Kamisu Reina:Volume 2 Sakura Kawai

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Chapter 3: Sakura Kawai[edit]

1[edit]

The thought of how thin the ice was I have always stood on until now makes my skin crawl. I have been wiggling left and right like a balancing toy, prone to leaning over—or falling over—any time.

Japanese religion counts thousands of gods.

But doesn't that just mean that people could not decide on a single one? The god you cherish can't be the same as mine, and the god he cherishes can't be the same as yours. In other words, we all consider different things important.

There is no such thing as an universal god.

In other words, there is no god.

If you are able to look at things in a somewhat objective light and look at the state nowadays, then you will see: It is foolish to believe in something.

What people ultimately believe in are tangible things. Money. Because money is much more certain than intangible things like love and friendship. People believe in money, the inorganic, equivalent and quickly betraying thing that gets stained with finger marks in people's pockets and created day by day by human hands at the bank.

It's filthy in a way.

And yet, I knew that nothing could help me better than money, and that I could even buy love and friendship if I used it the right way. In the end, I believed in money in every respect. On one side, those old, wrinkled banknotes that came and went to and from my pocket were dear to me, and the other side, I felt filthy and ended up in despair.

Ultimately, in my world there was nothing to believe in, nothing to hold on to.

I wanted to believe in something beautiful, something pure.

However, there was no such thing no matter where I searched and even if I tried to believe in something, I couldn't shake off my doubts. I ended up trembling in fear of falling.


But that time has ended.


[Plink]

Whenever I think of what creates and defines my foothold, the "Heroic Polonaise" starts to play in my mind. This transparent and vacant and false and mechanic yet transcendental melody is my guide to a steadfast world.

If I were to describe it as an image, then it would be a lake with water so transparent that I forget that there is water.

What I believe in?

—Reina Kamisu.


I do therefore not forgive people who deny her.

But because everybody knows how beautiful and splendid she is, I did not have to deal with such a person. It was unthinkable that someone would deny her.

However—

Yukimi Mitsui appeared and denied Reina-san.

Enemy! She was my enemy! She was the enemy of us who believe in Reina-san!

I could not let her get away with this. Never.

Denying Reina-san is equivalent to destroying my foothold, to putting me back on thin ice. I could not allow that. What right did she have? "Who do you think you are?" I thought and actually asked her.

However, she ignored my warning and chose to remain my foe. Her attitude was a clear message of enmity to me and the other believers.

Yeah, you have got some nerve. I'll fight you back, then.

I told the members of the student council, which was constructed of students who also believed in Reina-san, about Yukimi Mitsui. That was enough to arrange her removal from the Junseiwa school. This place is full of people believing in Reina-san, who also consider anyone who denies her their enemy.

I was satisfied.

After I had launched a devastating attack at my foe, I was already satisfied.

I was forgetful.

A baited cat may grow as fierce as a lion

Yes, satisfied with making an attack, I forgot to keep my guard up.


Blood.

When I returned to my room at the dorm, my roommate Anna Fuyuki was lying in her own blood in the shower room.

For a few moments I was overwhelmed. Absent-mindedly I gazed at the blood flowing down the drain, at the razor blade, at Anna's naked body as water showered on her, at her left wrist and the straight cut, at the blood spilling from there, and finally I screamed, "Anna!" as I rushed to her and held her.

Brr!

Anna has been taking an ice-cold shower, but that is hardly the only reason why she's so cold. Red blood. Milky skin. Blue lips.

Aah, what should I do? I-I must stop the blood ... B-But warming her body comes first. And I have to call the ambulance. Aah, where to start? Why did this happen, anyway?

Only after I take a deep breath it occurs to me that I should stop the shower.

"...Sakura," Anna mutters.

"Why did you do this...?"

"...Sorry for ... troubling you," she says without answering my question. There's no need for her to apologize!

I shake my head and dash out of the room with a "wait a second!" I can't cope with this alone. I need help. After I fetch Yuuko Kasuga and Emi Tachibana from the neighboring room, I have Yuuko bind up Anna's wound because she aspires to become a doctor. In the meantime, Emi calls the ambulance and informs the head of the dorm, whereas I wipe Anna with a towel, put her underwear on, and wrap a blanket around her.

"I'm so sorry..." she keeps apologizing while we are helping her.

To my relief, the flow of blood stops surprisingly easily. "It's not deep," Yuuko whispers into my ear.

"I'm sorry ... I'm so sorry ... I didn't mean to trouble you!" Anna cries.

I shake my head a few times.

Anna, why do you keep apologizing? Didn't you just cut yourself impulsively because something hurt you? Then why—

"———"

A thought suddenly crosses my mind.

The cut is not deep according to Yuuko, but when I found Anna, she was bleeding profusely.

Most likely, she had cut her wrist moments before I arrived at our room.

No ... considering how hard she is apologizing, something else suggests itself.

Anna cut her wrist in the very moment I arrived here.

We have been living here for over a year; I think I know Anna fairly well. I knot about her family problems and the fact that she's so weak as to cut her wrists, and I also know that she's so weak as to be afraid of dying.

Self-harm is a little different from attempted suicide because the scars are made for others to see. They're a message to the world that screams "look how much I'm suffering!" Then who did Anna want to send this message to?

The answer is quite obvious: to me.

Anna is weak.

She does not believe in her own strength, she undervalues herself, and because of that, she is dependent on others. She thinks she can't solve her problems on her own.

Anna wanted to show her suffering to me. She wanted me to save her.

"I'm sorry ... I'm so sorry..."

As she keeps weeping, I give her a hug.

"Sakura...?"

"It's okay, don't worry!"

We have a savior.

We have Reina-san.


After a short while, the ambulance arrived (of course we made sure that Anna wore her clothes at this point). I got into the coach together with her and kept holding her hand on our way to the hospital. By the time we arrived, her hand had turned a little warmer than it initially was.

Since the blood flow had already stopped, there was no need for a blood transfusion. The treatment of her wound didn't take too long; I sat next to her and watched as the doctor scolded her, saying "Don't do this again," and proceeded to disinfecting her wound and binding it up. As a side-note, her parents didn't come. I don't know if they were even contacted, though.

After we left the hospital, I took her to a café that serves delicious black tea. I figured that we would end up getting home a bit late, but I was sure the chief of our dorm wouldn't sound us out after what had happened.

I ordered Darjeeling tea, Anna ordered apple tea. We both kept quiet while we were waiting for our tea to be served.

During that time, I sneaked a few peeks at the bandage around Anna's left wrist.

The cut may have been not that deep, but considering the amount of blood that spilled, this is going to leave a scar.

I wonder if Anna is even aware of the graveness of that scar?

There is only one reason for a scar in a place like this. As soon as someone sees it, that someone will immediately look at her in a different light.

...No, that's still a minor issue.

The one who should not look at this scar the most is—Anna herself.

No matter how happy her life, she will always have this scar with her. And whenever she looks at her wrist, it will remind her of the moment she cut herself. She will become anxious again. She will have to face her family issues and the actual reason that led to the self-harm over and over.

 They say that with every sigh you lose a bit of your happiness, which I can fully understand. After all, if you think you're unhappy, then you will inevitably turn unhappy regardless of your actual situation. Once you persuade yourself of your own misery, you will blame everything on it. Met with an accident? Because you're hapless. Got dumped by your lover? Because you're hapless. Lost in that lottery? Because you're hapless. Tripped? Because you're hapless. Your haplessness becomes the source for everything, even though there might be valid other reasons. Thing that you would originally not even care about feel like mishaps. And since you think it's your fate, you keep falling down into misery for the rest of your life.

In this sense, Anna's scar is a much clearer sign of "misery" than a sigh, and as such, a much stronger curse that attracts misery.

Our tea arrives. I use this as a sign to start a conversation.

"Anna, what's wrong?"

She ponders for a moment and, for some reason, eventually decides to shake her head.

"It's ... nothing."

"Of course there's something."

"No ... as I once told you, living is painful to me, Sakura. It hurts so much to live. This feeling has been growing for a while now and simply reached the limit."

Is she lying? No. I can read as much off her face.

However—

"But there has to be something that triggered it. You wouldn't cut your wrist without a reason."

I am sure of that. Otherwise, there would be no point in harming herself in front of me.

My remark was correct, apparently: Anna casts her eyes down.

"Come, Anna, tell me about it."

However, Anna hesitates long enough for me to finish my Darjeeling tea, and yet she subconsciously wants to say it. She is not faltering, she is just hesitating. I'm starting to get annoyed.

In the next moment, however, my annoyance is blown away.


"I can no longer be by Reina-san's side."


"Huh?"

In utter surprise, I forget to place my tea cup back on the table.

"Reina-san rejected me."

What is the meaning of this...?

Reina-san rejected Anna?

That's not possible. Reina-san does not make exceptions when associating with people. If she would reject someone, then because—

"Anna ... did you perhaps confess your love...?"

"...I did," she nods with tears in her eyes.

Yes. If Reina-san were to reject someone, then because that someone approached her up to that distance.

"Why would you do that?! Reina-san cannot be degraded to a love interest. I can understand the urge to have her all for yourself, but why would you betray us and risk to be rejected by—"

Suddenly, it clicks with me.

Anna would not do something like this of her own accord. That's just not her personality. She would never take a risk so big as to cut her wrists while knowing that she hardly has any chances.

Then why...? Why did Anna confess to Reina-san?

"———"

Ah, of course.

"...Who threatened you, Anna?"

Her tear-stained eyes widen.

"You weren't just talked into it, right? You're the type of girl who would keep some distance if the other girls joked about 'confessing to Reina-san.'"

"..."

"Who was it that threatened you?"

"..."

Anna does not answer. She must have been told to keep quiet about it. Or perhaps she's just afraid of angering the culprit.

Considering her gentle nature, she might just want to avoid hurting that person.

After all, I'm not willing to forgive the culprit.

It goes without saying how deep the sin and how severe the punishment of taking Reina-san from one of us is.

A world without Reina-san ... Aah, just picturing it to myself makes me feel as if I was drying up from the inside.

Because the liquid that is Reina-san is drawn out of my body...?

Indeed ... as a matter of fact, Anna did also lose her own red liquid.

That's the horrible thing the culprit did to Anna.


I will kill her.

I will kill that culprit!


"Who was it, Anna?" I ask again.

"..."

"You have to tell me; she made you cut your wrist!"

"...But..."

"No buts!"

"...I mean..."

"...Fine. I'll just have a guess."

There are only so many suspects. Firstly, it can't be one of "us." Apart from the fact that "we" understand the pain of losing Reina-san, we would choose another method even if we wanted to bully Anna because there was a chance that she would succeed. Then again ... Anna is not a person with many enemies. In fact, I don't know of anyone who dislikes her.

That means that the culprit is not set against Anna herself, but "us" as a group.

—A person who is hostile against "us"?

I know one. I know someone who fits the bill perfectly.

"Yukimi Mitsui."

From the expression on Anna's face I can read that I am right.

So it was she, eh?

That scumbag who made fun of Reina-san, eh? So after insulting Reina-san, so even hurt my weak Anna?

I'll kill her.

I'm gonna kill her!


I resolved to eliminate Yukimi Mitsui from the Junseiwa school.

There is no doubt that it was she who cornered Anna. A few other students witnessed how she took Anna somewhere (and I'm shocked that they did not step in to help her).

I purchased our weapons through the Internet and drilled down her personal information. As most of the students at this school, her family environment turned out to be very peculiar. This piece of information will be useful to torment her.

Together with Yuuko, Emi, and other students who loathed Yukimi Mitsui for what she did to Anna, I proceeded to executing the elimination plan. We will show no mercy to our enemy. It is important to choose your friends and foes wisely, especially at our age where we are still weak by ourselves. If you show mercy to your enemy, you will end up suffering yourself. Anna did not take part in the elimination. Poor thing. That's why she has to suffer!


After school, we first make sure that Reina-san isn't around and then march into Yuki Mitsui's classroom. The disquieting air about us causes the other senior students, who are still present, to look at us, but because Yukimi Mitsui is the center of trouble, they don't intervene.

"What is it?" she asks snappily. "What does the bunch of you want from me?"

I ignore her barking and press my stun gun against her side.

"Ugha!"

She sinks into a crouch.

"Hmm? What was that strange screech about?" I smirk and, as I look down at Yukimi Mitsui, who is holding her side, I command, "Senpai, mind tagging along with me"

She looks up at me with—haha!—fear written all over her face.

"...Where?"

"Just shut up and follow me, okay?"

She didn't dare to resist or escape. Quite satisfied by that, we walk to the back of the gym.

Once we arrive at our destination, I order my companions to keep watch and turn to Yukimi Mitsui, who is clearly intimidated by us (although she is still trying to look brave), with a scowl.

"So I heard what you did."

"...Did what?"

"Want to play dumb? Remember what you did to Anna Fuyuki?"

She screws up her face and averts her eyes without a word of denial.

"You think you're funny, huh?"

I proceed to corner her with the information I gathered, the weapons I bought, and piercing words. Even she could not help losing heart. But my anger hasn't been vented yet. I kick her in the stomach. It's not enough. I haven't vented on her enough. She made fun of Reina-san, she made fun of "us", and she hassled Anna. I can't forgive her. She hurt "us". I won't forgive her.

And yet...

"My head."

"Hah?"

"That's where I want the first blow! Why don't you beat my head?"

Despite the situation she is in, she started to provoke me.

She completely blew my fuses. That just burned a few of the wires in my head. This girl is playing me for a fool, thinking that I won't really beat her. She is belittling me, thinking that I'm just a tag-along who's clinging to Reina-san. She is looking down on me. She thinks I'm a dependent piece of shit. Don't you think you can make a fool of me! I'll show you what I'm capable of! I'll eliminate you not only from this school, but from this very world that Reina-san lives in!

I raise my club.

"What are you doing there?"

All of a sudden, Reina-san's voice reaches my ears.

I lower my club again. Yukimi Mitsui seems to be just as surprised as I am. It's unlikely that she called her.

"Reina-san?"

"I am very discomforted by this sight. There will be consequences if you beat someone with that thing."

"No, it's OK! It doesn't matter what happens to her! She's making fun of us! More importantly, she's making fun of you, Reina-san! That's unforgivable!"

However, Reina-san calmly brushes off my yell and counters, "If you are doing all this for my sake, then I wish you to stop. I am not angry at Mitsui-san."

"That's ... because you're kind, Reina-san..."

"Please stop," she says in a slightly insistent tone. It might really be just slightly in all objectivity, but this is the strongest expression of intent in Reina-san's scale.

Why would she stop me? Yukimi Mitsui is a jerk who even tormented Anna and—

"—Ah."

I look at Reina-san.

I see ... she knows everything. Of course, I'm mad at Yukimi Mitsui for making light of Reina-san.

However, I only went this far—or at least I only thought of murder—not because of Reina-san, but because of Anna.

I was about to use Reina-san as a pretext for avenging Anna .

As such, she has all the right to stop me. She would never approve of being an excuse for taking revenge on somebody. No, her word is absolute to us either way.

"...OK..."

So I have to obey.

We gave up on using violence on Yukimi Mitsui and walked away from the gym. Since I was disheartened by Reina-san's clear denial of my actions and the others were aware of that, we exchanged no words for a while.

We then called it a day. Only my neighbors, Yuuko and Emi, stayed with me.

"Was that really okay?" Yuuko asks.

"...Nothing we could do, was there? We can't just disobey Reina-san!"

"No, that's not what I mean."

"Huh?"

"I was just wondering if it was okay to leave Reina-san alone with Yukimi Mitsui."


I immediately returned to the back of the gym, but they had already left. I headed to the school building.

Yukimi Mitsui must not be underestimated. She can be very belligerent, and on top of that she must be irritated because of what we did to her. God knows what she's going to do to Reina-san, the person who symbolizes "us."

Needless to say, harming Reina-san is on a whole different level compared to harming Anna.

But Yukimi Mitsui might have turned desperate and plan to soil our symbol.

I run around on the school grounds back and forth, and at last, find Reina-san in the corridor where the second music room is located.

"Reina-san!"

She turns around to me. At a glance, it doesn't seem like she was hurt in any way.

"Kawai-san?"

"Are you all right? Did Yukimi Mitsui do anything to you?"

"Mitsui-san?" she asks and then smiles. "It seems that you have a false picture of Mitsui-san. She is not the kind of person who would do anything to me."

"I don't have a false picture of her. But ... are you really unhurt?"

"Yes, of course."

I let out a sigh of relief. Apparently, my fears were ungrounded this time.

Reina-san gives me a wry smile.

Suddenly, I feel horribly embarrassed as I recall that she has willfully denied my actions earlier.

However, her next words blow me away.

"You have come at the correct time. I was searching for you."

"What?!"

Me? Reina-san was searching for me?

"Is there anything I can help you with?"

Reina-san nods with a smile.

"There is something I wanted to tell you."

"Ah ... I feel honored."

"You are exaggerating."

As if!

"What is it that you wanted to tell me, if I may ask?"

With an ever-so-beautiful smile, she said:


"Please take good care of Reina Kamisu."


Ten minutes later Reina-san died.


2[edit]

I picture Reina Kamisu to myself.

Above all she is beautiful. It's as if she was perfection given form. No, you could even say that she is perfection.

She is water so pure and transparent that you can't tell where it starts. I tasted from this pure water and had my life saved by it. A human body consists to 70 percent of water. In other words, 70 percent of my body consists already of Reina-san.

The water that is Reina-san is becoming clouded? The foothold is collapsing?

Impossible.

The conclusion that can be drawn is simple.


Reina Kamisu is not dead.


"Reina Kamisu isn't dead!"


Yukimi Mitsui said so.

Even the girl that I considered my enemy said so.

She also claimed herself as a subordinate of Reina Kamisu.

Quite frankly, I underestimated Reina-san's excellence.

I was under the impression that by being with her I was able to increase her value to some extent. Of course, I was completely wrong! Reina-san had no problems showing her splendor to its best advantage even in places that are outside my circle of influence.

Therefore, it's perfectly possible that plans for feigning her death came to be without my knowing.

How they did it?

I don't care. The only thing that matters is the fact that she's alive.

Besides ... would Reina-san even need any realistic means for something as minor as feigning her death?

Of course not.

Reina-san can overcome even death.


I met Reina-san's brother, Ryoji-san. He has also noticed that she's still alive. That makes him the third one of us and proves that it's an undeniable fact that Reina-san's alive.

On his request, I showed him around in school. He acted a bit strange here and there, but he also said this to me:

"I don't know what Reina wanted to achieve by scattering, but I do know the cause."

"What is it...?"

"The cause is—you and your friends."

I was confused at first.

What is the meaning of this? It was us who made her scatter? Has her brother perhaps gotten to this conclusion by talking to me?

Reina-san scattered because of ... us?

No, Reina-san scattered for us.

Which means...?

Right, Reina-san feigned her death for us.

I see. That would explain why she chose to feign her death at this school. It was all for our sake. Reina-san is trying to save us hopeless lambs.

Right, we are hopeless.

Anna, for example, suffers because of her family problems. I, for example, am unable to see anything but a dark, dull future. Because there is no god in this world, there is nothing to depend on and there is no hope for us.

That doesn't make sense!

This system is way too unbalanced. Too unfair. Too absurd. How is that OK? Everything's a lie except for the things that hurt? That's cruel!

Therefore, Reina-san can't be dead.

No, she can't be dead.

She can't be dead.

She's alive.

A-L-I-V-E.

I will kill everyone who dares to claim that she's dead in front of me. Because they're too stupid to be kept alive. Why do these ugly maggots even breathe even though they are blinded by commons sense, even though they believe in nothing but money!

Reina-san simply disappeared somewhere because of some reason.


"Please take good care of Reina Kamisu."


The meaning of her last words starts to dawn on me.

She entrusted me with a task.

What task?

To preserve her place for when she appears again.

Reina-san is not dead, but only very few are aware of it. At this time, it's only Yukimi Mitsui, her brother and me. There may be more, but the number stays small. Moreover, there must be people who have doubts about the lie that is Reina-san's death, but they are lacking evidence.

However, it's true that the lie she spread is very cunning. So cunning, in fact, that the lie will become true once everyone starts to believe it. I don't want to state the obvious, but the dead can't coexist with the living. Dead people lose their relation to the living.

Reina-san will come back, but I feel that her return is bound to certain conditions.

After all, Reina-san is trying to save us. Salvation does not come to people who don't believe in salvation. Therefore, those who forgot her, those who lost faith in her will not be saved. There is no reason for her to appear in a place where she has been forgotten, in a place that is outside the range of her salvation.

It means that I have to make sure she has a place to return to.

In order to meet Reina-san—in order to meet again her again—I have to keep her place unoccupied.

I see! This is a trial.

A trial to test my faith in Reina-san.


As a way to arrange a place for Reina-san, I chose to take advantage of my position as the president of the student council. I asked the teachers to let me have a speech at the monthly assembly and received permission.

The day of the assembly arrived in no time. Through the microphone the teacher who presided over the assembly says, "The president of the student council would like to take the floor." Following his announcement, I climb on the stage and encounter almost five hundred faces, some of which are older than me, some of which are the same age, and some of which are younger than me. Most of their gazes are directed at me. I've gotten used to this sight. After receiving the sign, I, the teachers and the nearly five hundred students bow to each other.

I survey the audience.

Nearly five hundred people. This is hardly anything when comparing it to the numbers used by the mass media, but it's quite an overwhelming sight nevertheless. Is it really in my power to reach their hearts and project Reina-san into them? I don't want to admit it, but Yukimi Mitsui was right when she remarked that my charisma has dwindled. The weight of my words depends on whether or not Reina-san is present. Is it really in my power to show them the right path?

Don't falter! The more numerous the audience, the better. I don't need to convince all of them. I only need enough of them to create a place for Reina-san.

I open my dry mouth:

"Good morning, my dear schoolmates. My name is Sakura Kawai and today I would like to address Reina Kamisu's suicide."

Their gazes focus on me as I address the hottest topic at school. Everyone knows that I took on the position as president of the student council from Reina-san, and that I was her primary servant. They must be fairly curious about what I have to say about this subject.

"As you all know, Reina Kamisu was a special student. I am certain that I do not need to lose any words on how special she was. As such, many among you must still be confused by the sad news of her death. Many among you must still be mourning for her. I was one of them, too."

The students who noticed that I used past tense start to whisper to each other. Not a week has passed since Reina-san throw herself from the rooftop; in normal circumstances it would be impossible for me, her primary servant, to overcome the sadness of losing her.

"However—"

As expected, the majority of the students are all ears for my words. I deliberately choose to provoke them.

"—Let me be frank. Only a fool would be sad about her death."

My words create a general stir.

The students start to exchange glances and the teachers become alarmed. I don't mind if they stop me in the worst case, as long as I can communicate the important things. I only need to get their attention. Some of them will be curious enough to approach me of their own to hear the rest, and I will tell them. My thrilling ideas will soak through them and then automatically spread among the rest of the students.

My network is extensive enough to pull this off, even without Reina-san.

"Why is it foolish? Before I answer this question, let me read your mind."

I feel almost all of their five hundred gazes on me. Excellent.

"Certainly, you were all shocked by her suicide. You are bewildered and you are sad. But above all, do you not have a 'fuzzy feeling' in your chests? Do you not feel that something is wrong?"

As I stand on the stage, I discover a few students who nodded.

"I know what that 'fuzzy feeling' is. Let me get straight to the resolution: you have this feeling because you think that Reina Kamisu might still be alive."

My words create yet another stir.

"Please do not misunderstand me: I mean it quite literally, not in the clichéd sense of her living on in our hearts. Her metabolism is still intact. You may say this is absurd, but then answer me: Can you deny it with all honesty? Can you really say for sure that Reina Kamisu is dead?"

To be frank, I'm only spitting nonsense. A fuzzy feeling? Well, of course they have that feeling! After all, Reina Kamisu, the person who occupied a large part of their hearts, died (they think) from one day to the next without a reason! How could they not have ruffled feelings about it?

However, the ones who fell for it and bought my explanation for their fuzzy feeling will think that everything I said might be true.

Some of them might naturally see through my trick, but can they deny my words with certainty? Can they pass on the compelling thought that Reina Kamisu might still be alive, just to deny what I said? Can they thrust the ones who got their hopes up back into the abyss of despair, even if they were certain it's a lie?

Reina Kamisu is dead. Reina Kamisu is alive. If you had to choose one, you would choose the latter.

If both options are hard to believe, then you would choose the latter.

It's a shame that I have to trick them, but sadly, only few are able to see the truth like me. It's highly unlikely that anyone understands Reina-san like I do.

I proceed to the final blow.

"Dear colleagues, my ideas must sound absurd to you, and I am aware of that. I would laugh it off as ridiculous if I was one of you.

"But ... it is the truth.

"All of you who are laughing at my words will be laughing out of the other side of your faces next week. Why? It's simple."

Yes, I understand Reina-san.

I know the answer.

I only need to give them a glimpse of the answer.


"Because next week, on the first day of July, Reina Kamisu will come back."


My speech turned out less successful than anticipated. The majority view seemed to be that my claims were too implausible, and because this became the mainstream, the people who actually believed me could no longer openly say so.

I don't think it was wrong to hold a speech. Actually, I'm positive that it was the best choice I could make. However, it seems like the world has become too science-oriented to leave room for the thought that someone could resurrect from the dead. Damn ... aren't men the ones who are supposed to only make logic decisions? Our society makes it hard to spread correct ideas. Even psychics who clearly have some sort of power are called fakes these days.

But I don't care.

I haven't failed.

It's true that the majority are fools who are unable to question Reina-san's death, but they're only the majority.

People who believe me, who believe in Reina Kamisu, may be the minority, but they do exist.


"I also thought that Reina-san is still alive! I was relieved to hear that I wasn't the only one who thought so!"

"That 'fuzzy feeling' you mentioned was really preying on my mind. You took a huge weigh off my mind when you pointed it out to us and uncovered the truth behind it."

"Reina-san is still alive! There's no way she would die, is there?"

"I'm not entirely convinced ... but if you are so certain of it and even know when she's coming back, I want to try to believe you."

"I never believed that Reina-san was dead!"


People who said things like this appeared before me. 17 in number. Most of them were third-year students who inherently spent more time with Reina-san than the younger generation. 17 is not a large number compared to 500, but it's not so small, either, if you think of it as half a class.

Is Reina-san going to appear again even with such a small number? Though a little anxious, I decide to be optimistic.

I mean, Reina-san is much smarter than me. She must have foreseen that I would only be able to convince a small number of people even if I did my best. But most of all, the girls who believe in her "presence" are the ones who long for salvation so hard that they have no other choice but to believe in her "presence." Reina-san would never abandon them.

However, that doesn't mean that we can sit back and wait. Just thinking that Reina-san might still be alive is not going to bring about any progress.

What we need is unification. Unified prayer. We have to focus our prayers so strongly that they will reach Reina-san.

That is what has to be done to accomplish Reina-san's return.

In order to proceed to action, I told "the girls" who believe in Reina-san's "presence" to assemble at the Student Council Room after school. By the way, part of the student council, which also includes Anna, also believe in Reina-san's "presence."

It's unfortunate that I'm the only one who "knows" of Reina-san's "presence," but it's not a problem. I only have to guide "the girls" to this knowledge.

It's Thursday, the 29th of June. The first of July will be the day after tomorrow. Time is running out. I have to make sure that "the girls" will make a beeline for our goal without getting sidetracked by anything.


After we assembled at the Student Council Room, we had a long conversation. About Reina-san. About our devotion to Reina-san. About our selfless love for Reina-san. About our relation to Reina-san. About our need for Reina-san. About the importance of Reina-san. About how Reina-san feigned her death. About why Reina-san disappeared. About how Reina-san is going to affect us in the future. About how Reina-san's Reina-san is Reina-san and Reina-san can Reina-san with Reina-san to be Reina-san. Unfortunately, six of the initial seventeen members could not keep up and left our ranks, but the rest of us were able to talk about Reina-san without end. In this manner, we deepened our trust in Reina-san and synchronized with each other.

However, talking only about Reina-san does not suffice. If Reina-san were a diamond and you wanted to fascinate someone with it, you could preach about the diamond's beauty as long as you want and still achieve nothing. Fortunately, they are already fascinated by the diamond that is Reina-san, but still it doesn't suffice. "The diamond suits you!" "It makes you charming!" "You need it!" Similarly, by talking about why we need the diamond and why we have to be fascinated with it, we can strengthen our faith in Reina-san.

"Anna?"

I decide to start with Anna, the easiest target, because she's my classmate, my roommate, the secretary of the student council, and a cutter. Not only can I predict her answers, she is in dire need of Reina-san. She's also a perfect case for the others to listen to.

"Do you have those moments when you feel tired of living in this world?"

Her eyes widen as I pose an unexpected question. It's obvious how she will answer this.

While looking at the bandage on her wrist, she replies, "...All the time."

I nod as compassionately as possible. The other girls, who have been talking with each other, start to give us their attention.

"...Do you also feel like this sometimes, Sakura?"

"Sure," I answer.

"That's a little surprising."

"Do I not look like someone who would get tired of living?"

"Mhm. I mean, you're clever, flexible, and pretty. You ... are good at making your way, I guess? I thought that people like you don't think like that."

"Good at making my way ... huh? Perhaps you can say that. But what if that's exactly why I'm suffering?"

"...Huh?"

"I'm clever. I'm also popular enough to make it to the student council president, although I may have gotten backup from Reina-san. I'm know how to make my way. I'm a realist. Because of that, I was unable to believe in anything and also unable to depend on anything."

Talking about yourself first is a common trick to break the ice. It will unlock Anna's heart

"I understand that you don't have it easy, either," Anna says and adds hesitantly, "...But does it really make you suffer?"

"It does! When you're a realist, you lose the ability to have dreams, you know? For instance, let's assume I wanted to become a writer. In that case, I would realize that it's futile before even trying. There are thousands and thousands of aspiring writers, but only a small fraction of them make it, and only another fraction is able to get by.

"Because of my position in the student council, I often find myself surveying all of our students from the stage. Almost five hundred. That's an overwhelming number! If only one of those five hundred received the talent of succeeding as a writer, how many lots would I have to draw? Do I have that talent right now? Of course not. I never was the best in anything."

"...Mhm."

"When you're a realist, you look up, and when you look up, you see an endless sky. Why would I have the privilege to go all the way to the top? How could I soar up into the sky when I'm currently crawling on the ground? Do you understand, Anna? This is the pain of being realistic."

"...I think I understand."

"Tragic things like child abuse, divorce and accidents aren't the only things that make us suffer. I think that it's the things close to us that really torment us."

Everyone nods in agreement. I know that they all feel discontent with something in their lives.

How should we be optimistic in a world where nothing ever works out? How should we have dreams when we can't even make it into the University of Tokyo, which counts more than 3000 admissions every year? If we earnestly tried to accomplish our dreams, all we would get is scoff at believing in skills we don't have. That's why we give up. Realistic thinking bereaves us of our future and makes us give up. This is how the world throws us into the abyss.

"What about you, Anna? What is tormenting you?"

Anna remains silent. Not because she doesn't want to answer, but because she doesn't know how to word it.

"...I often wonder why I'm living," she eventually says with her glance cast down. "Because it doesn't matter whether I'm alive or not."

"That's not true, Anna! I'd be sad if I lost you."

"Mhm, thanks. But ... that's it."

"What do you mean...?"

"You'd be sad and that's it. Or would my death follow you for your entire life? Would you mourn for me for the rest of you life?"

"I—"

Of course, I would be sad if Anna died. I would probably cry. But ... I don't know how long that sadness would last.

"If I died a shocking death, it might subsist as a trauma. If I died young, you might remember it for that. But in that case, you wouldn't remember me but only my 'death,' right? I'd only live on as a bad memory, which means that my value is negative.

For example, if I went missing, I'm sure you would be worried about me in the beginning, but after only a month you would hardly talk about me anymore, and after a year you would have forgotten me. I think that I don't mean much to all of you."

"That's not true!"

I'm aware that I sound a bit phony.

Of course I care about Anna. She's a good girl—the type who gets along with everyone. On the other side, in many senses you will never find a person of this type in the center of a group. In short, she's one of many. Anna is never the center.

"But Anna, listen ... if, for the sake of the argument, we wouldn't mourn for you so long, what about your family?"

Anna suddenly contorts her face.

Aah—looks like I put my foot in it.

I immediately realized it. The moment I saw her self-ironic face when I said the word "family", I realized what her answer is.

The answer to my question is "no" and more importantly...

This is the cause for Anna's view on life.

"My family?" Anna sneers with her eyes cast down. "Even though I only have a father who hasn't exchanged a word with me for over a year?"

I couldn't ask about her mother. Nothing good would come of it.

"...Oh, why would anyone care about or understand me when even my family doesn't?"

No one understands her.

I would like deny that, but again, I can't.

It's a fact that her father did not come when she cut her wrist. Of course, she cut her wrist to show me her wound, but at the bottom of it is her family, her father who neglected her.

No one understands you.

Exactly.

The same applies to me: nobody understands me. People are so good at feigning understanding that I sometimes almost buy into it, but in the end, nobody ever understood me. Everyone always dismissed my worries as the wailing of a pubescent, spoiled girl.

Even though they were so defining to me.

Nobody understands my values and beliefs, and I don't understand the values and beliefs of anybody.

Therefore I'm sure I can't understand Anna, either.

"Aah—why do I live...?"

Anna is serious.

To Anna, who is in the firm belief that even her family lacks understanding for her, living can't be enjoyable. She must be wishing to disappear like melting snow. Just like me.

Will this sentiment ever disappear? Will we find ourselves doing some generic office work in our future, and giving birth to cute babies while experiencing twinges of emptiness from time to time? Is that what we will become to survive?

Just thinking about it makes me sick.

This thought is so realistic. So filthy.

We may have been foolish, but we were pure.

"Anna."

"Hm?"

"This sucks."

"Yeah, it does."

"This world sucks."

"It does."

"It's painful, right?"

"It's painful!"

"Do you want to be saved?"

"I want to be saved!"

"Do you want to see Reina-san?"

"I want to see Reina-san!"

Dear God, whether you exist or not.

We need salvation.

I demand of you to return Reina-san immediately.

"Reina-san is different from us," I say.

"Yes, she is different. She is incredibly pretty and perfect and I'm sure that there's a meaning to her life even if there's none to ours."

"Yes, I agree."

"...Yeah."

"Unlike us, she does not have any fixed definitions that predefine her life."

"Yeah."

"Then how do we want to define Reina-san?"

Anna and the others look up into space.

"Aah—"

—Their eyes start to twinkle.

"—I see now," Anna mutters. "Aah, I see ... I see!"

"You're right, Anna. Listen, everyone, you found the answer!"

There's no need to explain everything. There can't be a need to explain everything, otherwise it wouldn't be believable.

I only needed to lead their way to a sentiment they already have.

"Living is so painful to us, which is why ... Reina-san lives."

Reina-san is water.

She is sweet water that fulfills you the more desperate you are.

Reina-san bears a deep meaning just by existing.

A person like her—

"She can't be dead," someone says.

"Reina-san is alive," I assure with a nod. "And—she will appear on the first of July."

Ah, at last!

They all made it there.



3[edit]

Anna has become reliable.

She could even tell where Reina-san is going to appear, now that she arrived at the conclusion that Reina-san is alive.

"If she disappeared on the rooftop, wouldn't she also appear there again?"

I see. That stands to reason.

I can't believe that she was able to deduce this without my guidance.

The other girls who had made it to my level also become reliable and were able to discover the answer.

We head to the rooftop.

It's still eight in the morning. As we make our way to our destination, we receive the blessing of the sun that is shining brightly through the windows.

Such fine weather during the rainy season! This must be a sign from heaven.

While keeping an even pace we walk up the stairway. With cheerful smiles. With eerily beautiful and uniform smiles. For we acquired a goal that we can live for without any hesitation and distractions.

The sparkling door comes into view.

Beyond that door. Beyond that door, Reina-san is waiting.

I lay my hand on the shining door.


"Wait, Sakura."


Somebody calls my name from behind. Slightly disgruntled, I turn around and find Yuuko. She is one of the blinded fools who didn't believe me and think that Reina-san were dead.

"What's the matter, Yuuko?" I ask in a calm tone of voice because there's no point in getting angry at her.

"...That's my line! You're not allowed to go to the rooftop, and you should know that."

It's as she says. While I did go there once with Reina-san's brother, it has officially been forbidden since Reina-san's incident. However, because the students of this school are generally trusted, they didn't lock the door.

"Today is the first of July, right?"

"Well, yes," I answer Yuuko's obvious question.

"Girls ... do you really, really believe it? That Reina-san is alive?" she asks, looking hesitantly at each of the twelve of "us". "And that she's on the rooftop? That's what you think, right?"

"Yes!" I assert without hesitation.

"...As you may know, my family runs a hospital."

I nod.

"I often went there when I was a child," she explains. "My father gave me free entrance because he thought I could learn something. I often made friends with elderly people.

"And I often had to see them dying."

"...What's your point?" I ask.

"You know my point. What I want to say is something that every child knows: the dead do not come back to life again. That shouldn't be news to you girls."

"Reina-san isn't dead."

"You just don't want to admit it!"

"Reina-san isn't dead," I reply calmly.

Oh dear ... Yuuko knows nothing. Unsurprisingly so.

Yuuko seems a bit daunted because I didn't show any signs of becoming angry, but she continues nevertheless:

"...You'll only be disappointed if you go past this door, Sakura! What you will find isn't a bright future, but the bitter truth that Reina-san is dead."

"That's not possible."

"Even if you were to find her ... then it's nothing but an illusion!"

"If you're so certain, then why don't you come with us, Yuuko?"

"Huh?" she utters with an open mouth in response to my apparently unexpected proposal.

She must be thinking that only "we" are allowed to be there.

"You don't mind, do you?" I ask my companions and they nod peacefully. "So? Coming with us?"

"...Fine," she sighs after some hesitation.

You shouldn't be sighing, Yuuko ... you'll lose some of your happiness!

I lay hand on the door again and—open it.


Light.


"—Aah!"


The world opens itself to us.


And then—

And then—

I was taken in.


Just like then, just like our first encounter, I took in her, who is water, or maybe she took me in.

I listen carefully.

Instead of Chopin's Heroic Polonaise, her transparent and vacant and false and mechanic yet transcendental voice reaches my ears.


"I am delighted to see you all again."


Amidst the light she spoke to us.

Amidst the light Reina Kamisu spoke to us.

As I beheld her beautiful countenance, I started to cry and shiver with excitement.


"Reina-san," I say. The others follow suit and mutter her name as well, also crying and shivering with delight.


Aah, they can see her just like I do. Wonderful. Nothing stands in our way to happiness now!

Poor Yuuko seems to be thunderstruck by the sight of who we are looking at.

"Forgive me for keeping you waiting," the beautiful girl apologizes with an apologetic smile.

"It's OK! We believed in your return."

"Thank you."

Reina-san responds to my words. Aah! That alone makes me so happy!

"Reina-san...! So you feigned your death to save us, right?"

"Yes, exactly."

"If you don't mind, could you explain to us why there was a need to do that?"

"I am afraid that it might be a little complicated. Do you mind?"

"Of course not."

"As you can surely feel, Kawai-san, this world is rotten."

"Ah, so it's as I thought."

"It is impossible to become happy in this world. Suffering is the only option. If you deceive yourself and turn a blind eye to various things, however, it is possible to obtain an illusion of happiness. But since it is only an illusion, it means that you are not really happy by definition."

"This sounds so rotten."

"Yes. Hence, there is no happiness or salvation as long as you do not disengage from this world. This is why I decided to temporarily leave this world and search for a better one."

Does that mean that she counts as dead in this world? ...No, the idea of death is of no importance. As a matter of fact, Reina-san is standing before my eyes. That's all there is to it. There's no need for me to investigate further.

"And—I discovered our paradise. Therefore, I have appeared here again."

All that's left is to give myself entirely to Reina-san.

"It is a place free of suffering, where everything is gentle, where everything is enjoyable, and where everything is beautiful."

I listen closely to her, completely in raptures. The same seems to apply to the others.

We are going to be saved.

I'm so happy that I believed in Reina-san.

I'm so—happy.

"I am afraid to say that I am not able to remain in this world. In fact, it is questionable if you can even say that I am here right now. I may have only just arrived, but I will therefore disappear once more from here temporarily."

Please don't. I don't want to be separated.

"Are you not going to take us there right now?"

Reina-san shakes her head.

"I cannot take you there anytime. It is difficult to explain, but ... please picture to yourselves hundreds upon hundreds of holes. Once our minds leave our bodies, they are judged based on various conditions and then thrown into one of these holes. Some of them lead to worlds that are even worse than here.

"To some extent, I can control which hole you will be thrown into. However, depending on the 'time', which is one of the various conditions, it might not go well."

"I understand."

Reina-san nods sadly. "I will appear here again tomorrow at six o'clock in the evening. I am sorry ... time has run out. I shall see you tomorrow."

With these words, Reina-san disappears.

She did not walk away, she literally vanished.

I look around. My companions, too, still seem bemused and are gazing at the place where Reina-san was standing. Some of them are also talking to themselves as though in trance.

One among them is showing a different reaction, though. I approach her.

"What do you say now, Yuuko? Reina-san's alive, isn't she?"

Yuuko turns her head to me like a rusty robot. On her face I recognize exceeding bewilderment.

In all that bewilderment, she slowly opens her mouth and asks:


"What kind of joke is this?"


—I don't understand.

Why would she say that after such a miracle?


"Why are you all gazing into space and crying?"


Yuuko is looking at the place where Reina-san was standing.

No, that's not quite accurate.

She is simply looking at the place where our gazes meet, with fear in her eyes.

"Sakura! Come to your senses! For crying out loud—"


"—Weren't you the first person to find her body?!"


Was I, now?

Aah, yes, I was.

I completely forgot about that because it doesn't matter.

Because of that, I also told her brother that I hadn't seen how Reina-san fell.

I mean, what of it?

Is that supposed to prove Reina-san's death, or something?


4[edit]

I was smiling from ear to ear and almost started skipping along.

"Please take good care of Reina Kamisu."

Aah, she wasn't annoyed at me after all! Reina-san needs me!

Suddenly, I heard a scream.

I raised my head to look what was going on.

An instant passed.

In this instant...

A tragedy took place in front of me.


It—

It fell not with the elegance of cherry blossoms, but just like a heavy lump, following the laws of physics, and with a thump.

A warm liquid squirted around and stuck to my skin.


———

Time stopped.


No way.

This is a lie.

As a matter of act, my flow of time was in complete disarray, going faster and slower at random, and it felt much more unrealistic than a dream even ... at any rate, it was a lie.

After all, Reina-san had just told me to take care of her, which clearly was in conflict with the thing that just happened, and, aah, at any rate, this was a lie. What's the deal with ... this? Why did this, huh? I don't get it. At any rate, it was a lie, a lie, and a lie, so I silently laughed aloud.


The hideously deformed something that resembled Reina-san and yet was completely different stared at me.

It stared at me without doubt.

It stared at me with bloodshot eyes.

And it moved its lips and jerked its bloody red tongue.


"—D-O N-O-T F-O-R-G-E-T M-E."


Since there was no sound, I could not hear anything, but it certainly tried to form these words.

Something was clearly out of order. Something was a lie.

This something before me was clearly not Reina-san. After all, it was obviously filthier than anything I'd ever seen. Filthy = Reality? Reality? So it had nothing to do with Reina-san. This something could impossibly be Reina-san. Impossible.

Aah, where are you, Reina-san?

Where have you gone? Did you die? Did you disappear because this something stole your soul?

I don't understand.

I don't understand. However.



If I don't find the answer, Reina-san will disappear.


5[edit]

Neither Yuuko, nor Emi, nor the other people tried to stop us. We made it to the second of July without any trouble.

The only unexpected thing was that one of our companions stubborny claimed, "Reina-san did not say anything about assembling tomorrow at six o'clock!" It was unexpected, but I concluded that she didn't make it to our level and gave up on her.

We go again to the rooftop. Unlike yesterday, a gentle rain is falling, which is a shame but still better than seeing the moon, because the moon always follows us around.

Suddenly, I notice that somebody is sitting in front of the door to the rooftop. Did Yuuko not learn her lesson...? No, it's not her. It's not one of girls who fell through, either. Upon seeing me, the girl stands up.

"You're going to meet Reina-san, right?"

I recognize her voice.

"Oh, you're here as well?" she continues. "Didn't she turn you down?"

I see how Anna stiffens.

"What do you want, Mitsui-senpai?"

Yukimi Mitsui.

One of the servants who arrived at the knowledge of Reina-san's "presence."

"Do you want to join us? I'm sorry, but I haven't forgiven you even though you may be a servant of Reina-san's. I can't let you come with us."

"Join you just to meet Reina-san? Ha!" Yukimi Mitsui sneers. "I don't need your help for that."

"...What was that?"

"I'll be damned if I resort to your means," she laughs and steps aside. She continues in whispers, "I'm here to warn you."

"We don't need your warning."

"Don't misunderstand, okay? I don't care what happens to you, but if this is the last time we meet, I want to get it off my chest at least," she says and flashes a grin. "My worship of Reina-san and yours are as different as snow and ashes."

"...Well, I don't want to be thought hand in glove with you, either!"

"Huhu, is that so? Well, why don't you go ahead and meet your Reina-san? Bye then. We probably won't meet again."

"Goodbye," I say without even turning around to Yukimi Mitsui, who is waving her hand. After stroking Anna's hair gently, I walk up the stairs again, and—

—open the door.


A gentle rain is falling.

Reina-san is already waiting for us in the center of the rooftop.

Reina-san is waiting, smiling and without getting wet..

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Reina-san."

"Why, no, it was me who kept you waiting, Sakura."

I nod with a lopsided smile.

As the rain soaks our hair and clothes, we are reminded of our physical body through the unpleasant feeling. Sadly, this acid rain is filthy and thus can't wash us clean.

We need purification.

"We don't have much time, right? Please tell us how we can go to your world, Reina-san."

She nods. "It is simple. You just have to employ the same procedure as me."

The same procedure...

I recall the chalk line I examined together with Reina-san's brother.

"Do we have to jump...?"

Reina-san nods again.

"I know that it requires courage. I would like to use a different method as well, but there is none."

I look at the others.

They look at me.

They may not say so verbally, but their eyes are clearly telling me to take the lead. We are all afraid. Of course, we trust Reina-san, but we all know that the panic of falling and the pain of hitting the ground are things that cannot be avoided.

Indeed, I have to take the lead. I have to jump first and show them their way. Just like I have been doing so far.

However—

"I'm sorry, but I can't jump first."

Surprise and discontent appear on their faces.

"There is something I want to confirm at the end."

"Can you not do that now?" Anna asks and I nod in response.

She surveys me, then the bandage around her left wrist, and eventually smiles.

"Okay—I will jump first, then."

Surprised but impressed, we applaud to her.

"Anna ... thank you so much."

"No, you don't need to thank me ... It's an honor to be the first to go to Reina-san!"

I'm so proud of Anna. The source of her present strength may be weakness, but it's still strength.

Anna climbs on the fence in a somewhat clumsy manner and stands on top of it. She almost slips because the rain is getting stronger and thus making the fence slippery. Careful, Anna! Don't fall! Hm? Ah, stupid me. You will fall either way.

Anna stands upright atop the slippery fence and speaks straight ahead:

"Reina-san."

"Yes?"

I can't see Anna's face because she's looking forward.

"I will never forget what you said to me yesterday. I was really happy when you said that you would always need me even if nobody else did."

Reina-san nods.

"My scar will disappear once I reach the other world, right?"

"Yes."

"...I'm so happy."

I'm moved.

Reina-san did a great job.

"I will always need you even if no one else does."

This is the very thing Anna wanted to hear the most.

It would sound false from anyone else's mouth, but if Reina-san says it, it's the truth.

But then—

I don't think I remember Reina-san saying that?


"Sakura," Anna suddenly calls me, interrupting my thought process.

Anna is still looking forward, beyond the rain, so I still don't know what her face looks like.

"Yes, Anna?"


"—Thank you."


Her voice falls downward.

And is cut short.


Anna vanished and spoke simultaneously.


"Thank ... you...?"

Why?

Why would she thank me?

It's Reina-san who saved Anna, and it's Reina-san who will guide her to a better world. You probably can't even say that I bridged the gap between her and Reina-san.

Thank you ... words of gratitude.

But this makes it seem—as though I was the one who brought about this ceremony.


As I'm overcome with this strange confusion, my companions continue to jump one after the other. And before they jump and scatter, they all cite words that I don't remember hearing from Reina-san and give their thanks to me like Anna did.

Watching them makes me feel as though I were looking at artificial flowers that have withered.

Eventually, I end up alone with Reina-san.

The rain has gotten even fiercer. I might catch a cold, I think for a brief moment and sneer at myself.

I'm the last one.

"Kawai-san," the undrenched girl says. "What is it that you wanted to confirm?"

"Yes, there is something I wanted to ask you no matter what."

"Why did it have to be now, 'at the very end'?"

I look at the floor. A water drop drips down from my hair and enters my eye, making me feel filthy from the inside.

The reason why it had to be "at the very end."

It's—because I couldn't let the others hear it.

"Reina-san."

"Yes?"

"It's so hard to explain and I don't know how to put this, but please bear with me."


"Who are you?"


Reina-san remains calm. She is still smiling.

"You're Reina Kamisu, of course, and that's the only way to call you. You are no doubt Reina Kamisu.

"But—you are not the Reina-san who played the piano, are you? You are someone else."

"...Why do you think so?"

"I was always fascinated by Reina-san, but she always made a somewhat strange impression on me. I don't know what it was, but I do not get that impression from you."

Reina-san silently listens to me.

"It's an ambiguous feeling. Perhaps, my memory is playing tricks on me because I haven't met you in a long time, but ... I doubt it."

"Why do you doubt it?"

"Because it's the former Reina-san who gave me that strange impression. If it was the other way around, it would make sense ... but ... as a matter of fact ... you feel way more genuine to me than the previous Reina-san. Isn't it strange that you feel more genuine now than before?"

The rain is getting stronger and I'm starting to get worried if my voice even reaches her.

"If," Reina-san starts. "If I am a different being than before, what will you do?"

"It doesn't matter," I respond without missing a beat. "You are Reina Kamisu. Nothing else."

"Yes," she nods. "I am Reina Kamisu, and nothing else," she says with her beautiful smile. "If you say so, may I tell you the truth?"

"Yes. My decision won't change."

I walk up to the fence and lean against it with my back. I don't even want to think about the sight down there.

"I am a phenomenon that becomes visible to those who believe in my existence."

"...A phenomenon?"

"To you and your friends, I am Reina Kamisu, because that is what you named me. If given a different name, I adapt accordingly. For example, some call me 'god' and some call me an 'angel'. By being given a name, I take shape and become visible."

"...Do you lead the people who can 'see' you to another world?"

"This is the role you gave me."

"But I wasn't the only one who believed so," I argue.

"That is because you took the lead over them and defined my role for everyone. All I ever do is fulfill my purpose."

I defined her role?

It's true that I guided them to believe in Reina-san's "presence," but that's all I did. Reina-san is the one who is to do the rest and save us.

Right, I'm not to blame.

Not to blame?

What? What am I talking about? Blame? What blame? I only did the right thing and struggled to break free from this filth and didn't believe in Reina-san's death and, aah, yes, that filthy corpse wasn't Reina-san's. It wasn't hers, so I realized the truth and now I'm facing Reina-san in person and, aah, I was right from start to finish. Impressive! I didn't do too bad, did I?

"I ... I don't care anymore."

I climb on the fence.

Like Anna and the others, I stand upright and gaze straight ahead.

"You are Reina Kamisu."

"Yes, I am."

"You will save us from the filthy."

"Yes, I will."

"Please fulfill your role."

"Yes, I will fulfill my role."

There's no hesitation.

The others jumped down, too. I can't hesitate. It's too late. Wait, too late? For what? I do not need to hesitate anymore. The answer is clear, I only need to carry it out.

One question—

One question suddenly crosses my mind.

I was Reina-san's servant.

But why did I decide to obey her without a single doubt? What was so special about Reina-san?

Of course, she was beautiful. Of course, she felt different.

But ... that's no reason to obey her.

It makes me think.

Everyone admired Reina-san, everyone was captivated by her, so much that she belonged in the same category as "god" and "angels."

But where did that deification come from?

I mean—

We don't know anything about Reina-san.


I stop thinking.

I won't turn around to her anymore.

I'll just look at her the same way as I always did.

I'll just project my idea of perfection on her and look upon her in a perfect light.

I step forward.

And as I do, I devote my last thoughts to her:

I ... we may have suffered a lot, but—

—she must have suffered just as much.




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