Sarasa finally raised her voice in a husky tone.
When she muttered to herself: “There is things only I can do”,
“Just like how you showed the courage to lay bare your secrets, I need to talk about the truth that only I know. And……….I need to apologise to her too.”
She took something out from her precious bag that she brought along.
“I was always regretful. I could only say that I have succumbed to temptation………Yeah that’s is just an excuse.”
She was holding a paperback book in her hand.
The cover was decorated with small plain blue flowers.
It looks dull and faded, probably because she has read it thoroughly many times.
The title of the book is 『Portrait of Chieko』*. Keito also remembered learning it in class. It is a poetry anthology from the poet Takamura Kotaro.
“I stolen……..a precious book of hers.”
There was a confession of Sarasa’s sins.
Shortly before the trip two years ago, Shizuka invited her for a meeting.
“At that time, my house was the most stressful. I refused to go on that trip because I couldn’t afford to pay for it, She sincerely said: 『I’ll lend you the money. You just pay me back someday.』
I was outraged. I detest her………..who has not had any troubles in her life for not knowing what it means to lend one money. That’s why I decided to go on that trip. Thus, I wanted to annoy her a little so I stole this book under her very eyes and put it in my bag.
However…..just before the incident, Shizuka told me in the cabin: 『 My parents might get a divorce. If that actually happen, I think I’ll probably relocate. I might not be able to attend the high school that I wanted to enroll. I don’t think I will have another chance to go on a trip like this that’s why I really wanted to come. Sa-chan, I’m really sorry for asking the impossible. Thank you for coming. 』
That was how she disclosed it to me.
Shizuka got the money by saving little by little. I have thought of returning the book immediately.
However, Shizuka left without listening to me and replied: 『 I’m going to find Kei-kun after this.』I thought of apologizing to her once she comes back. Despite that, I never get to see her ever again.
I have always regreted that supposing………she would have been saved, if she had gotten back her book back.
I couldn’t help but thinking that it might be my fault that Shizuka died, so I decided to banish everything to the past.”
Sarasa broke down and cried as she held her precious on her chest.
I don’t think Shizuka would be saved even if she had the book at hand. On top of knowing that, Sarasa was aware of the sins she was bearing and couldn’t take it anymore.
It was the same for Keito.
I didn’t think that it was that painful since I have witnessed her death directly before my eyes.
Everyone living has to take responsibility. Only the person themselves will know how heavy it is.
“Aikawa, I was scared of you too.”
She followed up with those unexpected words.
“You’re scared of me?”
“You must be the last person who have her last moments. So I thought you surely heard something from her. No doubt that you knew about the things I done. That’s why I was scared of you.”
“I don’t know anything.”
“Looks like it. If anything Aikawa, you have made a mistake……that’s right, everybody does.”
Sarasa’s eyes were soaked with tears, but there are familiar signs of her as a child.
“Ever since you said you wanted to hear Shizuka’s last words, I’ve been more afraid you. Honestly, I’m still scared. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to know what she want to convey. But now………I think I’ll be fine.”
When Sarasa turned to face Utaha,
She slightly looked downwards. In contrast, Utaha said nothing and just smiled.
Then, Sarasa reached out to Keito.
“Aikawa, I’ll entrust this to you. Perhaps Shizuka wanted you to have it. Just as Umegae-san said earlier, although Ezaki, Gotanda and I can’t see her, there are still things we can do.”
Shizuka’s valuable book was passed through Sarasa’s hands, going across to Keito.
“The words that she wants should be in here.”
“Yes. I’m sure that in this poetry anthology where Kotaro had presented to his wife, Chieko by composing a surging amount of affection throughout his lifetime, we can find the words Shizuka wants.”
As he receive the book, Keito faced towards Sarasa and reached out his hand.
At that moment――
A gale was gusting as if it had prepared a trial.
The wind puffing from the sea to land, from east to west was the spring wind was carrying the hallucinating fragrance of the Japanese apricot (ume), and a gale that delivered nostalgic vestiges of her.
The book was fluttering in midair.
Just before Shizuka’s beloved book separated from Sarasa’s hand and Keito’s hand could seize it, the book was elevated up to the heavens.
Then, it fell.
The poetry anthology unfolded.
Like a small bird spreading it’s wings.
The breeze gusted with traces of summer once again.
Like it was transporting a white little bird beyond the remote seas.
That memento that Shizuka and probably Sarasa read was being blown by the gust of wind as it dances aimlessly in the sky several times which it came loose little by little from the back.
The pages were starting to flutter, piece by piece.
Right now, Shizuka’s cherished book is about to disperse.
As the plaited and weaved thread untangle one by one, countless words and alternatives were gradually exposed.
A number of the pages hitched a ride on the wind and were blown off to the ocean.
Shizuka was buried in the sea.
If that’s the case, those scraps of paper were returning back to her side.
In order to choose one word from within.
In order to know the feelings that Shizuka left behind.
Keito was certain that he saw the word 『fish』dancing in the air from the distant.
“There it is!’
Keito realized and pointed out the one page that he should be getting.
However, that page was blown away by the wind and flew to the wrong side.
Takumi saw the situation and took a nearby stone.
“No, that’s impossible.”
“I can’t do it on my own. Junichi, i need you too!”
Takumi threw a pebble while he said that. However, there is no way that a mere pebble would easily struck a single paper fluttering in the wind. The pebble then form a parabola and sunk into the ocean.
“Quick! You should be able to do it, Jun-nii! Your shoulders have recoved after all!”
What does Takumi’s words mean? Even after listening, Junichi was still holding to the stone and not throwing it. Whereas Takumi threw several times in the meantime but failed to hit it.
Keito was sunk in despair. If only he had that page, even if he stretched out, he couldn’t possibly reached it.
“Geez, I beg of you, Jun-nii!”
“Please……….Tak-kun, Jun-chan…………..didn’t you dominate baseball?”
Junichi scowled at Keito and Sarasa upon attain their cheers.
“…….I was constantly criticized………by that word.”
“Jun-kun is amazing, he will definitely be a baseball player. Jun-kun is so cool, he will definitely be a baseball player. Do your best………initially I was happy getting the innocent support from Takamori. But before I knew it………it became a curse.”
Junichi considerably swung his right hand.
“I thought that I was finally being released now that Takamori is dead………..damn it!”
When he bellowed, Junichi twisted his right hand like a whip. The rock that he threw slightly grazed the faded piece of paper swaying in the blue sky.
That was enough. The paper that Keito wanted changed it’s trajectory as it fell.
Fortunately, the drop point wasn’t at sea level. If he run, Keito should be to get it before the paper touch the sand.
Keito started to run.
“I was scared. If my dream for the future wasn’t fulfilled, I’ll break my promise with her. So if I kept pushing the blame for my inability to my injuries, my heart would be at ease.”
The depressed Junichi groaned. I’m sure by spilling his heart out, he would be able to remove the load off his chest.
Keito then reached out and grabbed the waka.
『To a woman in the suburb 』*
Now like a great wind my heart rushes towards you,
Oh my love,
Now the cold night sinks under the skin of blue fish,
So sleep peacefully in your suburban home.
Keito sang the the written words on the poem right there.
A zephyr puffed as it carried Keito’s heart, prayer, desires.
To let him see Shizuka.
Borrowing Shizuka’s figure, a girl that harbored her words appeared in front of Keito.
He headed towards to the ephemeral girl who is certainly there but is on the verged of disappearing.
At the same time he was approaching to the depths of the ocean floor which is as dark as night, and where Shizuka is resting in peace.
To his beloved.
“Shi-chan, I was in love with you.”
His words had transformed into a gust of wind.
The squall danced, twirled and sang.
The fragmented piece of poem that was once in his hand was caught in the wind and soared towards the sea once again.
“My heart has became the tempest and is now on the way to fetch you”
Portrait of Chieko (智恵子抄, Chieko-shō) is a 1967 Japanese drama film directed by Noboru Nakamura. It bases on a collection of poems written by Japanese poet and sculptor Kōtarō Takamura, which reminisces about his wife Chieko. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
郊外の人に (To A Woman In The Suburbs). The poems that form the Chieko Poems collection draw on the poet’s own life experiences and, read as a sequence, tell the story of his relationship with Chieko through their courtship, marriage, her mental breakdown and death. TL: The story only has a few lines from the beginning of the poem.
For the full poem: https://ameblo.jp/leo457/entry-12121255765.html
Here is the translated: http://www.paularcher.net/translations/kotaro_takamura/the_chieko_poems/to_a_woman_in_the_suburbs.html