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Tasogare no Kishi, Akatsuki no Sora
<The Shore in Twilight, the Sky in Daybreak>

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001
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~ Chapter Three ~

(*)

Filth was accumulating. But he was not even slightly aware of it. It was because the suffering one was his beast self sealed within himself, and there was not a single harm done to his shell self.

Naturally, nobody around him took notice of such. They were only attracted to something else -- the frequent suspicious accidents occuring around him.

"It is already the second time my child got hurt when playing with your children."
The woman screamed at him and his mother.
"A fracture in his bone! Never get close to my child again!"
The woman yelled as if she wanted to slam the words on their faces, and left. His mother could only draw a deep sigh.

"That guy tripped upon himself, that's all!"
It was his younger brother who appealed.
"He chased me and brother around with a club. Then he tripped upon himself, and fell into a drain!"
Really, his mother mumbled.

"That guy is always like that. He hid our stuff, and jumped on us to hit us. He hid on our way home to throw things at us. That is why he got punished."
"Stop saying that!"
"Why? The guy is the bully. The injury serves him right!"

"Stop it!"
His mother snapped. The blamed one held his mother and elder brother in pointed hatred.
"It is all brother's fault! He must have something happened to him during the time he disappeared! Everyone said that he turns weird and sickening. Then even I got bullied."

The elder brother drooped his head. It was the truth.
Everyone around him at first greeted him with sounds of wonder and sympathy, and the love and joy due to his return. Now that everything faded, only suspicious glances remained. Such glances were ground blunt by habituation, and followed by courtesy-coated isolation. He was treated as an abnormal child. Then the children around him firmly took this to persecute him. As a result, even his younger brother got caught in it.

"It is not my fault! Why does everyone say rude things to me, punch me, and throw things at me?"
The younger brother vented in tears, and threw a toy around him at his elder brother.
"Stop it!"
"Why do you always protect him, Mom?"

The younger brother continued to throw stuff around him, and when he ran out of stuff to throw, he grabbed on the elder brother. -- No, he tried to grab on the elder brother. Then things on a shelf fell right on the younger brother's head. The shelf attached to the entrance lintel suddenly fell down. The things on the shelf were not very heavy, and the younger brother was saved from being hit by the shelf boards. The younger brother was first shocked aghast, and upon realizing the disaster on himself, he started to cry out loud. His mother gave a scream and ran forth to hug the younger brother. After checking that he was not seriously injured, she looked at the elder brother, with a complicated glance mixed with suspicion and anxiety.

***

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