JUNA
by
Ooshima Tokio

She sits there all alone, and I cannot reach her.

The girl sitting on the rock by the seashore is my friend, Ariyoshi Juna. Some time ago she gained a great power. And now it is overwhelming her.

But I don't care much about that power of hers, and what SEED and that crazy Chris want her to do. It's Juna herself I'm worried about.

When she gained the power to feel the emotions of the earth, she also started experiencing the visions. It changed her. Now she's no longer the Juna I used to know. For one thing, she can't eat the usual things you and I eat. She just holds a burger from Meriken Burger, and it nearly drives her crazy with fright. A can of orange juice which claims to be organically grown and environmentally friendly makes her spew its contents out of her mouth with visions of dying insects and planes spraying insecticides. Right now she exists on the rice gruel she has her mother make especially for her. I don't know how she keeps body and soul together.

We just visited a hospital a while ago. Sayuri was there, confined, suffering pneumonia. What must it have felt like, for Juna to be there, for her to touch sick Sayuri? What images must have appeared in her mind, to add to her torment?

I tried to talk about it with her, just now. She never even noticed me walking up to her on that rock.

"Juna," I said. She kept staring at the horizon, a glassy, inward-directed look in her eyes.

"Juna."

Like one waking from a dream, she stirred. "Huh? Oh… Tokio."

"What do you see, Juna?" What does the earth say to you now? What does the wind hold?

"Why?"

I shrug. "Nothing. I just wanted to know."

She looks down at the water in front of her, and her dark hair falls forward, hiding her eyes. "I see… I see many things. They sing to me, Tokio. They sing of death, and misery, and suffering. Sometimes of life, and happiness, and joy." Her foot kicks forward and sends a spray of seawater flying. "But it's almost impossible to find that, here in the city."

I lay a hand on hers, and she flinches. It's a tiny gesture, but I can see it. I wonder what she sees in me. But I'm afraid to ask. I'm an ordinary high school student. Like everyone else, I enjoy the fruits of civilization. I don't think I want to find out I'm full of processed crap.

"Do they ever stop?" I ask her. "The visions?"

She nods. "But they're getting more and more frequent."

"It must get noisy inside your head," I try to joke.

Her reply is all seriousness. "Yes, it does."

How do you sleep at night? I want to ask her. How do you make the screams and moans of the dying, the images of the filth and greed and putrid decay of humanity, stop long enough to rest?

I want to let her know I'm concerned. I touch her forearm, and when she doesn't react, I hug her. She covers my hands in her own, and leans against me. I smell the shampoo in her hair.

"How are you coping? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, Tokio. I've learned it's nothing to be afraid of, seeing the visions and hearing the voices of the earth. That's all they are. They can disturb me, but they can't hurt me." It's the longest I've heard her speak today. Maybe she's telling me the truth, and not feeding me lies just so I won't worry.

"But what they're showing can," I say. "You know, the Raaja." She doesn't reply.

"Sometimes," she says, closing her eyes, "I wish I could share them with you. It's not all bad. Sometimes they're so beautiful I wish they'd go on forever."

No thanks, Juna, I want to tell her. I'll stick to being an ordinary human, blind and deaf to what you see and hear. Saving the planet—saving ourselves—is not something I'm cut out for. I'll leave that to you and Chris and Cindy and SEED. Instead, I hear myself say, "I'd like that too."

Why did I say that? Was it because I wanted to impress Juna? How could I, when most of the time she doesn't even seem to notice me beside her, ever since those visions started appearing? Or could it have been because of some other reason?

What's it like, Juna? To have the weight of a planet on your shoulders? To be its guardian? How will you maintain your humanity when you finally learn to resonate with every single living thing on planet Earth?

And yet, in spite of all that's happened, you still can't use your bow right. My silly Juna.

I want to talk to her more, to tell her all that's in my heart, to show her that I'm beside her, just waiting for her to look at me in a different light. But the glassy, faraway look has returned to her eyes, and I don't feel like competing with the water and the plankton, the wind and the gulls, the sand and the crabs.

She speaks, and I listen.

"If they ever make a CD about it, they should call it Songs of a Dying Planet, Tokio. Because that's what they are." She stares out again to the sunset, and I see its orange light reflected in her eyes. The waves lap at her bare feet. I'm sure they whisper to her the lament of the fish being caught out at sea, in the nets, in the long-lines, their bodies being dumped into the stinking holds of commercial fishing ships.

I cannot reach her. And she still sits there all alone.


Disclaimer: Earth Girl Arjuna © 2001 ARJUNA PROJECT/ Sotsu Agency/ TV Tokyo. This work is not intended for commercial gain or to otherwise challenge these copyrights.