(Akagi still hasn’t sent me a message yet…)
Having checked her phone ever since morning, Yū let her shoulders collapse under the blanket as she lowered her head dejectedly.
“I’ll chase that vengeful spirit away tomorrow.”
After sending this message the previous day, Koremitsu had yet to contact her.
(Why…did Akagi send that message to me? …What exactly is he trying to do?)
Shall she take the initiative to send a message to him?
No, she had already decided not to meet him again. Even if he knocked on the door, she could not let him in.
She could thus regain her peaceful life again.
And she would not have to feel bitter thinking about Koremitsu, and suddenly feel terrified, lost.
(But, what if…Akagi really finds my umbrella? What do I do?)
Such a thing could not happen.
But if a blue umbrella with an angelfish swimming on it appeared in front of her eyes.
That umbrella—was the birthday gift Yū’s parent gifted her. If she could relive that blissful moment, and have it return to her hands…
Yū’s heart was trepidating with excitement, but once she realized it was impossible no matter what, her heart was shrouded in the darkness of despair.
The rain that rang outside the window was ostensibly abusing her, causing her to hurt all over, as if she was stabbed everywhere by harpoons.
(That’s enough, I can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to see anything, I don’t want to hear anything.)
She did not want to hurt others, let alone herself.
She just thought about seeing such blissful events, and living a peaceful life in a place nobody else would notice.
(When will the rain stop?)
She tugged harder at the blanket draped all over her, from head to toe, and was crouched in a corner of the room, shuddering.
At that moment, Lapis continued to sit at the window side, its bright Lapis-colored eyes looking outside through the gap of the window curtains.
(You want to go outside, Lapis?)
The white tail swayed slightly.
Yū held onto the cellphone tightly with both hands, and spoke with a weak voice,
“Don’t…leave me, Lapis.”
Tears swelled helplessly as her throat was afflicted with a piercing pain.
The icy droplet rolled down her cheeks, and at this moment, Lapis slowly approached Yū, rubbing its body at the blanket.
“Thank you, Lapis…for being so understanding. You’ll accompany me forever, right…?”
The Lapis eyes looked up at Yū.
—Lapis’ eye color resemble that of Earth.
Those were eyes Hikaru once praised softly.
Yū really hoped to remain in that little world forever. She really hoped she could close her eyes, have a wonderful dream, and melt within that blue sea.
The phone in her hand suddenly rang.
Startled, she stared at the screen.
It was from Koremitsu.
Not a message, but a phone call.
(What do I do now? I’m scared!)
Why did he not send a mail? Her heart would definitely falter upon hearing his voice.
The phone continued to vibrate.
Yū held her breath, pressed the call button, and slowly brought the phone to her ears.
“Yū, are you listening there? Yū?”
Koremitsu’s voice rang through the thin and light cellphone clearly.
Her heart throbbed, and tears were almost welling from her eyes again.
A sobbing voice came from her mouth.
Koremitsu probably heard it, and he let out a heavy sigh on the other end.
Both parties have confirmed each other’s existence, and after a while. Koremitsu started talking,
With his usual, calm and deep voice.
“I just…chased the vengeful spirit away. It’s not a spirit, but just some ordinary ghosts, and also an upright yet foolish person…they’re all alive.”
Koremitsu tried his best to find terms as he stiffly described the incident with the girls that bullied Yū, what Tōjō did after knowing of it, and how much he did for Yū up till that point.
Yū already knew Shungo Tōjō was the one who notified her of Hikaru’s death.
When she sat at the stone monument behind the school campus, eating her meal alone, she spotted a tall, bulking, proud-looking upperclassman standing in the bamboo forest swaying about.
That person remained quiet as he gave a stoic expression, scaring her.
But once she stood up frantically, he told her that she could continue to remain there and have her meal.
On that rainy day, she found him standing at a building, frowning as he looked at the sky whilst the downpour continued. She hesitantly reached her umbrella over, saying she wanted to give him a lift, and upon hearing that, he gave an expression that was either of repulse or doubt,
“Let me hold this.”
In a gentlemanly manner, he received the umbrella from Yū’s hand.
They merely spoke to each other twice.
They were both very tense and lethargic.
That person was of an outstanding family, handsome, capable, intelligent, and was ostensibly a person from another world. She merely found it perplexing that others said she was trying to seduce him, to hook up with him.
She thought that person would be troubled that such rumors persisted and spread, and might even be angry about it.
After locking herself in her home, she never thought about him again.
But that upperclassman felt he had responsibility in this, and kept protecting her.
This really confused her, and yet touched her.
“Then, is the vengeful spirit…gone?”
Yū asked tentatively.
“No, the last one’s still not dealt with yet.”
Koremitsu’s voice was very serious, causing Yū’s heart to nearly stop once she heard it.
Why was his tone that terrifying?
“You’re the only one who can chase this vengeful spirit away. It’s in your heart.”
She felt a chill rise up her back.
The sound of rain seemed to have grown louder.
She did not understand what Koremitsu was trying to get at.
But she was already terrified, trembling all over.
“You went to school on the day after your umbrella went missing, right?”
“No, that day…I wasn’t at school.”
Right, she was sprawled on the bed, crying that day. The pillow and sheets were drenched in the bitter and salty tears, and it had been raining outside the window continuously since two nights ago…
“No, you went to school before. Think about it carefully.”
Koremitsu continued to question.
Yū’s heart beat and raced, and the raindrops splattering the windows got louder and stronger.
She stuck the phone at her ear with her pale face, and suddenly had a strange feeling, that the reason was hitting on her directly.
Like the day when she, in a despaired stated, ran home in the rain.
She lost her umbrella, was mocked at by those girls, and ran home in the torrent that rained down hard like arrows. She was shuddering on the way back, “I’ll get eaten, I’ll get eaten”, muttering this…
And after that, she remained at home…
“On the day the girls who bullied you acted out that plan, someone saw you at school. Everyone thought that’s your living spirit, and the rumors haven’t disappeared even till now. But that’s not your spirit, but yourself.”
The visual images slowly replayed in her mind.
It was a heavy downpour that never stopped.
The white blouse was sticking on the body, and there was water dripping down the black pleated skirt.
Her uniform, hanging in the room, was thoroughly soaked, and the feeling of the skirt stuck on her thigh caused her to tremble in fear, to the extent of nausea…
Suddenly, she realized,
(Why did I wear a drenched uniform? Why did I wear a heavy skirt with the smell of rain?)
Where did she go while wearing that set of clothing?
She opened the door…walked down the stairs…and then…
Her mind was suddenly fuzzy, she was practically out of breath as she let out frantic panting.
Right, that day…I…
“Yes…I went…to school…”
There was only a plastic umbrella at the corridor, so she could only use that umbrella, continued to look around worriedly, and see if there was anyone else watching.
“What did you go to school for?”
“I wanted to go to the back garden…to get my umbrella back…”
Why am I saying such words?
It felt like it really happened. No, these are just dream words…
“Why did your umbrella end up there?”
“Because the umbrella dropped outside the window.”
She wanted to grab the umbrella, but could not catch it. The umbrella felld won.
It was an uneven black torrent below.
The waves rose, and a fish opened its mouth wide…
“Who threw it down?”
The fish swallowed the umbrella…
I was the one who threw the umbrella down.
A breaking sound rang in her head.
The memories, sealed for a long time, saw the light of day again.
The rain that thoroughly drenched the windows, the umbrella rack along the corridor, the blue umbrella amidst the umbrellas of various colors.
The treasured umbrella that had provided shelter for Yū.
As long as she had this umbrella, she would not be afraid of stares from others, not be afraid of the sneers from others. Even when her indoor shoes disappeared, when she could only walk down the corridors on slippers, when she open her textbooks to find things written inside, like ‘vixen’, ‘hooker’, she would not be afraid. It did not matter even when she was hit by a basketball during physical education, and when she heard a sarcastic, laugh-riddled “Sorry, I didn’t mean it”…
Even if she were to be ostracized by others, it did not matter as long as she had an umbrella…it did not matter, it did not matter…it did not matter…
No, how could it not matter?
Those stares would continue to pierce through the umbrella, and their voices would sneak through the umbrella and enter her ears.
How long would she have to continue on like this? How long did she have to endure? Until the end of the First Semester? The Second? A year later? Did she have to endure for 3 whole years?
I can’t take this anymore!
As long as she had the umbrella, she could continue to endure.
Her parents were very happy when she could enter this highly prestigious, traditional school.
But later, her parents divorced; her mother went overseas, and her father made a new family with someone else.
In that case, what purpose was there to go to school again?
It was not because ‘she could endure because she had an umbrella’, but that ‘she had to endure because she had an umbrella’, was it not?
If the umbrella was gone, there would be no need to endure any further, was there?
For if she did not have an umbrella, she would have nothing to protect herself.
If she did not have the umbrella, she would not be able to go to school.
She would not need to go to school.
She fumbled about as she drew out that treasured umbrella of hers from the rack.
Once the window opened, the rain immediately fell on her face.
The sky was covered in thick clouds, and it was dark despite it being a day. Upon looking down, the clout of trees were roaring loudly like a black wave.
The strong winds blew, blowing the trees to a point where they bent down. After they straightened again, the cracks between the tree crowns resembled a fish’s mouth, and she felt goosebumps rise on the back of her neck.
The hands reaching out of the window were stained with rain.
The fingers holding the umbrella handle lost their strength, and it immediately fell.
It slowly fell.
And it was gradually devoured.
The umbrella ‘was eaten’.
Yū’s mind was in a blank as she stumbled back to the classroom, and returned to her seat.
Something incorrigibly terrifying seemed to have just happened.
But what was it?
At first, when she first thought about it, there was cold sweat and loss of breath. Thus, she decided not to think about it.
In the end, an ominous premonition continued to prick at her as it expanded in her heart.
Yū’s premonition became reality, and her umbrella really disappeared.
The umbrella that had been in the rack since morning had disappeared.
(Yes, I deliberately forgot that I dropped my umbrella.)
But on the next day, when she stayed at home and chose to skip school, sobbing on the bed, she saw the image of the umbrella falling into a large fish’s mouth again.
(I thought—I had to get my umbrella back…)
She was the one who personally dropped it…but she felt she had to take her precious umbrella from the fish’s mouth. She then changed into her uncomfortable drenched uniform, held a plastic umbrella in the middle of the rain, and returned to school.
She tentatively avoided the stares of the passers-by as she returned to school, and started looking for her umbrella.
She could not find it.
She rubbed her eyes, hoping to see clearly, bent down as she walked around, and even snuck into the shrubs, and finally found it.
She reached her arm out, but could not get it. The twigs and leaves cut the skin, causing blood trails to flow.
The obstructive plastic umbrella was thrown aside, and it rolled away as the wind blew. In the midst of the ongoing torrent, she knelt on the muddy ground, climbed on, and snuck into the shrubs.
Her hands and feet were stained in mud.
She finally managed to grab the handle of the umbrella, and pulled it out.
What appeared in front of her however was not her precious umbrella, but the wreckage of it.
It was eaten!
She would never get it back!
Yū held onto the icy remains of it as she ran home in the rain, utterly terrified of the image of the large fish chasing her down.
In the midst of despair, she knew there was nothing that could protect her.
Thus, Yū started to fear the rain, and did not dare to step outside the house.
“I…did everything…I threw away what protected me, the precious umbrella papa and mama bought for me on my birthday…I…”
She widened her eyes and muttered in shock.
Her body was ostensibly frozen all over.
Lapis was still looking up at her.
“I’m the vengeful spirit? I was the one who ruined everything? Was ‘I’…the one who was going to devour myself? That large black fish…that terrifying fish, was me?”
She was unable to breathe, her throat was shuddering, her eyes all dizzy, and her head in a mind-splitting pain.
“Did everyone bully me because they knew I had a vengeful spirit?”
Lapis’ body started to contort.
The fish stuck on the wall started to sway and gradually fade away.
The sea kingdom had collapsed.
She could no longer fall asleep peacefully.
This place was no longer safe!
For she was the vengeful spirit—
At that moment
“PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER! DON’T FALL INTO ANY RIDICULOUS DELUSIONS ANYMORE! DON’T GET YOURSELF SWALLOWED BY THE VENGEFUL SPIRIT IN YOUR HEART!”
A powerful voice rang in Yū’s ears.
“I’M WITH YOU HERE! DON’T HOLE YOURSELF IN THE ROOM AND THINK OF SUCH PESSIMISTIC THINGS! OPEN THE DOOR!”
A firm voice rang from the cellphone.
(You’re strong, but I…)
Yū was still hesitant, but that voice rang again.
This time, the voice came from beyond the door!
“DON’T LOSE THERE! YŪ! YOU HAVE TO LIVE ON WITH YOUR OWN STRENGTH!!”
Koremitsu was outside the door!
Yū’s vision continued to waver.
But her heart had floated out of the door.
“But if you honestly face your feelings and try taking a step forward, perhaps you may understand.”
Why did she search through the internet for someone she could discuss her love troubles with?
Why was she really hoping to see him?
She was utterly terrified of him, but why did she want to hear that angry-sounding voice?
Why was her heart so befuddled?
Koremitsu’s remained silent.
The only things that could be heard in the room were Yū’s breathing and the sound of rain.
After a short silence that drew her attention away, a passionate, rasp—weak and dejected voice rang
“Yū, I want to meet you…”
The blanket slid down Yū’s head, and she, who was left only with a sleeveless one-piece, found herself walking to the door.
She tottered barefooted as she stared right at the door.
She was staring at Koremitsu, who was outside the door.
She too wanted to convey them.
She wanted to convey her feelings for him.
She was always afraid, worried.
In the past, she felt that if she wanted to fall in love, it would have to be with Hikaru, for he would wholeheartedly accept her for who she was. Whenever she was with him, she would not need to change.
She could keep the blissfulness she had up till this point.
But at this point, he was not the one who touched her heart, who supported her as she advanced on, but his friend—the owner of that clumsy, raspy voice.
Her fingers touched the door lock.
And there was the click of the door being unlocked.
And then, she turned the handle…
The first thing that entered her eyes was the red-haired youth with a serious expression, his mouth tightly sealed, his face looking very tense.
And then, it was the deep blue umbrella he held, followed by the rain behind him.
The sound of rain felt gradually distant and weaker as it reached her ears.
“I want to meet you too.”
She stared at Koremitsu with teary eyes as she said this with a trembling voice.
She expressed the feeling the budded when he was with her, that nurtured with she was unable to meet him, and realized.
I want to meet you. I want to meet you.
Koremitsu widened his eyes and gasped.
He ostensibly could not believe these words as his face was all red, his eyebrows raised as he stared at Yū with that terrifying savage expression.
“…I said I’ll help you get your umbrella back.”
His face was numb as he muttered. He closed his umbrella, left it at a side of the corner, removed his shoes, and walked in.
Upon hearing him mention about the umbrella, Yū suddenly recalled the terrifying memory she forgot for a while, and her bare shoulders started to shudder.
She held her breath as she watched Koremitsu’s tense back profile enter the room decisively.
Lapis wagged its tail as it followed behind.
At the wall, there were seashell decorations, the stove and fan her mother treasured, and the old golf bag her father used before.
Those were the towers of prayer for blessing for the fish.
Koremitsu grabbed the golf bag zipper and immediately pulled it open.
There was a space opened at that moment.
He then reached in, and pulled out the blue umbrella inside.
And he turned around.
Yū wanted to pull at the blanket and cover herself, but it had already dropped onto the floor.
His eyes blazing, Koremitsu stared at Yū,
He said it clearly.
Yū’s heart started to pound at a maddening rate, and Koremitsu remained where he was, his eyes unflinching as he opened the umbrella in front of her.
The ribs of the umbrella were bent, the surface was stained all over, and there was a large hole.
What was originally a pretty, bright appearance could no longer be seen, and only those remained.
Lapis let out a soft squeal, ostensibly mourning for it.
(I did it…)
This was the decisive proof.
Her legs weakened, and looked ready to fall over anytime.
Koremitsu let go of the broken umbrella’s handle.
It fell to the floor in its damaged state.
“This umbrella can’t be used anymore.”
His tone was nonchalantly, direct and without any restraint as he ostensibly narrated the truth .
Once he let go of the umbrella, he reached his bare hand over to Yū, who was surprised.
He curled his lips aside in an embarrassed manner.
There was still rain on the outside.
There was no umbrella.
There was nothing that could provide shelter for them.
Yū nodded, and held Koremitsu’s hand.
It was a warm hand.
The fingers were firm.
And they were holding onto Yū’s hand tightly.
Koremitsu walked towards the corridor, and Yū nervously followed.
Lapis too arrived at the door, and sat down obediently.
“Do you have any shoes?”
Yū hurriedly opened her shoe closet, took out a pair, and put them on.
Those were the leather shoes she wore to school, but her feet had shrunk, probably because she was not wearing socks, or that she had not left home for so long, that her shoes were loose and wobbly. Once her toes went in, her ankle slipped in as well.
Koremitsu held on to her hand the entire time as she put on her shoes.
The door was still left open after Koremitsu entered,
And it was still raining outside.
Lapis seemed to be watching them leave as it let out a soft cry.
Koremitsu did not take the umbrella he just placed at the side of the corridor.
He stared at Yū, it’s fine, ostensibly saying this, held her hand hard, and walked outside to the passage.
The roof was not doing its job well, and the icy rain drops hit Yū on the face, shoulders and arms.
After walking through the passage, Koremitsu pulled Yū’s hand hard as he ran towards the rain.
“I’m going to show you something you can only see outdoors!”
He proclaimed loudly and dragged Yū as he raced through the rain with blinding speed.
The sound of rain splattering brushed by above their heads.
Yū’s hair, clothes and body were completely soaked, as if they were chasing after the rain, and there was water in her shoes, dripping all over. However, Koremitsu continued to grab hold of her, and did not allow her to stop and be afraid.
Whenever her soles slid, and when she was about to fall, Koremitsu would exert strength and pull Yū up.
Yū was dragged along at his mercy as she continued to run hard.
She was panting, her mind heated.
Her heart was pounding to a point where it could nearly jump out from her throat.
I’m actually running in the midst of such a scary rain!
It was terrifying dark when she saw the outside through the apartment’s corridor, but the outside was brighter than she thought
The alley, which brought into different paths, had bungalows or apartment blocks flanking it on both sides, and the door of a civilian residence was surrounded with flower pots, opening pretty, cute red flowers. At the foot of the wall belonging to the next residence, there were yellow roses in full bloom.
The tree at the yard opposite had lush green leaves dripping with dew, and there were bell-shaped frills hanging between the twigs.
Such scenery appeared beside them as they raced through, and while running, Yū seemed to hear a gentle, delightful voice.
—On my way here today, I saw the Morning Glory planted here, and they were as bright red as a ribbon, as cute as a girl maturing early, asking her mother for help in tying it.
—The floral language of the yellow Rose is ‘envy’, ‘departed love’, or ‘breaking up’, so some do not think it is suitable for giving to others, but it also has a hidden meaning of ‘trying to love’, or ‘friendship’.
—I do not hate the yellow Rose, so whenever I pass by those roses when I go to your house, I will stop and talk with them, hoping that they would see me in my best condition.
(Did Hikaru walk down this road?)
Were the clumps of yellow Roses and Morning Glories the ones Hikaru talked? That white flower too?
—The American Catalpa flowers grow between the green heart-shaped leaves, and the petals are like the frills of a skirt, fluttering in the wind, like a group of innocent princesses chatting away. Anyone will not help but smile when they see them. The white flowers also have purple and yellow spots on them, and they resemble some ingenious decoration. They are really cute, and I hope they bloom soon.
Whenever they talked about flowers, Hikaru’s looked adorable and excited, and his tone would become sweet, clear and refreshing.
She loved to hear Hikaru talk about flowers.
She would hear what sort of flower it was, how it looked, where it bloomed, how it grew, and would imagine it according to his description, which excited her.
She was really looking forward to it.
Towards the world he talked about, the flowers he described.
Like a beautiful, colorful dream.
But at this moment, Yū realized the assortment of colors was not a dream.
(There’s so many vibrant colors outside!)
She continued to be dragged by Koremitsu, and continued to run as she whiffed at the sweet fragrance of the white Wisteria.
There was a park in front of her eyes, filled completely with green.
Koremitsu, with rain all over his face, turned to face Yū as he said energetically,
“You must definitely see this! That’s what Hikaru told me!”
Yū saw a blue world.
Soon after entering the park, there was a lake, and there was many coquettish flowers of white, purple, and pale blue. They resembled Rabbit-ear Irises and Sanguinea Irises, but were actually Japanese Irises!
Hikaru had told her of this before!
—The Japanese Irises growing at the side of the park’s lake are like fair maidens.Their leaves are sharp, and they are hard to approach, but their petals are tender, delicate, refined and graceful. They’re really enchanting.
—Do you know how to distinguish between Rabbit-ears, Sanguinea and Japanese Irises? If the bottom of the petals are white, they are Rabbit-ears, and if yellow, Japanese Irises. Also, if there is a web-shaped floral pattern at the bottom, they would be Sanguinea. These flowers are similar, and vary a little, but they all have their own charm!
The floral bed surrounded by rocks were filled with pale blue and purple Hydrangeas. Hikaru mentioned before that the Hydrangea was a Japanese flower that existed since the Manyō era. Its name could be written as ‘Gathering of Blue’, for it was said it was named after this aspect.
The large violet flowers climbing up on the side must be the Clematis.
Hikaru once said with a delighted expression that it resembled a very intellectual looking, talented big sister staring at someone else.
There were budding little indigo flowers growing on the narrow stem of the Hummingbird Sage, and there was transparent dew resting on the gentle petals of the Commelina.
—Once the blooming season ends, it will be the rainy season, the world will be nutritioned by the rain, and there will be blue and purple flowers there.
Hikaru mentioned before that there were all sorts of flowers that bloom in the rain, and that it would be prettier, brighter, more majestic and more full of life than what Yū could imagine.
(This is the scene Hikaru saw before, the flowers he treasured.)
(The blue on the land has filled the entire world!)
Koremitsu suddenly widened his eyes in surprised, muttered away, and his stare continued to sway.
For some reason, he removed his shirt to reveal a T-shirt underneath, and with a blushing face, he handed the shirt over to Yū, saying,
“Put it on. It’s better than nothing.”
Yū found her thin one-piece drenched completely, to a point where it could be seen through, and blushed in embarrassment.
Koremitsu’s shirt was already drenched—but it was large, and could encompass her slender body within.
Koremitsu turned and looked away awkwardly. It was unknown who took the initiative, but they held hands again.
The touch of the fingertips felt cozy.
Yū continued to walk with Koremitsu, hand in hand, sometimes amazed by the dangling white Sorbara Sorbifolia, sometimes smiling at the needle-like blady grass at the lakeside, with several strands of silvery-white furs, and would sometimes stop in her tracks and lose herself as she stare at the light purple flowers at her feet.
(Even in the rain, all the flowers are trying their best to bloom. No, it’s because they’re in the rain…)
Whenever Hikaru visited Yū, he would bring along some photos of the sea.
But though he loved flowers so much, he would only describe them excitedly, and would never bring photos of them along, and never once did he take photos of them with his cellphone and show them to her.
Why was that?
At this moment, she ostensibly started to understand what Hikaru was thinking after seeing all the flowers in the park on this rainy day.
“Hikaru…must have wanted me to see this.”
She held onto Koremitsu’s hand as she heard the rain, thoroughly touched as she said this.
The colors of the flowers.
The fragrance of the plants.
The breezy feeling of the windy, the grace of the rain bestowed upon the land. He hoped for her not to imagine it, but to witness it personally, to touch it, to feel, to personally experience the wonder of nature.
He hoped for her to understand the beauty of the world.
He hoped she experience it with her body, her mind.
That certainly must have been what Hikaru was thinking|?
Koremitsu—Hikaru’s friend, answered definitively.
Hikaru was right in front of Yū, nodding gently to her. Koremitsu looked aside, and then stared at Yū with a gentle expression as he said with certain happiness.
—That’s right, Yū.
She could practically hear Hikaru’s voice through Koremitsu, and saw an image of Hikaru smiling in front of them…suddenly, there was a sense of nostalgia.
“Is this Hikaru’s promise?”
Koremitsu’s eyes suddenly became gloomy.
He seemed to have trouble enduring the pain in his heart as he stared at Yū sadly, and after a pause,
Koremitsu answered with an adamant tone, ostensibly having made some sort of decision with conviction.
“It’s a very important promise.”
His face was extremely tense, and his eyes looked more mature than usual. He seemed to know something Yū did not know of, but was enduring that pain alone. Upon seeing this, Yū felt her heart flutter.
Both of them were drenched in the rain together, viewing the same scene together, but she had a feeling, a lonely feeling of waiting for Koremitsu to visit, and a strong expectant feeling, hoping to erase that loneliness.
(What’s with this feeling?)
It felt sad, anxious, sweet yet bitter, and there was some unrest—
(Why did Akagi look for me? After I said such harsh words to him, why did he still call for me so insistently? Because of his promise with Hikaru? Is that it?)
When she opened the door, she found Koremitsu, his eyes blazing, right in front of her; her heart felt riveted, impulsive, and the feeling infected her throat, eyes and fingertips.
Yū subconsciously held Koremitsu’s hand, and the latter was startled as he turned to Yū.
His red hair was completely soaked, and the rain trekked down his forehead and cheeks.
He had lent his shirt to Yū, and the drenched T-shirt was sticking to his body. He looked really cold.
His troubled eyes were staring at Yū from under the raised eyebrows.
He seemed to be worried, thinking that he might have made Yū angry—and opened his mouth bewilderedly, but could only make a groan, unable to form a sentence.
That clumsy expression caused Yū’s heart to ache, and she felt the urge to cry too as she continued to stare at him.
Koremitsu’s mouth opened in a stiff manner, his eyes showing weakness and pain as he gazed at Yū.
Hikaru once said that one could tell if the other was in love through the look in the eyes.
(Akagi, I really—)
Her intercrossed fingers felt the increased strength from Koremitsu. His hand was wet, but was it due to the rain? Or due to the sweat?
Yū too was no less nervous than Koremitsu.
But she tried her best to express with her eyes how special the feeling that filled her heart was.
She really wanted to see him, and was practically unable to control her impulse.
Whether it was Hikaru, Tōjō, or anyone else, she never felt this sad, this hesitant.
Her heart was racing so fast she was panting. Their stares were too fixated, even the eyes were burning.
(I really like…)
Koremitsu’s eyes looked really passionate too. Her fingers, held in his hand, were almost breaking apart from the pain.
But upon seeing the similar hesitant look he showed, Yū felt really delighted, and his passionate stare caused her to feel emotionally uplifted from the sweetness.
(Yes, Hikaru…I can really tell from the eyes whether he’s in love. No, not just the eyes, even the eyebrows, lips, fingers, the breathing…)
Koremitsu’s eyes were blazing intensely.
The frustrated-looking tight eyebrows, the thoroughly red face, the trembling lips, the heavy breath from the mouth, and the sharp pain felt from the fingertips.
All these aspects revealed his feelings.
Her eyes soaking wet, Yū smiled.
(We’re the same.)
She lifted her head up with a blissful feeling, raised her lips, and stared at those eyes with a loving expression.
This must have been what it meant to attract others.
Wanting to pull the other person’s heart over…a serious yearning of contact, for each other, for them to be one.
The moment Yū smiled, Koremitsu narrowed his eyes, ostensibly in sadness, and brought his face over tentatively.
The tightly clasped hands were held tightly.
Yū’s fingers were numb to a point where she could not feel anything.
But her heart was filled with delight.
Her heart had pulled Koremitsu’s heart close to her.
Their lips overlapped stiffly.
The moist softness was cold, and had the taste of sweat and rain.
She closed her eyes, allowed herself to be drawn into the ecstasy of her entire body melting within. She felt apprehension, fearful and embarrassed, but was yet delighted, infatuated, blissful.
—You will learn of the delight of love one day, definitely.
Hikaru was no longer on this world.
But Yū had the feeling he was always nearby, looking at her with gentle eyes, and said quietly in her heart,
(Hikaru, I’ve fallen in love! I’ve fallen in love with your friend!)
Thank you, Hikaru.
Thank you for teaching me about all these flowers! Thank you for letting me see this blue world, and these flowers!
I want to be stronger. No, I have to be stronger!
I definitely have to be stronger.
Yū’s eyes opened, found the rain had stopped, and the light shining through the clouds brightened the park.
It felt like the last present Hikaru gave her.
—Farewell, Yū, I hope you will see more wonderful scenes in the future.
♢ ♢ ♢
When I left the details vague after entrusting Yū to you, I did not do it just because I was amused by how you were panicking over your first love.
I am not that devious, and neither am I that mean. If my only friend misunderstands me, it will be really depressing.
Hm? You saying that I need to help out as a friend, and not pretend to play dead or give a cold bystander look as if I understand everything?
It cannot be helped. I am not ‘pretending to be dead’, I am already dead.
I left Yū to you not because I did not love her.
On the contrary,
Yū is not a girlfriend of mine, but she is a girl I really treasured, and I really hoped she would have a blissful life.
It is because of that that I am so hesitant.
To Yū, what exactly is happiness? Is it really the best thing to pull her out from that room? Even after death, I still could not answer the question.
In essence, Yū is just like me.
We are scared of being hurt, and scared of hurting others. We just want to remain in a quiet closed space, living in a peaceful, constant life.
I did not yearn for Yū in any way.
Yū too did not yearn for me either.
We just remained as who we were, and interacted while maintaining a fixed distance.
Our relationship was stale and relaxing. I could gain solace whenever there is anyone who can accept me for who I am.
Whenever I am tired of chasing after girls, or is wooed, but unable to return an equal amount of favor, and feel hurt or empty within, I will look for Yū and find comfort in that eternal silence.
Those were peaceful moments for me.
Thus, I understood more than anyone Yū’s unwillingness to leave the house, and I did not find it to be anything bad.
Some flowers only bloom at night.
Nobody can decisively conclude the wonderful, fragrant white flowers that bloom in the cold moonlight are more unfortunate than those that bask under the radiant sunlight.
If it is a flower that is not imprisoned in the night, but that it liked it, and hoped for it, is it not happiness? Is it not too much to put a flower that is full of life under the moonlight to wilt under the harsh sunlight?
But because of certain circumstances, I can no longer become a frivolous harem prince.
At this point, I still cannot tell you the reason for it, and I am really sorry for that.
Because I still have not sorted out my thoughts. If I say it out not, I will definitely be more confused.
Perhaps on one of these days, I will tell you a long story…
Yes…it is because of this that I did something inappropriate before Golden Week, and enraged Mr Shungo and the others. But I really cannot continue on.
Anyway, there was a sudden transition, and because of that, I decided to break up with all the other girls and date Miss Aoi seriously.
You know about that…ah? Is me kissing another girl while riding on a horse at the turf considered cheating? Eh, that is an accident…the girl invited me to kiss, so how can I refuse in front of others? This will cause her to lose pride…goodness, I did say that is not cheating!
Okay then, back to the main point. When Mr Shungo requested me to break up with Yū, I knew I had to leave her sooner or later.
Thus, I promised him that I would let Yū return to the outside world.
To be honest, it was really difficult.
I did just mention the reason too, for I really understood Yū’s wish to continue staying in the house.
I suppose I would not be able to do so.
I love how flowers remain as their original selves.
I can accept everything about flowers.
I can express myself according to the other person’s wishes, or say what the other person wants, and I want this to happen too.
But this is my limit.
It is a cowardly act to fully submit to the other person’s wishes.
That is basically an avoidance of conflicts, redirecting of responsibilities, running from any hurt that may come with conflicts, refusal to improve—I, who is willing to accept everything, is too afraid to deny anything.
For my denial may hurt the other person, and break up a love that was built for a long time.
Since I chose to continue living a life where we could feel comfort, I had no right to make any decision.
To put it simply, the reason why I acted aloof was actually because I had no confidence. Will you be less angry after hearing this?
You do not believe me? Because I am a frivolous harem prince seeking girls every single day? This is true. I am more knowledgeable than you on how to please a girl after all.
I really had no confidence in my decision.
I was always feeling troubled alone.
Even I was hesitant about telling you the way to prevent losing Yū. I was worried you would be stuck in a labyrinth, unable to escape, just like I was, and choose the other path I chose…
But Koremitsu, you exceeded my limits every time.
You are really courageous, able to take the initiative, and straightforward.
You are not scared of being denied or destroyed, and rather think about others even if it means hurting both sides. You definitely would not abandon her, and continue to move forward.
That was why I chose this precious flower, my solace, to you.
I already guessed Yū would be attracted to you.
Yū and I are alike; there is no way she will not fall for my best friend, and will understand you well. I also know you will definitely change Yū.
You really did not fail my expectations.
Thank you for letting Yū see that scenery.
Thank you for letting her understand that the world outside is not just of pain and sadness, but is also filled with many beautiful flowers.
Yū will definitely grow stronger.
From now on, she definitely can walk on through her own will, and find many wonderful things in this vast world.
This is all the things you brought to her.
…Hey, I am praising you here. Why are you crying away?
Well, since you are heartbroken, I suppose I shall let you cry on, right?
I already reminded you that if you chase Yū’s vengeful spirit away and bring her outside, you will lose her.
Yū is a girl who is like a pixie.
She is gentle within, and is very shy though she is calm, and is as innocent as a child. Once she falls for someone, she will reach out to the other person, like a Moonflower extending its vines, climbing up a nearby fence with its tendrils.
Like how the girls have an illusion of being the true love for me, the white Moonflower can be dyed by any color, and is an illusion men look to.
It is a miracle that appears only at night, hazy yet magical.
Having fallen for Yū, you must have realized that for sure.
Once she step outside, Yū will not remain as she was.
In the morning, the flower will wilt, and the girl in the fantasy will gradually disappear like morning dew.
You once said to me adamantly that you do not care even if this is the case.
At that time, you refused the other choice, refused the advice I gave, and that really touched me.
You are saying a ghost being touched is not going to make you happy?
That you will cry harder in the future if you do not cry now?
Well, I guess it cannot be helped. I shall lend you my shoulder to cry on then.
You cannot lean on me anyway? Please stop flaring your temper while waving your fist at me. The sight of your twitching eyebrows is already a terrifying image.
Okay then, just lean over and cry.
You already worked hard.
You are really a hero.
Yū has fallen for you too.
Let me tell you this, Koremitsu. Love is just a temporal illusion, but the sweetness and blissfulness it brings to people is definitely not. Like even how a flower disappears, the color and fragrance will forever linger in your heart.
So I just want to bid a gentle farewell to the flowers who brought me happiness.
Even if it is selfish, self-conceited, I hope they will abstain from agony and tears, and head towards the future with a cheerful feeling. I want to give them the best farewell.
While I am still on Earth……