Chapter 55:

Valerie Boateng: Painful Past Part 6

New Leaf!

Mom was yelling at me to show her dominance. But she is just raising her voice and not actually shouting — I shouldn’t falter.Bookmark here

“The hell!?”Bookmark here

“Mom, I don’t want to become a doctor… I don’t want to… Yeah, I can’t handle it, but there’s a bigger reason — I can’t handle this because I have no damn interest in becoming one!”Bookmark here

Mom clicked her teeth in anger.Bookmark here

“Sure, being a doctor has its merits… The satisfaction from helping a patient… The feeling of helping to save lives… Being one sounds great, but I just have no interest in becoming one.”Bookmark here

Mom stepped towards me and I slightly flinched.Bookmark here

“Shush! You are becoming one. You are going down the path that your father and I decided for you!”Bookmark here

“I don’t want to!”Bookmark here

“Stop it, it’s for your own good!”Bookmark here

“W-What do you know!? Why aren’t you listening!? Aren’t you supposed to be my mom!?”Bookmark here

Feelings were intense. I couldn’t think.Bookmark here

“I know what’s best for you because I’m your mom! I gave birth to you!”Bookmark here

“So!? I didn’t want to be born if I knew that I’d be around someone like you!”Bookmark here

Shoot! Bookmark here

I tried shutting my mouth. No, wait! I got too emotional and said something mean… Gah, I’m sorry, Mom! But she won't listen if I simply apologize.Bookmark here

“Valerie Boateng!”Bookmark here

Mom swiftly raised her hand in the air. She was going to hit me…Bookmark here

“You little…”Bookmark here

“Gah!”Bookmark here

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It felt like an eternity passed.Bookmark here

When I saw Mom’s hand move towards me, I flinched. I really braced for it… Of course, it was going to hurt — despite how she looked, Mom was strong — but I think it was going to hurt way more than how a slap at her full force would feel like. Is this really my mom? Despite her personality, she’s not supposed to be like this! She’s supposed to listen and be fair, but right now, she was being cruel…Bookmark here

My eyes were closed, my body was withdrawn, and my hands were in front of my face. I slowly opened my eyes, and… huh?Bookmark here

When my vision returned, a look of astonishment grew on my face. The first thing that I saw was… Ren. With his usual expressionless and serious-looking face, he was holding Mom’s wrist in his hand. Did he catch it? He’s so quick… He’s so strong… He’s so resilient… He’s… Ren Morales.Bookmark here

Mom was struggling, moving her arm around to break free of Ren, but he was unyielding.Bookmark here

“Gah, I forgot you were here… Get off of me, kid!”Bookmark here

Ren shook his head. He spoke in his usual blunt and monotone voice. But even though it was expressionless, I sensed his strong resolve.Bookmark here

“Mrs Boateng, please, it is not proper for a parent to hit their own child… Please calm down. You too, Valerie…”Bookmark here

I tried to do as he instructed, but I was shocked by the scene.Bookmark here

Mom was determined. She forcibly pulled her arm away from Ren and sharply turned to him.Bookmark here

“Shut up, kid, it’s called disciplining a child!”Bookmark here

“This is not the proper way of parenting…”Bookmark here

“What do you know about parenting!?”Bookmark here

“Mrs Boateng, I think I know enough to talk about parenting.”Bookmark here

Mom raised her eyebrow in confusion and annoyance again.Bookmark here

“As a child on the receiving end of a parent’s care, I am confident that I know enough about parenting.”Bookmark here

Mom clicked her teeth again.Bookmark here

“Mrs Boateng, I suspect that you are scared…”Bookmark here

W-What? Fear? I understand why I was scared, but how was Mom scared? Is Ren just spewing nonsense?.. No, that can’t be it. Looking at him now, I could tell that he was completely serious about what he just said.Bookmark here

“W-What!? Kid, what are you saying!?”Bookmark here

“You love Valerie, right? And that affection is the main source of your fear and worry.”Bookmark here

Mom slightly stepped back. What?.. What was happening? Mom… was losing her composure. Not in the way where someone who is completely calm would suddenly flip out upon hearing something offensive, but she was becoming unstable.Bookmark here

“Right now, you are acting like a megalomaniac that wants to seize control of Valerie by controlling her future. But you are not one, and you are doing this because you love her. But you are also scared.”Bookmark here

“T-The hell… So creepy, kid…”Bookmark here

“You are scared because of your past.”Bookmark here

“W-What!?”Bookmark here

I had the same reaction.Bookmark here

“By past, I mean the country you emigrated from. You are an immigrant, and it is clear based on the pictures on the wall.”Bookmark here

H-He’s right… Mom was not born in this country.Bookmark here

“And the country you came from… Sure, it is still great, but this country contains more opportunities compared to that one.”Bookmark here

“Ga- what!?”Bookmark here

“It was tougher for you back in your homeland, correct? And you think that work that requires a lot of knowledge is the only way that people can survive, correct? Since you want Valerie to succeed, you force her down this path of your choosing…”Bookmark here

Oh… I never thought about it like this…Bookmark here

Mom was still annoyed. She stepped towards Ren, but I had a feeling that her hard exterior was softening.Bookmark here

“G-Gah! Fine, I’ll admit that you are telling the truth and that you figured me out… But, whatever! I am doing the right thing… Valerie needs to become this in the future!”Bookmark here

“Is it to alleviate your own fears?”Bookmark here

“It’s for her own good!”Bookmark here

“However, you are not listening to Valerie’s wishes, so it is not for her own good. She does not like the path you chose for her, but you are still insisting.”Bookmark here

Ren did not sound like he was feeling any intense emotions… He just sounded like he usually does. But regardless, he was still managing to intimidate Mom.Bookmark here

Ren averted his eyes and looked at the floor. He also put his left hand over his right shoulder.Bookmark here

“Um… I-I am sorry Mrs Boateng, but could it be that you did not raise Valerie properly?”Bookmark here

Mom got mad again, but Ren was not scared.Bookmark here

“What!? Kid, are you provoking me on purpose!?”Bookmark here

“Sorry, this is rude, but it makes sense according to what you are saying…”Bookmark here

Mom was giving Ren opportunities to talk. She usually cuts off the opponent in an argument, but not this time. Was it because Ren was staying calm?Bookmark here

“Tch…”Bookmark here

“The dictionary definition of raise is to increase the amount, level, or strength of something. I have a feeling that you are pushing Valerie into this career path because you do not feel that she is strong enough to survive. You believe that Valerie’s choices will lead to failure, so you are trying to prevent that.”Bookmark here

I looked at Mom and saw that her fingers were tensing up. If she was getting nervous, is all of this true?Bookmark here

Ren looked at me and signaled for me to go to him. I stood beside him. He then started bowing. While looking down, he signaled for me to do the same, so I did.Bookmark here

“Mrs Boateng… Please have more faith in your daughter. She is being tortured because you do not, and it should not continue. And Valerie cannot endure the hardships…”Bookmark here

I spoke.Bookmark here

“P-Please, Mom! I swear, I won't disappoint you with my choices.”Bookmark here

I could not see her face.Bookmark here

“P-Please, have faith in me! It’s certainly a risk, but I’m willing to take it! And you don’t have to worry about me!”Bookmark here

But…Bookmark here

“And you can’t afford to look after me all this time. I’m getting older, and that can’t be stopped… P-Plea-”Bookmark here

“Gah!..”Bookmark here

We raised our heads when we heard Mom suddenly scream. She had a look of pure acrimony on her face.Bookmark here

She fiercely pointed at Ren.Bookmark here

“You, get out of here!”Bookmark here

“M-Mom-”Bookmark here

I was stopped when Ren put his hand in front of me.Bookmark here

“Kid, get out of my house! Now!”Bookmark here

Ren nodded and walked towards the exit.Bookmark here

“Thank you for having me…”Bookmark here

I stood dumbfounded as Ren exited. Why did he leave so readily? And why was it so late in the argument with Mom? Why did he stop me from rebutting? Why?..Bookmark here

After a while, Mom spoke again. She was still annoyed, but her voice was low.Bookmark here

“And you… Valerie, go to your room…”Bookmark here

“I…”Bookmark here

I stopped when I remembered what happened earlier. Ren stopped me from defending, so maybe he would want me to do the same now…Bookmark here

“Okay…”Bookmark here

I started walking towards the exit of the living room. When I got to it, Mom called me again.Bookmark here

“And Valerie… Your friend… He brought up some good points and I think I realized something… Sorry, but could you give me time to think? I also need to discuss this with your father…”Bookmark here

My back was turned to Mom, so she did not see my eyes widen in surprise.Bookmark here

“Sure…”Bookmark here

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Ren’s POV:
“Hey, Ren Ren! So, what do you think of Sakura from the other class? Pretty cute, eh?”Bookmark here

It was the day after Valerie and my confrontation with her mother. Connie and I were sitting in the cafeteria.Bookmark here

“Sakura… She is around one hundred and sixty centimeters tall, has marks that make her a suitable candidate for Laurent’s Top, and she-”Bookmark here

“H-Hey, stop, stop, stop! C’mon, I meant your opinion of her, not her diagnostics — and please tell me that those pieces of info weren’t real…”Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

As we were talking, a familiar girl sat at the seat in front of us.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ren. Hi Connie.”Bookmark here

“Hello, Valerie.”Bookmark here

“Ren gets a hey while I only get a hi? What’s up?”Bookmark here

I noticed that Valerie was different from how she usually is. One, she seemed happier than usual. Two, her appearance improved — the shadows under her eyes were gone and they were no longer red, her skin was clearer, she did not smell of sweat and perfume, and her uniform was not wrinkled.Bookmark here

“Ren…”Bookmark here

Valerie leaned closer to me.Bookmark here

“Hey Ren, thank you for yesterday… Seriously, the situation greatly improved for me.”Bookmark here

“Oh, that is good to hear…”Bookmark here

She bowed her head.Bookmark here

“Thank you so much, Ren…”Bookmark here

“Oh, p-please raise your head, that is not necessary…”Bookmark here

Valerie did so and chuckled at me.Bookmark here

“Hey Ren, you’re super modest, you know that? Ah…”Bookmark here

Valerie assumed a relaxed position where she leaned her head on her arm close to the table and crossed her legs.Bookmark here

“Ren, thanks to you, I can change my career choice. My parents are still a bit wary of me pursuing starting a business, but they’ll let me do it. See, I am going to request course changes for next semester — of course, I’ll take the courses relating to business!”Bookmark here

“Oh, that is good…”Bookmark here

She turned to Connie.Bookmark here

“Hey Connie, can I sit here?”Bookmark here

Connie smiled and chuckled.Bookmark here

“What? We constantly ask you to sit with us and you think you aren’t welcome? Of course, you can sit here!”Bookmark here

“Really? Ah, I was thinking that you’d be mad since I always reject you when you ask… Sorry.”Bookmark here

“Hah, are you crazy? No, that ain’t how we operate!”Bookmark here

“Great!”Bookmark here

And with that, the three of us ate lunch together. And I’m guessing that Valerie will accompany us for the rest of our time together.Bookmark here

As Valerie told me about her business plan, I caught a glimpse of Connie’s relieved smile.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.