-----And I wake from the old dream.
Music: play track 2
I lift my body and look around the room.
I don't see Hisui anywhere.
The sound I heard of a door closing was probably her leaving the room just a second ago.
Anyway, it is now morning.
Today is Friday, so I should go to school.
"I have to get up."
Maybe it's the aftereffects of yesterday, but I feel a little nauseous when I stand up.
"I should change...... What's this, my clothes aren't ready?"
It seems like Hisui went to pick up my uniform.
Which means she should return soon.
"Geez...... looks like my condition is still pretty bad."
Floundering around on the carpet, I take in my situation.
It's obvious that I won't be able to get up no matter how hard I try.
It's not that I'm in so much pain, so I should feel better if I lay here for a while.
"Shiki-sama, please hold on, Shiki-sama......!"
Hisui frantically calls my name.
"Hey, morning Hisui. I just fell down a little, so there's no need to panic."
"Just fell down---what are you saying, Shiki-sama, you...... !"
"I'm fine. If you let me up, I will be fine."
"As you wish---"
Hisui immediately stoops down and reaches her hand to my shoulder.
Hisui suddenly stops her hand.
With a strained face, Hisui desperately reaches out her hand with all her will, sweat appearing on her forehead.
But that is all she can do.
Biting her lip, Hisui tries frantically to touch my shoulder, but she just stands there, shaking uncontrollably.
Music: play track 3
Kohaku-san arrives soon and lends me her shoulder.
...... Actually, since I don't have any power, Kohaku-san does most of the work. Probably because I'm so weak, but Kohaku-san has the gall to say that I'm as light as a girl.
"That's strange...... there's nothing wrong, but my body just won't move."
"I see, you do not seem sick, but I can't say anything unless we wait a while. But your face looks fine. I think you will recover soon."
Still smiling, Kohaku-san takes my temperature.
Because of her smile, I do feel a little more at ease, but......
Hisui has a clouded expression.
Even right now, she seems to be hiding behind Kohaku-san and looks at me occasionally.
"It was you who drank all my whiskey, wasn't it!? I'll kill you!"
"Yo. You're pretty energetic this morning, Akiha."
I raise my hand to greet her.
After seeing my face, her expression transforms into surprise.
"What's with this exaggeration? I'm fine, so don't make such a scary face. If you do that, I'll be the one to start worrying."
"That...... may be true, but---"
Akiha stares at me with a pale face.
I really am fine, but it seems like Hisui and Akiha honestly think that I am deathly ill or something.
"...... Do I look that bad right now?"
"No, Shiki-san. You look like you always do.
But still, your body is not fully recovered so I think you should take the day off. I'll go call your school to let them know."
"...... Yes. Please call the doctor as well. He can perform a more thorough examination."
"A thorough examination? ...... I don't think I really need that."
"---Nii-san, if you don't care for an examination, maybe we should check you into a hospital instead?"
"Ah...... No, an examination will be fine."
"Alright. Kohaku, Hisui, please take care of Nii-san.
Since he does not seem to concern himself with his health, please do that for him."
Akiha gives severe instructions and departs the room.
"In that case, I'll use the telephone, okay?"
Kohaku-san leaves the room as well.
The only ones left are me lying on the bed, and Hisui.
...... And then.
All of a sudden, as if making up her mind, Hisui says,
"...... Shiki-sama, you are not mad?"
"Wha...? Mad about what?"
"Of what happened before. ...... Even though I should take care of you, I could not even help you......"
...... I am shocked. I didn't even think about that.
"...... Really? I do not think I am very useful."
Aw, c'mon, Hisui... Shiki has enough for the both of you, you don't need to start in, too.
"You don't understand, it seems. I'm able to be calm right now because of you being here. ...... It's more than you looking after me; if you weren't here, I don't know what I would do."
"......? Because of me?"
"Of course. Ever since I came here, I've been uneasy, and always had these nightmares.
But when you say good morning to me every day, I'm able to be at peace.
---Therefore, you have helped me so many times. Like today, when you came, it made me happy."
"Eh...... Ah, thank you very much."
"Um, that's how it is. Even if you can't touch me, your words reach me, don't they? Just that makes me happy enough. Hisui, you are extremely helpful."
"Um...... are you serious?"
"I'm very serious. As proof, I don't feel like it's morning yet. It's because even though I said it, you haven't said it yet."
Hisui looks at me timidly and takes a small breath.
"Ah-, if you stare at me like that, I'll start to get nervous, Hisui."
"Y, yes, forgive me."
After saying that, Hisui starts to escape towards the door.
"Please excuse me. It appears that Nee-san has contacted the doctor, so he should be here soon."
Bowing quickly, Hisui swiftly heads out the door.
It was my fault for thinking that a thorough examination would be just taking blood pressure and a few measurements.
Being a rich family's doctor, the doctor brings a lot of equipment and sets up an examination room next to mine.
After an exhaustive evaluation, the doctor leaves after noon.
Leaning on Kohaku's shoulder, I stumble back to my room. All in all, everything took about four hours.
"Shiki-saaan, I'm coming in."
Kohaku-san enters my room.
She carries something like rice porridge on a tray.
"You haven't had anything since this morning, right? It is a little late, but I brought you something to eat."
"Oh. Thanks, Kohaku-san."
"Not at all, this is my job, after all."
Kohaku-san walks right next to my pillow, humming merrily as she holds the spoon.
"Yes, please open your mouth wide."
With a big smile, she asks me to do something extremely embarrassing.
Not quite understanding the situation, I just open my mouth.
And then, after cooling down the rice in the spoon, she sticks the spoon in my mouth.
---With her open hand she holds my jaw and moves it up and down.
"Good job! Keep it up, Shiki-san."
"Wa, wait a second, Kohaku-san......! I may be sick, but it's just my anemia. I can handle feeding myself......!"
"Sure, sure, now please calm down. I'm used to things like this."
Kohaku-san gives a pleased giggle and starts to attack me a third time.
She puts the spoon into my mouth forcefully, and I can't help but just swallow it down.
"How does it taste? I heard that when you lived with the Arimas you liked plum porridge."
"...... Yes, it is very tasty."
"That's good. Then please, eat as much as you like."
Kohaku-san appears to be having a fun time.
It seems whatever I say will have no effect.
I give up and let Kohaku-san do what she wants.
.................. I'm so embarrassed.
I'm embarrassed, but I suppose I'm a little happy as well.
Kohaku-san's cooking is so delicious, and I finish pretty quickly.
"By the way, Shiki-san, how do you feel?"
"I'm fine. It just feels like my regular anemia."
"Is that so? When you were a child, you received a serious injury here, too, so please do not push yourself."
Kohaku-san says this as she straightens up the dishes.
---In the first place.
Just where did I get into the accident that almost killed me?
A normal person might've asked that upon waking up in the hospital... but not our Shiki!
The near fatal wound from my childhood.
The accident that caused me to be able to see death's lines.
Just how in the world did it happen,
and where in the world did I get in that accident,
I don't remember anything at all---
---But what I remembered yesterday,
it might be something that has to do with the accident eight years ago.
That time, I think---there was Akiha, myself, and one more person there---
"I will go and take care of these dishes then."
Kohaku-san tries to leave the room.
"Wait a sec, Kohaku-san. Back then, we played a lot together, didn't we? At that time, was there someone else with us?"
Kohaku-san stops in her tracks.
"We played, a lot, together......?"
As if remembering the past, her nostalgic laughs echoes in the room coldly.
---All of a sudden, I find myself in an unknown place.
This place---looks like a basement that hasn't been used for a long time.
Desks and chairs are strewn about.
In the back of the room are discarded broken chalkboards and folding chairs.
The sun's rays cannot reach this place.
In this dark basement that smells like mold, I just breathe in and out.
Sitting on top of a desk, hugging my knees.
The dead body of a new woman is laying on the floor.
*pant* *pant* *pant*
*pant* *pant* *pant*
Our breathing matches rhythm.
"Who is it----!"
Raising my voice, I look around.
In this basement, there is no one else.
*pant* *pant* *pant*
*pant* *pant* *pant*
*pant* *pant* *pant*
"Damn it, it's you again!"
It shouts this at me.
"I won't......! I took this woman myself! I won't give her to you."
Saying that, it bites into the dead body.
The sound of intestines being chewed.
Music: play track 1
"Shiki-sama, are you sleeping?"
Suddenly, Hisui appears in front of me.
"Hisui...... when did you come in?"
"When...... you ask? It has been about five minutes since I finished changing your sheets."
"Oh. Sorry, I was sleeping and didn't notice you come in."
"...... Shiki-sama, please do not joke around. You accepted me coming into the room, and you ordered me to change the sheets."
What's going on?
Up until now, I was asleep, had another nightmare, and I woke up to Hisui's voice......
"...... Hisui. Did I look like I was awake?"
"...... Yes. After I changed the sheets, you closed your eyes, which is why I inquired if you were sleeping."
"---No, I won't sleep anymore right now."
I wouldn't, either
Somehow responding, I look at my hand.
...... Lifting my hand is still difficult.
I haven't gotten even the slightest bit better.
My heavy body.
My body----the body of Tohno Shiki, feels like it belongs to some other person.
"...... That's exactly what I wish, Hisui. If I am not a burden to you, please stay in my room."
"---Yes. Then I shall do so, Shiki-sama."
After giving a bow, Hisui stands and watches me intently.
"Um, you don't have to concentrate so hard. I would be happier if you maybe just bring in a chair and read a book or something. I'm just going to kill some time too."
"Ah...... yes, as you wish."
Hisui quickly leaves the room.
I'm sure she will come back with a book and a chair, just like I suggested.
"You're pretty dutiful, aren't you, Hisui?"
I laugh a little as I say this.
It feels like ages since the time I met Hisui again and thought that she was simply a cold, expressionless girl.
Well, that's all I thought back then, but now---I think I understand Hisui a little better.
Because you wub her!
"---C'mon, Hisui, hurry back."
Leaning on the bed, I really do mean this.
If she's going to be around, being sick like I am right now doesn't sound bad at all.
It becomes a little before ten o'clock, right before bedtime.
"Nii-san, how are you feeling?"
Akiha comes to see how I'm doing.
"Yeah, I feel fine. Even though I still can't move my body freely, I think I'll be better tomorrow. This kind of thing happened to me once before, and it's exactly the same as back then."
"---I'm glad to hear it. It makes me feel a little more at ease."
Akiha exhales and visibly relaxes.
"Good night, Nii-san. Ah, but even if you feel better, don't strain yourself. It wouldn't do you any good to get hurt again."
"I know that. ...... G'night, Akiha. Thanks for all of your concern."
"Eh...... Well, we are brother and sister, it's only natural......
Anyway, please take care. I do not want to see you collapsed again tomorrow."
With a light smile, Akiha exits the room.
Coming when I feel less sick: Part 4 of 6