Prologue – The Beginning of the End of a Peaceful Family
Parents will always have a part of their life in the past that their children can never see.
Kenzaki Yasuo, who had just turned eighteen years old, couldn’t remember when he had become properly aware of such an obvious fact. However, after having reached this age, he couldn’t say that he knew everything about his family, and also realized that not knowing wasn’t a major issue. Even if there were a lot of things he didn’t know, his family’s relationship was still pretty good.
He had a father who worked as a manager in a fairly large company without any mishaps. His mother was currently a housewife, but she occasionally did part-time work. His sister was at a difficult age, being in the third year of middle school, an experience he still remembered.
He didn’t know any details about what kind of work his father did at his company, nor did he know how his mother spent her time while he was at school. His sister was attending the same middle school that he once did, but he didn’t think for a minute that she was having the same kind of school life that he had.
Similarly, his father, mother, and even his sister should have been able to see most of his life, but only the superficial aspects. They probably saw a constrained view such as his image as a high school student, or his schedule for each day..
However, they probably knew barely any details about how Yasuo interacted with his friends and teachers at school, what dreams he had as he worked on his studies, and how he spent his time when he was not with his family. Even so, his father, mother, sister, and himself were probably working from their own respective positions to keep their family of four in a peaceful state.
However, the situation that was unfolding before Yasuo’s eyes was something that would shatter that small confidence of his.
The season was not yet spring, and the weather was still cold. Yasuo entered the living room that was illuminated by the setting sun, and the only thing he heard was the humming sound of the refrigerator in the dining room, ringing in his ears.
Yasuo stood rooted in place, without putting his bag down and still wearing his school uniform.
His mother, droop shouldered, and wearing an unreadable expression.
His sister had a scowl on her face, with her eyes narrowed and arms crossed.
And above all, his father had a grim and stern expression that he had only seen a few times in the eighteen years of his life. Something horrible had happened to his family. That was the only thing he understood.
Although they must have noticed that Yasuo had returned home, not one of them raised their heads to acknowledge his presence. This strange behaviour indicated how serious the unknown problem was.
This morning, he had woken up as usual to the same old nagging, argued with his sister as usual over trivial things, laughed at the comments of the performer who appeared on the morning news, said goodbye to his father who was leaving for work from the living room without even turning around, and left for school before his sister. That scene had suddenly turned heavy for some reason, and Yasuo couldn’t bear it any longer.
“What on earth happened……”
The moment he tried to say that,
“Sit down, Yasuo.”
At his father’s restrained voice, Yasuo’s premonition solidified into certainty.
As he made to sit down in his usual seat opposite his father and beside his sister, Yasuo realized that his heart had started to beat chaotically like an alarm bell.
Looking at the complicated sigh that his sister, Nodoka, gave from the corner of his eye only served to aggravate his unease.
“M-Mom, what’s the matter…?”
“…I’m sorry. This is too sudden, I can’t be the one to say it.”
His mother, Madoka’s voice was very hoarse, maybe due to exhaustion.
It seemed that the answer would only come from the person in front of him.
Yasuo gulped and looked at his father’s face.
At some point he had become the same height his father, but for some reason, his father looked especially large and far away today.
That appearance of his father began to speak.
As expected, his father’s voice was just as hoarse and dry as his mother’s. However, his father’s expression had a certain ‘resolve’ that his mother didn’t have.
Yasuo, who was having all sorts of bad premonitions, strengthened his heart against any kind of news and waited for his father’s next words.
The most likely things were the news of illness, injury, or death of a relative. If it was something related directly to his family, perhaps his father had lost his job, or had some serious illness. Maybe it was a large debt, an accident, or they were the victim of a crime.
As Yasuo began to run through a list of all the bad things that could be imagined by a third-year high school student, his father’s next words fell upon his ears.
“I want to go to another world, and become a hero.”
The moment it took him to understand the words of his father, Kenzaki Hideo, a forty eight-year old salaryman, seemed like an eternal silence.
That was the only response he could give. How else was he supposed to react?