Monday, December 13, 2010

Return – Chapter 4

Nakajima was standing still, alone in Izanami's burial chamber deep below Asuka. After enjoying a brief reunion with Yumiko, brought back to life by Izanami's power, the goddess had taken her off the land of Yomi.

As Yumiko had been drawn into the battle with demons against her will, Izanami wanted to give her the ability to least defend herself; Nakajima had been ordered to return to the human world. Still sensing Yumiko's presence, he was reluctant to leave; as he was mulling about, his ears started to ring slightly. Looking up, he realized that at some point the crimson walls of the tomb had disappeared. He was surrounded by an empty void, almost like outer space.

What's going on?

All of a sudden, Izanami's voice sounded in his head.

"Stand up. And think of the person that needs you the most. Return to her."

Realizing that Izanami was using her power to return him to the human world, Nakajima immediately pictured Yumiko in his mind. In front of him, white mist swirled around and formed into the face of a human.

"Yumiko!" As Nakajima called out, the face dissipated back into white mist.

"Nakajima-kun, there's someone that needs you much more than me." Yumiko's familiar voice whispered an admonishment into his ears.

Soon after, he heard another familiar voice, painfully crying out his name. Nakajima reflexively covered his ears with his hands.

"Akemi, Akemi..."The voice calling to him became louder and louder, and Nakajima felt as if he was getting smaller as the voice became more clamorous. The white mist condensed again, into the face of a beautiful woman that looked quite a lot like him – his mother.

"Stop! I don't want to see you!" Nakajima cried out like a petulant child. Nakajima's antipathy toward his mother, a woman who hardly ever bothered with her family, might have been strong enough to completely overwhelm his ego. But the billowing mist gradually started to envelop him.

"No!" As Nakajima desperately resisted, the mist's movement slowed slightly, and his mother's beautiful face looked down at him with sadness in her eyes. Her kind stare opened his stubborn heart like the unraveling of ropes binding a body down.

"Mom..."

The minute the word left his lips, his body became as a drop of condensation in a mist and he was wrapped in a feeling of pure ecstasy. The mist enshrouding Nakajima quietly moved toward the void. There was no distance or time there.

I want to stay like this forever... Nakajima thought.

He became aware of an image in the nothingness. The outlines of white walls and a familiar room's lighting formed, and the profile of his mother entered his field of vision.

"Mom..."

As Nakajima automatically called out, he felt all the blood being pulled out of his body along with a floating sensation like being in a weightless environment. His body was hit with a twisting shock as he was tossed somewhere. He moaned and sat up; he had been returned to the human world from Izanami's burial chamber.

A familiar sofa and sideboard stood before him. There, in his living room, his mother sat, dejectedly twirling her disheveled hair with her fingers, making no effort to fix it. Her face looked so young that she was often mistaken for Nakajima's older sister, but now it was full of creases and wrinkles; she looked almost twenty years older than she had before. Nakajima's mother looked up and saw him in front of her. She gaped at him in amazement.

As soon as she confirmed that this was indeed her son, she let out a wail of anguish, rushed over to Nakajima, and hugged him madly, crying all the while.

Nakajima realized just how much taller he had grown than his mother. The difference must have been there for several years, but during that period, he had lived with his mother without making the slightest physical contact with her. Nakajima hadn't really looked at her as his mother. For the first time, he was starting to feel that reality. He suddenly felt a great love for her.

As he patted his sobbing mother on the back, Nakajima spoke to her softly.

"I'm sorry, mom..."


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