Chapter 0:


The Privilege of Death

It’s been three years since I saw my sister, or anyone else I knew. Exactly three years. Sometimes I think I’m being obsessed with the past for holding this date so sacred in my memories. But I can’t help it.

Exactly three years ago someone smashed my door open. The moonlight that went through the window revealed my sister’s dark brown hair, long and rich as it was, waving by the wind. In seconds she ran to me and covered my mouth with her hand. Being still half asleep I failed to react quickly enough. My mouth hanged open and I could feel the metallic taste of her rings against my tongue… the saltiness of her skin as well. “You need to do one thing and this time do it right, Minoru” the bossiness in her voice, the way she never trusted I could do a thing made my heartbeat rise at that moment. I wanted to push off her hand. I wanted to push her away. At that time all my feelings towards my sister were nothing but negative. I hated her with all my guts. She had been for years my personal nemesis, the reason behind every misery of my life. And I was only fourteen years old at the time. “One simple small thing” her voice faded away as she continued her sayings. That managed to hold my attention. All memories I had by her voice so far, were so much different than the way she said these words. One simple small thing… In my head her voice had always been scoffing, especially towards me, mocking and with a great amount of arrogance. In my eyes my sister lacked any kind of empathy towards a human being; in my eyes she had no feelings.

That was the reason her faded voice was enough to hold my interest completely to her. Her icy blue eyes –those eyes that gave me chills as a kid- were now blurry behind thick teardrops. Was this sadness? “You just need to forget you saw me tonight. You need to forget I was ever here. You need to forget me… be a smart boy” Before I got to understand what was going on, loud footsteps from downstairs reached my ears. My sister cursed loudly as she looked towards the door and took her hand off my mouth. Right next her gaze turned towards the open window. Now I could see clearly her eyes, even though she wasn’t looking at me. Almost as if I was not in the room anymore. That indifference was familiar but never before appeared as justified as at that moment. At that moment, if she wasted a second to me they would have probably caught her. Of course this is a thought I made later when I got to repeat the scene again and again in my head.

I remember a single teardrop leaving her eyes but it was clear that it wasn’t sadness the cause behind it. I was so wrong. It was fear, mere fear. The moments that followed passed in less than a couple of seconds but each time I’d get to recall them later on, they’d feel slower and slower. My sister hopped on the bed, her foot landed on my ankle causing me to scream in pain. She threw me a deadly glance but the fear was covering any amount of anger or scolding. “That way” a loud steady voice came to my ears. Without processing anything I covered my mouth with my own hand swallowing the pain. Her gaze landed on my face quickly as if she was trying to make sure everything was still there, my hands covering my mouth, or my eyes still attached to my skull. She reached the open window, her silver rings reflected the moonlight and she left a quiet groan as she managed to get up there. I heard her landing on the ground. I wasn’t sure whether she made it alive though, because no other sound from outside came to my ears.

I quickly turned back to my sleep as if she was never there. As if I never saw her… exactly as she asked me to do. It didn’t take much for those men to get in my room, pull me out of bed, ask me questions, demand replies… everything from that night since my sister left imprinted blurry in my mind. Maybe because I was too confused to realize what was going on. Maybe because I was too angry with her and back then my feelings, my teenage feelings, were more important that reality. Or maybe, as I later got to understand, I was just too scared to do anything but try to breathe and survive.

But I never betrayed her. No matter how many years of my life I had spent hating her, no matter how bad I wished for the worst for her that night, I never said a thing. I never betrayed her. I did what she asked for. Because that was what I always did. Do what Nagisa says. Exactly as our parents had told me when they left, when I was still a kid…

But Nagisa had left too. And as I realized later on, she didn’t intend to come back. She left the dead weigh –as she used to call me- behind and left to go find a life more suitable for her taste.

The time that came found me looking for answers in my memories of her, in the words she once told me. How bad I wanted to realize it was all some great mystery, something strange had happened and my sister hadn’t simply used my naivety to escape from this place… without me. But the more I got to look through the timeline of our life, the more I got to find such words of hers, “This place is a shithole Minoru… when chance knocks my door, you’ll never see me again” she often spoke like this. She often made quite clear how stupid I was, how small and hopeless, how much of an idiot to believe there was a future around here. I grew up hating on my sister but also secretly admiring her. Somehow she had got in my mind. Somehow I trusted her judgment and whenever I didn’t, was just because I didn’t want her to be right. She was though, most of the times she was.

Nagisa had to be loved or hated, that was not just me. She was only three years older than me yet she loved to act as if she knew everything. She’d sneak out of her room, leave the dormitory and meet with the boys of the school behind the church. They’d get drunk and smoke. Me and my friend would sneak out as well, and being younger would hide behind the church and try to see how the older kids liked to break the rules. Daiki, Shun, Tatsuza, Hiro, Daisuke were always there, each night, and Nagisa was the only girl among them. But Nagisa never acted like a girl. She yelled louder than the boys, drunk more than them and stayed out later at nights. She wasn’t afraid to get in fights with them and when I was much younger I remember her always coming back before the sun rises in the morning, victorious having beaten everyone. But as they grew older her days of victory started coming to an end. Apparently my sister was not strong enough to beat a group of seventeen and eighteen year old boys. Seeing her walking around in bruises and scars made me content. Of course I never admitted this to anybody. I knew how this would appear. But I don’t believe I was that bad. I didn’t want anything to happen to her. What made me feel good was the fact she got to realize she was no god or anything close. She was vulnerable and human just like everyone else. Also my hatred towards her, as I came to realize, was just the result of feeling neglected all the time. Deep down, I admired her too, just like my friends did. Deep down every time she outsmarted someone and my friends got impressed, I got to hold a part of that pride, almost as if I were her. But it only took a “what are you smiling at, Minoru?” full of scoff, just to cut my pride towards her. I grew up thinking I hated her, but truth is, deep in my guts, I knew it was Nagisa who hated me.

Tonight it’s been exactly three years since she left that window, since I saw her for the last time. Up to today, I still don’t know whether she got to live her dream life or those men gathered her corpse from the ground under my bedroom window…

As I lean against the cold stones of the round balcony I look down at the ground. I try to imagine a body lying there under the trees, in the dark, on the wet soil. I try harder, to picture a girl, the same age as me today, standing up, checking her legs quickly for injuries… just to realize this is wrong. Nagisa was never so careful, on the contrary. I chuckle in the thought; Nagisa was in fact the most careless person I ever knew. Here I am doing it again, thinking about her in past tense. A part of me strongly believes she never made it leave alive out of my room. Another part scoffs me for thinking I got rid of her so easily. That part, reminds me a lot of her. That part scoffs me just like Nagisa always did.

I lick my lips and try again. I picture her on the ground, her fists clenched to hold herself from groan loudly in pain. I know I can’t remember what she was wearing that night. Either because I never saw since it was dark, or because I never paid attention… this knowledge tortures me a lot, but I’ve come to terms with myself. I decide she wears dark sweatpants, the ones we had for training in martial arts in School. She was the best in martial arts when we were kids, but at some point she decided true fighting starts in the streets and started mocking everyone who tried martial arts at school, including me. She dropped the class herself and argued a lot with our instructor… I sigh and try to let go off this memory that invades my imagination right now. I can’t help it though, but wonder, what her opinion would be if she saw where I stand today. Apparently she was both right and wrong. Martial arts alone can do nothing for us anymore. But neither can any other type of fighting without serious weapons… the type of weapons that can easily take a life. The type of weapons that is inhuman, that hold a power greater than any man in the past could imagine.

Did Nagisa have any weapons with her that night?

I return to my thoughts. The weather is cold and that makes that old injury on my ankle burn. Toru says it is all in my mind. He says my pain is psychological. I’ve experienced so much physical pain in the past years that I can’t but find Toru’s words ridiculous. If that night Nagisa had any weapon, even a simple kitchen knife, this would for sure give her a strong advantage. Apart from being reckless Nagisa had a strong lack of will to live. She was not suicidal or anything close to that, but she often acted as if her life, the most precious thing to a human being, was indifferent to her. Now that I think of it, I realize she wasn’t acting god-like, as I believed, but she was plain stupid. She knew how to use a knife though. If she heard them coming to her, as she was with her face on the ground, she could act hurt. Let them approach, then simply turn around and while holding the knife-

“Minoru, here you are. Daiki has been looking for you…”