Now that Kiriko’s magic was fading, everything she “undid” was being returned to its proper state.
It seemed the accident that killed me led to this park being shut down and abandoned.
No one was in the control booth, and shattered glass lay all around it.
Kiriko and I were the only ones left in the park.
“When did you notice I was Mizuho Yugami?”, I asked.
Not all the lights were dead, necessarily; a few remaining ones still flickered. The pavement was cracked all over, and weeds grew up from the cracks.
Walking along the mossy rails, we saw a pile of wreckage in an unfilled pool underneath. Benches, signs, two-seater bicycles, go-karts, tents, toy soldiers missing their arms, clowns without noses, skates, tires, oil drums, iron slopes, drab flower and bird statues.
I asked a question.
“It should be easier to understand thinking in reverse,” she suggested. “I just couldn’t postpone my own death for five years.”
I could accept that. Maybe I didn’t need to ask her why.
If Kiriko’s death meant everything she “undid” would go back to normal, what would happen to us?
Once the postponement of the accident in which I ran Kiriko over was fully repealed, Kiriko would die.
It was a situation comparable to the “grandfather paradox” in the notion of time travel, only with life and death completely switched.
Would Kiriko survive? Just as I began to wonder, Kiriko spoke.
“No, I can’t allow it,” I responded. “Whatever happens, I want you to keep living.”
“Just a little longer,” she answered with a lonely smile. “Just a little.”
Now that my memories were back, I knew that I had been the salvation of at least one girl. My soul was able to properly burn bright.
Just like the days when we listened to music together in the gazebo, each using an earbud.
A small white drop of light passed in front of my eyes. I didn’t notice it was snow until my eyes focused.
The snowflakes gradually got big enough to see without straining my eyes.
“I’m glad we could see this one last time,” I said.
I noticed Kiriko’s tone had changed slightly, and turned my gaze toward her.
“Well, how about you, Kiriko? Do you hate me for running you over?”
“Then that makes this easy. I feel the same way.”
Saying “thank goodness,” Kiriko put her right hand on my left. I flipped it over and put my fingers between hers.
“It might be worthless to say this now, but…”
“I love you, Kiriko.”
“See, I told you it was worthless.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Let’s do it.”
We brought our faces close.
"Way to remember letters from such a long time ago.”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “And I guess "it” isn’t just a kind lie.“
As we did, the speakers began playing music to announce closing time.
The park was swallowed up by the night.
There are countless things too sad to bear, and irrational things I can’t forgive, but I don’t regret being brought to this world as a person rather than a flower, a bird, or a star.
The letters Kiriko and I exchanged day by day. The music we listened to leaning on each other. The moon we looked up at from the mud. The warmth of her hand in mine. Our first kiss in the graveyard. The rhythm of her breathing as she leaned on me. The piano we played together in my dim apartment.
We sat on the horses, laughing together, both at child age. We reached out at each other, and our fingertips touched.
An end was coming to these lovable days full of lies and mistakes.
The only appropriate thing to leave Kiriko with, after she’d lived a life filled with more pain than anyone, was that foolish consolation.
Pain, pain, go away.
There are a lot of holes to fall into around here. That was the way I, at least, came to see the world.
Truly, a wide variety. Thinking about each and every one of them made me too uneasy to take a single step.
When I was young, I liked stories that let me forget about the holes. And not just I, but everyone seemed to like writing stories that described a safe world, where all the holes had covers put over them. We might call them “sterilized stories.”
But ultimately, it all helps them to mature, and give them a reassuring feeling that “people can accept anything and live.” That’s the way of those stories.
Yet luckily, the hole was not deep enough that I couldn’t crawl out, so over a long period of time, I made it out by my own power.
Once back on the surface, basking in the warm sun and clean wind again, I thought. No matter how careful people are, they never know when they’ll run into a pitfall. That’s the way of our world.
Because I thought, I want to hear the story of the person who, in a dark, deep, narrow, cold hole, can smile without it being a bluff. To me, there might not be anything more consoling than that.
“Pain, Pain, Go Away” was the story of people who fell into a hole they could never again escape. Yet I wrote it intending it not to be purely a gloomy story, but a cheerful one too.
- Sugaru Miaki