The day was clear and sunny when the old woman walked down the path to the cemetery. The fact that she was alone pierced her and would have been cause for retreat, if not for her resolution.
"She was a menace!"
"She was our daughter."
"…Go yourself then. Leave me out of this."
It had taken four years to build up the courage to confront her husband, and she would see this through.
Her eyes sadly watched her soft pink shoes shuffle forward. Just a few more feet…she was there. The sunlight filtered through the modest shrine architecture, and the woman was met with a small gathering of headstones. She stepped forward, quietly reading the kanji until she reached one that read the name she searched for.
"Kyoko…" she whispered. Looking down, she noticed that rice balls and incense had all ready been laid out. Slowly she knelt to the ground and presented her own gift, a small gummy candy. Once when she was a little girl, Kyoko had asked for one in the store. She had said that the child was energetic enough without the extra sugar.
The woman closed her eyes against the vision of her crest fallen daughter-- only to be met with a far worse memory.
"Just who the hell asked you to have me?!"
A tear slipped from beneath one wrinkled lid. What kind of mother was she, to offer her daughter's memory a gummy candy she probably never liked in the first place? More tears came.
"I'm so sorry, Kyoko-chan."
Her husbands harsh words echoed through her mind, as did the vision of her daughter's defeated stance. Kyoko had been hurt, sad, and angry before—but never defeated.
Then he came, and took her away to a new life. She couldn't bare too look at his gravestone where it stood next to her daughter's. His parting words still filled her heart with overwhelming shame; words that had been deserved, in face of her own pride and her husband's arrogance.
The tears were flowing freely now. It hadn't hurt, at first. When her husband had cast Kyoko out, she had been inwardly happy. No more neighborhood scandals, no more anger, just simplicity.
It didn't start until the nightmares came. Dreams of a small child, alone in the dark. A little girl that morphed into a large, angry woman screaming at her. Then, Kyoko's proud retreating back. There were even a few--though infrequent--where her daughter laid on the ground in a pool of blood, hand outstretched towards her.
She just wanted to forget. Forget her daughter's sadness, her flaming eyes, and the pain her death had brought.
The moments stretched on, the woman crying, the sun shining, and a soft wind blowing through the trees. Finally her tremors ceased, as did her tears. She simply stared at the gravestone, numb. The wind strengthened and the elder shivered from the cold. Quietly she stood up and tried to smooth her hair back into its kept appearance. Without any sense of resolution she left the cemetery and began the long walk back home.
Laughter hit her ears. Stopping, she turned and saw a large crowd of teenagers head into the same graveyard she had left. Curious, she turned back to watch them.
In front of her astonished eyes, they laid out a small picnic and sat down in front of her daughters plot. Just as she was about to march forward in anger a young girl bowed to the stone, placing an offering before Kyoko. The girl then stopped and gave out a delighted laugh.
"What is it Tohru?" a tall blond girl questioned.
"Someone left a gummy for Mom!"
The old woman stared out the girl—her granddaughter.
Tohru continued, "These were Mom's favorite candies. Grandpa must've left it earlier with his other offerings."
A little of the tension the old woman felt relaxed. So she had still liked them. Tohru smiled brightly, and her group lit up in response. They talked for a while about times spent with Kyoko. The old woman stood hidden by the archway, listening to the latter years of her daughter's life. It remained like that for nearly half an hour before the group began cleaning up.
Conflicted, the old woman wondered if she should approach her granddaughter and her friends. Surely after all these years she wouldn't be welcome, but…
"It's hard to believe you'll be leaving in just a little while Tohru," the blond girl commented again. Silence fell over the party. An orange-haired man gently took Tohru's hand in his own.
"Yes," she said, somberly. Then she smiled again. "But it's time to move on. Time to live."
Time to live.
Without approaching the group, the woman turned around and shuffled on her way. She didn't notice the pair of black eyes that watched her leave, or notice that the strange girl neglected to comment on the spy to her friends.
It was too late to take Kyoko back, when she was dead. It was too late to accept Tohru, when she so obviously had found another loving family. But maybe it wasn't too late to begin living again.
It had been stupid to try to forget by paying respects on the day of Kyoko's death. She was an old woman now, but she would learn to treasure her daughter's memory as her granddaughter did. Not as a regret or burden, but as a woman who had lived a good life.
She had screwed up once, and let Kyoko disappear from her life.
She wouldn't make the same mistake and let her disappear from her heart.
A/N: Hello all, I'm sure you thought I had died or worse, stopped writing. But I haven't. Things have just been very busy. However, I hope to start putting fanfiction up here again soon. I want to apologize for any gramatical errors there might be-- I read this story pretty carefully-- but all I have is notebook on my computer right now. Thank you for reading my story, and don't forget to review!