Chapter 45:

Interlude: Promise

66 Hours


Most people’s childhood is a fond memory.

A sweet caress. A father-like lesson. A picture of a happy family. A smile, and a kiss.

Mine was no different. I grew up as an only child, and spent my days, with my family and friends.

That is, until I turned 8.

One day like any other my father left for work.

But never came back.

“Where is dad?”

I would ask my mom, every single day.

“He’ll be back, don’t worry…”

And she would always give me that exact same answer. An unwavering smile, eyes warm with love. Certainty.

I always thought he would come back one day. My mother was sure of it after all.

Day after day, I waited and waited.

One day, I woke up in the middle of the night, and found my mum in the living room, alone. She was crying. Helpless, alone, and afraid.

That’s when I realized… Dad wouldn’t be coming home ever again.

That day, I made a promise.

I will never let my mother feel alone again.

I was so young, yet I knew. I knew I had to be there for her. She was the kindest person in the world, and she shouldn’t ever be alone again.

So I shouldered it all. As I grew up, I tried to help her in any way I could. I was the man of the family now.

That damned day I got trapped inside this school, I cursed my luck. Life was so unfair. Only one person could leave this school alive. That’s what they told me…

I found a girl shortly after… I knew I could never tell her. How could I, after all?

So I played it cool. Like nothing had ever been said to me. 

She was a kind, timid girl, the kind you would want to protect. And so I did. Or at least I tried to.

We joined up with another group, and they welcomed us. I was skeptical at first. I knew that none of them would survive, if I were to escape, and vice versa. They were kind and friendly.

Mayu was a real sunshine, and Hideki would always find a way to surprise me. The others too. They all had something to offer. Something to contribute.

Everything felt like it was going to plan, even when it didn’t. Before I realized it, I felt at ease around them. I had forgotten, how cruel our fate was. How bad it would all end…

Even so, I didn’t have the luxury to leave it to luck. I had to get out… I had to return to my mother, no matter what. I could never, ever leave her alone again.

Soon, the others in the group… became my friends. And the girl, Hotaru, was someone I cared deeply for. Maybe there was some way, we could both escape… but first I had to do something drastic. Something, I didn’t ever wanna do… Something that probably hurt me, as much as it hurt them.

I grabbed a knife, and threatened to kill one of their own. One of OUR own. My hands were trembling, and my heart was pounding. But I had to do it. I had to… For I had made a promise. A promise I would rather die, than break.

I could see the pain written on their faces. The disbelief. I wanted it to end. I just wanted to get out…

“I… I can’t leave my mother all alone!"

But when they finally agreed… That’s when I felt a cold, sharp pain on my back. I could feel blood soak through my shirt. Whose blood was it? Turning, I saw Hotaru. But she was different. Her eyes were hollow, disconnected from reality. The blood was mine. She had wounded me, fatally.

I felt my strength sapped from me, and I fell to the floor. I was in pain, yet I didn’t suffer. I felt like I was carried away.

Back to the real world.

Back to my mum.

Yet I wasn’t alive. I couldn’t touch, nor talk to her.

I escaped death so many times, just to be killed by the person I came to love. The person, I would almost throw away my life willingly for. Yet somehow, it was fitting. Just.

If I were to die, then I’d rather it be from her. I’d rather it be painless, just like that.

At the end, luck just wasn’t on my side.

At the end, I couldn’t keep my promise.

At the end, the people I loved had to be alone…

I at least hope, that someone will inform my mother.

Tell her that she needn’t wait. Nor cook dinner for two anymore. Her son wouldn’t be coming back.

I hope somebody at least, will save her from the pain of not knowing. A pain she’s known for years. The pain I had tried to ease.

Mom, I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise.

Kazuya.

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