Autumn to Spring, Spring to Summer

What would it be like to keep a secret for ten years, she thought, one hand on her stomach, her eyes turning to look out of the window, the leaves of the trees slowly turning brown. She would have turned 40 before being able to speak of it, that one moment in time she had been holding onto since that dim August in 1989 now growing ever, ever closer.

As a child, she had told no one what she saw, the lottery ticket folded up and kept safe, her recollection of the bitter wind, the bright autumn sun, and the shambling form of the squid creature that once taunted her remaining a story untold, even to her own parents; now she would have to wait ten more years, and then, at last, she could speak of what she had seen.

She thought back to her childhood, to the looming threat of the Crisis Empire, the ever-present whisper of danger from the outer solar system, and the half-glimpsed image in blurry photograph or dimly recorded footage of the man they had called Kamen Rider; black armour, glowing red eyes, a silver cane held tightly in his grasp. On that dim August morning, though she had not seen that armoured figure of which the newspapers spoke, she had witnessed something equally impossible, another stranger, another Kamen Rider dressed in silver and frills, a girl her own age, a girl who, against everything, had sought to protect her.

A faint smile touched her lips, a single tear running down her cheek, her hand still upon her stomach. In the years that followed, she had not thought much of being a mother, and yet here she was, several months pregnant, resting in a hospital bed after a slight panic in which her father had driven her to the clinic, concerned for the baby's health following a slip upon the last stair of the family home.

It would all be okay though; she knew that it would all be okay. Her daughter would grow up healthy, would grow up to be the kind of girl who stood up for others, who even when the odds were against her, was resolute in her beliefs, in the idea of doing what was right.

She smiled, her hand still on her stomach.

"I missed you," she said softly. "I look forward to seeing you again."

There was a moment, a heartbeat, a leaf falling from the tree outside, and still smiling, at last she spoke the name of her unborn daughter:

"Anna."