(A/N: This is just a short one-shot that came to me recently that I finally decided to write. It takes place years after the movie.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing
"It's just up ahead." Said a woman in her twenties as she pushed aside several branches.
A short distance behind her, slowed down because he was carrying a bundle wrapped in blankets, was her husband. She had actually brought them into the woods. Was this her idea of a joke?
It wasn't that he minded a walk in the woods, he just hadn't wanted to bring what he was carrying with them, but his wife insisted upon it, saying that this was the whole reason for coming here.
"Satsuki, there's nothing here." he complained. "Are you sure you're going the right way?"
She looked back at him, cutting her eyes. "Of course I'm sure, Kanta. Mei and I came here all the time when we were kids. I'll never forget the way."
Kanta sighed. "If you say so."
She gave him a suspicious look. "You do believe me, don't you?"
He hesitated. "It's not that I don't believe you. It's just, you're story is hard to swallow. A giant cat that's also a bus, soot sprites, an overgrown rabbit who's the protector of the forest."
"Totoro is not a rabbit!" Satsuki snapped. "He's a spirit. A king. And one of my best friends. I might never have found Mei when she got lost all those years ago if it wasn't for him."
Kanta sighed again. He knew the story of Totoro. He'd believed in him when he was a kid, just like he believed in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. But that was a long time ago. Such fairy tales were only meant to entertain children and teach them lessons.
But Satsuki and her sister claimed to have actually met the spirit on several occasions. Said that they were friends who played together all the time. And that belief had remained with them even after they grew up.
Kanta never knew his wife or sister-in-law to be liars. And there was nothing wrong with either of them mentally. That could only mean that they were telling the truth. But still, it was hard to believe.
Satsuki pushed aside more branches and looked around. "I could have sworn it was over here." She crossed her arms and tapped her foot. "Hmm… Where is it?"
Recalling a part of the story, Kanta said, "Maybe we can't find our way to him because we're adults. Only kids are supposed to be able to see him. Wasn't Mei unable to find his home when she tried to bring her father along?"
Satsuki considered this for a moment. "Yeah, that's true. But I don't think Dad ever really believed in Totoro. He probably just thought that it was just a story too, and maybe that's why she couldn't get there. Maybe anyone who's looking for him has to actually believe in him as a real person." She looked back at her husband suspiciously. "If that's the case, then it's your fault, because you don't believe."
Kanta grinned nervously. "Satsuki, I want to believe. I think it'd be really great if there was actually some sort of being watching over the forest."
Satsuki groaned. She supposed she couldn't blame him though. She would find such a story hard to believe too if it had been told to her at this age. "Ok, then lets try something else. Let's say that instead of it being Totoro who helped me find Mei, it was just some random person. And instead of trying to find the home of Totoro, we're just trying to find the spot where Mei and I used to play when we were kids. Can you focus on that?"
That was easy enough to believe. There were a lot of people trying to find Mei when she had gotten lost. Surely someone helped Satsuki to find her sister. So that was believable. And practically every kid had a secret hideout at some point in their life where they liked to go and play. So that was believable as well.
Kanta nodded. "Ok, that's easy enough to do."
Satsuki smiled. If Kanta believed in those two things, then maybe they could find Totoro, because both would lead to the forest spirit. "Good. Ok then, lets go- AHHHHH!"
"Satsuki!" Kanta cried.
As Satsuki had turned to continue further into the woods, she had suddenly vanished from view. She was now tumbling head over heels down a hill and came crashing down inside a hollow tree.
"Ouch…" she mumbled, rubbing her head. "How could I have forgotten about that?"
"Satsuki!" Kanta called down to her. "Are you all right?"
Satsuki was about to answer him, but then she noticed that she was in a familiar spot. This place, this was the spot where Totoro slept. The first time Mei had come across Totoro, she had landed right on his belly in this very spot.
"I'm fine!" she called up to him. "Hurry up and come down here. I found it."
A couple minutes later, Kanta joined her down below, having found a different path to take. He looked around the place where they were curiously. It was rather pretty, and very peaceful. It was an opening in the forest that almost felt like a sanctuary. And there was a strange feel in the air, as if this were a mystical or holy place.
"This is it?" he asked.
Satsuki nodded happily. "Yeah. It's Totoro's home. Nice, isn't it? Hasn't changed a bit. Believe me now?"
Kanta had to admit that being in this mysterious place was helping his belief. It felt like something out of a dream, a spot so perfect that it couldn't possibly be real. How could a simple clearing in the woods have this kind of an impact on him?
"But where's Totoro?" he asked. "Shouldn't he be here?"
Satsuki looked around with a small frown on her face. "He should, but I don't see him anywhere." Crossing her arms, she sighed in disappointment. "I was afraid of this. Only kids can see him, and we're not kids anymore. So he may very well be here, and we just don't know."
Kanta glanced at her. "So, what now?"
Satsuki shrugged. "Well, we didn't come here for nothing." She cupped her hands around her mouth and called out loudly. "Hey, Totoro! Are you there? It's me, Satsuki! My sister and I used to play with you all the time when we were small! Remember?"
She received no reply, not that she expected to get one anyway. But even though she couldn't hear or see anyone, she had the funny feeling that someone was watching her.
She motioned towards Kanta. "This is my husband, Kanta. Remember, I was dating him for a long time. And now we're married. Say hello, Kanta."
This time, she did expect a response, not from Totoro, but from her husband. Yet he remained silent. Satsuki glanced at him and saw him looking around curiously.
He jumped. "Huh? Oh, sorry. It just felt like someone was watching us."
That caught Satsuki's interest. So he could feel it too. "Then maybe he really is here."
She held out her arms for the bundle Kanta was holding. He handed it to her and she looked down at it with a smile. Removing the blanket, she received a squeal of protest from whatever was wrapped up in it. An infant only a few months old shifted about, upset at having its warm blanket taken away.
Satsuki placed a kiss on the child's head and held it up. "This is Sasaki, our daughter. She was born not too long ago. I wanted you to see her. And… I have a request, if that's ok."
The wind blew gently, almost as if it was telling her to state her request.
"You were always there for my sister and me." Satsuki continued. "You watched over us, kept us safe, helped us when we were in trouble, and were a true friend. I ask you to do the same for my daughter. Please, wise and mighty King Totoro, I request that you watch over and protect my daughter, just as you did for my sister and me. I really hope the two of you will become friends."
Although Kanta liked the idea of having a spiritual guardian for their daughter, he didn't want little Sasaki out here in the woods while she was this small. There was poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes, and other things. He'd feel better once she was safely inside again.
"I think we should head back." He said. "We're supposed to meet your parents for dinner. And I don't like having Sasaki out here while she's so young."
Satsuki wrapped the blanket around their daughter again. "I guess you're right. Lets go."
As they turned to leave, the wind blew loudly, making a roaring noise that sounded a lot like TO-TO-ROOOOO!
Satsuki stopped and turned around. Hearing a giggle from her daughter, she looked down to see Sasaki's arm stretched out, her hand clenching and unclenching, as if she were trying to grab something.
Looking up, Satsuki's eyes widened when she saw an umbrella stuck in a tree. Actually, it looked more like it was simply floating in the air, not touching anything.
The branch beneath the floating umbrella shuddered as if something on it had jumped off. Then the umbrella floated up and away, disappearing behind the branches.
It had all happened so fast. Perhaps the umbrella really had been merely stuck in the tree and it only looked like it was floating. Maybe it wasn't even the same one Satsuki had given to Totoro all those years ago, but merely one that looked like it.
Whatever the case, it made Satsuki smile. "Thank you, Totoro."
(A/N: That's it. Told you it was short, but I thought it was cute. Tell me if you like it or not.)