Chapter 1:

Mine is a Life Meant for Someone Else

The Flowers Are Ugly

Yuki lived in her own pagoda a short walk away from her young mother Yumiko’s. The path between them was lined with cherry blossoms, formed with the perfect shape and size even more beautiful than the ones blanketing the surrounding hills of Tsubaki Samsara, the world tree.

This great oak shaded the entire land in a bashful pink light- one rivalled only by the turquoise sky, whose greatness reflected off of the entire surrounding sea, a pool so empty that it was as if it served no purpose other than that of a mirror this sky. In her tall bedchamber, lit entirely by the natural light of the morning sun, Yuki awoke every single morning to the same sound of her mother’s voice, and cried.

“Yuki?” The mother Yumiko said. “Don’t do this to me again.”

And she would bawl, eyes clamped shut in pain as she howled in anguish, her face incomparably more red than the always freshly-dried paint on their homes, that would never fade even if Yumiko were to let rain fall across her sacred country. But no matter how many times this happened- no matter how many times she heard the soft voice of her mother echoing in the vast chamber in which she slept, no matter how many times she woke up to see her beautiful, creaseless face over her own, no matter how many times she cried- her tears always came out with such strength that she could never manage to let out what she was trying to say:

Kill me.

Regardless of whatever efforts she imagined, she always found herself on the green path again every single morning, already dressed in her pink kimono that matched her mother’s in every way except for the protrusions that formed somewhere above Yumiko’s belly, which to Yuki shaped it into something entirely different. And as they walked the green path, Yumiko would recite the same story, every day.

“This path is my path, Yuki. I made it with my own body, just as I made you. And that is why, Yuki, that this path is also your path- and that one day you will walk it, just as I do with you now, with your own daughter’s hand in yours.”

“My hand is too small, mommy.”

“Your hand will grow. Just large enough to hold your child’s, and no more. You will be very pretty, just as much as the mountains or the sea.”

“I’m scared, mommy.”

“What are you scared of, Yuki?”

“I’m scared of getting older.”

“Why are you scared, Yuki?”

“I don’t know why…”

“You are afraid of dying.”

“No… I think I’m already dead.”


“Every day I wake up, and I feel like my eyes are stuck in front of a painting.”

“You’re lonely.”

“No… I’m afraid.”

“When you are lonely, you will easily become afraid.”

“I don’t want to be afraid at all. Mommy, am I lonely? Make me not lonely.”

“Don’t cry, Yuki. You don’t have to be lonely.”

Pope Evaristus
Steward McOy