Chapter 50:

Epilogue: School’s Out

66 Hours


Nearly 2 months after we successfully escaped the haunted school, and have regained our lives, have already come and gone. I don’t know if it’s an after-effect from the curse, but time seems to be going by extremely fast. These two months have felt like a blur. 

Me and Ayase have officially started dating, and I’ve already asked her on more than one dates, just like she had demanded. Not to mention that my mom's reaction when she met her was simply embarrassing... She said and I quote "Are you sure you want my son as YOUR boyfriend!?" I honestly thought she'd drive her away with thatnonsense, but luckily everything worked out justfine.

Talking about Ayase, she seems to have resolved everything with her mother. Turns out the shock of her disappearance changed her views on things. Although her sudden change in attitude caused quite the uproar throughout the school, she’s still the school’s idol. Which is probably the reason why I’m always getting nasty stares when I walk down the hallway.

Mayu and Noriko too, have been doing great. Luckily Mayu’s injury didn’t leave any lasting effects on her. As far as Noriko is concerned, hanging out with Mayu has helped her a great deal in making friends. I think her new objective is to make 100 of them! Despite the fact the school barely has 100 people in it, we all wished her luck anyway.

As luck would have it, I’ve made quite a few friends too. Mostly guys though, otherwise Ayase would probably have my head.

Despite that, it’s not always been all rainbows and sunshines. The authorities questioned us, day after day, trying to make sense of the disappearings, and reporters came knocking out our doors nonstop having heard about the wild tale we were spouting. As you might have guessed, we all decided to tell the truth, since spawning a story was bound to get us in trouble. That, and Noriko was too sincere to lie. Of course, that was why the police didn’t exactly believed us. That was until one day, a female detective of the force came by, from Tokyo nonetheless. She was quite weird, and wore a rectangular white eye-patch like some middle school chuni. We gave her the same story as the officers before her, and she made off with just a nod of her head. The matter has been put to rest ever since. 

Despite my hesitation, I talked to Tanaka-san’s family about his disappearance, and handed them the picture I carefully kept in my blazer all the while. Normally, they weren’t happy about my reveal, yet they thanked me nonetheless. Noriko and Ayase did the same for Kazuya’s mother, while Mayu opted to speak to Yoko’s mother herself. We all did the same for Kurosawa as well… Of course, it wasn’t easy, but we thought their families ought to know about the fate of their loved ones.

Spring has finally come round, and after many-a-busy days, I finally found the time to close the case of the curse for good. Truth be told, not everything was over. Searching my pockets the day I came back from the curse, I found a letter. A letter, with an address, and the name Shiori on it.

I knew that I needed to deliver it, so Misaki could rest once and for all.

“Hey, we’re here…”

I lightly shake Ayase’s sleeping body next to me. Seems she dozed off on the way.

“Finally!”

“Mayu-san, wait!”

While I was busy waking sleeping beauty up, Mayu dashed out of the bus we were in, with Noriko closely in tow.

“Eh…?” Ayase groggily opened her eyes to stare at me.

“G’mornin.” I smiled at her “Despite the drool, you look as lovely as ever.” I chuckle, quickly putting away the earbuds we were sharing.

“Drool?!”

“Come on!”

Without giving her time to realize, I quickly grabbed her hand, and disembarked through the door, just like Mayu did earlier.

“Took you long enough!”

It turned out the address to the letter was in Tokyo, which is more or less a 4 hour ride from Kirihama. Of course, I insisted on delivering the letter alone, yet the three of them wouldn’t have it.

In the pretense of a road-trip, they managed to tag-along. Since it’s the weekend and all, nobody could dare stop us.

“Uhm… where’s that address though?” Mayu taps her chin in thought, utterly lost in the hustle and bustle of this gigantic living being, that is called THE city.

“A country bumpkin at its best…” Ayase snickers, while Noriko chuckles in response.

“Country bumpkin? You mean Hideki?”

“I think she means you Mayu-san…”

Interrupting their conversation before it gets more heated, I show off the screen of my phone. “Guys! I think I found it.”

“Found it?”

“It’s a 12 minute walk from here.”

“Then, let’s go!”

And thus, we began walking down the bustling streets of Tokyo, talking animatedly all the while.

“Wow, so many lights…” Mayu gawked at the flashing billboards.

“It’s even flashier than my… phone.” Noriko commented, as she pulled out the birthday present we got her a month ago. She claimed she never owned a phone, and that she knows more about magic than mobile devices, so we decided to get her one. She even called it the devil-device the first few days…

“Is that an anime ad?!” Ayase gaped at a TV ad through the glass pane of an electronics shop.

I guess we really are country bumpkins.

Slowly, yet cheerfully, we made our way through the streets of bustling life. As we walked closer and closer to our destination, we gradually left the bustle of the center, and entered through a more suburban part. Dimmer lights, less color. It even looked more probable to rain over here. Something that was probably impossible.

Soon, we arrived in front of a building full of apartments, the kind you only see in big cities like this. An apartment complex.

“Wow, what’s with all these houses?” Mayu muttered, as she gazed up.

Ayase joined in. “That’s the city for you.”

“Will we go door for door?” Noriko turned to me, as I gave a shrug. While her wording brought back some memories…

How should I know? I’m a country bumpkin too!

As we stood there in front of the tall apartment complex, a creaking sound caught our attention. Through the iron stairs, a pair of high schoolstudents descended down towards us. A tall, brawny young man, with slicked back, bleached blonde hair, in typical delinquent fashion, accompanied by a short girl. Her hair was cut short in a bob style, with a red streak of hair going through her side fringe. Judging by looks alone, the girl seemed at least a year younger than the guy next to her.

“Maybe we can ask them…?” Mayu proposed, as the two students wearing uniforms kept descending. Now that I think about it, why are they wearing uniforms on a Saturday anyway? Tokyo kids are weird…

“Senpai! Do you think everyone will have gathered at the clubroom already?” The short girl voiced happily, in a way it even resembled Mayu when she’s excited.

The reply was short and plain, and came after a shrug. “Who knows.” It seems he keeps up a tough guy façade. Yet, he doesn’t seem particularly cold towards her. At least, that’s what it seems like.

“Excuse me!” Mayu rushed over, a hand raised.

“Can we… help you?” The girl, startled, and halted on her tracks.

“Do you happen to know if some… Shiori-san lives here?”

The guy seemed somehow taken aback, as he raised a brow at her. “Why?”

Talk about being rude…

“Uhm, sorry we—“ Before I can butt into their exchange, the short girl perks up.

“My mum’s name is Shiori! Our apartment is on the second floor, third from the stairs.” She explains, her face beaming with enthusiasm.

“Hah…” While the brawny dude next to her only sighs in resignation. They’re so opposite to each other it’s almost funny to watch.

“Thank you!” Ayase smiled, while Noriko bowed awkwardly next to her.

“We have a letter to deliver to her.” I cut in, while the girl tilts her head quizzically.

“A letter?”

“Huh, let’s go.” The tall guy sighed yet again, and announced in his deep voice. As he walked off, he stole a glance from Noriko. Or more like stared her down.

The girl smiled at us, before waving goodbye. “Senpai, wait! Geez!” As she ran after him, the two of them walked off.

“That was awkward…” Ayase released a breath, before Mayu briskly walked up the stairs.

“He was HOT though!”

Wow, Mayu…

“I felt something strange from within him.”

“Strange?”

I looked over at Noriko in puzzlement, as we ascended the steps.

“Strange, yet not dangerous.”

“Hmm…”

Letting that statement hang in the air, we made it up to the designated apartment.

After a light knock, and to our surprise, the door came flying open. Standing there was a short woman, with long black hair, and a pair of kind eyes.

“Naomi, what did you forge—“ The woman on the door briefly pauses, at the sight of 4 unfamiliar high school students. “Oh. Sorry, I thought it was my daughter.”

“No worries.” I shrugged while Mayu smiledwarmly beside her.

“Are you… Shiori-san?” Ayase chimed.

“Oh, yes, that’s me.”

“Mum!” A cry came from within the house, as a little boy came shuffling through the living room and peeked his head from around the wall within.

“Mum’s got guests! I’ll be there in a minute!” She turns to him with a motherly smile, and then quickly back at us. “Wanna step in?”

“Oh no, we’re only here for a letter…” Noriko declined immediately. Albeit awkwardly.

“A letter…?” Shiori-san’s puzzlement was apparent in her face as she asked.

“Here… It’s from someone you know.” I smiled, and handed her the letter. She readily accepted it, and quickly thanked us.

After she proposed to make us some tea, we politely declined again, and bided her farewell.We had things to do and see here in Tokyo after all.

When the door had closed, the others started walking on ahead, yet I lingered in front of the apartment, just for a little longer.

The ripping sound of paper could be heard from within, and then a pause.

Soon, the voice of a child. Probably that of the little boy.

“Mummy… why are you crying?”

“Oh…” A sniffle. “It’s nothing.”

With a smile on my face, I walked away.

There’s no way you were forgotten you idiot…

I joined my friends downstairs, having earned a few puzzled looks on the way.

“Where were you?!” Mayu cried out like a chicken, her energy unmatched.

“Hideki-kun? Everything all right?” Then came Noriko, always concerned for the wellbeing of others.

Finally, Ayase nudges me. "Were you contemplating your life choices?"

I chuckle lightly at her idea of humor “Yep, and I couldn’t be happier with them.” A smile quickly bloomed on my face.

“Come on, lovebirds, what’s the hold-up?” Mayu cried out again, Noriko besides her waiting. Eagerly. Patiently.

“Let’s go, shall we?” Ayase voiced, grabbing my hand.

With a chuckle, I agreed.

“Yeah, let’s.”

Dear Shiori.

If you’re reading this, I’m probably not with you anymore. I don’t know if you remember me, but I’ve never forgotten about you. Because, you were the one person that saw me for who I am. The one person that taught me how company can’t compare to solitude.

For years, I’ve been doing many horrible things. Things I can probably never atone for. I almost forgot all about the things we’ve done together. But not anymore. I’m ready to atone now. Or at least try. I know this is presumptuous of me, but I at least hope that I can live on in your memory. Forever, as your older sister.

Now, for the words I could never say. The words I neglected when I should have used them the most.

Thank you, and goodbye.

Your older sister,

Misaki.

~~~~~~ THANK YOU FOR READING! ~~~~~~

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