A girl who sees things differently...
|This is unfinished, so I'm going to keep updating it. Even if you think it's terrible, leave a review and tell me that it isn't worth continuing if that's what you think. The title is temporary until I find a better one. Thanks! :3
When Mitsuri Kurai was very young, she had thought that everyone could see the spirits in the dark realm when they closed their eyes. It seemed obvious in the way all things do when you haven’t learned that there aren’t always happy endings.
When Mitsuri was a little older, she had thought that the spirits were just what other people called "imaginary friends." It made sense to her, but she wondered why no one was very interested in them. Her older sister had had an imaginary friend at her age. That made it sort of acceptable for her to have one. At her age, it was alright to have a good imagination, as longas she could also do math.
The first time Mitsuri went to school, she had thought that everyone had spirits that they talked to. Eventually, people in her class started to talk about the spirits linked with something they called “the game” which was different from “real life”. She didn’t understand. She knew what a game was, and didn't understand why real things were part of it. She asked her older sister about it once, but HItormi had smiled indulgently and asked what sort of game it was. She had walked away feeling misunderstood.
When Mitsuri had been going to school for a few years, she started to think that there was something wrong with her. People started calling her “immature” for still playing games, and when she tried to explain that they were real, they started to call her a witch. There were some girls who pretended that they saw things, too, but she knew that they didn't.
She first gave up control of her body inadvertently to something that she talked to in the midst of a grove of trees on the playground. It had less of a tangible form than a sort of glow, but its voice was clear and bright. It was her friend. When Mitsuri woke up, she heard the doctor explaining that she was just a little different. "Active imagination"- she started to dislike that phrase. She could see the thought, bitter, in her mother's eyes.
Why can't you be normal, like your sister?
She pretended not to see them anymore when she went to elementary school. Keeping them a secret turned into a habit. No one believed her, really, with the exception of a few girls in her class who pretended to see them too. She didn't play with them like the other children in her class, but sat in trees alone at recess listening to the disembodied voices that the wind carried.
Most of the trees had phantoms that stayed with them. They were all her friends.
There were voices in the dark, too, when she was alone at night. She tried to stay up as late as possible to delay the time when her light would be shut off and she would have to sit and watch the dark. Sometimes there were voices. They were friendly, too, but she didn't like them. Sometimes her friends came, though, and then there weren't other voices.
When Mitsuri met a woman who said that she was a psychic, she had asked about the spirits, hoping that it might be a random genetic thing, and that it was a psychic gift. It was the first time in years that she'd mentioned them, and she saw the change in her mother's expression. The woman had smiled a little, wrapped her shawls mysteriously around her, and said something vague about the wheel of fortune, and all things being revealed at the next conjunction of Mars and Jupiter. Mitsuri had been taken to see the woman in the white coat and too much lipstick with a permanent, Barbie-doll smile who asked her a lot of questions that night. She answered mechanically, trying to ignore the scrape of the pencil on the clipboard. She hated seeing the woman's suspicion. She decided that the woman had probably already decided that she was schizophrenic, and she was afraid, so she lied. Mitsuri had grown quite adept at lying. She had cried herself to sleep that night, afraid of going mad. She muffled her sobs against her pillow so that Hitomi wouldn't hear across the room they shared.
When Mitsuri found the old woman who was shuffling a deck of cards in the street, she had already given up on herself. But when the old woman had smiled at her kindly and said simply, "You can see them, can't you?" Her heart beat frantically like a captured butterfly trying to free itself. She only had time to say a startled "How did you-" before she was hurried away. Her mother's eyes were startled. Hitomi has only looked pondering.
Mitsuri almost screamed as the knife bit through her shoulder. A wave of sharp pain shot through her arm as she choked on her scream, blood from her shoulder spattering the pavement. She looked away, the movement sending burning darts down her neck as she tried not to cry out. She gritted her teeth and clamped her eyes shut, fists clenched so hard that her fingernails cut into her palms. The knife had missed the joint, but sliced through part of the muscle in her upper arm. The man's face leered down at her, ugly and distorted by the rain that had begun to fall.
She had been walking home from school, alone as usual. Hitomi was staying late for a track practice. She hadn't noticed the man before he had grabbed her arm, and she had seen with a flood of adrenaline that he was holding a knife-
Mitsuri closed her eyes, reaching out behind her mind for the surreal sense that told her she was no longer trapped in her own head. She only saw the darkness. “Hello?” she called. “Someone?”
The knife flashed down again, silver and shining. It hit her side, grazing her ribs and tearing a layer of her skin away. Panicked, she screamed into the darkness, but there was nothing there. Pain exploded through her side as the man plunged the knife through her stomach, icy shards of pain shooting through her as he wrenched the knife back out of her body, his face no longer smiling. All she could feel was burning, shattering pain, and she knew for the first time that he truly wanted to kill her.
Acrid bile rose in her throat as she tried to stand, dragging her body forwards. The pain was unending, unbearable, as the noise of the rain faded into a constant, droning hum. Her blood seemed to be fire pumping through her veins as she tried not to think about what would happen to her, her heart was beating, she could hear it, as unnaturally loud as her erratic, rasping breath. She stumbled and fell, hard against the wall, sliding back to the ground. She fought against the pain, the heaviness of her own body, her breath fast and choked-
I'm here The voice was unfamiliar to her, but it didn’t matter. It had the faint discordancy of wind chimes and felt like a cool hand on her shoulders. It had a good feeling, and that was what was important. Her breath burst out of her in little, rasping sobs of relief.
"Please," she begged. "Please, I'm in trouble, please help me, I'll be loyal to you, anything, please..." The pain was making her dizzy now, making it harder and harder to focus on her surroundings. She felt nauseous, could taste blood in the back of her mouth- she could see the man raising the knife again, but she couldn't move, couldn't think-
the man's face froze in her mind, and around it she could see the image of a spirit, dark and ethereal-
it was like looking at the world through a pane of fogged glass. She could feel her body moving on reflex, but the pain and confusion were gone. She could see with a dreamlike clarity the knife, flashing through the rain, the dull gleam of stained metal-
Mitsuri found herself on her doorstep. She was lying on a cold stone stoop, propped against the door. She could still feel the blinding sheets of rain and stared blankly at the door in front of her. There was blood on the stone, her blood, but her muscles felt like lead and she couldn't move to do anything about it. There were strips of cloth bound around her stomach and shoulder, trying to stop the bleeding. She'd read about people in books doing that. She thought the cloth was probably from the man's coat, because she hadn't been wearing one at the time. Shock, she thought blankly. That's probably what this is.
She could see something in front of her, a faint silver distortion, and recognized it as the phantom who had heard her, but the spirits never appeared in the world, they couldn't be outside of her head...
MItsuri opened her eyes slowly. She was in a bed somewhere unfamiliar. Her head was pounding, and the room was fading in and out of focus. She wondered vaguely why her left shoulder was aching. She turned her neck to look and saw, instead of her room, a white-ish wall and a few ominous-looking machines. That, coupled with the stiff, plastic-feeling pillow under her head, confirmed the feeling that she was in a hospital. And then she remembered, faintly, as though recalling a dream.
There had been a knife.
It had been raining, and there had been a phantom.
The world had faded away, and she could see the knife through the mist.
Falling through the rain.
Blood the color of rotten cherries swirling into pools of rainwater.
The world was fading again. Mitsuri heard footsteps, and voices, and then there was nothing.
She dreamed that she was sitting alone in a room consumed by inky darkness. There were footsteps echoing through the silence. She didn't recognize them.
She thought that there was someone next to her, but when she reached out, all she saw was her hand, glowing faintly in the shadows.
She could feel nothing. There was no one there.
The unfamiliar footsteps had come back, and there were more of them, quicker, the whispering of phantom's feet.
Mitsuri opened her mouth to call them, but she couldn't speak.
It was the pain that caused her to wake a second time. Her stomach was throbbing,
her blood pumping like fire. The IV on the wall next to her was beeping, high and piercing. The heard the clicking, hurried footsteps of a nurse hurrying to the room. There were a few chairs by her bed. It was blurring, and the pain tearing across her arm and stomach was fading. She didn't dream again.
The next time she woke up, the pain had faded to a dull, throbbing ache. Mitsuri turned to face the doorway, propping herself up on her arm. She tried to remember the last time she'd eaten anything.
The door creaked, and she immediately fell back onto the pillow, closing her eyes. She knew the sound of the steps entering her room.
It was her mother.
She could feel Sonomi Kurai hesitate over her daughter. Her hand, with the same long-fingered grace as Hitomi's, hovered over Mitsuri's head. There was a second for which Mitsuri's breath faltered, her heart skipping, and then she felt her mother pull back and heard her sit, carefully, on the edge of the flimsy plastic chair that had been shoved carelessly next to her bed. Mitsuri let her breath go in relief and disappointment. She didn't want to have to talk about it, didn't want to insist that the man had attacked her from nowhere, and that he wasn't only something she had imagined.
Her feigned sleep slowly became real. When she opened her eyes again, it was the middle of the night, and her mother was gone. She sighed. She had probably imagined the spirit in the man's face, was probably seeing things from pain and nausea and blood loss. Her head was pounding again. She closed her eyes, trying not to see the knife in her hands, or the surreal darkness in the man's face.
She lay an arm across her eyes, the cool darkness a relief from fluorescent lighting. There is something seriously wrong with me, she thought. That's it. I'm insane. I've gone mad.
Her mother was next to her bed when she sat up and looked around, the glaringly bright sun of early morning making her eyes ache. There was a tray of food next to her bed- disgusting, hospital food full of preservatives and artificial flavour.
Her mother looked out of place in a hospital room, in her crisp business suit and recently cut hair- black and silky like Mitsuri's, but carefully, elegantly styled, manicured nails tapping the edge of the plastic chair. Her skin was a shade darker than Mitsuri's, which was pale as a winter sky and burned easily. She was beautiful, Mitsuri supposed, in a distant, unreachable sort of way. The smile she gave strangers had a way of looking natural and yet somehow rehearsed.
"Good morning," she said. "This is unusually early for you to wake up."
"I slept for a long time," she said, trying to smile but finding that it felt like an awkward way to move her face. Her voice scratched hoarsely through her sleep-choked throat. "Pain medication will do that to you, apparently."
When Hitomi returned from school later in the day, she had brought a fantasy novel from the library for Mitsuri to read. "You've rescued me from nothing but bad television and worse harlequin romances!" Mitsuri exclaimed, feeling unaccountably cheerful. She noticed, too, that her mother had driven Hitomi. She wondered how long it would be before either of them were allowed to walk alone.
"So," said her mother. Mitsuri's pulse quickened, heart beating like a frantic, captured butterfly. "Why did you return home from school two hours late and covered in blood?" "A man attacked me. With a knife." She said it quickly, before she could bite it back or convince herself from saying it. "I..." didn't mean to stab him to death. It was an accident.. It sounded so ridiculous that she had to bite her lips to prevent herself from laughing.
"I screamed, and tried to run. I don't know. I don't really remember what happened, just that it hurt, and I had to keep running. I guess at some point he thought someone would see and stopped following me. I..." she paused. Took a shuddering breath. Her heart was floundering in her chest, accelerating frantically. "I woke up on the doorstep. I must have fainted."
Her blood suddenly became icy, heart thudding to a halt. What happened to the body? I killed him. I killed a man. She closed her eyes against the buzzing hospital lights. She didn't feel upset. Didn't feel regretful. Shock, she decided. I must have gone into shock because of the trauma. He's dead. He's dead, I killed him, I should feel sorry... I'm not a psychopath, I don't kill people, I don't...She was surprised to feel her mother's cool hand resting lightly against her forehead-- a gift in exchange for her confession.
She smiled, gratefully.
"It won't happen again," her mother said, voice like a caress. Mitsuri leaned against her fingers, cooling the skin of her face, and opened her eyes slightly. "I'll be careful." Not that she had been particularly reckless.
The softness had gone from her mother's voice, replaced with iron. "I won't let it happen."
"I know," she said, opening her eyes fully. Her mother's eyes were bright.