Chapter 36:

Epilogue — On the Other Side

Chained Regalia

Cemeteries were somber places. Of course, that was only natural; no other atmosphere would feel appropriate in a place like this.

Still, a part of her wished it felt just a little less lonely. The dead would probably prefer a less dreary resting place, she figured; at least, that was how she would have felt if it were her.

She’d made it back for the memorial, but not the burial, so she didn’t know the exact location of what she was looking for. She wandered around for quite a while before finally finding it—or, rather, him. It was for his sake that the loneliness of this place saddened her. She didn’t want him to be lonely.

For that reason, she’d originally wanted his body to be cremated, so that his ashes could be kept in a place where he would always be surrounded by people that cared about him. He was young enough when it happened that he’d never outlined these details himself, but she believed it was what he would have wanted, as well.

She was an outsider, though, and had no power to make this sort of decision. It was wishful thinking, either way; he was never on good terms with his immediate family, so he probably wouldn’t have wanted to remain with them, but it wasn’t as though it made any sense for her to take him, either. They weren’t family, and that bridge had been burned a long time ago.

And so, it’d ultimately turned out like this. It made her sad to think about it, but maybe this had been the best option, in the end.

Finally having found the grave, she crouched and brushed her fingers across the words carved into the headstone. She thought that maybe she had no right to cry, but she found herself unable to hold back the tears, regardless.

“Hey, Lewis,” she whispered into the cold stone, knowing full well her words would never reach him. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

She attempted to wipe away her tears with the backs of her hands. Despite the pain she was feeling, she felt she needed to get the words out.

“I know it’s too late now, but I’m sorry for never reaching out to you after everything. I know you probably beat yourself up pretty bad after that, and I’m really sorry I never told you this, but… I want you to know that it was okay. That I don’t hate you. That I never did. Our paths just didn’t align, and neither of us were mature enough to understand or face that at the time. Maybe things could have turned out differently, but even as they ended up… I forgive you, and I hope you can forgive me.”

She poured her heart out to the boy who was gone, and who would never come back. To her, that didn’t matter; she still needed him to hear her words.

“S-so…” She was struggling to speak through her sobs, but she pressed on, nonetheless. “I don’t know if there’s a heaven, or an afterlife, or maybe even something like reincarnation, but, if you’re out there somewhere, in any shape or form, I hope…”

She prayed that he was out there somewhere, and that, somehow, he would feel her cries even though he couldn’t hear them.

“… I hope you’re happy. I hope you’re not lonely. I hope the horrible things I said to you didn’t hurt you too much. You’re a wonderful person, Lewis, and you deserve happiness—and, more than anything, I hope you’ve realized that for yourself.”

For the next several minutes, she cried silently at the resting place of the boy she had once loved.

* * *


Inexplicably, I sneezed.

I wasn’t the only one that had found it odd, either; Lucia, Alwey, and Selina’s eyes all widened in response.

There was nothing preventing me from sneezing, I supposed, but given it was a relatively uncommon reflex, I was shocked that my Chain body replicated it. I had no idea what had prompted it, either.

“Ah,” Selina squeaked, “maybe someone was talking about you behind your back, Laynie!”

“Selina, you do realize that tropes aren’t real, right?”

“You can’t prove that this one isn’t though, can you?” she countered.


Lucia cut me off. “You know it’s fruitless to argue with her. She will simply play the contrarian for hours. Just move on and save us all the headache.”

I waved a hand at Selina to signal my concession at Lucia’s request, which caused the former to get a prideful smile on her face as if she’d just won the argument.

Well, whatever.

I quickly forgot all about the sneeze and continued on with my day.

For some reason, though, I felt particularly happy for a while afterwards, as if that sneeze had been exceptionally cathartic.

~~~ END ~~~

Ryuji Yamada
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