The Weight Of Ignorance
It was 9 am in the morning on Saturday. I’d eventually decided to take Mrs. Urashima up on the offer and watch anime with her. I didn’t know why I felt it would be ok to take her up on the offer despite rejecting her before. Telling her everything the other day had made me feel a lot better, so maybe that was the cause for me feeling a little comfortable with her.
As I left my house, I had a feeling that I was forgetting something. I decided not to think about it too much and started walking to the nearest train station. Mrs. Urashima lived about 10 mins away after a 5 min train ride. I was feeling a little guilty once I had reached her house. It had only been a month since Akira’s passing away. What was I doing? Watching anime with someone? Reading manga with her? What was wrong with me? Was I that desperate for companionship? I decided not to go but before I could turn around, the door to the house had opened and out came the girl who invited me.
“Hey, Yuuto whatcha doing out here?”
“Uh….Nothing, I was going to ring the bell but realized that I had some work today. Sorry” I said as I bowed to her.
“What work?” she asked me looking straight into my soul.
“Uh,... I’m …going…to…buy…some stuff for my house, yeah that's it” I said.
“Oh, Okay… let's go then. I don’t particularly have anything to do today” she said while shrugging her shoulders.
Fuck, that caught me off guard. I didn’t really have anything to buy but now I couldn’t back out of it. Just as I was thinking those thoughts, Urashima looked at me with the biggest smirk.
“If you want to come out of your lie and watch anime, I’m still okay” she said while grinning.
This girl was scary. I wanted to tell a lie and leave but she caught my lie pretty easily. And with a smug expression, she told me that I could back out of my lie.
“Well, then I guess I could watch some anime”
“That’s rude Yuuto, why did you have to lie to me?” she said while pouting.
“Well, to be honest, I didn’t think it was fair for me to be enjoying myself only a month after Akira’s passing away.”
Urashima’s eyes had started to sparkle. What was she thinking?
“You think you’re going to have fun with me?” she said while looking excited.
“Well, yeah, it’s anime after all” I replied
She went back to her sulky face.
“Okay come on in” She said, completely disregarding my statement of not having the right to enjoy. She really was strange, not that I disliked it. Before I knew it, I started smiling.
I walked into her house to see that there was no one but her in the large house. She lived on the second floor of her apartment. Since the apartment looked big, I’d assumed that she would be living with her family. As we walked, I could see she had 3 bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. She was probably a rich kid.
“Do you live here all by yourself?” I asked her.
“Nah, My mom’s at work”
“Oh and your father?”
“Well…” she said while looking in the other direction. Shit looks like I stepped on a sensitive topic.
“Well, let's go watch anime” I said to her trying to change the topic.
“My father had run away from us a few years ago when his business had fallen to the ground. He said he didn’t have enough money for the 3 of us, so he was going to enjoy it by himself. This had left my mother a little shocked for about a month or 2. After 2 months we moved to a smaller home and tried to make ends meet. Eventually, my mother started her own business which took off, and now we live a bit more luxurious lifestyle” she said with a forced smile
“I’m sorry for asking something insensitively” I said
“Nah, it probably wouldn’t be fair for me to keep my secrets when you told me yours the other day” she said.
"Well, I guess to make it fair, I'll tell you one more thing"
"do tell" she said while looking at me in excitement
"well a few years ago, my mother visited me" I ended up narrating everything about my encounter with my mother.
"Well, I think I might have some idea about what's going on now" she said softly
"What?" I asked her
"Nothing, let's go to my bedroom and watch some anime" she said dismissing my question.
We walked to her room and sat down on her bed. All this felt a little familiar to me. We'd decided to watch some seasonal anime and then read some manga. It had been a while since I’d enjoyed myself this much. After a while, I decided that it was getting late and I should go home and prepare dinner.
“Hey, you want to go out for some Ramen?” she said.
I didn’t really have dinner plans yet.
“Sure” I replied.
We went out to a store that gave ramen. I chose to eat tsukemen that day.
“Do you like tsukemen a lot?” she asked me.
“Not really, I just have a few memories with it so I eat it whenever the chance arises”
“What about you? Do you like ramen a lot?” I asked her.
“Well, I’m in the same boat. When my dad left us, ramen was an affordable meal we used to eat a lot, so I do enjoy eating it every now and then. My mom and I used always have long conversations over ramen” she said with a smile.
“How was your school in Kobe?” I asked her
“Well, it was a little tough since I couldn’t really find anyone to talk to about my interests. It's not like people bullied me because I watched anime or read manga but then used to avoid me since we didn’t have anything to talk about.”
“By the way how did you know I was from Kobe?”
“Well, after I fought with Kazuhara, I remember you bringing up your time at Kobe. I didn’t really know if you did it to reduce the awkwardness but thank you for that” I told her.
“Honestly Yuuto, you are so much more lively now than you are at school. This really suits you more than the dispirited look you have at school.
Once our food had arrived, Urashima had tied her hair into a long ponytail and started eating her food. After we finished our food, I had decided to walk her up to her house and then leave. I had bought some extra tsukemen since I knew that Kokone would enjoy it.
“We’re here, thanks for walking me Yuuto” she said to me
“Thank you for inviting me Urashima” As I said this, she got a little sulky and pouted.
“It's unfair that I call you Yuuto and you call me Urashima. Use my name” She said
“Well, thank you for inviting me Hana” I said as I bowed.
“Y-Y-Yeah it’s f-f-fine” she said while being completely flustered. Why did you make me use your name if you’re going to get flustered?
We parted ways there and I took the next train home.
I went home and all the lights were already on and the door was unlocked. Had I left the door unlocked? I was pretty sure that I had locked it. I slowly walked inside and there was no one on the couch. I walk towards my bedroom and saw the only person who could enter my house apart from me.
“Kokone? What are you doing here this late?”
“I came to make you dinner” she said as she turned to look in my direction.
“Oh, sorry. I was outside with a friend today.”
“What’s this friend’s name?” she said as she glared at me with hostility. She had started her interrogation
“Um… Hana Urashima” I said
“So it’s a girl?”
“What do you call her?”
“What does she call you?”
“What were the both of you doing?”
“Watching some anime and then went out for dinner”
She suddenly picked up a pillow and threw it at my face.
“Kokone, what was that for?” it really hurt. She threw it with a lot of force.
“Why are you replacing Akira” she said with tears in her eyes.
Replacing Akira? Was that what I was doing? I knew that I used to watch anime with Akira and she and Kokone were the only people I used to speak to casually but it hadn’t crossed my mind that maybe I was trying to use Hana to replace Akira.
“What’s next? Does this Hana have a little sister that you could replace me with?” She screamed.
“Till now, I hadn’t said anything about Akira’s death and tried to act normal because I could see you were hurting but now it seems like you’re having fun. I was never angry with you for not taking action but instead angry with you for not telling me about Akira’s situation earlier. I thought you were unaware of her situation until you told me that you knew about it all along when I visited you after the funeral. Despite that, I tried to continue acting normal but there’s one thing I need to know. Tell me Yuuto, was Akira easily replaceable to you?”
It didn’t take me less than a second to think about all these questions that were thrown at me.
“No, Akira is not easily replaceable. No matter what happens, Kokone you will always be important to me. You are like a little sister to me. I won’t make the mistakes that I had made with Akira again. If me talking to another girl hurts you, I’ll stop. Even today morning, I planned on not going since I felt guilty about having fun when Akira had just passed away a month back. I don’t plan on ever replacing you or Akira. You both will always hold a special place in my heart.” I said as I went up to Kokone and embraced her.
That was it. I knew more than anyone that even if I tried, I could never replace someone like Akira. I could never forget someone like Kokone. They are practically family to me. If Kokone felt uncomfortable with me being around others right now, then, I’d stay away from them until she felt comfortable. Not that I didn’t enjoy Hana’s company but Kokone was more important to me right now.
“Now, I bought some tsukemen for you, how about we eat that” I said to her
She nodded in agreement and we went to the table.
“I’m sorry Yuuto for lashing out on you like that”
“I prefer you telling me your feelings than hiding it” I said to her as I patted her head.
“It was unfair of me to tell you to be miserable when you had just started going back to normal” she said as she was on the verge of crying again.
“It’s fine, it wouldn’t feel normal with my little sister being sad”
She wiped her tears and continued eating her tsukemen.
“Hello Mrs. Kanazawa”
“Is….is this Yuuto?” said the voice of a middle age woman that I had known well.
“Yes Ma’am, I’m sorry for not calling you or coming for the funeral”
“It's fine Yuuto, you had your own grief to deal with I assume” She said to me in the kindest voice.
“I would also like to apologize for not being there for Akira when she needed the most” I said in a quavering voice. Her voice really made me reflect on my actions.
“It’s fine Yuuto, I’m sure you had your own issues to deal with at the time.” Every word she said made me feel guilty.
“By the way, Yuuto, is Kokone at your house? She had told me that she would be visiting but she’s still not home”
“Yeah she is, she wanted to ask if she could stay over for today.”
“If it's not an inconvenience for you then okay”
“No issues, Mrs. Kanazawa. I enjoy having Kokone around. She helps me feel better.” I said as I wiped my tears
“Good bye then”
“Good bye” I said as I hung up the phone.
I didn’t understand how she could trust me after what I had done to Akira but I felt too afraid to ask her. If Kokone was forced to stop meeting me, I wouldn’t know what to do.
I saw Kokone’s head suddenly pop at the corner of my eye. Let's mess with her a little bit
“Mrs. Kanazawa, please just let her visit from time to time at least” I said while holding the phone up.
“ Please Mr.s Kanazawa, don’t take Kokone away from me”
I kept the phone down and kept a look of disappointment while I went to the couch.
I could see Kokone was already a little disheartened.
“They told me that you can’t meet me anymore” I said to her
“I know when they hung up the phone you know” she replied. It looked like her disheartened face was an act.
Well, there went my devious plan. We both started laughing after that and enjoyed the rest of the night playing games and watching anime. It was a fun night.
I woke up the next morning with Kokone who had snuggled with me in bed. I opened my phone to check notifications and I saw a few messages from Hana. I had decided to ignore them for the time being. Kokone slowly woke up next to me and started stretching her body. She brushed her teeth and took a bath. Finally, we ate breakfast together and She left.
A few seconds after, I heard a knock on my door.
“What happened Kokone? Forgot something?” I asked the girl outside my door.
“Yeah, here” she said as she handed me an envelope.
“I didn’t plan to ever give this to you but my parents said it was unfair to keep it to myself.” Kokone said as she bowed and left.
I walked into the house and looked at the envelope that said : To My Dearest Yuuto, From Akira
I slowly opened the letter with my trembling hands.
It’s Akira, well I guess you already know it's me since I’ve put my name on the outside as well. Well, now that I’m here I don’t really know what to write to you. I wish things had been different and I could tell you all this in person but I’m sure you know why that’s not possible right now. First of all, I’m sorry that I killed myself, I was weak but please don’t follow in my footsteps. Please live a life to fulfill both of us. If I see you up here any earlier than necessary, I’m going to scold you so bad. I can see how much you’ve grown since I first met you, please don’t go back. I know it’s a bit selfish of me to ask this of you but please take care of Kokone, please make sure she grows up to be a respectable adult. Make sure she never goes through anything you or I had to. Ah, I wish I could see that girl all grown up, I bet she would be a killer with the boys. Now for the most important part, Yuuto….I loved you a lot and not as some classmate or friend. I loved you as a man. I wanted to have a future with you but maybe the guys that bullied me were right. Maybe I’m not beautiful enough to get you like me back. I wanted to get married to you and love you for the rest of my life but none of that is possible anymore. I wanted to tell you earlier but I didn’t have the courage to. I kept lecturing you to face your fears but in the end, I am just a coward who couldn't tell the boy she liked about her feelings. So here’s my final request- Yuuto, please don’t brood over my death. Knowing you, you probably are all cooped up in your house right about now trying to blame yourself. I don’t hate you for not saving me, I hate myself for not being able to stand up for myself, so please live a happy life. Ah, I loved all the fun times we had, and all the games we played. The anime we watched. The manga we read. These memories will always remain with me. I’m sorry for being able to keep my promise Yuuto. Goodbye.
Akira Kanazawa, Your loving master with her command seals.