The door of the room closed quietly.
I saw my room in front of me; the tidy bed placed against the wall, the desk that held all kinds of books and stationeries, the window with curtains drawn--
This room belonged to Yamase Akemi, and this house was where she grew up.
And with her was the sister named Yamase Maiko, who cared for her sibling many times in this room.
The elder sister called Maiko, who had disappeared in her little sister's arms on that morning dawn.
What, had happened?
I thought to myself; my mind rejected the facts that it was presented with- such ridiculous things, Onee-chan turning into a monster, Onee-chan being killed, Onee-chan--
Onee-chan- not being here anymore-
It isn't real, I told myself, Onee-chan couldn't have turned into a monster; the kind, caring Onee-chan she knew and called upon during all these years, when there was trouble, when she was scared.
But, the black mass that formed her body...
The bed protested a little when I collapsed on it, and the groan of wood rang clearly in my ears.
I've never paid much attention to it, but this bed was where I dreamt of all the times I spent with everyone- Mom, Dad, and Onee-chan--
Onee-chan read me bedtimes stories here when I was still small, and took care of me when I fell sick and had to stay in this bed, and, and--
And comforted me when I was crying under the covers--
I'm crying now, Onee-chan- why aren't you here?!
My mind wanted an explanation, refusing believe in what had occurred; but who could explain everything?
--My clouded mind remembered something.
Ah, that was right.
There was the two strange women that was there at the park, and a pale-faced teenager with a knife...
The person who had drove the knife into Onee-chan's body as I was running to the park, as I was watching from a distance.
The one the two women had called Shiki-kun had killed my sister as I looked on.
Hatred for the one that took away the one precious to me.
It grew in me, roaring, telling me I should take revenge...
Onee-chan said that she had already died.
And horrible beasts had emerged from the black mass that formed her body.
So, if Onee-chan had really become a monster, then--
But the hatred was still there.
Irrational, yet unquestioned.
Excessive, yet necessary.
That precious memory of my sister was protected from the implications of the truth by this hatred.
But Onee-chan never looked at the one called Shiki-kun with hatred or anger.
Even as she was fading away, she never shown any signs of fury for being forced to leave this world.
What she showed--
--Was a regretful, tearful face to her little sister, whose birthday celebration she couldn't attend.
That, was the regret that was in her mind.
The birthday party she could never attend.
The sister's dejection at her absence.
The family that might never know of her fate.
Even in her last moments in this world, that was the biggest regret in her thoughts.
Her life was filled with me, so that I can put my mind at ease and do the things I want to.
How... very selfish...
Even, right now, I-I'm crying, when Onee-chan t-told me to be strong-- b, butIjustcan't--
The door marked 'Yamase Maiko' was before me.
The handle felt cold to my hand as I turned it.
And then I was in the room that had lost its master.
The room of Yamase Maiko had been tidied every day by Yamase Akemi and her mother.
Day after day, even if it was painful for them.
For them, who had prayed for her safe return every day, and had been denied an answer.
Did I come here to find comfort in what she left behind?
Did I come here in hopes that she might be here, in her bed, showing me that it was just another bad dream like before?
I don't know.
But something wanted me to come here.
A compelling force that moved my feet to this room, even though it intensified the pain in my heart.
I walked on the pink carpet, across to the desk by the window.
Books filled the top compartment, and a drawer was also included; even though I came in here everyday, I held back my curiosity and stopped myself from peeking at Onee-chan's belongings.
Because she might get angry.
I checked the books; ordinary textbooks and notes for school.
A reminder of the normal days she spent.
A reminder of the everyday life I lived.
But that, was a feeling that neither of us can know ever again.
I checked the desk drawer next, pulling on it.
It slide open smoothly, and I looked inside.
"Ah, this is...!"
A pretty little music box.
It had little carvings on the sides and a single plastic flower attached to a corner on the top.
When I opened it, a familiar tune started playing-- 'Snow Dance', from a romance series I once saw on TV.
And a beautifully written note was inside:
I know it would be months before you have enough to buy this, so I got it for you.
Use the money you saved carefully, okay?'
So... she didn't mean it after all.
I was silly to think she could really be that way...
I had walked pass the store with Onee-chan many times before, and told her how much I loved that music box one day.
Her reply was simply, "It's expensive, so you'll have to save for a bit to get it, Akemi".
And then she continued onto the place where her new part-time job was at.
I've never said anything about again, but Onee-chan remembered about it.
And she spent so much of her time to make enough money to buy this wooden music box, even if she had to come home tired each evening because of her part-time job.
She did it because it was her desire, a wish to protect her fragile little sister and make her smile.
--This music box that I held in my hand was the thing she wanted to give me for my birthday, during the party that she never did attend.
I started crying again.
A silly, strange regret came up along with all the other feelings.
One which lamented the fact that I can never give her a present as well, for her next birthday.
--But she had a wish that wasn't fulfilled yet.
"... Be strong... I was always there to protect you, right..."
Those words was what she had told me, beneath that cold white moon.
She did everything to make sure that I will be fine even on my own.
So, I must not waste her efforts...
But, I do have some requests, Nee-san--
Please let me keep my memories of you, even though I have to rely on them sometimes.
A-And, for now--
P-please, let me-----be, a little fragile------
And before the warmth of noon comes by.
Please allow the morning dew to fall
From the cold surface of the silent green leaves
That had seen the frozen night.