Chapter 1:

I'm Here

I'm Here

“Don't Go”

My heart was racing a mile a minute. The stairs in front of me, endless like a labyrinth of hell itself. And there was her, who was now on the verge of making a great mistake.

And to think I was foolish enough to make that same mistake.

"Did you wake up?"

A soothing voice spoke to me. It sounded halfway childlike, halfway lulling, perhaps halfway emotional. The latter because the figure floating in front of me, a child in a robe with a small golden lyre, indicated that it had really happened. It had...


The one calling me looked like an innocent preadolescent child, with short brown hair and contrasting sky-blue eyes. Yet, he exuded an aura of serenity that I had only felt in the arms of my mother or my father.


"Let's say for now," he interrupted me, "that I'm your guide."

"A guide of light in the darkness," was the first thing I thought as I felt the faint warm light emanating from his contours in my eyes and on my skin. They contrasted with the rest of the dark, empty space that made me feel like I was floating while standing still. Ah, so that's what it felt like for everything to end.

"Guide... to the..." My pessimism made me realize.

"Not exactly. Back home."

I halted, as I didn't understand. Why would I want to go back? Everything had to end... or so I felt before. At that moment, however, I only felt calm.

"Listen, Aoi."

Aoi, that's my name.

"At just 18 years old."

So young.

"Feeling only love and fear in your chest."

Feelings. Those three sentences reminded me that I was a person. It was so simple, so why did it seem difficult to think for myself?

"Do you realize? Those feelings in your chest are as real as rainwater and summer sun. Is it worth walking away from everything just to escape them? Aren't you going to tell her?"

"Tell who?" I rushed to answer, driven by my hopelessness. There was no one else, everything had already ended.

"To her, so she can realize too," the angel replied without hesitation. "Wasn't that what you wanted?"

Yes. My heart reflected it with its beats. My hands, longing for her touch, interlocked. I wanted a hug, from when everything was better. All of that was real... and I didn't want it to be lost. But it was already too late.

"I'm a fool, aren't I?" I said as I watched my tears disappear into the void at my feet.

"You're not," the angel reassured me, or so I called him. "You're just, like everyone, someone who is suffering. Confused, and not guilty."

Memories came to mind. Nights of anguish, colorless days, moments when everything seemed lost. I had cried alone for a long time.

Until she appeared, and it seemed like an angel had come to earth. She, with her pains and anxieties, with her sorrows and tears, seemed to relieve everything as the angel in front of me...

Why had I wanted to escape from her? If that meant I would never see her again.

"I want to help her."

Tears were already clouding my vision. As if each drop were a solitary prayer to that unknown angel, but it didn't matter, to help me do it.

I felt strangely calm when I heard the response, "Then go." I just looked up to see him, still with my eyes moist, as a light enveloped him.

"Who are you?" I asked him.

The angel, as I had known him until then, responded to me in a final breath.

"I am..."

"Don't Go"

Come back, I'm calling you, with my whispers I say, 'I'm here.'

My heart was racing a mile a minute. The stairs in front of me, endless like a labyrinth of hell itself. Except that the real hell was already behind us, and only one desire lay ahead.

"Don't Go"

Come back, I'm calling you, with my soul torn apart, I say, 'I'm here.'

Legend has it that there were two great powers contending within the human being. Thanatos was one of them. With its sweet words, it had whispered to me to follow her, both captive to its seduction. That by doing so, everything that bothered me would go away forever. And I, a fool, did it.

"Don't Go!"

I think there were two floors left when I said it out loud for the first time. For everyone in the world to hear. Because she was my world. A world I didn't want to leave, but wanted to save.

"Don't Go!"

I felt like she was about to jump again. I had to get there before it happened. I couldn't leave her alone again. And I didn't want to leave her alone ever again.

When I saw the metal door at the end of the stairs, I pushed it open with my shoulder, and it opened like a beautiful butterfly spreading its wings. And there she was, on the edge of the terrace, with her feet on the edge and her gaze on the abyss. Just one more, like so many who felt the same way. Brown hair dancing over a bluer sky than ever, hazel eyes as delicate as gems, and a face of surprise. Pain, suffering, and despair incarnate.

But she was my someone.


Shizuka opened her eyes completely. Talking about ‘her’ didn't do her any justice because Shizuka was more than that. An immense and incomprehensible world. Shizuka.

I could swear I felt a spark in my eyes that I hadn't felt in a long time, the one I felt when Shizuka was by my side, when we were just two shy young people eager to love, without being hurt. When Thanatos hadn't knocked on the door.

With her whispers, she told me that she was there... and in that moment, in the spark in my eyes, she seemed to see that I was also telling her that I was there.


Wrapped in tears, Shizuka jumped. But not into the abyss, into Thanatos, but into me. Both broken worlds collided and fell to the ground, Shizuka releasing all her weight on me and on the ground. Her arms wrapped around my neck, and her face buried itself in my shoulder, not wanting to leave.



Come back, I'm calling you, with my eyes broken, I say, 'I'm here.'

The other force, the one opposing Thanatos, was Eros. Instead of making me want to escape from the world, it embraced me with it. Why would I want to leave my world? That was a nonsensical thought.

I looked at the blue sky, and its colors brought joy to my tear-soaked eyes. That sky was truly a beautiful miracle, one I could now enjoy once again.

Eros was in it, of course. Eros was in all things. In the sky, in the air, in a hug, and in a ‘help me.’

"Don't let go of me, Aoi!"

I smiled. How could I let her go, if Shizuka didn't want to, just as deep in her heart Shizuka didn't want to jump? With Shizuka crying inconsolably on my shoulder, I knew everything would be fine. I held her a little tighter, stroked her head, and whispered that everything would be okay.

I knew because, in that embrace with Shizuka, I felt the same warmth I had felt at that moment, with the angel who called himself Eros in front of me, sending me back for her. That time, I had realized, once and for all, that there was something stronger than anguish.

And when you return... I won't be afraid anymore

Ah, truly Eros was in her.

I'm Here - Cover

I'm Here

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