Reminiscence 2 -side Hiori-
——I first met that man, Kashima Masayuki, 17 years ago.
Since I met Tsubaki, I had been able to spend every day with happiness, and my days had felt so complete. However, with Father’s referral, a university student became my private tutor out of the blue; that was Kashima. At a glance, he looked like an agreeable youth who would be popular among girls. He is the son and heir of a rapidly growing enterprise.
I had told Father that I did not need a private tutor, but Father didn’t lend me even an ear. So, that man came to supervise me a few times a week. I thought that learning under him would be bothersome at most, but Kashima would persistently tag me along anywhere I go. He would talk about trivial things while I’m studying, and he would invite me out whenever I’m on break. Naturally, I wasn’t interested in all that. I refused him, and I ignored about those matters altogether.
But that day… it’s frustrating me, as much as I hate to even to remember about it.
That man… he assaulted me.
Going against a man who was much taller than a female middle school student proved to be futile. My resistance was in vain.
I feel nausea and vertigo hitting me just by remembering it. At that time, I thought of biting off my own tongue to commit suicide.
——But, her voice rang true in my head, granting me the aspiration to keep living.
Along with her voice, her innocent smile played back in my head. She was slightly foolish, yet kinder than anyone. She was my most important, beloved girl. I wanted to be by her side forever, and that was the reason I refused to die, no matter how painful it was.
Tsubaki, was my everything.
That was why I was afraid that she would learn about that matter. I was scared more than anything that she would come to hate me.
That was why, I had hidden it from her.
I had been proficient at hiding my own feelings for a long time, and I was used to telling lies. But, she still noticed the small changes in me. She was usually obtuse, but she would always be perceptive during such moments. I hated that part of her. Lying to her awfully pained my heart, but it was still better than being hated, I thought. Thus, I endured.
……I even made a promise that I didn’t intend to fulfill. It would be all right as long as she didn’t know, that was I thought.
——But eventually, she learned about everything, and the promise was broken.
Nonetheless, she had stayed with me. Even when I told her my doubts about keeping the new life in my womb, she was by my side, supporting me. As long as she was with me, I believed that I could overcome anything.
But, I wonder how much I had let her spoil me. I wonder how much I had let her feel sad and hurt.
————And then, the punishment came.
I’m going to the garden to meet Tsubaki like always, and I find her sitting, well-hidden at the usual spot. Usually, she would notice me approaching and wave her hand. But this time, she remains looking towards the ground. Maybe she’s sleeping, yes, like the time when we first met. But, how wrong I was. As I approach her, the strange spectacle comes to my notice.
I doubt my eyes. It’s like I’m watching a horrible nightmare. Her abdomen is deep red, and there are dark reddish spots all over her body. She looks ghastly pale, and her breathing is ragged. A distinctive pair of scissors, tainted with a dark red liquid, is lying next to her.
That unbelievable spectacle makes my head turn blank for a short while, before my body springs back into action as I realize the gravity of the situation.
I rush over to her in a fluster, and I shake her body lightly. While drenching in blood, she slowly opens her eyes and looks towards me with her unfocused pupils.
“Tsubaki! Hang in there! Tsubaki, Tsubaki, Tsubaki!!”
“…I’m okay. No need to worry so much.”
“But, look at how much you’re bleeding.”
When I hold her body, her blood sticks all over my hand. No matter how I look at it, her bleeding is severe.
“Aha… actually, it doesn’t hurt. I’m okay…”
She shows me a calm smile, so calm that it actually makes me believe in her words. I regain a bit of my composure from that.
“How did this… just what… no, I should call the ambulance first!”
“Hang on, I’ll make the call right away. My cell phone… is in my room. Geez, why today of all times?!”
“Haha, the always composed Hiori can also be flustered, like this. But, it’s bad for the child in your womb. Calm down, okay?”
“What are you talking about during such an emergency!!”
I think of borrowing Tsubaki’s cell phone, but apparently she left hers at home, too. So I turn around to hurry and retrieve mine.
I hear my name being called from behind. When I look over my shoulder, I see her smiling to me. Her smile has the same gentleness as ever. Although her face has been stained, and her eyes are dim and blank, her quiet smile is still able to captivate me.
“…I’ll be right back.”
In order to call the ambulance, I hurry to my room and use my cell phone. Then, I immediately return to where she is.
Tsubaki’s eyes are closed. Perhaps, she’s sleeping due to fatigue. Sheesh… Tsubaki, she would never fail to sleep whenever she found the time. She never changed like that. I wondered what nerve she had to be able to sleep even though she was here to hang out. But, it felt comfortable for me to stay next to her while she’s sleeping so peacefully.
I liked gazing at her cute, sleeping face. When I placed her head on my lap, she was really surprised when she woke up, that was really fun. There was also a time when she wouldn’t wake up no matter what I did, and I thought of kissing her. Those small, trivial memories are my most precious treasure.
She doesn’t respond when I call her name, just like always.
I position myself next to her, and I sit down.
“Wake up already. The ambulance is coming soon, you know? Do you intend to show your dumb, sleeping face to them?”
No matter how I strike her with abusive words, she won’t even flinch. This is also, just like, always.
A warm gust blows and rustles her hair, but her bangs stick to her forehead. It seems uncomfortable, so I shove it to the side. I wipe the blood that is sticking to her face with my handkerchief while I’m at it.
“…Really, you’re… such a, hopeless… girl… hh.”
As I wipe her face, my hand starts to tremble. My strength suddenly leaves me, and I drop the handkerchief that I was holding. When I’m trying to pick it up from the ground, beads of water spill from my eyes to the ground.
Once it starts flowing, I can no longer stop it. They keep welling, before spilling down my cheek.
When I returned here, I already noticed.
Tsubaki, is no longer breathing.
I won’t admit it, I don’t want to admit it.
I scream. Like I’m trying to let my voice gush forth from my throat.
Why, why, why?! Why does she have to be the one to die?!
I’m the one who… everything is my fault! So why does it have to be her?!!
With all my strength, I hug her body which is still lingering with her warmth. Her blood sticks all over my clothes, but I couldn’t care less.
“Aaaah, ah, aaaah….!!”
I can’t utter any words. My sight is pitch black.
She won’t be able to call my name anymore.
She won’t smile by my side anymore.
“aaAa… aa… hh!”
I, have lost, my precious one.
I accept the truth and despair. Whilst, my guilt and hatred start to swell.
I wonder how long I have been hugging her still body.
I release her from my embrace and gently lay her down on the ground. I hate to leave her alone in such a place, but there is something that must be done. Until the ambulance arrives… please wait here in the meantime.
…I hold the scissors in my hand, and I stand up.
There’s nothing that needs deducing. Tsubaki was killed with these sharp scissors, and its owner lives in this mansion.
I move my powerless legs with my willpower, in order to find that human. When the servants see me, dyed red with Tsubaki’s blood, their faces turn stiff as they all draw back from me. Otherwise, they would only block the way, so it actually saves me the time. It seems that they’re screaming something, but I ignore them entirely. I don’t have the time to be concerned with them.
Slowly, slowly, I walk towards that human’s room.
It didn’t take long for me to arrive. It has been a long time since I last stood at the door of this room.
“…You’re here, aren’t you?”
I don’t bother knocking as I throw the door open. Perhaps she was expecting me, she is reacting to my gaze as I stand at the center of the room.
“Why, did you kill, Tsubaki?”
I ask her as calmly as I can be. Even now, I’m doing my utmost to restrain myself from stabbing the human in front of me with these scissors.
She’s standing motionlessly in front of me, showing nary an expression. I can’t tell what’s on her mind at all. This is the human that has robbed me of my beloved person.
“Do you think… do you think an apology would suffice?! Do you think it would make her return?!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
An emotionless voice. She keeps apologizing in the same voice over and over again. I wonder to whom she is directing those apologies.
“You always… steal everything away from me…. Do you… do you hate me so?! What did I, what did Tsubaki ever do to you?!!”
The human standing in front of me is so aggravating, and I throw the scissors I’m carrying to the floor. Those sharp scissors are the pair that this person would often use to arrange flowers with.
No matter what I say to her, her expression remains unchanged. It’s disconcerting how we resemble each other. We both have scarce facial expressions, we always keep our thoughts to ourselves and would never tell others about it, and our faces are similar, too.
Because I’m bound by blood to the one in front of me——she is my mother.
It’s a matter of course that we resemble each other.
But, that only adds more fuel to my hatred. Because, it’s like I’m looking at my own self. It’s like I’m reminded that we are of the same kind, and I despise that.
“Why, why Tsubaki… if you hate me, then I’m the one whom you should have stabbed!!”
“…That’s what I intended to do.”
Like she’s tired of it, she starts speaking indifferently. I can’t comprehend the human in front of me, she’s frightening me.
“But… she was the one who…”
“When blood rushed to my head, when I lost all my restraints, she was the one who stopped me…”
What is, going on?
“And I… that child……”
For the first time, her expression changes to that of grief. Mother looks at her own hands, and she slowly covers her face. There is blood sticking to her sleeve, which I assume is Tsubaki’s.
“Just, what happened between you and Tsubaki!! Why did she have to…!!”
When Mother is finally going to speak the truth, I can hear the sirens of the ambulance, as well as a patrol car. I was the one who called the ambulance here, but it must have been one of the servants who called the police.
Mother looks outside the window, gazing at the vehicles that have stopped in front of the mansion.
The woman who resembles me slowly closes her eyes, seemingly in thought. Then, she calmly heads out in silence, in order to turn herself in.
I have been left behind in this room, alone.
My feet grow weak, and I sink to my knees.
What happened? Why did it come to this?
I can’t comprehend the situation, and I have stopped wanting to. My mind is caught in a mess, and I can’t seem to sort my thoughts. I feel sick and nauseous, but I endure not to vomit.
Again, my tears start spilling.
Perhaps, it’s ironic that I actually understand one thing.
I won’t be able to meet Tsubaki again.
Mother had been arrested under suspicions of murder, and Father immediately abandoned the Kurasaka family entirely. What remained were me, Kurasaka’s assets, and the child in my womb.
And I… I barely remember anything that happened in a few months after Tsubaki passed away. It felt hollow, like I was watching a dream. I lost in touch with reality, it didn’t feel like I was alive at all during that period.
My blood relatives severed their ties with the Kurasaka family, which had dropped into the bottom of the pit, and I lost all contacts with them. When I had no one to rely on, Tsubaki’s family took me in.
I wondered what they felt when they did. I wondered why they didn’t forsake the daughter of the human who had murdered one of their beloved family members.
It’s because those people are kind.
There’s no doubt that those people didn’t despise me, and that they couldn’t bear to leave me alone.
For that, I found them pitiful. They would have been better off hating me instead.
The Sekiguchis should have been grieving for their loss, but they accepted me with smiles on their faces. There was not even a hint of hatred in their expressions. I have my utmost gratitude to them.
After a while, with the support of those kind people, I was able to deliver my child safely. Although I didn’t intend to bear her, Tsubaki had protected her life, and Tsubaki’s family strongly wished for her to be born, too.
Then, I decided to take Tsubaki’s name as my child’s. Both her parents gladly gave their consent. Thus, I named my child, so that I would never forget about her, while hoping that she would grow to be a kind person like she was.
Many things happened afterwards… but I’m still here, alive. I can’t speak well about the way I have been living, and I have caused much trouble for everyone around me.
But, Tsubaki, you’re the reason, that I’m still here alive.
——In the end, I couldn’t find the resolve to see Mother. The last time I met and talked to her face to face was during that chaos. When things finally calmed down, I thought of learning about what really happened back then. But by that time, Mother had already passed away.
I don’t know about the details myself, but she had apparently been suffering from an illness when she quietly breathed her last. When I learned about Mother’s death, it felt as if I was hearing a stranger’s death report. I didn’t feel sad at all; nor did I feel any of those emotions. I simply accepted the fact.
…I wonder what happened between Mother and Tsubaki at that time. Why did everything turn out like the way it did?
I did go to the police to ask about the whole story. But other than admitting that she had stabbed Tsubaki, it seems that Mother had kept silent. That’s why, no one knows what really happened on that day. Perhaps, no one will be able to know anymore.
——Because the people who knew the truth, had left this world for good.