First chapter revised May 27th, 2011
CHAPTIRE ONE: THE UNFORTUNATE EVENTS AND LETTERS SHE SENT
"Dear Aunt Yuki,
I'll be honest with you—although my parents said you and Uncle were willing to share your home with me in the event of their death, I'm not too sure if that was true or not.
My apologies, but I refuse your offer, as well as my parent's wishes. As Mother and Father requested in their will, I will share part of the inheritance with you.
The government issues have been taken care of. Please, do not trouble yourself over this, and I hope that you are satisfied with this arrangement.
She penned the last words with more force than necessary, sending a messy ink blot across the page.
"Greedy bastards," she muttered. Her normally gentle and kind features were cold. "All they want is the inheritance." With a deft movement of her hand, she folded the page in half and sealed it into an envelope, slapping on a few stamps.
With the electricity bills half-paid, she'd completely pulled everything she didn't need, including her computer. Her current part-time job just couldn't cover the costs. Email was out of the question, and she really didn't want to even talk to her relatives.
Michiru glanced at the glass picture she had of her mother and father. "I'm sorry, but I don't want to live with them forever."
She stood, taking the envelope, and went outside. The slim sliver of moon was obscured by the black outlines of the tree by her house, a silvery-gray luminescence covering the empty road. The cold grass felt uncomfortable and prickly against her bare feet, so she quickly strode to the mailbox and jammed the envelope in. She paused, the metal glinting with moonlight.
"Mother, Father…. Why'd you have to leave?"
She shuddered as a sudden gust of wind blew her hair back, ruffling her baggy pajamas. "That's not the answer that I was looking for," she shouted into the wind.
After gazing uncomfortably at the unusually quiet street, she headed back inside. As the front door slammed and she clicked the lock shut, the trees rustled softly, a silent showering of rain leaves filling the air.
I immediately opened my eyes to find myself lying on my bed, the covers twisted around my body, the cotton sheets uncomfortably hot. My hair was plastered in slick bangs across my forehead—a nightmare. My glasses were lying next to me, and I reached for them, thought better of it, and rushed to the bathroom. Bile rose in my mouth and I was quietly sick, the feverish heat dissipating under the coldness of the room.
After I was done, I brushed my teeth and turned on the lights, feeling the panic go away under the warm glow. My reflection glared sullenly back at me, and I narrowed my eyes in response. My feet padded silently against the creamy white carpet as I left, the lights automatically going out behind me.
It had been two years since my parents died. Two years since my life was destroyed, two years of suffering from these nightmares day after day.
The fact that I had still had school didn't help either. I slumped against the sofa, feeling a headache pounding at my head.
I was in my freshman year of college, having used my own fortune to pay for my tuition. My aunt and uncle had received a quarter of the inheritance, which was quite a lot. I cursed silently in my head, wondering why I kept dreaming of my mother and father.
The rings, I decided. The rings are my curse. They caused my parents to die.
I had always seen those black rings around, even from my birth. Once, when I was still little, I had a friend named Shizuka, a cheerful girl in my class. I went to school with her every day, and the ring had appeared one morning. I commented on it, even tracing it on her neck as proof. How could she not have seen? I remember asking that question to my teacher, the adults, everyone—Shizuka had a black ring around her neck. I couldn't understand why they couldn't see it, and finally when the other children began regarding me as 'different,' I stopped. I pretended it was no longer there.
Shizuka died one week later when a fire burned her house to ashes. She was only six.
The ring had turned pure black when she went home that evening. It was the last time I ever saw her.
More incidents began to occur—that old neighbor next door, the man walking in the street, the people on TV in the news—they all died when the ring turned black.
So naturally, I kept silent. What else could I have done? And on the day my parents' rings turned black, I begged them not to go. I begged them to stay home with me.
They only laughed and promised to come home after work, dismissing my fears as a quirk, phase, whatever they thought it was. "We'll come back, we promise! Don't worry."
What a lie.