By the time I woke up to the brightness of the morning sun, the twins had long since woken up and were sitting on my chest and stomach, watching me intently.
No wonder I felt so heavy.
“You’re awake. You’re up early.”
“You are up too?”
“You didn’t cry? That’s great.”
I stroked the twins’ heads as they bounced on top of me with a squeal that sounded somewhat between like a yelp or a purr.
It was obvious that they were in a good mood.
“Ugh, you’re heavy! Wait, wait! Stop bouncing.”
The twins, who had been in high spirits all morning, didn’t listen to my insistence at all.
I had to keep guffawing under them as if they were on a trampoline until the housekeeper who passed by came to check on them saw the situation and helped pick them up.
From that day onwards, I was appointed as the twins’ nanny. Maybe it was because I slept with them overnight, but the twins seemed to recognize me as family and started sharing their food with me during snack time.
They also started following me around and crying when they couldn’t find me.
Although Dad said that the children must have gotten used to me and liked playing with me, I, who was in the middle of puberty at the time, was somewhat dissatisfied with that assessment.
After a while, the twins calmed down, and they started not crying during the day when I was not around. But during the night Zen always had to grab me by the hair of my collar to sleep, and Jin couldn’t sleep without me holding him and walking him around.
I was already so attached to the twins because they were so cute and adorable, and I was happy to be of use to my family and our friends.
At that time, I was still in puberty and I still was unaware of my pheromone abnormality, so I sometimes thought that one day I would like to meet and marry my fated pair just like my father and mother did, and have cute children like Jin and Zen.
“Is Raizo still …………?”
“There’s not really much improvement……….”
One day as I was passing by my parent’s room I happened to hear this conversation between Dad and Mom and learnt about the condition of Raizo-san, the twins’ father.
It seemed that his condition was not so good.
At that time, Raizo-san was quarantined in a room at the far end of the remote house, and I was told not to go near that room. It was the farthest away from the room where the twins lived, so I had completely forgotten about his existence.
I glanced at the twins playing with the building blocks and thought that they must miss their father. Being suddenly brought to a strange place and separated from their father probably made the twins feel unstable.
If they were reunited with their father, they might be more relaxed. Thinking like this, I decided to take the twins to Raizo-san’s room, which was forbidden.
Without even properly considering why it was banned and what it meant.
The back of the detached house where Raizo-san lived was quiet and deserted.
The only sounds you could hear in the quiet corridor are our footsteps, as the twins wanted to walk by themselves earlier.
We were walking together while they were holding my trousers with an anxious look on their faces.
“It’s this room, isn’t it?”
I tried tapping on the sliding door to see what was going on inside, but there was no response.
I thought maybe he was sleeping, and I told myself to come back again later, but in the hope of giving the twins a glimpse of their father, I pulled the thin sliding door open and peeked inside, trying not to make a sound.
Raizo-san was lying on the futon laid out in the middle of the room. With skinny cheeks and sunken eyes, he had lost much more weight than when he came here. The joints of his arms protruding from the duvet were raised, revealing the shape of his bones.
At first glance, I thought he was dead.
If it hadn’t been for the slight up and down movement of the duvet, I might have screamed and passed out.
As I froze, unable to speak in horror, the twins on either side of me curiously poked their faces into the gap, and the next thing I knew, they were rushing in.
The twins, who had flapped and run to him, hugged him while shaking Raizo-san’s body, “Daddy”, “Where’s mummy?” they cried out.
As Raizo’s eyelids trembled, his cloudy eyes caught sight of the twins; he moved his crusty lips and called their names in a faint voice.
“Jin ………, Zen ……….”
The twins, who trembled at the hoarse voice, were frightened by their father, who looked different, and called for Raizo-san, crying in a loud voice that seemed to echo in the distance.
His arms like dead trees were slowly lifted and he stroked the heads of the clinging twins in turn.
“I’m sorry, Jin, Zen, I’m sorry. Mama’s gone.”
Tears spilled from Raizo-san’s eyes and soaked into the pillow.
I could only watch the three of them. I couldn’t find any words to say.
Even if I had come up with words of comfort, they would not have helped with the sorrows of this family.