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[Library Lover : Browser, Bryan N, Ela V]
Ichika and Chiharu’s First Meeting
I am Kogane Ichika, and I have been married to my husband, Tsurugi, for around 11 years.
During our long years together, we hadn’t been blessed with children.
After a few miscarriages and failure in IVF, I despaired and even told him to get another wife.
He would want a child as much as I do.
I shouldn’t drag him down with me.
However, the gentle Tsurugi reassured me that everything was going to work out in the end, and how he’d hate me for nonchalantly asking him to be with another woman.
In the end, our solution was to adopt a child.
We set up a few criteria for the child, although we both know that we’ll also be swayed by our feelings for selecting our child.
But as we hoped for our child to succeed our ways in iaido, we believed we should impose these criteria as well, before getting too emotionally attached to a particular child.
We believe those criterias will help in maintaining our good relationships in the future.
We wouldn’t want to not get along with our beloved child.
We finally went to Himawari Orphanage and the adorable children warmly welcomed us.
I feel bad when some children showed their sour expression for not being interested with the idea of iaido sparring.
Besides that, I felt quite unwell, so I thought of going somewhere with fewer people and took a little break while my husband was teaching and sparring the children. We agreed that I’d go back after a while so that he could share his findings regarding the children.
After talking with a few children I met on my way, I found myself trailing around to the area with lesser people.
I came across the library and thought perhaps I could take a break over there, as I felt really sluggish. Perhaps all those overthinking and depression had finally taken a toll on my body.
The moment I opened the library’s door, I locked my gaze with a little girl.
On her hands, there was a quite thick book.
Is she a bookworm, I wonder?
“Good afternoon. I am feeling unwell, so is it alright for me to take a little break here?” I greeted her.
“Uhm, sure. Here, have a seat,” she pointed at the chair near her and smiled.
I decided to sit closer to her. She was the only one in the library.
“Aren’t you playing with the other children?” I asked out of curiosity.
“No, I prefer reading books,” she said with a bitter smile.
“Really? Oh, and I don’t think I saw you with the other children just now… How old are you, if I may ask?”
“I’m 9 years old… Uhm, with the other children?” she asked, oblivious to the fact that children aged 4 to 10 were being gathered in the main hall just now.
“Yeah. Today, my husband and I were coming to see which child would we adopt, so the orphanage caretakers gathered the children aged 4 to 10 as to our request,” I explained to her.
“…is that so?” she was confused. But then, she sighed and said, “good luck in finding your child! The children here are energetic and cheerful, so I guess you’d be lucky to have one of them as your child.”
“So, why aren’t you participating? And from the way you talked, it seems you aren’t interested to be our child candidate? Do you dislike us?”
“No way!” She shook her head.
Realizing my exasperated look, she quickly talked again.
“I… I’m sorry. It’s just… that I’m… weird, you know. At least almost all people around me said that. And… I’m kinda… behaving like a boy. So, rather than ending up with unadorable girl, I think you should have a better child.” She said apologetically.
I feel bad for her to say all these bad things about herself. Perhaps she’s been through a lot…
“There’s no need to apologize. Besides, I think you’re cute,” I tried to reassure her.
As I did, she looked up at my face with a surprised look.
“Uhm… Auntie, your face is kinda pale. Are you alright?” she noticed my pale complexion and became worried.
“Don’t worry, just like I said before, I think I’ll feel better with a bit of rest.”
I can’t make a little girl worried about me.
As I said that, she quickly stood up and left me.
Well, can’t be helped. She must be afraid to look at my pale complexion. Sorry for disturbing your reading time, little girl.
I slowly closed my eyes to take a little rest.
After a while, I heard the door open again.
I opened my eyes and was very surprised when I saw the same girl coming in with a cup of a tea in her hand. I thought she left me because she was surprised or afraid of me. Turns out I was wrong.
“Ah, please drink this. This is a herbal tea. I don’t actually know if it helps, but this is my favorite drink since it helped me calm down when I first arrived here. Also… when my mother felt unwell, I made her warm drinks and her complexion was better after drinking,” she said while handing me the cup of the tea.
It’s warm and it smells calming.
“Thank you,” I took a sip and felt the warmth spread in my body.
“Uhm, so… what’s your name, again?” I realized I didn’t know her name.
“Chiharu…,” she said.
“Chiharu-chan… that’s a good name. Nice to meet you, I’m Kogane Ichika. I’m sure your mother was glad to have you as her daughter. How did she…?” I asked, assuming that her mother died and that made her end up in the orphanage. From the way she talked about her mother, it didn’t seem some kind of bad things happened between them that caused her to be here.
“Ah, that’s… uhm… well, I can’t say… you’d say I’m weird, just like the others,” she said, looking uncomfortable.
“It’s alright. Chiharu-chan, you’re a kind girl, I don’t think you’d make a horrible lie… so, mind to tell me?” I smiled to reassure her.
“So… uhm… I… remembered I was… in another world… I mean, not anywhere near this area… the customs were so different, as well… and then a blinking light appeared out of nowhere… and I found myself… here, in Machida, and no one can find my family…,” she said hesitantly.
…well now, that’s something I didn’t expect to hear.
However, from the looks of it, she doesn’t seem to be lying, as I thought.
Children’s memories might get hazy due to traumatical events, so I wonder if she was kidnapped or was in some kind of accident? And when she woke up, she could recall the incident as she described?
Nevertheless, I know she is a gentle child.
“I… remembered I was a boy, as well,” she said.
…Another mind-blowing story. However, her tone and attitude was kinda boyish, I thought she was just a tomboy.
“E, everyone teased me for that. I, I know it’s weird, so… as I said, I won’t be suited as anyone’s adopted child, so I bailed out from every chance,” she said.
I could sense her loneliness and sadness… Even if she spouted some weird things… that might be due to her memory loss after the incident that separated her from her family, I don’t think it’d be right for her to condemn herself unworthy of family love.
I can feel that I am interested in her. However, I must appreciate my husband’s thought on the matter and more importantly, to also select based on the suitable criteria of Kogane dojo’s heir, so I should stop bonding with her until then.
So, for now…
“Say, Chiharu. Wanna try to pass a test we’re doing in order to select our child?”