NG Prologue Story: Killer Peach [Episode 3]
Author: Ayumu Hosaka
“Mrs. Okayama, have you ever thought about sitting down with your husband and having a proper discussion about everything?”
Her secretary makes the suggestion the next morning in the car. Aside from Tomoko, the only people in the world that know what transpired in Tomoko’s dream were her secretary and their driver.
Unlike the driver, who always stays silent, her secretary always let Tomoko know what she thought, making her a valuable friend and counselor for Tomoko. Even now, as she spoke, she’s sitting much too close to Tomoko and grasping her hand. Tomoko is used to this treatment, however, and she doesn’t pull away.
Her secretary often has trouble giving people a comfortable amount of personal space, and it also seems like she could only empathize with people if she were actually feeling the other person’s body heat. This sometimes causes issues considering that she uses this style of communication with all types of people, men, women, old, young. However, as cynical as it is to say, her position as a politician’s secretary was probably best performed by someone who didn’t empathize or speak with others.
Yet, even she, who typically tries to calmly analyze Tomoko’s dreams and give her advice, is a little taken aback upon hearing about this dream. For a moment, it seems like she might be having problems finding the right words to say, but after taking a breath to compose herself, she did her best to react appropriately. Tomoko nods at her advice.
“You’re right. It’s not healthy for a working adult to be having dreams like these,” Tomoko sighs.
But her secretary vigorously shakes her head, as if she was a child being difficult.
“No matter what kind of dream or fantasy you see, I wouldn’t say it was unhealthy. In fact, I think having unhealthy dreams is actually proof of having a healthy mind.”
“Really? I can’t think how having dreams of murdering people could be considered healthy at all. I don’t have time to be troubled by dreams like these…”
“Mrs. Okayama, for a person in a special position like you, I don’t think you should be interpreting these dreams at face value.”
“…What do you mean?”
“What you truly wish for is to make this society healthy, correct?” she asks in a firm tone.
“Of course,” replies Tomoko, matching her secretary’s emotion.
There were many reasons for it, but it was Tomoko’s sincere wish to heal the cause of society’s ills.
To make the air healthier.
To make the roads healthier.
To make men healthier.
To make women healthier.
——All of it, to give children healthier lives.
Those are Tomoko’s dreams and wishes.
“In order to make this world better, you think harder and deeper than anyone about the sickness that plagues this world. The things that happen in your dreams are proof of how seriously you take facing your opponents.”
“What do you mean…?”
“It’s a measure of how committed you are to this, and it manifests in your dreams.”
“As…murder? Don’t you think that’s unhealthy?”
“It shows that you’re even willing to commit murder for your ideals, figuratively. If dreaming about killing people was unhealthy, then the world would be completely filled with criminals.”
Tomoko asks her secretary if she’s ever had similar dreams, to which she replied, ‘of course.’
“It’s normal to want to sort out your environment and make things right. When you have a straight-forward will like that, a desire to destroy the things that are wrong is also born.”
“I…suppose you’re right. Unless we destroy the current situation that is stuck in a standstill, the revolution we wish for can never happen. That much makes sense.”
To topple the patriarchy and let women and mothers take their proper place in society, at least some parts of the current system needed to be brought down. That was a fact.
“I know you might think it’s a little extreme, but Mrs. Okayama, perhaps the people you murder in your dreams, are people who you love deeply. Maybe subconsciously, all the people that have appeared in your dreams are all…”
“There was a child I’ve never seen. Same with the old lady and the man.”
“The anonymous child must represent all the children that you want to protect. And a society that protects children must also have to be one that can even protect the elderly. And I know that you——”
——You don’t plan on abandoning men.
Her secretary says, bashfully for some reason.
Tomoko feels like her secretary has figured it all out.
Undoing the patriarchy didn’t mean she hated men.
The power dynamic was currently out of whack. She didn’t want to reverse roles. She simply wanted to make things equal for both men and women. This was a case of making sure everyone had their say, not one of forcing men into a socially vulnerable, subservient position.
It’s true that she did speak forcefully to men who refused to part with their old-fashioned ideals, and many times their discussions did devolve into an exchange of harsh, aggressive words, but that was not her goal. She wants to build a society where a mother and father didn’t try to kill each other.
In words, it sounds so objectively simple, but in practice, it had never been seen before.
“I wonder if I go out to murder people in my dreams because I don’t want anyone to die. By experiencing it in my dreams, I can understand and truly feel that they should never suffer such horrors in reality.”
To murder the ones whom she loves so much. She wants to prevent their deaths and suffering so much that she dreams of situations where they are murdered, so it motivates her never to allow those things to occur.
When she thinks about it like that, she feels like those eerie dreams aren’t really so unhealthy.
“This is only my interpretation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you truly think so subconsciously. Your husband and children really are wonderful people.”
“You think too highly of us.”
Tomoko can’t help but smile at her secretary’s flattery.
She’d met her secretary’s son before, and she’d joined in on their family trips too. Her son liked her quite a lot and treated her like an older sister. Her husband, on the other hand, treated her like a younger sister, and at times Tomoko thought that he was more worried about her secretary’s future than she was.
Her husband had no ulterior motives, though. He understood that she supported Tomoko, and that was why he wanted her to be healthy.
But this secretary, a woman who was like a family member to Tomoko, had found a way to positively interpret a dream where Tomoko murdered her husband and spin it into something inspirational.
What that in mind, Tomoko’s thoughts finally turn upbeat.
“Thank you. I think I can finally accept these dreams. I’ll talk to my husband about my dream tonight. It feels wrong and strange to keep holding it in, and I want him to understand, too.”
“I’m sure he will! Definitely. And then let’s return to fight society’s ills with a vengeance tomorrow!”
Her secretary nods with an expression so cheerful, Tomoko can’t help but relax. The fingers that were gripping her hand were so strong, it almost hurt. Tomoko feels her fighting spirit beginning to course through her veins, and she strongly grips those thin fingers back.
Tomoko’s heartbeat syncs up with the red pulsation of those fingers.
Tomoko asks her husband if she could speak with him after dinner.
He gives her a serious look and quietly replies, “Yes,” before going to wash the dishes. She uses a brief amount of time she has before her meeting to clean the bathtub and look over the documents for the next assembly meeting.
Meanwhile, her son is focused on watching a sketch comedy show on TV. He had been in a nursery school during the day, so he’s probably longing for some attention from his parents during this time. She’s thankful that he’s being quiet and keeping to himself. She might end up panicking if he were to ask for her affection.
Her work is a reflection of her form of justice, and her family is the foundation of that justice. To bring her own form of justice into the world, she couldn’t refuse her son’s outstretched arms. If he were to ask for affection, she would have to hold him. For Tomoko, large-scale scandals and child-rearing shared the same level of importance.
They were both something that could not be allowed to stray off-course. Once she had decided on this lifestyle, Tomoko had realized that there was no other path for her. Today’s events were yet another reminder of that.
Some things were worth fighting for, even if walking that path required a steely determination that was strong enough to commit murder.
And her husband would have to understand that.
After strengthening her resolve, Tomoko enters the dining room where her husband was sitting down with coffee for both of them. Tomoko prepares to start speaking once she sits down, but her husband’s words nearly knock her off her seat.
“Is this about your dreams?” her husband asks calmly.
“How did you know!?”
Tomoko is so dumbfounded that her voice has begun quivering.
“You said you wanted to talk to me alone, so I just assumed that’s what this was about. If you just wanted to complain about the ward assembly, you’d just do it directly.”
He laughs as he puts the cup of coffee to his lips.
“…How long have you known?”
“Only recently. I’ve known that you seemed to have nightmares, and when you were having one, no matter how hard I tried to shake you awake, you wouldn’t wake up. I felt bad since you really seemed to be distressed, and I couldn’t help, but I felt that it was too invasive to try to insert myself in your dreams just because I’m your husband.”
——That’s the kind of person her husband is.
As a journalist, there were many situations where he had to step into people or a company’s personal space, which meant he understood more than anyone how that could be painful for some.
In fact, when they first began dating, it was often Tomoko that took charge and showed her feelings more. But once their bond deepened, he cared for Tomoko more than anyone.
He never oversteps his boundaries and is always courteous, even to his family. By adhering to those rules, he keeps his family happy. That’s her husband’s defining principle.
“You seemed to be in so much distress, but you never talked about it while you were awake. I figured you had your reasons. That’s why I was waiting for you to bring it up. Of course, if you actually seemed to be suffering, I was going to force you awake even if you got mad at me for it.”
“…I really made you worry, didn’t I?”
Her husband cares for her so deeply, so why did she feel like she needed to keep it all inside and carry all of this by herself for so long? She immediately feels a tremendous unburdening and relief.
“I am your husband, after all. Let me at least worry about you. We promised to share our worries together, including about our child, right?”
Her husband looks at their son watching TV from behind. Her husband often said that the shape of her son’s ears was similar to hers. Tomoko thought that her son’s eyes were more similar to her husband’s.
“He was wondering about you, too. I’m sure he’d love to spend time with you, but he sensed you were tired and decided to entertain himself instead.”
Suddenly, she felt that her son’s back and shoulders look much stronger and more mature than hers. As if sensing her gaze, her son turns his head to look at her. Seeing her clouded expression, her son turned the corners of his mouth up into a bright smile and waved at her.
At that moment, all the gloomy feelings of depression thoroughly wash away.
——There was no reason for her to suffer.
She has her husband and her son. There’s no need for her to live her life in distress and agony. All she needs to do is stand firm in opposition to this warped society.
If the thing that was enclosing society’s mindset into these confined principles was a glass ceiling, then what Tomoko and her supporters needed to do was raise their fists until they punched through.
She feels like a weight has been lifted from her chest.
“By the looks of it, you’re feeling much better already… But since we’re sitting here, would you mind telling me, anyway?”
At her husband’s question, Tomoko nods firmly and takes a sip of her now-cold coffee.
“It was…a terrible dream.”
As if reminiscing about days long past, Tomoko speaks.
Taking care to soften the violent portions in case her son could overhear, she tells her husband about each dream.
He doesn’t interrupt and spends a long time just listening to Tomoko unburden her soul. Midway through, their son dozes off, and once they carried him to bed together, she finally speaks about murdering her husband in her dream.
Despite it being very macabre, Tomoko feels uplifted, now freed from all sorts of evil fantasies. She thanked her husband and his love for her that accepts and understands her way of life.
And she swears to herself that today, she wouldn’t murder anyone.
——I no longer will have those hellish dreams. Never again.
They stay up later than usual after talking about her dreams, and as they drank some wine that they had been saving for a special occasion, the two watched a historical drama that her husband loved.
The evil magistrate refuses to admit fault, so the masked ronin asks what excuses the corrupt man could possibly have.
“Then speak,” he commands and then proceeds to condemn the litany of wrongdoings that cannot be forgiven.
This simple story rewarding good and punishing evil felt refreshing to Tomoko. That dream must share a common bond with her ideals, wishing for a simple way to punish evil like that.
With the aid of the alcohol, Tomoko sleeps soundly until morning.
The next day.
Tomoko watches as her husband and son go off to the department store to buy a new toy.
She learned of their deaths that afternoon.
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