It was just your average day, oh…maybe a hundred or so odd years after the Chobokian Sisters left their mark of havoc in our lives. We’d reestablished a peaceful life-style, and managed to live through the deaths of our mortal friends and…loved ones, I suppose. Now we are so-called friends with their grandchildren.
My twin sister, Juuhachi, had moved in with Masako and I. We were all still young teenagers, practically immortal. We were lonely though, never really finding “true” friends again.
We had each other, of course, though Juuhachi liked to visit her grandchildren, spending more time with them than us.
Then one day, things were to change. Juuhachi, as usual, wasn’t home. It was Masako and I, alone, as always.
She was sketching a picture, something she indulged in. I was reading the newspaper, and drinking coffee.
She stood and stretched, heading for the kitchen, perhaps for coffee of her own. I wasn’t paying attention.
Suddenly I heard a low moan, and then she cried out sharply in pain. I raced to her side, willing to do anything to help her, but luck was not with me then.
Moments went by, and then she was dead.
Seconds. That was all it took for my whole world to come crashing down around me. Perhaps I could’ve stood through her death if it hadn’t happened the way it had; or maybe if she hadn’t given me the gift she had that morning.
I woke up early, as usual, to work, and found her at the kitchen table, stringing a silver chain through a crystal charm as a necklace.
“What are you doing, Baka?” I asked. I teased her a lot. She smiled at me warmly, excepting, as always.
“It’s for you Juu-kun.” She stood and strode over towards the kitchen counter, picking up a pair of scissors, and cutting of a few strands of her golden hair, then banding it together, and putting it inside the crystal charm, which vaguely resembled a heart-shaped box. She slipped it around my neck with the same gentleness she always used on everything. “It’s my hair.” She explained. “Hair lives forever.”
I looked down at it.
“Baka, we will live forever too.”
“Oh Juu-kun!” She laughed, kissing me playfully on the forehead, and then waltzing off into one of her dreams.
I smiled, in spite of myself, taking off the necklace and putting it in my pocket. “Silly girl.” I laughed
She had to die that way, but why?!
Moments after, I knelt where she had died, not moving, tears streaming down my face as I screamed out for her.
“Baka, come back! Don’t leave me here alone again! I don’t want to be alone!! Masako! Please!!”
No reply. No words of comfort, no sounds even. Just a smothering silence.
I recalled her death.
It started when I heard her cry out in pain. I’d run to her side as she fell, catching her in my arms. I was confused. What was wrong?
“Juu-kun!” She whispered, smiling. “I love you.”
“What are you saying, Baka? What’s wrong? What happened?”
Then her mortality returned.
106 years that I had stolen from her life passed her by in seconds.
Right before my very own eyes; my unseeing, unwilling to see eyes, she left me, still smiling like she always had.
Her hair began to grow, her bright blue eyes began to dull into a grayish-dead tone. Her once soft skin became dry. Suddenly, I understood.
She was aging. All those years she’d spent as a “living-dead” Jinzouningen were catching up to her as the seconds passed. Seconds! Her hair began to gray. Her skin wrinkled somewhat. She began to take on the appearance of an old magical lady; the majestic type you see in fairytale movies. She suddenly appeared so frail and helpless, and she clung to me like a frightened cat.
Then in a flash she was dead, and an eerie feeling over-took me.
Her skin seemed to shrink onto her bones, and her eyes sunk back into her head. Her now silver-white hair fell out in husks, raining into silver streams on the floor. Her skin began to wither away, and in fear I dropped her body. It hit the ground like a sack of fire kindling, frail, and cracking as it made contact.
Her bones were now the only thing left of her, but then, even they, too, began to dissolve into nothingness. Still there were the silver streams of hair on the floor.
I fell to my knees, tears hitting the backs of my hands, crying like I hadn’t cried for so many lifeless years. A foreign sob escaped the back of my throat, and I screamed out for her.
It finally came to me that she had short-circuited. It was a horrific thing to see the life she might’ve lived pass by, had she not been a Jinzouningen.
I fumbled in my pocket for the necklace she’d given me. The little heart-shaped box, her blonde hair coiled inside. It was a beautiful necklace, and I finally saw it with real eyes. In it was all that was left for me to remember her by.
My beautiful truth was gone, forever.
I found my brother kneeling in the middle of the living room floor of his cabin.
“Juunana?” I asked. No answer came. He had sealed himself into a nutshell. “What happened Juunana?”
Finally, he pried his eyes away from the invisible nothingness on the floor. I gasped at the sight of him. Dark circles were under his eyes from lack of sleep. He was pale, and thinner than usual.
“She’s gone.” He finally choked, finding his voice. A tear rolled down his cheek. He looked so fragile for once. “She’s gone and she’s not coming back.”
“Juunana…” I sighed, afraid for him. “How long have you been sitting there?”
He shrugged limply. “A week maybe.” His voice was dry, faint, and cracked. Something in his hand caught my eye.
“What are you holding?”
“It’s all I have left of her.” He cried, clutching it tighter.
“Do you want to talk about it? I’m here if you need me.”
“No, I’m fine.”
Late that night, as I lay in my own bed, I could hear him weeping, drunk in his own sorrow. He hadn’t moved from that place in the living room for more than a week. He hadn’t slept, ate, or drank anything, not that it would affect him much. He hadn’t even gone to the bathroom! I’d finally dragged him up and forced him to drink a cup of strong coffee, then later, into bed. Still, he was awake, and crying again.
Masako’s death was tearing him apart. Somewhere inside myself, I knew he wasn’t going to last much longer, but I didn’t want to admit to it. It was too emotional for him, and he didn’t have the ability to cope with it. He was going insane. I feared I would soon be alone in the world. A lonely eternal cyborg.
I was right.
Half past midnight I heard him get up and cross through the living room, back to his sanctuary where she’d died. I knew what he wanted: to escape the pain.
A single gunshot rang out, echoing through the woods, the house, and my soul.
I finally found the courage to go see what he’d done about an hour later.
I found his body, lifeless, on the floor, and tears leaped to my eyes, after waiting so long inside.
As I bent to pick up his still body, something fell from his right hand.
It was the necklace Masako had given him. I hadn’t really seen it before, as he wouldn’t let it go.
Inside the little case I found a scrap of paper. I read it to myself, and cried all over again.
~Juuhachi, my dear sister, I’m sorry. I do love you. You may add your hair too. Your brother, Juunana-gou~
I emptied the box’s contents, and found a small braid. His hair braided with hers. Juunana must’ve done it once he’d moved from the place of their deaths.
I found myself reaching up gently to touch my own hair. Juunana had given me permission to add some of my hair, but could I? Would I be intruding on their love?
I decided against his request, but put the chain around my neck in memorial.
Perhaps one day, I too would loose my life due to loneliness. After all, I had no one now. No one who could really understand me like they had.
I fell asleep crying, then darkness came over me, leaving me short of breath.
I was never to wake again.
Darkness descends upon us, The light goes out. Your deaths came too quickly, Before you could hear me shout. Now I too See the light begin to fade. Perhaps I’m just brokenhearted, As I die here in the shade. ~Juuhachi-gou