered him from all sides and caused an uproar.
Violet Evergarden, who had offered to do the recitation, did not do anything as flashy as Benedict. She simply stood still and awaited her cue in silence. Perhaps because of her almost mystical beauty, she did not become a target of the men’s flirting, and not even a single person with enough courage to as much as talk to her had come by.
By the time it was finally her turn, she caused the attendees’ eyes to glue on her with the conglomerate of telegrams. There was not even any need to say “quiet down” in order to silence those who were causing a ruckus. So long as there was something that they wished to hear, people would fall silent on their own.
Regardless of the anxious couple, the ceremony went on free from disturbances for the villagers who were already used to it. Misha quietly whispered into Silene’s ear, “It seems this will end well, right?”
Although she was his own bride, she looked so beautiful that he was slightly startled when her face drew closer. “Yeah, really… this is thanks to the people of the village.”
“Your love poem… was wonderful.” After saying so, Misha laughed a bit. It was probably because his figure had looked funny in her eyes as he ended up mumbling the love poem he had dedicated to her, due to becoming stiff as a statue out of nervousness.
“Miss Violet wrote most of it, though…”
“That’s right. I had never… been told such things.”
“Don’t tease me so much… I’m no good with embarrassing stuff.”
“It’s great that we were able to meet such wonderful travelers. Mother also seemed to have enjoyed herself.”
“It’ll be good if that’s true.” Silene’s voice was a little down.
He had constantly prayed that she would stay put at least on that day, yet she had started aimlessly loitering around by the middle of the ceremony and begun looking for him by the latter half of it, so as per his request, Delit had taken her back home. As the villagers knew of the circumstances, there was no commotion on their part – rather, the one that had become disconcerted was Silene.
He felt as if the most important day of his life had been ruined by his heartbroken mother.
——I’m glad that the one I married was Misha.
There were surely people who would have become irate had the same happened to them. Just as himself.
——I’m glad… that it was Misha.
Silene took Misha’s hand, tracing the wedding ring he had put on it with a finger. It was a proof that he was no longer alone. The way that very ring felt gave him a sense of reality.
“Lastly, here is a letter by the precious mother of the groom, containing her blessings for the marriage of her son, Sir Silene, who has chanced upon the marvelous day that is today.”
An incessant clapping outburst at Violet’s words. Silene confusedly turned his head to every direction. Misha seemed to think it were yet another program of the event and accepted it, but Silene had not been told about such a thing by anyone.
“Lady Fran, I humbly thank you for allowing us to be sitting in such an honorable place along with all of you.” Violet took out a letter similar to the one she had been holding the evening before and opened its envelope. “By your respectable mother’s request, I shall vocally deliver to Sir Silene the letter of marital blessings that is packed with feelings.”
——I haven’t heard about it. I haven’t… heard about any of this.
Was it not better for him to stop her? There was no way the words said by a heartbroken person could be of any decency. The place would merely become disheveled by her strange manner of speech and conduct. Silene attempted to rise from his seat.
However, the blue orbs of the Auto-Memories Doll seemed to sew his own shadow onto him as she entreated for restraint on the spot, “It might become a little abstract, but please do listen to it.” A sigh escaped Violet’s rose-like lips. As if reciting, she read out the blessing poem, “‘I know that the most beautiful version of myself is the one reflected in your eyes. That is because I cherish you as if I were admiring a flower. I can see the gleam of stars in your pupils. That is because I think of you as dazzling. You did not know how to speak when you were small. I taught you words so that you would be able to, right? The color of the sky, the coldness of night dew, the lines you would spout when doing bad things… if only I could convey to you the joy I felt when talking with you about them. I wonder if you have realized that any harsh words I ever directed at you were out of love too. Similarly, no matter how much you may have hurt me, the fact that you were born erases all of it. You do not know that, do you? My son. Do you know the beauty in the eyes of the person you will be together with for the rest of your life from now on? Can you remember what color they are even after closing your own eyes? Do they shine? If you look beautiful when reflected in her orbs, you are loved by her. You must never let that become lax. You must not neglect love. A light can keep on shining precisely when it is polished. That jewel is in only your care. Do not neglect love. My son. Have you ever peeked into my eyes? If not, then by all means, try doing so. They are already enveloped in a world of night, but stars twinkle in the night sky. Please, just quietly peek into them. If you think that what surfaces in my eyes – what is reflected in them – is beautiful, that means you love me. I cannot speak much. That is why, please, take a peek. Please do that whenever you become restless. Wherever you go, my eyes should be able to become one of the beautiful things that exist in this world for you. This is the truth of a promise between you and me. My son, this is my love towards you. So, please, do not forget the color of my eyes.’”
The applause started out as a noiseless ripple and gradually morphed into the great swirl of a wave. After bowing beautifully in an Auto-Memories Doll-like way, Violet stepped aside.
Silene could not remember his mother’s eye color. He had been with her today and the day before.
“Silene? Are you okay?”
Nevertheless, he could not recall it. He had avoided looking at her face. And he had done so on purpose.
Being called by someone else’s name whenever they locked eyes was too hard for him. It was painful that he did not have what his mother sought after. No matter what he did, he was unable to correspond her expectations.
If the one his father had taken away had been Silene himself instead of his brother, perhaps his mother’s heart would not have been damaged to that extent.
If she were not with a son that would make his father and mother think of him as unnecessary, but a better one…
The reason why he was no good with embarrassing things…
…was that they would cause him to become aware…
…that he was an embarrassing existence to someone else.
“Darling, don’t cry.”
As Misha wiped his tears, he realized that he was crying. He hurried to turn backwards. More tears poured.
——So embarrassing. So embarrassing. I am… so embarrassing.
The Auto-Memories Doll’s letter made his chest ache. He was embarrassed of having dragged with him the past he was unable to love until the present moment and running away from the person he was supposed to protect. His mother, despite thinking he was gone, and despite being broken, had gone out to look for him.
“Sorry, I’ll leave the seat for a bit.” He informed Misha and walked away from the ceremony.
“Are you headed to where Mother is?”
As he kept his eyelids still and nodded at the question, she pushed his back.
“Off you go.”
While thinking he was the worst groom ever for abandoning the ceremony, he paced past the guests. Even with him leaving, the attendees had become exalted as the time to dance had come once again.
He went past the narrow road, towards the house he had lived in with his mother. Silene’s legs hurried to the house that he had left as if running away. As he arrived by its front, Violet Evergarden, who was supposed to be at the ceremonial hall, was there. He could not see Benedict’s motorcycle anywhere. The repairs had most likely been completed.
“We are much obliged.”
It seemed they planned to depart without seeing the end of the ceremony.
“Same here. Hum… thank you very much. I took notice of my failures… with the words I received. Mom told you some sort of nonsense… and you… wrote it beautifully into a letter just like that, right? She made you do something so troubling… She… often makes selfish requests. It was like that even back when we lived together. Even today, when she was told that it was the day of the wedding ceremony, she was adamant that we gave her a white hat that had already been sold ages ago…”
“I am sorry for having done this on my own accord.”
“No, it’s fine…”
“While Sir Silene and Lady Misha were out, I accepted a job offer from your mother. The offer was only for me to deliver the letter, but I ended up doing something intrusive. Your mother said that you might not have read the letter if she had given it to you, Sir Silene… I, too, chose a method of definitively transmitting her words to you. Since there is no letter… that needn’t be delivered.” Violet said.
Silene’s brows furrowed. He could picture his mother making the request. However, he thought it was odd for her to say he might not have read it.
“I wonder why my mother would say this… that I might not read the letter.”
“She said it was because she was always causing problems to Sir Silene. Since, due to losing part of the family, she wound up hammering you with lonely memories.”
——That’s a lie.
“No, that’s weird.”
——That’s a lie, that’s a lie.
“She’s… not supposed to say anything so reasonable. She says things like ‘I want to do this’ or ‘I want to do that’. But… that’s weird. It’s almost like… I mean…”
——There’s no way.
“It is not weird. All the while when talking to me, your mother was lucid. When we first met, too, she was like that for a moment. She talked about you.”
——There’s no way.
Silene staggered to pass by Violet’s side and opened the house’s entrance.
From behind him, Violet’s voice resounded, “Well, then, we will take our leave.”
Without bothering to even turn around, he climbed up the stairs and headed to the front of a room in the second floor. What was his mother currently doing in that room which could only be locked from the outside? Taking off the padlock, he spun the doorknob. The window was probably open. Wind was circulating in the room.
His mother was by said window, observing the center of the village where the ceremony was taking place.
“M-Mom.” He called. “Mom.” He called for her countless times in that manner.
His mother stirred her head towards him, but her gaze immediately returned to the window. “Hey, quiet down… Jonah.”
She rarely ever turned to look at him.
“Mom… Mom… M-Mom…”
Ever since their family fell apart, there had not been a single occasion in which she had looked at him soberly.
“I’m onto something very important right now.”
Not even one.
“I wonder where Silene is.”
“Mom, I’m… right here.” He let out a childish voice.
As he did so, his mother’s body twitched once as if startled, and she slowly turned around. She eyed Silene from head to toe with apparent interest. Her gaze was not the same as ever.
Silene stared back into his mother’s orbs. They were of a stunning amber hue.
——Aah, that’s right. That was their color.
He remembered that her irises were of the same color as his own.
His mother walked to his side, and with a hand of increasing brown spots, she touched his cheek. All along, he was shedding tears.
“My… don’t cry.” She seemed happy. “You’ve grown so much, huh, Silene.”
Only Silene dwelled within her amber eyes.
“Congratulations… on your marriage.” She smiled.
During that instant, his mother undoubtedly had sanity. It was lost by the moment Silene embraced her.
“Hey, where’s Silene?”
“I’m… not going anywhere anymore.”
However, her love definitely existed.