Edited by: Nakaru Uzumaki
My Name is Tsukiyo Nakano, I was two weeks away from my eighteenth birthday when I died. My house was broken into one night when my mother and I were asleep, though how things came to that is a pretty long story…
When I was nine, both my parents decided to divorce. It wasn't because of money problems or cheating or anything like that, it was simply because they fell out of love. So one day, my father decided to leave my mother and left. I haven't heard from him since. Although it wasn't an overly dramatic separation, it still hurt to see someone I looked up to just walk out of my life like that, and the pain only grows when I'm reminded of him.
Because of his decision to leave, it was up to my mother to provide for my brother and I and work long hours to pay the bills. Sometimes she'd overwork herself and become bedridden for the day, so we would have to take care of her by doing the little things to help her around the house. Over the years the little stuff would turn into general house work like cooking dinner, doing laundry, and cleaning the house among other things.
When I finally turned fifteen, I managed to get myself a job as a clerk in a gas station. Both my brother and I decided we would do everything in our power to ease the stress of paying the bills on her own. Although our mother was happy about this, she said that she'd rather have me and my brother enjoy our youths rather than work, but we were too stubborn to listen.
I worked a lot of different jobs in the summer ranging from customer service to garbage men and sometimes even construction. It was different, and I managed to build up some muscle, leaving me to be stronger than most of the students in my grade. As the years passed, working was almost second nature, I worked an eight-hour shift since I was still considered a minor while my older brother worked the graveyard shift from eleven to eight.
Since my birthday was coming up, my mother decided to get me an early birthday present, it was a small necklace with a red gem having a small dragon coiling around it; guarding it(1). The cost immediately took priority in my mind when I saw its high quality, but she told me not to worry about it and enjoy it. Thinking back that might've been her way of saying thank you for working so hard since my brother who turned eighteen two years ago got the same necklace design, only in green. I was happy to have her appreciation in the form of the necklace, so I chose to wear it everyday. She said it was my birthstone, Garnet, while my brother got Emerald. Everything was nice and were content, happy even.
And then it happened.
That day, my mother overworked herself again and was bedridden, so I called my school to let them know what I'd be doing, and was given the greenlight to stay home. For the entire day, I took care of my mom, and nothing seemed even the least bit out of place. When night fell and the moon hung brilliantly in the night sky, we went to sleep only to hear a heavy thud in the living room three hours later. There were a trio of thugs who broke into our house, two combing the building while one stayed outside to scout for cops and alarmed neighbors. I wasn't able to move my mom for fear of worsening her condition, so I told her what was happening while I went for my phone on the nightstand, but just when my fingers glanced over our saving grace, we both heard steps from the hallway.
She told me to hide.
But… I couldn't. I didn't want her to get hurt for the sake of my own self being, but she begged me and one look at her face left me with no other options and I jumped into the closet in the corner of the room. Since she was sluggish from being bedridden she barely managed to wiggle her way under her bed when the intruders barged in. They seemed to know what they were doing by the looks of things since they checked every inch of the room. They hadn't found me by the time one of them reached under the bed and dragged my mother out, tears streaming down her face all the while. Seeing her caught, I panicked and tried to fight the burglars empty handed.
Despite what happened next, I still don't regret my decision.
They were surprised to see me leap from the closet and the one closest to me swung his iron bat at my head, nearly knocking me out cold on the spot. It was one of the worst pains I'd ever felt in my life. My mother was screaming at the top of her lungs at this point, loud enough to alert the neighbors. The intruders immediately moved to silence her, one of them pulling out something that nearly killed me just from having it so close to her. From my angle on the floor, I could see the pistol's simplistic western design and without even thinking, I ran towards them, immediately snatching the wrist of the thug brandishing the firearm. Moments of me struggling to point the gun away from my mother went on only for it to fire accidentally, I wasn't entirely sure where I was shot, but the moment it went off my vision went dark in a split second.
A voice rang out through the dark.
"Young man? Excuse me."
Wait, is it calling for me?
My eyes shot open in an instant and they immediately focused on the silver haired woman dressed in an elegant purple and white dress sitting before me. A sense of regality washed over me as I stared at the woman in purple and white but those thoughts were cancelled out from her light smile and the type of dress she was wearing. It was almost as if she jumped out of some fantasy game.
I glanced around, quickly realizing that there wasn't anything in the void surrounding me other than the two of us and the chairs we sat on.
What the hell's going on? I doubt drugs would be able to kick in this hard…
My thoughts were quickly interrupted when the girl before me cleared her throat to gain my attention.
"This will be hard for you to understand, but please stay calm, okay?"
In a situation like this, calm would be the last thing that I could even hope to be, but I still tried regardless.
"I can try, but no promises"
"Yes, well… the thing is", another sigh. "You're dead."
"Okay", a dry laugh fled past my lips. "Very funny. Now tell me what's really going on."
She didn't dare look me in the eye at the sound of my denial.
Hold up, this is a joke right? It has to be…
I started to panic, and I could feel myself begin to hyperventilate. At the sound of my heavy breathing, however, the woman looked up at me, worry splashed across her visage. "Hey, hey, hey! I told you to stay calm, didn't I? Listen, I'm going to explain everything, okay?"
Her words calmed me a bit and I managed to even out my breathing. Of course my heart was still beating a thousand beats a second, but I had to listen since I didn't have any idea on what to do next. Slowly, so as to not rile me again, she started by asking for my name and age. I realized she probably already knew who I was, she just had me reciting basic information about myself to get me to calm down.
"My name is Tsukiyo Nakano and I'm seventeen years old. I was born in Fukuoka, Japan and live with my older brother and… my… mother… "
I could feel tears well up in the corner of my eyes when the memories all came flooding back along with s searing pain that filled my skull, it felt as if a bullet just...
The silver-haired girl before me took on a heartbroken look when she saw a sob rock my body, "I know what happened since I watched it, but it still hurts to remember."
I shot up out of my chair, confused and angry, "If you saw it then why didn't you do anything?!"
Frantic, the woman quickly apologized, "No, no! I didn't mean it like that! What I meant was, I was able to watch, but I couldn't do anything because of my role."
"Your role?", confusion and curiosity kicked anger right out the door.
"Yep!", she beamed, trying to lighten the mood. "As you can see, it looks like we're in the middle of nowhere, right?"
She didn't give me a chance to answer the question.
"We are essentially in what would be called Purgatory.", My eyes widened at the bold statement. "My job is to let people pass on to the afterlife. So you are here since you died. You have the choice to either pass on to heaven or be reincarnated as a newborn."
"Heaven huh?" I asked, bewildered. I wasn't someone who particularly believed in the concept of religion. I felt a little annoyed, everything I didn't believe in was suddenly becoming true. Man would I be a laughing stock up there.
Then a thought flashed through my head and I silently kicked myself for having forgotten about her, "Hey, is my mom okay?" I asked, pleading with whatever gods I now knew existed that she was okay.
"Don't worry, your mother is safe. Those people froze in shock at the sight of your dead body since they had no intention of killing anyone, so some neighbors managed to break in and pin them down before the authorities arrived."
I sighed with a small smile on my face at the good news.
"Emotionally, however…" She trailed off, struggling to continue until she saw the look on my face urging her to continue. "Not so good. As of right now, she's crying hysterically while holding your bloody head..."
"It's that bad, huh?", I asked
She sighed again before answering, "Yeah it really is, First responders don't even need paramedics check for a sign of life..."
I started to stare blankly at the checkerboard pattern ground that I was on as I started to take all the information in, a sad smile replaced the relieved one before I noticed that I still had on the necklace that I got for my birthday
"Well, as long as she's safe, I guess I don't really care what happens to me. Hey", I looked up at her. "You never gave me your name, did you? Since this might be my last conversation before I move on, I'd like to know who I spoke to in Purgatory."
She smiled warmly and declared, "My name is Eris, and I am a goddess. But, if you don't care where you go, how about we add another option?"
Suspicion laced my next words, "Another option?"
(note: this chapter has been revised to make up for my pretty shit writing ability back in June (as of right now, I'm typing this in Dec. 7) when I made this first chapter. Revisions are credited to Nakuru Uzumaki with some slight edits of my own)
Reference 1: . /pin/5840674495667413/