Haruko had planted sunflowers just outside her screen door. They swayed slightly on the wind that still smelled like summer. The wind would always smell like summer. It felt like the summer would never end, though the school year would be starting up again. Tomorrow, Haruko thought. No one will be calling Misuzu's name tomorrow. The rustling of the sunflowers sounded like Misuzu's laughter rushing through the golden petals.
Haruko spent sober nights staring out the screen door and watching the sunflowers sway to music that she couldn't hear. After a few hours, she couldn't take it. She had to hear the music. She pushed herself up with a strangled moan and opened the door. The wind rushed to greet her, still cool and joyful. It played with her hair and tried, unsuccessfully, to brush away the ocean water that was flowing down her cheeks.
"Would you say that it's a beautiful night, Misuzu?" She asked the wind. The wind sang through the curtains and whispered in her ears. It would be comforting if it knew how to speak to her. But it only knew what to say to stir up ocean waves and sung its best only for the trees that listened.
Haruko couldn't sleep tonight. The music was too loud and too cold and she was so much lonelier than she would ever admit.
There was a trunk in the back of her closet. It was full of dinosaurs. They had been waiting all their lives for Misuzu to come and set them free.
But she never did come and never would. The dinosaurs were all alone.
There were birthday dinosaurs, graduation dinosaurs, achievement dinosaurs, just-to-say-I-love-you dinosaurs. There were years and years of dinosaurs stuffed into that battered brown trunk trapped in the back of her closet.
Haruko could never stop buying them. She saw them calling to her from shop windows. They never roared at her, they just cried and cried.
Take me home. Take me home. She'll love me. Misuzu will love me.
Their plastic eyes glowed with sadness as she turned them over in her hands, trying to decide if they were even worth it.
Then she'd imagine Misuzu's smile.
"He's so cute! What should I name him, mom?"
Then she'd almost run to the register, tear her wallet from her pocket and buy all the stupid dinosaurs in the store. She'd have bought all the stupid dinosaurs in the world for Misuzu.
But she just stuffed them in the trunk, if she hadn't thrown them in a rubbish bin first. They cried after her, screaming for the same love that Misuzu had always wanted. The love that Misuzu gave and gave to everyone. The love that no one ever gave back.
Haruko ran to her room, nearly tripping over everything in front of her. She bumped into the wall. It made her side ache, but she just kept going.
She was going to set all the dinosaurs free.
She ripped the closet open, pulled the trunk out and opened it. There were so many dinosaurs.
She grabbed fistfuls at first then moved on to large, bursting armfuls.
She was going to decorate the house with dinosaurs. Misuzu would have never stopped smiling, if only she had seen all those dinosaurs.
Haruko put one in the bathroom. It was balancing on the towel rack beside the sink.
"You'll always have someone to talk to when you're taking a bath," she said to no one at all.
She put one by the stove with a laugh and said "you look like a cooking sort of fellow. Hey, how 'bout this: I'll make ya a little chef hat and you can cook all the meals?"
She put them on windowsills, on beds, on top of curtain rods, on the floor, under tables and any other place that the dinosaurs wanted to go.
But one stumped her. He was a stegosaurus, she thought. But she wasn't really sure. She should have listened to Misuzu more. Maybe she'd go to the library and check out a book all about dinosaurs. She'd have to sit right at the table in the middle of the room and read it as loudly as she could, so all the dinosaurs could hear her. And maybe Misuzu would hear her too.
Mister Stegosaurus was the saddest dinosaur she'd ever seen. His head was so tiny and the cloth around his eyes went down so low over them it was hard to see into the dark depths of his plastic eyes. He looked like he was going to cry.
"A crying dinosaur, how 'bout that?" Haruko muttered to herself and the dinosaur. "I'll put you on the table by the tissue box, little fellow, and we can spend some quality time together. I have a feeling that we'll be good friends."
She laid Mister Stegosaurus carefully on the table. He didn't make a sound. He didn't even move. Just stared out the screen door at the sunflowers.
"Look at all the dinosaurs, Misuzu. They're all for you." She whispered, crying soundlessly. "They're all for you."
She sat down at the table by Mister Stegosaurus, staring at the sunflowers and listening to the wind. Hoping that the wind would answer her as it blew between the golden sunflower petals.
It made her cry even more to know that when she called only the wind would ever answer.