The moonlight beamed down a white glow. The darkness beneath the grove of trees was blue, a melancholy field of view.
Nao stopped on her way down the slope and for a time looked between the mountains, the village and the night sky. The wind blew. There was enough wind to sway her hair. The blue tinted scene held the hue of autumn, and while what she saw imparted an unpleasant chill to her psyche, Nao herself didn't particularly feel any cold in the air. The blue darkness lacked the depth of a true dark. In the same way Nao's world had lost a certain sense of depth since she had woken in a shack ni Yamairi.
Nao went tottering down the hill. Following the familiar lumber road, she came out from the northern mountain. On the way she met with mountain dogs who made menacing growls but strangely the beasts did not attack Nao. They only made threats, they never so much as approached her.
She was avoided even by wild dogs. Yes, she murmured in her heart as she came to the village, seeing a nostalgic home from far away, and a light on there.
Nao's feet stopped. A paper lantern hung before the house. The crest on the lantern was drawn with white contours, unfilled on black, meaning it was a mourning lamp. --Then, Nao thought gripping the edges of her collar. Tokujirou was dead.
Nao ran into the village. --Susumu, Mikiyasu, Setsuko. Of all of them, not a single one had risen up with her. Would Tokujirou rise up? If at least only Tokujirou would, then he would at least stay by her side.
While going far away as if fleeing, that won't happen, Nao found herself thinking. Nobody thus far in the family had risen up. Surely Tokujirou too, would be going to where Mikiyasu and the others had ended up going, to a place of ease and rest, leaving her her alone.
Yasumori Nao was raised by her uncle and his wife. Her real father abandoned Nao when she was six and ran off to somewhere. She hadn't seen him since then. She didn't know the circumstances of how or where he was at all.
The one to take her in was her mother's older brother, and Nao did not get on with her uncle and his wife well. They were by no means cruel nor oppressive but Nao knew all too well that her uncle and his wife were not her real parents. Nao wanted her parents. She wanted a warm family. She wanted those who would accept her unconditionally, a house where she belonged. Mikiyasu was the one to give her that.
Her beloved son and husband, kind inlaws. Nao thought of Setsuko as her real mother. She thought of Tokujirou as her real father. That was why she wanted them with her.
Cold tears went along her face. By that Nao couldn't help being aware that she had no body heat.
Not Susumu, Not Mikiyasu, and not even Setsuko rose up. And perhaps Tokujirou would not rise either. That Nao could rise was because of the nature she inherited from her real mother and father. Drowning themselves in liquor and gambling debts, getting involved in some kind of fraud or swindle they abandoned Nao, and it was from such a couple that she'd inherited such bad genes. So surely, that was why she had become such a creature, without a doubt.
---It's not your fault, Nao-chan.
Mikiyasu didn't have the trait to rise up so that he could say that for her and absolve her existence. He didn't have such bad genes. So he wouldn't become some kind of being that extended its life by killing others. No doubt his eyes were still gently closed, still meeting with others in a place of tranquility, within a gentle sleep. Nao could never get there.
Why did she become something like this? While striking a tree she left the village, looking to the light at Maruyasu. In the lumberyard were the same well organized piles of lumber and left behind track marks of the trucks and forklifts that had been there that summer when Nao still had warm blood flowing through her.
There were no sounds of insects. There was no scent of the summer grass. There were no welcoming Bon pyres for their ancestors, and she could not hear the voices of gathered visiting relatives.
(The one who told them to please come and visit was me.)
Indeed it was Nao and she had said that. After that the man had, just as he had promised, come to visit Nao's house. Late in the night----with a man accompanying him. That lethargic faced, seedy looking mad said that he was Gotouda Shuuji.
(That man--that bastard!)
If only he hadn't come. No, if she hadn't so carelessly called out to Seishirou herself in the first place.
(His mother didn't rise up either.)
Nao's face furrowed. That was the only saving grace in this. Shuuji's mother was truly dead---and knowing it was none other than he who had killed her, he'd gone to pieces. He remembered piercing her with shame and guilt, unable to pull himself out of it, he was now no different from some crippled invalid. That empty and squalid man attacked her. He separated her eternally from her warm and welcoming home.
(A man like that!)
Tokujirou wouldn't rise, quite possibly. Nao's precious family, not a one of them had those terrible genes like Nao--like that man had. That was why they left Nao behind, rotting in peace.
She hated her parents that endowed her with this property. She hated Seishirou, Shuuji. More than anything she hated herself.
Nao cried as she looked down on Maruyasu. Sleeping beneath the tiled roof.
(Even though Jun-chan was there with me when I invited Seishirou.)
Even though they were the same, they weren't the same. She still had a warm body, a warm bed to sleep in, a warm husband to cuddle up with.
(That's not fair, Jun-chan. You think so too don't you Jun-chan......?)
Nao gazed at the separated building.
(You would think it's unfair, you would feel sorry for me, wouldn't you?)