Author: Azahkhiel PM
CHAPTER 13 POSTED! He opened his eyes, not knowing he had unconsciously closed them, and stared up at the bright orange sky and sighed. "I guess, not everyone gets their own happy ending huh?" he quietly whispered to himself as he began to cross the roadRated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Family - Momiji S. - Chapters: 13 - Words: 61,176 - Reviews: 33 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 05-08-12 - Published: 01-15-11 - id: 6654933
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I finally finished this chapter. Sorry for the relatively long wait again, the heat is just so intense here now that it's summer and I couldn't think straight while writing this because of the heat, so I had to take a break every now and then... and because it's so hot I tended to procrastinate and do nothing... then got distracted by re-watching Vision of Escaflowne and reading Shaman King from he first to the last chapter and getting sucked into the KHR fandom again... anyway, I'm just ranting.
On with the fic!
A cool breeze passed through the quiet gardens of the Sohma estate, taking along with it dry, fallen leaves that had fallen to the ground. Maiko brought her hand up to the side of her face, preventing her hair from flying all over it as the breeze passed by. Looking around, she carefully scanned the area around her, taking in as much as she could see as she walked upon the path that led to her intended destination.
The place was quiet, calming even, with nothing but the occasional chirping of birds and the sound of water trickling down from bamboo fountains. The gardens she passed by had beautiful flowers of different kinds and as well as lush green trees, shrubs and bushes that were well-maintained.
Continuing on her way, she realized that not much had changed inside the main house from how it was back then. Although she had noticed several gardens had different shrubs or flowers, everything she remembered was still in the same place as it was before. Even the houses remained the same with its traditional architecture and style.
Turning around the corner, she stopped as her destination came into view a few meters away. Just like the rest of the Sohma estate, the house that stood at the far end of the path remained the same just like how it was when she had first seen it.
Stepping forward, she once again continued to walk towards the house, her gaze never leaving it. She had been thinking of visiting the main house for a while now, and she wanted to go alone. Her request seemed to have worried Mizuki, but after explaining that she was not going to see Momiji and telling him her purpose for going there, he understood.
She stopped, almost a step away from the small gate, as she once more looked at the house in front of her.
This place was her old home.
This was the place where everything began; where all the pain and tears and sadness started. The place she had wanted to forget, together with the one person who she thought she would never have to see again.
Opening the gate, she took slow, even steps forward towards the door. She could clearly remember how she first went through that door, happy and smiling, after she married Mizuki, how she would always see him off as he went to work, how she would often wait by that door, as she waited for him to come home, hoping to find some comfort from spening the whole day alone with their son at home.
She could clearly remember how she felt during those times.
She stopped, her hand resting gently on the door knob. She clearly remembered now. How she was so afraid of staying at home alone with Momiji. How she didn't want to spend any more time with the boy. How she almost isolated herself from him.
Because it was impossible to completely ignore the child. She didn't want to associate herself anymore than needed with him, but she wasn't stupid enough to neglect him. She just... didn't want to be around him.
Turning the knob, she opened the door. The sight of the familiar genkan and shoe cabinet and umbrella rack that greeted her seemed almost nostalgic. Closing the door behind her, she crouched down as she removed her shoes and placed them neatly in the center, facing the door.
Continuing on to the hallway, she let one of her hands trail along the wall as she walked, continuing her thoughts from where it last fell off.
After regaining her memories, she had often wondered where everything began to fall. She wasn't like that before. She wasn't prone to losing her composure and go into hysterics. She wasn't easily angered nor depressed, let alone fall into anxiety. She wasn't so easily broken.
Coming to stop at the first door, she turned the knob and swung it halfway to reveal the study that was often used by Mizuki before. Stepping inside, she looked around, noting the lack of change in the room, before stopping at the small desk situated near the window.
The smell of books still permeated the air even though there weren't as many books now than back then and somehow she found this comforting. Mizuki had a similar room back at their house, although it had a bigger space than this one, where he would often sit down and read or work.
She carefully ran her hand on the table as she remembered how often Mizuki used this room as a haven for Momiji whenever she was in one of her hysterics; how often Momiji would stay in the room because Mizuki usually used it whenever he brought some of his work was actually during those moments she remembered seeing both of them somewhat at peace. As if the study was the only place both he and Momiji could find some semblance of peace together.
Although now, noting from the layers of dust that had accumulated in the room and furniture, it was easy to note that it wasn't used very often, probably only when Mizuki came to visit Momiji and brought some work with him.
She looked around the room once more as she started to head towards the door to continue on to see the rest of the house.
Pausing mid-step, she turned back to the room. She remembered now why she never frequented this room. As hysterical and despaired as she was back then, she didn't enter this room quite often. She couldn't remember why she did so, but now after giving it some thought, she realized that back then, she understood that they needed a place where they could find peace, just like her, as rare as it was back then. And when she realized that those two found it at this room, she did her best not to enter and destroy that peace.
She closed the door with a quiet 'click' before continuing on down the hallway. She took small, careful steps, making her footsteps as quiet as possible as she looked around. It almost seemed like this was her first time visiting the house despite knowing exactly where she was headed.
Reaching the door way, she was greeted by the view of the living room. She quietly entered, looking around, just like when she was in the study. Noticing the difference in appearance of the room from the one she remembered, it was obvious that the room looked more lived in and probably had more of Momiji's taste than the other room she saw.
Some of the furniture were replaced with new ones, others rearranged as well as having a few ornaments here and there. A couple of magazines and a book were scattered on the coffee table and the remote was left sitting on the couch together with a cute rabbit plushie. Several DVDs were haphazardly placed in a stack beside the TV and a few picture frames where placed on one of the corner tables.
She was about to go over the corner table and look at the picture frames when something white on the floor caught her attention and upon closer inspection, she saw a blank piece of paper under the coffee table. Curious, she picked it up, realizing that the paper wasn't blank. Rather, the paper seemed to be a copy of a music sheet that must've fallen on the floor. Looking up from where she found the sheet, she saw a few more pages almost completely invisible underneath one of the magazines on the coffee table.
Deciding to just stick to the paper in hand, she returned her attention to the said paper and inspected it. "Ave Maria..." she read the sheet title as she let her gaze roam down the rest of the notes. Thinking back on her memories, she had never pictured Momiji as one who loved music, even more so as a violinist. He didn't seem to show any interest to music back then. But then again, she hardly paid attention to the boy back then and seeing how Momiji literally brightened up at the mention of playing the violin back in the hospital, it was obvious that the boy had a passion for it.
Now she understood why Momiji's first words after waking up in the hospital were something regarding his left arm. He was probably worried about not being able to play again. Now that she thought about it, she also asked Mizuki about it after confirming that Momiji was her son. She had asked when Momiji started to learn to play the violin and from who and she was surprised to find out that it was from the same teacher as Momo's.
Maiko couldn't help but feel a small pang of guilt when Mizuki also told her that Momiji had to stop taking violin lessons from his teacher so that Momo would also be able to take lessons from the same person. At first she didn't understand why Momiji had to stop, but then she remembered that Mizuki didn't want to have any contact between Momiji and her and Momo and the guilt instantly hit her. It may have been indirect, but it was also because of her that Momiji had to stop. If she hadn't forgotten him, they would've still been living together. Thus, Momiji and Momo wouldn't have had to be separated, and there wouldn't be a need for Momiji to avoid his sister. But...
Maiko gazed down on the sheets she held, noting the various lines and notes and other scribbles written down on it.
...despite the fact that he had to stop his lessons, she could see that Momiji still persevered to study on his own; if his own notes and scribbles on the sheets were any indication.
She ran her fingers over the words, feeling the rough texture of the paper, most likely caused by the constant friction between paper and eraser. Unconsciously, a small smile crept upon her lips.
The sound of something hard hitting the glass broke her out of her thoughts as she whipped her head towards the window. One of the large, dry leaves must've hit the glass as she watched a relatively strong breeze pass by, causing the tree outside to sway along as well as taking along with it the dry leaves that fell on the grass.
She sat there staring outside for a while longer before placing the sheets back on its original place on the coffee table before standing up, sparing one more glance at the room, and left to explore the rest of the house.
She passed by the bathroom, which she didn't bother to take a glance at, and the kitchen, where she barely paid much attention to. She passed another door before reaching the end of the hall and came face to face with the door that led to the room she was the most familiar with.
She slowly reached for the knob, turned it, and quietly swung the door open. The sight of the master bedroom brought back so many memories that it took a while before she was able to take a step inside. She quietly took note of the changes in the room, as she tried to keep her emotions in check.
This was the room she had spent her time in the most. All of the pent up emotions she held back, all the rage and frustration, the despair; all of it, she held back within herself as she isolated herself in this room. Noting the lack of change in the room, aside from being bare of its former ornaments and colour that gave some semblance of life in the room except for the bare essentials, she took a seat on the bed.
Turning her gaze towards the window, she was reminded of how she used to often sit and stare at the garden outside trying to while away her time.
Thinking back on her past, she knew that she wasn't so broken from the start. If anything, she was happy, carefree, content even. So what happened? What changed inside her for her to become someone so different? In all honesty, she didn't know. When she looked back into her memories, she assumed it must've been sometime after Momiji had been born.
She had been so happy when she found out that she was pregnant and she made sure to take care of herself really well. So she was scared when she had to give birth two months earlier. She also didn't understand why her husband had been in such a worried state even after hearing that their son was born healthy.
Maiko's hand unconsciously gripped the corner of one of the pillows, an unreadable expression on her face.
...the moment she held Momiji for the first time only for him to transform into a rabbit, she had been too shocked to even understand what happened. Her child... her beloved child turned into a rabbit.
Her gripped tightened as she remembered how Mizuki explained everything to her. She didn't believe it at first; she didn't try to listen. But after holding her son once more only to have the same result happen again, she knew that everything they said was real.
Days passed, and she tried to continue on caring for Momiji. Even though she couldn't hold Momiji because of the curse, she still tried her best. Whenever she would accidentally hold him, she would hold back her fear and the slowly growing despair inside her. She tried to show her child the love she had for him; that despite what happened, despite the curse, she still loved her child.
Maiko closed her eyes as she once again began to feel all the emotions she had back then return to the surface.
Really, she did.
But there was only so much a person could take.
To give her all to her child, whom she loved so much only to end up making him turn into an animal. It pained her. Her inability to hold her own son; to hold that small, gentle life, within her arms for her to love and protect; it drove her into frustration.
How could she be a mother to her child if she couldn't even care for him? There was only so much she could do for Momiji without touching him.
She remembered that one time where Momiji had gotten sick and she was at a loss of what to do. she wanted to bring her son to the doctor or even to Hatori but Momiji was crying and squirming so much that she couldn't even just hold him with her hands just like how she usually did. She had to wait for Mizuki to come home and bring Momiji to the doctor himself because she couldn't even hold him and the wait was the most horrible torture she could have gone through. Watching her own child crying and suffering and being unable to do anything because she couldn't even properly hold her child; she had felt so frustrated; so useless and pathetic that she had ended up bursting into tears.
Mizuki tried to help; tried to reassure and console her during the times she wallowed in those bitter feelings, and she was grateful for that. But as time continued on; days turned to months, and months to a year; she just couldn't handle it anymore.
Her frustration was slowly driving her into anger; her hope was slowly dwindling into despair.
It had barely been a year and already she felt so exhausted. She felt like all of the things she had done for her child had gone to waste. The pain brought to her by the fact that she couldn't even hold her own child was just too much.
But in spite of all these, she still fervently clung to the love that she felt for her child. Somewhere in her mind, she knew Momiji wasn't to blame.
However, this too, also slowly started to change as time continued to pass.
The anger and despair had become too much for her to bear that, at some point, she began to break. It was becoming too much for her mentally and emotionally. She would oftentimes find herself staring off into space, lost in thought or sleeping in the bedroom. There were even times that she would find herself venting out her anger on almost anything.
And it was during one of these times that she had accidentally hit Momiji.
The quiet cry snapped her back to reality and it was only then that she realized what she had done. The realization sent her into a fit of confusion and rage. To hurt the child she loved the most. The mere thought of it sent her into hysteria.
"I've... hurt Momiji..."
The words she said on that day played on her mind as her knuckles had almost turned white as she closed her hands into fists.
"I am... unfit... to be a mother."
She brought her other hand to cover her face and closed her eyes. She remembered how she had broken down in front of her husband as she said those words.
Mizuki had reassured her that Momiji was not seriously injured, that he was fine and that she shouldn't worry about it anymore. But she didn't drop the subject. She wouldn't. She didn't want to hurt her son. But she couldn't seem to stop herself.
Mizuki pleaded, begged that she shouldn't give up; that there was still hope. She had agreed. Just one more time... she would try to hold on for a little bit longer. She didn't want to hurt Momiji so she tried to distance herself from the boy. Tried to push him away. But every time that she did, he kept coming back to her. Even on several occasions where she lost control of herself, where she would sometimes throw things and scream hysterically, Momiji would leave her, but would then return later on when she had calmed down.
She didn't understand anymore. She had been trying her hardest to cope with what happened to her family. She tried her best to love her child. She tried her best to keep him safe, even from herself... and yet, she felt like nothing came about from all she had done; all she had sacrificed.
There came a time when she had begun to think where it all started. How did she end up like this? Why did everything become so painful? Her beginning was so full of smiles and laughter and happiness. So why did it hurt so much now? Why could she only feel pain and despair? Where did it all began?
That's right. That was where it all began. The moment she had given birth to her son...
It was all because she gave birth to him...
"That... that creature"
...that she was suffering right now.
"...is not my son."
Her own child would never bring this kind of pain and despair to her. Her own child would never bring her fear whenever she held him. No. That boy was not her son. It was a creature brought by the curse.
"That is not my son!"
Maiko brought her hands to her face as she remembered those words leave her lips.
All of the pent up emotions she had been keeping inside ever since she had Momiji had piled up. Something had broken deep inside her; something very important.
It felt like her heart was a glass of water was continually filled with water even when it was already filled to the brim and the remaining water had overflowed. She could only take so much before she could take no more. And when there was no more space left to keep her emotions, she let it flow, allowed it to consume her until there was nothing left of her that would remind her of herself.
She had become the shell of the woman she used to be. A woman full of anger and despair. And as time passed, it had begun to affect her health. She felt like her life was dwindling away, waiting for her time to come.
Maiko let out a heavy sigh as she opened her eyes. Looking for something to take her mind off of her memories, she let her gaze roam around the room.
Recalling such memories... she had never intended to relive that pain. That wasn't the reason why she was here.
Pushing herself up off the bed, she slowly made her way back to the door, closing it behind her without even looking back, and continued her way towards the last room of the house.
She had a purpose. And that purpose had something to do with her decision now.
When she was told about the dragon's ability to erase memories; to remove people from one's mind completely as if they never existed at all. It was only then that she felt she was given hope once more.
She found a way out.
Without hesitation, she had asked Mizuki about it, agreed to having Momiji erased from her memories. At that time, she didn't really care anymore. At that time, all she ever wanted was to be freed from her fate. That was all that mattered to her.
She never really thought of the consequences.
She stopped in front of the door and placed her hand on the door knob. She could feel a small part of her hesitating, but she knew she had to do this. Gently, she turned the knob and swung the door slowly.
The bright light was the first thing that met her eyes as she opened the door. She blinked rapidly as she tried to get her eyes adjusted to the sudden burst of sunlight from the room. When her eyes had adjusted enough she finally looked up at the room.
The long white curtains were pushed on one side of the large glass doors at the farthest side of the room which allowed the bright afternoon light to enter the room. Maiko looked around as she entered the bright yellow room, her eyes full of curiosity.
The bed was positioned beside the wall, a few plush toys placed above it, leaning on the wall. At the foot of the bed was the dresser. A desk was placed on the other side of the room where a few more picture frames where placed as well as a couple more of those plush toys.
"Momiji must like these a lot." She mumbled to herself as she grabbed one of the plush toys. It didn't look like any of the usual shapes that were usually found in shops, and she was sure that it wasn't an animal. A small smile graced her lips "So Momiji also likes Mogeta." She said, chuckling to herself. She recognized the character, having seen Momo watching it at home every day. Seeing that Momiji seemed to like it too, since she also saw a couple of Mogeta DVDs in the living room, made her smile even more.
During the time she lived her life after forgetting Momiji, he didn't completely disappeared from her life. She met Momiji a few years after she forgot him, wandering around the building where Mizuki worked.
The first couple of times she met Momiji left her with the impression that Momiji was a really cheerful boy with a bubbly personality. Although she thought it strange that the boy often wore clothes that make him look more feminine, she assumed that it was probably just a phase that he would eventually grow out of.
Returning the Mogeta plushie back, her gaze fell onto one of the picture frames beside it. Picking it up, she saw that it was probably taken at his school since all of the people in it were wearing school uniforms.
"...huh" she muttered, as she stared at the picture "I didn't know that Momiji was in a co-ed school." She thought aloud. She knew that all of the children born in the jyunishi were supposed to go to an all-boys or an all-girls school so that having their secret found out would be nearly impossible.
She let her gaze roam around the faces and she blinked as she recognized a few faces. She saw Tohru, who was smiling brightly; standing in the middle, beside her was a boy with orange hair. She remembered seeing him visiting Momiji a couple of times too... Kyo, was it? The boy with the black and white hair, Haru, was there too. There were more faces she didn't recognize, but seeing how close to them Momiji was in the picture showed that they were friends.
She gently placed the frame back on the desk as she then turned to the bookshelf that stood beside it. She let her fingers brush across the books, some thick, some thin; others hard bound while the rest were paperback. She slowly eyed the books, taking her time to read the titles, pulling one out whenever the title piqued her interest.
What she was doing right now; going back to her old house and do nothing but look around. It must look strange. When she first told Mizuki that she wanted to go to the main house, he thought that she would go and visit Momiji. He was puzzled when she told him that what she wanted to visit wasn't Momiji, but rather, their old house. When she got the same reaction, it was then that she told him her intention.
When her memories returned to her, she had been confused about what she felt about Momiji. The sudden return of her memories brought back all of the thoughts and feelings she had from that time back, together with her feelings for Momiji now and it caused her to be confused about what she actually felt.
That's why she asked Mizuki to give her some time to herself; so that she could clear her mind and think about the situation properly; especially about how she felt about Momiji.
Mizuki had agreed and gave her more time to herself, but after all the thinking she had done, all of the consideration she had thought about Momiji and her family, she still hadn't found her answer. She didn't feel confused anymore, however, she felt conflicted. At what, she didn't know. But as she was thinking of the reason why,the thought that she didn't know much about Momiji surprised her. Thinking back on it, she realized that she knew almost nothing about Momij; even from back then. She had been too obsessed with avoiding her son that she never had the chance to know anything about him.
It was actually only during the time she spent with him in the hospital did she finally found out more about him and after finding out the truth about Momiji, she suddenly felt the need to know more about her son.
That was her purpose for coming here. She wanted to know more about Momiji. She wanted to see for herself the place where her son grew up, how he lived, what he likes, dislikes, anything and everything she could find out about him. Even if going back to this house would mean bringing back a few bitter memories, she'd bear it.
She wanted to know her son.
She hoped that in doing so, she would find her answer.
She was leisurely gazing at the books once more when a book on the farthest side of the middle shelf caught her eye. Curious, she pulled it out.
She quickly brought her other hand to hold the book as well after pulling it out since it was rather large, around the same size as a scrap book, and was about an inch thick. It had a blue cover with nothing written on it. Pulling out the round chair in front of the desk, she placed it on her lap as she curiously ran her hand on the smooth leather-like cover before flipping it open to see its content.
She blinked in surprise as the first thing she saw was a young Momiji, holding a yellow ball, smiling back at her. "A photo album." She muttered to herself as she continued to flip through the next few of pages. Most of the pictures were of Momiji when he was younger, playing alone or with other kids, laughing or just seemingly smiling at the camera. There were also pictures of Mizuki; a few together with Momiji, others and just on his own.
It didn't miss her attention though, when she noticed that there weren't any pictures where she was in it, nor was she surprised. She was never really the type to keep a large amount of photos; that was more of Mizuki, not her. Also, in the state she was in back then, no one could persuade her to take a picture, not even Mizuki. The one time that he did succeed was when Mizuki persuaded her to have a family picture.
She smiled wryly as she thought how ironic it was that the exact picture she vehemently refused to be taken was the one that triggered on the return of her memories.
Shaking her head, she continued to turn a few more pages as she looked at the pictures. Curiosity and fascination in her eyes as each turn of a page would show a slightly older Momiji.
She stopped when she saw a picture of Momiji , looking a little bit older, wearing a school uniform. A black and white haired kid – Haru, she noted – stood beside him as they stood by the school gate.
"So Momiji did go to an all-boy school." She said to herself recognizing the name on the gate of the school. Most of the pictures that followed after that must've been taken by Momiji since the next few pictures she saw were of children she didn't know – most likely his classmates - with his or Haru's face popping out every couple of picture or so.
There were also pictures of, what she guessed were, the other members of the Sohma family, and probably the other jyuunishi, as she saw a few pictures of Hatori, Haru, a girl with shoulder-length hair and a boy with short, spiky brown hair and the occasional pictures of Mizuki.
Halfway into the album, she began to see pictures of Momiji's friend, Tohru, as well as Kyo, that orange-haired boy that was always came to pick her up. She once again turned the page but stopped short as a small laugh escaped her lips. In the picture, Momiji was standing beside Tohru and both of them were smiling brightly at the camera. The picture itself wasn't that unusual, but she was a bit surprised when she saw Momiji wearing his own version of the female uniform.
Honestly, she had realized that Momiji liked wearing feminine clothes, but even the school uniform...
Taking another glance at the picture, she let another giggle escape her lips before continuing on to looking at the other pictures. Most of the pictures seemed to have been taken during school festivals and events taking place at the school and holidays. She recognized a few faces in the pictures as well from the picture placed on Momiji's desk.
Another breeze passed by outside as a few fallen leaves were taken away and trees slowly swayed along, casting weird shadows inside the house. Maiko, however, didn't pay any attention to it as she continued to turn the pages of the photo album, smiling at certain pictures, admiring some and laughing a little as she saw a few more pictures of Momiji wearing the same uniform as Tohru.
She continued on turning the pages, looking at each and every picture it brought along. Someone once told her that every picture had its own story behind it and that sometimes, it's up to the person looking at the picture whether they would see it or not.
Back then, she understood what it meant, but she never gave it much thought. Now, though, as she looked at each picture, she could definitely agree to those words as with each picture she would see a story; a side of Momiji she never knew, a short moment in his life.
The smile on her face turned wistful as she thought back on the pictures. A happy day in the park, a good laugh with friends, an enjoyable afternoon at the beach; these pictures showed the moments in his life that Momiji held dear. And as she slowly continued on looking at the pictures, it felt like even though she had never seen Momiji grow up she was learning more about the son she chose to forget.
She turned another page and her gaze softened as she saw a picture of Momiji, leaning against the drawer in his room, playing the violin with his eyes closed, a gentle smile on his face. She gently ran a hand on the picture. It was an ordinary picture, nothing out of the ordinary, like the rest. But as soon as she saw Momiji's expression, looking so happy; so content, at that moment that she couldn't help but feel relieved.
Living life remembering nothing but a hysterical, broken mother who chose to forget him, forced to live away from his father who could visit him for very short amounts of time, having a sister who didn't know he existed, she couldn't imagine what kind of life it was for Momiji to live like. Remembering how she had treated him back then, she had never once seen him smile because of her, she never heard him laugh.
Choosing a life without her son, she never thought about how it would have affected him. She had been plagued by questions after she regained her memories. Was he devastated? Hurt? Scared? Broken? She didn't know. She honestly didn't know. That's when she realized that she hardly knew anything about Momiji despite having encountered him a few times before. That was one of the reasons why she came back to the house. So that she could see, with her own eyes, where her child grew up; how he grew up.
Seeing the pictures, it relieved her that despite her decision, that despite the fact that she abandoned her son, Momiji was still able to live his life with a smile on his face and a laugh here and there. There may have been tears behind those smiles or sad moments that were never captured by the camera, but knowing that Momiji was strong enough to still be able to smile was enough to lighten up the guilt she felt.
She blinked; momentarily breaking her train of thought as she once again looked around the room. Deciding that she'd seen enough, she lightly turned the album close as she stood up. However, sitting for a long while, she forgot how heavy the album was and upon standing, the album slipped her fingers and when she realized it, it was too late. The album had fallen to the floor with a loud thud, the force making it bounce lightly as it opened, pages facing the floor.
Inwardly berating herself, she kneeled down on the floor and carefully picked it up, holding the spine; hoping that none of the pages were accidentally folded. She was surprised, however, as a small envelope suddenly fell from the album as soon as she picked it up. The impact of the fall wasn't that hard, but it was enough to force its contents to spill out of the envelope and fall onto the floor.
Her eyes slightly widened as she saw the envelope fall, but not because of the fact that there was an envelope hidden inside the album. Rather, it was because of the contents of the envelope that surprised her. There on the floor, slightly scattered because of the fall, were pictures of herself and Momo.
Slowly placing the album on the floor beside her she carefully picked up one of the pictures and inspected it. It was a picture of herself, seemingly busy watching Momo play in the park, a serene smile on her face. Looking at the other pictures, she realized that the pictures were of her and Momo, although most of it was hers.
She tried to remember all of the times she went out with Momo and not once did she remember ever noticing someone taking a picture of her. Looking once again at the pictures, she presumed that they must've been taken from a distance, some probably even farther as she inspected the pictures for a moment more, noticing that some of the pictures weren't as clear as the others, just like how it would look like after having zoomed the camera too much.
She then noticed the envelope where the pictures were contained in. A small scribble was written on the lower-right corner and she couldn't help but feel her chest tightened as she read the word.
She read aloud, her native German accent evident as the word flowed from her lips when she read the word written in neat cursive. "Mother" she muttered, translating the word.
"We don't see each other anymore."
"Momiji..." she uttered quietly as she placed the picture she held back into the small pile on the floor. She suddenly remembered the conversation she had with him back at the hospital and the relief she had felt earlier. She suddenly felt the urge to slap herself.
It was naive of her to think that somehow Momiji had been able to live just fine without her all these years. Seeing him smiling and laughing back in those pictures, she had felt relief in the idea that Momiji was somehow able to still live happily, relieved that she didn't have to feel so guilty for driving him to live such a life, at least, not anymore.
But she was wrong. She had seen it; the loneliness in Momiji's eyes as she insensitively asked him about her back at the hospital. How she could see the longing he had for her, how it must've hurt to make him talk about such things; to recall such painful things.
"She never looked that happy back when she was still living with us."
From the moment she heard those words she knew that despite the bubbly, cheerful exterior Momiji always seemed to have,was never truly happy living life the way he did; that no matter how much he tried, he wouldn't be able to genuinely smile and say he was happy because there was a large part in his life that was missing; a part which she had taken away for her own selfishness. She took away from him the love that only a mother would be able to give her son. Even back then, she was aware that the reason why Momiji kept coming back to her was because she kept pushing him away, she was rejecting him. Momiji only wanted her to love him, but she never noticed because she was too absorbed in the thought of the curse, of her own despair and suffering.
"That's why I don't show myself to her."
She had been too blinded by her own self-centeredness that she had never bothered to stop and think about what she was doing to Momiji. By pushing him away, she had denied him the only thing she could give; her love.
"Weren't you lonely? Watching your mother live happily away from you?"
She brought a hand over her mouth as she felt her breath hitch. She felt so bad, so guilty, so insensitive at asking such questions back then just to satisfy her curiosity and find answers to the question brought by Momiji's pendant. Even when she had already forgotten about Momiji, during those short moments she would accidentally meet him, she remembered how she would carelessly comment or ask about his parents, sometimes even berating him when she would see him in Mizuki's office, saying that his parents would worry. She had never tried to look past the smiles Momiji gave her, she never tried to see. For her, those moments were simply random and coincidental, nothing more. Thinking about it now, Momiji probably treasured those short moments meeting her because those were the only moments he could be with her.
"Seeing her happy is enough."
"Cruel..." her voice came in gasps as tears slowly formed at the corner of her eyes before cascading down her face. "...so cruel" she continued to mutter as she brought her hands on her face. Knowing that he would be pushed away, yet still wanting to see her, yearning her love, even if it meant having to watch from afar knowing that he can never be a part of that happiness... it was just too cruel.
"Because I love her."
She bent over, her sobs resounded against the walls of the quiet room. The four words rang out in her head as the memory of Momiji saying those words flashed in her mind. Despite all the pain that she had caused him, all of her efforts in pushing him away, Momiji still loved her. He still loved her.
He loved her and cared so much that he was even willing to run after the snatcher that took her purse that afternoon; that he didn't care if he was risking his own safety. He even lost his own sight doing so and not once has she heard him put the blame on anyone, especially not her.
She stayed like that for some time, sitting on the floor, back slightly bent and hand on her face, as her tears continued to fall. Another breeze passed as the trees outside swayed, casting weird shadows inside the house once more. She didn't know how much time had passed ever since she had come into the house, and it was only when she heard quiet footsteps heading towards her did she lift her head, the view of the garden outside greeting her eyes.
The footsteps stopped somewhere behind her, but even then she didn't move. She was still too caught up in her thoughts to bother to look at the figure behind her. It was only when the figure spoke that she seemed to break her train of thought.
The figure quietly spoke, calling and at the same time seemed to be inquiring something from her. She didn't speak for a moment longer, not trusting her voice from all the crying she had done. Instead, she brought her hand to her face and wiped the tears away as she tried to compose herself.
The figure spoke again, the same tone of voice was used, but this time it was slightly tinged with worry. "I've been thinking for a long time," She said, her voice a little hoarse from crying. "sometimes even doubting myself about what I should do but I shouldn't have." she paused, her gaze going back to the photo album that sat beside her "The answer I've been looking for was in front of me the whole time." she gently ran her hand on the smooth cover "I just never really looked at it." She turned to the figure behind her and their eyes met.
"I've finally found my answer."
Finally, she'd finally found it. And now, she can finally talk to Momiji.
She can finally talk to her son.
I am finally finished with this chapter! I have two things to say about this chapter. First is that this is now the longest chapter I have ever written (14 pages) it's even longer than the last term paper I have written lol Second is that this is the chapter I had struggled the most in writing. The heat aside, I kept on stopping whenever I came to the parts where Maiko had to shift from thoughts to actions. I'm not sure if the flow of this chapter is as good as the others, but I really wanted to keep the flow like that in a manga where the character would bee seen moving around despite being lost in thought or something along those lines. And I would struggle because everytime I would continue from where I left of, I would realize that what I was writing was a bit off from the one I continued rfom and then I'd have to start over again -sigh-
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. This is my own version of how Maiko 'broke' according to Momiji in the chapter where he told Tohru about her. And as usual, since I don't think I'd be getting a beta for a long time, if there are any grammatical error, or any error for that matter, found in this chapter please tell me. And review! So that I'd know what you think of the story!