It’s a calm morning, absolutely silent. Not even the sound of birds could be heard. It’s a pure white morning.
The date indicated on the cellphone was April 9th.
There’s no sign of any mess in the room. There was nothing written in the journal that laid
Such a morning left me with a fresh feeling, as though I woke up from a strange–beautiful dream that I could not recall.
I sent a message on the cellphone. The receiver’s Kazeshiro.
This short message’s sent over immediately.
“Do you have any troubles, if I may ask?’
“If possible, please tell me.”
“Right now, I’m bothered that whenever I sleep in the infirmary, this teacher will just get onto the bed to sleep with me.”
It’s the spring, the sakuras blooming, and the weather’s clear.
I skipped class, and came to take a nap in the infirmary. For some reason though, I’m woken up by the idiot nursing teacher who’s smiling at me from up close. Ehh, what’s with you?”
“Kukuku. Sorry about that. Your sleeping face is cute, Akitsuki, so I can’t looking at you.”
“Enough with that.”
Higumo gives me a smile, and I immediately blush, inadvertently looking away. She probably finds it interesting, as she covers her mouth and starts to giggle. After some silence, she says,
“But time really passed by. It’s been a year, hasn’t it?’
“It’s been a year since the time when you first came to see me, no?”
I see. If it wasn’t for what happened a year ago, I probably wouldn’t be here. Besides, I won’t be looking for her.
“Anyway, get out. Not a good thing to be seen now.”
“I refuse. It’s rare to get such opportunities.”
Higumo says, hugging me with a cheery face. Ah, that’s enough already, damn it. I don’t like it, but it seem like a waste to break free. Damn it.
“Hey, Akitsuki, I got a request.”
Probably some ridiculous request anyway, so I thought, and I retorted back.
And as expected, her reply’s stupid.
“Want to do it with sensei?”
“…Again with that?”
Higumo pointed her index finger at her opened collar, and blew at my ears, giving off a mature alluring charm. What the heck, we young folks are growing every day, and this woman hasn’t changed at all.
“Do you want to?”
“Of course. But I won’t.”
“Fufu. How dishonest of you. Hm? That was for real?”
I can’t be bothered with you. Seriously, get out already.
“A year huh?”
However, Higumo ignored my wishes. She started to mutter with a nostalgic look.
“It’s been a long while. No, kind of short, isn’t it?”
“What’s with you? What are you mumbling about?”
“Kuku. Actually, sensei here is going to resign.”
The sudden news left me speechless. Eh, wh-why at this moment–
“My job is done. However, someone else will continue the mission. It’s a pity that the promise ends without being fulfilled. This is a challenge for the children. I do suppose–there is such kindness on this world, isn’t there/”
Eh, what are you saying? No, more importantly, you say you’re going to resign–
Higumo ignores my confused stated, and stands up,
The hair flows, and the pretty muffler fluttered.
With a childish–yet piercing voice, she whispered,
“You need to continue being kind.”
My cheek’s touched by the soft, boneless-like hand.
Seeing me space out, Higumo again smiles, and undoes the muffler, walking out of the infirmary.
“…This is ridiculous.”
I, remaining in the infirmary, can only space out and watch her leave. I just feel like my thoughts got rattled.
“…Time to return to class, i guess.”
It’s a bit weird to be remaining standing stupidly in the empty infirmary, so I decide to return to class.
I pull the door aside, and turn to look back at the infirmary.
And again–I feel a little lonely not hearing these words,
“…I’m not cutting my hair.”
I silently close the door, and say these words.
These are the last words I exchanged with Higumo.
Like a proper high school student, preparing for exams, I pass this day as usual.
After school, I return home, and walk into my room.
I’m back to my usual quiet daily life like before. However, it just feels that there’s a large hole opened in the room, or maybe it’s just me.
I look around. There are pentabs, anime blue-rays, figurines, ero-games, bolsters, manga, doujins, BL novels, and all kinds of things. Then, there’s also a notebook.
Naturally, there’s no reply to the journal entry I wrote two days ago. I knew that would happen. I saw everything Hikari Yumesaki wanted to say on the letter in the rain. When yesterday ended, Hikari Yumesaki ended. The cute words, the pranks that drove me crazy, the outlandish reports, the ridiculous rules, the cute illustrations, none of them will appear in this notebook again.
“Ehh, not like I can do anything about it.”
I kept repeating such thoughts in my mind, but in the end, I closed the journal to avoid having any lingering thoughts. It’s not good to keep thinking about it.
“Now then, time to start. I’m prepping for college anyway.”
I try to coax myself so as to change my mood. Thanks to this year, my grades really slipped. To be honest, it feels like I was playing around for half the year.
Anyway, I finally manage to return to my usual daily life–and so a week pass.
Why is this happening? I assume that I’ll be a mental wreck due to anguish, but I never expect myself to accept this current situation so easily. Of course, there are times where I feel lonely. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll find my room all neat and tidy, and with people around me saying stuff i know, it just feels weird to me. Not having to write a journal before I sleep makes me feel that I’m missing something. Sometimes, I just feel powerless for moments, as though I’ve woken up from a wonderful dream. However, I haven’t sighed about it.
Surely it’s because of the last letter she left behind for me.
Don’t cry, smile.
I knew it was because of these words supporting my inner heart that I was able to continue living on enthusiastically. Even until the very end, she lived on for my sake.
I can no longer open the exchange journal.
Back in the day, whenever I woke up, I would open the journal Hikari Yumesaki and I shared. Right now, even if I open it, there won’t be any new content, I guess, only the memories she once left behind. But for some reason, I can’t open it.
Because I know.
That if I’m to open it–and see the words she wrote, surely,
Something might collapse,
Sunday arrives. The sun rises, and I wake up. I take a look at the date on the cellphone, see that it’s Sunday, and scan the room in a blur. What’s going on? I just feel so refreshed on a Sunday after spending Saturday. So a week is this long?
“… Time to do some cleaning up.”
This is the room where Hikari Yumesaki and I spent time together.
I want to make memories, and leave the stuff that person bought or got from somewhere untouched, but it feels like I’m basically admitting that I have longing feelings for them. Memories are memories, to be left buried in the heart. At the very least, I should at least revert my room to how it’s like before.
“Alright, time to get pumped up!”
I shout, quickly finish my breakfast, wash my face, and change into comfy clothes. This motivation is important. It’s pointless to remain dejected all the time; I still need to live on.
With such determination, I start to clean up. I’m mentally prepared, but there’s still a lot of work.
Either way, there’s way too much stuff. If I’m to do a clean up as usual, I guess I’ll be done in a short while, but with so much, I’ll be done at sunset if I do this seriously.
So, to heck with being serious. Rather than a cleanup, I might as well say that it’s a full shakeup–with such thoughts, I start to clean up my room little by little. It’s been a while since I cleaned up my room like this–
Suddenly, something flutters out. While I’m thinking of a way to stuff the manga into Hikari Yumesaki’s personal shelf, something flutters out from between the books.
I have a look at the thing that fell onto the floor. So it’s a folded piece of paper, and there seems to be something written on it. I pick it up; what’s written in there–
“Hikari shows up after being forgotten! It’s amazing that you managed to find this hidden Hikari! As to be expected of you, partner!”
The next moment, I can’t be bothered.
I start looking around the room, and I find papers stuck under the carpet, in the creases of the chair, at the back of the clock.
When did she stick them? When did she put so many–
Countless bits of papers are stuck at every corner of the room. The other half that I so love–
“Ohhh! You’re able to find Hikari even after she’s hiding here! As to be expected of you, Sakamoto!”
“Ehehe! This is an afterimage of Hikari!”
“Even if you find me, there’ll be a second, third Hikari appearing…”
“Even though I’m found, there’s still more coming after me!”
“You idiot! I’m a shadow clone!”
The paper slips aren’t only in the room. They’re also in the corners of the washroom, the corners of the hung scrolls, beneath the table in the living room.
The house I lived in with her, one by one–
My eyes catch sight of one of the bits, and with pretty handwriting, the words written are,
“The name written on this note shall die after obeying Hikari’s order.”
“Akitsuki Sakakmoto, you died once in Hikari’s place. After that, Hikari was completely revived. So, forget Hikari and live on happily. Please continue to live on happily.”
No, I can’t cry. Got to hold it in.
Didn’t I make a promise? I can’t cry. She and I–“
Suddenly, I hear a shout, and recoil in shock. I turn around, and find Yukiko behind me.
Th-that shocked me. What’s going on?
“What ar eyou doing? You’ve been looking around everywhere.”
“Eh, ah, yeah…”
Got to find a way to bluff her. Hold it, try to bluff her,
“W-well. I’m packing things up,. I’ll be done immediately.”
I try my best to tweak my tone. That’s close, but I should be able to pull a fast one.
My answer doesn’t seem wrong, but why does Yukiko look surprised?
And her face starts to look sad.
“Erm, it’s late to ask this now, but I’m curious to what you said before…what you’re doing now has nothing to do with what you said, right…?”
“Hm? Ah, what?”
“I really thought hard about it, but I don’t get what you mean at all. I’m really curious.”
Looks like Hikari Yumesaki said some strange stuff to Yukiko. What happened.
“Erm, what did I say?”
“You said,on that day, ‘tomorrow, I will die, and your brother will revive, so relax’. I can’t get what you mean at all.”
“E-even if it’s a joke, don’t die or anything. I heard that those who want to die will look clean up the stuff around them. What you’re doing now has nothing to do with that, right brother?”
–I finally obtained a delinquent’s body I always wanted! I now fear nothing!
–Yukiko got a boyfriend!
–Okay, based on Hikari-styled’s majority vote, it’s decided that I’m not the one at fault~
–One day, the two of us will go see mama, right?
–Ehehe. It’s great to be in your body❤
“Yukiko’s sensitive to such things, so please don’t say such strong things. Don’t say anything strange whenever you want to. As-as punishment, brother, today, you must–“
I can’t help but hug Yukiko.
I hug that little body, my cute little sister. I can’t let her see my face. I embrace her tightly, with strength.
“Right. I won’t die…never again…”
Don’t cry. I can’t cry.
“I-I’ll always, always be…by your side…”
I promised her, that I won’t cry, that I’ll continue to live with a smile. I promised.
I promised, I already, promised–
I just can’t stop crying.
That day, I cried for a long time. I let out a cry in this cruel world, in this world where I’m lonely.
The sandglass continues to tick on, the flowers wilt, and the sun sets.
The long dream comes to an end.
I’ll be going home after college classes this Friday. Say hi to mom for me.
I’ll be looking forward to your birthday party.
—-Three years passed.
On that day, I found something nostalgic.
“You found this limited rare Hikari! As to be expected of you, partner! Bonus points! Five hundred sit-ups!”
“At such a place?”
The piece of paper’s in the crease of the gaming console I brought from home. I pick it up, and chuckle to me myself. Hikari Yumesaki left a lot of paper slips for me at the very end. It looks like I’ve still yet to find them all.
“You told me to forget about you, but you clearly don’t want me to forget about you, huh?”
I shake the little piece of paper from Hikari Yumesaki, muttering to myself.
It’s been three years since the life of two personalities in one body I shared with Hikari Yumesaki ended.
I’m now in my third year of college.
As for what happened after then…what I’ve been doing after Hikari Yumesaki vanished, the answer’s that I tried my hardest to study. To put it straight, I was just running away from reality. After losing the girl I love, I felt really lonely, and to alleviate the loneliness in my heart, I got down to studying, with an anguished heart, to maintain my sanity.
And so, a year or so passed
I didn’t know if it’s because I spent the time studying hard, but I actually managed to make it to the premier college. Oh great, the power of love really is terrifying. However, it does feel a little inappropriate to say this.
Thus, I’m living alone. I can do whatever I want, but I do feel a little alone. Especially when Yukiko sent me a message saying “It’s time to come home! You never bothered asking Yukiko! It’s too late for you to be acting like a brother! Yukiko’s not lonely!” on that day, I suddenly feel like I missed Yukiko’s pretty face . Looks like my fear of being alone hasn’t changed even at the age of twenty.
“But there are still more of these.”
I mutter, and carefully put the folded piece of paper into my drawer.
I thought that there will be a whole bunch of them, but it looks like I didn’t manage to find them all. Even after years, there are still pieces of paper showing up suddenly from time to time. Oh great, even in death, she’s good at sudden attacks.
And so I think, as I reach for a journal placed on the table.
“Nothing’s probably written inside.”
These words encapsulate my loneliness.
This is the journal I once used. I know it’s meaningless, but I continue to insist on writing the journal every day.
And only on the left side, the right side blank.
To any bystander, this might be a strange journal. To us however, it’s meaningful. I guess I still have I still have a longing for her.
Will I have a sudden memory loss, and a reply appear on the journal?
Will I suddenly end up dating a girl without knowing it?
Will I again be involved with some ridiculous antics?
Yes, I’m looking forward to it.
So in the end, I didn’t open the journal; i pack my stuff,and prepare to head out to class. After class, I’ll have to head home immediately. Yukiko already sent more than twenty messages, telling me to “hurry back home”. If I don’t hurry up, my inbox is going to be spammed. I hope Yukiko will like her birthday present though.
“Right, time to head out.”
I say to the journal that’s left alone on the table, and leave the room.
Slowly, I walk down the sunny path leading to school.
I pass through the residential area, and arrive at the bustling streets with loads of food shops. All I see are young people living the college life. Ah, those people with friends sure have it nice. In the end, I’m back to being alone. I really haven’t grown at all. Life sure is tough.
But, it’s not like life never changed at all.
Hearing this sudden greeting, I have to stop, and turn my head around.
A girl’s running towards me from behind.
“Morning! Looks like you’re in a good mood today too, Sakamoto!”
“Enough already. Drank too much at the seminar two days ago, and I’m having a hungover since yesterday–Miyamoto.”
I retort back at the girl smiling at me.
Even I too find this to be a real coincidence.
I somehow end up miraculously reunited with my childhood friend and penpal Harumi Miyamoto, and we somehow end up attending the same college. I never told her which college I was headed to, so we just so happened to bump into each other, I was chatted up by her, and was really taken aback. “You got a memorable looking face.” So Miyamoto said, but I’ll just take that as praise.
“Let’s go then! The streets clear up quickly whenever I walk with you. Thanks for the help.”
“Don’t say this as if I’m a snow plower.”
And keep a low profile.
“Ahaha. What’s wrong with that? And you’re my ‘butler’ here. Hurry, gogogo!”
The girl bares her teeth as she laughs out loud. Butler, she remembers that promise, huh?
“Hm? What’s wrong? Why are you looking at me.”
I subconsciously stare at Miyamoto, and she suddenly tilts her head in a cute manner. I don’t really have any thought about it, just that she got prettier. She was cute in my memories, but it just feels like she got prettier ever since she became a college girl. Really, she’s a college girl in her youth. That old headband of hers still fuits her.
“But well, you used to slouch a lot, Sakamoto. You’re tall, you should stand up right. Also, don’t frown all the time.”
“What? This isn’t a bad thing, is it? Not like I want anyone else to look at me.”
“Seriously. I give you a rare tip, you know. I thought you got kinder through our letters, but once we meet again, I see that you never changed. Everyone has a bad opinion of you, you know~”
Shut up. This is good. My philosophy is that I don’t have the need to make friends. Also, I still have contact with my friends in high school, so I don’t feel lonely at all. But really, I was anxious when Kasumi figured out my address before I could tell her.
“Speaking of which, aren’t you the same?”
“Hm? What about me?”
I guess that’s it. You seem like a posh, refined lady through the letters, but it’s like I found that you’re exactly the same as before. What happened to the crazy personality of yours in your letters.
This feisty Miyamoto suddenly lets out a rare falter.
And then, she gives a bashful look, saying,
“…You still remember the first time we met at the campsite, right?”
It’s impossible to forget about that. That day was the first time she and I–
“There’s a girl hugging a panda doll back then, you remember?”
Miyamoto mentions Hikari Yumesaki before I can recall her appearance. This really surprises me.
“You actually like her, don’t you?”
The unexpected words come one after another, and I choose silence. I guess my attitude left Miyamoto mistaken about it, and she continues on, her face a little red,
“Back then, I kept looking at you, and when you saw that she couldn’t cross the river, you wanted to help her, and made a fool of yourself. You failed, but back then, when this young me saw that scene, I was thinking that you had such feelings for her. So I tried changing my image in the letter. But this can only be done in the letters.”
Hikari Yumesaki, looks like you impact in ways we don’t know of. Seriously, there are legends of you everywhere.”
“What happened to that girl?”
Basking in the breeze, I answer in a forlorn manner.
I guess it’s probably a coincidence, but my heart still rattles whenever I find Hikari Yumesaki notes, and then hear people mention her on the day itself. Yep, those days aren’t just dreams. No matter how much time has passed, even if they start to fade, she did…live on this world before. As my other half–
While the atmosphere got silent.
My cellphone rang, notifying me.
I have a look at the sender, and can’t help but gasp.
“Hm, what’s the matter? Your girlfriend?”
I evade Miyamoto’s stare, telling her that’s not the case, and then look at the message from the girl–who shared the same tragic fate as us.
“Good morning. Are you still alright? Today is the third anniversary of Hayato’s disappearance. Do you want to come along and clean his grave?”
Seeing this somewhat lonely message, I can’t help but look up at the sky. Yeah, it’s been so long–
A month after Hikari Yumesaki vanished from my body, Hayato too met his demise, and left this world. He kept smiling until the very end, never complaining at all, continuing to live on as Chiaki’s hero, and vanished. He’s a strong one, so strong that I feel that I’ll never be able to surpass him in this life.
His life is definitely not meaningless.
Chiaki’s probably motivated by that vigorous lifestyle of Hayato, and ever since then, her growth has been outstanding. After much enthusiastic practice, Chiaki now can move around the vicinity of her house without the assistance of a wheelchair. Not alone that, but the biggest change that happened to her is–
“Also, have you found any clues as to how to revive Hayato and Miss Hikari?”
Seeing the last bit, I can’t help but smile.
Right–even at this point. Chiaki hasn’t given up on Hayato.
The girl who despaired over the cruel future no longer exists. She swore before Hayato’s grave that she’ll definitely be reunited with him again, and never to give up. She knows that it’s a tough road full of obstacles, and yet she decides to continue on. She wipes her tears, determined as she looks forward. She’s greatly different from this me who cried, a reliable person.
“What’s the matter? You’ve been smiling for a while now.”
“Eh? Ah, sorry. It’s nothing.”
While I lose myself as I look at the message, Miyamoto stares at my face, looking unhappy. Sorry, sorry. So I apologize twice before talking things through.
“Nothing of yet, but I won’t give up. I’ll go over to you this Sunday, until then.” I give Chiaki this reply, and slip the phone into my pocket. Right, I don’t intend to give up either.
As long as we’re still alive, there’s still a possibility. Then, let’s continue to struggle until the very end. This is the job of those still alive. I’m going to fulfill the promise that was yet to be fulfilled.
To meet Madam Hinako–with her.
“Surely–we’ll be together.”
“Hm? Really, what’s with you?”
I chuckle at a mystified Miyamoto, wave it off, and again look at the sky.
The blue, tall sky.
I’m sure that she’ll be at some place under this blue sky, I believe that one day, we’ll reunite under the blue sky.
I silently call out her name, in a voice nobody else can hear.
“Seriously! Pull yourself together! Look, we’re going to me late!”
I feel a sense of nostalgia in my heart, and Miyamoto slaps my back hard. Yeah yeah, I’m sorry. Let’s go to college.
With Miyamoto prompting me, we head off to school.
It’s after school, and after school, I head back to my apartment before heading for home. Time to clean up my room.
I prepare my bag, change the birthday present I bought for Yukiko last week. Think, there’s–
While I’m packing up.
There’s a little piece of paper between the gaps of the computer box. Ah, two rare strikes today–I open the box, and take out the piece of paper. It’s what I expected.
“Hikari shows up when you’re feeling lonely, Sakamoto! You’re too careless!”
“They’re really everywhere.”
How many did she hide? She has no restraint, that fellow.”
I have a look at the note from Hikari Yumesaki, smile, and carefully put it into the table. After some silence, I pick up by bag, and is about to leave.
“Right. I closed the window too.”
Just when I opened the door leading to the corridor.
While the dazzling sunlight’s shining in through the gap, stinging at my eyes.
Eh? That one…
Where did that piece come from? I remember it’s tucked in the computer I brought from home. It’s not strange to have pieces of paper inside there.
Then, the content?
I did say, when I was in high school, that I want to live alone once I get to college. So even if she did predict this before she vanish, it’s not surprising.
But, what if–
I start to slowly return home.
For some reason, there’s a smile on my face.
But I know why.
Surely there’s something changing. I have this feeling.
I pick up the journal on the table.
My–our exchange diary.
My exchange diary, and hers.
I believe there’s definitely something written on it–