Part 1-------Suddenly, I awaken with a start.
The night is pitch black.
And no one else is in the house.
It's scary, being alone in the dark.
So to find everyone, I head out into the garden.
Like a stage in a theater somewhere.
The curtain of trees opens with a swishing sound.
Excitement fills me,
anticipating the beginning of the grand play.
In the distance, I hear the sound of echoes,
beyond the black curtain of trees.
Inside the forest,
the sounds of everyone happily playing around.
The curtain doesn't open yet.
Unable to restrain myself,
I wander into the darkness of the forest.
The air is cold...
A winter's chill so deep,
my eyes feel like they'll freeze.
For a brief moment, I thought I heard someone call my name,
so I walk even deeper into the forest.
After passing through the veil of trees,
I find everyone waiting for me in the forest clearing.
But, something is wrong...
Everyone is lying on the ground...
...... Everyone is lying on the ground...... in pieces...
The clearing is bathed in red.
---I don't understand.
A stranger approaches.
The look on his face says he wants to rip me apart...
---I don't understand at all...
But, someone else, someone I don't know... steps in front of me,
and is torn apart in my place.
---I'm just a kid, so, I really don't understand.
The person that was torn apart,
that person I called "mom",
never called my name again.
-----I really don't understand.
But it is just so cruel...
I wanted to cry, I just felt like crying.
Warm crimson blurs my vision.
Seeping into my eyes.
But it doesn't bother me at all.
The lonely moon floats above me,
bearing witness in the night sky.
---Such a cold, horrible nightmare.
Yes---I didn't realize it.
The moon is so------beautiful----
"Hello, Tohno Shiki-kun. Congratulations on your recovery."
The unfamiliar old man extends his hand for a handshake.
His square-rimmed glasses and warm smile are very befitting.
His tidy-looking white clothes suit him perfectly, too.
"Can you understand what I am saying, Shiki-kun?"
"...... No. Why am I in a hospital?"
"You don't remember, do you? You were involved in a car accident while you were walking.
Your chest was stabbed by a shard of glass, and it was unlikely that you would survive."
Very unbefitting of what a doctor would say, yet he says it while still smiling cheerfully.
I feel terrible.
"...... I'm tired. Can I go to sleep?"
"Yes, you should rest. You must focus on recuperating, and not push yourself."
The doctor is still smiling.
To be honest, I can't stand that smile anymore...
"Can I ask you something, doctor?"
"What is it, Shiki-kun?"
"Why are there scribbles all over your body? And there are cracks, all over the walls... Why are there cracks in the walls?"
The smile vanishes for just a brief moment, then returns to his face immediately. He turns and walks away.
"---It seems there was some brain damage after all. Get a hold of Dr. Ashiya in neurology. I also suspect he may have suffered some damage to his eyes. Spend the afternoon examining his eyes."
The doctor whispers to the nurse so that I won't hear him.
I didn't use any strength at all, yet the knife sinks into the bed, all the way up to the hilt.
It was fun, so I drag the knife along the scribbly line.
With a heavy sound, the bed snaps cleanly in two.
The girl in the bed next to mine screams.
The nurses run over and take the knife away from me.
"I traced along that line and it broke. Hey, just why is this hospital full of cracks?"
"You'd better stop with that, Shiki-kun. There are no such cracks like that anywhere.
Now tell me, just how did you break the bed? You can tell me, I promise I won't get mad."
"---I'm telling you, all I did was just trace the line with the knife..."
"...... I see. Okay, we'll continue this conversation tomorrow."
The doctor leaves.
In the end, not a single person believed my story.
But it seems that no one else can see these lines.
The black lines only I can see.
Despite being a kid, I gradually began to understand what the lines were.
They are probably like stitches.
Just like stitches that hold an open wound together after surgery, I think they are weak spots.
After all, there's no way I could cut such a thing with a child's strength alone.
----Yeah, I didn't know until now.
That the world is covered in these lines, these "breaking lines" that bind everything together.
No one else can see them.
That's why they are just fine.
But I can see them.
I'm scared... so scared, I can't even talk...
It's as if I am the only one who went crazy.
Maybe... that's why?
Why even after two weeks, no one believes my story.
Even after two weeks, no one has come to see me.
Even after two weeks,
I continue to live alone in a world surrounded by black stitches...
My chest hurts... and I feel so sad... I collapse to my knees and cough.
There's nobody here.
Drowning in this ocean of green at the end of summer,
I feel like I'm about to disappear.
But before that.
"Hey you. It's dangerous to sit down in a place like that."
"What do you mean, 'eh'? You're already a runt so I can't see you if you're sitting in the grass. I was this close to kicking you, so watch out."
She points at me rather grumpily.
...... I get a little angry.
After all, I sit in the fourth row from the front so I don't think I'm that short.
"Kicked? By who?"
"Isn't it obvious, stupid? You and I are the only ones here, so who else could it be but me?"
She declares this confidently as she folds her arms.
"Well, I suppose it must be fate that we met here, so you want to talk for a little while? My name is Aozaki Aoko. What's yours?"
She extends her hand to me with the kind of cheerfulness one would show an old friend.
I see no reason to refuse, so I tell her my name is Tohno Shiki and grasp her cool hand in return.
We talked about many, many things.
About my family. About how it was an old and respected family with very strict, traditional rules, and my equally strict father.
About my little sister Akiha... quiet Akiha who always followed me around.
About our big mansion and the vast gardens, and how Akiha and I would play together with our friends.
---I told her about many things almost feverishly.
"...... See you tomorrow."
Tomorrow, we would be able to talk like we did today.
It was the first time I truly felt something since I awoke from the accident.
Sensei would seriously listen to anything I had to say, and would always dispel my anxieties with but a single word, without fail.
...... I was depressed from the accident, but slowly, thanks to Sensei, I began to return to my former self.
Even those scary black scribbles didn't seem quite so scary anymore when talking to Sensei.
I didn't know who she was or where she was from... perhaps she really was a teacher.
But I don't care, it doesn't matter at all.
Because, it's fun being with Sensei.
That alone, is all that matters... and that alone is more than enough.
"Hey, Sensei. Look what I can do!"
I wanted to surprise her one day, so using the fruit knife I brought from the hospital, I cut down a tree growing in the field.
Like before, I run the knife along the scribble-like line, and cut it cleanly across the base.
"Amazing, isn't it? I can cut anything easily, as long as it's somewhere where I can see the scribbles. No one else can do this right?"
She slaps me across the face.
"...... I'm... sorry."
Before I knew it, I was crying.
Then, a gentle, warm feeling envelops me.
"...... There's no need to apologize.
It's true that you did something I should be angry at you for, but it's definitely not your fault."
Sensei squats down and hugs me.
"But you know, if someone doesn't tell you otherwise now, one day you're going to make a mistake you can never take back.
That's why I won't apologize... you can hate me all you want, if you feel that way."
"...... No, I don't hate you, Sensei."
"...... Really? I'm glad you feel that way... I guess it was fate that the two of us met here like this."
Sensei began to ask about the scribbles I could see.
As I told her about the lines, the black jagged lines that somehow only I could see, Sensei's embrace tightened.
"...... Shiki, what you are seeing is something that should never be seen, by anyone, or anything.
Everything in existence has points where they are most easily broken. We, who will break down one day, are imperfect for this reason.
Your eyes have the ability to see the fate of all things... to put it another way, you can see the future."
"...... See...... the future?"
"That's right. You can see death.
...... You don't need to know any more than that.
If someday, you happen to go down that path, the principles will become clear to you as something that is needed."
"...... Sensei. I really don't understand..."
"That's good, it's important that you don't understand now.
All I want you to know is that you must never cut these lines on a whim or as a joke, understand?
---If you do so, your eyes will begin to take the lives of others too lightly, and that is the worst thing that can possibly happen."
"...... Okay. I won't do it if you say so, Sensei. Besides, it kind of hurts my chest. ...... I'm sorry, Sensei. I'll never do it again."
"...... Good for you, Shiki. Never forget the feelings that you have experienced here today. If you stay that way, I'm sure you'll find happiness."
Sensei finally lets go of me.
"Here. If you put these on, those strange scribbles won't be visible anymore."
What she gave me was a pair of glasses.
"But my eyes are fine."
"Just put them on. The lenses don't have any magnification or anything."
Sensei forces them on me.
"Whoa! Incredible! This is amazing, Sensei! I can't see the scribbles anymore, not at all!"
"Of course. I had quite a time stealing Mystic Eye Killer from my older sister to make this Aozaki Aoko masterpiece! So treat them well or there'll be hell to pay, got it?"
"Yup! I'll take good care of them! You're incredible, Sensei! You made all those horrible lines disappear just like that! It's like magic!"
"Of course, I am a sorceress, after all."
Giving me a proud smile, Sensei puts her trunk down on the ground.
"But know this, Shiki. Those lines haven't disappeared. It's just that you can't see them. Once you take the glasses off, you'll be able to see them again."
"Yes. That's the one thing that cannot be fixed. Your only choice is to keep living your life and do your best with the eyes you have now."
"......... No. I don't want these scary eyes. If I cut those lines again, I'll end up breaking my promise to you."
"Oh, you mean never cutting the lines again? Silly, you can break that promise whenever you like."
"...... Really? But you said it was something I shouldn't do."
"Yes, it is.
But that is your gift, Shiki. It's yours to use as you see fit. No one else but you has the right to judge you.
But out of all the abilities one can have, yours is terribly unique.
If you have such a power, that means there is a meaning behind you having it.
God doesn't give us powers for no reason.
You might say that you were given the 'Mystic Eyes of Death Perception' because one day, a time will come when you will need them.
That's why you must not live in denial of their existence."
Sensei squats down so our eyes would be level.
"However, I'm not telling you to become a saint.
All I'm saying is live true to yourself, and become a man in the manner that you think is right.
Since you can accept your mistakes and are able to apologize, I know that in ten years, you will become a great man."
That being said,
Sensei stands, and reaches for her trunk.
"Oh, but I must say, unless in exceptional circumstances, you shouldn't take the glasses off.
Special powers attract other special powers.
Only when you decide there is no other way should you take off those glasses, and even then, be mindful of how you use your power.
Power in itself is not evil. What is evil rests solely in the hearts of the ones wielding such power. Be it for good or evil, it will be up to you and the choices you make."
She picks up her trunk.
---Sensei doesn't say anything more after that,
but deep down, I knew we would have to part.
"---It's impossible, Sensei. I can't do it... I won't understand just by myself.
The truth is, I was so afraid before I met you. I was only able to return to being me, because you were with me...
...... I can't do it.
Not even with these glasses, if you're gone, I can't do it...!"
"Don't say such things, Shiki. If you tell lies that even you yourself can't believe, you'll only make whoever hears you sad."
Sensei raises her eyebrows in displeasure and pokes my forehead.
"---You know it yourself, don't you?
You're alright now. So don't say stupid things and give up on the self that you finally found. Only you can choose to be you, no one else can do it for you."
Sensei turns around.
"Well, this is goodbye.
Listen, Shiki. Life is not easy; everyone's life is a hard, long, rocky road, filled with many pitfalls.
You have more power than anyone else to do something about that, so pull yourself together."
Sensei is leaving.
I was sad, but I'm Sensei's friend, so I have to see her off properly.
"Yes. Goodbye, Sensei."
"Well done... That's right, Shiki. Hold onto that confidence, and always live true to yourself.
When you find yourself in trouble, calm down and think things through carefully. Okay? A solution will always present itself if you do.
It'll be alright. You'll manage, even on your own."
Sensei laughs happily.
The wind blows.
The field of grass sways in unison.
Sensei was already gone.
"...... Good-bye, Sensei."
After saying that, I really felt that I would not see her again.
All that remained were her many words and these mysterious glasses.
It was only seven days, but she taught me things more valuable than anything else.
As I stand there by myself, I feel tears well up in my eyes.
---Man, I was such a fool.
I could only say goodbye.
I couldn't even say a single word of thanks to her.