[Fanfic] Sayonara no Imi (Part Two)

5

The next practice of Shitoushiki started on
the next day, but it didn’t go well.

 

We, the Shijin, are clothed in red and
they, the humans, are clothed with blue. We showed a simple dance and then I
kneeled down in the middle of the stage while I put my hands leveled to my
face.
While not crossing my fingers, I stretched
them so that Nishino-san can cut off my thorns properly using dagger. But she
couldn’t.
Is she afraid that she might fail to cut my
thorns? Or is she afraid of me? Is she afraid that if my thorns got cut, I
would become a part of humans’ life? I have no clue.
As I’m still wondering, the time is also
ticking.
Just so you know, the practice didn’t go
well not because my thorns didn’t come out. Even though it’s just a practice,
my thorns come out properly. And of course it doesn’t mean I’m getting angry at
someone. 
It’s because I’m scared.
I have no experience for my thorns being
cut and no one had ever swung a sword right towards me. On top of that,
Nishino-san has never touch a dagger before.
It’s obvious that I’m scared.
I’m trying not to write my true feeling on my face. But my body is being
honest. In every practice, my thorns come out.
My father’s mood is getting worse day by day.
I ran away in a certain day. Thanks to that, Nishino-san became more and
more fear of me. My father scolds me that way like everyday.
There was also an accident where Asuka came
to see the practice got into a quarrel with a girl of broadcasting club from
human’s school who also came to see the practice. Nishino-san was trying to
stop them but accidentally, Asuka’s thorns stabbed her.

I supposed to stop them immediately, but since I felt a little depressed by
this everyday practice, I couldn’t move myself promptly.
 I knew that Asuka couldn’t bear to see a
human who were recording us Shijin. And I was the one who supposed to stop
them, not Nishino-san.

 


It was the worst atmosphere.
It even became a rumor that this year’s
Shitoushiki will be cancelled.
In the afternoon, rain fell down as if it
worsens the situation. They called the practice for today.
When I was about to ask Mai and Sayuri to go home, I saw Nishino-san is taking
shelter from rain under a tree while reading a book.
I must say something, I must call her
out… Even though I thought that, I didn’t have the courage to do so. So I
just quietly dropped a band-aid from behind and about to leave.
“Uhh, hey…”
She called me to halt.
This is the first time, I talked to her.
“Thank you for this.”
“…no prob.”
“U-Um… What kind of books you usually
read…?”
I can see she is holding a book in her
hand.
“I usually read this book… Uhh… If you
don’t mind…shall we exchange books?”
She is holding out a book with blue cover.
Book that humans usually read.
On the contrary, books that Shijin usually read are covered with red. They
differentiate humans and Shijins clearly with this. But she was insisting that
she wants to read a book covered with red that usually read by Shijin.
As I thought, she doesn’t really know about Shijin.
She doesn’t know that we, Shijins, are prohibited to read human’s book.
But I believe that she wants to know more about us.
And I’m also interested to read human’s books so I said, “Okay.” to her.
She gave me a smile that she hasn’t yet to show to anyone and handed over a
book entitled ‘Shijin and Cats’.
The time I got back home, I immediately
read the book. Now I know why the practice of Shitoushiki didn’t go well.
It is described in this book that Shijin had been exist in Japan since a long
time ago but it’s currently in a verge of distinction. This book also describes
Shijin’s characteristics. But in a wrong way. The more I read the book, the
more terrible we are being described.
Shijins are the cause of any disaster. Those who go near them will be giving no
heed and getting injured by their thorns. Or so it’s written on the book.
It is also written that Shijins are disguising themselves into cat goblins
because they still have grudges on humans.
This book is like anecdotes summary since the time when there was a slaughter
of Shijin once in Japan.
This is a misguided book written by those people in majorities.
I can’t believe this book still exists.
I don’t know how she obtained this book.
But now I knew why Nishino-san couldn’t swing the dagger on to me. It’s all
because she read this book.
It doesn’t mean that she didn’t know us. It was better for her not to know
anything than read this kind of book that full of hoaxes.
I have to clear this misunderstanding.
I feel like being controlled by that emotion. I’m unintentionally being
absorbed into reading this book in this living room. When I realized, my father
got back home. His sharp eyes got me reading the book and he confiscated it
from me.
“Why are you reading human’s book?”
I cannot say anything back to him so he
continues.
“This is the reason why the practice never
goes well!! It’s because you’re reading this kind of book!”
“Isn’t it because I didn’t read that? Aren’t we supposed to know each other??”
“SHUT UP! Don’t you dare to break our family laws!!”
He enraged upon hearing my rebuttal and
slapped the book onto the floor.

 


I couldn’t just stand still so I tried to leave the room but my father grabbed
my arm.
I shook his grasp off desperately and ran away under a cold rain.

As if cutting off the air, rain, family laws, customs, and past stories, I
walked fast and again, I arrived to that certain usual place.
A floating mass of waterweeds, where you
can see a train to Teito which only pass once a month.

 


And today is exactly the day of the month.
As I was standing still for a while, I
could hear the steam whistle following by the rhythm of wheels met the rail
joints is roaring closer.
I felt fluids dripped down to my cheeks. Maybe they are just rain drops, but I’m
not really sure. I am just gazing to the train until I cannot hear the sound of
it anymore.
6
While the practice didn’t go well even
once, the day of the ceremony finally came.
I’m wearing a red costume and covered my
face with paper with a fine cut in geometric pattern. I didn’t use the paper
during the practice, but in the real ceremony, many people will watch and the
representative of Shijin has to cover their face.
It has become the pretext of production to increase the mystique and sanctity
of the ritual, but actually it’s a thing that at least a consideration to me.
I’m scared that my thorns are going to get cut.
If I cover my face with paper, I won’t have
to show anyone my expression at that moment when my thorns get cut.
After support roles wearing red and blue
costumes behind me showing off simple dance, I kneeled in the center of the
stage and held the hand covered with thorns in front of my face.
Under the stage, from the forefront of the
circle of the audience, wearing blue costumes, Nishino-san who’s bringing a
dagger rises to the stage.
Her expressions I caught from a small cut of the gap between the paper covering
my face were strangely calm. It looked completely different from the usual
expression of Nishino-san who usually being crushed by anxiety. 
Step by step, Nishino-san comes closer to
me. The dagger she’s holding reflected the moonlight, shining brightly.
She will cut my thorns for sure today
As I was being half-convinced, I prepared myself
to accept my fate. I closed my eyes, waited for that time.
Swoosh!
As I heard the sound of cutting the air, my
body was stiffened.
But I didn’t feel any impact to my hands.
When I opened my eyes, the cutting edge stopped just before my thorns.
In
the end, she couldn’t cut my thorns after all…
Instantly after I was thinking of that,
Clank!
Nishino-san tossed away the dagger
sideways.
With the hands that have nothing, she gently removes the paper covering my
face.
A view that my cleared sight caught was a very beautiful and fresh smile.
She quickly folded the paper into an
airplane, and it flew toward the audience below the stage.

 


The plane flew over the audience, and it disappeared in a blink of an eye.
Its appearance that rips the air in a straight line is as if it were like a
train bound for Teito.
“Let’s go”
Nishino-san who smiled grasping my hands
full of thorns with no doubt pulled and took me under the stage.
I could understand the intentions she
wanted to show me.
You do not have to expose everything to
many people on the stage.
Even with thorns, even minorities, you can live as an ordinary human being.
No matter who you are, there are people who will accept you.
Don’t be afraid and don’t hesitate to blend in to the world of majorities.
As if following me and Nishino, who each
other staring with a smile and holding each other’s hand in the circle of
audience, everyone in the support role also came down from the stage holding
each other’s hand.
We are dancing and jumping with a smile, we
gathered together as if we were a group all the time. We frolicked much full of
smile.
 It was the moment when a Shijin and a human
being decided to live together for real.
“Um… Na-, Nana…mi…-san…”
Among the hustle and bustle of the festival,
Nishino-san talked to me.
“Yes? Just call me Nanami.”
“Okay. Do you want to go to Teito?”
Teito.
I thought that by going there, everything would be changed.
So many kinds of people assembled there. People are living together there
without barriers of race. That’s what I read from a book.
Since that day, I believed that that place will accept a Shijin’s existence.
Since then I had been dreaming to go to Teito.
But I didn’t have the courage to throw away everything and I was in doubt with
farewells. All I could do just gazing at the train from a floating land. I
couldn’t ride the train for real.
“…why are you asking that?”
“Nothing. I just somehow felt that way.”
“…I see.”
Oh, I know why.
Nishino-san also read the book we once exchanged.
Inside the book I exchanged that time; “Shijin and Human”, there is a
description of the imperial city I dreamed of.
Along with the illustrations of people who hold hands together and coexist in
front of a Teito Tower which is way higher than human height.
Nishino-san understood my true wishes.
Epilogue
(Red)
After the end of Shitoushiki, our lives
have changed completely.
The village which was divided into the settlement of the Shijin and the
settlement of the human gradually disappeared. The opportunities to interact
with each others have started to increase.
All of us who participated in the Shitoushiki
became acquainted with each other so that no one knows who is the Shijin and
who is a human.
We are not Shijin nor human, we are friends.
We became comrades.
We don’t afraid of being a majority anymore.
We still have the thorns which had become complex from the time we were born,
but we do not worry too much with the body with thorns.
We are not ashamed of being a minority.
There are no longer other thorns that have covered the heart.
Right, not even one… That should be,
but…
A new thorn struck my heart that became
frank lately.
It’s because I am now boarding a train to
Teito.
I abandoned a cozy village with many
friends, and went to the land that I couldn’t stop yearning of to go there.
When I decided to do so, the thorn got
stuck in my heart.
It is a thorn of regret for leaving friends.
Every time I look back on everyone, my heart aches, it gets painful.
But this thorn pushes my weak and uncourageous back.
This kind of ‘Tender Thorn’ (Yasashii Toge) keeps piercing my heart
as I began my life to a place with new majorities.
Epilogue
(Blue)
Today, I am sure that you were laughing.
From that day I kept watching your back
trembling in the cold rain, I knew this day would come sometime in the future.

 


The day that your smile changes to just an illusion.
But yesterday Nanami looked the same as usual, she was laughing and talking
with everyone, so I thought that she will sit at the usual bay window and greet
me with a smile.
It was so sudden. And may be that was also
her concern to us.
Maybe she didn’t want to see everyone’s sad faces.
There were so many times whenever I held Nanami’s hand, she didn’t let out her
thorns.
But the truth that she left us is like a sharp thorn pierces my heart.
I knew it would be turned out like this,
but I couldn’t say that I don’t want to lose you while embrace you closely.
I couldn’t ask her to be always with us.
But in the brighter side, the truth that Nanami left us makes me proud.
I’m glad I could let her decide it by herself.
Also the thing that I could befriend Nanami who can make such a courageous
decision.
It’s sorrowful yet pleasant at the same time.
As long as this tender thorn is still
piercing in my heart, I’m sure we all will always remember about Nanami.
With farewell as a passing point, do not
turn around and let’s become strong.
When we run into each other somewhere, I
hope we can smile together again.
A new day will start tomorrow.
Let’s change the breeze (Kaze wo Kigaete)
and take the next step forward.
—–The End—-
(Back to index)
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