“You mean Shun Aonuma?” father asked quietly.
“Yeah. He suddenly stopped coming to Sage Academy.” My voice cracked a little.
“It’s forbidden to talk about these things. You know that too, don’t you?” mother smiled chidingly.
“Yeah…but,” I looked downward, on the verge of tears.
“Saki…Sacchan,” father weakened as he saw my tears.
Sacchan was a nickname he hadn’t used since I was four or five.
“Dear,” mother said worriedly.
“It’s okay. Saki, listen. You will have to face many hardships in life. One of them is parting with your dear friends.”
“What happened to Shun?” I shouted, interrupting him.
Father frowned, “He’s missing.”
“A few days ago, there was a big accident in Pinewind. Shun Aonuma and his parents have been missing ever since.”
“An accident? What was it? No one told me anything about it. Why has…”
“Saki! Enough,” mother said severely.
“We’re worried about you. Okay? Don’t talk back, and listen to us. You have to stop prying into things that don’t concern you.”
I nodded reluctantly and stood up.
“Saki, please,” my mother said tearfully as I was about to leave the dining room. “I can’t lose another… No, I don’t want to lose you. Please do as we say.”
“All right. I’m tired, I’m going to bed.”
“Goodnight, Saki,” father said. He put his arms around mother, who was pinching the bridge of her nose.
As I climbed the stairs, all I heard were my mother’s words. “I can’t lose another… No, I don’t want to lose you.” And something else I had heard long ago. A pained voice shouting, “I don’t want to lose another child!”