Thank you for uploading the story, Nicole. It was a fun little story, although, unsurprisingly, I’m unsure what to make of it. Mimei seems fond of disappearing children (and magical old women).
So is the boy dead? Why? Because he lied? Because his mother worked him to death? The old woman was kind to him throughout. Was she pretending, or did she actually save him from his cruel life? If so, not by killing him surely? (Turning him into a spirit or whatever she did does equal killing, doesn’t it?) Sigh.
Language question. There’s this sentence towards the end:
What is おらんで here? Ichi.moe suggests it’s the negative of おる, to be. “Well, get on this white horse, so that you can go to a nice country and not be here”?
Glad you liked it It was the first one I read (even long before the book club started) so I don’t remember all the details, but I think the old woman kind of tested the boy’s integrity? As in, she kept asking him how old he was, and each time he would lie more and more (as instructed by the mother) and she found this out. That seemed to be the reason for her action? But why she took him away is not really clear to me. Maybe to protect him from his mother?
For your question, that’s how I read it as well. (Maybe I would have translated “without being here” but it’s not that it would make more sense in English…)
Yes it didn’t seem to me like she wanted to punish the boy, but rather his greedy mother, who lost her means of easy income. Riding a white horse to some undefined nice country doesn’t sound bad, more like he’s being “freed”. But the fact that his reflection stuck around seems to indicate that he was freed from this mortal world as a whole, not just his mother.