They Bloom in March
"We're almost there! I can see the lights!"
It starts with a dream.
A cold and unforgiving dream.
Recurring and mysterious. Short but painful. And it always unfolds under the cover of darkness.
"Come on! Everyone's waiting for us! Just hang on for a little longer!"
I run through an ill-lit dock toward a distant glow. The sound of shallow breathing and frantic footfalls on the boardwalk drown out the unsettled seas surrounding me.
Or I suppose, surrounding us.
"Nanacchi, what's wrong?" I feel the girl's grip loosen.
"Let go of me... Sacchi," she weakly mutters.
"Don't say that! I'm not leaving without you!"
As I continue making my way across the pier, the clouds part, revealing an ocean of stars above us. The deep blue waters shimmer in the moonlight like a field of sapphires.
And although it is a beautiful sight, I pay no heed to it, for this scene is anything but. The end of the jetty seems so near, yet never gets any closer.
Suddenly, Nanacchi's hands go limp, and I grind to a halt.
"This is as far as I go... Sacchi," the girl insists shakily. "Go on... without me... and don't look back..."
"Stop talking nonsense! There's no way I could abandon you..!" I shout as I stare down at my feet.
"It's no use... I'm... done for..."
"What the hell are you talking about―!"
Turning to scold her, I am faced with the bone-chilling truth. It comes crashing down on me as the violent waves behind us do, and I stand stock-still unable to process what lies in front of me.
A line of blood has been following us this entire time. And the source of this crimson trail was the girl I was holding on to since the beginning. Her skin was paler than the moonlight that illuminated the horrific image before me, and the heat in her palm was steadily fading.
"Heh..." she chuckles with rings around her eyes, "I told you not to look... dummy..."
"Nana... cchi..?" I collapse to my knees, shocked beyond belief.
Her lower half was missing. I'd been dragging her severed body around this entire time.
As blood gushes out in spurts from her open wound, the harbor echoes with an ear-splitting shriek. It only ends as I fully register the calm expression on the girl's face.
And I gently set her down on the floor. A smile lines my friend's thin lips.
"Guess we didn't make it... huh..?" she wistfully imparts to me.
Tears dribble off my chin as I desperately keep her insides from falling out. "W... when did you..?"
"I really wanted you to escape... Sacchi. All you had to do... was leave me behind..."
"You promised me," I tearfully bring her up to my bosom, staining my pure white sailor uniform a dreaded sanguine, "we would make it out together..."
"Aah... why are you the one crying..? I'm the one who should be bawling my eyes out right now..."
Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a crowd of people slowly shambling toward us. The girl catches the approaching footsteps and heaves out a frail sigh.
"Forgive me, Sacchi..." she quietly says to me. "I've done more to you than break a promise..."
"There's... no time to explain. Just know whatever happens next... is all for your sake..."
"What are you..?"
"I'm leaving it up to you... partner..."
"I don't get a single thing you're saying!"
Finally, she looks me straight in the eye.
"Promise not to forget me... alright..?" a teardrop streams down her cheek as she wrenches out a grin.
And the dream abruptly ends.
I open my eyes to the press of the mattress on my back and the weight of the blanket on my skin. Skimming my cheeks with my fingers, I realize tears had formed during my sleep.
"Who is Nanacchi..?" I think to myself out loud.
My recollection of the nightmare quickly dissipates as my tears do, and I go about my morning―blissfully unaware of the yesterday I'd forgotten.