“I’m sorry. I’m still really scared. Please, don’t say anything to Mama.”
“You’re still scared huh…”
It was already halfway through September. The amount of rain had increased, announcing the coming of fall.
On this day, I was biting my lips as I sat in front of the open notebook.
Two days before, I discovered that Hikari Yumesaki’s time limit was cut down by thirty minutes. I couldn’t help worrying, but all I could do was feel anxious, and I couldn’t come up with any ideas. After racking my brain for a while, I decided that I would just write about the current situation as it is into the notebook. At the same time, I also included this:
“We should probably tell everything to Ms. Hinako. We should tell her everything; that you’re still alive, the reason behind your death, and that your time left was reduced by thirty minutes. We can’t fix anything, at least she can still help by supporting us. In fact, she still thinks that you committed suicide. It’s time to fix this misunderstanding.”
Ms. Hinako, Hikari Yumesaki’s mother.
The truth is, I’ve written many similar journal entries over the summer. But for some reason, Hikari Yumesaki was afraid, and as time passed by, she never visited Ms. Hinako. I mean really, just what are you so afraid of? Although it’ll take a lot of work to get Ms. Hinako to believe us, Kazeshiro already believes us, so if we just talk it out, Ms. Hinako will most likely understand too.
“Please. I’ll definitely go see Mama eventually, but please just give me some more time. In fact, I’m fine! It’s just thirty minutes! I’ll just treat these thirty minutes as gift to Sakamoto so he can have more time for studying, and if I think about it like this, then there’s nothing to worry about!”
“Still acting brave huh.”
Seeing the journal entry, it looks like she’s still pretty energetic, but no matter how I think about it, this is probably all an act.
Even I was agitated, when I learned of this two days ago. If I could, I would definitely try to find someone who I could vent out all of my anxieties and frustrations. We were already spending restless days together, so why this too?
I couldn’t help but throw a tantrum, even though that wouldn’t solve anything.
I quickly called up Kazeshiro, and once again, we went around trying to solve the problem. Despite this, we didn’t have the slightest clue of where to look. Hikari Yumesaki must have felt our sense of unease, and that’s why she’s purposely pretending to be energetic in her journal entry.
“The thing is, the time problem…”
From five minutes to thirty minutes, Hikari Yumesaki’s time was constantly being reduced. Although I don’t want to think about it, if her time continues to be reduced, Hikari Yumesaki could completely disappear after some time. Can that idiot really endure this kind of situation? Not only her, can I endure it too?
We didn’t find any clues, or any solutions. Although I don’t want to think too much about it, I think it’s time that we accept reality. We also shouldn’t go too far in thinking about what might happen.
Because of this, I wanted to let her apologize to Ms. Hinako directly. To apologize for her death, and for not seeing Ms. Hinako, hoping that she would spend her remaining time with Ms. Hinako. This wasn’t just for Hikari Yumesaki, but it was also the best course of action for Ms. Hinako. The problem was that Hikari Yumesaki is really hesitant right now. As such, I once asked her if I could go see Ms. Hinako in her place, and then…
“Well good night, Sakamoto….I know that I’ve already said this so many times, but please keep this a secret from Mama. I’ll definitely go see her one day. I’m fine.”
“Are you sure…?”
The journal entry ended with this line. Since she said so, there was no choice left.
“But still, I need to think of something.”
I raised the notebook towards the morning sun, and could faintly make out erased traces of pencil marks. And when I traced out the marks——
Written there were these words.
Lonely. Lonely huh? Losing five minutes was nothing, but now thirty minutes was reduced.
It was during the incident with Misaki when I was reminded that Hikari Yumesaki was dead. She was treated as dead by everyone. Nobody, absolutely nobody, will call her name. No matter how loud she yells, there is only a guy named Akitsuki Sakamoto standing here. Nobody recognized Hikari Yumesaki’s, and she basically didn’t exist in this world. Even if an hour, or even two hours, was taken away from her remaining time, and in the end she disappeared…The world would remain the same. So for her, she probably felt lonely in this kind of world. However, there are a few people who could cure her loneliness——like Ms. Hinako, but…”
“I got to do something…”
I couldn’t understand why Hikari Yumesaki was so hesitant to see her own mother.
But if there was an opportunity…
If there was an opportunity for Hikari Yumesaki to overcome her fear, to reunite with her mom, then she’ll definitely go see Ms. Hinako personally. I’d better come up with a plan, no matter what I have to do.
After deciding on my goal, I changed my clothes, and headed out under the cloudy sky.
Ah, it’s hot even though it was cloudy. How depressing.
I roamed as though I was lost at the crosswalks of life, and took a long route towards the watermelon field near the path from school. I was lost, but what I had to do in the end of important.. Aimlessly wandering around is one of life’s pleasures; As for what I want to say? I wasn’t too sure either. The uneasiness in my heart was already muddling with my head.
Before long, I was standing in front of the intercom at the Yumesakis’ home, my heart filled with dread.
What so I say to Ms. Hinako anyway? I was looking for Ms. Hinako so that I could change Hikari Yumesaki’s feelings, but will the awkward me be able to find that excuse?
I hesitated outside the door for a long time.
I’ll probably screw things up. The people passing by, who see me standing in front of the house with a conflicted look on my face, are all giving me a surprised look. In fact, the number of onlookers was continuing to increase——Ah, not good! The onlookers are whispering. Hey, stop! Who are you going to call!?
“I have no choice, I’ll just have to bite the bullet.”
I took a deep breath, and rang the doorbell.
“Com~ing☆I’ll be right there~~~”
Before the doorbell finished ringing, a voice had already answered back. What the crap? That’s was way too fast.
I had such a thought as the sliding door entrance slid open with a rattling sound. Standing behind the door was Ms. Hinako, her young and pretty looks that would never lead one to think that she had a daughter in high school.
“Teehee, I was wondering who it was, and it turns out to be Sakamoto! Wel~come!”
“Please come in~. There there, hurry up and come in! The trick to enacting an afternoon drama is to not let anyone else find out!”
“W-What are you saying, aunty!?”
Ms. Hinako giggled at my panicked expression. Sigh, she’s just as always, so energetic. Although I don’t quite understand how she was so cheerful.
But never mind my doubts. Ms. Hinako took me into the living room, and then busily ran out, quickly returning with a ripened watermelon.
A watermelon that was cut in half, and even some spoons.
Woah, are we going to eat all of that?
“Ah, not good, I have to make some tea.”
As she said that, she quickly stepped out of the living room once again. Why do I feel like this hectic appearance was similar to how Hikari Yumesaki would have acted, even though I’ve never met her before?
While I zoned out, a small, black cat with gray eyes came from behind the sliding door, inspected my face, and then walked to my side. If I remember correctly, this cat was named Adam. Some name that is.
Now that I finally met Adam, I couldn’t help but rub his neck and tease him. Suddenly, I had a strange feeling course through my mind, and I looked up to check my surroundings.
What’s with this feeling. It feels unusual.
The living room looked more empty than the last time I visited. There were less things, as if they had been put away——
“Sorry for the long wait. Here.”
“Oh, thank you.”
——While I was looking around, Ms. Hinako came back again holding a tray, breaking my stream of thoughts. She sat across from me, and poured me a cup of barley tea. Iced, great.
“Playing with Adam? He’s really cute right?”
“Yeah, but I don’t really get his name.”
“Teehee, that’s the name of my favorite band’s lead singer. The band’s name is ‘Eden’. They’ve been appearing on TV a lot recently, right?”
Ms. Hinako said with a smile. So that’s how this weird name came about. It’s quite a surprise, seeing how Ms. Hinako was so trendy.
“Leaving that aside, how’s the watermelon?”
“Yeah, it’s delicious.”
“Can you finish all of it?”
“Uh, sure. I’ll try my best.”
I should be able to finish it all if I try. Besides, it’ll be embarrassing if there are leftovers.
“Teehee, I couldn’t help but remember when Hikari-chan was still alive. Every time I asked her, ‘How much watermelon do you want?’ she would always energetically reply, ‘One half!’”
Ms. Hinako suddenly brought up a topic I had difficulty talking about.
“There’s plenty left. Keep eating..”
Ms. Hinako continued to eagerly talk with me as I ate the watermelon. How should I go about bringing up the topic later on? What kind of opportunity will make Hikari Yumesaki start to talk to Ms. Hinako…um…
I tried to come up with something, but not the slightest idea came up. In that moment, Ms. Hinako spoke directly to me again.
“You’re such a reliable person, Akitsuki. It’s fine for you to come by and play again.”
“There’s no need, I’m not a kid anymore.”
“What are you saying, aren’t high school students still kids? Huhu, still trying to keep your pride.”
Seeing my response, Ms. Hinako could only smile. So it looks like I’m still just a kid to you huh.
Even though I’m the eldest child in my family, and I have to take care of my little sister and be partners with that idiot——
“Don’t be afraid to ask me for help, okay?”
Suddenly, her young and bubbly voice enveloped the table, filled with warmth and sympathy.
“You’re still just a child, so you don’t have to go on a wild goose chase by yourself. It’s alright to ask others for help. In fact, it’s not just children, even adults can’t live without help from others.”
W-What is she suddenly saying? What’s the point of this?
She paused for a moment, and then proceeded to say——
“If there’s something troubling you, then talk about it. I could see it from here you know. You came to the watermelon field several times over the summer, and hesitantly walked back and forth, right?”
Walked back and forth…in the watermelon field?
What happened? Hold on, I don’t remember doing any of this.
“You’re always flipping through your notebook and staring at it, right? I could see it through the window. You were holding it tightly, muttering something. Huhu, what kind of magical spells are in there?”
That idiot… I pictured the scene that Ms. Hinako described in my mind. and gulped. So that’s how it was.
It looks like I misunderstood. I thought that idiot——Hikari Yumesaki——was always too scared, and didn’t do anything. I had felt like she was pathetic and spineless, like she was just afraid.
But in reality, that wasn’t true. It looks like she was trying her best when I wasn’t aware of it, trying to come see Ms. Hinako. Just one step, she was missing that one final step of courage.
“That’s why I was really happy when I saw you come over today. Hoho, you finally mustered up the courage. There’s something that you want to say to me, right?”
“Ah, no. Not anymore. Today was already——”
“Oh is that so, what a shame…”
Although her voice carried a sense of sadness, she didn’t ask any further, and instead smiled towards me.
So that’s why, I was wondering how she could answer the door so quickly, and it turns out that she was waiting for me. That’s why she was so cheerful, so overjoyed.
“What the crap… so you were trying your best huh.”
So Hikari Yumesaki was actually trying to rely on her own strength to come here, and upon learning this, I couldn’t help but let out a snicker.
Although I didn’t accomplish anything by coming here, knowing that Hikari Yumesaki had this kind of feeling was already a huge gain. The reason why she repeatedly told me not to say anything turned out to be that she wanted to tell Ms. Hinako herself. Really now, I’ve come all this way, but I guess just seeing Ms. Hinako will do. Still though, this was very much like her way of doing things.
This knowledge allowed me to relieve my worries. After taking a deep breath, the tension in my shoulders also loosened, and I raised my head towards the ceiling——
“Hmm? What is it, Akitsuki?”
Suddenly, a thought ran through my mind.
“Can I see a picture of Hikari for a second?”
I asked Ms. Hinako.
Last time I was here, she once let me see a photo album of Hikari Yumesaki growing up. I remembered that there was picture in there of Hikari Yumesaki and Ms. Hinako together. I can’t say for sure that the picture will be enough of a reason, but if there was a moment of love and amity taken in that picture, then perhaps it will touch Hikari Yumesaki, spurring her to go see Ms. Hinako.
“Excuse me, give me a moment.”
This may help us fix the current situation, even if just by a little bit. I held onto my hope, and bowed my head towards Ms. Hinako in a pleading manner.
Ms. Hinako’s response was shaky and hesitant.
She weakly put on a smile, and a shadow fell upon her face. And from those heavy lips, what she said was——
“I’m sorry, that photo album is no longer here.”
Her unexpected reply made me draw back my breath.
“That album is no longer here…”
No no no, what are you talking about? That can’t be true.
You clearly cherished that album so much, so how did it disappear? Y-You’re kidding right? You’re teasing me right?
“……Did something happen?”
Ms. Hinako didn’t respond, but I couldn’t just leave it at that.
It was probably because she felt that we couldn’t go on with such ambiguity, but she put on a slight smile, and raised her head.
“…That child’s father.”
Father? I remember Hikari Yumesaki saying that her parents were divorced——
“Ever since the funeral, he’s always been causing quite a ruckus. During the time that he was home, he even yelled quite furiously at me. Saying that Hikari-chan’s death was all my fault.”
“At that time…the photo album, and everything that contained memories of Hikari-chan was taken away by him.”
I gasped. No matter how I looked at it, I could only feel sadness coming from Ms. Hinako’s smile. Seeing Ms. Hinako in such a state, my mind fell into disorder, the trapped air burning my lungs. If what she said was true…
When I looked around, I had felt like this room was unusually empty.
The certificate that was adorned on a plaque, and the drawing that was taped to the wall.
Perhaps, everything that was left from when Hikari Yumesaki was still alive…was all…
I thought of the journal entry from before, where Hikari Yumesaki talked about how hard it was to live with divorced parents.
That father is now——
“Are you kidding me——!?”
“Akitsuki, don’t get angry. What he said wasn’t wrong.”
I couldn’t help but let my emotions get the better of me, and Ms. Hinako quickly spoke out to stop me.
“It’s my fault. That was…my responsibility.”
“I’ve already talked to you before about that child’s past right?”
I remember you said something about how she was always soft and quick to cry.
“He always hated Hikari-chan’s softness… He’s not a very patient person, so his demands from Hikari-chan were quite strict. Although he wouldn’t physically harm Hikari-chan, he would always chide Hikari-chan loudly, especially when it came to her discipline. In fact, what he was doing was right. Everything he said was also undoubtedly right. But…I couldn’t bare seeing that child cry so hard every day.”
“Then one day, after I had an argument with that man, I too began to cry just like a child. That became the reason for our divorce. After the divorce, I painstakingly took custody of Hikari-chan. But the days after that happened were truly difficult. Everytime Hikari-chan looked like she wanted to cry, I could only just hold onto her. I had originally planned on steeling myself and be strict on her, but now that I look back on it, I was always pampering her. Even so, raising that child was a very enjoyable experience. I could see a different expression on her face every day. Like——”
Ms. Hinako suddenly smiled at something.
“Akitsuki, it’s almost time for the Mid-Autumn Festival, isn’t it?”
“Huh? Oh, really…?”
“That’s right. It’ll be on September 25th this year.”
The topic of our conversation was abruptly changed.
So that’s how it is huh, the Mid Autumn is almost here. If I remember correctly, the date changes each year.
“In the past, every year during the time of the Mid Autumn, I would take Hikari-chan to the mountain behind Hyoudou Elementary School to see the moon. We would make some onigiri before we head out, and we would talk about her day as we gazed at the moon. It was on those special days that I would tell her stories from when I was younger. Romance stories and such.”
Ms. Hinako closed her eyes in nostalgia, and softly spoke.
“Although, it often rains during the middle of autumn. There was one time when she was in elementary school that we couldn’t go because of the rain, and all of her hopeful expectations turned into tears. Truly heartbreaking. Ever since then, whenever the Mid Autumn was approaching, she would make a lot of teru teru bozu. The whole house would be filled with teru teru bozu of various expressions. Teehee, I don’t know if that child realized her mistake or not, but she probably confused the mid-autumn festival with Tanabata. She even wrote the paper slips and hang them onto the teru teru bozu, saying something like, ‘If we write our wish now, then the moon will grant them for us! Mommy, you write them too!’ Funny right?”
Oh. So that’s why my room was completely filled with teru teru bozu.
I could faintly imagine what happened. Even if she realized her mistake, she would wrongly respond to her mistake with something like, “This is Hikari-chan’s version of the mid-autumn festival,” and then she would continue making a set of teru teru bozu.
“As a result, I wrote, ‘I wish Hikari-chan will always be happy,’ and she immediately said, ‘You have to write something besides my happiness!’ so for the next one I wrote, ‘I wish for a beautiful flower,’ and then that child bought a beautiful flower for me. I don’t even know where she learned that from. She even said, ‘It’s not like I bought this for Mommy or anything!’ and so I teased her, and asked who she bought it for then. She immediately showed a look of embarrassment on her face. It was so cute. Ever since then, each year before the arrival of the Mid Autumn we would always write our wishes on the teru teru bozu. This has already become a Yumesaki family tradition…”
Having spoke to there, Ms. Hinako dropped her head. Huh?
“I’m sorry, but I’ve gone off topic. It’s just that thinking about how I’ll have to spend this year by myself makes me feel so lonely.”
“Oh. No, this——”
Even though I quickly tried to come up with some topic to follow up with, I couldn’t think of what to say. Ms. Hinako smiled at my struggling expression.
“I hadn’t seen that child’s father for a while after the divorce…but he came back on the day of the funeral. He berated me quite loudly. At that time, Hikari-chan’s funeral was still being held, and I could barely calm him down. But during the time when he was in the house, he took everything with him. I didn’t want him to take them away, but I couldn’t say anything either. I’m not saying that I acted this way because she may have committed suicide. But even so, I regret it a lot. If I had known that things would turn out this way, I would’ve given everything to you, Akitsuki.”
Ms. Hinako stuck out her tongue, laughing through her lame excuse.
“Don’t get mad, Akitsuki. He wasn’t wrong. It was my fault for not protecting Hikari-chan, that his actions are justifiable. It was entirely my fault. I…”
“I’m sorry. You’ve come all this way, and I’ve only been talking about such a depressing subject. You’re a very easy person to talk to, Akitsuki.”
“…please, don’t worry about it.”
“Teehee. At times like this, it’s quite hard for me to act calm. Hikari-chan is just like me in this way.”
Ms. Hinako continued to speak with regret.
“That girl was quite popular with the boys, and especially since she treated others nicely, she caused a lot of misunderstandings with boys. After she receives a confession, she would always hide in the corner of a room, and use her finger to fiddle with her hair. Her smiling face would blush red, and she would awkwardly reveal how another boy had confessed to her. Although, she turned down all of the confessions she received.”
Ms. Hinako fiddled with her hair, and then——
Ms. Hinako drooped her head, and her voice trembled.
“I’ve thought about overcoming this pain. I’ve sorted my emotions out countless times, remembering everyone’s encouragement, I wanted to lift myself up. But the thing is, sometimes——. As I wash the clothes, I couldn’t help but think, ‘There’s no more rice grains stuck on the skirt,’ and as I cook I can’t stop myself from thinking, ‘I won’t have to force her to eat her vegetables anymore.’ When I think about those kind of things, my spirits immediately plummet, even though I spent so much time organizing my feelings. In fact, every morning when I wake up, I think back to that child…”
“I obviously still can’t forget about Hikari-chan. I can never forget. I truly love Hikari-chan. Even now, even in the future…there will never be anyone who loves her more than me.”
Tears gently welled up in her eyes.
I couldn’t tell if she was crying or not. I also didn’t have the courage to see if she was crying.
“In the past, I always looked forward to gazing at the moon…but I’ve already lost my excitement for this year… All of these past years, there would always be so many, just so many teru teru bozu…but this year, I haven’t seen a single one.”
What should I say? I already knew, but I just couldn’t say anything.
All I could do was tightly grasp my fist, and listen to Ms. Hinako’s crying voice.
In that moment, I felt a sudden urge to tell her everything, but in the end, I gave up. That wasn’t what Hikari Yumesaki wanted. And with that constraint, I couldn’t do anything.
Ms. Hinako was clearly right in front of me, and I could clearly reach out and wipe away her tears.
Yet, I didn’t do anything, anything at——
The gray-eye cat ignored the current mood, and meowed.
It was as if he was reproaching the useless me.
After a while, I decided to head home after I saw that Ms. Hinako had calmed down. If I stayed any longer, she would continue to talk about Hikari Yumesaki. The person she needed was clearly not me. For not having realized this much sooner, I couldn’t help but feel angry at how dumb I was.
Ms. Hinako repeatedly apologized as she took me to the door. She tried her best to hide her sadness with a smile, and it felt painful to look at her.
“Akitsuki, is it alright if I let my cat stay at your place?”
“Oh, I might be out of the house for a while…”
Her vague answer made me feel doubtful. Although it was a shame, since my little sister had allergies.
After I told her that, her clear voice replied, “Oh, then it’s fine.”
“Teehee, you and Hikari-chan are very much alike after all.”
Just as I was about to turn around and leave, she suddenly said that.
“When you were racking your brain outside my house a while ago, you wouldn’t stop fiddling with your hair, and kept walking back and forth, just like Hikari-chan would do. Although there’s one thing that makes you two different——”
Ms. Hinako’s eyes stared at me through her long eyelashes, with a soft gaze that didn’t fit the summer.
“And that is——in the end, you can rely on your own strength to walk forward, just like today. Whenever that child comes across an uncomfortable situation, she would become coy and shy. That side of her is similar to mine.”
A sad smile illustrated the pain in her heart.
“If only Hikari-chan was as strong as you are… who knows what would have happened.”
“Just leave it to me.”
“I-It’s nothing. Can I come again?”
“Of course you can. You must come visit again. Next time I’ll be better for sure. I’m fine, I’ve already decided to live with what I have left of Hikari-chan…no matter how painful it is…”
I strengthened my resolve, and quickly walked on. Knowing that something might break but also not caring, I exerted my strength into my steps, as if even might my heart might break due to my restlessness.
It’s a good thing that I came, I thought with honest feelings.
I almost missed the most important piece of information. That the situation actually turned out this way.
That the strong and yet kind Ms. Hinako was actually reduced to such a depressing state.
I really wanted to punch myself for having put Hikari Yumesaki’s and Ms. Hinako’s problems aside. I have to tell Hikari Yumesaki about this situation right away. I have to save Ms. Hinako as soon as possible, even if I’m earlier by one day——
As soon as I got home, I quickly opened up the notebook.
Then, while I thought back to my conversation with Ms. Hinako, I turned them into words on the notebook paper. So that I could convey Ms. Hinako’s grief to Hikari Yumesaki, I wrote down everything that I could remember from the conversation. Although I’ve suppressed my urges to write many times before, I decided that it wasn’t right. I have to tell Hikari Yumesaki, just how much Ms. Hinako is suffering.
At the end, I left these words for Hikari Yumesaki:
“Ms. Hinako has been hurting for all this time. That’s why, for Ms. Hinako’s sake, you should tell her everything, and use your own voice to cheer her up. If you’re still scared, then it’s fine if I tell her myself. Anyway, you should tell her how you’re still alive. Be brave, ok?”
Hikari Yumesaki will surely understand.
Hikari Yumesaki will definitely feel Ms. Hinako’s pain.
I carried this belief with me as I went to sleep early. And then two days later, the reply for me in the notebook…
“I can’t, I’m just still scared. Sakamoto, you’re being annoying. Didn’t I tell you to wait?”
In that moment, I felt heat rise through my face.
My hearing dimmed, my vision blurred, and my breathing became erratic, as a strange feeling coursed through me.
A burning anger.
Hikari Yumesaki’s time was gradually being reduced, and although I don’t want to think about it, but she’ll probably have to face the worst possible ending.
If you’re going to see her, then go see her now. If you don’t visit her while you’re still alive, then you’ll only regret it in the end. You’ve already went through it once, so you should understand right? Or do you want to ascend to heaven without being able to say anything to Ms. Hinako when it’s too late? Do you want to cut off your mother-daughter relationship like that? I definitely won’t allow you to do that.
“…I have to write her something again.”
I want to let her go see Ms. Hinako. This was my responsibility. It was my duty as the other half of the body containing her. Even if it’ll make her cry, I must do this.
I know, it’s hard for you to face Ms. Hinako after entering my body. I can also understand your fear. If it were me, if I had to use a stranger’s body to meet my family with, I also wouldn’t know what to do. But the thing is, you should have more than enough reasons to visit Ms. Hinako right now, right?
If we suddenly tell her, it may be hard to gain Ms. Hinako’s trust. It would be scary if she gets mad at us and asks, “Are you joking?” However, if you were to talk about the things that only you two know about, then it’ll be like what Kazeshiro said, and we’ll gain Ms. Hinako’s trust. This is already no longer only your problem. We can’t let Ms. Hinako spend every day in tears.
“Stop complaining, and just go. I absolutely refuse to step back this time. If you don’t go, then I won’t forgive you.”
Even I think that these words were harsh. What will Hikari Yumesaki think when she sees them. Just thinking about it gave me a heartache. I’m clearly bad at hurting others. Making other people feel pain seems to bring me pain too. I could personally handle any pain, but I can’t stand watching someone with a smile suffer. That’s why, I don’t want to let Ms. Hinako cry anymore.
“Please understand, Hikari Yumesaki. Please just understand…”
On a rainy Sunday. I woke up right before the alarm went off.
“No, I can’t do it, I’m scared.”
“Saying that again…”
You keep saying that you’re scared and you’re scared, but enough is enough!
My patience has a limit too you know. Today’s journal entry didn’t have any random writings or drawings, nor did it have any pranks. All it had were words full of grief written with a ballpoint pen.
“Because what!? Stop looking for excuses!”
Ms. Hinako is probably suffering again today. Knowing this, I can’t spoil Hikari Yumesaki any longer, no matter what kind of an excuse she writes.
“‘Because my time is running out? Because if my time keeps reducing like this, there will come a day when I will disappear, you know?”
That’s why you should go see Ms. Hinako right now! If you wait until you die, then it’ll be too late!”
Regret is a punishment for not trying.
So right now, even if you’re still scared, you must also gather up your courage.
I’m certain that this is what should be done, and I’m also sure that this was the right thing to do.
However, my thinking was much too shallow.
“What if…what if, after we tell Mama everything——”
The words that followed dispelled everything I was about to say.
“And I die again… Mama probably won’t be able to bear it.”
In that moment, I didn’t know what to say.
Hikari Yumesaki may disappear.
Ms. Hinako still hasn’t recovered from the loss of her daughter.
That’s why——I wanted them to see each other again.
To meet before before she disappears.
“When I see her, what should I say? That although I’m still alive, I don’t know when I’ll disappear?”
The next lines left me speechless.
“I also want to see Mama. I also want to hug her tightly, talk to her, and cheer her up! But…but——What should I say to her!?
I don’t really mind, since I can see Mama before I died, and tell her my goodbyes.
However, Mama probably won’t be able to bear it. Letting her silently watch me die, she definitely can’t take it. Don’t you see how cruel it is? I’m scared, I don’t want to see Mama cry. I’m scared of seeing her in a miserable state. I don’t want to see that happen. I really am scared. So stop forcing me! Forgive me! Why don’t you understand me!?”
Traces of water stains could be seen everywhere on the notebook paper, and I could see that they were tear drops. The paper was wrinkly, and the letters looked messy. Writing this entry must’ve been quite painful for her. She was pushed into desperation by me, causing her to write these words.
“In fact…what if Mama doesn’t believe me? And even if she does believe me, what if she can’t accept the new body I’m in?”
“That probably won’t happen, Ms. Hinako is not like that——”
“If that happens, then I won’t be able to handle it. I’m begging you, please forgive me. I really am scared. I beg of you.”
An awful feeling welled up.
Also followed by a nauseous feeling. I need to think of something that would calm me down, and so——
I bellowed out a roar that felt as if it would shatter my organs, and then I finally calmed down.
I banged my head against the table like the piece of trash I was. I was truly pathetic. Way too pathetic. I actually…actually didn’t notice this simple detail.
That’s right, I had misunderstood.
I had thought that the only person who was hurting was Ms. Hinako who had lost her daughter, and that the only person who was suffering was Ms. Hinako who could never hear Hikari Yumesaki’s voice again. That Hikari Yumesaki, who refused to go visit Ms. Hinako, was only lacking courage.
However, that wasn’t it. Although it can be said that Hikari Yumesaki is still alive, her body is no longer the same as before. She can’t simply call Ms. Hinako, “Mama.”
I said that for Ms. Hinako’s sake, Hikari Yumesaki should go see her. But the thing is, the person who was truly considering how Ms. Hinako felt was not me. This was obvious. Incredibly obvious. Just like how I can’t understand Hikari Yumesaki better than Ms. Hinako, I can’t understand Ms. Hinako better than Hikari Yumesaki. This was obvious. And yet, yet I——
I tried reading Hikari Yumesaki’s journal entry again. But I only read half of it before I gave up.
I’m truly pathetic.
Even though I was supposed to be helping her, I forced her to write down this kind of memo.
Before this, Hikari Yumesaki had never cried when she wrote her journal entries.
Even when she felt bad about her death she didn’t act like this.
Even when she was concerned about Kazeshiro’s revenge plan she didn’t act like this.
Up until now, Hikari Yumesaki has hid her weak side, trying to appear strong. Always showing me a radiant smile. Although it was a clumsy attempt to act brave, she was still trying her best.
But now it’s not the same, and this was the first time she appeared so fragile.
The situation before and the situation right now…what was the difference? I already knew.
“It’s because I became her enemy.”
What kind of a hero was I? Aren’t I just like how I was before?
Just a delinquent, one that everyone hates. In the end, if it weren’t for Hikari Yumesaki, I was still just a delinquent.
No matter when, Hikari Yumesaki would always have on an annoying smile and an energetic appearance, but the way she is now, she can’t even act brave in the journal. I really am——
I tried to hold back my tears.
Raising my head, not letting the tears fall, I couldn’t allow myself to cry.
“But, what should I do… I can’t do anything…”
In my empty world, I let out a helpless shout. Now is not the the time to cry. If even I were to cry, then there would be no one who can stand back up. However, however I——
“Let’s unravel the secrets of Sakamoto’s body! Next up, for our first topic Hikari here will uncover Sakamoto’s secrets step-by-step! Now then, our first question is, “Why doesn’t Sakamoto cut his hair!?” The truth is, he really takes note of his fierce appearance!”
“Oh, it was the alarm. That scared me for a second there.”
The alarm suddenly rang out in the middle of the quiet room. I was petrified for a bit.
That’s right, I woke up before the alarm today.
“——That’s why, he wants to grow out his hair so that he can hide his face, but the truth is, he doesn’t realize that this only makes him look even scarier~ The way he smiles about his bangs is also scary.”
Usually, I would quickly turn off the alarm, but today I wanted to hear that idiot’s energetic voice for once, and so I let the ring continue.
“Therefore, Sakamoto! Cut your hair! Go get a manlier haircut! Even just once is fine, but I want to experience being a macho man! In fact, honestly speaking, your haircut is gets too hot in this kind of weather!”
Sigh, this was the first time I actually listened to it, and that’s how it was. I feel like she’s just as cheerful as usual.
“However, Sakamoto’s face really suits Hikari-chan’s tastes! Hikari-chan also hopes to become this kind of a delinquent! I also want to become an anti-hero who does his work in the dark!”
“…Who are you calling an ‘anti-hero’…?”
“And so, lighten up a bit, come on♪Sakamoto, today is another day to greet with excitement! Be sure to do your best for the entire day! Bye bye~☆”
I couldn’t help but begin to smirk at the end of the alarm. Hearing it really makes one feel happy, and I felt like I wanted to hear it every morning when I wake up. It looks like it was worth not pressing the stop button. Really not bad.
“Are you still listening?”
“You’re probably not listening anymore.”
What’s this? Is there more at the end?
“After all, this is the impatient Sakamoto we’re talking about here… He should’ve turned it off by now…”
“If you’re going to turn it off, then you better do it now! Hurry up and get out of bed OK~!”
“Alright, he must’ve turned it off by now.”
“Usually I’m too shy to say this, but there’s something that I really wanted to tell you.”
“——Ever since that day, you’ve always been my ideal type.”
“Even now. You are my hero who only belongs to me. You better become my support OK? Smooch❤”
The alarm ended there.
The tears that I had been holding back almost leaked out.
I really regret it, so much that I almost couldn’t handle it. She trusted me that much. I actually let the girl who trusted me that much cry. I actually hurt Hikari Yumesaki.
That’s right, didn’t Ms. Hinako also mention it before? That when Hikari Yumesaki was wandering around the watermelon field, she was tightly hugging the notebook in excitement?
For me, the notebook was a symbol of Hikari Yumesaki, but what about for Hikari Yumesaki herself? I don’t even have to think about it. For Hikari Yumesaki, it was me, it was Akitsuki Sakamoto.
At first, I had wanted Ms. Hinako to become Hikari Yumesaki’s support. I had thought that Ms. Hinako would definitely be better at helping Hikari Yumesaki than me, believing that she would be better at saving Hikari Yumesaki than me. However, it turns out that I was just wasting time on a wild goose chase.
That idiot——the one person that Hikari Yumesaki relied on was me.
It wasn’t her mother, it wasn’t Kazeshiro, it wasn’t anyone else.
The one hero that she truly relied on, the hero that she hoped would save her, was——
I clenched my fists and yelled.
My fighting spirit felt like it was burning up.
I suddenly stood up. I can’t cry. I casually wiped my eyes, and looked straight ahead.
“I definitely, definitely must think of a plan.”
Just you two wait! No matter what, I’ll definitely come to save the both of you!
I came back to the watermelon fields once again in the rain.
My reason? I didn’t know either. But doing nothing wouldn’t help with the situation. What should I do when I see Ms. Hinako? I hadn’t sorted out my thoughts, but maybe things will turn around. That’s right, carrying hope——
However, after I vigorously pressed the doorbell, there was no answer.
Was she out? The thing is, her bike is still here.
“Whatever, I’ll just wait.”
I didn’t even know Ms. Hinako’s contact information, so I could only wait for her to return at the front entrance——but after waiting a while, I never did see her figure.
In the end I don’t know how long it lasted, but I stiffly waited for Ms. Hinako under the hot and humid weather brought by the rain. I half thought to myself that she might return soon, and I continued waited to the point where I began to feel drowsy. And so, after I kept waiting for a while——
Turning around while shouting, the already half-asleep me was frightened for a moment. W-What!?
“Sakamoto, what are you doing?”
“Oh, K-Kazeshiro… You scared me there for a second.”
The guy standing behind me and holding a black umbrella was my handsome rival, Kazeshiro.
“I mean, what are you doing? You look like a ghost.”
“I was at the library looking for a clue on how to save Hikari. Right now I’m heading home, and then I saw you so I came to take a look. What are you doing here? If you don’t start looking for clues then it’ll be too late. You understand right, Sakamoto?”
Probably because he was stressed, but Sakamoto was a bit anxious as he asked. Seeing him like that, it looks like there wasn’t anything at the library either.
“I’m need to talk with Hikari Yumesaki’s mother. Since she’s not home, I can only wait.”
The sweltering heat gave me fatigue, so I nonchalantly replied. Hearing my reply, Kazeshiro posed his question in a low voice.
“…She still hasn’t returned?”
“Huh? What’s wrong? Still?”
“I also came to see Auntie three days ago, thinking that I could come pay my respects.”
“However, at that time she was not home either——”
My mind went completely blank.
Three days ago, I remember that I went to see Ms. Hinako four days ago, so it was on the second day.
That day Ms. Hinako was not home, just like how she was not home today.
I recalled that tidy living room, how all the memoirs of Hikari Yumesaki were gone, and how empty the room was.
I remembered Ms. Hinako’s devastated look, and the situation with Hikari Yumesaki’s father. And also,
——Akitsuki, is it alright if I let my cat stay at your place?
…Oh, I might be out of the house for a while…
“…You gotta be kidding me.”
“Eh, Oi! Sakamoto!?”
In a flash, I ran out into the rain.
“Sakamoto! What’s wrong!?”
I didn’t pay any attention to Kazeshiro who was chasing after me, and I recklessly sprinted under the rain.
I don’t even know where Ms. Hinako was. But, if I just stood there and didn’t do anything, then my mind couldn’t help but think of crazy things.
It’s gotta be a joke, it’s gotta be a joke. It can’t be true!
How could this happen, that person, how could——
“Excuse me! Now then, pardon me!”
Once I recovered, I held back my tears as I rang the doorbell of a neighbor’s house.
The person who came out looked at me with surprise. Ah, I just realized my own appearance.
“Anyway, do you know where the person who owns this watermelon field, Ms. Yumesaki, went?”
I breathlessly yelled in a loud voice. At first, everyone looked at me with suspicion, but they must have noticed from my panicked look that something was wrong, and so they answered one after the other. However.
“Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen her for the past couple of days.”
“Sorry, but I don’t know either. But you know, she hasn’t been energetic as much lately…”
All of the replies I got made me worry more. Oi oi…
In the end, I respectfully bowed my head towards the lady who looked like she was a college student, and once again headed out into the rain. Dammit, dammit. This was definitely not good. How did the situation turn into this?
“Sakamoto, what’s wrong? Did something happen?”
Chasing me the entire time, Kazeshiro gasped for breath as he asked. I turned around, and caught my breath as I told him.
“…Four days ago, I visited Ms. Hinako, and at that time, she looked like she was had been quite devastated by what happened with Hikari Yumesaki, the room was also cleaned up nice and tidy, and she even wanted me to raise her cat for her. It’s like she’s going to…”
I hesitated for a moment, and tried to take back what I said. But Kazeshiro was a sharp person. He already understood the situation, and he pressed his hand against his forehead as he thought.
“So that’s how it is huh, that’s certainly bad. We don’t even know Auntie’s cell phone number. What should we do? Notify the police?”
“…If we can’t find her before it gets dark, then I guess we’ll go to the police.”
Dammit. If only I could get in touch with Hikari Yumesaki, we could at least ask her for any clues. However, no matter how hard I try, that wasn’t something I could do. No matter how hard I try…
Kazeshiro shouted towards me as I held my head down.
“Sakamoto, lighten up a bit! Don’t be like that, raise your head!”
“…Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Alright, well let’s first expand our search area. No problem right?”
I vigorously nodded. I mean really, you’re quite worried too. What a reliable bastard.
That’s right, my other half hadn’t revived yet, so I must work hard to make up for it. I must save Ms. Hinako in her place.
I convinced myself in my heart, but bad thoughts continued to fill my head. If my speculations were to come true——these kind of farfetched thoughts continued to run through my mind. Dammit, what should I do?
“You better be fine, Ms. Hinako.”
That day, we searched all over until it grew dark——but we still couldn’t find Ms. Hinako. As such, because we weren’t related to her, we couldn’t submit a missing person report to the police. After we talked with the police at the nearby police station about the situation, we went home.
Just where did you go…
That night, with the rain pattering in the midst of darkness, I silently looked at the notebook in front of me.
I have to write, I can’t not write.
Should I write that “It might be too late”? Don’t screw around, I can’t possibly write that kind of thing.
Let’s just ask Kazeshiro to look after tomorrow’s me for now. Hikari Yumesaki might still remember Ms. Hinako’s cell phone number. As such, maybe by the time I wake up again this whole thing will be over. That’s why, maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, and I only need to write everything down, and everything will be fine if I leave it all to tomorrow’s me. But.
“If… If nothing is resolved…”
That idiot probably won’t be able to handle it. I need someone to stand by her just in case.
The only people who know that Hikari Yumesaki is still alive are me and Kazeshiro. Kazeshiro should be able to take care of her. So leaving it to Kazeshiro should be for the best. Even for me, the idiot who made Hikari Yumesaki cry, to write in this notebook, wouldn’t it be better off just leaving it to Kazeshiro? Furthermore, I couldn’t even talk face to face with Hikari Yumesaki, or even hold her hand, so compared with the useless me, Kazeshiro would probably…
——Teehee, you and Hikari-chan are very much alike after all.
Just as I was about to give up, I remembered what Ms. Hinako had said.
——When you were racking your brain outside my house a while ago, you wouldn’t stop fiddling with your hair, and kept walking back and forth,
——Although, there is one thing that makes you two different,
One thing different.
——In the end, you can rely on your own strength to walk forward, just like today.
——If only Hikari-chan was as strong as you are…then who knows would have happened.
Rely on one’s own strength——
I cried out, and grasped the pen.
I yelled with all my might, and wrote just as imposing words into the journal.
“I’m really sorry, but I have some bad news to tell you. Ms. Hinako has disappeared. If we still can’t find her, I guess my speculations will have come true. I’ve already told Kazeshiro about this, so you should go ask him for help. I believe that Ms. Hinako is still alive, so go find her!”
“Even if you don’t find her, don’t give up. If that happens, then just write about the memories that only you two know into this notebook, showing that you’re still alive, and I’ll definitely save Auntie!”
Didn’t Ms. Hinako say it before, that I had the strength to rely on myself and walk forward?
“You’re worried, hurt, and afraid of revealing everything to Ms. Hinako, and I’m sorry for before, when I didn’t understand your feelings and said some things that I thought was obvious. However, doing nothing and waiting until the end is also unacceptable. It’ll be too late for regrets. That’s why, gather up your courage, ok?”
Hikari Yumesaki also said it before, that I was her only hero.
That’s why I——
“I really hate that I can’t be by your side. Why are we so far apart? However, it doesn’t matter how far apart we are, I will never leave you behind. So, don’t cry. Don’t cry anymore. I will definitely save you!”
Even if we can never see each other, or talk together, we were still tightly connected.
All we needed was the notebook to convey our thoughts to each other, and all we needed was to open the notebook to share our memories. Because there was no way for us to talk face to face, we had to reveal our true thoughts to each other. All of the embarrassing things that we would rather not say face to face, only the two of us who could never meet had the ability to say those things to each other.
After writing everything down in one breath, I lied down on my bed.
I trusted that my feelings would definitely reach her. Even if my hand can’t reach, I could definitely wipe her tears, I firmly believed.
I’m relying on you, tomorrow’s me.
Two days later.
They still could not find Ms. Hinako.
According to Kazeshiro’s phone call, they apparently searched for the entire day until night, but even so they could not find her. Although they got Auntie’s phone number from Hikari Yumesaki, it appeared that she didn’t bring her cell phone with her. It’s probably her habit of not using electronics.
Since Hikari Yumesaki still remembered the hiding location for the spare key, they even went inside to look, but it was already clear of signs of life. Not even the cat could be sighted. The situation had taken a turn for the worse. We might even have to expect the worst conclusion.
“Although it’s really surprising.”
Kazeshiro said from the other side of the phone.
“I had thought that Hikari would be completely lost because of Auntie’s situation, but who would’ve known that she didn’t cry even once, and she did her best at searching. Sakamoto, you must’ve said something to her, right?”
And that’s what he says.
“Yeah, probably. Alright, I’ll go out and search some more today…do you want to come with?”
“No, we should split up. Call me immediately if you find her.”
“Of course,” I easily replied as I ended the call and opened the notebook.
“I’m sorry Sakamoto, I’m really sorry for writing those kinds of things. You really are kind huh. Even though I couldn’t find Mama, I believe that she’s definitely alright.”
The notebook contained an entry left behind by yesterday’s me, words that came from Hikari Yumesaki herself.
“I’ll definitely come clear with Mama. About how I’m already dead, but also alive, maybe even how I’ll disappear, I’ll tell her everything. Although I’m scared, I don’t want things to end this way. I also don’t want to give up. Even though I don’t know what to do, and I may be a little bit hesitant, it’s obvious that I still want to be revived. I want to meet with Mama after I revive. That’s why I’ll definitely reveal everything to her. I’ll definitely revive, I’ve already made this realization. I don’t want to run away anymore. I want to be strong like Sakamoto.
But you know, Sakamoto. If Mama’s really in a tough situation, and I’m too late to see her, then I’ll have to rely on you at that time. I’ve already written down the memories that only we share, so I’ll have you go see her in my place. I’ll leave everything to you. If you act, you’ll definitely save Mama. I believe in you.”
“Yeah, I’ll definitely think up something.”
After I muttered those words, I glanced down at the entry below.
“There’s just one thing I want to ask.”
“Why are you willing to go so far for me?”
I hesitated for a moment, but I swallowed it down together with my saliva.
“Ever since I saw you when we were little, I’ve always wanted to be your hero.”
Today, I searched all over for Ms. Hinako, having never ran through so many places before.
I couldn’t even feel my fatigue anymore.
Countless unpleasant thoughts filled my head, and each time I forcefully suppressed them, and then I continued to search.
That idiot probably understands my loneliness now.
She probably cried several times without me knowing.
We can only meet through the notebook.
I could only stroke the tears stained in the notebook.
We would probably never be able to wipe away each other’s tears either.
However, it’s not like we couldn’t do anything.
Even if there was no way for us to touch each other, no way for us to talk to each other, and no way for us to meet and laugh together.
I could still stand at the place closest to her.
What does it matter if I can’t wipe away her tears.
Even so, I could still provide a handkerchief for her.
I could give the handkerchief to someone who will wipe your tears for me.
If it rains tomorrow, then I’ll just prepare an umbrella for you today.
If you plan on running tomorrow, then I’ll just do the stretches for you today.
Playing the unseen hero, the unrewarded hero, that much should be enough. For me, this was perfect, and the most fitting for me.
For her, I silently swore an oath to myself in my heart. And that made the rest of the problem easy.
I’ll go run everywhere and search, until my whole body is dripping with sweat, I’m covered with dirt, and my eyes are filled with tears.
And then I’ll hand my handkerchief to that person, and let him wipe your tears. I’ll definitely accomplish it.
——As I grew more excited, I continued my search until who knows when.
The sun was already setting in the west.
I was worried that if Ms. Hinako had already came home, I might’ve missed her, and so I came back to the watermelon field, and saw a car parked there.
I could only see a man standing besides the car.
Could it be——
I intuitively guessed it.
He was a middle-aged man who had thin, rectangular glasses, and he was wearing a custom-made suit. This bastard——
After realizing his identity, I broke out into a run, and came up from behind to face him. He was probably shocked by my sudden appearance, as he slightly raised his head to look at me, his eyes full of suspicion. I panted as I came up with a response.
“Are you… Hikari Yumesaki’s father?”
“………And you are?”
I impolitely threw out a question first. Of course I would be answered with a question and surprised look.
“I’m… Hikari’s friend.”
At that moment, the man widened his eyes. I didn’t know what the meaning behind this action was, but it didn’t matter.
“…Are you looking for Hinako too?”
I silently nodded my head. What I couldn’t understand was how the man appeared to be so well-mannered. Having been scrutinized by me, his mood naturally softened.
“…I apologize for that, I had also received the notification from the police yesterday, saying that she disappeared, and so I just came over to look. I’ve been waiting here ever since I woke up this morning. However, I never did see her. Really now, where could she have gone off to?”
“It seems like your eyes are telling me, ‘it’s all your fault.’ It would appear that, you know much about my relationship with Hinako, and probably also what happened with Hikari.”
Even after having been stared down by me, Hikari Yumesaki’s father was not put off the slightest bit, and he saw through my thoughts. Dammit, Ms. Hinako had only said that he was a stern person. Seeing it now, the opposing man had the professional demeanor of a mature adult, but I, the person with the face of a delinquent standing in front of him, didn’t show any fear. Compared with him, I was just like a delinquent. I couldn’t say a word when faced with the harsh look in the man’s eyes, so I could only hang my head down.
In the end, we fell into silence. Then suddenly, an unexpected discourse broke the silence, and Hikari Yumesaki’s father opened his mouth to begin.
“You don’t have to put up your guard like that. Although I’m not sure how much you know, I’m just here to return the things. However, it looks like no one’s home.”
As Hikari Yumesaki’s father said that, he brought out something from the car, and in his hands was——
I’ve seen that white album before. This——
“So you do know about it. You are Hikari’s… Forget it. I don’t even have the right to know.”
Hikari Yumesaki’s father noisily flipped open the album.
And then as he looked through the photos, he asked:
“Hikari…in your opinion, what do you think of that child?”
Hikari Yumesaki’s father threw out a rather rude question. However, it wasn’t actually a question.
“That child is a very frail person.”
Before I could answer, he just continued talking.
“Not only was she quick to cry but she was also very weak. It didn’t matter what it was, she did everything so nonchalantly… Seeing her like that at a young age, I thought, I couldn’t let her this way. Even if there are people who will protect her now, when she grows up——she probably wouldn’t be able to survive in this cruel world. That’s why I was so strict on her. It didn’t matter how much she hated me. I believe that it was the only way to raise a strength in her that wouldn’t lose to anyone else’s——”
“However, I ended up breaking our family apart. I don’t believe that it was the right thing to do anymore. Yet, Hikari is still too cowardly. She’s too kind. Kind people are always frail. Frail people…cannot survive in this world.”
Once he finished speaking, Hikari Yumesaki’s father sighed with face full of regret.
Kind people are always frail… huh.
Hikari Yumesaki really was kind. For Ms. Hinako’s sake, even though she wants too see her, she wouldn’t dare reveal her name. However.
“I think that Hikari Yumesaki is a very strong person.”
His face flushed red with anger, Hikari Yumesaki’s father looked this way. I looked straight at him and continued talking.
“The truth is, she does have a frail side to her. Whenever she does anything she never follows any precautions, but the moment she feels frightened by her situation, she’ll cry. Sometimes she’ll even suffer the anxiety all by herself. But I know how strong she is. No matter how frightening her situation is, for someone she cares about, she’ll become stronger than anyone else.”
Even if no one else knew, I completely understood just how strong that idiot is.
That’s how she was when she was alive, and even now when she was dead.
That idiot——Hikari Yumesaki acted strong for Misaki.
She would suffer for her favorite underclassman, and acted strong all by herself. She was clearly anxious about the situation with her time reductions, but for Misaki she would do anything. This was undoubtedly “strength”. In Misaki’s heart, just how much of a reliable person Hikari Yumesaki was to her…I understood.
“Even if she’s frail, there’s nothing to worry about, even if she has a weak side, it’ll be fine if she finds someone to support her. It’s alright if you use your own strength to cover for someone else’s weakness. Hikari Yumesaki’s strength and kindness helped many people. She’s definitely not just a fragile person.”
Kazeshiro is fine, and Misaki is fine too.
All of them were saved by Hikari Yumesaki. It was her that wiped off their tears.
I’m also someone who was saved by her. That’s why I’m trying my best right now.
We are two souls in one body, and Hikari Yumesaki was using her strength to cover for my weakness. So then, covering her weakness was my responsibility. I absolutely need to protect her.
We entered another moment of silence.
My words were probably a bit out of control. This was only the first time I’ve even met Hikari Yumesaki’s father, and I went ahead and said those kinds of things.
However, it would appear that he did understand what I meant.
“Oh, so that’s how it is.”
I softly replied with that sound, and Hikari Yumesaki’s father handed the album over to me.
“Can I rely on you? If you safely find Hinako, I hope that you would give this to her. I’ll just give up on seeing her, we would probably end up arguing anyway. I’m truly sorry for putting you in the middle of two adult’s quarrel.”
As soon as he finished speaking, he turned around without any hesitation and headed back to his car.
——No no no.
“What’s wrong with you!? D-Don’t you hate Ms. Hinako!? But then, why are you returning this!?”
Hikari Yumesaki’s father started the engine, pulled down the handbrake, and was about to go on his way. I hurriedly threw out a question. The answer I received was just a short sentence.
“I don’t think that Hinako is a good mother, but——”
The words came unhesitatingly through the open car window.
It was just that towards the end his words sounded a bit shaky——
“I would’ve never thought that that child could smile so brightly.”
The car rumbled off, quickly disappearing off into the distance.
W-What’s wrong with that bastard?
“…I’ll just leave it at that.”
I opened the album and muttered to myself. What I saw was something that I’ve seen before, pictures filled with memories. Ms. Hinako went through them one by one for me, so I was familiar with every photo. These photos were from the time when they went to the aquarium. And these were from the time when they went to the zoo. These are from her elementary school’s athletic festival.
All of the pictures shared one thing in common, and that was Hikari Yumesaki’s bright smile. If I had to describe it, it would be a smile that couldn’t help but make you smile too. Heheh, this picture was taken when they were moon-gazing right? Hikari Yumesaki’s mouth was filled with onigiri——
Wait a second.
What’s today’s date again? If I remember correctly, it was September 25th. Today should be the Mid Autumn…
——In the past, every year during the time of the Mid Autumn, I would take Hikari-chan to the mountain behind Hyoudou Elementary School to see the moon.
I remembered what Ms. Hinako said.
“Could it be?”
As soon as the words left my mouth, I began to sprint.
There’s no mistake. Didn’t Ms. Hinako say it before? She said that she looked forward to it each year. Doesn’t mean that she felt fond of it?
Since she was so worried about Ms. Hinako’s disappearance, Hikari Yumesaki must’ve missed this piece of information. If——If my guess was right, then Ms. Hinako must definitely be there.
“I’m coming… Ms. Hinako!”
I headed towards the setting sun, sprinting with all my might.
When I arrived at the mountain behind the elementary school, I was already completely drenched with sweat. Although this mountain wasn’t big, looking for someone who you didn’t know where they were was still a very time-consuming task.
While I was trying my best to search, the full moon had already reached above my head.
“…I found her…”
Just as soon as I was about tire out, I finally found Ms. Hinako.
She was only a little bit far off the mountain trail, standing by the overhanging cliff. I watched Ms. Hinako’s back as she sat down in that place. In fact, beside her was the little black cat who had followed along.
Ah… I finally found her. That’s great… she’s still alive——But just when I was relieved of my worries.
Under the light of the full moon, Ms. Hinako stood up, and walked forward.
Right towards the cliff.
A feeling of dread blew over me, and I felt as if my blood had stopped flowing.
Right in front my eyes.
Towards the mother of the person most important to me.
Right now, immediately——
“Don’t do iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!?”
I couldn’t help but yell at the top of my lungs.
I ignored everything.
I made a beeline for it and ran straight towards her.
I recklessly cried out to Ms. Hinako and I managed to catch her eye, but I was still too far away.
Wait, don’t do it, I begging you.
Don’t worry, you’re mistaken, you’re mistaken.
“MS. HINAKO, I’LL CONFESS EVERYTHING TO YOU! DON’T BE SO QUICK TO LEAVE!!”
I yelled at the top of my lungs, trying to first make her stop.
“Ms. Hinako, I’m begging you, please wait! Don’t die!”
I finally arrived by Ms. Hinako’s side, grabbed ahold of her waist, and shouted through my tears. I didn’t even know what I was saying myself. It was just that, no matter what, I had to be here to stop her. Or else I wouldn’t have the guts to face tomorrow’s me. Even though there was no way for us to see each other…
“You’re mistaken! She’s still alive! That idiot’s still alive! So you don’t have to commit suicide! Please listen to what I have to say!!”
I shouted with all of my might, all while terribly sobbing.
My words should have reached through, as Ms. Hinako bent down, looked at my snot-covered face, and then——
“Akitsuki, what do you mean by suicide? I wasn’t planning on doing that kind of thing.”
A sound full of stupidity rang through moon-covered night.
Wait, w-weren’t you just walking towards the cliff——
Looking at my stupefied face, Ms. Hinako tilted her head in front of me with her own look of confusion.
Wh-, eh? EEeehh?
“What, b-but you were just walking straight towards the cliff…”
“So what if I was walking there? Am I not allowed to gaze at the brilliant colors from there?”
“B-But, there’s never anyone at your house…”
“Ah, didn’t I tell you before? I said that I was going out. Together with this small cat.”
Ms. Hinako hugged her small, black cat, and smiled as she replied.
…You got to be kidding me.
Hold on, hold on, was I the one who made an enormously huge mistake…
“W-Where are you going?”
“Hmm~? Oh… I’ll just tell you then, huhu, but don’t laugh at me okay?”
I bit my lip as I asked, and after Ms. Hinako answered back with a giggle, and opened her purse.
What she took out from inside was…
Ms. Hinako held out a pink, decorated fan.
“Take a look, take a look, then look at this.”
She even handed something over, and it was an advertisement brochure.
This… Oh, it’s that. I remember that it’s been a real hot topic lately, a picture of the idol group called “Eden.”
It can’t be.
“I might have said it before, but I’ve been a fan of them ever since they debuted. This was the first time they came to an open dome. I’ve always been supporting them, and I thought that I couldn’t let this opportunity pass by, and so I went to buy a ticket.”
How could this be.
“I thought, I’m already single right now, so letting loose and having some fun wouldn’t do any harm right? That’s why——”
“That’s why… I went to the stadium dome in Hokkaido! Although it was quite far, it was so much fun~! I also managed to visit a lot of tourist attractions while I was there☆ Ahh, I even bought so many local souvenirs! Look, this is a “EDEN” T-shirt! How does it look, Akitsuki? Doesn’t it look great? Doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?”
Her face filled with excitement, Ms. Hinako raised up the T-shirt signed with signatures. T-This… hey. T-This… huh?
Ms. Hinako watched the thoroughly confused me with a cute look, “Hmm?” she asked with a sound.
Hold on a minute, hold on a minute, how could this be? You got to be kidding me, this kind of situation…
“I… made a mistake…?”
Ah… Goddammit! I put too much thought into it….
That’s right. I had forgotten an important piece of information. This wasn’t just anyone…this was Hikari Yumesaki’s mother.
“What’s wrong? You’re crying and spaced out, you look quite busy.”
“No… it’s nothing. C-Can I sit beside you?”
“Teehee, you really are a strange child. Go ahead and sit.”
It took a lot of strength for me to sit down next to Ms. Hinako. Sigh… what an ending to these few days of suffering… I mean really now.
“What is it?”
My mind was still in shambles when I replied. Seeing me like so, Ms. Hinako couldn’t help but Teehee again. She then softly——
“You thought I was going to commit suicide?”
Faced with such a sudden question, I didn’t know how to respond. I-I have to skirt around it…
No, I can’t. Her eyes have already seen through everything.
Having given up on resisting, I silently nodded my head. Ms. Hinako broke into another giggle.
“It looks like I made you worry, sorry. But, I’ve said it before right?”
What——I wordlessly asked.
Her current smile, I will never forget.
“I will continue living with that part of Hikari-chan. No matter how painful it is.”
These words gave my entire heart intense turmoil.
“I’ll hide my memories into my heart, no matter how painful it is, I have to take my steps forward.”
I felt thoroughly embarrassed.
How many times was this now? I really am an idiot.
I thought that Ms. Hinako was a weak person on my accord.
It was my own wishful thinking that she needed my help.
I was the one who thought she was depressed, and went on a wild goose chase thinking that she was going to commit suicide. But it turned out to be the complete opposite.
This person was really strong.
The one who needed help, the one who needed to be saved was actually me.
I really am——
Ms. Hinako broke my train of thought——
“You said before that, ‘That idiot is still alive.’ …What do you mean by that?”
“Oh, d-did I say that?”
“Mhm, you definitely said it.”
“Y-You must’ve heard wrong…”
“I didn’t hear wrong, you def-i-nite-ly said it.”
What should I do? Hikari Yumesaki is determined to say it herself. However, looking at this atmosphere, I can’t run away anymore. I’ve actually ruined everything…
I was going to avoid the topic with silence, but Ms. Hinako wouldn’t buy into it, and she stared at me with a smile on her face. Ahhh, I can’t take it anymore. Goddammit. Hikari Yumesaki, please forgive me. I’ll treat you to some candy later.
Having lost hope, I made up my mind and stood up.
Although it wasn’t how I expected it, but whatever. At least it was going to be said eventually.
“Hikari Yumesaki’s soul is in me.”
Her strange response to these words probably showed how much she was caught off guard. Ms. Hinako’s smile stiffened, and she couldn’t say anything. As such, I just continued on.
“It’s not a joke. On April 4th, when that idiot died, I traded half of my lifespan, and let her soul reside within this body. Oh, by the way, it would be a mistake to say that she committed suicide. She died in an accident. She caused the accident when she crossed the road without paying attention.”
“It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say that I traded half my lifespan, but the truth is that Hikari Yumesaki and I switch personalities every other day. Our personalities will switch in the early morning, and the personality that gets switched out won’t be able to leave behind any memories. That’s why I can only use the exchange diary to understand the situation, and to communicate through our entries.”
“The countless visits to the watermelon field wasn’t from me, it was from Hikari Yumesaki. She wanted to see you countless times, but in the end she was always one step short, and she just couldn’t muster up the courage to make that last step.”
“W-Wait, Akitsuki what are you——”
“Here’s the evidence, please look.”
Gradually feeling impatient, I restlessly said that as I pulled out from my bookbag that thing.
A weak voice softly cried out.
This was… one of the hanging teru teru bozu that filled my room.
Two days ago, I had Hikari Yumesaki write down memories that only she and Ms. Hinako would know. The reply she wrote back was, “Let Mama see the teru teru Sakamoto’s.” Of course, suddenly taking out a teru teru bozu would just confuse anyone, but in reality, all of the answers were written on the paper strips hanging from the teru teru bozu.
“I wish Hikari-chan will always be happy”
“I wish for a beautiful flower”
“I wish I can cook together with Hikari-chan.”
“I’ve always wanted to sleep in a futon together with Hikari-chan.”
“I wish that Hikari-chan show off her skills in the cultural festival.”
I pulled out a bunch of teru teru bozu’s, and Ms. Hinako couldn’t say anything as she looked up at me.
From Hikari Yumesaki’s birth to her death.
The wishes that Ms. Hinako wrote down on the paper strips, and the memories of Hikari Yumesaki making them come true for her.
This was something that no one else knew, memories that only belonged to them. Definitely never to be forgotten, very important——
“W-Wait, eh…? W-Why, Akitsuki, this… W-Why would Akitsuki know about these……?”
Faced with the memoirs that only them two should’ve known, Ms. Hinako was thrown into confusion. I continued talking.
“Moreover, please take a look at this.”
Once I finished speaking, I pulled out our notebook from my bookbag.
In here, Hikari Yumesaki entrusted me with the message that she wanted me to give to Ms. Hinako.
Ms. Hinako couldn’t say a word, and trembled as she shook her head.
I slowly walked to her side, and used both hands to give the notebook over to her.
Under the moonlight.
The dazzling snow-white notebook had Hikari Yumesaki’s beautiful handwriting written on it.
These words may be a little bit too short for a reunion between mother and daughter——However, this was what a loving mother would want to hear the most——
“I’m home, Mama.”
“……How can this be……”
Teardrops leaked down onto the notebook paper.
They gradually seeped through the words.
Under the light of the full moon, the falling tear drops glittered brightly.
“Ms. Hinako, maybe you don’t believe it, but that idiot became my other half living in this world. At a certain time every early morning, Hikari Yumesaki will replace me and take the stage. That’s why… when tomorrow comes, Hikari Yumesaki will revive, and come see you.”
Ms. Hinako didn’t have a response, probably because she was too choked up to speak.
“…But, Hikari Yumesaki might disappear. Because of this, she still hasn’t visited you yet. Because she doesn’t want you to get hurt. She’s way too kindhearted.”
Teardrops stained Ms. Hinako’s face. She looked at me, I looked back at her, and I tried my hardest to put on a smile.
“However, I already made a promise, that I would never let Hikari Yumesaki disappear. No matter what I have to do, I will save her. I will definitely save her.”
“Akitsuki… you really are…”
After I finished speaking, I turned my back towards Ms. Hinako and walked a couple of steps towards the full moon, and continued talking as I faced the night sky.
“Ms. Hinako, she’ll definitely come over tomorrow. She’ll definitely return to your side. So, please wait for her. Maybe she still feels scared, and she’ll take some time to come, but please just wait for her. I’ll let you see the mature——the Hikari Yumesaki who takes steps forward.”
She’ll definitely, definitely come.
Definitely return by your side——
“……I’ll be waiting……”
She looked like she was both smiling and crying.
A voice that was mingled with emotions softly came out from Ms. Hinako’s lips.
“I’ll be waiting… no matter how long it takes… I’ll always be waiting for that child, and when Hikari-chan uses her own strength to come over…”
I gave Ms. Hinako a radiant smile. Please wait, she’ll definitely, definitely return by your side.
“Please, Hikari Yumesaki.”
I took a deep breath, and raised my head to gaze at the night sky.
The day like today which had the entry that I was looking forward to finally arrived. Really, looked forward to.
Ms. Hinako suddenly shouted towards me.
“You really are a kindhearted child.”
“In fact…you’re stronger than anyone else.”
…You’re praising me too much.
“Remember to give some this strength to that child okay, Akitsuki?”
“…W-What are you saying?”
I threw away the laughing smile in my heart, and followed the mountain trail down the mountain.
The famous Mid Autumn moon huh. I gazed at the full moon in the night sky, my head muddled with conflicting thoughts.
I’ve always been thanking you, always protecting that mother and daughter. However, from now on——
“Just leave it to me.”
I’ll definitely protect them.
I’ll definitely make them happy.
I swear on the name of the Autumn Moon——