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Author Topic: Short Stories  (Read 2563 times)

Offline ゲキカラ

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Short Stories
« on: March 07, 2015, 10:57:06 PM »
Here is my first ever piece of fan fiction (also posted on Stage48), inspired by my Maji-muse. Apologies if it reads unsightly, but I hope folks can look upon it warmly. ^^

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Stray


- What did you just say?

---

She lay there, the coppery taste of blood in her mouth, each ragged breath seeming to come from a distance, as though it belonged to someone else. Slowly, she raised herself until she was sitting, head hung, one arm still thrown protectively across her stomach, the world slowly coming back into focus. Her eyes shifted to a shard of plate that lay near her free hand. She considered it for a moment; her fingers uncurled slightly, hesitated, then closed into a tight fist. Something warm trickled into her eye, stinging; she reached up and wiped it away, feeling the cut above her left brow. She stared at the blood on her hand, then up at the man who still stood over her, watching her. His eyes were small and black behind his glasses. His knuckles were barked.

- Get out.

He looked at his hands and wiped them dismissively on his shirt. Then he turned away.

- Get out, he said without looking back at her. Go to school or something.

She looked on as he walked away, past the pale figure who still stood, transfixed, as though rooted in place, watching them with tired eyes. After he had disappeared from sight, she noticed she was holding the piece of broken plate tightly in her left hand; a single rivulet of red ran along its jagged edge. She stood, the pain in her side already muted and distant, and walked stiffly forward, seeing nothing but where he would be. And then stopped. She looked down at the woman who had grabbed her shoulders, fingers digging in painfully. The woman who stood there, holding her back. She was shouting something. What was it? Stop. Stop.

---

- STOP.

Who had said that? The voice had come from somewhere in the crowd that had gathered around them. She ignored it.

- Didn’t you hear me? STOP.

A hand fell upon her shoulder. She tried to shrug it off, but it would not go away; the grip was strong. She stood up, letting the other fall to the ground. Her heavyset opponent lay twitching where she fell, her shirt torn and bloodied, the whites of her eyes visible beneath her fluttering lids. The tall girl turned to face her restrainer. The newcomer had long wavy hair and stood about half a head shorter, but her eyes were hard and unflinching.

- Stop, she said again. She released her hold. - It’s over.

They stood facing each other, arms held noncommittally at their sides. The taller girl smiled. The shorter girl did not smile back. Then the punch came, hard and fast; the shorter girl pivoted, arm bent, deflecting the blow with her elbow, her free hand moving in a blur of motion to catch the other’s striking arm. The taller girl, surprised, felt herself being pulled down sharply and looked around in time to see the return blow just before it struck her, the force staggering her. She then sat down hard as her legs were kicked out from under her. Her foot lashed out but her opponent caught it, wrenched her forward and drove a heavy heel into her inner thigh. She shook free and scrambled backwards, face twisted in a pained frown. She tried to stand, but her injured leg gave way and she stumbled to her knees.

- Are you finished?

She looked up at the other girl, who was walking toward her. She looked at the crowd, stared at them, as though seeing them for the first time; they were still watching with interest, murmuring excitedly, occasionally gesturing at the combatants, each looking away with unease whenever they met her eyes. Beyond, the grey building stood, impassive; faces floated like pale balloons at the lower windows, and a small group of older girls stood on the roof, watching the scene below intently. Then the fire seemed to go out of her eyes and her head dropped, as though in defeat.

- I said, are you finished?

She said nothing, but simply nodded.

- All right then.

She took the proffered hand and rose to one knee. She looked up into the other girl’s face. Then, abruptly, she lunged, threw her arms around her opponent’s waist, twisted violently and threw her to the

---

floor. She stooped down and picked up the crumpled photograph, looked at it for a moment, then replaced it in the pocket from where it had fallen. As she straightened up, she caught her reflection in the nearest mirror; she wandered toward it, the coins in her hand forgotten. When she reached it she stopped and stood, unmoving, staring up at her own face, distorted by the convex surface of the mirror. A woman, engrossed in her phone, brushed against her and looked up at the contact; she stared briefly at the tall girl with the long scar over her left brow, the eye beneath almost closed, a thin strip of bloody tape across the lid, then mumbled an apology and hurried away. The girl did not even notice the encounter; she stood, as though in a trance, staring into the glass. She reached up and touched the scar on her brow, her finger tracing along the rough skin, then down, coming to rest on the fresh cut. She raised her other hand to her mouth and started to bite absently on a nail. She remembered him saying, just before he had struck her with the ashtray, his face impassive, how annoying the sound of her habit was.
A sudden chorus of voices distracted her from her thoughts. She watched the little schoolchildren as they trooped into the store, chattering excitedly. She looked at the nail she had been chewing; it had been bitten almost down to the quick. She spat, drawing a disapproving glance from a nearby clerk, and looked around for what she had come for; there was one left. She took it. As she was walking towards the cash desk, she saw something at the end of the aisle and stopped. Corn soup. Cans of corn soup, on sale. She picked up a can and stared at it. Her mother liked to make it for dinner sometimes. After a moment’s consideration, the girl took the can with her.
Outside, she sat down on the curb and tore open the red plastic wrapper. She took a bite; it was slightly stale. After she had finished, she licked the spicy residue from her fingers and tossed the crumpled wrapper aside. She looked up at the iron-grey sky and took a deep breath; the air smelled like rain. She drew her knees closer, put her head on her arms. No-one looked at her as they walked past. A smoldering cigarette flew from the window of a car as it drove by and landed at her feet; she didn’t notice it. She sat there, unmoving, for some time, staring at nothing, oblivious to the passing minutes, to the flurry of faded blossoms that rode past on a sudden gust of wind, fluttering like tiny butterfly wings. After a while, she put a hand to her mouth and started to bite

---

on a nail. A snort of amusement from someone nearby.

- That was fun.

She turned, wincing slightly at the pain in her neck, to look at the person sitting beside her. The shorter girl smiled impishly down at her, blood on her teeth, her lower lip split. She looked away again, closed her eyes. She lay there, feeling the sweat that soaked her uniform, the cool breeze against her skin, the pain in her leg that had become a dull throb. She felt great.

- You know, you’re pretty good.

She smiled, her eyes still closed.

- I think you broke one of my nails.

The tall girl giggled. She opened her eyes again. The crowd was dispersing; some looked back at her as they went. A short distance away, her previous opponent was rising groggily to her feet, each arm resting heavily on a shoulder. The heavyset girl slowly turned to look in her direction; her eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth, as though to say something. The tall girl met her stare and sat up. After a moment had passed, the other seemed to think better of the situation and looked down. The tall girl watched as the other walked away, unsteadily, as though she were on stilts, her companions holding her up.

- ko.

She looked blankly at the girl beside her.

- I said, my name’s Yūko, she laughed. What’s yours?

---

The girl stood outside the door to the apartment where she lived, her long hair plastered to her scalp in wet clumps, blood trickling sluggishly from a gash on her right temple, the knuckles of both hands raw. She listened; coming from somewhere inside, barely audible over the pounding rain, was the sound of a television. She looked down at her schoolbag, scuffed and caked in mud. She looked to her left. To her right. Nobody, nothing. Somewhere in the distance, a siren sounded. She tried the handle; it was unlocked. She paused, opened the door and went inside.

---

They noticed her sitting alone outside the convenience store. They waited. When she left, they followed her. They tried to cut her off at the underpass. They rushed into the tunnel, then stopped in confusion; she was not there. They looked uncertainly at each other, then around, staring suspiciously at the walls and the low ceiling, as though she might have vanished into the stone itself. They spun around at the sudden sound of leather scraping against stone. She was standing near where they had entered, casually swinging her bag and looking at them with an amused expression. She touched a single finger to her lips – shhh – then beckoned to them, giggling softly. They advanced, glowering. She turned and walked away, an occasional glance over her shoulder to make sure they were still following.
She led them to a nearby park. As she passed the gate, her pace quickened. They ran after her just as she disappeared behind an old bicycle parking station, empty but for the rusted skeletal remains of abandoned bicycles, some still locked to rotted bars. She was not waiting for them behind there. They cursed and looked around for her. A short distance away was a copse of cherry trees, their foliage already mostly green, the earth around them carpeted with browning petals. They rounded the copse and found a little playground, long since fallen into decrepitude. She was sitting there on a swing, her back to them, gently rocking back and forth on her feet. They looked around, but there was no-one. No sound but the squealing of rusted chains, and the drumming of rain against metal. They slowly advanced.
The girl stood up and turned to face her pursuers. There were five of them. She stared at them. The heavyset leader stepped forward.

- Hey. Remember me?

The girl said nothing. There was a click and a flash of steel.

- You will.

They started to fan out. The girl looked from one face to another. They started to circle. The girl let her bag fall to the sodden ground. She smiled as they came at her.

---

He was in the living room, reading a newspaper. He looked up at her approach, noting her scraped knuckles, the blood on her face, the trail of mud left by the heavy boots she had worn inside. For some reason, she was missing a sock. She stopped in the middle of the room and stood there, staring at him. He put down his newspaper and removed his glasses. Without a word, he rose from his chair and walked up to her. They stood facing each other for what seemed an eternity. He sighed. She tensed. Then he raised his hand and she

---

ducked under the bar that came whistling towards her head, lunged, hooked an arm around the other’s neck and swung her like a rag doll against the swing frame with a sickening thud; her opponent went limp and the bar fell from her nerveless fingers. She let the body fall and whirled round to face the others, who were watching her from a wary distance. She spat the blood from her mouth and surveyed the scene: three lay motionless, two still stood, struggling with indecision, one cursing and bleeding freely from the bite on her forearm. Neither made a move. She started toward them, absently kicking the fallen switchblade away as she advanced. The bleeder hesitated for a split second; then, seeming to muster her courage, stepped within striking distance and swung. The tall girl, barely registering the impact, caught the leg, trapping it, before raising a foot and stamping down hard on the other’s free ankle. There was a sound like a piece of thin ice cracking and

---

no more

He grabbed a handful of hair and jerked her head up.

no more

nomore


- tell you about fighting? Last time

nomorenomorenomore

- then the school called and I had to leave the office for

take it

???


- you worthless

She turned to look at him.

take it

Something inside broke loose. She couldn’t hear anything he was saying anymore; his mouth was opening and closing, but the voice she heard was another.

- listening?

He grabbed her collar with both hands and pulled her to her feet. He slapped her again, hard; it didn’t even hurt. He looked so funny, with his balding head and his mouth opening and closing like a fish. She giggled.

Take it.

---

- Look up there.

She looked to where Yūko was pointing: the roof of the school.

- I’m going to take it. One day, I’m going to take it from them.

They were lying in the shade of a tree, the remnants of lunch beside them. She peered up at the roof; she knew some of the senior girls hung around up there, but that was all. Of course, no-one was up there today. She wondered why anyone would want to hang around up there at all. Was the view any different? She yawned and flopped onto her back.

- Hey!

A finger poked her cheek. She turned her head in annoyance. Yūko flopped down beside her. For a while, the shorter girl said nothing; she simply lay there, looking up at the sky.

- It’s going to be fun. Want to take it with me?

---

- Is something funny?

She laughed. His hands were still at her collar. Her fingers curled.

- I said, is so-

She cocked her head back, raised her arms and brought her fists down, hard, on his forearms; as he jerked toward her, she slammed her head forward. He released his hold and staggered backward, clutching his nose, blood flowing profusely between his fingers. She advanced on him, giggling. He swung a wild cross at her; she lazily raised an arm and blocked it, then drove a knee into his gut. As he doubled over, she grabbed his head with both hands and wrenched it downwards, her knee rising to meet him. He fell to the floor, gagging. She picked up the nearby remote and turned up the volume on the television until it was at maximum. Then she walked to her fallen schoolbag.
He watched, through his tears, as she rooted through her bag, took something out and appeared to study it. He couldn’t see clearly. What was it? What was she looking at? He didn’t care. His mind, clouded by the intense pain, could only hold a single thought. This brat, for whom he had wasted so much of his life to provide for, had decided to repay him like this. The brat and her worthless mother, when they had had no-one else to turn to. He got shakily to his feet and looked around. There. He picked it up off the table and turned to the girl, who still had her back to him. As he tottered toward her, she slowly stood up. When he was nearly within reach, he raised the paperweight in one hand. Abruptly, she spun round.

- Wh-?

She whipped her arm around in a hard overhead arc and brought the sock down on the crown of his head, silencing the question on his lips. He stood, staring at her in surprise, for the briefest moment, then collapsed like a sack of wet cement.  He looked groggily up at her as she stood over him. She giggled.  He tried to raise a protective hand to his face, but his movements where sluggish. She raised the sock and brought it down again. And again. And again. And

---

She grabbed a handful of bleached hair, forced the girl’s head into the mud and held it there, watching as the other spluttered and thrashed. After a moment, she pulled the girl’s head up again, bent forward until they were cheek to cheek, and whispered.

- hey

---

A crash caused her to turn. A woman stood there, her eyes wide, her mouth open, groceries lying forgotten at her feet. The girl looked from her to the man’s recumbent form and back again.

- Mother.

She reached inside the sock she was still holding and pulled out the misshapen can. She stared at it, laughed and tossed it aside. She looked back at her mother.

- hey

---



are you mad?



---

- mad

- nearly killed her stepfather

- did you hear

- those girls from Yabakune who came around here

- beat them up good

- crazy


- Ōshima’s friend?

- committed her

- released from

- her own mother sent her away

- who is she living with now?

- f**king psycho


- I could take her

---

The murmuring died down as the classroom door slid open. They watched her in silence as she stood there in the doorway, a tall girl with twin scars around her left brow, whose eyes none of them could meet.

---

She climbed the stairs. No-one tried to stop her. She climbed to the top and opened the door. She walked out onto the roof. They were waiting for her, but they were not the girls she remembered. A girl even taller than her eyed her with mild disinterest as she passed, before returning her attention to an old kendama. Three others gathered close around her, blocking her path, staring at her intently. Until a fifth gently pushed them aside, and they parted respectfully for her: a shorter girl with long wavy hair.

They stood facing each other. The shorter girl smiled. The taller girl caught her arm just behind the wrist before the punch could land and smiled back. Yūko looked her up and down, and nodded.


“Welcome back, Rena.”





THE END

« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 06:03:15 PM by ゲキカラ »
ねえ、怒ってる?

Offline Sara-chan

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  • I dont Speak english very well sorry :'C
Re: Majisuka-inspired story
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2015, 12:44:56 PM »
It is a very good story I hope to read another story of yours  :mon cute:

Offline ゲキカラ

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Re: Majisuka-inspired story
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2015, 12:56:46 PM »
It is a very good story I hope to read another story of yours  :mon cute:

Thanks!   :twothumbs

ねえ、怒ってる?

Offline ゲキカラ

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Re: Short stories (edited)
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2015, 02:42:43 PM »
Here's a new story I wrote.  I don't think I have the skill to tell this very well, but I wanted to try anyway.  Hope it didn't turn out too bad (and I didn't make too many mistakes)!   :nervous

(Lyrics to the song used in this story were written by Yasushi Akimoto)



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Not fade away


Where will we be in ten years?  Twenty years?  A lifetime?

***

It was a cold spring morning, and the fog that had been covering Tokyo in a heavy blanket had finally lifted.  She had awoken early and drawn back the curtains to find the once-faded cityscape blossoming with color again.  The streets below were cautiously returning to life.  She stared idly out of the window, a cup of coffee in hand, and wondered what day it was.

***

She was cleaning the bedroom when the head of the vacuum struck something under the bed and it fell over with a thump.  Stiffly, she crouched and peered underneath the bed.  She reached under and pulled out the small box and its spilled contents; she stared at them for a moment, then replaced them and pushed the box back under the bed.  She finished vacuuming and wiped the windows.  She checked the potted flowers on the balcony, noticing for the first time that some of them had withered; she watered them all anyway. 
After eating lunch, she sat in her armchair and worked absently on the scarf she had been knitting for the last few days.  On the television, they were talking about how East Asian negotiations were making progress.  After a while, she dozed off.

***

When she woke up, she went back to her bedroom and brought out the box.  She carried it into the living room and set it on the coffee table.  She gently blew the dust of untold years off its surface and opened it.  Hand trembling slightly, she reached inside and took out a photo and – the memories came flooding back.  The day of her graduation concert: December 8th.  The deafening roar of countless voices, chanting her name in unison.  The – she put the photo down, her heart suddenly racing.  She waited.  Then she took out all the photos and laid them out, slowly, one at a time, until they were spread across the little table.  She stared at the faces that looked up at her.  Somewhere in the apartment where she lived alone, the ticking of a clock dully marked the passing seconds as she sat, lost in her thoughts.
After a while, she noticed that the shadows in the room had lengthened considerably.  She carefully gathered up the photos and put them back in the box.  Then she put on a thick overcoat and a scarf, and left the apartment.  She waited outside the building, shivering slightly.  Before long, a taxi approached; she flagged it down.  The young driver asked her where she wanted to go.  She told him to just drive.  At his quizzical look, she handed him a number of crumpled bills.  He stared at them, then back at her.  He turned on the meter and checked his rearview mirror; she was already looking out of the window.  His eyes slid off her without recognition and he pulled away.

She approached the room with trepidation, and exhaled with relief when she saw Yūko sitting up in bed, looking brightly back at her.

“Don’t look at me like that”, Yūko laughed.  “Come in, sit down.”

She put the flowers on the table and sat down on the single chair next to the bed.  Yūko motioned for her to sit on the bed beside her.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

Yūko shrugged.  “I’ve been worse.”

And they talked.  They talked about life, marriage, the décor of the room.  Then, for some reason, they ended up talking about old times, as they had not done in an age.  They talked about dreams, old friends, concerts in the rain.  They talked about doing the stupidest things, about doing the hardest things.  They laughed until they cried, they cried until they laughed.  At some point, Yūko went into a brief coughing fit and a nurse rushed into the room.  Yūko waved her away, the fit having passed, and the nurse left after chiding her for not resting as she should have been.
When it was time to leave, her heart felt much lighter.  Just as she was leaving the room, Yūko called to her.  She turned and saw Yūko looking back at her, a strange expression on her face.  They looked at each for a long moment; then Yūko smiled, her eyes shining.

“We really lived, didn’t we?”

She walked back to the bed and hugged her, hard.  Then she looked into her eyes.

“Yeah…yeah, we did”.

She left and
– she woke up, her cheeks wet.  Yūko.  She glanced at the driver, who was focused on the road.  She looked out of the window and saw, between towering silhouettes, that the sun was already a thin crescent of red and orange on the horizon.  The lights were starting to flicker on.  Yūko.  She closed her eyes.  Eight months had passed since that day she had visited the hospital.  Eight months since she had spoken to Yūko for the last time.

***

Neon lights, giant screens, illuminating streets that bustled with a million random lives, each with a story to tell, perhaps, yet appearing, on the surface, as no more than zeros and ones, binary souls with no awareness of each other.  Seconds, minutes, hours, one grain at a time.  She was lost in her thoughts, half-dreaming of a sea of people calling out in unison, of lights dancing on the waves, bathing faces in their rainbow glow, of –
The taxi had stopped.  She looked outside and saw they were outside Roppongi Station.  A face was hovering at the driver’s window, peering uncertainly at them.   She looked at the driver.  He smiled apologetically and gestured to the meter.  She peered at it, then reached into her bag.  She absently handed him more bills without bothering to count them.  He took them and counted them carefully.  He looked at her again and wondered, not for the first time that evening, whether he had seen her somewhere before.  He frowned and shook his head as though on the verge of recalling something, then let it go.  He bowed apologetically to the face at the window and, moments later, they were lost in the tide of weary commuters looking homeward and young thrill seekers looking nightward.

“Where would you like to go, Miss?”  He was looking at her in the mirror.

“Back,” she said wistfully.

“Miss?”

She turned to him with a curious expression and – ran to her friend with a squeal of delight and threw her arms around her.

“Careful!  My dress!” laughed Atsuko.

She gently took her friend’s face in her hands.

“You look so beautiful, Acchan!  But…is it really okay for me to see you like this before he does??”

“Hmm.  It’ll be our secret!”

They giggled.

“So beautiful,” she said again.  She looked her up and down; truly, Atsuko had never looked more radiant and carefree than she did then, standing there in her simple white dress, and


“Miss?”

She looked at him vaguely.  He waited.

“Take me to the Bunkyo Memorial, please,” she said finally.

***

After a while, they pulled up in front of what had once been Tokyo Dome.  She looked through the window at its hulking form.  A relic from another time, standing silent and still in a city that never stopped moving, forever illuminated by powerful searchlights, its own sidelights having long since gone out.  She turned to the driver.

“Could you…could you wait here a while, please?”

He nodded.  She got out and started walking toward the broken shell of the Dome.  She shivered and pulled her scarf tighter; it was a chilly night.  Before long, she was standing in the shadows of the ruins. 
It had been rebuilt after the Second Great Kanto Earthquake, and it had stood firm during the subsequent aftershocks that shook the region in the years that followed.  However, mere weeks after the world had declared war for a third time, it rained fire in Tokyo for six days and six nights.  Eventually, they were able to drive their attackers away from the capital and other key locations.  By that time, however, many cities already lay smoldering, wastelands of scorched concrete and blackened bodies.  After the war had finally ended, the rebuilding began.  People tried to move on, as they always did.  No-one tried to make sense of anything, as though there were nothing to make sense of anymore.  Most of the postwar efforts were directed toward restoring the National Olympic Stadium to its former glory, and the Dome fell into neglect for many years.
Eventually, the Dome was designated the Bunkyo Memorial and, over time, people came here to remember the day a weary peace was declared.  She saw figures now, moving among the tiered ruins that had been left as they were, lighting candles in the eerie silence.  Thousands of candles, floating in the darkness, in this place that lay frozen in time.  She made her way carefully among the debris, down crooked steps, guided by the flickering lights.  And she remembered – her graduation concert beneath the great dome, the glare of the lights rendering that final stage as hot and bright as a midsummer’s afternoon.  In the days that followed, there would sadness and heartache; but on that one day, they had sung and danced in no time but the present, with not a thought to the past nor the future, lifted up and carried by friendship, by years of sharing their dreams and their pain, by love
She stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked across the huge crater at the center of the Dome, its churned surface carpeted with little pieces of colored paper: countless paper cranes, left there by those who had come to remember.  She looked up at the stars shining coldly above her.  This place that had been their first dream.  She picked up a candle that lay at her feet, its flame extinguished.  She stared – at the headline, at the face that smiled at her beneath the headline.  Atsuko had been in England when war had erupted.  They had talked over the phone; she had implored Atsuko to stay put, which, for a while, she did.  Then, two days ago, during an uneasy ceasefire that had settled over the East, she had, upon hearing of her mother’s deteriorating health, boarded a plane with her husband and
She knelt and lit the candle with the flame of another.  She gently set it down before her and closed her eyes.  Acchan’s dream. She stayed kneeling, head bowed and hands on her knees, for some time.  Finally, she rose to her feet, turned, and left that place without a backward glance.

***

“Wait – stop!”

The taxi eased to a stop.  He turned to her with a look of concern.

“Is something wrong, Miss?”

“No, I just –”

Her voice trailed away.  Here, where it had all begun.  Over the years, their numbers would swell as more travelled from far and wide in pursuit of their dreams, and they would perform in arenas and stadiums for thousands, tens of thousands.  Yet it was here where, on the 8th of December, 2005, they had begun their journey by performing to an audience of seven in a small dingy theater in Akihabara.  Here.
But here was not there anymore.  She stared up at the bland exterior of the hotel that now stood in place of the former Don Quijote building.  She remembered now: the great earthquake, the cataclysm the nation had feared for over three decades.  She – was looking through a box of old photos and talking on the phone when the line suddenly went dead.  The tremor shook her house to its very eaves.  She sat frozen, her nerveless hand still holding the phone, as the windows rattled violently and photos scattered across the floor.  She stared at them in mounting horror, at the faces that smiled up at her.  She – remembered seeing some of those same faces much later, while the toll was still being counted, reading their names, a great emptiness in her heart.  Those girls, with whom she had laughed, cried, dreamed, gone.   The little theater, where their dreams had begun and where they had performed over many generations, gone, as though it had never been.
She turned away, numb, and motioned for the driver to go; soon, that place of memories was out of sight.  She stared idly out of the window as they drifted along faceless streets, mostly deserted but for the last few stragglers wearily making their way home for the night.  A light rain had begun to fall.  When?  She couldn’t remember.  When had they started to fade?  She struggled to sift through the lost years.  They had still been going strong, albeit with some loss of momentum, at the time of her graduation; she had left her responsibilities in capable hands before they had parted ways.  After the great earthquake, the theater had been rebuilt and they had continued, for the loved ones they had lost, doing what little they could to bring some relief and happiness to the stricken nation.  She had continued to cheer for them from afar, returning on occasion to stand side by side with them.  She had thought that they might keep going forever.  Where had it all gone?  She closed her eyes.  Would there be anything left?  Was there anything left?

***

“Please stop here,” she said, her voice hollow.

He looked at her in the mirror.

“Here?”

“Yes.”

He pulled over and turned to look at her.

“I’ll walk from here.  Thank you.”

He nodded and opened the door for her, bowing his head slightly as she left.  He watched her as she started to walk away.

“Miss!”

She turned. 

“Do I…do I know you from somewhere?”

She smiled sadly.

“No.  No, I don’t think so.”

She turned and walked away.

***

By the time she woke up, the day had already begun to dawn.  She looked blearily at the lightening sky, then at her surroundings.  She was sitting upright on the bench, its surface cold and damp, upon which she had drifted away into a troubled sleep the night before.  Above her stood a lone weeping cherry tree, its drooping boughs laden with little pink flowers.  She smiled, then winced at the sudden pain in her chest.  Around her, the park seemed as though it had yet to stir from slumber: the hush of dawn that comes just before the first birds begin to sing.
Something was in her hand.  She stared at it.  Where had it come from?  Had she unconsciously taken it with her after putting away the photos yesterday?  She couldn’t remember.  She stared at the faces that smiled up at her.  Yūko.  Acchan.  Miichan.  Herself.  That day, the last time the four of them had been together.  This park.  This tree. 

“Hurry up, Emi!”

She looked up at the voice.  A small group of girls were running gaily towards her, one of them lagging behind.

“What’s the hurry?” the last girl called.  She was carrying an old music player under one arm.  “Our performance isn’t until tomorrow night!”

They smiled and waved at her as they ran past.  She waved back at them.  She watched them as they huffed and puffed toward the pond, collapsing in a giggling heap on the bank.  They caught their breaths, drinking noisily from bottles of water.  Then one of them, a tall girl, stood up, a serious expression on her face.

“Okay, let’s get started.  And let’s do our best for tomorrow!”

And they did.  She listened to the bright voices that filled the morning air and found herself nodding in time to them.  She watched as they practiced the moves for each song, repeatedly, until they were satisfied.  She felt the weight on her chest gradually lift, until her heart seemed light as a balloon.

(where it had all begun)

Before the final song, the tall girl paused the music and looked solemnly at the faces gathered around her.

“The last one.  Let’s…let’s make this perfect”

They nodded silently.  It was a song they had sung many times, though none of them could remember where they had first heard it.

“Okay then.”

They stood together, hand in hand. 

A collective intake of breath.

Then they began –

教室の窓辺には

her eyes widened and

うららかな陽だまり
あと僅かの春のカレンダー

she started to sing quietly with them

授業中 見渡せば
同じ制服着た
仲間たちが
大人に見える

her tears

それぞれの未来へと
旅立って行くんだね
その背中に
夢の翼が
生えてる

unable to stop 

桜の花びらたちが咲く頃
どこかで 誰かがきっと祈ってる

the years seemed to fall away

新しい世界のドアを

she looked at the photo

自分のその手で開くこと

in her hands

(we really lived, didn’t we?)

and smiled.




***

They found the old woman later that day, sitting alone on a bench in Yoyogi Park, surrounded by fallen petals.  She looked as though she were sleeping.
The little girl started crying.  Her grandfather tried to usher her aside, but she would not move.  He approached the motionless figure and knelt beside her.  He looked in puzzlement at the serene expression on her lined face.  Then he noticed she was holding something.  He carefully took it from her hand and stared at it: an old photo.  His eyes widened, his lip trembled slightly.  He looked at her again.

“Grandpa!”

He turned at the touch of the little hand on his shoulder.  A frightened face looked back at him.

“Do you know her?”

He said nothing.  The little girl pulled the photo from his unresisting fingers and stared at it.

“They’re so pretty.  Do you think they’re friends, grandpa?”

He took out a phone.  After he had made the call, he looked down at the little girl and ruffled her hair.  He took the photo and put it gently back into the woman’s hand.  Then he picked up the girl and smiled at her.


“Let me tell you a story…”




THE END
« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 12:51:56 PM by ゲキカラ »
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