Chapter 1

Two Empty Wine Glasses


It's been two weeks now. Two weeks since my mistake cost you your life. I can't stop saying how sorry I am for that, and how much I wish it were me instead. Constantly I find myself wishing that I had let the patient die in that fire, that I hadn't insisted on rushing in to save him. More than anything I wish you wouldn't have run in after me. Am I a horrible person for this? Will I be punished in the next life like I feel I deserve?

What am I going to do? I miss you so much, I cannot sleep, I'm useless at work, and more often than not, Ami is taking care of me. I can't function as a parent or a paramedic when every moment all I can think of is you. Now in the end you are gone and I hurt so bad. Why did you die? Why did I have to be so stupid?



I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. I went to see a psychiatrist and she has me writing down stuff in another book. I don't really like that; I would rather talk to you. Ami made me get help after she had to take care of me after I almost drank myself to death. She's so smart; her love is one of the only things that keep me going. I wish I had introduced you, that I had given you the opportunity to get to know her. I know she would've liked you.

I think I need a change. If I continue like this then I will be the same as dead. Seeing my shrink helps a little. Being around here where so many memories assault me every day is just too damn painful. I need to move. I hate to do this to Ami again; it will be the eighth time in four years. I just can't be here anymore. I have a lot to think about I'll talk to you soon.


Beautiful woman, long silver ponytails in a flowing white gown. Held me, told me that she would give me the strength to keep on living. Something about love and protect Ami like I used to, her number one protector. It would be my responsibility to keep her safe, and be understanding when she awakens. Then she walks away and I am sitting on top of a cliff looking out over a sea of city lights. A rusted old sign says 18 miles to Juban District, Tokyo. Then I woke up.

Sorry Noriko, I just had the strangest dream. You were the only one near and I needed to write it down. Thank you for listening. You were always a good listener, which was one of the things I loved most about you. Well it's only 2 A.M. I need to get some sleep. I love you.



It's the strangest thing. I woke up this morning and Ami said she had a dream about a woman with silver ponytails and a beautiful white dress. She said that the woman told her that she would have to wake up soon and that the time was near for her to be reborn. Then she said that she saw herself sitting in a temple talking with four shadowed figures, but that she felt a sense of happiness with them. I wish I could say it was coincidence, but Ami described to me perfectly the woman I saw in my dreams. It's rather scary but exciting at the same time. I wonder if that temple she saw is in Juban.



I went and visited you today. I'm sorry I never went before. I brought Ami with me. She sat with me for hours laughing and crying with me as I told her of you, of us. She says that she is glad to have finally met you and, as I suspected she likes you a lot. Being there with you and her felt very good. I will save that as one of my precious memories of this place.

You see I decided that I am leaving. I know I spoke of it before, but now it's definite. As a matter of fact, we are almost packed up and will be leaving in one week. I decided to sell almost everything we own I'm just bringing the car and a few boxes of memories. This time we are starting completely anew. I had to promise Ami that we wouldn't move again. She was actually the one to suggest totally starting over.

Guess where we're going? Yep, that's right, Juban! There have just been too many coincidences that lead me to believe that, that is the place we are meant to be. Well my love, we are off to begin our new life. Wish us luck!


Dear Diary,

This is my first entry into you. I know that my mother always keeps one and it seems to help her cope with things, so I thought that I might try the same. Things are not going well right now; actually, I do not think I can remember the last time things were this bad.

Let me start from the beginning. My mother works as a paramedic for the biggest hospital downtown. It is a good job and she worked very hard to get it. The only problem is that it takes up all of her time. She seemed depressed for a while, but about eight months ago, I noticed a definite change in her attitude. Judging from what she would say I think it was her new partner that made her so happy. I have never known my mother to have friends so I was happy for her. Life was good for a time. Mom went to work with a positive attitude and she came home happy. Things were great.

Two months ago, mom and her partner went on a run. When they arrived, there was a man trapped underneath a car. There was a fuel leak around it. Protocol says that they should have waited until the scene was declared safe. Mom was scared for the passenger and ran in to pull him out.

Mom did not notice what happened but her partner yelled something and was running toward her to help push her and the patient along. Next thing she knew she woke up on the road next to the patient. She tried to tell me how she went to look for her friend, but she just broke down and cried.

We went to her funeral a few days later. Ever since then mom has changed. She does not eat; she just sleeps and cries a lot. Lately I have even seen her starting to drink. She rarely drank before and I am worried. I know it is selfish of me, but I am also sad because I do not get to spend time with her anymore. We would always be able to take a little time out of the week to just talk and hang out, but now she is too depressed to talk to me.

I just wish that mom would snap out of this. She is the only friend I have; I do not know what I would do without her.


Dear Diary,

Today was the worst day of my life. I think that my mother has let the depression beat her. Today it almost claimed her life. I found her when I got home from school. She was face down in a puddle of vomit. She was not breathing; I called the paramedics and gave her CPR. The doctor said she was lucky to live, that if I had arrived home any later I would not have been able to resuscitate her.

She spent the night in the hospital, the doctor wanted to make sure she was all right. He said that she was severely dehydrated and malnourished. They had given her two IV's and an NG tube to feed her some nutrient shake. It was so hard seeing her in the hospital.

To see my mother like that made me scared and the possibility of losing her is becoming a reality. I know I have to do something. It is almost certain that she will not be able to get out of this alone.

Maybe I can get her to talk to a psychiatrist. She has nothing but time now, she was given a mandatory "break" from work. I am afraid that with all that free time she will just get worse. I talked to my school councilors today. I am leaving school for the rest of the year to make sure that she gets the nutrition and help that she needs. I will have to repeat the year which will put me two years behind, but I need to do this. She might have let this beat her, but what kind of daughter would I be if I let it beat her?


Dear Diary,

I woke up crying this morning. Only I was happy, and not sad. I had this dream and the end of it filled me with a sense of happiness and contentment. That is something I have not had in a long time.

The dream started out with me waking up in what looked like ruins of some sort. I did not recognize the architecture though. I do not think I was on earth, because the stars seemed so close and there were so many of them, and what landscape I could see was all cold and gray. I remember being embarrassed finding myself there because I did not have on any clothes. I was mortified when I found out I was not alone, but after I saw who it was I just felt calm and happy. I think I also felt protected I had the feeling that this person was some kind of maternal figure to me.

She was about 5'8 and was strikingly beautiful. She had on a long flowing white dress that looked to have some kind of wing prop attached to the back of it. Her silver hair was done up in twin buns and two long ponytails streamed forth from them. She smiled at me and embraced me. I felt happy and at peace. She bent down and whispered in my ear. She said that I needed to wake up soon that the time of my rebirth was near. What she said next puzzled me. She then said that fate was not written for me: I would need to be strong and find strong and true friends.

I felt a kiss on my cheek and then I found myself in what looked like a shrine. I was sitting at a table eating something and studying a textbook, calculus I think it was. I noticed then that I was not alone and that there were four other people sitting with me, their forms were shadowed though and I could not make out any detail. I just felt happy and content.

I woke up crying because I had lost the feeling I had in the dream. I do not know what the dream was, but I hope I have it again. I need to feel those things that are missing in my life.


Dear Diary,

I know now why mom was so lost over her partner's death. It is because that is exactly what they were, "partners". Mom was really embarrassed to tell me at first, but when I encouraged her to continue she just opened up and told me all about her lover, Noriko. I do not think mom would have ever mentioned it, but I walked past her room and heard her sobbing. She started talking to someone telling them how much she missed them and loved them. It broke my heart to see mom cry like that. She just kept on and would not stop. I had to step in I could not bear to let her go on. I hugged her close like the woman in my dreams did for me. I kissed her cheek and told her everything would be all right.

I held my mother in my arms for the better part of an hour. It was an interesting role reversal, that. Giving back to my mother what she has always given to me was wonderful. Before I had always been the little girl, weak, sad, and lonely. Mom would always be there for me with a hug and a shoulder to cry on. Today I was the strong one, able to let my mother use my shoulder and to lend her my strength and love. That I did with a full heart.

When she started to talk, she told me the real story behind Noriko and herself. Embarrassment and shame is the excuse she used for not telling me earlier. She was scared that I would reject her and her "Perversions", that I would be hurt if our family's name was spoken ill of. I told her that none of that mattered and she said she knew now, that she should have known before. She started to cry again and said she regrets never introducing us.

Later in the night mom stopped in my room while I was getting ready for bed. She looked scared as she sat down and started to tear up. She took my hands as I handed her some tissues. She said that we needed to move again. I was depressed to be sure; this would be another in a long line of never ending relocations. This is what mom needs to feel better though, so I agreed. There were a few conditions of course. One this would be our last move, and two; I wanted her to introduce me to Noriko before we left.

The rest of our night was spent planning the move. Our weird dreams lately have actually decided for us where we were moving, Juban. Too many coincidences and too many odd dreams just keep pointing us in that direction. I actually feel good about this move, like maybe, this one will be different and I will finally belong somewhere. Mainly I just want to find the happiness and contentment that my dreams have shown me.

It is getting late, or early I should say. I have been up all night and it is time to get some sleep.


Dear Diary,

Mom and I went to visit Noriko last week. I was very happy to be able to share a part of my mom's life that she kept hidden for so long. We sat for hours talking about her and the secret life my mom was leading. She told her all about our moving plans, and how we are. I feel that mom made some sort of peace with herself and Noriko while we were at her shrine. I learned a lot about my mom in those few hours. It gave me great insight into her as a person. Now I have two images of my mother, I hope to see them both from now on.

I am now upon the final moments in this chapter of my life. Everything is sold except a box of my favorite books and mom's box of memories. This time we are truly starting over new. Writing this down it sounds exciting, but at the same time, I am afraid. Perhaps I am getting my hopes up, just because I dreamt of wonderful things awaiting me does not mean that this will be the place or time of that. I just worry that even with the change I will still be the same, a sad lonely girl who loses herself in her books and studies.

Sitting here now, I wonder if I can change. I have always been shy and unintentionally anti social. Then the few friends I did make I bored with my admittedly overly studious nature. Thinking on it now, I wonder if my passion for knowledge is genuine, or is it just something to fill a void in my life. Until the day I start to make friends I guess, I will not be able to answer that.

I am too anxious right now to put any more thoughts on paper. I am going to close you up for now. A new life means a new journal, so I will be packing you away with my books. My hope for you now is that you will help me to understand my younger self when I am older and wonder about such things. It has been interesting.

Ami Mizuno

14 years old

November 13 1990


"Ami honey, are you ready?" A light knock sounded as Ayanee's voice drifted in through Ami's bedroom door.

The young girl sitting cross-legged in front of a box she used as a makeshift desk quickly jotted down her last few thoughts in her diary and closed it. She looked at the cover for a moment before taping it shut. Another small knock echoed through her now barren room as she placed her diary into the large box labeled "books".

"I am almost ready mom; just give me a second to finish getting my box together."

"Alright honey, when you're done come to the living room. I have something I want us to do."

Ami smiled at the hint of nervous excitement she could detect in her mother's voice. ::No matter how this move turns out for me, as long as it helps mom it will be worth it.::

Minutes later Ami was walking into the empty living room, struggling to keep her balance with an overly heavy box in her arms. Her mom looked at her with a fond smile and easily hefted the box from her grip and gently set it on the floor. This earned her an annoyed but grateful pout from Ami.

Ayanee directed Ami to sit on her box as she went into the kitchen to grab something. Ami heard some clinking noises as her mother returned with a wine bottle and two wine glasses. Ayanee noticed her daughter's concerned glance immediately.

"Don't worry honey it's non-alcoholic, and we need to have a toast." Ayanee's eyes sparkled as she handed Ami one of the glasses and started to pour the chilled sparkling grape cider. Ami offered her mom a gentle smile relieved, but annoyed that she would think her mother would drink after all that has happened.

Ayanee prepared the toast raising her glass into the air. Ami, recognizing the beginnings of their moving ritual mimicked her mother's movements. Ayanee closed her eyes for a moment then slowly began to speak. "Well, Ami, here we are about to embark upon another move. This one will be our last and hopefully the greatest." Ayanee locked eyes with her daughter as she continued. "A toast, may this be the start of a grand adventure. Life awaits us, let's heed its call." Ayanee smiled down at her daughter as she continued her speech. "For the last time."

As she finished her speech, both women gently clinked their glasses together and drank half of each glass. As Ami was sipping her drink, she thought of what her mother had said. The last line she had uttered was something said countless times at the beginning of every move. This time however something was added to it. ::"For the last time" Gods, how I wish for that to be true.::

Ami tentatively raised her glass as she spoke her part of her mother's traditional moving speech. "To new beginnings. Our life we learn from and leave behind. We now look forward to a bright future and the realization of our dreams." Both women chorused the closure of their private little ritual. "Together we will overcome anything." With a flourish the two Mizuno's linked arms and finished the remainder of each other's glasses.

Glasses were set on the ground as Ayanee collected her daughter in a crushing embrace. Ayanee's and Ami's eyes started misting up as Ayanee began to speak. "I swear to you Ami, I will make this move work. I am so sorry for all the changes I have made you suffer through."

Ayanee pulled away from the embrace so she could look her daughter in the face. "Even through all we have gone through you still have managed to grow into a beautiful intelligent young woman." Ayanee started crying freely, her words now broken by sobs. "I am so proud of you honey. And I am so sorry for all the shit I put you through these last few months. I wouldn't have made it without you."

Again, Ami was pulled into a crushing hug, one that she returned with all her strength. Ami waited for her mother to stop crying before she broke their embrace. She smiled at her mom as she gently wiped away her tears with the sleeve of her sweater. "I love you mom, and I would go through all of that again and more if it meant you would be happy and safe."

Ayanee kissed her daughter's hand then rose to her feet pulling Ami up with her. Giving her hand a last squeeze, Ayanee smiled at her daughter as she went to pick up her box. "Well this is the last of it, let's go home. Wherever we may find it."

Ami moved ahead of her mother to help her with the door. As Ayanee left to put the box in the car Ami took one last look inside their old apartment. Her eyes rested for a moment on the abandoned bottle and two empty glasses. She let out a deep breath, cleansing herself as she prepared to start anew. Ami smiled, letting herself believe this would be the last time in a long while that she would perform the moving ritual with her mom. That this would be the last time she would have to look upon an empty house or apartment with nothing but an abandoned bottle and two empty wine glasses left to mark their passing.