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Author Topic: My Own Private Funeral  (Read 14253 times)

Offline OTN1

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My Own Private Funeral
« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2007, 02:32:49 PM »
Hahaha, I would consider doing that if I wrote the scenes and felt like they simply had to be shared.

6

"Mi... ki...?"

Uncertainty and disbelief filled her voice.

"Yeah."

"It's been a long time."  

She spoke quietly, probing for an explanation.  We had not spoken for a year for a reason.  She wanted to know why I was calling her out of the blue.

"It has."  

I felt guilty.  I could not offer an explanation.

"What... What can I do for you?"  

She became cheerful again.  All the questions were swallowed down.  She could tell I had something serious to say.  She could sense it with some special sixth sense.

"Listen, I, uh... I want to ask you some things.  Do you have time now?"

"Yes.  I don't have any appointments this morning.  What is it you want to ask?"

She had no idea what was coming.

"Eight years ago," I started, pausing to let her mind go back eight years.  "That year was a bad year, don't you think?"

I cringed at my own words.  They sounded so stupid.

I knew that she had realized what year it was I was talking about when the air between us changed for a second.  Even on the phone, I could feel her small intake of breath.

"It ended very badly, yes," she said solemnly.

"You know what I'm talking about," I said just to confirm.  

She hummed a response in the affirmative.

"I want to ask you something.  After that happened - after Aya died in that accident-" I forced myself to say it, "did I change?"

Deathly silence.

Her cheer was evidently not perpetual.  She could laugh at gunpoint, make a co-worker giggle after a break-up, make everyone look brightly into the future after a disaster, but never had I seen her able to talk about Aya's death with the same sanguine attitude with which she addressed all things in life whether depressing or joyful.

"Change?  Um..."

"Be honest.  You know I can take it," I added in before she could find some diplomatic way to answer my question without offending me.

"Yes, you did."

Her tone was resolute.  Besides being a very happy person, she was also a very determined, very firm person.  She was strong.  It may not have seemed that way on the outside, but I had gotten to know her much better since we first worked together, and I could say without a doubt that she was so much more than what met the eye at first sight.  She was more than just a pretty, sweet face.

"Was it for the better?"

A pause.

"No, it wasn't."

I knew that would be the answer.  I did not want to hear it, but I knew it was the truth.

"Did I push you away?"

"Yes, you did."

"But we were still friends, right?"

She hesitated and I swallowed.  I had thought I would have had a chance of her saying "yes."  I guess even my worst predictions had not been pessimistic enough.

"Yes," she said, uncertainty in her voice, "but we drifted apart eventually."

"Because of me."

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Pardon?"

I blinked and decided I had to stop being so cryptic.  Talking with Shibata so much was making me go a little loopy.

"Sorry.  I mean, why do you think I changed like that?  Why did I push you away?  I want it from your point of view."

It was a huge thing to ask of her, and I understood that, but I needed to hear it from an outside party.  Someone who had known me and Aya fairly well but who had not known the extent of our relationship.  Someone who was close, yet kept an arm's length away.

"Well, I always assumed that you were affected by the, um, accident.  I mean, she was your best friend."

That she was, I thought sadly.

"And then maybe other stuff happened to you.  I know that the next year was kind of hard for you with having to move and switching your job... I guess somewhere along the way, you lost touch with your old life."

It sounded reasonable.  Anybody could have told me that.  I could have gone to a shrink, told half my life story, and then had him tell me those exact same words.

"Yes, that's true, but that could happen to anybody.  What is it specifically about me?"

There was an uncomfortable pause and I realized that she knew exactly what I was asking her but was too nervous to say it.

"Be honest," I reminded her.  "I'm Miki the Blunt.  You can't topple me."

I tried to insert a bit of humour into the situation to comfort her, but it was obvious that I was just desperate to hear what she had to say.

"Honest truth?  

My silence told her "yes."

"The truth is that you've never been an easy person to get along with.  I mean, at first.  You and me... we clicked together as well as, um..."

She searched her brain for an appropriate image, having obvious difficulty.

"... as well as soap and a cookie," she finished.

I smirked.  What a silly image.  No doubt I was the soap and she was the cookie.

"Yes, I remember," I said, feeling a bit nostalgic at the mention of our past.  Our Morning Musume days...

"I know you didn't like me so much-"

"No, I never didn't like you," I protested weakly.

"Okay," she said, re-evaluating.  "Then I wasn't your favourite person."

"Hmph."

"But after a while - I mean after I grew up a bit - we got along much better."

I could not deny that.  Quite a few years had matured her and had mellowed me out.

"I think - and this is just from me observing and from trying to get to know you - that it takes a while for you to trust someone.

That was not too hard to figure out.

"And I think Aya was one of those people that you really trusted.  Like, really really.  I think she changed you a lot."

"How so?" I asked, curious to hear her opinion.

"You calmed down a lot.  You became a little easier to get along with.  You, um, got nicer..." she trailed off nervously, thinking I would chew her out for saying that.  

She picked up her courage again when I did not complain, and she kept going.

"And then when she, um, when she was gone, you got sad and then I think you just never recovered."

"What did I do?  What exactly?"

She hesitated again.

"You just seemed to lose interest in the world around you.  You seemed to not care.  You drifted away from your friends and your family.  You became obsessed with your job and your music."

She spoke as thought all of that should have been crystal clear to me.  I knew that those things had happened, but I had not noticed the scope of what had happened had been so obvious to everyone.

"And to you?  I did what?"

"To me... You seemed to lose interest in keeping in touch, to put it simply.  A few years after Aya - you know - you didn't call so much.  I always called you.  And then we had that argument a year ago."

She stopped talking.  She probably reckoned that she had dragged up enough of the past to the surface.

I thought back to the quarrel we had had.  In retrospect, it was based on something stupid and was fully my fault.  I had asked her for a professional favour, she had refused with good reasons, and I had gotten angry and lashed out.  I said some things that we both knew were not true, and we had not spoken since.

"I'm sorry about that argument," I said.  Apologies killed me, but this one felt liberating.

"I'm sorry, too.  I couldn't help you..."

I smiled because it was so typical of her to feel bad for something that was not her fault.

"No, you were doing your job," I reassured her.

"But I think you wanted that argument."

My ears perked up.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I was getting too close."

This was interesting.  She sounded determined, filled with fresh courage.

"Maybe to you, Aya was the only person you would let get that close.  Maybe you wanted to keep it like that even with her gone.  Not let anybody else have that role 'cause it was special.  Hers only."

"I, um..."

No clue what to say, I shut up and listened.  I had not expected her to be that observant.  She was like Shibata the Second.

"And maybe," she continued, on a roll, "Aya's, like, your soulmate."

"What?  Soul... huh?" I asked, starting to sweat.

"Oh, but not, like, in an icky way," she giggled and clarified.

I rolled my eyes.

"But some people find their soulmates in their best friends, you know."

I had read plenty of magazine articles about soulmates.  I was fully aware of everybody's theories on this or that or the other.  All complete nonsense.  You could not define that kind of thing on paper with words.

"So you push people away because nobody's worthy of having that place of honour."

I thought of my actions the past few years.  I thought of how the closer Shibata tried to get, the harder I pushed.  I thought of my mother complaining about how I never called just to chat like I used to.

"But you end up really sad 'cause then you have nobody, uh, to talk to."

Had I really been that self-destructive?  That stupid?

"How could one person affect me so much?" I mumbled out loud accidentally.  It was a question I sometimes I asked myself, but only myself.  Not others.

"She was special," came the reply.  "She affected all of us.  Some more than others.  I mean, look at Rika-chan."

She had a point.  Rika had taken it upon herself to improve her singing after Aya's death, inspired by the girl's life and wanting to help contribute to the world of music that Aya had loved so much.  She had come a long way over the years.  Even when she took up acting fulltime, she continued to sing.

It seems like that was what I heard from everyone - Aya had a big effect on the people around her.  Since I was around her the most, she had had the biggest effect on me.

I sighed.

"Do you think I'm a bad person?"

"Well, you're certainly not a good one!" was the reply.  "You've always been so baaaad."

She burst into a fit of giggles and then caught her breath.

"No, you're not bad.  I think you were just, um, like, misguided.  You got a little confused.  But you know what that says about you?"

"What?" I asked apprehensively, scared to hear it.

"That you're like a soft little rabbit," she announced with glee.

"Oh brother," I muttered.

"And you just act like a meanie.  But it's all a ruse!  I should've noticed that sooner when I met you."

I had to give it to her.  She could always make me laugh.  I had not laughed with so much ease in such a long time.  Years, it seemed.

"But really, no.  You're not a bad person.  I don't hate you.  I always looked up to you even though you ignored bratty little me.  You'll always be my big sister no matter how many fights we have."

Me?  Her big sister?  I never would have suspected that was what she thought of me.  She had never told me, never spoken about it in magazine interviews, never mentioned it to any of the other girls.  Her unanticipated words touched my heart, and even though that wannabe-cool-cat part inside my mind threatened me with bodily harm if I got sappy over it, I felt my eyes become a little misty.

"Thank you."

There was a pregnant pause in our conversation.  It seemed to signal the end had come.

"Now that I've helped you, you have to answer a serious question for me.  Be honest."

She sounded very serious, and I wondered if she was having issues, too.

"Of course.  Anything," I said kindly.

"Who is the cutest girl in the world??"

My face twitched and my brain went into spasms.

"You are.  Of course you," I groaned.  

Nothing like an old joke (in her case, it was not a joke) to bring us out of that mood.

"I know!  Just wanted to hear it!"

I thought of letting loose and pushing her around a bit, insulting her for fun like I used to.  But then I remembered that I was, after all, talking to one of the biggest media moguls in our country, the head of the hottest fashion magazine to ever hit the Japanese market in all of printing history, and the woman who could make or break my career with a single nod of her pigtailed head.

I settled for gratitude.

"Thanks, Shige-san.  You've helped a lot."

"You're welcome," she replied happily.  "I hope this means you'll call again before the next millennium."

"Sure," I laughed.  I meant it.

We said goodbye and we hung up.

~~~



I'm curious to know if anybody ever entertained the possibility of Sayu being the person Miki called. :lol:
I'm reiterating a lot of the things I've written before.  It's time to move on.  Go to Italy, Miki!
« Last Edit: March 12, 2007, 03:26:39 PM by OTN1 »

Offline Estrea

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« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2007, 02:49:09 PM »
Ok I'll say this first, I never expected it to be Sayu. o_o I was thinking of Rika at first. Haha. But the "cutest girl in the world" part clued me in. XD And the reference to Miki as a soft little rabbit...haha.

I really liked this chapter. Miki reminds me of myself with the whole having to hear it from a 3rd party opinion of herself. Mmm. So the next chapter is the Italy trip? Looking forward to Miki's step towards healing. I love how you are writing it, slowly and awkwardly on Miki's part as she tentatively moves towards finally moving on. Yup, you are good at this.

Write more soon, k? XD

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
- Everything Else. Too many to list.

I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline rndmnwierd

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« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2007, 06:11:20 PM »
I thought Rika first, too. Then I was like, 'Nono?' at the cookie part. And when she mentioned being the cutest, I smacked my forehead.

Offline coachie

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« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2007, 07:26:56 PM »
Woah, Shige, I would've never guessed.

For the first few sentences I thought Yossie, then at the "we didn't get along well" part Rika, then Niigaki (the brat part) a second later I thoght maybe Ai-chan, because she seems to be spending the most time Miki compared to other MM members (with their radio show and now leader-sub leader) and for the rest I thoght maybe it's Yossie after all - but Shige - surprise move! XD

Offline Amarghetta

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« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2007, 07:39:23 PM »
I had no clue it could be Sayu, lol. But since she's harmless enough, it makes sense.

[And well, she's listed as your interest in your profile... ]
« Last Edit: March 12, 2007, 07:42:28 PM by Amarghetta »

Offline len.chan

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« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2007, 09:09:08 PM »
Sayu!
never imagined it could be her. That "Who is the cutest girl in the world??" cleared up everything XDXDXD

you know.. there's a silly idea in my mind...
Miki's going to take a plane to Italy, same as Aya did eight years ago.. So, we have that side history that you wrote before about Aya waking up one day and finding that Miki had disappeared. Then she goes to Hokkaido to find an another Miki who didn't know her and blah blah blah...
So.. here's my point (silly point XD) what if fate wants to give them a second chance and makes crash Miki's plane too? Then the Universe could reorganize their lives; put Miki in Hokkaido working in a restaurat, make them meet again and live happily ever after.. XDXDXD
god.. I should go back to my own fic.. XD

Offline Yuuyami

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« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2007, 10:57:21 PM »
What the HELL o___o;

OTN1! You tricky bastard! I thought this was only a oneshot! Until I noticed how you were getting more and more pages which definitely signaled to me "Otn1 doesn't get THAT many reviews for a oneshot!" Until I seriously looked and BAM! Series! o______o;

Alright. Let's begin the summary review :]

Yet again, you never cease to astound me with your emotional driven words. And for the first time, I actually got teary eyed, and a few tears fell from reading this story; a first for you really xD I thought I saw a little of your influence on Miki's character when she was talking to Sayumi on the phone. I thought so too about her haha, how she may seem like a narcissist extraordinaire, but she really is a capable person to look up to, seeing how she is Koharu's mentor, and her psychological tests (especially the recent one) seem to say the same thing we say about her too, haha.

As for my obligatory prediction:

I can see that Ayumi is scheming as usual. Not in a bad way, but I can tell that she really wants Miki to get over herself, and had suggested (Or rather, force) her into going to Italy for the sake of the "final ablution"(sp?) as I would call it. In other words, where Miki gets hippy and finally realizes for good that what she had done in the past years moping. I guess that's where the title also comes to play, for Miki will probably set her moping side of her to rest. But then, this is just a prediction of what I think you might be doing in the future, as you seem like the kind of person to pursue that route for this kind of story.

Now. Write more, or I shall bestow the honor of my whip upon you, m'dear.

:]

Love your writing so freaking much! -glomps-

Offline JFC

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« Reply #47 on: March 13, 2007, 04:25:24 AM »
Quote
I remembered that I was, after all, talking to one of the biggest media moguls in our country, the head of the hottest fashion magazine to ever hit the Japanese market in all of printing history, and the woman who could make or break my career with a single nod of her pigtailed head.
Sayu??? :shocked:

Heh, goes to show how while they might be ditzy when they're young, it doesn't mean they don't have a head for the business. :yep:


Quote
"I always looked up to you even though you ignored bratty little me. You'll always be my big sister no matter how many fights we have."

Me? Her big sister? I never would have suspected that was what she thought of me. She had never told me, never spoken about it in magazine interviews, never mentioned it to any of the other girls. Her unanticipated words touched my heart, and even though that wannabe-cool-cat part inside my mind threatened me with bodily harm if I got sappy over it, I felt my eyes become a little misty.

"Thank you."
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.:baa60776:

JPH!P :heart:'s Fushigidane, ChrNo, Jab & marimari. Always.

Offline OTN1

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« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2007, 02:02:20 PM »
I suspected many people would expect it to be Rika, and I toyed with the idea for a few seconds before I had my moment of revelation.  Sayu would be a nice change, and Amarghetta has done his/her research well.   I like Sayu very much, and since it's my story... Hahaha.  It's my reward.

len.chan, that would be quite the story!  But I'm not sure I want to turn this story into such a SciFi-ish deal like that strange other-dimension story (Ayaya @Hokkaido.miki, or whatever it was called) was.  This is about as technical as I will get: Different versions of realities exist.  In the case of Aya getting thrown into that "different dimension," travelling to Hokkaido and meeting Miki II, and then getting thrown back to Tokyo and to Miki I, that was just like the universe hiccupping and getting a few wires crossed, but it still counts as reality because it really happened (I don't know how it works since I'm not a scientist).  In all other cases (Aya dying in a plane crash, etc.) that was also reality.  Just a different one.
This is a not-so-cleverly-disguised disclaimer.  If anyone questions my version of events, I will simply cite the "we're dealing with an infinite number of realities, so anything can happen!" argument and then I can't be sued for confusing people. :lol:

It took me over 45 minutes to write the above.  It just wouldn't come out sounding right.  I'm not good with mthinking in that scifi-ish vein.

At times like this, I ask myself one question: WWSD?  (What would Sayu do?)

And the answer is: talk about hair ties for 45 minutes instead.

Yuuyami, it was supposed to be a "oneshot," but when have I ever been able to stop after just one page?  Haha!

Quote from: JFC;328017
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.:baa60776:
Yeah. :oops:

The next chapter is not finished.  It's a little strange.  That's all I'll say for now.

Offline Amarghetta

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« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2007, 05:44:11 PM »
Quote from: OTN1;328296
I suspected many people would expect it to be Rika, and I toyed with the idea for a few seconds before I had my moment of revelation.  Sayu would be a nice change, and Amarghetta has done his/her research well.   I like Sayu very much, and since it's my story... Hahaha.  It's my reward.


Ha, at least you didn't think I'm a cop! [It happened to me once, in other forum... Lol!]  

I figured it had to be a reward of sorts, or a whim maybe. It's your story, your world, your rules... and if you want your fave girl to be there, then she'll be there! XD I tended to do the same, he.

And just for the record, I'm a she.

Offline OTN1

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« Reply #50 on: March 14, 2007, 04:05:21 PM »
This was one of my favourite chapters to write, but I have to admit that it's way out of my league.


7

And so that was what propelled me towards Italy.  Talking to the self-proclaimed cutest girl in the world had given me that final push.

It cost me a lot, and not just money.  I had to take one week off from work, my manager was furious (although perhaps more perplexed about my sudden desire for a vacation), and my co-workers were all jealous.  I battled my way through it, shamelessly reminding them all that I had just secured for our group a re-contracting agreement from the biggest companies we did business with, also reminding them that I was the uncontested star of our company and that if I wanted a rest, I would get it.  Nobody could disagree with that.  I hated to play the diva, but this was important.

Or so I thought.

The minute I set foot on the plane, all my doubts hit me.

All that was for what?  Wandering around in a foreign country all alone and ripe for getting mugged.  Not to mention being in the same place where Aya died.  If anything, this was going to depress me, not make me feel better.

How did I let Shibata talk me into this?

I asked myself this question twenty thousand times.  I spiralled back down into that dark tunnel where nothing was sure.

By the end of the second week of November, I stood on a quiet street corner in Rome, a map in one hand and nothing in the other, trying to find my way to the famous Trevi Fountain.

Rome was, simply put, breathtaking.  The history that lived in the streets was overwhelming.  It seemed like there was more in one neighbourhood of Rome than there was in all of Japan.

I could not find this famous fountain.  It was supposed to be easy to find huge tourist sites.  All one had to do was follow the hoards of people.  But somehow I had wandered off and gotten lost.  In a huff and feeling very lonely, I turned down a wide, empty street and walked into the first church I saw, Shibata's words of advice echoing in my head.

"If you get lost, find a church.  Church people are usually nice.  You're guaranteed hospitality.  Just point out on your map where you want to go and they'll know how to get there.  They're helpful that way."

The church was devoid of any signs of life, and my footsteps echoed loudly in the cavernous room.  It had looked so small from the outside.  It seemed as if I had willingly walked into the belly of a camouflaged beast.  The dim lighting did nothing to help.

I approached "the main part of the church where all the things were. "  I did not know the name, but it had all those statues, a stand from where the preaching was done, and a bunch of candles and other decorations.  On the back wall, there was a huge sculpture of a barely-dressed Christ hanging on a cross, his head slumped to the side.  I shuddered at the thought of dying like that and wondered why people would want to hang that grim sculpture in an otherwise pretty church.

Dazzled by this close-up view, I did not notice that someone else was in the church with me.  He must have come from the back.  I noticed his presence beside me suddenly, and my heart jumped in fear.

"Good afternoon," he said in a deep, rich voice, speaking the only Italian word I knew (not including food-related words.  I knew my pastas and my meats).

I tried not to gape.  The man standing beside me was a handsome priest.  He was tall, had broad shoulders, a well-defined jaw, could not have been much older than me I, and, possibly the most captivating thing of all, he looked Japanese.

"Ah... um... I’m..." I stuttered, unable to recall any of the useful phrases from my Italian guidebook.

"How can I help you?" he asked with a warm smile.  He spoke in fluent, accent-free Japanese.

"Yo-you're Japanese?" I asked in surprise.  He nodded, his smile still on his face.

"I..." the words would not come.  What was a Japanese man doing dressed as a priest in a Roman Catholic Church in Rome?

"I'm lost," I blurted out.

"I can see," he chuckled.  "Where are you going?"

I brought out my map and pointed to the area I was trying to find.

"Ah, Fontana di Trevi."

I nodded.

"Now let's see.  Where are we...?"

He studied the map as I stared at him brazenly, wondering how he had come to be here.  He looked up without warning and caught my eyes.  I looked away casually.

"You're wondering what I'm doing here playing priest."

I looked back at him and I did not apologise for my actions, although I did feel a bit bad for prying.  I was definitely guilty as charged.

"I grew up in a small village along Osaka Bay," he said, ploughing through my shame in a move that surprised me.  I wondered if I was about to get a full life story.  "My parents were strict Buddhists, but I knew I wasn't meant to follow in their footsteps.  I had always been enthralled by the Italian language and the Catholic Church," he said

He gestured to the grand church we stood in and I took a cursory look before he continued.

"My calling was to study and teach the words of God, and so that's what I worked towards."

"But how did you end up here in Rome?" I asked, bewildered.

He smiled at my curiosity, but his smile carried some sort of weight to it.  It was not entirely happy.

"A terrible tragedy eight years ago," he said softly.

My heart skipped a few beats.  Well aware of the pain it caused to speak of tragedy, but my mind suddenly alert, I probed.

"What kind of tragedy?"

"Eight years ago, my younger sister was caught in a terrible plane crash on her way from Japan," he explained quietly.

My heart stopped.  I felt weak.

"There were no survivors and I was unable to bury her body.  She wasn't Catholic, but she left everything up to me in her will.  She trusted me more than anyone else in the world."

He took a deep breath and clasped his hands behind him, looking at the crucified Jesus.

"So I came here to serve God and the people.  To watch over this land that my sister had died in.  To be close to the place where she spent her final moments on Earth.  It was the anniversary of her passing a few weeks ago," he finished with a sad smile.

I swallowed down my fear and disbelief at this utter coincidence, and suddenly, without warning, I started to speak.

"I lost a friend in a, um, plane crash in the Alps eight years ago," I said.  He looked at me in surprise.  "She was coming here from Japan.  She was very important.  She was like a sister to me."

We looked at each other for a moment.  It had to be the same plane crash.  Commercial airline planes did not have a habit of frequently crashing into the Italian Alps.  Certainly not more than once within the same few weeks.  Our dates seemed to match up.

"When did-" he started to ask.

"October," I jumped in quickly.  "October twenty-sixth in Japan.  Twenty-fifth in Italy."

He smiled unexpectedly.

"It seems God has brought us together.  I have never met any of the other families or friends of the poor victims on board that plane."

I smiled nervously.  I was sure his god had nothing to do with it, but I did not want to be rude.

"Tell me about your friend.  This sister of yours."

I took a breath to ease my mind.  It was all going by so quickly.

"She loved music," I started.  "She was very dedicated to her job, but also to her family and her friends.  She worked hard and never cut corners.  She was confident in herself.  She believed in me..." I trailed off.

Speaking in the past tense made something inside me ache.  It started as a dull pain, but it grew worse and worse.

"Everyone around her loved her so much.  And then she was torn away from us."

The priest kept his silence.  I looked down at the wooden floor, thinking about the last day I had seen Aya, thinking about the last words we spoke to each other.

"See you, Miki."

"Take care, Aya."


The last time I had ever heard her voice.

Stupid Aya, I thought.  You didn't take care...

Why could I not stop this torture?  It was driving me to the brink.

I let my words slip out.

"I miss her."

"I understand completely."

The priest put a hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently.  At that moment, nothing else in the world existed but us.  We stood at the front of the sanctuary of one of the world's most powerful religions, this stranger touching me, both of us sharing sad memories.  I did not shy away from him because I felt like he was the only one who could understand me.  I let him hold my shoulder and enjoyed this human contact.  No questions of indecency between priest and visitor were raised, no cries of sexual harassment were heard.  Those were childish, irrelevant things that we were beyond at that moment in time.

"What was your little sister like?" I asked.

"She was bright and cheerful and had a rogue streak you would never believe possible."

He flashed me a smile and I chuckled.  It was nice that he could talk about her so easily.

"She always had to question authority.  She was not God-fearing like me, but she never questioned my path.  She loved me very much, and I returned that sentiment fully.  She was my best friend.  The one human who really understood me."

"Sounds like me and Aya," I said nostalgically.  "Uh, except neither of us are - were - God-fearing," I amended quickly.

"Aya was her name?  My sister's name was Naomi."

"Naomi," I repeated reverently.  I felt like I had just been privy to a secret that only the worthy were meant to know.

I studied the large podium at the front for a bit before I decided to ask.

"Are you still sad?"

"Hmm, that's a hard question," he said thoughtfully.  He crossed his arms.  "Of course I miss her, and the memory of her death isn't a happy one, but I've made peace.  I've accepted her passing.  She’s in a better place now."

"How did you get over it?" I asked shakily, hoping to find a miracle cure. A magic word that I could say to erase all the pain.

He smiled secretively at me.

"My boss helped me," he said.

"Your boss?" I asked, befuddled.  How could a boss help him get over the death of a family member?

He nodded, smiled, and pointed up.  I followed his finger with my eyes, looking up and expecting to see someone standing on a balcony up above.  However, his finger pointed to an indistinguishable spot on the ceiling.  Beyond the ceiling. I realized what he meant.

"I see."

"She is with Him now.  He will take care of her for me.  I'm greatly comforted by that."

He looked absolutely convinced, and I sighed in my mind.  He had his religion to help him, but that kind of thing was not for me.

"Shall we say a prayer for the souls of our sisters?  Come," the priest said

He led me to the front.  I followed, shocked by the bizarre request.

He knelt down, so I copied him, kneeling beside him carefully.  He clasped his hands together and closed his eyes.  Out of respect, I did the same.

We kneeled there for eternity.  I did not pray, but I did think about what I was doing there.

Easy.  Shiba-chan sent me.

... No, that's not it exactly
.

Maybe I had secretly wanted to come here all along.  Maybe I had hidden that fact even from myself.  Maybe by seeing the mountains that killed my number one, most important, most loved and treasured person, I would somehow be healed.  I could move on.

Maybe that would work.  

I decided on that.  If I saw the mountains, I could be healed.

I'm not here to forget Aya.  I'm just here to... to tuck her in.

I smiled at the image.  Cute Aya in her silly pyjamas that were not one bit sexy but that she looked so hot in, especially when she rolled over sleepily in the morning and they hung a bit loosely on her as her eyes opened slowly, her expression looking almost sultry in its laziness... The impish look she got when she saw me already awake and watching her wake up with a grin that spoke of both the appreciation I felt for being able to start yet another great day in a great life and all the different ways I could think of to say good morning...

I opened my eyes quickly to banish any further thoughts.  I was not Catholic, but it still felt wrong to lust after a now dead girl while kneeling at the front of a church with a kindly priest at my side praying for his younger sister's soul.

I looked sideways at him, but he was still praying.  I closed my eyes again.  I decided it would not hurt to express my gratitude to the people closest to me now.  Speaking in my mind, I thanked my family and my friends, Shiba-chan especially.  Then I thanked Aya.  I would not be half the person I was without her.

I opened my eyes and the priest was looking at me.

"Would you like to join our church?" he asked.

"Uh, me?" I asked, startled.  "Oh, well, it's a bit... I'm only visiting for a few... uh..."

His laughter echoed throughout the room.

"It was a bit of a joke.  You seemed so involved in your prayer."

I flushed and looked up at the front again.  This place was not for me, but I had found something important during this odd interlude: quiet and kindness.  This place was silent and this man was gentle.  It had been a good pause for me.  I had been able to regroup and hear all my thoughts clearly.  And I had found out what to do in order to have a chance at coming to terms with my loss.

"Where is the mountain the plane crashed into?" I asked, my words a cold dagger in the warmth of the church.

The man looked at me gravely, and then without asking for my reasons, he wrote down the exact location of the site.

"These directions will take you to the base of the mountain at the front of the section the plane crashed into."

With a trembling hand, I took the paper from him.  It was written in Italian and Japanese.

I read the name of the place and was filled with a memory.  I had read the name once long ago, but I had pushed it out of my memory.  I had not wanted to hear it ever again.

"I hope you can find the peace you're looking for," he spoke slowly.  "I will pray for you and for the soul of your sister."

That was the best kind of encouragement that could come from a holy man like him.

"Thank you."

I stood admiring the decorations some more when the priest waved something in front of my face.  It was my map.

"By the way, I found the best route," he said.

I had forgotten all about my quest to find the Trevi Fountain.  I almost did not want to go anymore.  I wanted to go up to the north and seek out these mountains.  I forced myself to be patient.  The mountains would still be there the next day.

The priest showed me the simple way (a straight line, really), and he walked me to the door.  I thanked him for his time and help.  He reached into his pockets and pulled out something rectangular-shaped.  A business card.

"If you're ever back in Rome, come visit again.  Or if you need to talk to somebody, drop me a line.  That's my work e-mail address."

I gaped at this tiny card that proved I knew nothing.  I had no idea priests carried business cards, let alone had e-mail accounts.  I had always assumed that church people all wore brown robes, lived in bare cells, ate only bread and drank only water, and spoke in an archaic language.

I studied his card.  "Hiroshi Arai" and "Roma" were the only words I understood.  That was enough, though.  I scrambled to get one of my own cards.  I had two left, so I handed him one.

"You're interested in music, too?" he asked immediately, recognising the music label.  I was surprised.  It was a relatively small company.

"Yeah.  I'm a singer," I replied simply.

His face burst into a beautiful, radiant smile.

"Keep the music alive.  If that's what your friend loved, carry it on for her."

I was filled with warmth by his caring, and with a bow, I walked off, away from this small, unknown church and back towards the bustling crowds.

I felt renewed.  I had a new purpose.  I was no longer afraid of being here in this country.  The pull of the mountains, a pull that I had resisted for all this time, now had a hold on me.

I resolved to head up there the first thing next morning.

~~

disclaimer: I don't know much about religion in general.  What I know about the behaviour of priests and of "church people" is from watching movies and TV and reading books.  I'm sorry if what I've written is unrealistic... although I can't imagine it would be offensive to anyone... would it?  Aah.  I just wanted to try something I've never tried before.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2007, 12:40:36 PM by OTN1 »

Offline Estrea

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« Reply #51 on: March 14, 2007, 04:26:50 PM »
Ahhh, a good chapter. I like the priest. Such a coincidence, eh?

...and you included Miki's lack of a sense of direction. XD Love your writing, love the story. Keep it up! :)

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
- Everything Else. Too many to list.

I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline Amarghetta

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« Reply #52 on: March 14, 2007, 07:12:04 PM »
Neither I know much about church people, so I can't say much about that. Yet I liked the pace of the chapter, it was really nice.

Offline rndmnwierd

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« Reply #53 on: March 14, 2007, 10:43:37 PM »
Beautifully written.

Offline marsan13

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« Reply #54 on: March 15, 2007, 01:12:51 AM »
Is sad...but beautiful. :heart:

You are an artist.

Offline Amarghetta

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« Reply #55 on: March 15, 2007, 03:45:45 AM »
So, esentially, the curse can only be lifted if the girls don't try to get rid of it? Interesting...

Offline iacus

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« Reply #56 on: March 15, 2007, 10:57:17 AM »
Wonderfully written. And I would disagree, I think it's well within your league.

Offline Sukoshi

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« Reply #57 on: March 15, 2007, 12:13:47 PM »
I just caught up reading the last two chapters.  The Sayu chapter is my fav so far.  It was a bit of a breather from the sadness.  At first I couldn't figure out that it was Sayu..well I had a slight feeling it might be her but it took me until the rabbit part for it to fully click.  Ah I love Sayu so the chapter was rewarding to me as well =)

The last chapter felt a little different with the change of scenery so now that things are in motion I wonder what will happen next.

Offline Mikan

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« Reply #58 on: March 15, 2007, 03:47:31 PM »
Why?! WHY DO I TORTURE MYSELF WITH UR WORDS?!

Btw, its lovely and I look forward to seeing the end of this wonderful story

Read the complete Doki Doki!!

Offline OTN1

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« Reply #59 on: March 16, 2007, 10:32:55 AM »
Because you secretly love sappy angst, and that's my specialty!
Quote from: Estrea;329161
Ahhh, a good chapter. I like the priest. Such a coincidence, eh?
Yes, quite the "coincidence."  Did you check out his name?  Another (much more subtle) "coincidence" maybe? .... :lol:

I've written the end of this story.  Now I have to write up all the stuff that happens in between.  I've decided on my plan and I'm sticking to it so far.  I might surprise myself, though.

On an important note: Sukoshi, I'm glad that you like Sayu!

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