lumpenproletariat were still better than my mother.
I would much prefer them!”

I had strongly rejected the mother who Michael-san had loved so dearly.

“I loved even that foolish part of hers.”

Michael-san, are you truly saying that? Are you perhaps on drugs?

“Hey! I am serious, and I’m not on drugs either.”

“Ah, I apologize.
My inner thoughts have slipped out once again.
So hard to believe were your words that I thought you might be insane.”

“Are you under some weird spell? Even for my generation, people don’t usually know such words as the lumpenproletariat.”

Souju-sama asked me earlier if I had been brainwashed, and now even Michael-san is asking me if I’m under some weird spell.
Perhaps without my realizing it, strange thoughts had been planted in my head.
Is it maybe like those alien abductions I had read about where they implant a chip through your nose?

“Ruriko was truly charming and simple.
She was like a maiden.”

“This is unrelated but, wasn’t my mother already past 40 when you met her?”

“That’s right.
But age does not matter.”

Woah, to have lived 40 years and still be like a maiden, is it not that she simply lacks the capacity to learn? That’s just a peculiar species not fit to be let out into the open world.

My mother, who would be turning 60 if she was still alive, was raised as a lady and probably had a strong sense of justice.
But I maintain that becoming a naked artist for the sake of righteous indignation was a hasty decision.
To be honest, I am disappointed to hear such a reasoning.

Had she come to paint naked as a result of sincerely pursuing art, I would have accepted it; though I must own I would still recoil.
However if it was but a performance to induce the masses to listen to what she had to say, I must condemn her.
It was a foolish act.

“You sure are harsh.”

“Ah, did my inner thoughts slip out again? But she used her parents’ money to go study in America only to shed her clothes.
I cannot imagine how pained her parents must have been.
She should have at least done so after becoming independent.
Moreover, was anything brought about by her painting naked? I dare say she had brought about no impact.
The other party consists of the government and a huge manufacturing company.
To add to this, the effects Agent Orange had were yet to be made clear.
She must have been led to do it by someone else.
For example, the man she was seeing at the time.
The copyright of the picture I saw had belonged to a man’s name.
We might be able to find out if we try searching from there.”

Michael-san had on a hurt expression.

“I have went too far.
However, I do believe my mother was used by someone else, however foolish it may have been.
I am immeasurably disappointed by my mother, for she was not a true artist.
Do you not glorify my mother too much? I suggest you find out more about what had actually taken place.
There might have been a man who held a grudge against the manufacturing company behind it all.
In which case my mother would have been shedding her clothes solely for the sake of one man’s personal grudge.”

It was all but my own speculations, with no conclusive evidence backing it.
But I hope that with this, Michael-san might be freed from my mother’s grasp.
No matter how much I think about it, I cannot believe that my mother was a smart woman.
Rather than taking the place of her friend in an auction, there must been some other way she could have tried.
She was probably the type of person to become intoxicated with self-sacrifice.

“You will meet a better woman, Michael-san.
I respect you as Comrade Yoshio.
What do you think about keeping my mother as a memory and moving on?”

Michael-san became quiet.
A young girl of 15 is lecturing a middle-aged man.
It’s a given that he not be pleased about it.

“Heh, it’s just as you said.
I’m fainthearted and hated being hurt.
A coward.”

Stretching his palms out, Michael-san looked up to the sky and laughed, raising his voice.
The view of Michael-san in this way really seemed like an American.

“Although I may not know much, I wish you to be happy, Michael-san.
I will also try to do so.”

“Comrade Yoshio…”


“You can call me Comrade Yoshio.”


Comrade Yoshio has given me permission to call him Comrade Yoshio! How pleased I am!

“Comrade Yoshio! Let’s each do our best!”

We exchanged a firm handshake.

After which, Comrade Yoshio returned to the mountain.

While watching over his retreating back, I thought to myself that the difference between my and the Hongou twins’ worlds was nothing compared to my parents’.

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