disclaimer: shiawase kissa sanchoume © kou matsuzuki.

— half a thousand sunsets
by breakable bird

It's not, Kinako thinks, as if she loves him.

Kura is lovely. Kura has always been lovely. And Kinako knows that. Kinako loves Kura. Abekawa Kura, these kimono-clad days, and her hair is trimmed even and her eyes are so kind and her smile's always is a bit higher at the left. Her fingers are long and elegant, and her posture is perfect. She likes Japanese and sweets and she loves, loves, loves her husband.

(Loves her boys.)

Kinako would never do anything to hurt her, she thinks, chopping carrots and remembering rainy Saturdays and magazines and breathy giggles falling down her collarbone. Kinako loves Kura—my most beloved person, she thinks. (Kinako hides her secret well.) And so what if he makes her laugh sometimes. He's a jerk. She doesn't care. She doesn't care because Kura is dying and she has always been a very, very bad liar.

Kinako hates Kura's pain.

(I'm fine, she says, and Kinako closes the door and cries, hiding in corridors that aren't hers and listening whispers that aren't meant for her heart and so what if he sounds like someone is eating his soul?)

Her darling Kura deservers so much more.

The worst days, Kinako is dying with Kura. And they hold hands, and they trade secrets, and Kura's husband (husbandhusbandhusband) waits at the doorstep (there is no sense in hospitals at the real end, because death never loses, and white and blood and sickness—those horrible things would only make it worse), and it's just like the old times, before they argued and Kura made jokes about «her one true love» and before Kinako complained but how can you look at him twice!

Then Kura dies and she knows. Knows, because her heartbeat is slower and her hands are cold and the secrets are stuck in her troath and (Kura, I love you.)

A warm afternoon, she is almost glad. There is guilt, of course, and there is fear, and she feels ugly and twisted, but when one piece is missing it doesn't make sense to fight. So Kinako eats sweets, and pretends Kura's husband isn't looking at her shadow instead of her face.

It's not, Kinako thinks, as if she loves him.