Chapter 47 Lost
Sheeps eating the soft pastures in spring look happy. I dream of someday raising sheep for a living.
Lay down roots in one place, raise sheep, shear them, make them into wool, dye them, and knit them. Will I ever be able to live like that?
By the end of spring, Nonna and I learned how to shear sheep. After you cut the wool with large scissors while making sure not to damage the skin, the sheep will become two times smaller. The rancher’s wife covered the back of each animal with a rag to keep them in good health. After helping her with that, we left the ranch. We had lived on the ranch for seven months.
“See you again! See you again!”
With a smile, Nonna waved at the rancher’s wife. I turned around and bowed my head in gratitude.
Our next destination was a fishing town near Ashbury, the southern tip of the Kingdom of Randal. I currently worked at a restaurant and inn in the lively fishing town. It was a large workplace with several employees. My job was to clean the inn, but when they are short on manpower, I helped out with anything.
“It sure is helpful, to have someone as energetic as you come by.”
“I’m even more grateful. Thank you for preparing a room for us to live in.”
“That’s right, Maria, about the sweater you gave me the other day, if I pay you, could you knit one for my husband as well?”
“It’s fashionable and cheaper than buying it at the store. I would even like to have another.”
“Two pieces then. I’ll knit them as soon as possible.”
“You don’t have to rush. We’re going to wear it for next winter.”
“Do you have a preference for colors and patterns?”
“I’ll leave it up to you.”
I was grateful to be able to make some money with that. When I thought about it, I realized I was financially indebted to the Anderson family, Mr. Bernard, and Mrs. Yorana. Right now I was earning barely enough for the two of us to survive, but I plan to work hard until the day I can apologize and thank them.
Until now, Nonna didn’t like fish, but after coming to Arde, she started eating fish because she liked it and said, “The fish here is delicious.” Thankfully.
Nonna and I were cleaning the outside of the shop when the wife of the bakery next door came to talk to me.
“Are you going to the Cadiz summer festival?”
“Eh… Cadiz? But we’re in a different country.”
“Only on that day, boats leave for Cadiz from here. The festival attracts a lot of people, so there are many stalls and it’s lively. Thanks to the temporary sea service, you can easily get to Ashbury without going through the border checkpoint. Although you do have to show your ID when you get on the ship and when you reach the other side.”
“Is that so?”
“I want to go! Mother, I want to go. Please. I want to see the festival.”
If I only give a vague answer, Nonna wouldn’t pester me anymore in public. She must have recalled something.
I had always avoided the topic of future appointments when conversing with anyone. But, the only promise I made was a promise to Commander for the Cadiz summer festival.
It would be too selfish for me to think (I wonder if Commander remembers that promise) after I disappeared in silence. At that time, Commander was exhausted from continuing to search for the escaped prisoner who I had broken out of jail. It’s natural even if he didn’t remember.
The conversation ended there, but at night, after the two of us were in the same bed, Nonna asked again.
“Mommy, I really want to go to the festival.”
“Yeah, okay. Let’s go.”
“Really? You aren’t angry?”
“I’m not angry. It will be my first time at a festival too.”
“Mommy too? Even though you’re an adult?”
“Come on, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow we have to wake up early too.”
I had a hard time sleeping that night.
Three weeks until the summer solstice.
The festival seems to be held from evening to night, so if we slipped into the crowd and wear a wig, probably nobody would notice us.
Even though I couldn’t afford to be found, I wished (I want you to remember the promise we made that day, I want you to come and look for us). Even though I couldn’t go back to the way we were when I first met Commander.
Since when did I become a person who thinks about such irrational things?
(I’m sure I’m tired, I’m tired and my mind can’t work properly.)
I closed my eyes thinking that.
When I was in the Special Forces, I was given orders, carried them out, and was praised, and that made me happy.
But now that I was free, I instead felt very lonely and miserable. Ever since I left the royal capital of Ashbury, there is another me who complains of loneliness like a child who doesn’t understand.
“I wonder if this feeling will disappear if I return to the Special Forces.”
I had never heard of anyone running away from the Special Forces, and I had never heard of anyone coming back, but I had been thinking a lot lately about silly things like (I don’t care if I’m punished, or if I’ll just be made to do odd jobs, so let’s go back). If Nonna wasn’t there, I might have been aimlessly wandering toward the Haggle Kingdom. I now know that my life then wasn’t happy. But I thought many times that it might be easier than being so lonely.
‘Don’t let Nonna get close to that place.’
Even my brain, which hadn’t worked much lately, knew that much. Nonna’s presence was holding me back.
“Mommy, wake up. Mommy!”
“Hm? Hm? I’m sorry… did I oversleep?”
“I’m sorry. I’ll prepare breakfast soon.”
“Your eyes are red?”
I quickly looked at the cloudy old mirror hanging on the wall and found myself red-eyed from lack of sleep and tears.
“I couldn’t sleep well last night.”
I quickly made a fried egg and warmed up last night’s chopped vegetable soup. Nonna baked the stale bread on the stove while saying, “Hot! Hot!”
“Now, will you do your best at work today as well?”
I kissed Nonna’s soft cheeks that smell like milk. She changed her clothes and I changed my own and we went to clean the inn.
I work during the day and then go back to my room and knit. Rest in bed, sleep when I’m tired and work again.
Time flew by and it was finally the day of the summer solstice, when the Cadiz festival began.
The restaurant closed early that day.
“Even if the store is open, no one will come. Everyone will go to the festival in Cadiz by boat. Maria, the two of you must go early if you wish to see the beautiful scenery.”
Nonna listened to the inn owner’s wife with a serious expression.
“Hundreds, no, thousands. The sight of many small boats carrying candles riding the tide and sailing offshore is a must-see at least once. It’s beautiful. You’ll be home late, so you can take the day off tomorrow. Maria hasn’t taken a break for a long time, haven’t you?”
“Thank you. I’ll gladly take you up on that offer then.”
In the evening, the two of us boarded a ship wearing black wigs. The summer sun hadn’t set and the area was bright. I handed over the boat fare for two and got on the fishing boat from the pier. It was time to make money, so fishing boats lined up at the pier one after another, picking up Randal’s people and setting sail. The boat was small, with four rowers and eight passengers.
Drifting among the boats that were floating around, I was nervous.
(Will Commander come? Will he remember the silly promise we made at that time?)
(Stop. Don’t expect things selfishly after running away without saying a word.)
I shook my head and shook away the nagging voice. Let’s concentrate on making Nonna enjoy tonight. Having decided that, I smiled and talked to Nonna.
“The festival in Cadiz, are you looking forward to it?”
“Yeah! Mommy too?”
“Yes. I’m really looking forward to it.”
We reached the port of Cadiz a lot quicker than expected. Along the way, we passed a splendid harbor where many large ships were moored, and we could see a bright spot with countless candles flickering in front of us.
The small fishing boat zipped along with the power of the rowers. Before long, the fishing boat pulled up at the pier, and Nonna and I landed at Cadiz in the Ashbury Kingdom.