He calls, the night before she starts at Banda. She answers half by reflex and half by weakness, although in the end they are maybe the same things, here in the quiet smallness of her mother's house and in the awful enormity of her Banda uniform—she meets his voice alight with static like she had met the pieces of his breath in her mouth last year. The taste of them is almost still there, lying under her tongue, in the foam of the spit that collects behind her teeth.

"Is this really what you want?" he says to her, slow and soft, like the beginning to a sigh. It is almost the tone he had used for her on that day they'd shed their miseries together: the two of them, pitiful humans making each other into the shape of one another's unhappiness. Satomi smooths out the creases in her skirt over and over again and feels frighteningly pitiful. She feels as though she had never grown up.

"Yes," she says, and resists the urge to fall where Amapola is flying. She bites back his name in her mouth. "I—," she starts, and stops, because she realises that she had no idea what she was going to say. She suddenly feels inexplicably breathless.

"Bungo," she says, giving in. Amapola surges into the sky, and when she closes her eyes there is a sea of stars behind them. Bungo makes some small noise that could almost be her name. She traces her jawbone with her fingernail and tries to imagine the feel of it against her mouth, one last time. (you could have it again, if you wanted. it could be the last piece of selfishness you let yourself have, or maybe the first. you could tell him "let's start over, let's try again" and he would never say no. but then, isn't that the last difference between you? he is content with his pitiful life and selfish human wants and he is content to settle for what he has.)

"—I don't need you anymore," Satomi says, and falls-through, falls forever. There is silence for a long time before the dial tone sounds in her ear and immediately afterwards she almost considers calling him back but doesn't. There would be nothing at all to say.

(you are not.)