Part 102: Coco's Route - True End - Part 7TrackInsel Null
"Let's get some sleep now?"
Coco and I started to walk. Coco walked holding my hand. Her hand was so very small....
I thought to myself. Coco had wanted so bad to call me 'daddy'....But it seemed that she had forgotten all about it. I was relieved. But at the same time, I felt a bit lonely.
I repeated the words to myself again. I had mixed feelings.
Video: Coco - Childlike
It was Coco's turn to use the bed in the infirmary tonight.
For some reason, You was standing there.
"Heh, heh, heh, heh...I saw you guys!"
You had a grin on her face.
"Piyo piyo, huh? What was that all about?"
"Ohhh, I'm embarrassed just thiiinking about it!"
Of course, the one who was embarrassed was me. Burning hot blood surged up from the pit of my stomach to my head. All of a sudden, my face felt like it was engulfed in flames.
"I, I don't know what the heck you are talking about! Right, Coco?"
"I know what she's talking about."
"You're talking about how we were playing 'chicks,' right Nakkyu?"
"Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah..."
"If you were watching, you should've joined us!"
"Huh?...Nah, I'm glad I passed, thanks."
"I don't know, it's just...."
"Oh I know! We can play another game right now!"
"N-now!? No, no, no, it's alright, really....Besides, it's really late, you know?"
"Well...I suppose you're right."
You wiped away the sweat that had appeared on her forehead with the back of her hand.
"I suppose I'll wait until tomorrow, then."
Coco ran off to the infirmary gesturing like a chick. You and I were left standing there.... We stared at each other.
"Well, you see she has fun, okay?"
"Are you serious?"
"I am not really into that kind of stuff."
You was frowning. But her face started to soften as I watched.
You was trying hard not to laugh, by pressing her hand on her mouth....She was probably recalling my antics from earlier. I had a bad feeling.
"Hey, You? I've got a favor to ask...."
"Can you just forget what you saw tonight?"
"Ha, ha, ha! How do you expect me to forget that?"
"Well, I suppose....Then you don't have to forget it, but would you at least keep it a secret from Tsugumi, Sora and the Kid?"
"I guess I could keep quiet about it...at least for a while."
"What do you mean for a while?"
"You never know when it might come in handy."
What do you know...? She wanted to use it to blackmail me.
"So anyways, Takeshi...You get my drift? Right?"
You patted me on the shoulder and walked away. I had no idea what she would ask of me, but I knew she had me where she wanted me. Of any of the five people that could have seen us, she was the worst.
I shook my head with a sigh and opened the Infirmary door.
Still, I heard the breathing of three sleeping people. Although I couldn't see any of them, I could tell who was sleeping where. Tsugumi, who was injured, was sleeping on the bed at the end of the room. The Kid was sleeping on the examination table. Coco was using the bed in the middle. Which meant I would be sleeping...In the decompression chamber under the Infirmary.
About 90 minutes earlier, I had actually been sleeping there, before Coco shoved hydrogen peroxide up my nose...You, it seemed, had lined up some chairs in the Conference Room and gone to sleep on them.
I headed toward the lift in the back of the room. I stopped briefly to check in on Coco. I went up to the bed in the middle of the room. Although she had been so excited a little while earlier, Coco seemed to be in a deep sleep already.
(I suppose she's exhausted from all that playing)
Coco rolled over and scratched her cheek with her fingers. Her blanket had slightly fallen off of her. Fixing her covers, I touched her hair gently.
Coco mumbled softly in her sleep.
I didn't know which dad she was referring to...But I couldn't help smiling.
"I'm so cold....Please...let me out of here...."
"What is it, Sara?"
It had been over 12 hours since Sara started calling me 'brother'. The swelling of Sara's eyelids had just started to fade. But her eyes were still watered. About 12 hours ago, Sora had told us the truth.
We hadn't slept at all since the day before. We had spent a long half-day, talking about all sorts of things. The memories of our childhood....Then our time at the 'hospital' as well of course. How I hadn't kept my promise...couldn't keep my promise....I had sworn to her that I would come to get her....Sara and I took a long time going over and understanding all of the details. There was too much to talk about. A half-day was hardly enough to restore the missing time.
But....Sara and I didn't need many words anymore. "Brother,"........."Yes, Sara?" With just these words, we could understand each other. Sara put her head on my shoulder, and closed her eyes gently. I sang her favorite lullaby.
TrackDer Mond Das Meer
"Moon sprite shouldering a long bow/Waiting inside a dream/Tonight a story by moonlight/Hoping the wait will be short/Sleeping curled and snug/Sleeping in mother's arms."
"Waiting inside a dream/Tonight a story by moonlight/Hoping the wait will be short/Sleeping curled and snug/Sleeping in mother's arms."
Clap clap clap....
"You've got a great voice, Coco."
"I know I do, don't I?"
"I've never heard that song before...is it a lullaby or something?"
"Yeah, it's a lullaby. My mom used to sing it to me."
"So I guess that song has a lot of good memories for you."
"No? It doesn't?"
"No, I just learned this song."
Their voices were coming from the kiosk. I went in.
"Takeshi...what are you doing here?"
"Oh, I just thought I'd see what you looked like playing 'chicks.'"
Yep, that was the reason I had gone searching for them, and eventually wound up at the souvenir shop.
"Oh, we finished playing that a while ago."
"What !? No way!!"
"Nakkyu was sooooo good at it....Compared to me, she was sooooo much more like a real chick....I was just amazed!"
"Oh, stop it, you're just trying to embarrass me with compliments!"
"It's true! You were really, really good!"
"Eh, heh, heh, heh...."
You, who had seemed so against the game to begin with, was embarrassed once she was complimented. What on earth was going on?? Had she actually enjoyed the game?
Speaking from the standpoint of someone who had experienced it....The game 'chicks' did seem to possess a kind of ritualistic, demonic charm that could subdue the human ability to be rational....It seemed to me that You might have been possessed by that charm. Oh well, that wasn't important. What was important was somehow I had missed out on seeing a historical moment; You's wacky performance. It was truly unfortunate...
I mentally clicked my tongue.
"So? What are you doing now?"
"You should be able to tell by looking at us?"
Coco and You were sitting face-to-face on the carpet. Pipi had set his face on Coco's head. Between the two of them was a mountain of small, bead-like grains. A pen was stuck at the top of the mountain.
"A game of avalanche with a mountain of sand?"
"No, Nakkyu, that's not right."
"This is a mountain of tears....It's a mountain of tears, not sand."
A mountain of tears? I sat next to them and pinched a single grain from the mountain.
"Oh, I remember....Coco was throwing these into the puddle at the ruins yesterday."
Clear, colorless grain. They were formed in the shape of a drop of water. "Glass tears". No, they weren't made of glass. I could tell by touching them.
"You never told me what they were yesterday, did you? So, I guess I'll try again...what are they?"
"They're mermaid tears."
Coco closed her eyes and nodded.
"I don't care what you say, there's no way these are real mermaid teardrops."
Saying this, You pointed to the display racks of the souvenir shop.
I stood up and walked toward where You had pointed.
Among all the stuff, there was a corner with a line of old-looking ceramic bottles.
It was slightly bigger than the size of my palm and heavier than I had imagined. It felt solid in my hand. Printed on the label was, "Mermaid Tears." I looked at the bottom of the bottle. There was a round stamp on it.
"Ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, acidifier, flavoring."
I shook the bottle. I heard a dry, crisp sound. Pulling out the cork top, I poured some out on my palm. I poured too much and some of them spilled from my hand to the floor. The "Mermaid Tears" bounced on the carpet as if they were dancing.
Holding the bottle in my right hand and "teardrops" in my left, I went back to where I had been sitting before and plopped myself down with a thud.
"So these 'Mermaid Tears' are just some kind of souvenir?"
Mumbling to myself, I popped all the 'teardrops' from my left hand into my mouth. I chomped down on them hard. The melting sweetness spread in my mouth.
"These are good!"
It had been a long time since I had tasted anything besides a chicken sandwich. I had heard somewhere before that eating sweets makes people feel happy. And at that moment I was enraptured by the sweetness in my mouth.
"Ohhhh my god!! You shouldn't have done that! I'm gonna tell on you!"
"Why? Is it because I'm eating them for free? Well, you are too, Coco."
"No, no, that wasn't what I meant at all. You just ate the teardrops of a mermaid, didn't you, Takepyon?"
"Yeah, I did. And I am going to eat more."
"If you do that....You will end up like 'The 800-year-old nun.'"
"800 year what?"
You and I looked at each other.
"You don't know the story of Yaobikuni, the 800-year-old nun?"
"Do you know what she's talking about, You?"
"Nope. Not a clue."
"Alright then, I, Coco, will tell you the story of the 800-year-old nun!"
"Hey, don't forget the applause."
Clap clap clap....
"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl. Who was 17 years old, and she loved camellia flowers. She also had a very handsome boyfriend. And he was about her same age, I think he was at least. Anyway, one day, he gave her a camellia flower as gift, and said."
"'This flower is for you.'"
"'Oh my, what a beautiful flower this is.'"
"'Yeah, this flower sure is pretty...but you're even more beautiful, even a million of these flowers wouldn't be as pretty as you.'"
"'Oh, you are such a sweet talker, you.'"
"'Hey, I'm not just trying to flatter you, I'm telling the truth.'"
"They were so passionately in love that they could talk this way in public and they wouldn't even be embarrassed about it."
"Well, one day....The girl's dad, his name was Gonta, went diving into the ocean. He did that because this old guy who lived in the ocean was like...."
"'Hey Gonta, I'm having a home party, wanna come?'...and invited him to a party."
"Mr. Gonta arrived at the most gorgeous mansion he'd ever seen in his whole life. But strangely, he was able to breathe once got inside."
"'Oh, good to see you, Gonta,' the old guy welcomed him."
"Gonta had a gourmet dinner and a wonderful time. But it eventually it came time for him to go home. Gonta said, 'I'm real sorry, but I've got to go home soon,' The old man who lived under the ocean said, 'Huh, you're leaving so soon? That's too bad.'"
"'My daughter's waiting for me at home. I'll come again sometime soon, okay?'"
"'Oh well...hey, why don't you take this for souvenir?'"
"The old man handed him a bottle of something that looked like alcohol. 'What's this?' asked Gonta. The old man answered with a big smile. 'It's Mermaid Tears.'"
"Gonta went home and hid the souvenir in the cabinet."
"And...a few days later...an 'incident' took place. While Gonta wasn't home, his daughter secretly opened the cabinet and drank all the liquid in the bottle. It was so delicious that the girl drank the whole thing up. And....After that, the girl stopped aging at all. A year had passed, then two and then three....After five, 10 and 20 years, the girl still was the same beautiful self. She had a body that would never age."
"Eternal youth and longevity has always been a dream and a hope for humans, but it wasn't the case for this girl. She lamented and cursed her own fate. Because she stayed at the age of 17 but her boyfriend grew older and older. One day an incident happened that was very sad. Her boyfriend passed from this world to the next at the tender age of 34. Before he died, he said to her. 'Wait for me for 700 years! After 700 years has passed, I'll be reborn into this world and come to you!' The girl cried and cried. BOY did she just cry and cry. After a while, because she was so sad at losing him, she decided to leave on a long trip. She renounced the material world and decided to live her life as a nun."
"The nun traveled around the country. She cured the sick, helped the poor, did a little farming, built some bridges over rivers and planted lots of camellia seeds. When the camellias grew mature, healthy and started to flower, she would move on to another region and begin all over again helping those in need....She continued living that way for hundreds of years. The reason she planted camellia seeds was as a way of giving directions to her boyfriend in case he came looking for her. She planted lots and lots of camellia seeds so that when he was reborn into this world, he would know where she was. She hadn't given up hope. She had kept believing the whole time that her boyfriend's words would come true. At last, 700 hundred years passed and she returned to her homeland. But there wasn't anyone who knew her anymore. With no place to live, she decided to enter a cave on the outskirts of the village. She planted many, many camellia seeds near the entrance. Before she entered in to the cave, she told the villagers. 'I will ring a bell at sunrise and sunset. If you stop hearing the bell, please just think that I have passed away.'"
"A year passed, then two and three....After five, 10 and then 20 years, her boyfriend STILL didn't show up. 30 years passed, then 40 and then 50 years passed....After 60, 70, 80 years had passed, her boyfriend STILL hadn't shown up. 800 years had passed since she was born. The bell finally stopped ringing. After all that time, her boyfriend had never appeared. The camellias in front of the cave blossomed beautifully, never wilting for many years. People honored this young and beautiful nun and prayed for her....And wished for longevity and happiness....And people decided to call her, 'Yaobikuni,' the 800-year-old nun. The End."
"Oh, not really...it's 'to be continued'...."
"Well, actually that's the end for the tale I know. But there might be more to the tale...."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, nobody actually found her body. They just figured she was dead because the bell stopped ringing...."
"Maybe, maybe she's still alive in a cave somewhere in Japan, you know?"
"Still waiting for her 'boyfriend'?"
"Stupid! There's no way that story is true! It's just an old fairy tale, is all."
"I don't know....I think she might still be alive somewhere...."
"Yeah, me too!"
"Oh come on, are you guys serious?"
"Hey Coco? When was this nun born anyway?"
"I don't know exactly, but I've heard it was about 1300 years ago."
"Ha-ha! You see? 1300 years ago. If she were still alive, she'd be 1300 years old!"
"Look, you don't have to inform us of the obvious."
"Let me put it this way. 1300 years from now would be like 700 A.D. That means she would have been living since the Nara era, or even before that. That would amaze even Prince Nakano-Ooe."
"What are you so worked up about...? You're the one who said it was just an old story, Takeshi."
"I'm not worked up...."
"You're old enough to know what I'm talking about. Don't break girls' romantic dreams for no good reason."
"She entered the cave at the age of 700, so that means she waited for her boyfriend another 600 years, right?"
"Oh, but she might still be alive, so that makes it 'she is waiting,' as in the present tense."
"When her boyfriend finally arrives at the entrance of the cave, which is overflowing with camellia flowers...! They will finally be reunited! And the extra 600 years of loneliness will be rewarded! Their 1300 years old love will be fulfilled!"
"Oh, how romantic!!"
"Well, I mean....She's been waiting in this deep dark cave....Just waiting for her boyfriend for the longest time, you know? She's been all alone. So alone and so lonely....But she couldn't die either....I wish she'd never drank those mermaid's tears...."
"Do you believe that mermaids actually exist?"
"Geez...there you go again...you are too practical."
"Well, if mermaids don't exist, then you can forget about the whole story to begin with."
"That's not necessarily true. Whether mermaids exist or not doesn't have anything to do with the whether or not this story is true."
"Well it's obvious that the liquid Gonta got from that old man was 'A longevity potion,' I don't care what you say. They could have just named it 'mermaid ears', right? What I'm trying to say is, the potion didn't actually have to be made from mermaid teardrops. I mean, these candies aren't actual mermaid teardrops."
"Well, you have a point. So 'Mermaid Tears' is only the name for that strange liquid, right? Alright, fine. Let's skip the whole mermaid business. But you know, You? Think really hard, will you? Do you honestly think that something like 'eternal youth' exists?"
"You have a basis for that belief?"
"Okay, show me then."
"This is a little off topic, but...doesn't this story of Yaobikuni remind you of something else?"
"I'm talking about the tale of Rip Van Winkle."
"Well, the father got invited to a party, and got some kind of alcoholic beverage, right? That's just like Rip Van Winkle."
"What I'm trying to say is this - Rip Van Winkle drank the liquor and became a very old man, right? Yaobikuni drank the 'mermaid tears' and gained a body of perpetual youth that never ages ....And that means that...."
"Ohhh...I'm beginning to see what you are trying to say. Rip Van Winkle hits the bottle just a LITTLE tooooo hard, and when he wakes up 20 years had passed. Just like that with the 800-year-old nun....By drinking 'mermaid tears', she was sent 700 or 800 years into the future. So she didn't actually gain eternal youth, she just slipped through time into the future. So THAT explains why she stayed 17 years even after 800 years. You think that explains it??? Well it doesn't!! There's no such thing as time travel in real life!"
"Hey, hey, wait a second...don't go jumping to conclusions. I never said a word about time travel, did I?"
"I'm just curious about the similarity between the 'dwarven spirits' and 'mermaid tears.' The dwarven liquor was actually...'a solution that rapidly accelerates aging.' What was in the tears was...'a solution that slows down aging.' Both of them were handed down from some old guy. And both of them were given at a mysterious gathering."
"So it tells us....Both 'dwarven spirits' and 'mermaid tears'....are possibly made by the same people or by the same civilization."
"It tells us that?"
"Well, the castle in Coco's story might have been part of some ruins of an ancient civilization, sunken under the ocean. For example, the civilization of Lemuria. In Lemuria, it is thought they had science and technology which could control aging....And for some reason, Gonta got invited to the castle.
"So? Are you satisfied?"
"I think that was a pretty random explanation...but that's okay, I guess. I got your point. But you still haven't given me any substantial evidence that eternal youth exists. The point of what you just said was basically this Rip Van Winkle and the 800-year-old nun's dad must have made contact with the lost civilization of Lemuria.' Alright then, let's just SUPPOSE this assumption was correct. Even if the civilization of Lemuria actually did exist....Nobody knows if they had the 'technology' to control aging,' right? There's no way you can prove it. Besides, Lemuria never did, and never will exist. Sclater's theory has been proven wrong a long time ago."
"The name of an English zoologist. In the mid 19th century he....He noticed that the same species of 'lemur' inhabited in Africa, Madagascar Islands, Asia and Indonesian Islands. But lemurs can't swim...well maybe just a little, but certainly not a long distance. Well, then how could the same kind of lemurs reside on different islands separated by a massive ocean? Sclater thought....'That's it! A long time ago, there must have been a great landmass in the Indian Ocean, and these islands must have been connected as one!'"
"But by the mid 20th century, the theory of 'continental drift had been proven, and Sclater's theory was ignored after that. 'A long, long time ago, all the land on the earth today formed one big continent....Which very slowly got broken up and the continents shifted with the movement of the earth's crust, or by virtue of plate tectonics, to become the way they are today.' To be precise, the land masses are still moving even today, by a few inches or less every year. So, the theory of 'continental drift' now known to be fact rather than just 'theory.' So the reason why lemurs exist on different islands can be explained by this theory. So there! You see? There is no such thing as Lemuria! If there's no Lemuria, there couldn't be a Lemurian civilization!"
"Oh really? You don't say?"
"Well, sorry to cut you off, when you're just getting started, but the 'Lemuria' I was referring to was in the Pacific Ocean. Why would a Japanese person like Gonta go all the way over to the Strait of Malacca and to the Indian Ocean? Lemuria was located in the Pacific Ocean."
"In the Pacific Ocean?...Are you by any chance talking about the continent of Mu?"
"It doesn't matter what you call it. There used to be an ancient civilization in the Pacific before recorded history. Some people call it Lemuria, others call it Mu. It doesn't really matter, does it?"
"Oh...I'm getting a headache....I guess you are right, it doesn't matter...it really doesn't....Whether you call it Lemuria or Mu, it never existed anyway."
"Why do you have to be so serious...? It's so childish....Don't you have any imagination, Takeshi?"
"You're the one who's childish! You're 18, right!? Grow up, will you? Get real! 'An ancient civilization before time, 'perpetual youth and longevity,' 'Rip Van Winkle, '800-year-old nun', and 'Santa Claus'...none of these exist! They're all just fairy tales!"
"Not all fairy tales are fiction! Some of them may be real!"
"Yes way! Well I, for one, believe Rip Van Winkle really existed!"
"Oh, you're so sure, huh? You do have any proof? Do you?"
"Then let's see it."
"Okay, I'll show you!"
"Rip Van Winkle was,"
"Rip Van Winkle was...Rip Van Winkle was...."
All the sudden, You put her hand on her chest and looked like she was suffering.
"Hey, are you okay, Nakkyu?"
"Uh-huh....I'm okay....It happens...all the time...."
"What do you mean all the time!?"
You's face had gone pale. Her lips were almost purple, and sweat began to run down her forehead. She grabbed her chest with her right hand.
She groaned in low voice and squatted to the floor. She jabbed her left hand into the mountain of tears. The Mermaid Tears scattered everywhere, and the pen on top flew in the air.
She didn't seem alright at all. Her breathing was fast and her body was stiff and shaking, her facial color almost seemed like that of a corpse.
(What should we do? Should I leave You here and call for help? No! We don't any time to lose! To the Infirmary! I've got to take her to the Infirmary!)
"Coco! I'm gonna carry You to the Infirmary! So you go ahead and tell everybody what's going on!"
"O-okay, I will!"
The infirmary was close, so I could get there in less than a minute if I ran. Before I could think, my feet had already started moving.
I kept running in silence. The infirmary was near.
You whispered. Into my ear....In a small voice....
Next time: What's in a name?