As a so-called alumna, there was no way she could find fault with his methods.
And as someone who knew how much they needed staff, she couldn’t find it in herself to say anything against the idea.
“Are you still struggling?”
“Well, thanks to a certain older sister, we’re not struggling financially, but we do lack people… The shortage of staff, and… the increasing number of children, is taking quite a toll on this old body.”
“There’s no shortage of bad parents no matter the age, after all.”
This was a children’s home where children, who had no parents or couldn’t be raised by their parents, gathered.
Monica herself was an alumna of this place, which is why she held a deep-seated animosity toward irresponsible parents.
Even as she grew old enough to somewhat understand, she still couldn’t forgive those parents.
All the more so when those same parents were causing trouble for the Sister who was essentially her foster parent.
“As one of those no good parents, that hurts, you know.”
“I-I’m not criticizing you!”
She realized she’d messed up, but it was already too late.
The Sister just laughed because she understood, but there was a tinge of sorrow behind it.
Perhaps, that was just her imagination, but she couldn’t help but feel guilty.
──You know, I abandoned my own daughter.
The sister became become a nun through a rather unique process, considerably different from the norm. Then she later became the head of this church and facility.
Normally, that should have been impossible, but due to some circumstances, it was pushed onto her. She had mentioned before that she accepted it because it suited her, and that she had no regrets about coming here, but the exact circumstances surrounding her past and family were unknown.
But one day, five years ago, something happened that led Monica to learn about her past. The Sister had always been subscribed to newspapers from another prefecture. She read them religiously. Monica was here that day. That’s why she witness what happened.
While reading a newspaper from another prefecture, the Sister suddenly screamed and fainted. She’d already put on the years even back then, but she didn’t have any preexisting conditions, yet despite that she collapsed, and the whole facility was in chaos.
Monica volunteered to be one to take care of her, and in the process, she was able to piece together the incoherent words that the Sister muttered, revealing a portion of her past.
The Sister had once married and had a daughter, but they later separated due to family and work, leaving her daughter behind in her father’s house.
She knew that this decision would force her daughter into a difficult life, yet she refused to take her along. It would have been possible if she really wanted to, but she didn’t, and as a result, she lived to regret it.
Upon hearing that, Monica noticed an open newspaper with a striking headline. It was about a tragic car accident that killed a family of three, with the family name mentioned being the same as the family with whom the Sister had separated.
Given the circumstances and the ages, it was likely that the mother of that family was her daughter. When the Sister woke up, Monica hesitantly inquired about it, and she confirmed it.
Monica felt complicated about that but, above all, she cherished the love and care she had received from the Sister, so she didn’t hold it against her, and from that day on, they didn’t speak about it.
“Umm… Sister, I…”
“Come to think of it, you haven’t changed at all, have you? You still love to pick up random creatures.”
Monica panicked, unsure what she should say, but the Sister just smiled her usual smile while watching the boy be pushed around by the children.
Monica could tell what she was getting at, so she just wryly smiled.
“Did I pick up that many?”
“There were dogs and cats, sparrows, crabs, hamsters, turtles, and even stag beetles.”
“At some point, I was actually nervous, wondering if one day you’d bring back a bear or a fox.”
When the sister said that, Monica went beet red.
Maybe it was due to her own experience of being abandoned, but she possessed a compassionate nature that couldn’t bear to leave any abandoned or forsaken creatures, be they human or animals. This trait was especially strong during her childhood, and looking back, she found those memories quite embarrassing.
“From time to time, there were also kids that got lost or wandered away from their parents, so I couldn’t tell you off… In the end, you ended up picking up that boy.”
“After all, he’s the kind of person that you just can’t leave alone, right? A lost child.”
When the Sister pointed that out, for a moment, Monica hesitated, but then perhaps because she realized that there was no fooling a parent’s eyes, she nodded.
Monica was indeed shocked when she saw him in the city.
It was pouring so heavily, yet he just walked aimlessly and unfazed despite not having an umbrella.
She immediately thought that it might have been a recording, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
The people around were shocked too, but it was creepy, so they just looked away.
But as strange as that was, she was already an adult herself, so there was no way she could just bother a complete stranger.
She couldn’t act as she did back when she was a child and just drag him into the church, could she?
But then she saw his completely empty face that was thoroughly drenched.
A pair of eyes just like that of a child that didn’t know where to go.
A pair of legs just like that of a child too afraid to stop.
The moment she thought that, she called out to him angrily and dragged him by the arm to the church.
“He’s doing a great job keeping the children occupied, but sometimes I catch him looking a bit lost. I can’t tell if he’s skilled or just clumsy, but distracting himself with the kids, well… What a strange kid.”
The Sister laughed, but there was something heartrending behind that.
She could probably see something beyond what Monica could perceive.
“Sorry, Sister, I’m always bringing you problems.”
Even now, she brought a boy that she knew nothing about here so suddenly.
It was no wonder she felt so apologetic.
“If you really think so, then you should drop by more frequently. You always only come when you have business.”
The unexpected response made Monica’s eyes turn to dots.
“Ha, haha, ahaha….”
There really was no winning against her, she thought.
But at the same time, she felt like crying because the sister seemed to also be saying, ‘trouble me as much as you want.’
Perhaps because the Sister noticed that, or perhaps because the children were focused on the boy, the sister quietly asked.
“…So, what trouble did you find yourself in this time?”
The sister was so sure that she was in some sort of trouble, so Monica could only confess in a voice quiet enough for the kids not to hear.
“Actually—I might get killed tomorrow.”