Chapter 16:

A Hopeful Future


“Dad, no!”

The words seemed almost hollow, echoing across the room. Aiya nearly fell over herself staggering backward when Mirai vanished in front of her. She swung her head to Kento. She needed to ask him what was going on. She was confused and afraid, and he seemed to have answers. She pushed the anger that boiled in her away for the moment. It threatened to fight back, but her resolve was set.

It was a moot gesture though. The moment her eyes fell on Kento all the anger and resolve evaporated, leaving her with a hollow, sinking feeling tearing its way through her. She rushed forward, unable to find her words. She wanted to scream, to cry, to do anything, but the storm of emotions in her heart made it impossible. She quickly dove down next to Kento. He was on his knees, hunched over the knife in his abdomen.

“Sorry, Aiya,” he said. His voice was low and trembling.

“I’ll call an ambulance,” Rin said, panicking. She immediately pulled out her phone and began dialing. “Don’t take out the knife!” She began to lift the phone to her ear and began talking fast. Aiya tried to get Kento to lie on his back. She had read somewhere that she should apply pressure to the wound, but it was hard to do with him sitting up.

“Kento, you’re going to be fine,” Aiya said. “Please, lie down. The ambulance will be here soon, ok?”

“I never wanted things to turn out like this,” Kento said, shifting onto his back. “I just didn’t see another way out.”

“It’s fine,” Aiya said, choking back tears. “Please, save your energy.” She pressed down on his stomach where the knife was. “Why did you do this?”

“Because Aiya, I’m never gonna give you up,” Kento said. “I know I let you down, but I won’t just run around and desert you. I mean, we’ve known each other for so long. I know your heart’s been aching too.”

“Ok, they’re on their way,” Rin said, kneeling next to Kento too.

“Hey Rin,” he said. “I’m sorry that you got dragged into this.”

“Don’t even start with that,” Rin said, her eyes glistening too. “I have no idea what’s going on, so you have to pull through so you can explain it to me.”

“By the looks of it I’m probably not going to make it,” Kento said. “But I proved it. I was right.”

“Don’t say that!” Aiya scolded. “You’re going to be fine. What was so important that you had to prove it like this?”

“I never did anything to hurt you,” Kento said. His voice was getting quieter. “Mirai lied to you. She’s…”

“She’s what?” Aiya asked.

“This is going to sound crazy, but she’s our daughter, Aiya,” Kento said. Aiya’s confusion only grew with this.

“What do you mean she’s our daughter?” Aiya asked.

“Well, you saw how she disappeared,” Kento said. “She’s clearly not a normal person. And think about all the times it happened. Every time she seemingly vanished into thin air was when you and I were blown apart, except for two times. When I got shot, and…”

“Now,” Aiya said, looking back at the empty space where Mirai had been.

“If I die, she’ll never be born,” Kento said. “So she won’t be able to come back.”

“But why does she want to tear us apart?” Aiya asked.

“I don’t know,” Kento said. “She told me that if we end up together someone gets hurt.”

“Who?” Aiya asked.

“She didn’t say, but I-” Kento began, but was cut off by a coughing fit.

“Ok, that’s enough talking crazy,” Rin said. “Kento, just focus on breathing, ok? The ambulance will be here any second.”

As if summoned there by her words, they heard sirens outside, getting closer. Rin ran out to flag the ambulance down. The paramedics rushed in and put Kento on a stretcher. Aiya and Rin both wanted to ride with them, but they were stopped. Kento was already in a critical condition, and they would have to start treating him in the ambulance. They quickly got into Rin’s car and followed the ambulance. While on the way Aiya called Abe and told him what happened. He immediately began rushing to the hospital, calling a cab and bribing the driver to step on it.

The waiting room was disturbingly familiar. It was the same place they had to wait after Kento was shot. Aiya and Rin were sitting, with Rin trying to give some comfort to Aiya. Abe was pacing up and down, chewing through his nails. Aside from them, it was deserted.

“He’ll be ok, right?” Aiya asked. “He has to be ok, right?”

“I’m sure he will be,” Rin said. She was just as worried as Aiya, if not more. She was unbelievably angry at herself. Kento was one of the people nearest and dearest to her heart, and throughout this whole ordeal, she had never once stood him by, or even given him the time of day to give his side of the story. After everything he had done for her over the years, she couldn’t even spare enough faith in him to talk to him once. Now she might lose him without ever being able to say how sorry she was.

“What exactly happened back there?” Abe asked, stopping in front of the girls.

“I think he had some kind of psychotic break,” Rin said. “We ran into him earlier today, while we were out on a group date. I think it broke him to see Aiya out with another man.”

“No, Kento’s stronger than that,” Abe said. “He wouldn’t fall apart that easily.”

“Abe, he thought he saw Mirai,” Rin said. “He was yelling at the empty air.”

“No he wasn’t,” Aiya said. “I saw her too. She was really there.”

“So I’m the crazy one?” Rin asked “Aiya, there was no one there.”

“I’m telling you, she was!” Aiya said. “I heard her, I saw her.”

“You must have imagined it,” Rin said. “Besides, you heard Kento. He thinks Mirai is your daughter from the future. How is that even possible?”

“She called him ‘Dad’,” Aiya said. “I heard it. Right before she disappeared right in front of me.” Rin was about to speak again, but Abe gestured for her to wait.

“We can talk about how insane that sounds later,” he said. “How did that lead to him getting hurt?”

“He wanted to prove something,” Aiya said. “He told Mirai that he knew who she was, and what she was doing. He made me look at Mirai when he did it. He did it so I could see her vanish.”

“He stabbed himself?” Abe asked. Aiya nodded. She was shaking at the memory. Abe took off his coat and draped it over her shoulders. “He’ll be fine. Kento is a tough man. He’s not going to let this end him, especially now that he’s got a chance to see you again.”

“I should never have pushed him away,” Aiya said.

“You had good reason to,” Abe said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Just make sure you don’t do it to him again. Hear him out, please.”

“I’m sorry, Abe,” Aiya said. “I pushed you away too. I should have listened. I should have given you and Kento a chance to explain yourselves.”

“Me too,” Rin said. “I was just so angry. I never thought Kento could do something so awful, so when Mirai told us that he did…”

“Listen, it’s in the past now, ok?” Abe said. “Kento still loves both of you dearly. You didn’t see it, but losing you two was almost more than he could handle. He hasn’t been eating right, he barely sleeps. He hasn’t even gotten a new job yet. He just sits at home crying. Today was the first time I’ve managed to get him out of his house since you split up. He’ll be more than happy to put all of this behind you. Just don’t push him away again. Give him a chance to explain himself.”

“Ok, I will,” Aiya said. Rin nodded her agreement.

“Good,” Abe said, smiling. “Now cheer up. I doubt Kento wants to see a bunch of crying faces when he comes out of there.”

“You’re right,” Aiya said, pulling herself together and putting on a smile too. “I really missed you, Abe. You’re a rock.”

“You’re not just a rock,” Rin said. “You’re like the most solid piece of land on Earth. Thank you.”

“I do what I can,” Abe said bashfully. He wasn’t great at taking compliments. He took a seat too. He closed his eyes and began praying under his breath. He wasn’t very religious, but at this point, he was willing to try anything if it meant Kento would pull through. They ended up waiting for almost three hours. It finally ended when a doctor in a white coat came through the doors. Aiya, Rin, and Abe all jumped up and rushed at him, their eyes glistening with hope. The doctor looked at each of them in turn. His facial expression conveyed more meaning than his mere words ever could.

“I’m sorry.”


Kento stood in the darkness. Well, standing might be wrong. There was no concept of space where he was. No up or down, no floor or ceiling. He was in a place he’d never experienced before, and yet it felt familiar. He couldn’t put his finger on why, but he knew exactly where he was. It didn’t feel as cold as he expected. On the contrary, it was cozy, like a warm blanket wrapped around him on a cold winter’s day.

“Dad?” a voice called. Kento turned around to see Mirai, standing a few feet away from him. He gave her a warm smile.

“Hello, Mirai,” he said. She ran forward and dove into him, wrapping him in a hug. He caught her in his arms, holding on tightly. “It’s good to see you.” Mirai pulled back.

“You’re not angry at me?” She asked.

“Oh, I’m furious,” Kento replied. “But I think I understand why you did what you did.”

“I promise, this isn’t how I wanted it to go,” Mirai said.

“I know,” Kento said. “But have I ever been the kind of guy to play along with other people’s games?”

“I don’t know,” Mirai said. “You weren’t exactly the best dad.” Kento was taken aback by this. It filled in a lot of the gaps in his theory, especially why Mirai seemed to dislike him so much.

“We can talk about that later,” Kento said.

“What ‘later’?” Mirai asked. “There is no later, Dad. This is it. We’re done.”

“I don’t believe that,” Kento said. “We have everything we need to fix this whole mess right here.”

“Where?” Mirai asked, looking around. Kento took his pointer finger and lightly pressed it into her forehead.

“Right here, silly,” Kento said.

“What do you mean?” Mirai asked, confused.

“You went back once already,” Kento said. “I don’t know how, but you did. All you have to do is go back again, to before you accused me of hurting you. If you never do that, then everything will be fine.”

“I don’t know if I can do that,” Mirai said. “And even if I could, you and Mom would still be together.”

“Why don’t you want us to be?” Kento asked. “What’s so bad about me being with the love of my life.”

“Don’t you feel embarrassed saying that?” Mirai asked.

“Usually I would,” Kento said. “But right in front of me, I have living proof that she is the woman I’ll end up marrying and spending my life with.”

“You don’t spend your life with her,” Mirai said, her head dropping.

“What do you mean I don’t?” Kento asked.

“Mom dies when I’m born,” Mirai said. Kento felt a pang shoot through his heart. He’d expected something along those lines, but Mirai confirming it was a whole different story.

“After being married for three years you decide to start a family,” Mirai continued. “It takes a while, but eventually Mom gets pregnant with me. Everything seems happy, but then I’m born, and Mom dies. That’s how I heard the story at least. After that, you spiral into depression, and I’m mostly raised by Uncle Abe and Aunt Rin. You had moments where what they called the ‘old you’ shined through. Those times were nice, but as I got older it happened less and less. You began drinking, and wanted less and less to do with me.” Mirai began choking back her tears. “One day you told me it was my fault, and that if I’d never been born you’d still have Mom. I ran away from home and fell asleep in an alley. I woke up back here, and I met you that night on the train platform.”

“Mirai, I’m-” Kento began, but he stopped. He felt so small and stupid at that moment. What was there that he could say that would undo a lifetime of neglect and emotional abuse. Kento hated himself more at that moment than he ever had before, and made a silent vow to never become the monster that raised Mirai. Instead of trying to find words he simply pulled Mirai into the warmest hug he could muster. He knew it was pointless to try, but he had to tell her.

“I’m sorry,” Kento said. “I want to say that I’ll never do that, but clearly I did. Or I will, I guess. I know there’s nothing I can say that will make up for it, but I promise you I’ll do everything I can to prevent that future from coming. I’ll take care of your mother, I’ll make her live in a damn hospital if I have to. And when you come along and I finally meet you again, I promise you I won’t let that happen again. I’m so sorry you had to go through what you did.”

“Thank you, Dad,” Mirai said, clutching onto him. “And it’s ok. I forgive you-” Her words were cut off, and Kento felt himself holding onto nothing. He began frantically looking around the void, trying to find her again. He noticed his body began feeling warmer, as light crept up from his legs, seemingly consuming him. The darkness around him began to fade, and he felt himself being pulled away.


Kento opened his eyes. He found himself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. He reached down to his stomach but found nothing there. No bandage, no pain. He couldn’t even feel a scar. He cracked a grin. Mirai had done it. He looked to his left and saw Aiya’s sleeping face. It was the first time he’d seen her asleep, and after all the time he was apart from her the sight made him feel like his heart was about to explode.

The terrible present he was in was gone. It seemed like this version of him managed to live his life in happiness and bliss with Aiya.

“Lucky bastard,” Kento muttered. He slowly got out of bed and checked his phone. It was late. He’d slept in. It was a nice feeling. Kento’s smile was quickly replaced with a worried expression. He realized, in that moment, that this reality might be the original one. He quickly went to his contact list and scrolled through, until he found the name he was looking for, listed with her number and e-mail.


He quickly sent her a message telling her to meet him at the cafe near the station. Kento had to hurry, the train was going to run soon. He jumped out of bed and looked around, confused. He was in his pajama pants, and he had no idea where he could find clothes he could go out in.

“What’s wrong?” Aiya asked sleepily. Kento turned around and took a moment to marvel at the sight of Aiya’s sleepy face and messy hair.

“I have an appointment,” Kento said.

“With who?” Aiya asked.

“With Mirai,” Kento said.

“What for?” Aiya asked.

“Can’t tell you,” Kento said. “It’s a surprise.” He looked around the room again. “I know this might be a weird question, but where are my clothes.”

“Second drawer,” Aiya said, rolling over and going back to sleep. Kento walked over and opened the second drawer. Sure enough, there were a few changes of clothes. He quickly got dressed and gave Aiya a kiss on the forehead before bolting out of the door. He just barely made it onto the train.

He spent the ride reflecting on just how crazy this was. Here he was in what could only be called an alternate timeline, with memories from what might have been the worst possible scenario. Now he was on his way to meet his daughter who came back from the future to tear him and his future wife apart after meeting his daughter in what seemed to be the afterlife. It was almost too much to wrap his head around and gave him plenty to think about to pass the time.

He arrived at the cafe a few minutes later. Mirai was already inside, waiting for him.

“Morning, Kento,” she said. “Why did you call me here in the middle of the morning on a Saturday?”

“Is that any way to greet your dad?” Kento asked, smiling broadly. Mirai’s face lit up, and she jumped out of the chair and nearly tackled Kento to the ground.

“It’s really you?” she asked.

“Who else would it be?” Kento asked.

“The you from this timeline,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for so long for you to come back.”

“I’m guessing I died last night,” Kento said. “And I woke up in heaven.”

“That’s gross,” Mirai said, still holding onto him. She pulled back after a few seconds. “I’m really sorry about all of this, Dad.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Kento said. “You were only trying to protect us. Do the other’s know about you?”

“No, they don’t,” Mirai said, shaking her head.

“For now we should keep it that way,” Kento said. He sat down in the booth, and Mirai sat down across from him. “And you should call me Kento when we aren’t alone.”

“I know, Dad,” Mirai said, trying to pull off her best ‘rebellious teenager’ voice. “I’ve been doing this for a while now.”

“I’m sorry you had to go through all of that,” Kento said.

“It’s ok,” Mirai said. “But now I’m back to square one. Square zero, actually. I have no idea what to do. I don’t even know if I can go back.”

“Well, I know exactly what to do,” Kento said. Mirai looked up at him, expectantly.

“We’re going to change the future.”


Author’s note:

This is the end of Vanish, at least for now. I’ve written as far as I planned to. I’ll probably do a sequel in the future, but for now, the ride has come to an end. Thank you for reading my story. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them. See you in the next life.