“I’m very sorry, but there are no exceptions.”
My mother tried to use her position as leverage, but this too was met with stubborn refusal. The two of them were defeated.
“Saki, I don’t think I have to tell you, but please answer all questions as truthfully as you can,” my mother put her hands on my shoulders and looked earnestly into my eyes.
“I know…it’ll be okay,” I answered.
I understood what she really meant. Choose the truth carefully. From here on out, a wrong answer could mean death.
I was taken into a large western-styled room with a dark, shining wooden floor. The windows were small and high on the wall, giving everything a classic Rembrandt look. In the center was a table like those used at banquets, and about ten people stood on one side. The head of the Board of Education, Hiromi Torigai, stood in the center. The people on either side must also be members of the committee.
“Saki Watanabe? Please sit over there.”
It wasn’t Hiromi who spoke, but a large woman on her left. Obediently, I sat down in the only chair available.
“I am the vice-chairman of the Board of Education, Masayo Komatsuzaki. There are a few things I would like to ask you. Please answer all questions truthfully. Do not lie or withhold information. Do you understand?”
Her tone was as kind as any schoolteacher’s, but her eyes stared stonily at me. I felt the pressure of her authority and answered “yes” without any unnecessary words.
“You learned that a boy in your team, Mamoru Itou, had run away from home yesterday in the early hours of the morning. Is this correct?”
“Yes,” I said faintly.
“When did you learn about it?”
I knew it was pointless to hide it, so I answered honestly, “Before school.”
“How did you know about it?”