Hello, Hello and Hello:Volume 1 Chapter 4

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Contact 0 - Blue Eyes White Cat[edit]

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“I think you should stop,” said an unfamiliar voice, calling me out as I was trying to discreetly slip a pack of common chocolate into my pocket at the convenience store.

It was a voice of someone who firmly believed he was doing the right thing.

“Let go.”

I wanted to shake off the hand that had grabbed mine, but couldn’t.

His face was thin, feminine.

He was a little shorter than me to boot. He was still a guy though.

A guy stronger than me.

With a deeper voice.

“I’ll let go if you stop.”

“This has nothing to do with you, right?”

“It’s still a crime.”

Sure was, but I wanted to snap back even so. In the end, I was still at fault though.

The words at the back of my tongue turned into a sigh, and I glared at the clock on the wall instead. The minute and hour hands were facing in opposite directions bisecting the clock face vertically. In other words, it was six in the afternoon.

In another five hours, the world would be rewritten again.

Everything I did, all traces of my existence, all of it would vanish. Whether I did succeed here or no, mattered not. It was all just to kill time, not to keep trying until I get caught.

“Okay, I get it.”

I put the chocolate back onto the shelf, and he let go of my hand as promised. Maybe it was because he had grabbed me firmly, but my arm was still aching even after he let me go. I put my other hand on the stinging, painful place, and made my way towards the the entrance without looking back at him.

Once outside, I felt the howling winds slash at my bare face like sharp blades.

Rather than feeling cold, it actually hurt.

“Ouch, ow…” I muttered under my breath.

Nobody stopped though, not even for a moment.

They just kept on smiling, indulging the vibrant lights and colors of the streets, as if bound by some sort of legal duty to keep living on happily, and never notice someone like me.

I deliberately tuned out the various sounds of the world, just listening to my own breathing and the sound of my footsteps instead. I had feet. I was moving forward. I was breathing. My heart kept beating.

I was in such a place.

Still alive.

It should be all that I yearned for, being what I had so desperately reached out for.

But then, why did I feel such pain?

The pain was not severe, nor was the fear intense, but, in a certain sense, living in this world was the same as existing in Hell. The loneliness, the forlornness piling on day after day were slowly killing my heart.

“Wait.”

Suddenly, unexpectedly, I heard someone calling out after me.

I thought that for me to become so envious about such little things, I might have become tired of the idea of living.

“Wait.”

And I heard the voice again.

It was closer than before. Loud. I had the niggling feeling I had heard this voice before.

“I say—”

I kept walking to escape those streets filled with happiness.

For me, the cheerful music, people’s smiling faces, even hearing people call one another, all that was poison.

“—wait for me. I’m calling for you, can you just stop for a moment, please?”

I was grabbed by the shoulder and, honestly, taken aback too. I thought my heart was about to jump out of my chest. How many years had it been since I last heard my shocked voice?

I turned round and found the boy from before standing behind me, panting.

Feeling a little awkward, I stepped back a bit and glared at him.

“Wh-what? Got something you want?”

“Well, not really. If you don’t mind, this one’s for you.”

He took out a bag of chocolate out of the convenience store bag he was holding and reached to hand it over to me. The very same I had tried to steal.

Once I realized what he was trying to do, cold rage gripped me.

“I don’t need it.”

“Why? Didn’t you want to eat this?”

I didn’t really want the chocolate. I was after something completely different.

But I couldn’t express myself clearly.

Because I didn’t know what the thing I wanted was.

“You don’t understand me at all, so why do this? Seriously… I really hate busybodies like you, you know. I really, really hate you!!”

I started shouting like a kid and my breathing turned erratic. That made me gasp, and the cold air that entered my body caused me much pain.

But I wouldn’t admit that I was hurting again.

Because I didn’t want to be sympathized with by the boy before me.

Hearing that, the boy looked down.

After a moment, however, he grabbed the bag in his hand firmly and raised his head once more. He looked straight at me. His eyes were glittering with the specks of light.

“Regardless, if you don’t hate sweets, why not accept these?”

“Why?”

“Look, I know I’m doing something very unlike me, but I guess I’m allowed to give a gift to someone I don’t know just because I feel like it. Besides, —”

The boy looked a little sad, and smiled with some hesitation.

“—it’s Christmas Eve after all.”

“You’re a weirdo.”

The boy didn’t try to argue, he shoved the bag to me, and ran off. Soon after, he disappeared into the darkness of the night city. His departing footsteps continued to echo in my chest.

“…Weirdo,” I muttered once again.

It was a winter day, not long after I turned fifteen.

That was how I encountered the boy whose name I knew not.

Every Tuesday, beginning at 10.54pm, in what might look like some late-night commercial that nobody but me knows about, the whole world changes.

All records of a certain girl are erased and a new reality is born.

All because of a traffic accident eight years ago that caused a slight change to how the world should be.

They are not uncommon things, traffic accidents.

Many instances of them can be seen mentioned in the news weekly.

It is estimated that around 500,000 traffic accidents and minor incidents happen every year in the country I live in. Roughly 4,000 of them involve a fatality and about as many people tend to die in total. In other words, eleven people would die each day, a person every two hours or so, as a result of a traffic accident.

Yep.

Looking at it this way, they are really not rare.

But when the 500,000, or even the 4,000, stop being just ordinary data, and turn into names of actual people related to those near them, how much pain and gloom you think is involved? That is something I personally experienced.

So, let’s talk about the past.

It’s going to be a story of a family, that not only became part of the 500,000, but also made up three of the 4,000.

Well, maybe a little different actually.

Let’s call it the story of a certain girl who escaped from being one of the 4,000.

On her seventh birthday, the girl lost everything.

That day was supposed to be a special day for her. She, and her beloved family, were going to the theme park she really liked together. There was no reason for her not to be happy.

“Wakey, wakey. We’re here.”

The girl, who had fallen asleep in the car, heard her mother wake her up. She raised her eyelids and saw a silhouette through her still blurry eyes. It was a little smaller than her own body and belonged to her little sister, Umi.

“Onee-tan, we’re here,” said the little girl, mimicking her mother, and shook her big sister’s body.

“Nnn. Morning, Umi.”

“Ai. Morning, onee-tan.”

Seeing this exchange, both the father and the mother smiled.

This, perhaps, was a form of pure, undiluted happiness that shined on the whole world.

“Come on, let’s go. We’re going to enjoy ourselves all day. Let’s get ready!”

Enthusiastically prompted by her father, the girl got off the car and found the castle she had seen on TV standing before her eyes.

“Wahh!” cried out the girl. Her awareness was entirely stolen by the theme park before her. To her, the scenery could only be described as magical, full of lights shining everywhere, and even the voices seemed filled with color.

And just as her father had promised, everyone was enjoying themselves without restraint.

They played at several of the facilities, enjoyed delicious food, and toured a few attractions.

They really enjoyed themselves.

It was the best birthday ever.

Her father, despite having his hands full with gifts, put the sleeping Umi back into the car, and it was 9pm by the time they departed on their way back.

Normally, at this time, the family would be already done showering and in their pajamas, but they were not sleepy at all. Some of the magic still lingered in the air.

The girl chatted away with her mother about the desserts they had that day, with her father chiming in with a few rare words here and there. Him joining in fully was a no however, a proper girl talk was domain forbidden to men.

So both of them deliberately ignored the father, causing him to pout and click his tongue just as the girl’s classmates had done earlier. He wasn’t probably angry though. It seemed that he was enjoying the fact that he was teased by his daughter and wife.

The act was a little over the top, and the girl laughed.

As did her mother.

Even the sleeping Umi curled her lips happily.

Only for everything to vanish.

It all happened in an instant.

Bright white lights filled the girl’s vision, a tremendous impact filled her world. After that, the girl lost track of what happened.

It sounded like something broke.

It sounded like something tore apart.

It sounded like something shattered.

The screams of her parents were overwhelmed by something louder. The still young little sister probably couldn’t scream at all.

Finally, there came the sound signalling the end of everyone important to the girl. To be precise, it was not so much a sound, as the absence of one. Yes, her beloved parents met their demise.

How much time had elapsed?

“Huuu… Huuu…”

The girl’s parched throat finally remembered how to exhale, and she gained strength to attempt to open her eyes again. Three times her eyelids twitched, before she finally opened them. The world took on the hue of fire.

The girl thought that she had to hurry and find her family, but her body couldn’t move at all. It was as though it didn’t belong to her. Just moments ago, she had been moving her limbs freely, yet now, they refused to budge no matter how much strength she exerted.

Heat was the only thing coming out from her mouth, heat and screaming at her immobilized body and numb heart.

She wanted to keep living.

She did not want it to end like this.

It would be simply too much.

She had lots of things she wanted to do.

She wanted to see the large fireworks during the summer vacation once again. To read books. To wear cute clothing. To visit the theme park again. She wanted to experience romance with an amazing boy, just like described in those stories.

Yet everything was about to be mercilessly taken away from her.

It was a place nothing could reach, not even rage, sadness, or any gut wrenching scream. ‘Death’ was waving before her eyes.

Something nothing could reach, not even rage, sadness, or gut-wrenching screams, ‘Death’ was looming large before her eyes.

“I don’t want this.”

The girl managed a few feeble words with all her might.

“I hate this.”

Her world was hazy with tears.

And, in contrast to the girl’s emotions, her consciousness was fading. It seemed the end was near.

No.

She was unable to open her eyes.

No.

The light was being shut out.

No.

She could not make a sound, and she did not know if she was even breathing.

No.

Even if it was a hellish place, she didn’t want to go.

She wanted to remain in this world.

Suddenly, the fiercely fighting girl heard something.

No, perhaps it was wrong to say that she heard something. It was rather an awareness of a question, one posed outside the concepts of words or voice.

She just felt it.

She realized that she could live if she nodded.

So, consciously, she reached out with her hand.

Desperately, yearningly, she stretched her arm forth.

“I want to live.”

With these words on her lips, the girl grabbed the light.

Once she recovered, she found herself lying on a bed.

The ceiling was white. The room too.

Strangers came and went. All dressed in white. Someone asked for her name. The accident was never a topic.

While she did feel relief, there was also disgust at being abandoned.

She mechanically ate the unpalatable and then spent the entire day watching the TV. There was a news report of a traffic accident involving a certain family of three, narrated by the news reporter in a monotonous tone. A tired truck driver, having driven for 36 consecutive hours, had blacked out for few crucial seconds, and four lives, including his own, vanished from this world.

It must have been a mistake. Clearly, this should not have been the case.

It should be a family of four. Umi should not have been called an only child. She should have an older sister. However, what the newscaster said was reality to the world.

That burning world of red…

Nobody in the world knew that a girl miraculously survived in a place so hostile to life. No, nobody even knew that a certain girl was there. The fact had ceased to be.

The girl wanted to scream, but desperately forced her mouth to stay shut. She clung to the bedsheets firmly, leaving huge wrinkles and creases on the surface, enduring the impulse.

For it was the path she had chosen to follow herself.

A week had passed since the accident.

On that day, the girl watched the clock hands move. The longer one advanced, effortlessly ushering the time on. 10.54pm. In a split second, the world was rewritten again.

It was the second time the world had been rewritten.

And because of that, she could no longer remain.

The girl, snuggled under her blanket, was prepared to leave the hospital today. However, she kept waiting for the special moment, wanting to personally witness what would happen.

That was why the incident happened.

It started with a scream, one of a familiar voice. It belonged to a young nurse, who happened to be the kindest to the girl in the whole hospital. She had given the girl sweets and some interesting books when she had heard the girl liked to read. This time though, the nurse was shocked to find the girl here, as if she saw a creature of unknown origin.

The scream made other people gather.

The girl’s physician was there too.

The girl knew both of their names. Her mind kept repeating them: Kanzaki-sensei, the doctor; Tanio-san, the nurse.

Kanzaki-sensei approached. The girl got up from the bed, and stood up, facing the man. And then the doctor asked, “Who, are you?”

These supposedly weightless words weighed upon the girl more than what she could have ever imagined.

She stumbled out of the ward room in a daze, unhindered by the people surrounding her who opened a path, shunning her. She stopped outside, looked around, and found the words on the nameplate had vanished. She had confirmed that her name was there before going to bed. That was 30 minutes ago. During that time, nobody passed by the ward room doors.

She took to the stairs and left the hospital through the back entrance.

There was no family.

No place to return to.

All she had was her own life.

Thinking about this made the girl’s feelings finally explode. There was no stopping this. After all, the pent-up emotions had still been there, roaring within her, and if she did not let them out they would shatter her mind.

“Ah, AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!──”

So she screamed.

The night was moonless, with a smattering of forlorn stars flickering in the sky. The exhaled air became white mist. It was winter. The snow never fell. Somehow, the girl felt strangely cold. And yet, her throat was on fire.

“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!──”

She screamed at the sky.

She hollered at the world.

Tears fell from her eyes.

The people who knew of the girl no longer existed.

That girl is me. I am perfectly alone in this world.

I was sitting on a bench in a small park, nibbling at the chocolate I had received from the boy whose name I knew not. I took a bite and was a little surprised, for I tasted sweetness. For many years, I couldn’t taste anything at all, no matter what I ate.

With every bite I took, the chocolate got a little smaller. I looked at the shrinking chocolate and it made me feel sad. Ah, I see… I thought, So this is ‘sadness’. I never thought I would have such feelings left in me.

“Time to go,” I mumbled feebly. Truthfully though, I had no strength to stand.

Maybe it was the cold. After all my hands were numb and I couldn’t feel anything even after touching it. Still nibbling at the shrunken chocolate I thought I was like a corpse. It tasted very sweet, so sweet that my tears threatened to flow at any moment.

Five minutes had passed, and the chocolate was gone, fully inside my stomach.

I leaned on the backrest, and looked up at the sky.

The grey clouds drifted away, as if leaving me to myself for a while. Maybe it was because of the strength of the breeze, but they twisted and rolled on their way at a shocking speed, changing shapes constantly. Finally though, they were gone.

“What am I doing…”

Nobody answered me. Well, I knew that would happen.

I was about to toss the crumpled wrapping I rolled into a ball into the trash bin, but for some reason, I stopped, held it with both hands, and then put it into my pocket.

A moment of thought later, I put my hands in my pockets, stood up, and began to walk without a goal in mind.

There was nothing significant about me not discarding the wrapping. However, this was a perfect metaphor of my current life. Just breathing, just walking, just letting time pass. See, there was no meaning to anything. And even if I managed to find some, it would disappear soon after.

That was the price I had to pay for living on.

The light I had managed to grab on that day was ‘something’. Yes, ‘something’. Even with the help of all the languages in this world, I probably wouldn’t be able to describe it. If forced the closest concept I could reach for was probably a ‘miracle’.

And now, having touched that ‘something’, I knew various things.

For example, it was predetermined that this existence called the world would progress towards its end. Humanity called that process fate or history, and the path didn’t seem like it could be changed.

I brooding on this as I walked on, only for a pebble to touch my shoe and roll on the ground. It was then kicked by a boy behind me into the high grass startling a bird hidden there to flight..

A chain of events started because I had displaced a pebble.

The gears of fate shifted slightly.

This little distortion might one day, in the distant future, escalate into something huge. Maybe affect something as big as the fate of the world…

I, who should have died at that moment, became an existence that could no longer exist in this world. That transformed all my actions into a Black Box of sorts, full of hidden potential to change the future.

But on the other hand, to live was to move towards the future. Also, a future one would not have was meaningless.

As the price for living, my past was being taken away from me. Thus, before the fang of change I might unleash could reach the distant future, the source was cut off and the path to the future realigned as it was meant to be.

Every Tuesday night, 10.54pm, everything I would have done by then was deemed the ‘past’ from which my existence would be erased. All memories of my name, my face, gone from people’s memory. All discrepancies caused by my disappearance ironed out.

In exchange for all that all I got was a mere one week of future.

God Himself wouldn’t grant an 8th day.

I felt like I was playing Musical Chairs.

Every day, a chair went missing, until, on the 8th day, all of them would be gone. Game over. Please restart to continue.

I had grabbed the light, knowing that would happen. I knew that much.

I couldn’t blame anyone.

I could only continue to live on.

To spend some time, I took the long road towards the station, only to hear a purr from somewhere.

“Meow, meow,” came a wail from near the gutter

The place was overgrown by wild grass, and I couldn’t really see clearly, but something was definitely there. I looked around, but there was nobody here other than me. Another meow came. A sound only I could hear.

I knew that pain.

I knew that loneliness.

I understood that despair more than anyone else

Before I knew it, I spread the wild grass aside and looking deep into the gutter.

“Meow.”

There was a kitten there, little and dirty. It was so covered in grime that the fur color was hard to tell. Probably born not long ago. Tiny claws, legs, body. Feeble voice. Only its blue eyes were large, like the Earth seen from space, even though I never got to see the Earth from space.

“Meow.”

The cry for someone, anyone, turned into a cry for me.

The blue eyes captivated me.

Just me alone.

“Want to come along with me?”

I reached my hand out, touching its fur. It was soft and warm. It felt like forever since I the last time I felt warmth.

I took the kitten back to the hotel. A proper wash revealed beautiful, white fur. I named it ‘Shiro’.

Shiro was a quiet female cat, so quiet in fact that any purring by her seemed like an hallucination.

I fed it milk through a pipette for sustenance. She seemed to hate the powdered milk, but she still swallowed obediently once I brought it to her mouth.

Shiro was still young and not physically able, so I had no intention of taking her out. Of course, I hadn’t gone anywhere either as I had to take care of her.

I remained by the kit’s side, sitting on the chair, reading to pass the day.

Shiro would fawn about at times, tapping my leg, and at such moments, I would lift her up and put her on my thighs. She would then fall asleep contentedly. I felt the weight and warmth of life as I flipped through the pages. It had been a long while since I felt the warmth of somebody. I felt that I was being saved by these things.

“If you keep sleeping, you’ll grow fat.”

Shiro continued to sleep though, not purring at me at all. It was a little boring. I wanted to chat.

“You really have such pretty fur. You’re slim too. It would be a waste if you were to grow fat.”

“Meow.”

I got scolded for being noisy.

Shiro seemed a little annoyed by being disturbed during her nap. It left me a little happy though. There would be times when I teased her too much, earning a scratch in return. But the pain was a source of joy too.

After all, a wound caused by someone else is proof that I made contact with that someone.

“Sorry, sorry.”

I gently stroked Shiro’s fur, and she fell asleep again.

“Ahh, I feel like sleeping too.”

I closed the book, and put it on the table, closing my eyes. I was sitting on the chair, with Shiro sleeping on my lap. It was a difficult posture to sleep in, but somehow I managed to fall asleep like that easily. At first, my consciousness danced between soberness and delirium. Then, I quickly fell asleep, as though falling into a trap.

A long time passed.

When I woke up, I found the surroundings to be completely covered in darkness. Maybe because of my weird posture, the first thing I felt was pain. First in my neck, and then my back. My legs were completely numb too, but Shiro was still sleeping there, so I couldn’t really move. I reached with my arms and, after much effort, I got the remote control from the table and pressed the button. The 4-tatami-sized room lit up with orange light, like illuminated by a weak flame.

“Nn…”

I stretched my back to relax my stiff muscles, and checked the time. 10.57pm. It had been 3 minutes past 10.54pm. Seemed like I slept for almost eight hours.

It was Tuesday. The correction had been performed.

I had to hurry and leave. But before that, I had to wake up this lazy, sleepy cat.

Would Shiro be shocked when she woke up?

She had no memories of me after all.

But Shiro was a kitten, so she probably wouldn’t ask me “Who are you?”, I hoped. Once I fed her, she would just cling to me again.

“Hey, Shiro.”

I called her name, stroking her fur. Almost instantly, I was taken aback and reeled, snapping my hand back.

Shiro’s body was stiff and cold.

“Shiro, are you dead?” I asked softly, just for confirmation.

But Shiro would never ever purr again.

That was the answer for me.

Shiro surely was fated to die in that gutter. Probably due to starvation and the cold. I prevented that.

However, a creature fated to die would never get past that destined moment, and continue into the future.

So, the reality deemed that for the past week, I had never fed Shiro. The world was corrected accordingly.

Her body lost its vitality, strength, and felt a lot lighter than when she had been alive. It was said that 21 grams was the weight of a soul. Was that true? I couldn’t tell.

Tears trickled down my face.

Tears that landed on Shiro’s soft fur.

“Ahh… Uuuu…”

I gritted my teeth, holding back a sob. Normally, on a typical day, I could easily keep myself mum, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop myself even after exerting much more effort than usual. A muffled voice kept escaping from between my lips.

I wanted to stop my tears. They were not pretty at all.

Because, I was not crying for Shiro. I was crying for myself. My tears were the loneliness I felt after this warmth I had finally managed to obtain had disappeared, and the unease in my heart. My chest was aching. The softest part of my heart was being gouged at, and it hurt.

I kept shaking, gritting my teeth, grabbing my arms firmly. That hurt too.

But my heart was aching infinitely more so.

I couldn’t just leave Shiro’s body like that so, on the next day, I started looking for a place to bury her.

If I died, I wouldn’t want anyone else to see my rotting body. Shiro must have surely thought that as well.

I bought a cardboard box at a supermarket, laid a pretty white bath towel inside, and put Shiro on it. She looked like she was sleeping. Would she open her eyes if I talked to her? Would she purr at me again? She was welcome to scratch me all she wanted.

I wondered about all this even though I knew it was impossible.

In the end, I decided to bury Shiro’s empty husk in vacant lot not too far away from the station. There was a ‘private property’ signboard there, but who cared? I started digging in the ground with a scoop.

As I worked, I sensed a few curious looks from people wondering what was I doing, but they all looked aside soon enough. That was to be expected, not many people were passing next to this piece of land, but it didn’t mean there wouldn’t be anyone. No weirdos attempted to talk to me though. Everyone just glanced at me and looked away.

I kept digging, but all the while my shoulders got increasingly heavier due to the fear and fatigue caused by the worry that this too would be erased. Any actions I did on my own might be deemed as ‘never done’ and the possibility grew with the number of witnesses.

But even so, I had to press on.

For I had nobody else to ask.

My physical strength had been on the wane over the past few years, and maybe that was why I needed lots of time to dig a hole large enough for Shiro to rest in. Eventually, a sharp sound pierced through my ears as I dragged the scoop across the bottom of the hole.

“Ow.”

It seemed that I dug into a rock buried underneath. The hand holding the scoop ached from the feedback and I fell onto my butt, not something I would normally do. I took a gulp of tea from the PET bottle I had bought. After some time, the numbness in my hand vanished.

Suddenly, I heard a voice above me.

“What are you doing?”

I looked up, and found a boy of similar age standing there. He was wearing a black shirt with red trim and had large shoulder bag slung over his shoulder. His was a familiar face I had seen before.

“Not you again?”

“Eh? Have we met before?”

The boy looked incredulous.

I understood instantly. Two rewrites had happened since we met. There was nothing about me in his memories. He didn’t remember me, how he chased after me, or that he gave me chocolate.

But I had that sudden thought, that if it was him…

If it was him, the goody-goody stranger who gave me chocolate, maybe he’d listen to my request.

I stood up, dusted the sand off my butt, and lowered my head. I forced out a smile too, probably, that grimace was a little stiff. Not by choice, mind you, I had just long forgotten how to make a natural smile.

“Forgive me. I took you for someone else. You see, the cat I have been raising died, so I’m making a grave for her. If you don’t mind, would you help me out?”

I thought he would have been a little unwilling, but he responded with a “Got it,” and a nod. He put his shoulder bag down, pulled out the scoop on the ground, and began to dig. This time, I made sure that I wasn’t sitting on the ground as I watched the back that was surprisingly more reliable than it looked.

“Hey,” I asked, “why did you talk to me?”

The boy didn’t stop what he was doing. “You looked like you’re about to cry,” he answered.

“Lies. I wasn’t, crying at all.”

I touched my cheeks with my hand anyway to make sure. My fingers weren’t wet.

I didn’t cry after all? I guessed.

“Sure. But that’s how it looked to me anyway. Troubled, and helpless, and all, but still working hard with grim determination. How can I ignore you when you look that way?”

“I get it. You’re a weirdo.”

“How rude.”

“Nobody ever called you that?”

He avoided giving a straight answer.

“…Well, it’s like I don’t have a passion or discipline to do anything, so I guess that’s why. I think I just really admire those that do, the ones who seriously insist on doing what they want, fighting on. It’s pure stubbornness, but I really hope such people don’t give up and don’t look back. Honestly, I’m just pushing my ideals on others hoping to help out in turn.”

“You ever met a person like that?” I asked nonchalantly.

“Person like that, as in?”

“Someone that looks cool, but ends up messing up.”

“Okay, I get it. It is really tough, unbearable even. Still…”

His voice was increasingly softer as he spoke, before trailing off completely. However, there was passion in his words, I felt, and it didn’t seem like he lacked discipline. He just thought himself to lack both.

Or maybe, he just hadn’t encountered anything that could get him fired up yet.

“Hmm. In that case… It would be great if you find it one day.”

“Eh?”

“Find what you say you desire.”

The boy chuckled, but said nothing more. He continued to work in silence.

Finally, a deep hole gaped open before me. It was enough to bury Shiro in.

“Is it her?”

The boy looked at Shiro’s remains in the box.

“Yes.”

“What’s her name?”

“I call her Shiro.”

“Because she’s white?”

“Yes. Simple, right?”

“Well, I think it’s a nice name. They say that the name describes the person after all.”

After burying Shiro’s carcass into the ground, we both put our hands together in prayer. We didn’t build a grave. I also didn’t know what to pray for despite going through the motions.

“This little one was alone in the gutter when I first met her.”

The boy just listened. He didn’t even look at me with suspicion in his eyes when I suddenly spoke up.

“A week has passed since then. At the time it seemed like she was calling me. When I asked her if she wanted to come along, she purred. But Shiro’s life was extended by just a week. Which made me wonder. If she stayed in that gutter, would her end be a little easier? Say, was there a point to prolong her lifespan by just a week?”

I might ask the same thing about my life at this point.

I watched my parents and Umi die and then cheated death alone. But reality was not some kind stranger. I didn’t know when that had started, but for a while now, I had been wondering why had I wanted to live on.

The Winter Skies allowed me to discover Sirius’ powerful flow.

In Greek, that word attached to that blueish-white light meant ‘scorching’. I should have had disappeared in that flame back then.

But the reality was that I was still alive. I chose to live on my own will. Ever since the night I lost everything, I had been simply looking for a reason to do so.

“All that said, you did accompany her, right?” replied the boy after a moment of quiet contemplation. “If there was any meaning to letting Shiro live for a week longer, I’m guessing that meaning lies in your heart. She got your love, so much so that her death caused you sadness. That chance alone makes her happy, I guess. Ah, yeah. That’s because,——you won’t forget this week, right?”

That was his conclusion.

“Is there even a purpose to life?”

“I guess so. I don’t know what would Shiro think, but here’s my take: If someone’s able to remain in a certain person’s heart and be loved, that’s a blessing of Life.”

The boy’s words sank deep into my heart.

I understood now. If I was able to remain in a certain person’s heart, then there was a point to me having lived. If I could do it, maybe I could find a little meaning to my life in the process too.

I looked at the boy next to me. This goody-two-shoes could probably remember me, no matter for how many years I would be gone.

All that thinking about how to use my life…

Yep. I made up my mind.

“Say, what’s your name?”

“Haruyoshi Segawa. Yours?”

The boy’s mere existence in my heart assumed the shape of Haruyoshi Segawa .

There were words there I didn’t say to Segawa-kun.

Hey, Segawa-kun…

Please like me.

Please stamp me in your heart, and remember me forever.

When that reality occurs, surely, I’ll…

Thinking about that, I beamed,

“I’m Yuki Shiina. Please take care of me.”


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