Part 70: To a Difficult Path
BGM: Rinka's Room
Naomi's alive... She's really alive...
I still can't get over how happy I am. I saw her die right before my eyes, but here I am, able to see her alive and well once again. It's nothing short of a miracle. But at the same time, Yu's remorseful cries after I elected him have stuck with me. Those were his earnest feelings. I even experienced the scene of his death. Both of us died on the train, but the manner in which we passed differed.
I've already made my decision, though.
Those memories aren't enough to stop me now. I don't regret my decision. His life has served as the stepping stone I need to propel myself forward.
Let's see here...
Lion House will be back in business starting tomorrow. I've already gotten in contact with my gran about the logistics and I sorted out all the orders required. All I have to do now is go to bed, but I keep futzing with my phone. I want to talk to my gran for a bit... Mainly because I have nowhere else to funnel all the feelings I've experienced the past several weeks.
She did tell me that it's fine to spoil yourself once in a while after she noticed how little I let myself cry in front of others.
I should be able to get away with it, just for today.
We end up talking a lot longer than anticipated. Well, it was mostly her because she blabbed on about when I was still a baby. It was a topic she'd only touched on briefly before- about the time I was born.
Apparently, my parents passed away in a fire immediately after my birth. She doesn't remember much about what happened herself, by nature of both the shock and how busy she was at the time. No one remembers the actual time my mom gave birth to me. My dad probably would, but... he's no longer here, either. According to her, I was found crying in the smoldering ruins of the fire. Almost like I magically appeared out of the flames. Gran also doesn't remember when she came to learn my name. However, she does remember that my mom was the one to name me Rinka. As well as the meaning behind my name.
It all comes as quite a shock to me. The details of what happened were vague, but I was able to accept it, considering those who witnessed it were gone. I'm well aware of what it's like to spend your days in a daze after a traumatic event. My memory lapse surrounding the events that led to becoming a participant in Divine Selection is proof of that. For my gran, this took place sixteen years ago... It wouldn't be odd for something to trigger her memory, but as far as I'm concerned, there's no need for that to happen. I might have thought differently last month, but I'm not the same person as before.
What makes you bring this up now?
There's a noticeable pause. She's usually the type to give a quick and concise, answer, so it's rare for this to happen. I hear her mulling it over for a moment before finally speaking up again. We then finish the conversation off with some small talk before hanging up.
She was acting a bit strange...
A person's life is a miracle in and of itself. I just want you to know that. That did nothing to answer the question. She doesn't normally talk like that, either. That was the first time I'd heard her say such a thing. There was something about it, though. It set my heart ablaze.
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
Huh. This is weird... I'm aware of what's going on in my dreams despite it not being Sunday. I've experienced this a number of times before. I'm not in the Court of Fate, either. It's... almost like another side of the dream world entirely. It's not long before I hear a man's voice ring out.
Hey there. Been a while... or not. Perhaps I'm best off skipping the formalities. You've settled the score with your fate, but the road ahead will be an arduous one.
It's up to you to forge your own path from the limitless possibilities out there. Doing so is nothing miraculous... Think of it as simply riding on the tracks of your life. I must admit that I'm finally finding myself interested in you humans. That willpower you all possess... How very unique.
Oops. I shouldn't waste your time any longer. You're aware of what my presence in your dreams entails, I assume? It's time to unravel another layer of your memories.
I feel my consciousness fade once again. His grating voice gradually fades into the distance as I fall deeper into the sea of my subconscious.
BGM: Sinking in Flames
Flames envelop me. Flames powerful enough to flake the skin from my bones. My skin is charred, my lungs destroyed by the smoke. My life turns to ash. My inability to move even my fingers tells me as much.
???: ____! ____!
I hear someone shouting. They're shouting the same thing over and over again. The voice is eventually swallowed up by the roaring flames. My consciousness has dissipated by the time their voice fades completely.
06/19 (TUE), Morning
Another morning where I wake up screaming. This time, it's due to a frightful dream.
I notice Lethe lying right on top of me as I think things over. It feels like this has happened before. I figure that the contents of my dream are my memories of a specific event. Memories of when I lost my life in an explosion on the train. Memories of an event that had been undone. One that represented just a single possibility. Up until now, anyway. I'm not one hundred percent sure why. Perhaps the world underwent some changes after my recent actions. There's no clear answer for now, at least.
Those weren't memories of what happened on the train...
Which may mean they're memories of a much earlier time. It's possible they came back to me after what my gran told me over the phone. Something doesn't quite fit, though. I understood what was happening in my dream. There's no way a newborn would be able to form such vivid memories.
What in the world was it, then...?
I ain't asking you, buddy.
The only response I get is Lethe's meow. It throws my concentration off a bit. So I end up petting Lethe for a bit before going about my morning routine.
BGM: At Amecha Girls' University High School
06/19 (TUE), Noon
Welp, just you and me again today.
Mao and I go to the rooftop during lunchtime. My dream woke me up pretty early, so I had enough time to make my own lunch. Meanwhile, Mao is eating a fruit salad, anpan, and strawberry milk to wash it all down. I feel my heart clog just looking at that lineup.
My sweet tooth's been itching today.
So she says before she starts to munch away.
Miharu didn't come to school today. I was a bit worried at first, considering this happened right after we had our little fight, but she did message me, telling me not to worry. Granted, telling me that without explaining the situation is going to make me do the opposite. I know it's best if I stay put, though. The last thing I want is to mess things up for her while she's dealing with Scale and Federico.
I make plans to hit the library with Naomi after school. I wasn't sold on the idea when I first asked her, but I figure our school's old enough to have some potentially worthwhile information hidden somewhere. Of course, I've still got to work at Lion House as well, so the plan is to grab a number of books related to design and such and borrow them.
There you go, being all pensive again.
Oops. Sorry about that.
I get started on my own lunch after Mao snaps me back to reality. I'm not accustomed to making my own lunch, but it's pretty good, all things considered. Spending time like this, eating and chatting with Mao, helps me realize that I haven't lost my regular life yet.
Mao cuts off the small talk all of a sudden. Her tone grows far more reserved than usual. We were in the middle of half-heartedly discussing a shoujo manga, but I make sure to give her my full attention now.
I'm not sure what you three are up to, and I ain't really concerned, since you still hang out with me... But the thing is... I can tell you've all been acting weird ever since the end of Golden Week. And our plans to hit up karaoke, go bowling, or maybe even go to the movies or aquarium... They all kinda went poof.
When did we agree to bowling and the aquarium?
Oh, just thinking ahead, maybe? Always good to have a buncha things you wanna do.
Mao hesitates before she continues.
Um, y'know what? Forget about it. Kinda lost what my point was gonna be, anyway.
Both of us nod in agreement.
We see each other a good amount already, anyway.
Following that, we return to our small talk. The discussion continues even after the bell rings and we make our way back to class.