Noisy Pixel continues the Novella for Spirit Hunter: NG. This is a 5 chapter story posted initially to Famitsu for the Japanese release of the game.
In case you missed it, read the prologue chapter first, and Chapter 1. Each day we will share a new chapter for readers to learn more about this haunting spirit, which is the first spirit to be investigated in the game.
It should be noted that there might be some spoilers ahead, so please read with that in mind.
A plan develops ~Fourth month of pregnancy~
Author: Hitomi Amamiya
It is now two months since Himeko discovered she was pregnant. Her belly is beginning to form a slightly noticeable bulge.
“Why hello, Himeko,” calls out a voice in a familiar, bright tone. Himeko turns around, long black hair waving. “Hello, Yasuko.”
They are close enough to call each other by name now, after seeing each other frequently at Himeko’s routine checkups and birth classes.
“We kept you waiting for your examination for a long time today, didn’t we?”
Himeko, staying true to her habit of swallowing her feelings, quickly shakes her head to disagree. In fact, she had actually been kept waiting for over an hour, but her upbringing trained her to be non-confrontational.
Don’t get overly emotional; don’t rock the boat. This is Himeko’s personality.
Sensing this, Yasuko lets out a chuckle as she nears. “You’re far too kind, Himeko. But I know it’s rough. We’ve actually gotten complaints, asking how we could keep a woman in her last month of pregnancy waiting.
“Unfortunately, we’re severely understaffed,” Yasuko continues, furrowing her eyebrows, the creases in her face looking like river currents.
Seeing that she had come from the delivery room, she must have been assisting with a birth until now.
The stainless-steel container reading, ‘STERILIZATION NEEDED,’ provides further evidence.
Were there tools used for the birthing that just happened in that container? Himeko’s gaze is drawn to the object, despite it being covered with a lid.
As if struck by an idea, Yasuko raises her thick eyebrows with an exclamation. “Oh, I know. Miss Himeko, why don’t we go eat something?”
“Like, go eat lunch together?”
“Yes. I’m clocking out for today after this. There’s a place I know that’s a little out of the way, but it’s great for pregnant women. I’ll drive, of course.”
The eatery close to the Angel OB-GYN Clinic does indeed have a large number of female customers with large stomachs or wearing flat shoes. Upon inquiring, it becomes clear that a local magazine deemed this restaurant as a place where a woman could easily, ‘enjoy eating her 30th item without a problem,’ and word-of-mouth has turned it into a hotspot for pregnant women.
Yasuko considerately pulls out a chair for Himeko and also brings her a blanket. While Himeko wraps up in the blanket, Yasuko adjusts the direction of the menu and places it on the table so it can be read more easily. The amount of attentiveness and consideration being paid to her almost makes Himeko uncomfortable. Still, Yasuko just laughs and tells her matter-of-factly, “Caring for pregnant women is my job,” as she points to a dish she recommends.
“You’re in week 14, so you’ll want to eat something with a lot of folates.” Prenatal folate intake is recommended for pregnant women. “Folate deficiency can cause anencephaly, after all.”
“Yes… The doctor did mention that.”
“Mmhm, it’s written in your maternity passbook, too. Of course, knowing you, I’m sure you’re taking supplements, but it also never hurts to be healthy, especially if you can eat something delicious at the same time.”
And with that, Yasuko asks Himeko about each dish: “Is edamame soup okay?” “You can eat mulukhiyah?” as she takes control and places their order.
Once the dishes are brought out, she serves up on a smaller plate for easier eating or explains the most efficient way of eating the item for optimal nutrition intake. Getting this level of personal attention from an experienced midwife is a godsend for Himeko. Her morning sickness is worse than most, and she suffers from anemia.
Yasuko’s excessive generosity continues, and pretty soon, all that remains is the cold main dish sitting in front of Yasuko.
Feeling bad about being so needy, Himeko bows her head and says, “I’m sorry.”
“Huh?” Yasuko looks at Himeko quizzically.
“Well, I’ve been relying on you for everything.”
As always, Yasuko grins with a shine that lights up her cheeks. “Goodness, Himeko. Didn’t I just tell you that a midwife worrying about a pregnant woman’s body is natural? Besides, you’re always so pale. You’ve always been anemic, haven’t you?”
“And well, there was something else I was worried about. That’s the reason I wanted to take you out to lunch…”
She asks about a detail in the personal information listed on Himeko’s medical chart.
“Miss Himeko, do you have a husband?”
Himeko immediately stops the spoon halfway to her mouth.
“There was nothing written in the box for your spouse.”
“You don’t seem like you have a partner either,” says Yasuko as she tilts her head. “And what about your parents? Any family to notify in case of an emergency during the pregnancy?”
Himeko falls silent at the onslaught of questions.
“I’m sorry, it’s against hospital policy to ask about the expecting mother’s private information, but with so many blanks, it makes it hard for the hospital to handle situations correctly if something happens.”
Yasuko explains that as a midwife in charge, she is just taking precautions. Anything could happen during delivery. Situations may occur where they can’t verify what the mother wants during an unexpected emergency. In situations like that, it’s usually up to the husband, family, or anyone listed as an emergency contact to make those decisions.
“I’m sorry… you’re right.” Agreeing, Himeko decides first to answer the spouse question. “I don’t have a husband or a partner…”
“Then what about the father of your child? Was it someone you were dating before?”
Himeko inhales deeply to relax her tense body.
She requests that Yasuko not spread this information around and reluctantly opens her mouth.
“The father of this child was a business partner of the company I worked for… He has a wife.”
Yasuko’s gaze wavers slightly. “So, it was an affair?”
Himeko nods her head. Yasuko returns the nod with a solemn expression. “I see. But you’ve notified him about the child, right?”
“What? Wait, did that man…”
“Runoff?” Himeko speaks up quickly before Yasuko can even finish the question. “Um, that’s not it. He… passed away two months ago in an accident.”
He had died right before she learned about her pregnancy. A sales representative of a business partner, he was five years older than Himeko and would often pop-in with a souvenir in hand. They spent the night together six months ago. She knew from the start he had a wife. This wasn’t a night of passion after drinking; in fact, she was sure she was pretty clear-headed. But, for a certain reason, Himeko decided to sleep with him.
Since that night, they would occasionally dine, go to a love hotel and do their deed, then hurry on their separate ways. They never took up each other’s free days or called each other. Their relationship was dry and business-like, and to call it an affair was making it sound far sexier than it was. But it must have been a nice change of pace for a family man, and Himeko had no complaints about it, either.
Sometime later, the news of his passing reached her workplace. It was apparently caused by an unfortunate accident. Whether it was a car accident or some other kind was never explained to her.
They just stated that he was dead, and then his successor came to greet them. That’s all Himeko knows about his passing. She quit her job immediately after that to hide her pregnancy and never had the opportunity to ask for details. Of course, her stomach wasn’t showing much yet, but the company was old-fashioned, and there was no chance they would accept an unmarried mother. On top of that, she did not wish to heap shame upon the now-deceased man and give his mourning wife additional grief.
Hearing the story, Yasuko lowers her eyebrows and lets out a deep, pained sigh. “I see… And still so young. That’s such a shame.”
She’s referring to both Himeko and the deceased man. Himeko bows her head to Yasuko in response, and then to change the mood, she continues on.
“But, I never planned to tell him about the pregnancy.”
“What do you mean?”
“I never wanted to destroy his family life, and I didn’t want to try and keep him for myself, either. I’m sad that he passed away, and I definitely miss his company. But…”
Yasuko leans in close to Himeko’s face, hanging on her words.
“…Um, it might sound weird, but the reason why I had a relationship with him even though he was married… It was because I thought that if I slept with him, I’d have a baby.”
“…I’m sorry, I know it sounds weird. I know you can’t tell if you’ll have a child or not just by talking to someone, but I felt it every time I met him. That this man will gift me with a child.”
That’s why he slept with him even though he was married. At times, she would lie and tell him she was safe when she was not. “Of course, he was always careful since he had a wife. But, the baby still came… To my uterus…” This frank and bold confession did not suit either the bright restaurant nor to the conservative-looking black-haired woman that spoke it.
Mirroring the slow curve, Yasuko turns the wheel as if in slow-motion. Sitting in the passenger seat, Himeko gives Yasuko the address to her apartment.
“Oh, I’m sorry, this car doesn’t have a navigation system.”
“It’s fine. Turn right at the end of this street, and head towards S-oka City, please.”
“S-oka City? That’s the last stop on the bus, isn’t it? You live pretty far from the train station.”
“Yes… Ever since I quit work, I’ve moved out here to save money. When I used to work, I would always go to the station on my bicycle. It was about a 30-minute ride.
“I would wear my raincoat on rainy days,” adds Himeko.
Yasuko replies with a small laugh. “You’re tougher than you look. But you’re not riding a bicycle anymore, are you?”
“I haven’t ridden it since I found out I was pregnant. I always take the bus or taxi on my check-up days.”
“I figured you’d be playing it safe. After all, you’re so pleased with your pregnancy, and you cry, looking at the stained-glass art of Madonna and Child.”
“Yasuko, I asked you to forget about that…”
Having eaten a satisfying lunch had unburdened her soul, the typically careful Himeko had opened up quite a bit to Yasuko.
“It’s embarrassing to me…”
“Yes, yes. I know. But Himeko, what are you going to do now? We have a system set up to assist with birthing expenses, so you don’t have to worry about that.” Himeko realizes that she’s asking about her living expenses now that she quit work. “I forgot to ask, but what about your parents? Will you have assistance from your family?”
Himeko shakes her head vigorously so that Yasuko could see the response in her periphery, even though she is driving. “I plan to make do with my savings for a while… After that, I want to find a job, but keep my baby as a priority…”
Himeko explains that she has no family to depend on. She tells the story of how she lost her family 25 years ago. She surprises herself with her own ability to speak so candidly about something she’s never told, anyone.
Including the fact that it was a murder-suicide caused by drowning.
Himeko feels so at ease talking to Yasuko right now.
“I have relatives that looked after me until I was an adult. But even as a child, I knew that they only took me in because they wanted my inheritance… I left that home as soon as I could. I’m sure they’re happy to finally get rid of me, a nuisance…”
Yasuko grips her wheel and continues to look forward, listening closely to Himeko’s voice, now thin as a thread.
“It’s a little depressing to admit this, but I used to look at the pictures of my father, mother, and my beloved sister every day and think that I was all alone in the world.”
Yasuko steps on the brake pedal and brings the car to a stop near the curb.
Immediately, she places her hand on Himeko’s shoulder and begins to gently rub it like you would for a child. “It must have been tough. You’re so thin, but you’ve gone through so much.”
“Then why don’t you think of me as a replacement for all of them?”
“Like your deceased mother and older sister.”
Himeko’s eyes go wide upon hearing those words. “Mother and sister…”
“Yes, well, it might be hard to imagine me as a father or a husband because I’m a woman, but I can bring out my car like this. I think I can fill the void from all of them.”
“Besides, I’m a midwife. In some situations, mothers rely on us more than families. I’ve stood in for over 1,000 births.” Yasuko smiles proudly, then opens the storage box under the dashboard to pull out a clear document folder.
The thick folder contains multiple documents related to childbirth, showing how passionate she was about her job as a midwife. “Umm, where was it…? Oh, there it is.” She takes out a pocket notebook with a pen. Running her pen across the white paper and quickly ripping it out of the notebook, she thrusts it towards Himeko, “Here you go. Sorry, it’s a little messy.”
The paper holds Yasuko’s cell phone number. “Contact me at any time if something happens.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. Oh, but can you keep it a secret to the hospital? We’re not supposed to show favoritism for a single patient out of the many pregnant mothers.”
She uncurls Himeko’s hand, placed the note in it, and closes Himeko’s fingers into a fist. “Anything baby-related that you’re worried about, or going out shopping for maternity items. Call me anytime. Your stomach should be growing more soon, so you’ll want to get a loose dress so that the baby doesn’t feel restricted.”
Himeko’s eyes well up after all the unsolicited generous offers. Seeing that, Yasuko breaks into a smile.
“Oh, Miss Himeko.”
“I’m sorry when I talk to you; I just can’t control my emotions.”
“That makes me happy,” says Yasuko as she reaches out to the storage box under the dashboard again.
Producing a hand towel this time, she moves to dab Himeko’s eyes with it.
But that moment.
Something catches Himeko’s attention.
She sees a shiny, square-shaped object sitting in the box of the storage box.
Something she saw a few hours ago at the clinic.
The stainless-steel container that was in Yasuko’s hand as she came from the delivery room.
She recalls it had a label saying ‘STERILIZATION NEEDED.’
Her eyes are immediately covered with the hand towel a moment later, so she can’t get a better look.
The dash box is immediately shut with force, so Himeko isn’t able to take another look. She doesn’t want to open it and check inside.
Perhaps she’s mistaken.
Why would anyone bring home tools used in birth? And even if they did, what would they use it for?
Rethinking events, Himeko quickly dismisses what she thought she saw at that moment from her mind.
Yasuko says, “Don’t shoulder everything onto yourself from now on,” as she turns the engine key to drive once again, her face unable to contain her joy. “Until the day your healthy baby is born, I, as your midwife… No, as your family, I will do as much as I can for the next few months. Okay?”
Himeko, happiness bubbling up inside her, bows her head as deeply as the seat belt allows.
“Thank you so much for everything, Miss Yasuko.”
“You don’t need to worry at all.”
Yasuko lets laugh wrinkles show on her face from an angle Himeko can’t see. And the car begins accelerating just as Yasuko’s excitement is.
“It’s all for the cute, cute baby.”
Come back tomorrow for the next Chapter.
You can read our review of Spirit Hunter: NG now.
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