Teary Promise (Part 9)

We had attended Tatsuya’s funeral, which seems to also include his parents who were working at the bakery below his house when the tsunami hit it. His extended family, friends, and co-workers attended too.

For being his girlfriend, and quite close to him, his death impacted me the most. It left me a huge void in my heart. My willpower to find another boyfriend is weak since I had already poured my heart and soul on Tatsuya, but if it wasn’t for my brother who comforted me, I would be feeling worse now.

It was that day after the tsunami on returning home, dad was comforting me and my brother who… hold on. Something is wrong with my memory: dad had clearly said “my two daughters” instead of “my daughter and son” when he hugged me and my brother on seeing us for the first time since the quake. I also kept thinking that my brother was a girl that whole day. How on earth did I not notice it until now? Why did I actually see Tsukasa as a sister instead of a brother crossdressing?

Tsukasa: “Um, are you okay? You seemed oddly shocked instead of sad…”

Me: “Were you with me on the day after the quake?”

Tsukasa: “Of course I was. You were with me the whole time at the evacuation centre as a matter of fact.”

My memory from that day is clearly that of me being with a girl that I oddly refer to as my brother. However, I couldn’t bring up that topic up. His answer a while had me doubt if that girl was him or if someone else was in his place.

Tsukasa: “If you are thinking about that, I can assure to you that what you remembered is exactly the same as what happened.”

Remembered what exactly? Or are you saying that the strange memories I oddly have actually happened as I remember seeing?

Tsukasa: “I think you would be less confused if you just think of me as your older sibling and don’t think too much about what I looked or sounded like at any point in time.”

Spring has arrived, but the atmosphere is gloomy despite the blooming cherry blooms around. (Quite a number of its flowers dropped during the quake.) The area where the harbour town was looked like a big open land filled with rubble and ships washed ashore. The furthest the tidal wave reached could easily be seen by the vegetation. Only concrete buildings, and steel frames of some others, remained standing. Worked has started to clear the rubble, but due to the vastness of destruction and limited manpower, it’s progressively slow. So far, it’s limited to clearing out the roads.

Besides rubble, foreigners were seen in the destructed area either helping out the affected, or picking things in the mess, including a safe. It’s unknown if the latter group are helping out too, or looting.

Since a nuclear power plant in the neighbouring prefecture was damaged by the tsunami, and straining the remaining working power plants, people are also faced with blackouts and radiation fears. People who didn’t know what radiation was were overacting, especially people overseas, and referencing it with a nuclear plant explosion in eastern Europe about 25 years ago. It’s true that there’s dangerous radiation emitted from both incidents, but not as big as the one in Europe. Also, my town is certainly within the safe range even though it’s closer to the plant than the capital.
Around my town, and the city where my school is, quite a number of electronic signs, vending machines, and even escalators, were turned off to relief the strain of electricity demand.

The news of students at my school affected were known to everyone. Staff, students, last year’s third years, and this year’s first years too. People who knew I was Tatsuya’s girlfriend, or knew I had a boyfriend that had died, were trying to have me feel more comfortable.

Part 8 | Part 10

Teary Promise (Part 8)

As we walked into the sports hall, my brother seemed uneasy. She has been like this since we got here.

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Tsukasa: “I was thinking if my friends are affected by this. They may be living far away from the sea, but you would never know if they were there when it happened.”

Me: “Me too.”

Tsukasa: “So, here we are. The list of the refugees here, and the list of the dead over there. I’ll help you to look through the list. What’s the Kanji of this Tatsuya person?”

I wrote “立谷起也”.

Tsukasa: “Okay. Got it. That’s a normal looking name, until it comes to the pronunciation. Sorry if I had made fun of you. Until you wrote down the name, I though you were mentioning his name twice.”

I search through the list of the refugees in here, while my brother looks at the rest. The name lists might look as if it’s not listed in any particular order, but it’s actually arranged according the first syllable of the family name.

I checked and double checked the list of refugees here because I can’t seem to find Takuya’s name anywhere. I have to ask someone.

Passerby: “A name with these characters? Hmm… If I’m not mistaken, it’s on the list right next to the girl in a school uniform over there that she’s looking at now. I remembered that name because I regularly buy bread from Tatsuya Bakery every morning.”

He was pointing to the list of the missing and deceased. There’s no other person over there besides my brother, but her appearance does match the description as described by the man I talked to.

Me: “Thank you…”

Passerby: “If you’re unsure, you can ask the staff around here.”

I didn’t want to go over there, but I didn’t have anything else to do than to hopelessly look through the list that I had already looked at in detail twice.

I walked over to my brother, at the list she has yet to look at: the missing and dead lists are longer than the refugee lists.

Tsukasa: “Did you find his name?”

Me: “No luck there. Maybe he had went elsewhere… WHAT?!”

I saw Takuya’s name on the list of the confirmed dead. No… Tatsuya… Why…? I don’t…

My world was turned upside-down. The very person I loved the most has died… But I just saw him just earlier this week… I was too sad that I didn’t realize that I was brought to around the area of dead bodies where we talked to a safety officer earlier, the area where the identified dead are. Suddenly, in addition to my brother, I was surrounded by a number of people. Some were staff, and the rest mostly the refugees. They wanted to confirm if it’s who I think it is.

They opened the bag the dead body is in. I don’t know what…

Me: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TATSUYA-KUN!!!”

The dead body in question is indeed him. My brother was trying to comfort me as I cried loudly. My sadness was too great that it did little to calm me down. Everyone simply stood there, looking downwards, out of respect to me. Nobody tried to stop me from crying, nor was I able to stop. It was really sad to think how much we both loved each other, but he’s gone. It left a big void in my heart.

The trip back home was rather quiet. I felt as if my life was meaningless now that the very person I loved is dead. Ambulances and police cars with sirens turned on still reminded me of the tsunami that killed him.

Tsukasa: “We’re home…”

Dad ran to us on sight and hugged the both of us, with a hint of relief in his voice. It did not make a difference to me to my mood at that time. I wasn’t in the mood to speak, and neither was I paying attention to what was being said: I was depressed on thinking about Tatsuya’s death.

Dad: “Oh! I’m so glad that my two daughters are okay. I was worried since our house is not far from the shore. Yumiko? What’s wrong? Your mother is fine too, though she’s working at the moment.”

Tsukasa: “We went to an evacuation centre in Ooarai town earlier to check on her boyfriend, but he and his family was among the dead. We both saw the bodies.”

Dad: “Poor thing…. Well, take care of her and make her feel better. I’ll go prepare dinner. Food supplies are quite scarce from people stocking up on food and delivery of new supply possibly disrupted.”

My brother brought me to her bedroom and sat next to me and patted my shoulder. As she made physical contact with me, my level of sadness level has been mysteriously reduced.

Me: “Hey… how did you do that? I’m mysteriously feeling better the more you touched me.”

Tsukasa: “I- I don’t know…”

She seemed genuinely shocked.

Part 7 | Part 9

Teary Promise (Part 7)

Waking up the following morning, it seems that yesterday was just a bad dream. Brother was the first person I saw when I left the room. I thought I had a nightmare of him being turned into a girl, and a very strong earthquake and tsunami happened.

Brother: “Oh, you’re awake. I completely forgotten about it when I came back, but here’s the thing I collected yesterday.”

He brought me to his room and opened his school bag that was on the floor. He took out what seemed like video game casings with American and European gaming rating symbol on it instead of the local ones. He also took out some products that looked as if it were to be sold in many different countries, except Japan. Is this unnecessary spending?

Me: “How did you order these things?
You don’t have a credit card or are old enough to apply for one. These things must cost at least a hundred American dollars…”

Brother: “Well, a pair of young ladies noticed me while I was at the train station offered me to buy whatever I liked using their money, no matter how expensive it may be. One in a Mizuho student uniform, and the other in a supervisor-level outfit with a Hatsuya logo on it. The Hatsuya supervisor has the same family name as mum’s big boss, but different given name. The student, however, has a completely different name even though those two looked very much alike. They seem quite desperate to get rid of the money they have. Oh, before you ask, nobody in Mizuho could wear anything besides what they are officially supposed to wear, have names besides what is in the academy’s records, or commit acts of crime.”

Mum did say that her big boss was wearing a Mizuho student uniform at a company meeting last autumn while wearing a name tag that completely doesn’t matches her name. Nobody at that meeting dared to point out the mismatching name tag or inappropriate outfit due to her top position and she herself mentioning about not wanting to talk about it as if she is already aware of it. The said Hatsuya supervisor could be her twin with the real family name on it, and there’s a possibility that the name on the academy’s records is completely different from the real name. I don’t think my brother was thinking of this possibility.

Brother: “Speaking of which, I promised to show you something yesterday.”

He promised me something yesterday? Did my nightmare of a big earthquake and tsunami in which a girl who claimed to be him said that actually happened? Brother was walking to his closet and took out a uniform of my school, for females!

Me: “Hey! Isn’t that mine?! What is it doing in your room?!”

Brother: “Don’t be silly. Count the number of sets you have, and you would find that this would be an extra set. This uniform is mine, and I didn’t steal it from you or anyone. See? It has my name sewn on the inside on the blazer, blouse and skirt.”

Why would my brother put up with the hassle and put his own name on a girl’s school uniform? In fact, why is he even showing me this at all so openly? Sure every student in our school has the name sewn in by the store at the time the uniform is purchased, but…

Brother: “You know, wouldn’t it be great if we both alike just like back in primary school? Only, instead of you trying to be me, I would try to be like you. Oh, and would like you to look at my-“

Me: “What are you talking about?”

I had no idea what made him say that, and my brother was already putting on the female uniform without taking off what he was already wearing.

Me: “You don’t look like me at all. In fact you really look like a per-“

At that instant, those clothes my brother was wearing underneath the uniform started to fade away and the shape of my brother’s entire body was unnaturally changing in front of me. How do I describe it… There isn’t any white light or funny background like you see for transformation scenes in cartoons, it just like a person growing up rapidly, but differently. I could see my brother morphing exactly into the girl I met yesterday. What on earth is this?!

[Author’s note 1: From this point, I’m referring to Yumiko’s brother in as Tsukasa instead. Both as a guy and a girl. His name was already mentioned back in part 3.]

Tsukasa: “Now do you believe me? Look at me! There isn’t a hint left on my body that I was a boy just a moment ago. Practically everyone who steps into Mizuho is forced to turned into elegant and beautiful young ladies. Since the first time I was there, I’ve not seen anyone in Mizuho wearing anything besides short skirts below the waist, even in winter, with the only exception being some kind of stockings that goes all the way up to the hips that only non-students wear. That Hatsuya supervisor I talked about earlier was wearing them too. All of this is only temporary as long as it’s being worn, but they are making it somewhat illogically impossible to physically take it off. Seriously, how does Mizuho and companies based here produce the best people with these strange things?”

Is this my brother? No matter how I tried to look, I see nothing but a pretty girl that doesn’t look anything like him, but does have resemblance to both of my parents. Even my brother’s voice sounded exactly like the girl from yesterday. The clothes are strangely impossible to take off, but I could feel that his body really feels like that of a girl. My mind is in a state of confusion.

Tsukasa: “I don’t know how I was able to adapt to this. There are conditions I have to meet to be able to take it off, but are not explained. I found out that I have to be outside the campus and not in sight by anyone during the time it would take me to change at a gender-neutral place. Most public toilets are obviously out of the question for that reason, though some toilets for the handicapped are.”

If he hadn’t transformed in front of me, I wouldn’t have believed him no matter what he said in either form, but being a girl myself, I don’t feel anything caused by the attractive feminine appearance, but rather shocked about the transformation itself.

Tsukasa: “Oh, didn’t you say that you have a boyfriend living in Ooarai town? It was struck by the tsunami yesterday. We should go there right away. The news says that the tracks has been reopened after earthquake safety checks and are operating again.”

How did I completely forget about Takuya? Oh no! I don’t know if he’s okay since his house is directly facing the sea!

Me: “Come on! Let’s go! We don’t have time to waste! Wait, what about our parents? If we are not home when they arrive home, they might get very worried.”

Tsukasa: “I’ve already called them before you woke up. They are okay, or rather, they were quite worried about us. Dad is on the way home, and mum is working overtime to help out with the disaster.”

*****

We reached Ooarai town via train. As I feared, the town has been washed by the tsunami too. The first place we checked was the town’s refuge centre as that is where everyone who has become homeless gathers, which is actually converted from the sports hall of a primary school. When we got there, we also saw the dead that has been found arranged together outside.

Tsukasa: “It’s scary and extremely rare to come across a dead body, but to see this is horrifying to see this many, with young children included.”

At that instant, a man with boots and a safety hat approached us.

Safety officer: “Are you a refugee or…?”

Me: “Oh, we are not. We came from a nearby town and I was wondering if a friend who lives in this town is here.”

Safety officer: “Well, everyone is inside the hall. The list of the missing people, and the identified dead located close to us, are in there too. We are currently finding out the identities of the unidentified dead against the missing list, which is around there. The staff in the hall can help you find who you might be looking for in there. It’s chaotic along with so many sad people in there. Quite a large percentage of the town’s population seems to be among the dead, judging by the numbers.”

He was pointing to a standing group of people close to a large white tent.

Me: “Well, thank you very much.”

My brother appeared as if she wanted to say something to me, but stopped short of saying it.

I have a bad feeling about this…

[Author’s note 2: Although not mentioned, Tsukasa is still physically a girl on arrival at the refuge centre. Hence the use of “she” instead of “he”.]

Teary Promise (Part 7)

Waking up the following morning, it seems that yesterday was just a bad dream. Brother was the first person I saw when I left the room. I thought I had a nightmare of him being turned into a girl, and a very strong earthquake and tsunami happened.

Brother: “Oh, you’re awake. I completely forgotten about it when I came back, but here’s the thing I collected yesterday.”

He brought me to his room and opened his school bag that was on the floor. He took out what seemed like video game casings with American and European gaming rating symbol on it instead of the local ones. He also took out some products that looked as if it were to be sold in many different countries, except Japan. Is this unnecessary spending?

Me: “How did you order these things? You don’t have a credit card or are old enough to apply for one. These things must cost at least a hundred American dollars…”

Brother: “Well, a pair of young ladies noticed me while I was at the train station offered me to buy whatever I liked using their money, no matter how expensive it may be. One in a Mizuho student uniform, and the other in a supervisor-level outfit with a Hatsuya logo on it. The Hatsuya supervisor has the same family name as mum’s big boss, but different given name. The student, however, has a completely different name even though those two looked very much alike. They seem quite desperate to get rid of the money they have. Oh, before you ask, nobody in Mizuho could wear anything besides what they are officially supposed to wear, have names besides what is in the academy’s records, or commit acts of crime.”

Mum did say that her big boss was wearing a Mizuho student uniform at a company meeting last autumn while wearing a name tag that completely doesn’t matches her name. Nobody at that meeting dared to point out the mismatching name tag or inappropriate outfit due to her top position and she herself mentioning about not wanting to talk about it as if she is already aware of it. The said Hatsuya supervisor could be her twin with the real family name on it, and there’s a possibility that the name on the academy’s records is completely different from the real name. I don’t think my brother was thinking of this possibility.

Brother: “Speaking of which, I promised to show you something yesterday.”

He promised me something yesterday? Did my nightmare of a big earthquake and tsunami in which a girl who claimed to be him said that actually happened? Brother was walking to his closet and took out a uniform of my school, for females!

Me: “Hey! Isn’t that mine?! What is it doing in your room?!”

Brother: “Don’t be silly. Count the number of sets you have, and you would find that this would be an extra set. This uniform is mine, and I didn’t steal it from you or anyone. See? It has my name sewn on the inside on the blazer, blouse and skirt.”

Why would my brother put up with the hassle and put his own name on a girl’s school uniform? In fact, why is he even showing me this at all so openly? Sure every student in our school has the name sewn in by the store at the time the uniform is purchased, but…

Brother: “You know, wouldn’t it be great if we both alike just like back in primary school? Only, instead of you trying to be me, I would try to be like you. Oh, and would like you to look at my-“

Me: “What are you talking about?”

I had no idea what made him say that, and my brother was already putting on the female uniform without taking off what he was already wearing.

Me: “You don’t look like me at all. In fact you really look like a per-“

At that instant, those clothes my brother was wearing underneath the uniform started to fade away and the shape of my brother’s entire body was unnaturally changing in front of me. How do I describe it… There isn’t any white light or funny background like you see for transformation scenes in cartoons, it just like a person growing up rapidly, but differently. I could see my brother morphing exactly into the girl I met yesterday. What on earth is this?!

[Author’s note 1: From this point, I’m referring to Yumiko’s brother in as Tsukasa instead. Both as a guy and a girl. His name was already mentioned back in part 3.]

Tsukasa: “Now do you believe me? Look at me! There isn’t a hint left on my body that I was a boy just a moment ago. Practically everyone who steps into Mizuho is forced to turned into elegant and beautiful young ladies. Since the first time I was there, I’ve not seen anyone in Mizuho wearing anything besides short skirts below the waist, even in winter, with the only exception being some kind of stockings that goes all the way up to the hips that only non-students wear. That Hatsuya supervisor I talked about earlier was wearing them too. All of this is only temporary as long as it’s being worn, but they are making it somewhat illogically impossible to physically take it off. Seriously, how does Mizuho and companies based here produce the best people with these strange things?”

Is this my brother? No matter how I tried to look, I see nothing but a pretty girl that doesn’t look anything like him, but does have resemblance to both of my parents. Even my brother’s voice sounded exactly like the girl from yesterday. The clothes are strangely impossible to take off, but I could feel that his body really feels like that of a girl. My mind is in a state of confusion.

Tsukasa: “I don’t know how I was able to adapt to this. There are conditions I have to meet to be able to take it off, but are not explained. I found out that I have to be outside the campus and not in sight by anyone during the time it would take me to change at a gender-neutral place. Most public toilets are obviously out of the question for that reason, though some toilets for the handicapped are.”

If he hadn’t transformed in front of me, I wouldn’t have believed him no matter what he said in either form, but being a girl myself, I don’t feel anything caused by the attractive feminine appearance, but rather shocked about the transformation itself.

Tsukasa: “Oh, didn’t you say that you have a boyfriend living in Ooarai town? It was struck by the tsunami yesterday. We should go there right away. The news says that the tracks has been reopened after earthquake safety checks and are operating again.”

How did I completely forget about Takuya? Oh no! I don’t know if he’s okay since his house is directly facing the sea!

Me: “Come on! Let’s go! We don’t have time to waste! Wait, what about our parents? If we are not home when they arrive home, they might get very worried.”

Tsukasa: “I’ve already called them before you woke up. They are okay, or rather, they were quite worried about us. Dad is on the way home, and mum is working overtime to help out with the disaster.”

*****

We reached Ooarai town via train. As I feared, the town has been washed by the tsunami too. The first place we checked was the town’s refuge centre as that is where everyone who has become homeless gathers, which is actually converted from the sports hall of a primary school. When we got there, we also saw the dead that has been found arranged together outside.

Tsukasa: “It’s scary and extremely rare to come across a dead body, but to see this is horrifying to see this many, with young children included.”

At that instant, a man with boots and a safety hat approached us.

Safety officer: “Are you a refugee or…?”

Me: “Oh, we are not. We came from a nearby town and I was wondering if a friend who lives in this town is here.”

Safety officer: “Well, everyone is inside the hall. The list of the missing people, and the identified dead located close to us, are in there too. We are currently finding out the identities of the unidentified dead against the missing list, which is around there. The staff in the hall can help you find who you might be looking for in there. It’s chaotic along with so many sad people in there. Quite a large percentage of the town’s population seems to be among the dead, judging by the numbers.”

He was pointing to a standing group of people close to a large white tent.

Me: “Well, thank you very much.”

My brother appeared as if she wanted to say something to me, but stopped short of saying it.

I have a bad feeling about this…

Part 6 | Part 8

[Author’s note 2: Although not mentioned, Tsukasa is still physically a girl on arrival at the refuge centre. Hence the use of “she” instead of “he”.]

Teary Promise (Part 6)

It’s the second Friday of the month, the day that my brother is claiming to collect something at his other place in Mizuho. Although it’s only morning, my brother doesn’t look like he even plans to go out at all since it’s already late in the morning. Our parents had already headed out to work.

Me: “You said that your delivery of something to there is today?”

There is very little time if he heads out now, considering that he has yet to bathe.

Brother: “Oh, they said it will arrive about 1:30pm, so I would still be early even if I head there now… Say, where are you headed?”

Isn’t that not much of a time difference?

Me: “I’m heading to the neighbouring harbour town to buy some seafood.”

Brother: “You mean heading to your favourite crying spot close to there, don’t you? You have something to cry about there? Maybe a crying competition?”

He knows about it because I would separate from him at the station, on arriving back from school, if I wanted to head there, but not the crying part.

Me: “Funny. Well, I am headed to the beach first for a while, before buying the food. Okay, I’m heading out now.”

Brother: “See you! Oh, I might leave the house before you reach back home, since you talked about being on time without rushing. Maybe I would use the spare time to explore places. Mizuho Academy seems larger than the city of our school, so exploring a place that is usually crowded when it’s not can be interesting.”

Finally, some sense into him.

As I would be carrying some groceries later, I am walking instead of taking my bicycle: It’s troublesome holding the groceries, steering the bike, and cycling up the hill at the same time. Since I’m headed to the beach first, so I’m taking the bus. The area between my town and the harbour town is mostly consisting of some plains and rice fields, with the rest being forests created a long time ago by our ancestors.

*****

I’m walking back home with the groceries I had bought. Along with spending time at the beach, this comes to being two in the afternoon. Surely my brother had already- UWAA!!!!

An earthquake a lot stronger than the strongest I’ve experienced before has happened. It lasted for quite long too. For as far I could see, I could see cracks forming on the roads, old buildings collapsing, and tall buildings swaying back and forth. On top of that, the strong earthquake seem to have lasted forever before it stopped. Luckily, I was already at an open area with no risk of things collapsing on me, but it seemed to start a chain of events that is to come: I could see the sea level dropping rapidly, and tsunami alerts are blaring all over. I was only young back then, but knowing something similar at coastal areas surrounding the Indian Ocean a little over 6 years ago, this means monstrously high waves that could destroy everything in its path are coming. I couldn’t call anyone as the telephone and electrical lines were already destroyed by houses along the line that collapsed onto them from the earlier earthquake.

I know that a strong wave is coming, but how far, or how high up a hill, should I go to be safe from the approaching tsunami. I know I had to keep running as I’m in a low-lying area. Someone who was running along with me had the radio tuned to the news.

Radio Announcer: “An earthquake has just occurred. The epicentre of the quake is about 70km east off the cost from Sendai with a magnitude of 8.9. The police are-“

Sendai?! 8.9?! That’s quite some distance away and is insanely strong! I know that a 6 or a 7 is enough to cause destruction, but close to 9?! For now, let’s concentrate on keeping alive by running to the hills, but how high is high enough to be considered safe? I don’t know. 5km inland or 50m above the sea seems safe enough. Mix these two together means that I don’t need to go too far or high, but I don’t have the time to calculate how much or where that would be.

Around the area where I believed it’s safe, I saw waves that are higher than an average house approaching and destroying houses in its path. The rubble and cars caught in the waves made it even more deadlier. Not only did I witness houses being destroyed, but I’ve also seen people being killed by it. Everyone around me was in shock an horror.

The waves then subsided, leaving behind a big open area with nothing but concrete buildings that had managed to withstood the earthquake and tsunami, and boats that were washed ashore. There were no trees left standing. The scene of the harbour town being completely unrecognisable from just a few hours ago, except for some concrete buildings. It was almost like those old films of towns being destroyed in a war, only seeing it happening with my own eyes. There were warnings of more tsunami and aftershocks, but were not predicted to be as strong as the one that had just happened.

Apart from cracks, some collapsed old buildings, and fallen items, my town seems mostly the same. With mom’s superficiality of things lying abound the house, only soft items, and the loose items that were taken out earlier that my brother did not put back, were the only things found on the ground. I’m even amazed that it seemed mostly unscratched, as if this was the very earthquake that mum foresaw happening a long time ago.

Still shaken from the earthquake, I didn’t feel like cleaning up the mess. It’s ironic that I could turn on to watch TV, but not be able to make calls. I should switch to the news channel to tell what had just happened. There wasn’t anything new besides what I witnessed first-hand, besides seeing it from air. What’s even more surprising was seeing Tokyo mostly unaffected, apart from tall buildings swaying back and forth during the quake and train services suspended. However, they added that the nuclear power plant in Ookuma Town of the neighbouring prefecture has been severely damaged from the tsunami. Other channels seem to be covering the same thing or have super large text imposed on the screen regarding the disaster. I’ve never heard of a major earthquake, huge tsunami, and a nuclear plant happening on the very same day, let alone quite close to me.

Is this all just a nightmare? It just seem something you would encounter only in a film, but it seems that everything actually happened. With telecommunication serviced disrupted or busy, train service likely to be suspended, and roads congested, I have no way of contacting any of my family members that I’m okay. My brother especially, as he knows that I was at the harbour town that was hit by the tsunami.

I guess I have to wait. I’m still feeling horrified from being narrowing escaping from being caught in the waves.

*****

After what seemed like endless reports about the earthquake, and seeing the same community service ads over and over again that replaced the regular advertisements, I got tired of them and went around the house cleaning up the mess. A female voice that I didn’t recognize, was soon yelling my name from the outside when I was cleaning up the upper floors.

Voice: “Yumiko-chan! Are you in there? Answer me before I start to think that you might be trapped under a building somewhere!”

Who is that? Why does she know my name, or know I had went there? Let alone that I live here. I’ve never told anyone besides my brother and parents the very night before. I guess it could have been my parents asking someone they know close to here to search for me, but that doesn’t really matter when there’s serious chaos happening everywhere.

I looked out of the window to see a girl who seemed to be from the same school as me. She looked a lot like the girl from the student card that made everyone, including myself, to say that it belonged to my brother. She’s not any of the girls I had seen my brother with before, even in secret, but she look a lot prettier, and the type my brother could easily get along with.

Me: “I’m here! Who are-“

She interrupted me before I could ask who she is. What annoys me even more is someone whom I don’t know, like her, is almost rude and is calling me on a first name basis. Considering that she has a faint resemblance to my parents, perhaps a cousin I didn’t know I had?

Girl: “Will you be helping to rescue people? The old houses has collapsed and may have people trapped in them. We have to hurry as every moment counts and they could die if they are trapped for too long. Rescue teams already have too much to handle that has been made worse by the gridlock traffic. I was lucky that I wasn’t caught in one on the way here.”

It seems almost as if she’s taking advantage of the current situation to avoid being asked for her name as she doesn’t look like she willingly wants to help out. We had spent the whole afternoon just helping out the neighbours, and even though we did a lot, it’s considered tiny compared to the scale of the number of collapsed buildings to look through. I kind of understand how hard it is for them, but what is strange about this girl was she never broke a sweat or got dirty, as her clothes are as clean as when she just purchased it. All of this, despite the risk of being cut from her careless actions from clearing the rubble, not to mention the dirty condition we are in. Besides these oddities, she’s no different from an average girl of our age.

Girl: “Well, that’s all of the houses in the neighbourhood as the rest are already done by others. I don’t know what will happen in the next few days. Due to the congestion and jammed phone lines, I don’t think I can leave town for quite a while as too far to walk to anywhere.”

Me: “So, would you like to stay at my house for a while? On top of being landslide and earthquake-proof, my house runs on solar panels and has enough storage capacity to last until after sunrise the following day, every day, even with the refrigerator, heater, TV, and lights turned on the whole night. You could say there’s still electricity in my house even though the earthquake has damaged the power lines leading to it. No access to the internet until at least the jam on the working mobile networks are cleared up though.”

The girl looked as if she already knows that and I was treating her differently from what she was expecting. What is with her?

On reaching home, she immediately placed her bag in my brother’s bedroom and placed the fallen items at the usual place, as if she knew where it was right down to it’s arrangement without me saying anything about it. I was expecting her to change clothes or take a rest, but she didn’t. She showed me her student card, which contains the same photograph and details as the one my brother showed me before. It confirms that the girl with me is indeed the one on the student card. Am I seeing things?

Me: “You’re a second year at my school? That would make you my senpai. You look quite pretty in this photo. I’m not sure if I’m seeing things, but you have exactly the same full name as my brother. Sorry, if I’m being rude.”

She became even more frustrated the more I tried to be polite to her. What is wrong with her?

Girl: “What are you talking about? I am your brother! Why did you treat me like I’m a total stranger and saying things I already knew? I was worried sick about you when I remembered you were in an area struck by the tsunami that I came straight from where I was.”

“She” is my brother? How can that be? She’s smaller than him to begin with, and she’s, in every aspect, like a real girl. This was further confirmed when she was running a lot while cleaning up the rubble around town.

Me: “Did you even realize what happened to you? Nobody looked at you strangely because you looked very much normal, for a girl. Your body looks a lot like that of a girl’s than that of a guy.”

She quickly looks down on herself and seemed quite shocked on what she found out as if she didn’t realize it until I pointed it out. It’s impossible for a teenage or adult female to hide the shape of her breasts even with clothes on, and its one of the first things a girl sees when she looks down to her own body for her entire life. She muttered something about forgetting to change her clothes.

Me: “Have you permanently become a girl?”

Somehow, she smelt as if she is wearing a new set of clothes and had just bathed with a nice scenting soap on her despite me recalling that she didn’t since before rescuing people earlier.

Girl: “Well, you know I had been there for quite a while, so of course I can, but they are not making it easy, hence the delay. The current situation isn’t one of those. I had came straight from Mizuho, when I heard there was a strong off-shore earthquake to search for you, that I completely forgot about my appearance. Look, it’s not like I wanted this to happen. When I manage to turn back one day, I’ll transform in front of you.”

With only a girl who claims to be my brother to fill in my loneliness at home, and the chaos happening all around us, we slept together. I don’t know if Takuya, mum, or dad are all right. If they are, I hope they are just stuck somewhere and unable to call, or involved with helping out with the quake.

It’s like the world around me is ending.

Author’s note: I’ve been planning to write something about the natural disaster since part 1. Due to influence of the more recent parts of writing “Alternate Dimension”, “Teary Promise” has been straying away from what I originally intended it to be and I broke the promise of not having any links with the other story. Oh well. Also, due to the order I write my stories in, I tend to write them all in the same way lately. Here’s the order staring from this one to the ones immediately before this: S6P6 → S6P5 → S2P74 → S6P4 → S3P38 → S2P73 → S6P2 → SS6P1 → S2P72 → etc.

Teary Promise (Part 6)

It’s the second Friday of the month, the day that my brother is claiming to collect something at his other place in Mizuho. Although it’s only morning, my brother doesn’t look like he even plans to go out at all since it’s already late in the morning. Our parents had already headed out to work.

Me: “You said that your delivery of something to there is today?”

There is very little time if he heads out now, considering that he has yet to bathe.

Brother: “Oh, they said it will arrive about 1:30pm, so I would still be early even if I head there now… Say, where are you headed?”

Isn’t that not much of a time difference?

Me: “The neighbouring harbour town to buy some seafood.”

Brother: “You mean heading to your favourite crying spot close to there, don’t you? You have something to cry about there? Maybe a crying competition?”

He knows about it because I would separate from him at the station, on arriving back from school, if I wanted to head there, but not the crying part.

Me: “Funny. Well, I am headed to the beach first for a while, before buying the food. Okay, I’m heading out now.”

Brother: “See you! Oh, I might leave the house before you reach back home, since you talked about being on time without rushing. Maybe I would use the spare time to explore places. Mizuho Academy seems larger than the city of our school, so exploring a place that is usually crowded when it’s not can be interesting.”

Finally, some sense into him.

As I would be carrying some groceries later, I am walking instead of taking my bicycle: It’s troublesome holding the groceries, steering the bike, and cycling up the hill at the same time. Since I’m headed to the beach first, so I’m taking the bus. The area between my town and the harbour town is mostly consisting of some plains and rice fields, with the rest being forests created a long time ago by our ancestors.

*****

I’m walking back home with the groceries I had bought. Along with spending time at the beach, this comes to being two in the afternoon. Surely my brother had already- UWAA!!!!

An earthquake a lot stronger than the strongest I’ve experienced before has happened. It lasted for quite long too. For as far I could see, I could see cracks forming on the roads, old buildings collapsing, and tall buildings swaying back and forth. On top of that, the strong earthquake seem to have lasted forever before it stopped. Luckily, I was already at an open area with no risk of things collapsing on me, but it seemed to start a chain of events that is to come: I could see the sea level dropping rapidly, and tsunami alerts are blaring all over. I was only young back then, but knowing something similar at coastal areas surrounding the Indian Ocean a little over 6 years ago, this means monstrously high waves that could destroy everything in its path are coming. I couldn’t call anyone as the telephone and electrical lines were already destroyed by houses along the line that collapsed onto them from the earlier earthquake.

I know that a strong wave is coming, but how far, or how high up a hill, should I go to be safe from the approaching tsunami. I know I had to keep running as I’m in a low-lying area. Someone who was running along with me had the radio tuned to the news.

Radio Announcer: “An earthquake has just occurred. The epicentre of the quake is about 70km east off the cost from Sendai with a magnitude of 8.9. The police are-“

Sendai?! 8.9?! That’s quite some distance away and is insanely strong! I know that a 6 or a 7 is enough to cause destruction, but close to 9?! For now, let’s concentrate on keeping alive by running to the hills, but how high is high enough to be considered safe? I don’t know. 5km inland or 50m above the sea seems safe enough. Mix these two together means that I don’t need to go too far or high, but I don’t have the time to calculate how much or where that would be.

Around the area where I believed it’s safe, I saw waves that are higher than an average house approaching and destroying houses in its path. The rubble and cars caught in the waves made it even more deadlier. Not only did I witness houses being destroyed, but I’ve also seen people being killed by it. Everyone around me was in shock an horror.

The waves then subsided, leaving behind a big open area with nothing but concrete buildings that had managed to withstood the earthquake and tsunami, and boats that were washed ashore. There were no trees left standing. The scene of the harbour town being completely unrecognisable from just a few hours ago, except for some concrete buildings. It was almost like those old films of towns being destroyed in a war, only seeing it happening with my own eyes. There were warnings of more tsunami and aftershocks, but were not predicted to be as strong as the one that had just happened.

Apart from cracks, some collapsed old buildings, and fallen items, my town seems mostly the same. With mom’s superficiality of things lying abound the house, only soft items, and the loose items that were taken out earlier that my brother did not put back, were the only things found on the ground. I’m even amazed that it seemed mostly unscratched, as if this was the very earthquake that mum foresaw happening a long time ago.

Still shaken from the earthquake, I didn’t feel like cleaning up the mess. It’s ironic that I could turn on to watch TV, but not be able to make calls. I should switch to the news channel to tell what had just happened. There wasn’t anything new besides what I witnessed first-hand, besides seeing it from air. What’s even more surprising was seeing Tokyo mostly unaffected, apart from tall buildings swaying back and forth during the quake and train services suspended. However, they added that the nuclear power plant in Ookuma Town of the neighbouring prefecture has been severely damaged from the tsunami. Other channels seem to be covering the same thing or have super large text imposed on the screen regarding the disaster. I’ve never heard of a major earthquake, huge tsunami, and a nuclear plant happening on the very same day, let alone quite close to me.

Is this all just a nightmare? It just seem something you would encounter only in a film, but it seems that everything actually happened. With telecommunication serviced disrupted or busy, train service likely to be suspended, and roads congested, I have no way of contacting any of my family members that I’m okay. My brother especially, as he knows that I was at the harbour town that was hit by the tsunami.

I guess I have to wait. I’m still feeling horrified from being narrowing escaping from being caught in the waves.

*****

After what seemed like endless reports about the earthquake, and seeing the same community service ads over and over again that replaced the regular advertisements, I got tired of them and went around the house cleaning up the mess. A female voice that I didn’t recognize, was soon yelling my name from the outside when I was cleaning up the upper floors.

Voice: “Yumiko-chan! Are you in there? Answer me before I start to think that you might be trapped under a building somewhere!”

Who is that? Why does she know my name, or know I had went there? Let alone that I live here. I’ve never told anyone besides my brother and parents the very night before. I guess it could have been my parents asking someone they know close to here to search for me, but that doesn’t really matter when there’s serious chaos happening everywhere.

I looked out of the window to see a girl who seemed to be from the same school as me. She looked a lot like the girl from the student card that made everyone, including myself, to say that it belonged to my brother. She’s not any of the girls I had seen my brother with before, even in secret, but she look a lot prettier, and the type my brother could easily get along with.

Me: “I’m here! Who are-“

She interrupted me before I could ask who she is. What annoys me even more is someone whom I don’t know, like her, is almost rude and is calling me on a first name basis. Considering that she has a faint resemblance to my parents, perhaps a cousin I didn’t know I had?

Girl: “Will you be helping to rescue people? The old houses has collapsed and may have people trapped in them. We have to hurry as every moment counts and they could die if they are trapped for too long. Rescue teams already have too much to handle that has been made worse by the gridlock traffic. I was lucky that I wasn’t caught in one on the way here.”

It seems almost as if she’s taking advantage of the current situation to avoid being asked for her name as she doesn’t look like she willingly wants to help out. We had spent the whole afternoon just helping out the neighbours, and even though we did a lot, it’s considered tiny compared to the scale of the number of collapsed buildings to look through. I kind of understand how hard it is for them, but what is strange about this girl was she never broke a sweat or got dirty, as her clothes are as clean as when she just purchased it. All of this, despite the risk of being cut from her careless actions from clearing the rubble, not to mention the dirty condition we are in. Besides these oddities, she’s no different from an average girl of our age.

Girl: “Well, that’s all of the houses in the neighbourhood as the rest are already done by others. I don’t know what will happen in the next few days. Due to the congestion and jammed phone lines, I don’t think I can leave town for quite a while as too far to walk to anywhere.”

Me: “So, would you like to stay at my house for a while? On top of being landslide and earthquake-proof, my house runs on solar panels and has enough storage capacity to last until after sunrise the following day, every day, even with the refrigerator, heater, TV, and lights turned on the whole night. You could say there’s still electricity in my house even though the earthquake has damaged the power lines leading to it. No access to the internet until at least the jam on the working mobile networks are cleared up though.”

The girl looked as if she already knows that and I was treating her differently from what she was expecting. What is with her?

On reaching home, she immediately placed her bag in my brother’s bedroom and placed the fallen items at the usual place, as if she knew where it was right down to it’s arrangement without me saying anything about it. I was expecting her to change clothes or take a rest, but she didn’t. She showed me her student card, which contains the same photograph and details as the one my brother showed me before. It confirms that the girl with me is indeed the one on the student card. Am I seeing things?

Me: “You’re a second year at my school? That would make you my senpai. You look quite pretty in this photo. I’m not sure if I’m seeing things, but you have exactly the same full name as my brother. Sorry, if I’m being rude.”

She became even more frustrated the more I tried to be polite to her. What is wrong with her?

Girl: “What are you talking about? I am your brother! Why did you treat me like I’m a total stranger and saying things I already knew? I was worried sick about you when I remembered you were in an area struck by the tsunami that I came straight from where I was.”

“She” is my brother? How can that be? She’s smaller than him to begin with, and she’s, in every aspect, like a real girl. This was further confirmed when she was running a lot while cleaning up the rubble around town.

Me: “Did you even realize what happened to you? Nobody looked at you strangely because you looked very much normal, for a girl. Your body looks a lot like that of a girl’s than that of a guy.”

She quickly looks down on herself and seemed quite shocked on what she found out as if she didn’t realize it until I pointed it out. It’s impossible for a teenage or adult female to hide the shape of her breasts even with clothes on, and its one of the first things a girl sees when she looks down to her own body for her entire life. She muttered something about forgetting to change her clothes.

Me: “Have you permanently become a girl?”

Somehow, she smelt as if she is wearing a new set of clothes and had just bathed with a nice scenting soap on her despite me recalling that she didn’t since before rescuing people earlier.

Girl: “Well, you know I had been there for quite a while, so of course I can, but they are not making it easy, hence the delay. The current situation isn’t one of those. I had came straight from Mizuho, when I heard there was a strong off-shore earthquake to search for you, that I completely forgot about my appearance. Look, it’s not like I wanted this to happen. When I manage to turn back one day, I’ll transform in front of you.”

With only a girl who claims to be my brother to fill in my loneliness at home, and the chaos happening all around us, we slept together. I don’t know if Takuya, mum, or dad are all right. If they are, I hope they are just stuck somewhere and unable to call, or involved with helping out with the quake.

It’s like the world around me is ending.

Part 5 | Part 7
Author’s note: I’ve been planning to write something about the natural disaster since part 1. Due to influence of the more recent parts of writing “Alternate Dimension”, “Teary Promise” has been straying away from what I originally intended it to be and I broke the promise of not having any links with the other story. Oh well. Also, due to the order I write my stories in, I tend to write them all in the same way lately. Here’s the order staring from this one to the ones immediately before this: S6P6 → S6P5 → S2P74 → S6P4 → S3P38 → S2P73 → S6P2 → SS6P1 → S2P72 → etc.

Teary Promise (Part 5)

Me: “So, was the chocolate good?”

This was after valentine’s day. I made it myself with the chocolate that mum gave me that had some kind of biscuit in that’s crunchy. Of course, I had tried some myself to make sure it doesn’t taste awful.

Takuya: “That chocolate was so great that it sent me to heaven! I will give you something better on White Day. Just wait.”

I sensed that he couldn’t think of what it would be without spending a lot of money or going through a lot of trouble to get it. Maybe he doesn’t even know what it would be.

Me: “I’m fine with anything really. It doesn’t need to be expensive or something.”

I said that because I knew boys would tend to overdo things when it comes to impressing girls.

Me: “Say, now that you are almost a third year student, do you have any plans after high school? Quite a large number of people around the country are already aiming to enter the top university in Tokyo, judging by the past years.”

Takuya: “No, I don’t want to move away from my family all by myself. Well, the universities within 2 hours from home are quite okay though. How about you?”

Me: “Well, I don’t really know myself. I actually want to move back into Tokyo, where I grew up before middle school. So I was thinking of…”

Before I knew it, Takuya was already hugging me. He seemed to have a hint of sadness. Somehow, I wasn’t able to resist him and I’m starting to feel as if I need him more in my life. I might be feeling love, but of a kind that is completely different from that between a parent and a child.

Takuya: “I wanted to say this later, but I don’t know what will happen in the future. You’re the first girl who’s not a relative that I’m close with. All the other girls that know me don’t see me more than just a classmate. I don’t know if you will be hit by a car and fall into a deep coma for a very long time or something. Even if we promise to meet up again after moving to somewhere far away, there’s a slim chance of meeting again. I just want you to… Just want…”

Me falling into a coma? I think he’s exaggerating on that part, but he seemed oddly serious on the part of something happening to me.

Takuya: “I LOVE YOU, IKAKA YUMIKO-CHAN!!!”

Did I just hear what I think he said? We’ve known each other for only half a year, but he’s already saying that he loves me? Huh? What’s this strange feeling running through me that has gone stronger when he said that?

Me: “I-I…”

I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say to him.

*****

Me: “Say, do you think of this?”

Brother: “I would say you would look good in this instead, but in this colour instead of the one featured in the picture.”

Since around summer, my brother seemed to have suddenly have knowledge about female clothing and better understanding of a girl’s feelings. I never asked how he knew, but I’m guessing that it has something to do with impressing that girl I see him hanging out with without his other friends, or staying at the dormitory of an all-girls’ academy. He has yet to introduce to me who that girl is, or show me a photo of himself in Mizuho.

When we were younger, we both looked as if we were twins born about a year apart. You could say that I looked and behaved like my brother, and he would also try to imitate me. Around middle school, I never understood why my uniform looked so different from my brother’s since it had a skirt instead of trousers. I never complained because that is the one my parents bought for me and I didn’t know what the difference between male and female was, until my body grew more towards like that of a grown up woman. It’s now impossible for the two of us to look exactly alike. More recently, we are even hiding secrets from each other, but somehow, the strong feeling of my brother wanting to look a lot like me, and me wanting to look a lot like him, still lingers.

It’s now the first few weeks of March. Quite a number of schools are having their graduation ceremony around this time. For the third year seniors in my school, that would be around the fourth week of the month. Except staff and the first and second year students involved with the graduation ceremony, everyone else need not come to school.

Brother: “Say, I am expecting a delivery this Friday at my other place, so I would need to be there. If I had known that there is a school break on that day earlier, I would had written the address of our house instead.”

Me: “Going all the way there just to collect a package? Shouldn’t you have written our home address instead?”

Brother: “Well, I wanted to enjoy the contents of this package as soon as I received it, but since I chose the cheapest option available and it’s in a warehouse overseas, it would take some weeks for me to receive it and I can’t change the address once they shipped it.”

Just what did you order that makes you get so excited about?

Me: “So will you be coming back after you received it?”

He showed a sign of uncertainty about it, as if there’s a problem that he couldn’t tell me about. From his past actions, it’s usually something that has something to do with Mizuho, but I don’t know what it is.

Brother: “After playing with it for a while, yes. I don’t really have a reason to stay there unless I’m so addicted to it that I forgot about the time.”

Now, what kind of item in a package would have him to do that? Knowing him, it could be as simple as a set of woodblocks from Europe. Who knows what strange things he ordered? Maybe it was even just an excuse to head to the city and not have me to follow him. There is a bus service from my town that goes there more directly than the train, but it takes a longer time to get to than the train, especially when you just missed the bus do to the infrequent timings. The only time they add additional services in between the listed timings is when the bus company is expecting high passenger load from festive periods or during the rare cases when the trains are not able to operate. The bus company operates in the city and is also a subsidiary of the subway trains there, which explains how it’s still running despite low passenger load.

I had visited Takuya’s house the following day to hang out with him. It’s located at Oarai Town just above his family bakery shop close to the seashore there. It’s really quite a nice place with the sea breeze blowing through the window. Although, being winter, this also means that it’s cold. I still have yet to give him an answer to Takuya’s confession of his love to me, but we were behaving as if I had already given him a positive reply.

We seem to have developed a mutual feeling with each other without realizing it ourselves. Our relationship is now quite close that we found ourselves kissing each other without any mention of it and yet still be able to talk as if we weren’t or didn’t. If only Takuya is a year older would I be able to marry him, because I strongly felt the longing of just doing doing things to each other and nothing else.

Before I left, Takuya gave me an early White Day present, and a wrapped box that he said it contained something precious to him. I wanted to give something back, but I had nothing with me. We were shouting to each other on seeing each other on the opening ceremony at the start of the next academic year next month.

Little did I know back then, that was the last time I saw Takuya alive, or seeing the town as it was.

Part 4 | Part 6

Teary Promise (Part 5)

Me: “So, was the chocolate good?”

This was after valentine’s day. I made it myself with the chocolate that mum gave me that had some kind of biscuit in that’s crunchy. Of course, I had tried some myself to make sure it doesn’t taste awful.

Takuya: “That chocolate was so great that it sent me to heaven! I will give you something better on White Day. Just wait.”

I sensed that he couldn’t think of what it would be without spending a lot of money or going through a lot of trouble to get it. Maybe he doesn’t even know what it would be.

Me: “I’m fine with anything really. It doesn’t need to be expensive or something.”

I said that because I knew boys would tend to overdo things when it comes to impressing girls.

Me: “Say, now that you are almost a third year student, do you have any plans after high school? Quite a large number of people around the country are already aiming to enter the top university in Tokyo, judging by the past years.”

Takuya: “No, I don’t want to move away from my family all by myself. Well, the universities within 2 hours from home are quite okay though. How about you?”

Me: “Well, I don’t really know myself. I actually want to move back into Tokyo, where I grew up before middle school. So I was thinking of…”

Before I knew it, Takuya was already hugging me. He seemed to have a hint of sadness. Somehow, I wasn’t able to resist him and I’m starting to feel as if I need him more in my life. I might be feeling love, but of a kind that is completely different from that between a parent and a child.

Takuya: “I wanted to say this later, but I don’t know what will happen in the future. You’re the first girl who’s not a relative that I’m close with. All the other girls that know me don’t see me more than just a classmate. I don’t know if you will be hit by a car and fall into a deep coma for a very long time or something. Even if we promise to meet up again after moving to somewhere far away, there’s a slim chance of meeting again. I just want you to… Just want…”

Me falling into a coma? I think he’s exaggerating on that part, but he seemed oddly serious on the part of something happening to me.

Takuya: “I LOVE YOU, IKAKA YUMIKO-CHAN!!!”

Did I just hear what I think he said? We’ve known each other for only half a year, but he’s already saying that he loves me? Huh? What’s this strange feeling running through me that has gone stronger when he said that?

Me: “I-I…”

I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say to him.

*****

Me: “Say, do you think of this?”

Brother: “I would say you would look good in this instead, but in this colour instead of the one featured in the picture.”

Since around summer, my brother seemed to have suddenly have knowledge about female clothing and better understanding of a girl’s feelings. I never asked how he knew, but I’m guessing that it has something to do with impressing that girl I see him hanging out with without his other friends, or staying at the dormitory of an all-girls’ academy. He has yet to introduce to me who that girl is, or show me a photo of himself in Mizuho.

When we were younger, we both looked as if we were twins born about a year apart. You could say that I looked and behaved like my brother, and he would also try to imitate me. Around middle school, I never understood why my uniform looked so different from my brother’s since it had a skirt instead of trousers. I never complained because that is the one my parents bought for me and I didn’t know what the difference between male and female was, until my body grew more towards like that of a grown up woman. It’s now impossible for the two of us to look exactly alike. More recently, we are even hiding secrets from each other, but somehow, the strong feeling of my brother wanting to look a lot like me, and me wanting to look a lot like him, still lingers.

It’s now the first few weeks of March. Quite a number of schools are having their graduation ceremony around this time. For the third year seniors in my school, that would be around the fourth week of the month. Except staff and the first and second year students involved with the graduation ceremony, everyone else need not come to school.

Brother: “Say, I am expecting a delivery this Friday at my other place, so I would need to be there. If I had known that there is a school break on that day earlier, I would had written the address of our house instead.”

Me: “Going all the way there just to collect a package? Shouldn’t you have written our home address instead?”

Brother: “Well, I wanted to enjoy the contents of this package as soon as I received it, but since I chose the cheapest option available and it’s in a warehouse overseas, it would take some weeks for me to receive it and I can’t change the address once they shipped it.”

Just what did you order that makes you get so excited about?

Me: “So will you be coming back after you received it?”

He showed a sign of uncertainty about it, as if there’s a problem that he couldn’t tell me about. From his past actions, it’s usually something that has something to do with Mizuho, but I don’t know what it is.

Brother: “After playing with it for a while, yes. I don’t really have a reason to stay there unless I’m so addicted to it that I forgot about the time.”

Now, what kind of item in a package would have him to do that? Knowing him, it could be as simple as a set of woodblocks from Europe. Who knows what strange things he ordered? Maybe it was even just an excuse to head to the city and not have me to follow him. There is a bus service from my town that goes there more directly than the train, but it takes a longer time to get to than the train, especially when you just missed the bus do to the infrequent timings. The only time they add additional services in between the listed timings is when the bus company is expecting high passenger load from festive periods or during the rare cases when the trains are not able to operate. The bus company operates in the city and is also a subsidiary of the subway trains there, which explains how it’s still running despite low passenger load.

I had visited Takuya’s house the following day to hang out with him. It’s located at Oarai Town just above his family bakery shop close to the seashore there. It’s really quite a nice place with the sea breeze blowing through the window. Although, being winter, this also means that it’s cold. I still have yet to give him an answer to Takuya’s confession of his love to me, but we were behaving as if I had already given him a positive reply.

We seem to have developed a mutual feeling with each other without realizing it ourselves. Our relationship is now quite close that we found ourselves kissing each other without any mention of it and yet still be able to talk as if we weren’t or didn’t. If only Takuya is a year older would I be able to marry him, because I strongly felt the longing of just doing doing things to each other and nothing else.

Before I left, Takuya gave me an early White Day present, and a wrapped box that he said it contained something precious to him. I wanted to give something back, but I had nothing with me. We were shouting to each other on seeing each other on the opening ceremony at the start of the next academic year next month.

Little did I know back then, that was the last time I saw Takuya alive, or seeing the town as it was.

Part 4 | Part 6

Teary Promise (Part 4)

Since the day I asked for Takuya’s email address, we have been keeping in contact with each other more often than before. Every morning, we would meet up with each other on the train and talk about things. He too isn’t in any club, but he helps with his family at a bakery store just below his house. He told me that it’s facing the shore of the vast ocean, so the air and scenery there are both quite nice to be at. I went there for the first time just after Halloween and it looks like it could look nicer in the Summer, though my favourite spot closer to my house has almost nobody there and the nearest building is quite a distance away, but there are trees and caves nearby for shelter. I haven’t been there much lately.

As time passed, the less frequent meeting with my brother didn’t seem to bother me much, to the extent that I forgot I even had an older brother. I had come to realization that my body had already become fully matured and somewhat become like my mother that it’s kind of scary. I never wanted to become an adult, but my body seems to have become like one. It’s like the stage of being a child was just like a deflated ball, and the stage of puberty is like inflating that ball. Well, that’s how I would describe it. Just looking at the length of my own arms and legs is a reminder of that.

Mum: “You’re starting to look more like me than your brother from when you were younger.”

Me: “Mum? I’ve been wondering since we moved here, but why did we suddenly decide to move further inland and uphill when the housing agent showed something. I don’t know what I saw back then, but we seem to have possibly lived near the seashore if he hadn’t shown you that. It’s as if that itself caused a major change of the house we could have moved to.”

Mum stared at me for a while before sighing. It’s as if she didn’t want me to ask about it but was expecting me to ask it anyway.

Mum: “Okay. First, did you know that Japan is quite close to 3 different continental plates, and the movement of these cause earthquakes?”

I nodded. I learn about this in science, so I know roughly something about it.

Mum: “Well, he showed me and your dad a simulation of what happens should an earthquake happen in the northern region. As people have predicted, major earthquakes that meteorologists had predicted around Tokyo has been long overdue. Should a major earthquake happens off-shore like that in north-western Indonesia 6 years ago, the coastal region of where we are living in now would be wiped out beyond recognition by a huge tsunami, and I don’t know if the waves would damage something serious along the coast that would last long after the earthquake happened. Old buildings built during your great-grandparents era is no sure indication that it would be hit. The Hanshin earthquake of 15 years ago shows us how dangerous it is to be in a built-up area with tall buildings too.”

Is mum being to overreacting of the possibility of that happening?

Me: “So this particular house we live in is safe from all of that?”

Mum: “Of course! It’s built on a hill and is quite some distance from the shore. The house has to be built from scratch to ensure it can also withstand around 9.5-magnitude earthquake as old buildings are not likely to withstand that much.”

I don’t know if mum is just overreacting, or seriously preparing for something seriously big that you don’t know when it will happen until it already comes. I’m leaning more towards thinking that she’s a crazy overprotective parent. I have to agree that the larger-scale earthquakes in Japan happens more frequently than any other country in the world I know of.

>Teary Promise (Part 4)

>Since the day I asked for Takuya’s email address, we have been keeping in contact with each other more often than before. Every morning, we would meet up with each other on the train and talk about things. He too isn’t in any club, but he helps with his family at a bakery store just below his house. He told me that it’s facing the shore of the vast ocean, so the air and scenery there are both quite nice to be at. I went there for the first time just after Halloween and it looks like it could look nicer in the Summer, though my favorite spot closer to my house has almost nobody there and the nearest building is quite a distance away, but there are trees and caves nearby for shelter. I haven’t been there much lately.

As time passed, the less frequent meeting with my brother didn’t seem to bother me much, to the extent that I forgot I even had an older brother. I had come to realization that my body had already become fully matured and somewhat become like my mother that it’s kind of scary. I never wanted to become an adult, but my body seems to have become like one. It’s like the stage of being a child was just like a deflated ball, and the stage of puberty is like inflating that ball. Well, that’s how I would describe it. Just looking at the length of my own arms and legs is a reminder of that.

Mum: “You’re starting to look more like me than your brother from when you were younger.”

Me: “Mum? I’ve been wondering since we moved here, but why did we suddenly decide to move further inland and uphill when the housing agent showed something. I don’t know what I saw back then, but we seem to have possibly lived near the seashore if he hadn’t shown you that. It’s as if that itself caused a major change of the house we could have moved to.”

Mum stared at me for a while before sighing. It’s as if she didn’t want me to ask about it but was expecting me to ask it anyway.

Mum: “Okay. First, did you know that Japan is quite close to 3 different continental plates, and the movement of these cause earthquakes?”

I nodded. I learn about this in science, so I know roughly something about it.

Mum: “Well, he showed me and your dad a simulation of what happens should an earthquake happen in the northern region. As people have predicted, major earthquakes that meteorologists had predicted around Tokyo has been long overdue. Should a major earthquake happens off-shore like that in north-western Indonesia 6 years ago, the coastal region of where we are living in now would be wiped out beyond recognition by a huge tsunami, and I don’t know if the waves would damage something serious along the coast that would last long after the earthquake happened. Old buildings built during your great-grandparents era is no sure indication that it would be hit. The Hanshin earthquake of 15 years ago shows us how dangerous it is to be in a built-up area with tall buildings too.”

Is mum being to overreacting of the possibility of that happening?

Me: “So this particular house we live in is safe from all of that?”

Mum: “Of course! It’s built on a hill and is quite some distance from the shore. The house has to be built from scratch to ensure it can also withstand around 9.5-magnitude earthquake as old buildings are not likely to withstand that much.”

I don’t know if mum is just overreacting, or seriously preparing for something seriously big that you don’t know when it will happen until it already comes. I’m leaning more towards thinking that she’s a crazy overprotective parent. I have to agree that the larger-scale earthquakes in Japan happens more frequently than any other country in the world I know of.

Part 3 | Part 5