Chapter 1. Autumn: Autumn in Hot Spring

Walking around the town 2

"Yes," thought Tsubasa, remembering his childhood. "I made assistance-tickets for mother, redeemable for shoulder massages, help with housework, or errands, and presented them with a bunch of carnations on Mother's day." His mother's face took on a gentle, nostalgic look. "Tsubasa, you were so sweet when you were a kid. When I had a fever, you took good care of me. You diligently prepared cool compresses. You made good on your domestic help ticket and cleaned the house." As she talked, her eyes had a faraway look. Tsubasa thought, "Mother, when you were younger, you used to be so energetic and optimistic. How did we come to be so far apart?"

IMAGE:illustration Then Tsubasa saw a group of cheerful women, among them Ryoko, looking modest and neat.

"Ryoko-san!" Tsubasa waved his hand. The grandparents also greeted her. The young women were therapists at the hot spring cure. None of them wore makeup, but Tsubasa noticed their beautiful skin, and thought that with the right clothes they would look really attractive. Ryoko waved back delightedly. "I'll be in touch later." As Tsubasa stood idly, his mother nudged him. "Who is she? She's beautiful, isn't she?" There was no ridicule in her voice. "She is a hot spring therapist," replied Tsubasa. "She takes care of older people." "Really? Can living here make people so beautiful?" "It depends what they looked like to begin with." "Excuse me!"
IMAGE:illustration "It has been long time since I joked with mother like this," Tsubasa thought. "We talk on the phone, we leave voice mails, we send emails, but we almost never talk face to face."

Grandmother's RUICA flashed in blue. "Someone has asked for a small voluntary work this early morning." "What is a small voluntary work?" asked Tsubasa. "Requesting a small thing in return for a thanks ticket," Grandfather whispered into Tsubasa's ear.

Grandmother operated her RUICA skillfully. "Look here, Mrs. Kishigami of No.3 Avenue is sick and cannot bring her child to kindergarten. I will reply and offer to help her." Grandmother walked briskly toward the Kishigami residence, following the navigation prompts displayed on her RUICA. The route had many hills and stairs. When she reached the house, she pressed the button on her RUICA. Mrs. Kishigami, who appeared to be in her 30s, opened the door. She was clearly pregnant.

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