by Mae Iris
The story begins with a prologue from Nagi's point of view.
Time won't stop. As it moves forward, all of them change. They grow and become people I don't remember, people I never knew. As for me, I stand still. I'm the constant in our complex equation of life, love, pain, and growth. Time won't stop, and as it continues to roll forward it takes the people I treasure further and further away from me. As for me, I stand still.
I'll never forget the sound of the rolling waves. The warm glow of the sunset in the clear evening sky. They say that dusk is a time when one cannot tell the spirits from the humans or the living from the dead, so I guess as I grew up I decided that they were the passing souls of dead children or spirits from the shrine up on the hill. I tried to forget, but each year that passed they seemed to become more active in my subconscious. During the day they were never there, but the sound of the waves during high tide brought their laughs back from the graveyard of my long faded memory of that summer. Ten years was plenty of time to forget their faces, but not their voices. Or their names. We made sure that not even the rocks on the beach could forget our names when we carved them into the beams supporting the dock by my house. The characters are still there, somehow. The hiragana sloppily written and barely legible even then. None of us knew the kanji. Haruto. Aoi. Aeris. Chinatsu. Nagi. That's me.
I was named for the sea, and rightly so. The sea is my home, the salty smell and the constant push and pull of the tide that lulls me to sleep every night. But it also haunts me. This is the dull roar that acted as the music for our childish dance. Run into the waves, run away from them, grab the pretty shell before the tide takes it back out to sea. We were carefree and happy, just like most six and seven year olds are, completely unaware of how far fate would take us from each other. Completely unaware of the cruelty of the world we live in.
Another thing that has never been the same is my parents shouting over each other in their respective first languages. The last time I saw them was as my mother shouted "diner!" and my father shouted "gohan!" as they called me to dinner that last evening. They do it all the time, talking over each other in French and Japanese, and I've gotten used to it, but those two words created something akin to a chemical reaction in my memory. Waving at my new friends, shouting "I'll see you tomorrow!" not knowing that I would never see them again. The people who took their place are not the same children from that evening on the beach.