Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 22
Chapter 22 – The Language of Black Rose
The following day, she started her day shift in the morning. Her main duties were cleaning and laundry, and once that was done, she would attend to the children who were out of school or not feeling well. On that day, Saito Mina was present at the school. Apparently, her father had shown up yesterday and wanted Mina to come home.
Noriko listened, unable to offer any opinion since she was a part-time worker, but it was decided that she would return home temporarily for one night today to see how things would progress. Everyone looked as if they had bitten off more than they could chew.
“Good morning, Mina.”
Noriko knocked, before opening Mina’s door and entering the room while carrying a vacuum cleaner. Mina was sitting at the bottom of the bunk bed in the four-person room.
“Good morning, ma’am.”
“Let me clean your room. Oh, by the way, I heard you’re heading home today.”
“… Yeah, that’s right. My father will be here after lunch…”
Mina had a board and drawing paper in her hand and was working on a picture.
“Do you like to draw, Mina?”
“I am in the art club.”
“I see… Oh, you’re so good!”
Mina’s picture was a pencil drawing, but it featured a picture of a rose with well-defined shading.
“I like to draw, too. Let’s draw together sometime.”
“You are very skilled. The way you used the shading and the light on this rose is incredible.”
“I am in the art club.”
“I see… You have a talent for drawing, Mina…”
Mina was taken home by her father who showed up in the afternoon. Her father appeared in his civil engineering work clothes. He was shaved, dark-skinned, bearded with a powerful presence.
“Mina, I wish you would have told me you didn’t want to leave.” Hayashida, who has been working here part-time for many years, muttered.
“There are far more children who should not be sent home on furlough. The kids who can’t clearly say they don’t like it, like Mina, are more susceptible to internal anxiety so I have concerns.”
Noriko watched the pair anxiously as they made their way to the car.
It was the evening of that day. A phone call came in from Mina at the garden.
“Sudo, Mina’s on the phone.”
“What? Is it for me?”
Noriko hurriedly picked up the phone as the principal brought it to her.
“Mina? It’s Sudo.”
“I was drawing a black rose today.”
“When I get back to the facility, can I borrow your… dark pencil?”
“… Sure. I’ll have it ready for you.”
“… Pardon me.”
Then the phone went off.
“What’s wrong with Mina?”
“Well… she asked if she could borrow dark pencils to draw with.”
“Oh… I thought something had happened to her.”
“That was all she said.”
“I’m worried about her, let’s pay her a visit at home. The phone call might be a sign of help. Will you accompany me?”
“Eh! Me too?”
“I was wondering if the call to you meant something.”
“I understand.” Noriko nodded.
Mina’s house was a single-family house about 40 minutes away from the garden. When she stepped out of the car, the principal was standing in front of the house checking on the situation without pressing the intercom.
“I’m listening to voices. If I hear a scream or something, I have to report it immediately.”
Listening closely for a while, no voice could be heard. The principal pressed the intercom, and his father answered in a dusky voice.
“Good evening. I’m Sumiyoshi, the principal of Dandelion Garden. I came to check on Mina.”
“She just came home a while ago, didn’t she?”
“I would like to see Mina in person please.”
“You’re so persistent!”
“I understand. As I told you earlier, I’ll be here tomorrow to pick up Mina.”
“You don’t have to come!”
It was cut off with a snap.
“Eh? Is everything okay?”
“I suppose it’s inevitable. This kind of thing happens all the time. Come and get her tomorrow and if he doesn’t respond, we’ll have the police deal with it.”
“Shall we go back to the garden?”
“Um… the station is closer than the garden, so would you mind dropping me off at the nearest station?”
The principal dropped her off at the nearest station, and she considered heading straight home, but a bad feeling swept over her and she ran back to Mina’s house. From the station to Mina’s house was only about five minutes.
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