Chapter 24:

Proof of Existence

Cat's Hour ~猫の時間~

“Terushima-senpai, please take a break.”Bookmark here

“I don’t need it.”Bookmark here

“Tsuki-senpai, say something!”Bookmark here

“Shut up.”Bookmark here

After what happened earlier, we quickly shifted to work mode. Both Mashiro-senpai and I are searching the documents here in student council office.Bookmark here

The rest are looking on their belongings in hopes of searching for anything related to Kurokawa-senpai. Photos from their middle school, presents from him, autographs, anything will do. Bookmark here

Beggars can’t be choosers.Bookmark here

Right at this moment, Yami still hasn’t regained consciousness and Irosaki-sensei is taking care of him. The reason is related to Kurokawa-senpai’s contract. Bookmark here

I learned the wish Kurokawa-senpai made to god gave him a living body but because his contract was nearly terminated, and there’s still the recognition loss phenomenon at work, he was greatly affected by it as a wandering spirit.Bookmark here

That’s not true… Kurokawa-senpai is alive. I refuse to believe that he’s just a spirit. He’s definitely real. And we have to prove it.Bookmark here

As for the bell that Mom gave me, I found out that it was a token to make a wish to the god where the others also made their wish. Bookmark here

When the desire of the heart reached a certain desperation, the bell will take you to the god. Bookmark here

That means when it glows earlier… I was desperate to wish for Kurokawa-senpai’s life. Bookmark here

Sure, I can see myself doing that, but when I think about it, the reason why Kurokawa-senpai stopped me was related to the consequences of making a wish– the parties directly related will forget.Bookmark here

If by any chance I made the wish, everyone will forget about me and I will be bound to a contract by then. I may still have to work on the student council, but we will have a complete reset. It was complicated.Bookmark here

Another thing that bothers me is the reason why Mom gave me that bell. At that time, she said that a cat gave this to her as a symbol of promise… she also made a wish to god. Bookmark here

But if she lives normally after the contract, even had a family and a daughter, does that mean that the life is not the price for failing the mission? Or did Mom finished the mission?Bookmark here

Wait, I need to focus!Bookmark here

Our top priority right now is Kurokawa-senpai! We have to bring him back as soon as possible!Bookmark here

“Back off for now, Aoi. Those two don’t have any plan of stopping.”Bookmark here

“Tsukasa-senpai…”Bookmark here

“Mikejima-senpai is right. Don’t worry about those two.”Bookmark here

“You’re…!”Bookmark here

“Don’t make a fuss right now, that idiot can’t do anything so I took over. Look at this.”Bookmark here

The glasses Toujo-kun is the one present here right now. He came back from library and what he took with him was a red book.Bookmark here

That’s…!Bookmark here

My eyes widened when he opened it on a certain page. Bookmark here

N-no way…Bookmark here

“Kurokawa-senpai’s entry disappeared. Just like with his signed documents and photos, his existence was wiped clean.”Bookmark here

Even that entry was gone! Bookmark here

We have been searching for hours already but everything disappeared. It was as if there was a filter in our eyes that made it impossible for us to find something.Bookmark here

“Damn it!” Mashiro-senpai thrashed the top of his desk in an outrage. Bookmark here

The documents flew like feathers in a still air. And everything soon fell on the floor, scattered. Bookmark here

“Mashiro-senpai…” Bookmark here

“Haha. Are you kidding me?! Is this how it will end?! You can’t do this to us!” Mashiro-senpai hysterically laughed, but it wasn’t because of satisfaction, it was out of disbelief.Bookmark here

I clenched my fist in frustration. No words of consolation can make our situation any better, everyone of us is on the edge as well.Bookmark here

Mashiro-senpai covered his face with his hand, but even then, I could see it.Bookmark here

“Haah… this is… unfair…”Bookmark here

A drop of tear escaped from his eye. His voice broke and even if the silence reigned at that moment, all of us heard an agonizing scream deep in our hearts.Bookmark here

This is… really unfair. Bookmark here

My sight caught a glimpse of a photo lying on the floor. It must’ve flew when Mashiro-senpai scattered the papers.Bookmark here

I picked it up and stared at it.Bookmark here

It was a graduation ceremony from middle school. Mashiro-senpai was holding a diploma, there was also someone beside him holding their diploma. And the others posing for the camera. Bookmark here

This was taken when the third years graduated from middle school. Bookmark here

That person is also there, but for some reasons, my mind can’t process it clearly.Bookmark here

A loud thud snapped me back to reality. I searched for the source of sound and saw Haibara-kun on his knees with a blank face and tears streaming on his face.Bookmark here

Eh? Is he okay?Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun! Are you okay?!” I hurriedly ran over to him out of worry.Bookmark here

“Oi! Aoi! What’s going on with you?!” Mikejima-kun also asked.Bookmark here

“A-ah… a-re?”Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun!”Bookmark here

“… remember…”Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

“I can’t remember…”Bookmark here

“What are you saying, Aoi?!”Bookmark here

“I… hic… I… I can’t remember how kaichou looks like… I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”Bookmark here

Mikejima-kun pulled the crying Haibara-kun into a tight hug and rubbed circles in his back to calm him down. Bookmark here

“It’s alright, Aoi. You will remember him again. Definitely.”Bookmark here

I bit my lower lip intensely. Bookmark here

It’s starting to get worse. Everyone’s memories will disappear as the time passes by.Bookmark here

We will soon breakdown like Mashiro-senpai and Haibara-kun if this continues. We have to do something quickly.Bookmark here

Think, Hikari, think! Bookmark here

I have to think of something!Bookmark here

If only we could boost everyone’s morale, if only we could do something to lift their spirits…Bookmark here

Damn it!Bookmark here

I glanced at the photo that I’m holding. That person’s face is vague. If only we could see it clearly…Bookmark here

Wait! I can whip up something!Bookmark here

I rushed to get some pencil and paper. I started scribbling on it without thinking too much.Bookmark here

If my hunch is right about those paintings, I could pull this off. Bookmark here

I was still a child back then, and it was impossible for me to know the places in this school since I never once set foot in this town before. However, the fact that I drew those things was unusual.Bookmark here

Heh. As if normal was common for me. What am I thinking?Bookmark here

There’s only one explanation about why Mom made me stop painting back then, and her anxious expression whenever she looked at the pieces.Bookmark here

Paranormal Sketch.Bookmark here

I’ve been so close to supernatural even in my childhood. I just didn’t pay attention to it because a young child only think that what she sees is real. Bookmark here

I was oblivious.Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun, I’m not sure if this will help but please take it.” Bookmark here

I gave the drawing to Haibara-kun. Bookmark here

“Terushima! This is…” Mikejima-kun reacted when he saw the drawing as well.Bookmark here

“Who is that person?” Toujo-kun butted in.Bookmark here

“Hah?! What are you saying–“ Bookmark here

I was about to snap at him when I noticed his curious expression. It doesn’t feel like he’s fooling around at all, this is the serious Toujo-kun we’re talking to right now. There’s no merit for him to joke around.Bookmark here

T-this can’t be! The first years are completely affected!Bookmark here

“Terushima… do you still remember that person’s name?” Mikejima-kun asked with a darkened expression.Bookmark here

“Mikejima-kun, what–“Bookmark here

“I can’t remember his name anymore. Ne, say something.”Bookmark here

W-why… Bookmark here

Is this how it will end? I can’t accept it! There’s no way this will end up in vain!Bookmark here

“Terushima-san…” Mashiro-senpai called.Bookmark here

That’s right! If it was him, he will definitely say something! It was Mashiro-senpai! He knows him better than anyone!Bookmark here

I turned around to look at him in anticipation, but what I saw in his face was not something that I’m expecting…Bookmark here

His normally cold and calm demeanor fell apart as he combed his hair upwards, showing his confused face.Bookmark here

“What… what am I doing just now? Why am I crying…?”Bookmark here

“Not you too… Mashiro-senpai…”Bookmark here

“I feel like I was searching for something… but I can’t remember what it was… what’s going on?”Bookmark here

I fell on my knees as I clenched my chest tightly. That’s right… I also can’t remember him anymore…Bookmark here

Who was that person…?Bookmark here

What kind of person is he?Bookmark here

How does his voice sounds like?Bookmark here

The color of his hair… what is it?Bookmark here

When he looks at me, what kind of face is he making?Bookmark here

I could still remember… that person’s tears.Bookmark here

It was clear like jewels, it shines when the light touches those drops, but his face… I can’t remember it.Bookmark here

All those times… he was shedding tears endlessly.Bookmark here

His name… Bookmark here

Did I ever say his name before?Bookmark here

It was futile. I can’t remember anymore.Bookmark here

“This time, please don’t forget me, Hikari-san.”Bookmark here

That voice! Where did it came from?!Bookmark here

“Y-you can call me Yu— No, it’s okay…”Bookmark here

Yu? Bookmark here

No, there’s more to that. But that ‘Yu’ syllable is enough. It just proves that he exists. Bookmark here

Where was it again? Where did we talk with each other? It was just yesterday, I should still remember at least that…Bookmark here

That’s right! In the forest!Bookmark here

I stood firmly out of nowhere. Everyone turned to look at me but I just remained quiet.Bookmark here

I took a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale.Bookmark here

Alright! Let’s search for a mirage!Bookmark here

However, I’m sure, he’s real.Bookmark here

I don’t have any basis for my assumptions. It’s just a statement that I could believe until I lost all hope. Bookmark here

All the evidences disappeared.Bookmark here

But… the truth is still out there.Bookmark here

“I can’t remember anything as well but I don’t want to believe that this is where it will end! I’ll search for it and regain my memories!” I shouted on top of my lungs. “I’m off!”Bookmark here

With a huff, I turned around and walked to the door. Bookmark here

But before I could go out, my foot hit the leg of a desk that caused me to crouch in pain. Bookmark here

“ITTAAAAAAAIII!”Bookmark here

DAMN IT! WHY NOW?! Bookmark here

After I made that great speech in front of everyone, my exit scene will be ruined by something like a table leg? Unacceptable!Bookmark here

I could feel tears forming in my eyes as my cheeks flushing red out of embarrassment. Bookmark here

“Pfft.”Bookmark here

That bastard! Bookmark here

He really won’t let anything pass as long as he could make fun of me!Bookmark here

“You’re lame, Terushima. Haha.” Mikejima-kun laughed.Bookmark here

“Shut up!” I rebutted and pushed myself to stand up. Bookmark here

However, the hit was actually not as weak as I expected, it freaking hurts! I don’t think I could walk like this anymore!Bookmark here

“Careful, senpai.” Bookmark here

Toujo-kun held my hand to give me support.Bookmark here

“T-thanks…”Bookmark here

He squatted down and turn his back on me. “Get on.”Bookmark here

“Eh?!”Bookmark here

“Just do it.”Bookmark here

He wants to carry me on his back?! I mean, I really need some help right now but he’s my kouhai! How could I do this to him?!Bookmark here

“Terushima-senpai, you still remember something, right? If you have something in mind, then we’ll go with that.”Bookmark here

Toujo-kun gave me a side glance, even with his glasses on, I could see his eyes that looks lost.Bookmark here

“Everyone is in a swamp of confusion right now, we felt like we lost something important to us but we can’t remember what it is. It feels frustrating as if we’re rob of our precious treasure right in front of our eyes.”Bookmark here

“Toujo-kun…”Bookmark here

“Can you please become our light in this darkness?”Bookmark here

Toujo-kun…Bookmark here

What’s with that poetic words? It feels out of place.Bookmark here

Still, Toujo-kun really knows how to convince people. Bookmark here

“I’m not sure but I talked to him in the forest last night. He could’ve left something. I want to check! And everyone, please come as well! The more people we have, the more easier it is for us to find something!”Bookmark here

“But…”Bookmark here

“Stop whining! That person doesn’t want to be forgotten! He’s waiting for us! Does your friendship only amount to this?! Don’t joke with me!”Bookmark here

After I said that, all of them fell silent. Bookmark here

I was starting to get depressed when they didn’t respond for a while but they all nodded soon enough.Bookmark here

“You really like saying that kind of things, Terushima. But it’s not bad…”Bookmark here

What was that supposed to mean?! This damn calico!Bookmark here

“That was blind optimism, senpai… but I felt like something is wrong… I’m in.”Bookmark here

There! Haibara-kun as well!Bookmark here

“Miracle…”Bookmark here

“Hmm? Mashiro-senpai?”Bookmark here

“This feels like we’re proving if miracles are real.”Bookmark here

That was an out of context analogy… but it’s okay. That was just like Mashiro-senpai at all.Bookmark here

“Un!”Bookmark here

It was like we’re chasing something blindly.Bookmark here

And yet… Bookmark here

Everyone’s determination fired up.Bookmark here

These group of friends have different personalities. Sometimes, they are clashing with each other. But that just shows how close they are and I want to see that until it lasts for years to come.Bookmark here

And that person… will be in the center.Bookmark here

This is the student council that he made and treasured. Bookmark here

And now…Bookmark here

It was the time to return the favor.Bookmark here

__Bookmark here

“Where is that place, Terushima-senpai?”Bookmark here

“Just go deeper! We’re getting closer!”Bookmark here

Can you sweat even if you’re soak in rain?Bookmark here

It was a foolish question, but all of us would definitely be soak in the mixture of sweat and rain if it was possible.Bookmark here

Toujo-kun is carrying me on his back so I’m exhausted as the others, but still, my heartbeat is racing in anxiety as time passes by. Bookmark here

It was nighttime now and the rain didn’t stop even for a moment. To be honest, it just became stronger as if preventing us to go to that place. The wind also blows harshly that causes branches of trees to fall.Bookmark here

“Careful!”Bookmark here

My eyes widened when I saw a branch falling from above. Bookmark here

Eek! It’s coming to me! Bookmark here

I closed my eyes tightly out of fear.Bookmark here

“Are you okay, Terushima-san?” Bookmark here

I slowly opened my eyes and look at Mashiro-senpai who asked that. Bookmark here

“Mashiro-senpai… you’re bleeding…”Bookmark here

Blood trails from his forehead up to his cheeks, staining his white hair and fair skin with the tint of red.Bookmark here

“Ah… I think so.”Bookmark here

“What’s with that response?! You’re bleeding in your head, senpai!”Bookmark here

“It doesn’t matter. We have to keep going.”Bookmark here

Senpai… he injured himself when he deflected that tree branch from me…Bookmark here

“Ah!”Bookmark here

“Aoi!”Bookmark here

What was it this time?Bookmark here

“Sorry… I tripped. Please go on without me.”Bookmark here

“What are you saying, Aoi?! Here, take my hand.”Bookmark here

“But… I twisted my ankle.”Bookmark here

Haibara-kun also fell down. Bookmark here

This is bad. Bookmark here

Three out of five are in bad condition. The weather is against us. Who knows what will happen if we go further? Are we unable to do it?Bookmark here

“HIMEEE-CHAAAAN!!!”Bookmark here

Hm?Bookmark here

A figure of a floating girl showed up. She has a bothered expression on her face.Bookmark here

It’s Hanako-san! What is she doing here?Bookmark here

“Quick! This way!”Bookmark here

“Eh?!”Bookmark here

“No more time to explain! That black cat will become an evil spirit if you can’t bring him back!”Bookmark here

“Black… cat?”Bookmark here

“Huh…? Don’t tell me… Argh! Why did it affected you now?! But seeing that you’re here means that you still have something that remains, hurry! It’s this way!”Bookmark here

Without saying anything more, we followed Hanako-san.Bookmark here

Despite the harsh journey to find the place, with rain, mud, and scratches all over our bodies, we arrived on a place that I remembered where I talked to that person yesterday.Bookmark here

I decided to get off Toujo-kun’s back to not get in everyone’s way.Bookmark here

“Let’s start searching!” Mashiro-senpai ordered.Bookmark here

It was hard moving around with the horrible weather, we still searched all over the place.Bookmark here

“Hanako-san, what are we going to do now?”Bookmark here

“For now, search for something related to that person. Please move quickly, he’s losing himself already. This unusual state of weather is because of him.”Bookmark here

“What… does that mean?”Bookmark here

“In order to become an evil spirit, it’s either they are holding a grudge or they committed a grave sin when they are living. However, he neither committed any sin nor holding a grudge. With a spirit like that, he should’ve passed on already, the longer he stays here, his soul will start to break beyond recovery and he won’t be able to reincarnate anymore.”Bookmark here

I can’t understand anything… Bookmark here

But that sounds bad. No, it’s definitely bad. Bookmark here

“Why are you helping us, Hanako-san?” Bookmark here

She jolted when I asked her that. Bookmark here

She’s definitely suspicious. She turned me down yesterday and now, she showed up here and giving us aid.Bookmark here

“Well, who knows? I’m just bored out of my mind so I’m helping.”Bookmark here

Lies. Bookmark here

She definitely knows something.Bookmark here

But I’ll let it pass for now.Bookmark here

“You don’t look like you believe me. That’s fine. In the first place, you shouldn’t trust a supernatural entity. I warned you before not to get too close to them, right?” She sharply glanced at me. “No matter how many times you live, you keep making the same mistakes. I can’t stop it from happening. This might be my punishment.”Bookmark here

“Hanako-san…”Bookmark here

“Brace yourself!”Bookmark here

“Huh?!”Bookmark here

Out of nowhere, a strong wind blows in all directions. We were all sent flying into separate ways.Bookmark here

I could remember myself hitting a tree when I was thrown back by the air. My body clashed with an intense impact as if I could feel everything around me turned blurry.Bookmark here

It was so fast. Bookmark here

I saw everyone on the same state. Mashiro-senpai and Haibara-kun passed out, Mikejima-kun was sent flying higher up and got stuck on the branches of the trees, full of injuries, Toujo-kun’s glasses broke and he went out of commission as well.Bookmark here

I was also about to lose consciousness, I saw a stone slab standing in solitude. No one noticed it earlier but I somehow managed to perceive it in my current state.Bookmark here

“Sorry… it’s my fault… everything…”Bookmark here

‘No! You’re wrong!’Bookmark here

I have to tell him that!Bookmark here

Ah… no good, I’m losing my consciousness.Bookmark here

“Hime-chan! Don’t! You can’t pass out here!”Bookmark here

Hanako-san desperately called for me. She tried to touch me but her transparent hands just passed through me.Bookmark here

With my half-closed eyes, I stared at her blankly. Bookmark here

I can’t move. I know that I have to go to that person but my body won’t listen to me. This is pathetic…Bookmark here

Sorry… I can’t remember you anymore.Bookmark here

In the state of being half-awake, I saw a vision…Bookmark here

Everything is white.Bookmark here

I can’t see anything else.Bookmark here

Am I dead?Bookmark here

All of a sudden, I hear voices. It was that of a child.Bookmark here

“What do you want to become in the future?”Bookmark here

A bright voice asked.Bookmark here

Eh? Is it talking to me? Bookmark here

“Stop it. In the future… I’m not there anymore. Please cut it out.”Bookmark here

Another voice of a child responded. This time it was a gloomy voice. However, I also noticed that they sounded the same.Bookmark here

Is it a conversation between them?Bookmark here

“Mou! Don’t say something depressing! Hora! Just say something and I’ll grant it!”Bookmark here

Silence reigned for a moment. The gloomy voice didn’t respond. Just when I thought that it was over, a weak voice responded.Bookmark here

“Then… I want to become a hero. They are strong, they have bright smiles and they are loved by everyone… I want to become something like that.”Bookmark here

A hero…Bookmark here

“Hime-chan! Get ahold of yourself!” Bookmark here

Hanako-san’s voice snapped me back in reality.Bookmark here

That’s right… Bookmark here

How could I have forgotten?Bookmark here

I slowly forced myself to stand up. My face twisted in anguish when I felt the immense pain on my feet. Bookmark here

I grabbed a stick that I could use as a cane and dragged myself towards his direction.Bookmark here

“Hime-chan…”Bookmark here

“Hanako-san, step back for now.” I seriously said to her.Bookmark here

The ghost stopped following me.Bookmark here

I continued walking slowly. The pain felt nothing… I couldn’t even recognize what it was.Bookmark here

I can only think of one thing… Bookmark here

I want to see that person again.Bookmark here

You have always been like that, huh.Bookmark here

I didn’t see you as a strong person before, you were always weak, someone who would cry for the smallest things. However, those tears are the proof of your strength.Bookmark here

I only saw you smile brightly once, but that was a very charming smile. It was a calming smile that sets my heart at ease.Bookmark here

I’m only sure of one thing… you were loved by everyone. They treated you dearly, doesn’t want to get you hurt, and even made me a villain when I misspoke.Bookmark here

Isn’t that right?Bookmark here

At that time as well… Bookmark here

You were the one that saved me on that night. You swept me off my feet and carried me safely. The cat person that I saw that night where everything started…Bookmark here

It was you, wasn’t it?Bookmark here

All this time, you have always been our hero.Bookmark here

I’ve endured the harsh winds trying to stop me to go near the stone slab. When I was in front of it, I stabbed the soil with my cane to give me strength to keep my footing.Bookmark here

There’s nothing else in front of it except a few incense sticks that stopped burning in the middle. Bookmark here

I reached out for it and held it tightly.Bookmark here

I let go of the cane and clasped my two hands holding the incense sticks. I closed my eyes tightly and prayed from the bottom of my heart.Bookmark here


As if the time stopped, the wind stopped blowing, the rain stopped midair, and when I opened my eyes…Bookmark here

That person stood in front of me.Bookmark here

He’s not soak in rain so I could clearly tell that it was tears streaming on his cheeks.Bookmark here

“Thank you… for not forgetting me…”Bookmark here

He smiled brightly despite the tears staining his face. The black smoke that once blinded us from seeing him started dissipating.Bookmark here

My eyes glistened as I saw him clearly right now. Tears started welling up on my eyes as I slowly reached out to touch him.Bookmark here

I was afraid…Bookmark here

What if I can’t touch him anymore? Bookmark here

No…Bookmark here

I want to make sure that this is not a dream.Bookmark here

I launched myself to him and wrapped him into a hug. Bookmark here

It’s real… I can touch him.Bookmark here

“Hikari-san…”Bookmark here

“It’s alright… Yuuto is real. I could touch you. You’re not dead. You’re still alive and I could hear your heartbeat.” I tightened my hug. “Please don’t disappear on us again, Yuuto.”Bookmark here

“Sorry for making you worry…”Bookmark here

“Don’t apologize! I don’t want to hear that!”Bookmark here

He remained silent for a moment and then, he soon returned the hug.Bookmark here

“I… I don’t want to disappear… thank you for not forgetting me, Hikari-san. Thank you for holding the student council when I’m gone… but as I thought, I still want to remain as the student council president,” he said lightheartedly in between his sobs.Bookmark here

I let go of the hug and beamed at him.Bookmark here

“Un! Please stay with us! We still have a lot to work together!”Bookmark here

His eyes widened for a moment as his cheeks flushed red, he looks away from me and his cat ears popped up out of nowhere.Bookmark here

C-cute!! My heart!! Bookmark here

“Ano… can you call me by my name from now on?” he asked timidly with his cat ears drooping down.Bookmark here

Oh my god! He’s so cute! Bookmark here

“Sure, Yuuto-senpai!”Bookmark here

“T-thank you… Hikari-san…” Bookmark here

Uwaaah! He’s so cute! Bookmark here

He smiled to me again.Bookmark here

“Tadaima.”Bookmark here

My eyes widened but the corner of lips soon turned upwards, forming into a smile.Bookmark here

“Okaerinasai, Yuuto.”Bookmark here

And with that, the time started flowing again.Bookmark here

The rain fell to us all of a sudden as if it was an ice-bucket challenge. But the good thing is, the skies cleared up that night.Bookmark here

As the moon shines gently to us who are soaking wet from a rain that did or didn’t happen, we just finally took a sigh of relief.Bookmark here

After a while, the others also started regaining their consciousness. When they do, all of their memories with Yuuto-senpai returned and they broke into tears altogether.Bookmark here

I stood there and watched them proudly. This scene is so lovely. I could watch this forever.Bookmark here

“Well, seems like I’m done here. Later~” Hanako-san waved goodbye to me.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Hanako-san.”Bookmark here

She lets out a small chuckle before disappearing in front of me, probably returning to her territory– the toilet.Bookmark here

I returned to watching the guys. Bookmark here

They have such great friendship, it doesn’t matter if Yuuto-senpai is just a spirit, he’s still a person that they hold dearly.Bookmark here

If only this could last for years to come…Bookmark here

Amidst that joyful atmosphere, it happened.Bookmark here

While Yuuto-senpai is talking to everyone, consoling them and smiling, his eyes suddenly lost its colors as he fell in the ground with a thud.Bookmark here

“YUUTO!!”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.