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3. Forever feels... so long in my lonely mind...

She gripped the flower stems in a trembling hand. "Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad."

She was met with silence.

... Usually, headstones don't say things back. And that moment was no exception.

She laid the wildflowers down, taking a seat on a blanket she'd spread out over the sandy ground. She reached out, brushed her hand across the stone, her thumb smoothing over the date.

... Had it really been a year already?

It felt shorter. It felt longer.

"Hope you're both doing well. Things are fine down here. Or... as fine as they can be. Poruto thinks we'll have a good harvest this year, if the Land Shark doesn't tear up the fields again. Um, what else...? Oh! Things are going well at school, such as it is. It's still kind of weird for all five of us to be learning at the same level, but... We're all doing well. Well, the rest of us are, and Shu is trying. Shu's learning more smithing, though; he's getting to be good at it. I'm... proud of him. If you saw him working, I'm sure both of you would be, too.

"Jiro is doing well, I think. He's been really wonderful to me since you... since a year ago. Both him and Shu. They've been so kind to me... And when things get hard, they're always there to help me. I... I don't know what I'd do without them.

"I'm trying hard as the village's new doctor. I could never replace either of you, but I'm doing as much as I can to fill in that role. Sometimes it's difficult, and I'm always afraid that one day I'll mess up and someone will end up paying for my mistakes... But I guess that's what it means to take care of people, huh? They put their faith in you, and it's your responsibility to help them and be worthy of that trust.

"... I miss both of you. So much. I don't think I could ever put into words just how much... But, if anyone would know how I feel, it would be the two of you. To be apart from you both hurts... It hurts more than I ever thought was possible. I would give anything to be with you again...

"Mom... After she passed away, you used to say all the time that Grandma was in heaven, and we'd see her again one day. I always took that to heart, but now it means everything to me - because if I'll see her again one day, then that has to be true for you and Dad, too. I have to believe that. It's the only thing that keeps me going sometimes, the thought that I'll see you two once more.

"So, I'll wait for that far-off day, when the three of us can be together again. Even if it feels like forever...

"It might be hard to wait sometimes... But I promise I'll do my best to be patient.

"Mom, Dad... I love you."