Natsuo's mother had deserted his family, and he hated her since then, but...
| Natsuo kneeled down in his father’s backyard to scoop up a handful of soil. He found an oval-shaped garnet pendant and grinned at it. It was his mother’s precious stone which he had stolen from his mom. He hated her so much because she had deserted his family on his seventh birthday. He has not seen her again since his parents had gotten divorced.
He strolled around the backyard when his sister, Harumi, called him:
“Natsuo, dinner was ready!”
“I’m coming,” he replied and buried the pendant again.
Of four siblings, Natsuo maintained the closest relationship with Harumi, the oldest sister. Both had studied painting, and Natsuo became a painter, while Harumi has gotten married to a man whose parents ran a supermarket. Harumi was a mother of a seven years old boy, Haruo.
When Natsuo had been seven years old, and his sister Harumi eighteen, their parents had gotten divorced. Fifteen years have passed since then. Natsuo smiled for a while because he remembered how Harumi had looked like a bad girl at that time. She used to wander about the entertainment district at night and to shout at her mother when scolded by her.
“Happy birthday, Natsuo!” said Harumi. “I bought a sweet cake for you.”
“Thanks,” said Natsuo.
While eating cake, they talked about an exhibition held in Tokyo. Natsuo displayed his work, a foreign landscape painting, at the exhibition, and Harumi was proud of that. Harumi was slowly turning the pages of an exhibition brochure and said:
“Have you heard that dad came across mom last week in the exhibition?”
The news came as a complete surprise to him.
“I’ve never heard of that. How dare she!” he said.
“I heard dad didn’t seem to be in a bad mood, and they greeted each other,” she said.
“Even if dad doesn’t care at all, I’ll never forgive her,” he said.
“Okay,” Harumi said. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have talked about it on your birthday.”
They changed the subject of conversation. Natsuo said he realized how devastated their father’s garden was due to a shortage of rain, and Harumi said she would water the garden the following day.
Next morning, while she prepared to water the plants in the garden with a hose, she noticed Natsuo’s earphone on the backyard. She bent down to pick it up and saw a small area where the ground was slightly raised. She used a soil scoop and dug the oval-shaped garnet pendant out of the ground. It was Harumi who had bought it and had given it to her mother as a birthday present. She looked at it for a little while and, after watering the garden, wrote a letter to Natsuo. Because she didn’t want to hand the letter directly to him, she sent it to his apartment house.
Two days later, after Natsuo saw his girlfriend off at a train station, he opened the letter at his apartment house. She wrote that she had given the pendant to her mother a long time ago and that she wanted to send it to her mother again if he didn’t oppose her idea. He sent a simple text message that he didn’t care, but said to himself that something inside him might have been paralyzed as time has passed by.