Scent of plums’ blossoms (12)

“……..Grandma.”

Seiko muttered a groan and sat on the spot. Up till a short while ago, she reached out her hand at the place where Haruko was standing but to no avail.

Keito reaches out to Seiko who can’t get up.

She then gripped his hand,

“The last one that held my hand was my grandmother, you know? Her hand was awfully frail, but was able to hold mine tightly.”

“Hey Haruchika, I think that Haruko-san who suddenly collapsed due to a heart attack, wanted to say, convey during her last moment no matter what, was words of gratitude to her family members. If so, then you got nothing to worry about.”

Right now, there are no lies coming from a dying person’s last moments.

Even if she forgotten how to speak, her grandmother was thinking of her family till the end.

“…..Yeah. I am very fortunate to be able to see my grandmother now, delighted to hear her voice and just hearing her words makes me happy.”

Although Seiko’s voice was mixed with tears, she boldly carried on.

“Have you collected yourself?”

Keito asked her while his own rose is running.

“Yes, thanks. Don’t worry.”

“Seems like piggyback has a special meaning for Haruko-san.”

“You knew?”

“Ever since I heard the situation that Aikawa-san had brought over, so I thought this would happened. The words you wanted to convey were born and it is the deepest engraved memory for the lost words. If you can evaluate that, it will provide you with the clues to drawing out the words.

Obviously I don’t know exactly what happened the both of you, but there is probably a profound meaning for Haruchika-san to be carrying Haruko-san on the back.”

“Around the beginning of this year, there was a time where my grandmother and I went for a walk and all of a sudden, she has forgotten where is she and where is she heading to.

I was there, but suddenly I lost sight of her in the middle of the New year crowd. I finally found her in the end, but my grandmother didn’t recognize me and soon she tried to go somewhere. I, don’t know what to do anymore……..

All I was thinking was that outside was cold and we should return home soon. Unfortunately, there was no one at home. So I decided to carry her home.

……….Strangely, she remained still on my back. My grandmother was light and petite. Even someone as small as me is able to do so, she was breathing calmly and fell asleep halfway home. Thanks to a kind person who helped me, I was able to reach home. During that time, I piggybacked my grandmother like a child.

So Aikawa-kun also carried my grandmother like that? Thank you.”

“……I didn’t do anything.”

I just thought it was a natural thing to do. However, if that was connected with the present, then I am overjoyed.

“At that time, I realized that I loved my grandmother, as expected. There are certainly up and downs, but there are more good memories with her.”

“Maybe your mother is the same as well, Haruchika. That is why I think that she is always taking care of your grandmother, to the point that you can tell that she is devoted in doing so. I am sure your grandmother also appreciated the sentiment.”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Seiko used her handkerchief to wipe the tears at the corners of her eyes, nodded her head in agreement.

“When Utaha-san was reciting that tanka, a scene where Haruchika was carrying Haruko-san on her back during the evening on a beach came into mind. What was that?”

“I see.”

Oddly, Utaha made a astonished face.

“Seems like Aikawa-kun have surpassed the sensitivity. It can said that you have high empathy for her. The power of reading, the ability to comprehend is strong. Grieving for a person’s misfortune, praying for their delight. That is why you are to see the lost words. That is why you are able to think over carefully from the lost words’ point of view. It is a very important.”

“Ah, I know it too. That is because Aikawa-kun is a kind person.”

“…..Really?”

I thought I am a weak person but I am not sure whether I am kind.

“Yeah. You are easily moved to tears, Aikawa-kun. You always look like you are holding back your tears though. I think that is prove that you are a kind person.”

She noticed that? Keito changed the subject as if to dodge it.

“Why is Utaha-san reciting a poem?”

The direct excuse for taking back Haruko’s words was that Takuboku’s poem.

“I said previously that I seen my mother thinking about the lost words that she drew and pulled out the things she wanted to convey. However, I can’t use the same method as her. That is why even if I am compared to my mother, know more about the lost words, and I will push your back, in order to remember the words that are needed to convey, i will use this method. Words have powers dwelling in it. By borrowing the words of many leaders, we can adopting the thoughts of the lost words, read it and recall them. That is my way as a messenger.”

“Then what should I do?”

The encounter with Shizuka’s lost words should come soon. Does he have to use the same measures as Utaha in order to listen to the words from her? Or…..

“The method varies from different person. You have to find it on your own, Aikawa-san.”

Keito thought Utaha’s answer was blunt but he had a hunch that he would eventually be calling upon himself.

When he step outside, the sky has became completely dark.

“Please show me other pictures next time.”

“I will always be waiting for you.”

“Haruchika, will you be okay on your way home?”

“Un, I am not alright, but it can’t be helped right? Mom will probably be mad once I reached home, but compared to that, this is nothing. Once I reached home, I will try and talk to my mother again.”

Seiko headed for the bus stop first, and went home.

Utaha faced towards Keito who left behind,

“Aikawa-san, thank you for today.”

“I should be the one saying that. One day…….will I be able to see Shi-chan?”

Will there come a time where Shizuka is able to appear before Keito and talk to him, just like Haruko?

What on Earth is Shizuka’s lost words is trying to tell him? To begin with, is he even the person she is trying to convey to? That is unclear.

If he remember that incident that happened that day, it might not necessary be a good substance. It is possible that she is trying to confess Keito’s sin.

“Surely.”

After giving a short answer, Keito told himself as Utaha continued.

“There are no lie in the words that are entrusted by the lost words. Over there, there are nothing but the truth. In this world of falsehood, I have wished to continue to be a messenger in order to convey their feelings. Finally, I have met another messenger other than my mother. That is why, from now on, please continue to help me.”

The end sounded more like a soliloquy rather than a request.

There are many restaurants in 『Tsukuyusa』’s vicinity​ and there are more people walking down the road after the sun has set rather than daytime. As we speak, people are chatting with each other while they were going home from work under the street lights.

Underneath such an ordinary view, only Keito and Utaha remained silent as if they are detached from that area.

“Okay.”

When Keito nodded as if he finally remembered, Utaha waited for a similar agreement and left after that.

  ◇

After a while, Keito brought Seiko to meet Utaha once again.

Keito himself is waiting for one day that Shizuka’s lost words would come here, has been coming to 『Tsukuyusa』almost everyday, but Seiko has been coming ever since that day.

When the both of them rode on the same bicycle, Keito was once again out of breathe.

“Aikawa-kun, maybe it is better if you build up your stamina?”

“That is why I told you to take the bus.”

As Seiko expressed her gratitude once again, Utaha replied by only saying “Don’t mention it”.

“Haruchika, did you talked to your family about the previous incident?”

“I didn’t talk about anything directly. I don’t have the confidence to explain it aptly.

However, I ask my mother a little about it. Then it seemed my mother was feeling more guilty for not noticing my grandmother’s change on that day than I thought.

She said she still dreamed of the day when she died. Same as I. I thought to myself is there anything I could have done better so she would be saved. Even if I mourned, it wasn’t enough. Even if I have regret, I would go on forever. I knew my mother was troubled about it as well. Without knowing it, I was thinking about something depressing and this time, I got sad.”

Keito fully understood Seiko’s mother feelings.

Past dreams attacked her unexpectedly. It was really painful when the heart is vulnerable. He remembered that Seiko was saying the same thing the other day.

“It would have been better if my mother was here that day………That can’t be helped right? It was my first time I saw my mother making such a face. My mother always thought of herself as a 『mother』but that is not true. She realized that she is just a human being. I might just be pushing the responsibility to my 『mother』as I please.

From now on, I think I will use this opportunity and try to talk with my mother about my grandmother’s memories little by little.”

From here on, it is not something Utaha or Keito can pry into, but rather Haruchika’s family members to embark towards.

This is a valuable experience for Keito as he was able to help to make that step forward.

At Seiko’s request, she slowly looked around the store’s interior.

Keito has seen the paintings before many times, but he thinks that he might be able to experience something new if he see it with Seiko.

In fact, Seiko’s point of view is a little different compared to Keito which is fresh.

The best reality was when they stood before a drawing of Shizuka.

Seiko, who has already knew about lost words, have said she had encountered the lost words which were in the portrait painting that were drawn by Utaha’s mother.

However, no one told her that Shizuka was Keito’s childhood friend. No way he could said that.

“What a pretty girl. I guess she is about the same age as us?”

Keito has already exceeded her age at death by one year. That is why the girl in the picture was a year younger.

Seiko showed her appreciation for that painting of Shizuka by looking at front, looking diagonally, looking upfront and from a distance.

“Are you that interested about this painting?”

“It is not just this painting, but don’t you think that Mari-san’s painting is so mysterious? The expression looks totally different depending on the viewing position and angle. If you look at this picture from the front, don’t you think it looks like she is looking down as if she is feeling sad?”

“I doubt it.”

Keito stood beside Seiko and stared at the painting before him. From where he saw Shizuka’s face, there was a trace of anguish which was not in his memory.

“But if you look at it from a tilted angle, you see, it does look demure doesn’t it? It is as if……the girl in the painting…..is alive.”

Seiko followed Keito as he was standing at the same position. It might be the state of the soft lighting, but it does look like she is shyly looking down, just like Seiko said.

I see. I tried to see it in a repetition, but it might be because I only tried to look from the front.

Changing the view angle. It was so obvious but easily forgotten. Is that why my drawings are so rigid as well?

If I change the viewing angle like so, the expression is clearly different. Even so, it is clearly shown that there are traces of tears that can’t be wiped off at the corner of Shizuka’s eyes.

“I think the people who are viewing the pictures of Utaha’s mother are evaluating the pictures. It is a pictures that reflects the mind of the viewers.

Even if the person drawn here is not a lost words, but a normal person, I feel like it will be the same.”

“What do you mean?”

“I feel like I am putting myself on display through the people that are being drawn in that painting.

Utaha’s mother probably didn’t meant to do that. And that is the same feeling I had in Haruchika’s paintings.”

“That is an interesting thing to say. If my mother was not a messenger and walked the path as an artist, I am sure many more people will come and observe her paintings. If the two of you like her paintings, my mother would be happy as well.”

“I will bring the members of the art club next time. I am sure it will be a good reference for everyone.”

“Sure. I will be waiting.”

Will that day even come? Keito thought to himself while the both of them were talking between themselves.

Would it be selfish to hope that tons of people would know about this place, where Shizuka’s picture is being ornamented?

He saw a dream.

Under the veil of darkness, as dark and deep as the ocean bottom, two Shizukas were standing there.

One stood there whereas the other one started walking.

And Keito was overlooking the both of them.

The one that stopped moving seemed to be somewhat delighted. She was shyly waiting for something or someone.

On the other hand, the expression on Shizuka who started walking was uncertain as her existence faded into the dark and gloomy darkness.

At the end, her cheeks can be seen from the gap filled with tears.

Upon waking up, Keito thought to himself. Two shizuka. Perhaps he had that dream because of what Seiko said yesterday.

Both are the same Shizuka, but the both of them feels different that the one he knew.

Could it be a dream that showed Keito’s desire sooner or later?

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