Chapter 19:

The Fifth Death

Second Chances

I went to a department store nearby and bought two umbrellas on the lower floor; one with a samurai-type handler, the other one that can be collapsed inside out to keep the water inside. Then I headed to the kitchen utensils section, and bought an improved model of pressure cooker to replace my mother’s old one. As for Hideki, I went to the stationary section, of course: I chose a refillable pen in a concealer stick form.Bookmark here

After an hour of window shopping, and purchasing all those items, I left the store.Bookmark here

I looked at my watch when it started to rain outside.Bookmark here

A few raindrops fell on my watch’s screen.Bookmark here

1:30PM.Bookmark here

Then, the rain started to become heavier.Bookmark here

Within a few seconds, it’s evolved to be a heavy downpour. Some people ran across the street to the front of the department store to take cover. And some, who just walked out of the store, stood beside me, as they started to call for either a taxi or their families.Bookmark here

I looked at the gifts I bought. I can stuff Hideki’s pen into my pocket, carry the pressure cooker with my left arm, and hold the umbrellas with my right, while using one of them.Bookmark here

It will take about 10 minutes to get to the train station from here, maybe more, in this state. But for now, I need to cross the street first.Bookmark here

I opened the umbrella with a samurai handler and looked left and right of the street.Bookmark here

No car. Clear.Bookmark here

I took a few steps out but I suddenly felt a vigorous sense of fear: I immediately changed my mind and went back under the shelter.Bookmark here

And in that moment, a honking car flashed through the street, spraying the water to the sides, and almost made my shirt wet.Bookmark here

“You ok?” a customer who’s also taking shelter asked.Bookmark here

“I—I almost died,” I said.Bookmark here

“Yeah… I thought you saw the car coming when you wanted to cross just now. Didn’t you?”Bookmark here

“I—I didn’t.”Bookmark here

“That car was already honking at you when you took the few steps out into the street though. Are you really sure you are ok?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I just… maybe I should calm down first.”Bookmark here

“You should.”Bookmark here

I then waited, as I stared at the street in front of me. There were children singing what sounded like their school’s song, when they passed behind me with their parents.Bookmark here

I felt like I’d forgotten something important.Bookmark here

My head started to hurt as I tried to think about it.Bookmark here

I looked at my watch.Bookmark here

1:40PM.Bookmark here

Why do I keep looking at my watch?Bookmark here

I felt a sharp pain on my head again, like someone put a nail and knocked deep into it.Bookmark here

Ok. Maybe I shouldn’t think too much about this. Perhaps this was just some typical déjà vu.Bookmark here

I stopped thinking about it, and waited for the rain to drizzle.Bookmark here

I then walked across the street using the pedestrian crossing a few stores in front of the department store, and with my gifts, I walked to the station and bought a ticket back home. There were fewer people now in the station compared to when I arrived, and most of them were wearing office suits, likely having to work half-day today.Bookmark here

I stood in front of the boarding platform, just a foot or two away from the railway tracks.Bookmark here

Then, I heard a familiar knocking sound.… Why did I think of scythe?Bookmark here

I looked over to find a staff member of the station hammering a board beside the counter, aligning it. One of his shoes was untied.Bookmark here

I looked at my sports shoes. One of them is untied as well. The tie must have come off when I was almost involved in a car accident just now. A car accident?Bookmark here

I put my items down, and crouched down to make a firm bow tie on my shoe. But suddenly, a kid bumped into my back. I lost my balance for a moment, but managed to support myself by putting one of my hands on the platform in front of me.Bookmark here

“Sorry,” the kid said, with his twin brother behind him.Bookmark here

“See! I told you not to run around in the train station, it’s dangerous. You two almost knocked this big brother into the tracks!” their mom came behind them.Bookmark here

“I’m very sorry,” she said, bowing down to me.Bookmark here

I stood up, “No. It’s ok. Really.”Bookmark here

“Apologize together!” She looked at the twins.Bookmark here

“Sorry, big brother,” they bowed.Bookmark here

I smiled at them. “Be more careful next time, ok?”Bookmark here

They nodded at me, before taking their mother’s hand, one on each of her side.Bookmark here

I looked at the box of pressure cooker that was toppled.Bookmark here

If I hadn’t tied my shoe back then, I might have lost my balance holding this box and fell down, likely into the tracks. I might not get hit by the train, but maybe I’d hit my head and lost consciousness first.Bookmark here

The train arrived as soon as I finished my thoughts.Bookmark here

I picked up the gifts, and boarded the train.Bookmark here

Along the almost 3 hour of changing trains’ trips, nothing special happened. But I got a lingering feeling that something bad would happen. That, I’ve missed something important. I tried to refresh my thoughts.Bookmark here

I got my gift right here. Chiaki’s gift is with Hideki, which he will bring tonight. I’m still waiting for Chiaki’s answer. Yui is coming too tonight. What else did I miss?Bookmark here

I looked at my watch.Bookmark here

5:00PM.Bookmark here

7 hours left.Bookmark here

Wait… 7 hours left? To 12:00AM? What happens at 12?Bookmark here

The train’s door opened. I stepped out with my gifts.Bookmark here

12:00AM?Bookmark here

I started to feel dizzy. I felt like I was going to puke. This strong, poignant feeling seems to be chaining me down. Blocking something. I can’t think straight. But I can’t stop myself from thinking about it. I felt like if I did, then there’d be no turning back. And I’d regret it.Bookmark here

Suddenly, I heard a familiar whistle.Bookmark here

“Shin!” My father called me, through the open window of his car, stopping in front of the train station.Bookmark here

He whistled again. “Come, we’re going home. What are those things?”Bookmark here

“Gifts,” I raised them. “Wait, I’m coming.”Bookmark here

I then ran and got in the car.Bookmark here

“What were you spacing out for?” my mother asked, as my father started to drive us home.Bookmark here

“I—Something I needed to do.”Bookmark here

“Is it important?” my father asked.Bookmark here

“I felt like it was.”Bookmark here

“Then you’ll remember it, one way or another.”Bookmark here

I didn’t say anything in reply to him, and just listened to the radio broadcasting old music as I watched lines of rain dropped down the car’s window. They continued their conversation but it all sounded vague and I couldn’t get a single word into my head. I stared blankly at the rainy scenes outside the car, enjoying what seemed to be the calm before the storm.Bookmark here

Only that, I have no idea what the storm is.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.