Along The Way (途中で)
It was already night by then, and the school gates were already closed. It’s the same place crowded by souls in daylight, yet now creaked with the lullaby of the crickets. I climbed the rusty fence and entered into the school building. It was quite dark in the hallways, like a pencil sketch, a masterpiece made by the easel of a creator. Through the other side the stray moonlight seeped to abruptly fade the sketch of the pencil lines.
It was so silent that my footsteps resonated back to my ears, while the crickets were on cue with their serenade. I slowly continued heading towards the rooftop.
While the sound of my footsteps swung back and forth to my ears, my mind was filled with other thoughts. “Will I be able to find her or not, or even if I, is it already too late?”
All kinds of emotions were flowing through me, and I was being swept away by all of them like a violent wave gushing towards me, yet hanging onto the fainting glimmer of hope still left inside of me.
I’ve never thought of suicide before, or how people come to the decision to end their own lives. Grievous yet agonizing in a way, when they try to escape from all their problems in life, and try not to live through them.
But after reaching there, when my eyes set sight on the rooftop, a wave of relief washed over my face. Yuki was standing there on the rooftop rails, the same place where she first called me out on that cloudy day, when the sun was concealed behind the overcast sky.
While she was standing there, hearing my footsteps, she looked back towards me, and our eyes met each others. Her eyes, her glare, it as throbbing with pain. But what resonated to me in her eyes was a wound stuck deep in her heart, a pain she couldn’t bear any more.
The moon was shining right above her, casting an uneven shadow that connected her to the floor below, as if it was a message by the moon that it does shine. I couldn’t see her face properly, but even then inside my decayed vision I could see the reflection of her tears that were rolling from her cheeks.
It’s not a matter of ending ones own life, because even after I was so close to her, I couldn’t tell the pain she was going through. As her friend, I am nothing more than a pathetic loser.
She kept standing there and looking down, as if to get a broader view at the world in front of her. But her face said otherwise, as if she was speculating how tiny she was when the world is seen from far above, how little her mere existence matters in this world. While she was starring in front of her, trying to catch her attention, I broke the silence.
“Yuki! You shouldn't be standing there, you know. It’s too dangerous.”
“Isn’t that obvious?” The words that came from her hit me as if nothing in her life was so obvious as this is to others. She spoke with a very soft voice than usual, but the words carried more than what they meant.
As she looked away from me again, I tried to grab her attention once more.
“You should come down from there, or you will fall.”
“Then why don’t you come and pull me down...” Her voice carried less anguish, but a clear feeling of loneliness. “Or do you want to tell me that you don’t care any more?”
“I truly am a pathetic loser.” My legs are shivering, I didn’t even have the resolve to move. She is standing there, waiting for someone to pull her down. Yet still… yet still…
“ ‘Her dear friend?’ Give me a break. If that’s so, then why is it like this. Just why? Oh Kami-sama, I beg of you, please give me one last ounce of strength, I beg of you.”
My mind was crushing me down, yet with what strength was left inside of me, I started walking towards her. Her eyes didn’t blink a second back at me, as if she was waiting for the slight feeling of her hand being grabbed by someone else and being pulled down, or that’s what I had thought.
“I guess I am a loser till the end…”
They were like still images engraved in my eyes. Before I could reach her, she jumped off of the rails.
“Yuki…!!” I screamed as I rushed towards the rails, when I heard that mysterious sound. It was like a small egg that fell from a height and broke. Then suddenly a voice resonated in my mind,
“Don’t break the egg, don’t break the egg.”
I didn’t realize how long I was hazed in my thoughts, but suddenly when it all stopped, my mind went blank for a moment.
The last thing I could remember was hearing a loud shriek, possibly from a passerby who noticed something unusual and came to check, and the blue and red lights, little more than smudgy illuminations in my memory.
Along with the police, people from the neighbourhood had gathered in front of the school gates, trying to see what was all the ruckus about.
Later I was taken to the police station for questioning, as I was the last person to see her. While I sitting there in one of the rooms, I heard Yuki’s mother as she broke down in tears in the other room. To me, it felt like her inner soul was pleading for help and there, though in that moment, the person who could reach there and give the kind of nurture to soothe those salty tears was the person she had lost forever.
I was traumatized, an eerie pain engulfed my heart. I pressed my hands over my ears, trying to block the sound around me and everything, though the sound of Yuki’s mom crying still resonated in the back of my mind. I couldn’t put it off. Even when the officers were questioning me, all I could hear was that same sound of crying ringing back and forth in my head.
After the officers were done questioning me, they let me go, realizing that they can’t let me stay here in the state I was in for any longer. As I was walking down the exit, suddenly out of nowhere, Yuki’s mom appeared right in front of me. She grabbed my collars as she violently shook me, though soon after broke into tears.
“ ‘Why have you killed my daughter. Why have taken my only family away from me?’ -Just say it. It’s all my fault, so make me feel guilty!”
But she couldn’t say anything, and nor could I. I was at a loss of words, my mind not being able to construct even a simple word for consonance. All I could do was stand there silently and accept her rage, after which I gently made her let go off my collars.
As I was coming out from the station, I looked back and said one last thing.
“I am sorry.” My eyes were like buckets filled to the brim, and that anytime they would trip over and wash everything away. I held onto my tears as I walked away, not letting a single drop flow through my eyes.
After returning home, I was first greeted by dad with a rather unpleasant look in his face.
“Where have you been at this hour?” He asked with a strict tone, stubborn as it seemed to get an answer out of me.
“A friends place. He had something important to discuss with me, though…”
“Sadly, we didn’t get the chance.” I replied, as my voice ringed my exhaustion, like an empty husk rattling.
“And what’s so important to discuss at this hour?”
A screeching sound swayed my eardrums, as I finally lost my cool.
“That doesn’t concern you!” I yelled at him with the ounces of anger left inside of me, followed by a wave of guilt that flowed over my face. My eyes were wide open, and my body seemed like it was about to break down.
Dad was startled as I raised me voice at him. He might had become angry for that fact alone, but for some reason he didn’t even say anything in return, he just left me alone and went to his room.
I also went to my room and slowly closed the doors. I fell on my bed, as it made a creaking sound, maybe a way for it to say ‘Welcome back.’ I pushed my face against my pillow, accepting me with its soft and gentle grace.
“Is it okay to cry now?”
Tears rolled down my eyes as if my pain had at last condensed into a deluge of rain. My heart feels like it was stampeded my a bull, then fiercely torn apart into pieces with it’s tusk. I kept crying, and didn’t hold back a single tear that was left in my eyes. Even if tears are sure to cleanse a persons soul of all its wounds, I don’t think any amount of tear would be enough to make me feel amended right now, but even then they won’t stop flowing.
While we were having dinner, I kept silent about everything that happened at the school. The three of us were silent for the most part, occasionally giving a seconds look at each other, though not a single word was spoken. But even in that myriad silence, I could hear the beats of my heart, like a clock striking at 12 o’clock. I tried to act normal, though my mind wondered whether it even worked on them or not.
After having dinner I quickly went back to my room again. I laid down on my bed and kept thinking of the voice that I heard in my head while standing there, about that meek yet vivid sound of a small egg falling down and breaking instantly. I also remember that voice, like of an old man, which kept repeating about not breaking the egg or something.
I kept thinking if it was related to Yuki or not. I kept on thinking, and thinking, until I realized that I was being strangled by those thoughts like strands of ropes tied to my whole body. I tried to force my eyelids shut, though a goodnight sleep was now like a long forgotten tale for me.
I opened my eyelids, though all I could still see was the same darkness that fathomed my sight. I got up from my bed and opened the window to get a breather, and looked outside. The moonlight entered my dark room, illuminating a corner of the fading darkness. While gazing at the night sky, I wondered what was the reason of the pain Yuki felt, which was enough to drown her in a sea of anguish and guilt. Was all that was left in her heart something that only gave her a reason to die, a wound that she couldn’t heal for herself?
I don’t know. I can’t tell, nor I can understand. I thought that I knew so much about her, but in the end, I was just a clueless idiot. At that moment, only if I had dived deep, deep into her heart, and looked for something, anything if I could find. At least then I could let her know that her heart isn’t hollow, that even if it was a tiny fragment, she still ought to live holding onto it.
I couldn’t save her that moment, or maybe I could have never saved her, even if I had done things differently. At the end, I was scared, scared that if I go very deep and try to pull it out forcefully, it would just bleed endlessly. So I left it alone.
They say there is always a solution to our problems. But what if we are faced with something, even after trying a lot, isn’t something of our reach. What should we do then? Can someone please give me an answer to it, I beg.