Futami-san

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That day he came into her life, she already knew who exactly he was. He had always been there. A shadow lurking in the dark. Or a bright spot in the sun. So when he said, “I have come to take you now,” she just gave him the smile she had rehearsed all her life. Then, she took his hand.

She never quite understood why living was such a struggle. And happiness — it was always a matter of meeting expectations. She felt defeated all the time, and though she could see others falling into the abyss, she couldn’t do anything but feel them rush by. Her hand was holding onto an invisible ledge, her body engulfed in the darkness, her eyes searching for hope. But she only felt hot tears on her cheeks. It was cold. So very cold. And she couldn’t even see her hand.

“Is she going to make it?”

“Let’s hope she does.”

But hope was like the last drop of water in the burning sand. Almost too slowly it gets swallowed by the cruel and hungry earth. Her mouth was dry. And though she wanted to, she couldn’t cry out for help. There was no one. Just the silence of the stars and the cold she felt inside.

“She’s burning up.”

She’s been running all her life, looking for the safety of a home that never quite existed. They shunned her because they said she brought the darkness with her. Wherever she went, she only made people think of those days they didn’t want to remember. They said she didn’t want to be around people anyway, so why bother? Who would want to be with her? they whispered among themselves. And she always heard.

“It’s been rather lonely out here,” she told him that day they met.

“Yes, I know,” he said. “Where we’ll go, it won’t be lonely anymore.”

“I would like that,” she said, feeling the warmth of his hand against hers. Warmth. This kind of warmth she’s never felt before. Like a tingling sensation. Like electricity. Like fire. Nobody’s ever offered her that before. And yet here it was, and it was so very warm.

He pulled her into his arms. It was light and darkness, and cold and warmth, the silence and the rapture of the stars. She felt the hot tears run down her cheeks again. “This feels nice,” she said. And he smiled. He understood and he never let go.

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid–”

“No, you promised she’ll be all right. Make her all right!”

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