For the summer school break of my children, we took the time off from work to bring my family on a vacation to Kyoto. I don’t think the opportunity to do this would happen again before my children gets older. I’ve been there before as part of the school trip and business meetings, but having a schedule to stick to is not exactly enjoyable with pressure of keeping track of time. Excluding my time in university at California, I never travelled much. I don’t know why the thought of travelling never occurred to me before.
I’m the head of the family because I did all the documents, fed everyone, and practically almost everything that has anything to do with the family. It’s not the first time doing something like this as I also had to take care of my younger siblings (I was the eldest child). To tell you the truth, I don’t want to take care of other people: I would prefer to be taken care of than to take care of others. What is my husband doing? He’s an idiot and relies on me like he’s one of my children. I married him only because I was forced to look at him frequently just to keep myself sane, but I feel lonely inside.
Starting with my parents, everyone that descended from them, including me, are products of a lab experiment. I never felt that I was being watched, but I did felt that something was wrong with my body even though, medically, there was nothing wrong with it. Me and my siblings were part of a sex-change experiment, Itsuki and Saeko are part of some unknown madness that goes on inside what appears to be a prestigious academy from the outside. Because Saeko’s body is also immortal, she is also a “more realistic replacement for lab rats”. My first two children was to see if I, who was originally born male as part of the experiment mentioned earlier, could reproduce children as a female and inherit the features I have. The next two… Other than them having my genes even though I didn’t give birth to them, I don’t want to talk about it.
Why do I look a bit foreign? I inherited it from my great grandfather on mom’s side, who came from Russia during the war almost a century ago. It’s a shame that I know nothing of him. His wife, my late great grandmother, couldn’t remember him much because he died, for reasons unknown to me, long before my mother was born. Since my parents had me when they were young, who themselves were born to young parents, I have an aunt who is higher up in my family tree line, but is younger than me. Most people usually have ones that are a couple of decades older than them.
(Author’s note: The name of the great grandmother in question is Ajisai Miyazawa (宮澤 紫陽花), who is primarily featured in An Unexpected Wish (4th story) from the viewpoint of Nanami Fujibayashi, Kotomi’s aunt. However, the latest part of that story published is part 6 (published 13 March 2010), which covers the period when Kotomi just graduated from university and before getting married. I haven’t figured out how and when Kotomi’s great grandmother died, but certainly is already quite old as of S2P21/S4P6, and this current one is at least 8 years after that.)
People say the best time to travel is before I get married, have children, or get very old. Obviously I don’t meet the first two now. My family was financially strained supporting me and five of my siblings. Before now, my mind was also filled with too much of being with Itsuki’s body, even though I knew that the real Itsuki is now Saeko since less than a year after I met him.. I am forced to marry his former body to keep my sanity, and I had to do it quick before he marries someone else and make me look like a stalker. Sure I would like to have married someone else myself, but being forced to look at a particular person of the opposite gender without going insane or causing a problem is the main problem here. Believe me, I tried not look at Itsuki for a day and I could feel myself going senile. Looking at Saeko or my husband’s “female form” seems to have the same effect as not looking at him at all. The extremity of this was put to the test when I studied at Standford University where I have to see an image of him at annoyingly frequent intervals. It’s a nightmare trying to survive university without even thinking of him. I can’t tell if this is the feeling of actual love, or a curse that forces me to always see him for the rest of my life. I don’t know what will happen if Itsuki dies before me, or decides to permanently be in his “female form”.
Getting time off work is not easy, but I guess because of my supervisory role, and the fact that I never took vacation for a long time, that I was given this time to spend with my children. Having someone in the family who works with the same company as me is an awkward thing to deal with. The line between separating family from work is blurred, and even more so when my own existence is the result of a relative’s work-related experiment. It’s like cloning, and I’m the clone, and I see the one who made me as a family member, but I was created because of work.
To get to Kyoto from our house is too far to comfortably travel by car, and things road tolls, traffic jams, rest stops, and refueling along the way, just easily adds up to the time and costs of getting there. No one wants to sit in the car for too long, even if you are not driving it. Obviously, using Saeko’s car is out of the question. It’s auto-drive function works only when Saeko in that car, and even with that, there’s no difference in the duration of the traveling. Ceiling of the car is too low to be able to stand up to stretch, and, especially with other people in the car, can’t stretch sideways. The only practical and quickest way is to take the train towards Tokyo, and then the Tokaido (東海道) Shinkansen from there. No reservation is required, but the fastest train service is made up of mostly reserved seats and a few non-reserved ones. On top of that, this line is the most crowded line among all the other Shinkansen lines in the country. Good news is that the same non-reserved ticket can be used on the slower trains that has no ticket turnstile separating the two, which is just as fast, but with more stops. You can feel the train tilting left and right when a train on the neighbouring track just whizzing by at high speed while stopped at a station.
Kyoto station building is quite huge in size, probably the largest in size. Just outside of it is the Kyoto Tower. For an ancient capital, this whole area looks very out of place with a lot of buildings that are quite recent with nothing but super modern structures visible. However, our hotel is elsewhere and have to travel further, and we aren’t exactly in the mood to explore the area after all those long hours traveling. However, we are feeling hungry, so perhaps we head out to eat after dumping our bags.
The hotel was a four star western hotel that Saeko had booked and paid for. She originally wanted to book a more posh 5 star hotel “because she has too much money”, but I don’t want my kids to be spoiled too much. Neither do we plan to most of our holiday at the hotel either. She booked three rooms: two for me and Itsuki, one for the kids, and one for herself. Saeko’s room has extra beds and is connected with the room my children sleep at, but, for some reason, my room is on a different floor at the opposite end of the hotel.
Me: “Hey, Saeko. About the rooms…”
Saeko: “I don’t trust Itsuki, and you are the only one who can control him. Also, your son scarily looks as if he’s my sister with no thanks to my body’s age permemently frozen for so long, and the Mizuho uniform he couldn’t remove.”
The Mizuho school uniform my son is wearing turned him into a teenage girl, even though he’s actually a 7-year-old boy. In theory, my son would turn back to being a boy when he removes it and remembers what he did as an older female self. However, Mizuho seem to have somehow programmed these uniforms in a way that they physically can’t be removed until a month after graduation from middle school, if he doesn’t continue on to Mizuho’s high school and university that is, which delays it even longer.
Me: “Yeah. I’ll make sure he doesn’t scare the children.”
Saeko: “Oh, and don’t take too long to prepare to go out again, or the children would loose the mood to go out. Especially with the long travel we just had.”
Even though I’m the mother and the head of the family, it is Saeko who actually takes care of my children, even more than me or my husband, like they are her children. I love Saeko, but she is of the same gender as me, and is officially seen as object belonging to Hatsuya Research, backed up by the fact that a machine they made created her body. If it weren’t for her being an existing employee when that happened, she wouldn’t have receive the truckloads of she is receiving now as compensation for her life being changed forever. I receive some of that compensation money too because the person I was forced to like has a different body and I was still forced to like the former body, whose new owner makes my blood boil. This appeared as a mysterious pay rise until it was explained at a later date. Hatsuya said it was a permement curse and nothing could be done from stopping me from loving someone I now hate. The current Itsuki should have been fired from the company a long time ago, but he is too tightly linked to two of their important assets (me and Saeko) that they sent him to work at Mizuho, where he turns into a gentle female. However, since Hatsuya knows that I have to see my husband as a male to keep me sane, they relaxed the rules regarding how the uniform for Mizuho staff, which he belongs to, could be removed: removable as long you are not seen while changing outside their campus.. Previously, it was forever, and it made the rules for students and guests at that time seemed like a more relaxed option.
That evening, we ate at a fast food restaurant and shopped at the shopping street and department store there. I don’t know why I was the least excited among my family.