The Firefly that doesn’t Chirp Burns with Love
Author: Toru Wakui
Let me confess my sins.
I was born into a family of wealthy landowners who had taken over the entire local area.
My family consisted of my father and mother, an excellent brother and a very beautiful sister.
My older brother, who had been academically superior since childhood, carried the expectations of our parents with all his heart, and my younger sister looked like our beautiful mother with a fair complexion and a lovely face, and as a child I acutely sensed that she was born under a star to be loved and cherished by everyone.
On the other hand, I was not so beautiful, though I inherited my father’s face but with none of his splendor, and my skin was fair, but I couldn’t compete with my sister’s clear skin at all.
Even as a child, I understood that my parents were especially fond of my brother and sister.
I, on the other hand, was the last thing on their minds.
…… No, this here seemed to be misleading.
Openly, my parents didn’t discriminate or favour any among us siblings.
However, my brother and sister attracted my parents’ attention even more than I did, so they were naturally less interested in me.
So no matter what I did, my parents were particularly sweet to my sister. They didn’t blame my sister for not learning, but instead they wanted me to be a good role model for her and demanded perfection from me.
But I understood that too.
Because, unlike my sister, I’m not particularly beautiful.
My sister is a beautiful woman and she had many suitors, but I’m not, so if I don’t have a certain level of education, I’d really be worthless.
Ever since I can remember, my younger sister has been treated with such care and affection as if she were wrapped in cotton, like a butterfly or a flower, and I would be upset because she was treated differently than I was.
My sister was always praised whenever we’re lined up, even in front of relatives and guests, but I knew they didn’t mean any harm.
My sister is so beautiful that I just genuinely glorified her.
Well, my house has a lot of servants, some of whom are young, but let’s talk about the youngest of them.
He was the same age as me and arrived at our house when he was nine.
He was so small and thin that I thought he was much younger than me at first.
His name was Toukichi , and it was decided that he would be taken into our house when he lost his parents and had no relatives to take him in.
I was shocked when I saw him, full of mud and bruises, looking shabby, and was told that he and I were the same age.
Even though I heard him talk, he was often slurring his words, but from what I heard from him, he seemed to be of ‘poor’ means.
I was too young to understand what was wrong with him, but even so, I knew, even as a child, that he was ‘poorer’ than me.
I had not thought about it until then, but I was still dissatisfied with my circumstances and secretly thought that I was the ‘poorest’ person in the house, so his appearance was a big shock to me.
And when I saw someone who was clearly ‘poorer’ than me, I felt strangely satisfied even though my own situation hadn’t changed at all.
At that time, I did not know what it was, but I certainly felt a sense of superiority over him.
That sense of superiority gave my heart some leeway, as I had only seen myself before.
I felt much less depressed about my brother and sister, and the boring lessons were a little more enjoyable.
In addition, in order to enjoy the superiority complex, I often took time to share my snacks with Toukichi and invite him to play.
Sometimes when I taught him to read and write, I felt like I had become wiser by teaching the ignorant man something.
My two siblings and I were not on very bad terms, so I often played with my brother and sister. But for me, it was a very relaxing spending time with him, who was bewildered by my every action, rather than with my excellent brother and sister.
Eventually, seeing me bothering Toukichi, my brother and sister became interested in him, and the four of us began to have more opportunities to play together.
Especially, my brother seemed happy to have a male friend close to his age, so sometimes he took Toukichi with him to go out and play.
My father and mother looked at us like that and seemed like they were smiling.
When I observed the situation with the other servants, I was surprised to find that they were very friendly toward Toukichi.
However, when that happened, it was no fun, and I started to hate him, who had been recognized and accepted by everyone.
But I still didn’t stop bothering him because I wanted to find a part of him that was inferior to me.
However, my parents liked Toukichi as a well-recognized child, my brother called him his best friend, and my sister followed him around a lot.
As the days went on, I became a demon possessed.
“It’s a gift, so eat it in secret so no one can see.”
One day I said so and gave him a fine pastry.
In fact, it was something I got from my teacher, but I buried a single sewing needle in it.
Later, when I asked him how it was when he and I were alone, Toukichi smiled as usual.
“It was very delicious.”
Then, for the first time in a long time, I felt a sense of superiority over him.
After all, he was nothing more than a servant of my house, and if he had been given a gift by me in good faith, he could only receive it with gratitude, even if it had a needle in it, or poison.
The thought of that made my heart skip a beat.
Then every time I got a fancy pastry, I secretly slipped a needle inside and gave it to him.
I didn’t tell him to eat it on the spot I gave it to him, and I didn’t mind if he threw it away as soon as he got it in the shadows.
Every time I gave him pastry with a needle in it, maybe poison in it, he had to smile and thank me, even if it was only in form. The situation gave me joy.
It lasted until the time when a marriage proposal was brought to me.
When I was sixteen, an offer of marriage was made to me.
However, it seemed that the affair was already decided between parents and I was to get married.
The other party was the heir of a certain liquor brewery, and I heard that he was twenty-five years old.
It seems to be a long-established store that there is no one in the local area who didn’t know it, and the shopkeeper and my father seem to have known each other for a long time.
After that, the house was very crowded with people preparing for my wedding.
When I looked at the beautiful embroidered white gown and wedding implements, I was filled with anxiety and expectation about my fiancée, who I had not yet seen.
Eventually, we met for the first time half a month later, when the date for the ceremony was set.
The first time I met my fiancée, I saw a man with a dignified, handsome face, and a strong good-looking expression.
I still can’t remember what I had said with him that day, for I was so helplessly excited at the thought of him becoming my husband, and I was so embarrassed to say the least.
However, I remember that outside the room, a little distance away, the other party’s parents and my parents were arguing with each other, though I couldn’t hear them.
That evening, as I walked down the hallway in a comfortable fluffy mood, I heard my parents talking.
Apparently, it was about today’s face-to-face meeting, though I thought it wasn’t a good idea, I stopped and listened to the conversation.
This marriage was brought up by a strong request from the other party’s mother.
When she saw us sisters in town, she mistook my younger sister, who was taller than me, for the elder sister, and asked for her to marry her son.
The misunderstanding was discovered for the first time in this face-to-face meeting, but his mother still said she wanted my younger sister to be his wife.
My father and mother want to marry me somehow because they have already advanced the story that I am getting married.
However, I thought that it was strange that I had been nominated while side by side with my younger sister.
After hearing that, I quietly returned to the room without being noticed.
When I returned to my room, my sister, who had already laid out my futon in our shared room, was waiting for me.
“Soon, we won’t be sleeping together like this anymore.”
When I saw my sister’s face, which seemed a little sad, I had never wanted to hit her so badly that I couldn’t see her face again.
I turned off the light, went into the futon, and talked for a while.
She was lonely because I will be gone soon, she would go to be a bride someday, and was envious of elder brother being in the house all the time, and of we three siblings and I emerged the eldest daughter…. I felt like my sister was saying that.
Even if she doesn’t remain in this house, my sister will be sought after by all means unlike me, and she will be able to get married to someone she cherishes.
When I asked my sister why she wants to stay in this house so much, she only got embarrassed, but I guess there must be someone she cares about.
Is it possible to be so pampered and desired by people, and still want even more?
It was a sufficient motivation to crush my reasoning, which had been teetering on the edge after listening to my parents’ earlier conversation.
When it was well into the night, I asked my sister if she was still awake.
I was going to wake her up if she wasn’t, but my sister answered in a firm voice that she was up.
“There’s something I want to show you before I go off to marry.”
Having said that, on a still cold night, even though it was early spring, I took my sister out to the garden and led her to the front of the well.
When I opened the lid of the well and told her to look inside, my sister looked into the well without any doubt.
At that moment, I lifted my sister’s legs and threw her into the well at once.
After a small startled scream and the sound of water, the area calmed down.
The moment I replaced the lid on the well and looked back to see if anyone had witnessed it, I saw Toukichi looking at me from the corridor.
Immediately I felt as if I had cold water poured over my head.
He hooked his sandals from the top of a nearby stone staircase and, without even raising his voice, he walked quietly toward me.
A shiver, not from the cold, dominated my body.
“Toukichi, this is …”
Though I couldn’t even see his face, my voice was surprisingly shaky.
Suddenly he grabbed my arms and my shoulders bounced so violently, but I managed to maintain my self-esteem by not screaming.
“Yes, of course, I won’t tell anyone. This is a secret between the two of us.”
His voice, which came down from above, was disproportionately calm and gentle, but it fueled my fear even more.
As it was, he slipped past me, headed for the well, and removed the lid.
I was wondering what he was going to do, and he came back to me and said,
“That’s no good, we can’t have you saying that you pushed someone down.”
I couldn’t immediately understand what he was saying to me with the friendly smile that he usually has when he speaks.
“It’s almost dawn. Please return to your room before anyone sees you. And in the morning, when asked if there was anything unusual yesterday, ‘I don’t know why, but she seemed to be thinking of something’. Please answer that. Is that okay?”
Toukichi bent his knees and looked into my face, as if talking to a little child.
The situation didn’t change at all, but rather he looked calm and gentle, and after simply shaking my head a few times, I left as if to escape the place.
After returning to my room, I finally realized the gravity of what I had done and the weight of my sins.
It was too late, I may have felt inferior to my beautiful sister, but I never hated her.
My younger sister whose short life ended without knowing the existence of unreasonable malice because she grew up being praised and cherished by everyone.
However, my sister, who has been with me for as long as I could remember, always laughed cheerfully and looked up to me as an elder sister.
She was a little taller than me and had a tomboyish look to her face.
I wondered what a stupid and foolish thing I had done.
But it was all too late to reconsider.
And the fact that the terrifying man saw the whole thing also made me despair.
What did Toukichi think I was going to do when he decided to keep quiet about the crime of killing my sister, and what on earth would he demand of me now in exchange?
Or is he trying to have me lower my guard, set up a trap in the morning and expose my sin before the light of day?
It might be better that way.
I’ve been harassing him in the shadows for a long time, so I don’t know why he would cooperate.
Such an idea circulated in my head, and although I eventually got into the futon, I greeted the morning without getting a wink of sleep.
By the time it was light out, the outside of the room became noisy, and the hustle and bustle made my chest even tighter.
Before long, I couldn’t wait for someone to wake me up, so I went out of the room pretending to have been awakened by the noise outside.
When I caught one of the servants in the house and asked what had happened, she calmed down and told me that my sister was found dead in the well.
When people wake up in the morning and are told for the first time that their sister is dead, they wouldn’t know how to react or what to do, so they keep quiet.
As I headed to the well and watched again as my sister was pulled up in front of the well and my parents broke down in tears, my brother asked me if there was anything unusual about my sister yesterday.
“She seemed to have had something on her mind last night, she didn’t tell me what, but…”
Although I was panicking in my heart over what I did, I managed to squeeze out the words that Toukichi had said to me this morning.
Then my mother’s voice, which had been crying loudly until a while ago, stopped for a moment, but soon she started crying again.
The moment I saw my sister’s face, with her neck bent in the wrong direction, her originally white skin was even paler and puffy, and still had the vestiges of her life’s beauty, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of guilt that she would never smile again.
My brother gently stroked my back, as I collapsed to my knees and began to cry, but after what I had done, I really didn’t deserve it.
Such feelings swelled with every moment, and finally at my sister’s funeral, I began to cry that I should have died, not my sister.
I screamed ‘why my sister’, who was more beautiful and a better person than me, had to die, and I went back to that day and wanted to die instead of her.
It was meant to be a confession of guilt.
However, to everyone who heard, it seemed like I was distraught over my close sister’s sudden death.
My mother broke down crying when she heard my words, and I was held down by my brother and moved to another room.
No matter what I said, I could not speak very well through the sobs, and my brother knew that I was understandably upset because of my sister’s death, but I should not mention dying so lightly at the funeral, and I gradually calmed down. It was scary to think that my sins would really be exposed, and I finally missed the opportunity to confess those sins myself.
A little while, Toukichi followed us and told my brother to go back to the funeral because he would watch over me.
Elder brother thanked Toukichi and returned to the funeral.
“Why did you say such a thing?”
When my brother’s footsteps faded away and there was no sign of people around, Toukichi asked me with a look of deep wonder.
“I did something that day… that should not to be forgiven…”
“Who wouldn’t forgive you? No one thinks it’s your fault.”
Toukichi said while rubbing my back.
“Me, I can’t forgive myself”
Certainly, no one knew I was the culprit who killed my sister except Toukichi.
On the contrary, everyone cared for me who lost my sister.
But that’s why I was more tormented by guilt.
“Then why didn’t you tell your brother the truth a while ago?”
It was a reasonable statement.
I felt pain in being cared for without knowing my sins, but at the same time I was afraid that my sins would be revealed.
“Isn’t it okay, and don’t you think everyone is happier if it’s not anyone’s fault?”
Certainly, murdering someone, and even more so, murdering one’s relatives, is not the kind of thing you want to tarnish your family crest with.
I had no idea what the family would say.
“Then, would some sort of punishment give you peace of mind instead? “
“Then don’t you think it’s a punishment to keep that day in your heart and suffer for the rest of your life?”
“Such a thing……”
I was about to say that I couldn’t do it, but when I realized there was no other way, I cried again.
In the end, my sister had a mishap and fell into the well by accident, and no matter how long I waited, Toukichi wouldn’t accuse me.
Because of my dismay at the funeral, I was forced to live with at least one person with me, always by my side, no matter what I did.
Sometime after my sister’s funeral, my fiancée and his parents visited my house.
Perhaps they were about to break off the engagement, and when I was staring at the garden for a while without showing my face, my fiancée and his parents sat down beside me.
I felt uncomfortable with his words as I bowed his head with words of mourning for my sister’s death and talked a little about the uncomfortable stories.
It’s as if we’re going to be living together in a little while.
It seemed that my marriage, which seemed to disappear in the wake of my sister’s death, was postponed until my sister’s mourning was over.
I couldn’t ask if he was glad it wasn’t with my beautiful sister.
Eventually, when my sister’s mourning came to an end, I was really going to marry him.
I didn’t think that the kindness and blessings of the people around me would be such a guilty thing.
Toukichi laughed and celebrated my marriage until the last day I married, as if the events of the night I killed my sister had never happened.
By this time, I began to wonder if it was some kind of demon that I saw that day, disguised as him.
All the people I married into were kind to me.
My mother-in-law in particular was so good to me that it was hard to believe that she was the one who had broken off our engagement just before we were to be married and asked for my sister as a bride.
I even felt that I was more cherished than when I was at home.
The relationship between the family of my husband and my parents’ was long, and it may have had something to do with the fact that my father came to show me his face every New Year’s Day with his family members.
Three years had passed since I married, and when I gave birth to a boy, the house was wrapped in a gloomy atmosphere, even though they were pleased with the birth of an heir.
It is said that it takes 3 incidents for an establishment to collapse. The liquor became muddy and spoiled, there was a fire, and this year the 3rd incident occurred.
It was customary to have a different toji (master brewer) brew the liquor the following year if a toji failed to do so, but perhaps because they had been brewing together for decades without fail, they had the same toji make liquor as the first time.
The next batch was not good enough, so they replaced all the toji, and hoping this time it would be better, and the year an heir was born, the family was struggling to find a way to pay for the third time.
I don’t know much about brewing, because women are not allowed to enter a brewery, but if I were to explain to the best of my knowledge, the family I married into was in a dire state in the third year.
I borrowed money from many people, gave the servants free time, hired a new master brewer, and tried for the fourth time to reduce all the expenses, but in the end no proper liquor was made in this house after I married.
At last, however, after I married, my mother-in-law, who had been so full of energy when I first married, became so depressed as if she were a completely different person, that the whole family fled into the night, and my husband found them hanging together.
After that, my husband and I ended up on the streets with our son.
I started living in a tenement house on the outskirts of the town to hide from people by working as an office worker or a day laborer.
When I got used to such a life, one day suddenly my husband didn’t come home.
I went to work as usual, there was no notice, there was no word of communication, and my husband disappeared.
Three days have passed since I thought that he would come back today, that he would come back tomorrow. Why was I suffering through the breakdown of my marriage? Undoubtedly, I strongly believed this was divine retribution.
I wanted to feel better, but when I saw my little son, who had just spoken a word or two recently, he hesitated.
A week after my husband disappeared, the sound of knocking on the door while the day was still high, and when I opened the door to see if my husband had returned to the shadow reflected in the door, it was Toukichi, who had grown taller again, who stood there for a while.
“Oh, I finally found you.”
His smile was as gentle as it had been that night.
Ignoring my words to go home, he walked into the house, prying open the door I was desperately trying to close with one hand.
“I’ve been looking for you for a long time, you don’t have to worry about your debts anymore, so let’s return to the house at once. The Master is also very worried about you.”
Toukichi said, holding my hands as if he had no intention of letting go.
When I answered that I can’t go because my husband might come back,
“But he hasn’t come back for a week, has he? The neighbors here were saying that he must have abandoned you and run away somewhere far away because he didn’t like your current life. Didn’t he get fed up with you? …… Isn’t that enough already?”
He bent his knees and told me like telling a confused child, but I couldn’t find a word that I could say with confidence even if I wanted to deny it, and I was firmly held, shaking in his hands. I couldn’t even escape from them.
The first thing that surprised me when I was brought back to my family home, half-forcibly taken back by Toukichi, was that my brother had died last year and that Toukichi had been adopted and taken over the son and heir.
My father said that there was no need to worry about money as I had already arranged it with many people, and my mother, who lost two of her three children, said she wanted us to live together in the house, and especially welcomed my son.
Toukichi just smiled.
Before long, when my son and I settled down, I and Toukichi got married.
The ceremony was a small, intimate affair.
When I returned to my parents’ home, Toukichi was the heir, and my mother had welcomed our son with open arms, I was dimly aware that this was going to happen, so when the subject came up, I thought it would be so.
I heard that my brother died when he and Toukichi went to the Family Temple together, he stepped off some stone steps and hit his head hard.
It had been exactly one week after my ex-husband had stopped coming home. How did Toukichi know the exact number of days?
My husband and I avoided socializing with the neighboring houses as much as possible, and since all the residents of that section were impoverished in the first place, they wouldn’t have time to be carefree and understand the circumstances of my house so accurately.
Even so, come to think of it, I haven’t seen my husband over there lately. And, I think that the rumors should have started after more time has passed.
Why would a brewery that hadn’t seen a fire incident for more than a few decades suffer four fires in a row?
Even if I try not to think about it, when those questions come to me, I cannot help but remember that night when he didn’t raise an eyebrow at the murder of a girl who looked up to him like an older brother, but instead smiled gently at the culprit.
He never talked to me about it.
I have nowhere else to go except here.
Even now, after more than a decade of marriage, I still haven’t asked him anything.
And today, he will also give me a gentle smile.
Wow, the Yandere got out Yandered. Wanted to find a horror story, this being the month of Halloween and all. No classic monsters, only the monsters in human form. Honestly what’s more horrifying than what people can do to each other (learned that after watching The Night Comes for Us). Any horror web novels to recommend? Well apart from So, I’ll Kill You Here, which I’m also translating (stealth self promo), check out She Retaliated Because Her Entire Family Was Wrongfully Executed. Do leave any recommendations in the comments though. So till next month…
I’LL BE WATCHING THROUGH YOUR WINDOW