'I don't want to go to school anymore.
Alice, my daughter in the eighth grade, mumbled something at dinner.
I stopped my chopsticks and looked down at her. She had her mother's long black hair, large, wide-open eyes, a well-shaped bridge of her nose that made me want to stroke it with my fingers, and her elegant mouth was clenched tightly shut.
I glanced sideways at Alina next to me. My wife seemed surprised at her daughter's sudden confession and gently put the bowl she was holding up on the dining table.
I ask fearfully.
Adolescence is a very tricky age. All adults know that. Children who have awakened to a clear sense of self and have acquired a sense of independence do not like parental interference. Hormonal imbalance makes them mentally unstable, and they form a small society with a strong budding sense of camaraderie.
The camaraderie that emerges in this immature society sometimes becomes a catalyst for rejecting others.
'I didn't do anything ...... to be ostracized'.
My daughter Alice has always been like that.
She was born with a natural talent for acting. She made her debut as a child model for advertising photos, and as she got older, her genre of acting expanded, and now she is a famous child actress known all over Japan. She is in demand in dramas and movies. My daughter is super cute.
That's why there was a lot of jealousy from children, especially from the same s*x.
'Oh my God, ......'.
I said a few phony lines to keep the conversation going.
I didn't really know how to handle it properly as a parent. So I need time to think.
'Alice. Don't you like school?
My wife asks softly.
'I hate it. I'd rather be at work.
'Yes, all right. You don't have to go tomorrow. I'll tell the school that I'm busy with my acting job.
'Thank you, Mom.
Alice made a faint smile. But it was obvious that she was forcing it. No matter how much Alice was praised as a child prodigy, she could not lie in front of her own parents. They know her better than anyone else.
I never wanted to go to school.
Of course, that's not to say that I never wanted to go to school. I didn't want to get out of my futon when there was a heavy snowfall, and I thought about skipping music class on days when we were made to sing alone to decide who would be tenor or bass. But it was just that kind of thing, and there was no such thing in my junior high school days as Alice's refusal to go to school because of human relations.
What should I do? I know that staying at home until graduation is not a good idea. But since she has expressed that she does not want to go to school, forcing her to do so would cause a deep darkness to fall into her heart.
'Alina. What do you think?
The couple was lying together on a double bed. They were in their bedtime clothes, just before going to sleep, but both of them were thinking about Alice's case and could not turn off the light.
Alina turned her body toward me and caressed my face.
'I remember when I met you,' she said.
'We're talking about Alice now.'
'I am. When I was in the same frame of mind as Alice, all I wanted was someone who understood me. I had no one to protect me. That's why I was happy when you came to me and told me a stupid story. I thought something might change.
'So ...... understanding or ......'
'I have to tell him somehow. Alice is not alone.
That was the hard part.
Adolescents are convinced that their ideas are the most correct. It is not so easy to overturn the consciousness once it has taken root. Alice, who grew up being hailed as a genius, probably has a stronger self-consciousness than those around her.
I wonder if I can do anything about it, since I am usually mocked by people who say 'daddy is so creepy'.
The more I think about it, the more I think of the disdain my daughter would have for me. Why can't I put my underwear in the washing machine together? It used to be my sperm, I don't understand.
Let's leave her alone for now. Alice must've been in a lot of trouble before she confessed to us. Let her get her mind in order and then we can talk to her more and see what we can do as parents.
'Yes, you're right. There's still time.
Alina smiled and put her forehead to mine. She has not changed at all since we met. Her beauty has been renewed with each passing year, and I can say with certainty that Alina is the most beautiful person I have ever seen here. Perhaps it is her body that never ages. If so, I'm going to die first. I'm sorry to make you cry.
She traces the corners of my eyes with her fingers. She looks at my face and traces small wrinkles, as if checking the time we have spent together. Alina's face, on the other hand, has no wrinkles to trace. I'll ask her later to tell me more about beauty.
'Alice, are you asleep?
'I'm sure he's sleeping soundly. I'm not afraid of tomorrow anymore, I can close my eyes in peace.
'Well, you don't mind if I speak up, do you?
Alina covered me and kissed me deeply. Over and over again, I drown in deep, fainting kisses. Forgetting about tomorrow, I throw away everything I have and drown myself in her. It was the same for her.
The nights used to feel so long, but at my age, they feel so short. That's why I keep trying so hard to tell her how much I love her in this precious time. I love you, I love you.
As if we could see each other's face at the moment of death.
'When do you think Alice will be able to return to work?
One day, after more than a week of refusing to go to school, I was called to the school. I guessed that the homeroom teacher might have known that Alice was refusing to go to school. I have consistently explained that it was for work reasons, but I think I'm at the end of my rope.
How was Alice doing at school?
'Alice, you are right, ......'
'You can be honest with me. It's better for both of us.
The homeroom teacher looked down and bowed her head and began to speak.
In summary, Alice was being ostracized, just as she had said she would be. The teachers were very cautious because of Alice's celebrity status, but bullying problems among children are not easily solved no matter how careful you are. It may seem simple, but children's society is complex and exclusive to adult intervention.
I am sorry. We have been negligent in our supervision.
'No, no, no, children's world is difficult.
I know I can't just say that. It is only a comforting word, because the problem of bullying students affects not only the children but also the treatment of teachers. They are frightened. If the mass media gets to know about it, both teachers and students will feel ashamed of themselves. The victim is Alice Sakakiki, a beautiful child prodigy.
However, we do not intend to make Alice put up with it. To tell you the truth, I don't care about the teachers or the lives of the students who are bullied.
All that really matters is my daughter's future.
Alice. Shall we go out tomorrow?
I asked him to go out for the first time in a while. I wanted her to have a change of scenery.
Alice, who was sitting on the sofa watching TV in a daze, replied to my invitation with a glazed-over look.
'Yeah~......Dad, where do you work? Did you quit?''
I was in denial from the very beginning, but I couldn't back down. I sat down on the sofa. I'm hurt by his blatant distancing.
Working people have the magic of paid leave. It is often voided in front of your boss who is not very smart, but if you go to the Labor Standards Inspection Office, a.k.a. the Ministry of Magic, you can get rid of your boss and, hopefully, your workplace.
'I know and... I don't want to be alone with my dad.
'Of course Mom's coming.
'Well, then ......'.
He reluctantly agreed.
Incidentally, there is a clear difference in power in my family.
First in the pecking order is, of course, my wife, Alina Sakakiki, the most beautiful empress in the world. She has the authority to manage our finances, plan our lives, and make all the other decisions that affect our lives.
The second place goes to my daughter, Alice Sakakiki, the most beautiful girl in the world. She is a child prodigy, well-connected, highly-paid, and a super beautiful girl, and I don't think I can beat her at all.
The third place goes to Comet Sakakiki, a former member of the home club whose only merit is that he comes home the fastest in the world. I am a father who works hard to make his wife and daughter happy.
Such is the strange family we have, but recently the chances for the three of us to go out together have been drastically decreasing. This is mainly due to Alice's busy schedule.
Oh, are you going to ask me out on a date?
Not really. It's a family outing.
Alina teased with a nasty smile.
'I mean, Dad, you really need to grow up, you know? I really want you to stop flirting in public. It's really embarrassing.
'Tell that to Mom. Dad is a serious, honest man. It's usually Mom who sets me up.
I can't. It's gross.
'Oooooohhhh, you're so cute, Alice! You have that look of disdain in your eyes, just like my mom did when she was young and super sharp!
'Oh, your mom was a Yankee?'
Alice's eyes were wide with interest. Alina, on the other hand, smiled thinly and sat down between Alice and me. She then pinched my side so that her daughter could not see. I was not supposed to say anything, apparently.
I'm not a yankee. Like Alice, I was alone.
'Oh, my mom! No way...... because if you were as pretty as your mom, you wouldn't be alone......'
'What goes around comes around. For similar reasons I was always alone. But there was something different about Alice. I kept going to school even if I had to.
My daughter felt condemned, and her shoulders slumped. But Alina added.
I'm not trying to say that Alice is wrong. We just think differently. I thought all my classmates and everyone else were trash. I thought they were trash, scum, and a bunch of irredeemable idiots, and I didn't want to lose to them.
'Mom Scary ......'
'Still, the sky's the limit. Being alone is lonely and painful. Who do you think appeared at that moment?
'...... maybe, dad?'
'So. I love my dad. He's the one who made my cloudy world a clearer place. It was like seeing blue sky for the first time.
Oh, man, I'm grinning. He was happy because he felt like he hadn't been praised in a long time.
Seeing her like that, she hid behind Alina and felt uncomfortable. Yeah, but still cute.
'That's how we met, Mom and Dad. ......'
'I only have one thing to say. Alice is not alone. You have me and your father. She may be alone at school now, but one day someone will reach out to her. But no one will reach out to you if you say no to everything yourself, okay?
Alina shook my daughter's and my hand.
'No one is born alone. Babies are born knowing they are not alone. I'm here,' she said.
It's been a long time since I've been away from home, and I really enjoyed it.
There is a difference between an actor's smile and a genuine smile. Alice laughed happily, ate ice cream, hugged Alina, and poked me. No matter how many natural smiles the best actors make, they can't remove the awareness that it's an intentional smile. You can't lie to your consciousness, just as you can't lie to an elephant even if you are told not to think about it. And it shows on your face.
No, it doesn't matter. As long as Alice and Alina are happy, there is nothing to talk about.
I don't like it when you drive. It makes me sick.
'I've had a gold driver's license for over a decade, and I'm still a god.
'Taxi people are better.
Don't compare me with professionals. A cabbie's cab is part of his body now. They've had a body transformation.
'Why don't you do it too, Dad?'
'I don't want it to hurt.
It's all night now, and the end is a place of memories. The mountain where my parents used to take me and Alina to the observatory. We had visited there once with my family when Alice was little, but we had not been there for a long time because we had moved to a new place.
When we arrived at the parking lot and got out of the car, Alice muttered a few words to me.
'I've been here before ......'.
'You remember. Let's go.'
With Alice and Alina in tow, we entered the mountain road to the observation spot. The mountain road was well-maintained, so it did not have a dangerous atmosphere. I pulled Alina's hand as we had done in the past. I remember that she almost fell down because of the bad footing. She said 'thank you' and held my hand tightly.
The stars were falling in my eyes.
White lights and orange glints spread across the pale blue night sky. Alice stood beside me, her eyes wide open, looking up at the sky, her eyes shining wet with starlight.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at her. She looked just like Alina at that time. It was as if I was watching that moment when I told her that I loved her. And I think about it with all my heart. Ah,...... she's our daughter.
Alice brings her admiration to the sky. Everyone is but dust before the universe. A person's life is so short and fleeting that it is over in the blink of an eye from stars hundreds of millions of light-years away.
And I wonder what little things I have been worrying about. I thought the world was so small that I couldn't even open my arms, but now I realize that the world is so big and infinite.
Your lungs, which had been shrinking, expand and you naturally grow taller. Your eyes open to let in the light that had been closed to you. We make footprints on the earth to confirm that the world is big. In this way, we walk forward, moving toward the future.
Dad, Mom. I won't lose!
Hearing these words, my wife Alina laid her head on my shoulder. We huddled together, as if watching our child's departure, and listened to her determination.
There was no more hesitation in Alice's eyes. No more doom and gloom. Only a new strong will that cannot be shaken by anyone was burning in her eyes. At least, it was not the 'rejection' of when his wife was Alina Hiba, or the 'escape' of Comet Sakakiki, who was always joking. Alice would neither reject nor run away. I am sure that Alice will face her problems and come to terms with them.
In this way, she will grow up, make someone she loves, and go away.
I will fulfill my duty as a parent until the very end and do my best again from tomorrow so that she can leave the nest with a smile on her face.
I promised myself to do so, and we gazed at the stars as a family.
The future continues...