I’ll Wait For You At The Train Station
Yamada-san was absent for the entire day. Despite that, the class continued to its usual routine. No one else dared to talk to her, so I suppose even if she wasn’t present, it wouldn’t bear a change. Heck, I was mistaken. There was one concerned classmate. Well, generally she’d be concerned to anyone for she was our class rep. This time though, her feelings were mixed with anxiousness. Perhaps she still felt responsible for the girl’s absence. The last time Yamada-san was here, she showed everyone a different side of her. That was the first time we heard her yell in public. I didn’t think that the act brought her shame to the extent that she’d stop coming, though. I was far more intrigued by how she’d handle the bullying.
After school, Class Rep-san stood in front and told everyone that she would visit Yamada-san’s house to know the problem. She announced it in front of us, supposing that one would be concerned and join her, but since no one else volunteered, she declared, “Would someone want to come with me?”
My classmates glanced at her, most have definite excuses like:
“Sorry, we still have club activities.”
“I’m going home early today.”
“I have a curfew.”
“I already planned to go out with my friends.”
Some were blunt enough to say such as:
“That’s not our problem to handle.”
“I don’t even know her, why should I go?”
Things like that.
I stayed on my seat while observing them. When Class Rep-san and I exchanged a glance, I figured where this would lead me. She doesn’t want to go alone. Unfortunate for her, my “playing safe” status still won over my sympathy. I shook my head while staring at her direction. An easily perceived decline was my answer. No choice, Class Rep-san sighed in a loss and continued, “Okay then, I’ll go alone.”
She left the room as if nothing happened. My classmates also went on to their planned tasks. When everyone dispersed away, I stood up and tidied my things before leaving. Encompassing the hallway, I crossed a familiar girl. She was no other than Yamada-san’s hero. I guess I could call her that. Because each time Yamada-san encounters the bullies, that girl would always protect her. Well, she couldn’t “protect” her most of the time but, I guess effort still counts.
She was nice in nature so I thought she’d come to talk to me. I assumed that she’d be a hindrance to my straight-ahead walk. I even tried my best to ignore her presence. However, what she only did was a glance. She decided not to step in. At first, I felt relief, but the strange sensation also opened my doubts. There was something wrong with her. From afar, I see her down and troubled. I guessed Yamada-san was involved to the issue. Saturday last week, after class, did something terrible happened? Was it the reason why Yamada-san was absent today? My curiosity kicked in, yet I changed my mind not to bother. Trouble would always stay as trouble. Involving myself to such things would cause a disturbance. I wouldn’t benefit anything at it. That was no give and take so to speak.
The next day, I waited for Akamatsu-san at the railway station. I don’t know why I was looking forward to him. What was I excited about? Talking to him? Hearing out his problems? Making a piece of advice? I just couldn’t determine. Yet, there I was expecting for him to come. Perhaps I wanted myself to continue feeling like having a purpose. Take a look about it; the simple conversation that we’ve had yesterday made my day. I indeed gave him hope, but it was ironic to think that I too, broke free from my misguided direction. Up until yesterday, I was still in desperate of seeking my meaning of existence. Like what I told him, I was free to choose what I want to be, and my present choice was to lead him to a better life. That was a “give and take” situation for me. I help him overcome his boredom, on the other hand, I’d feel satisfied for I have a set “purpose” towards him. Together, we could thrive over our desolate life.
At least, that was what I envision between us. We’d meet every day here at the station. Talk about our day by day tribulations, laugh at our problems and stupidity, and inspire hope to each other. At that moment I thought, I wanted to save his life so that I could be saved too. He wasn’t the only one being killed by boredom. He wasn’t the only one feeling like the days would stay the same. He wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find satisfaction. He wasn’t the only one feeling insignificant. He wasn’t the only one who thinks of being accidentally born. He wasn’t the only searching for an identity. He wasn’t the only one seeking refuge. He wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find happiness.
I may have collected all the optimistic worldviews, but that general disposition couldn’t destroy the reality I was facing. Optimism was no other than turning a blind eye from the truth. I could survive the trials in life thanks to it, but achieving happiness and satisfaction was a different story. Yeah, survival was my goal. Do you think surviving is what it takes to consider yourself living? I doubt it.
How are we supposed to find the meaning of life if our life itself is meaningless?
That was the reason why I desire a purpose.
When you have a purpose, you’d have a goal. And when you have a goal, you’d break free from boredom. Purpose, if fulfilled, emits happiness and satisfaction. Yesterday when I gave him advice, I felt happy and satisfied. I found a “meaning” in my life.
A paradigm shift. He might be thinking that I was his hope, that he could rely on a stranger like me. Yet, at this point… wasn’t I the one clinging into him? Wasn’t I the one searching for a purpose through him? Unbelievable… but that was the truth. Glad that I accepted it already. If I lie to myself and dismiss the issue over and over, I could arrive at the point of being lost.
Anyway, supposing that he would come, he would’ve been here earlier. I waited for him enough that I let the trains pass. Was there a problem? I wonder. I looked at the time, I have been here for an hour, if I don’t ride the next one, I’d be late. When he didn’t arrive as I assumed, I entered the next train. I felt uneasy. It was an emotion that I couldn’t understand. Just because he didn’t come, I came up with plenty of suppositions like, he hates me, he doesn’t care about me, he had forgotten about me, I’m nothing special for him, my advice yesterday doesn’t offer help, he’s still depressed while locking himself in his room, or worse… he committed suicide.
I easily faltered. I was aware of overreacting, yet I kept to overreact. Maybe because I was raising too much hope and expectations? Damn! That might be the case. You couldn’t blame me though, that was just me being optimistic and all.
A white flower placed on a slim glass vase -that was what welcomed me inside the room. It was placed exactly on Yamada-san’s table. That was the first time I observed the entire class to be quiet. Little did I know, it was the end.
She had enough.
That was what everyone thinks around this time. In respect to Yamada-san, they all shut their mouths. However, no tears were shed except for one. It was evident that Yamada-san was no less important in the class. She has no friends, and she doesn’t want to have one. About our class rep? Even today I still couldn’t tell if she was doing it out of pity, concern, or duty. At any rate, here she was, the one student crying. She was willing to shed a tear at least, somehow because of guilt. What if yesterday when she went to Yamada-san’s house, she was already dead? I still don’t know the details, but suicide was the sole method that I have in mind. I couldn’t just go and ask directly. I don’t have friends whom I could demand an explanation. Class Rep-san may have witnessed how dreadful Yamada-san was. She hasn’t posed an apology for what happened last week, so the creeping remorse was still present. In fact, now that she was gone her deep regret would intensify.
I went to my seat. With all honesty, I don’t feel anything. Like everyone else inside this room, I felt like no one was missing. I don’t feel sorrowful, I have no hidden guilt, I don’t care. I don’t know her. I had a conversation with her last week. Other than that, I think about her as a stranger. Yes, I see her every day in the class, but does it count? She doesn’t have a big role in my life, she was like some of those dead people that I crossed in their funeral service. You’d observe their loved ones crying, but that was it. It wasn’t enough for me to cry too. Frankly speaking, I would rather shed a tear for the death of a fictional character that I like from books, or cry because of listening to a sad song. Right, it was about impact. Yamada-san’s life was devoid of anything. She has no memory to be remembered dearly. In the class, she wasn’t a missing part of the puzzle. She was nothing but an extra piece that could be thrown away. My description may sound harsh, but it was the truth.
Forget about the downside, if you look at it, at least she was freed from pain. I was the first person here who could relate most to her living hell. I know how hard it was to be enslaved to fear. The reality about how cruel people were surrounding you, was nonetheless enough reason to give up. Sometimes, you just have to accept and yield. Is that what I’m trying to say? It was like, I don’t give value to “life” in general.
She was sick of playing the same game every day. She kept on losing no matter what. Thus, selected the “quit game” option. Too bad, she didn’t even attempt to fight. She let go of her console without realizing that there were special buttons for her character to hit, move around to evade an attack, use unique skills, etcetera. If she knew it beforehand… there would’ve been a chance that she’d emerge victoriously.
Wasn’t it my fault for not suggesting her to play tutorial? Nah, that wasn’t the case. What happens to her, was her choice and responsibility. Whether I interfere or not, the outcome would stay the same.
That’s for certain.
The class started with our homeroom teacher speaking about Yamada-san’s tragic fate. In her message, she talked about how good Yamada-san was. It was obvious that pretty words would come out of her mouth. The unending praises from her eulogy made each of us think that our homeroom teacher knows her entire story and about how bullying destroyed her daily life. If someone courageous was to ask “Why didn’t you help her?” I wonder what kind of face she’d present. We as fellow classmates don’t have the will to offer help because fear stood in our way. Unlike them, who were adults and has more authority in the school, would’ve made a difference if they act. No doubt they have reasons, but lately, the alternate name “excuse” was more accurate. Was it because they were busy? Was it because it was stressful? Or was it because they don’t care.
Either way, it was too late now. We couldn’t relive that day in the past which ruined our present. If we continued to look back, we’d welcome “guilt” to ourselves. Perhaps just like me, Yamada-san’s life has no significant meaning on our homeroom teacher’s biography. Suicide was a common thing in this cursed country, after all. When I became an adult, for sure I’d hear about an old colleague who committed suicide. Perhaps my homeroom teacher was on the same scope of what I imagined. I should respect her choice too.
I was not in the position to argue with her since all that I could do was to observe. I was also knowledgeable of the fact that Yamada-san was bullied. They said that wrong choices accompanied consequences. In this case, I selected the wrong option. With the bad end surfacing upon my present, what was gonna be the consequence? Guilt? Regrets? Atonement? At this moment I feel neither. In due time, would something wrong happen to me?
Our homeroom teacher was done with her drowning message. Then, our first subject commenced. The class was normal… the usual routine where the teacher asks a question and the students raise their hands for an answer. Each subject, the very first topic from our teachers was about Yamada-san. One talked about her issues, one of them warned us about how bad suicide was, the other gave us awareness about how depression and hopelessness attacks every individual -in fact, it was something I could relate most. Lastly, someone shared a story about how he was bullied too in his days in high school. I told myself: This is the first-time Yamada-san gathered the attention of everyone in the class. At the moment she was dead, sadly.
Throughout the day, I consider myself to be in a dream. Whenever I stared at the flower placed on the table, I was still in disbelief about the truth. My mind was disoriented. I wasn’t sure if this was a common occurrence whenever someone we know passed away. Death was always instant. Personally, I don’t believe in a slow death. Even if someone was terminally ill, -saying that he was undergoing a slow painful death- when his deadline comes his loved ones would always be in decline of the tragedy. Try to imagine how a person you know would be gone forever one day. He was not in a long trip so you would never see, touch, hear, nor feel him again. Death was surreal in a sense that all the qualities of a person you know vanishes in an instant. Your subconscious wouldn’t be able to adapt to the sudden change. In my situation, for example, I was used to staring at Yamada-san’s seat, so now that she wouldn’t come back, it felt hard to accept it.
I was feeling a fraction of what her parents would feel. I hope they’d cry for her because tears identify love and concern towards the deceased. I remembered, aside from Class Rep-san and Yamada-san’s relative, there was another person who was hurt most. The girl I crossed yesterday at the hallway.
The classes were done for today. I left the room and unfortunately, I met that person. She came out of the gate telling me, “What a coincidence”.
I knew enough that it wasn’t a coincidence. The timing was too accurate. Presenting a stern stare, she added, “Can we talk for a moment?”
I was well-versed of the situation. We’d talk about Yamada-san. I nodded and followed her footsteps. I figured that my refusal would reflect at me as if I was rude or someone who doesn’t read between the lines. She went on and I followed her strides. After a short stroll, we arrived at the rooftop. She had chosen that spot to be reminded of that day when we first met. That was the day I have seen a strange and stupid girl who jumps into trouble. My first impression lasted until now. I still recall her as strange and stupid. Regardless, I suppose bringing that up was unnecessary. She was sad, and what she needed was comfort. If she cried later, what would I do?
We freed ourselves from any activity and stood still. All that I could do was to look at her from behind. Meanwhile, she looked up.
“Fu fu.” She laughed nervously and paused. After a moment of silence, she went on, “I dragged you all the way here and I don’t know what to say right now.”
“It’s about Yamada-san, isn’t it?”
I replied for a sudden. I was straightforward, but it wasn’t like I wanted the conversation to be over quick. I want her to stay focused.
“Hey, I made a mistake.”
She rubbed her eyes, yet there were no tears dispersing out of it. Thinking about what she just said, I couldn’t understand what she meant.
“What do you mean by that?”
She dropped her gaze and answered indifferently, “It’s all my fault. I’m the one who killed her.”
Upon confessing to me, I felt the chills running through my spine. What a perplexing conflict.
“What are you talking about!" Perhaps I should let her finish. I overreacted again.
“I was too careless. When I told Yamada-san about my close friend who committed suicide, she was influenced by it. In other words, I gave her the idea of taking her own life. I know that she already considered ‘suicide’ as her option, and what I did was to give her a push. I’m neither her hero nor savior, I was nothing but a devil who whispered her to death.”
After the short yet vivid explanation, she let it out. The face that expressed melancholy had crumbled down the deepest region. She couldn’t take it anymore. Tears burst out of the corner edges of her eyes. She failed the same quest twice, and the aftereffect was devastating. To her late close friend, she failed. I didn’t know the whole story, but her friend also committed suicide because of the same circumstance. I could hypothesize that she was also an “observer” around that time; and after her death, she decided to change herself. She developed pangs of remorse subsequent to the incident. In order to break free from guilt, she mustered the courage to stand and be a hero. To those people who have suffered the same as her close friend did, she’d represent herself as someone who cares, give medial or emotional help, and stand firm against the bullies.
That became her purpose when high school began. She wouldn’t give a damn even if other people consider her as strange or stupid like what I do. No one could stop a person who was devoted to his or her goal. At the beginning of April, she found the right person. Yamada-san was the girl that she must offer a hand to. She must protect her from harm at all cost.
Cruel as it was, the outcome stayed consistent. Now she blames herself for all the wrongdoings. Giving Yamada-san the idea of committing suicide may be true, but it wasn’t her fault. She mustn’t have held herself accountable for it. I was also the type who overthinks to situations, but I don’t consider myself a victim most of the time. I don’t want to accept a bad scenario if I don’t deserve it. What she was doing right now was no other done inconveniencing herself to the problems of the others. Was she trying hard to be righteous? To the point where she’d carry a farfetched burden?
I could’ve been blunt and tell how crazy she was. However, knowing that she was emotionally incompetent right now, I must pick the proper words. One wrong move and I could also leave her broken.
So? How would I respond? By giving her advice? If so, what advice? I was clueless about what to say. My inner thoughts were telling me to leave and stay away from her.
“Thanks for hearing me out.” She let out a forced smile; it wasn’t easing no matter how you look at it. “I’m happy to have someone that I could tell my problems to. You don’t have to think of things to comfort me, just by standing there and hearing out my complains is enough.”
She was good at reading between the lines. I wanted to heave a sigh of relief, but that would make me look sarcastic. She wiped her tears away with a kerchief on her hand, then smiled again. This time, it looked much better.
“All right… thank you-” She scratched her head and added, “Now that I recalled it, we haven’t introduced ourselves yet. I’m Miyako. Miyazaki Miyako. You can call me Miyako if you want.”
“Th-then, I’ll call you Miyako-san. I’m Shirase, Ayase Shirase. You can also call me by my first name.”
I didn't intend to say that, but I chose to go with the flow and not ruin the fun.
“So Shirase-san, then.”
I nodded and smiled the best I could.
“That sounds fine.”
“I’m going now Shirase-san. I’ve got some errands to take care of.”
“O-Okay. I’ll stay here for a while.”
To be honest, I don’t want to walk alongside her. When she turned around and walked to the exit, I had the urge to speak.
“S-so! What are you going to do from now on?”
I couldn’t help but say it; for me to be relieved from the wearying question. She stopped from her tracks and looked back.
“What’s your guess?”
What was she trying to tell? Was she proposing a riddle? With a bitter smile on my face, I queried back.
“You’re not thinking of committing suicide too, aren’t you?”
“What kind of analyzation is that?” She grinned for a second and continued, “I have to move forward. I must be more careful next time.”
I uttered a sigh, this time with no constraint.
“Right. Next time, there are always second chances. That’s what I believe.”
Although I said that, I couldn’t help but rephrase it in my thoughts. There may be a “next time”, however, we must never deny the concept of “it’s too late”. Sadly for Yamada-san, it was too late.
After ten minutes of staying at the rooftop, I left and headed home. At the railway station, I still find myself weird for staring around -hopelessly presuming that Akamatsu-san was here waiting for me. Of course, he wouldn’t be here. If by chance he expected me to come, I was sure he’d get sick of it and leave. I arrived here an hour late, after all. Once I confirmed that he wasn’t present I get into the next train. I went home safe, despite that, I felt so tired. Plenty of bad things happened today. Yeah right, events don’t go the way you like it no matter how hard you try to obtain it. For now, I’d just sleep and forget my worries.
I opened my eyes and tried to recall what happened last night. What did I have for dinner? Damn, I forgot. I did my best to recollect all my thoughts. I felt like I have no memory of everything that happened last night. Just then I figured out that I fell asleep as soon as I went home. That answered everything, I thought I have memory loss all of a sudden. When I glanced at my alarm clock, I realized that I woke up so late. I stood up fast and headed downstairs.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?”
I told my mother.
“Shirase, I woke up late too. I already prepared breakfast for you. I and your Dad is going to work now.”
I nodded while having a sliced bread in my mouth. I prepared myself for school and went out. Because I was late, for sure Akamatsu-san wouldn’t be there any longer. I’d miss him again.
There was a commotion all around the railway station and there were groups of people gathered nearby the platform.
I do not know what was going on until I heard an old woman beside me saying, “The trains will be delayed; someone just committed suicide.”
My eyes widened as I stopped.
My legs froze in a daze.
A man beside the old woman added, “Poor student… he doesn’t know what he’s doing. What an innocent kid.”
I was bewildered by the sudden breakthrough. Akamatsu-san; it was the first name that surfaced in my head as soon as I heard that the suicide victim was a student. I deny it. I don’t want to believe it. I must make sure and take a look, but before I make a step forward, I already came to a halt. I was afraid. Not only for knowing the truth, but also for seeing a shredded or mangled body. Was I ready to ingest what lies beyond that group of people? I don’t have the guts to move forward nor move an inch. If the victim was really Akamatsu-san, would I be prepared to accept it?
I was not ready. All that I did was to turn around and cry. I couldn’t even confirm if he was the person who jumped. If I don’t see him again in the station where we first met, could I say that he really was the suicide victim?
I doubt it.
--END OF CHAPTER 1--