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Yorushika – Umarekawari

December 12, 2018

Reincarnation

If you follow the narrow path that leads to a grove of trees by the side of the road, and climb down a steep hill, you’ll come to a place where there’s a small shrine. If you climb the stairs that are right next to it, you’ll find another narrow, twisty path that continues in a curve, and if you go right at the fork in the path, you’ll arrive at an old, wooden bus shelter.

Next to the bus shelter, a single crepe myrtle is growing, and in the early summer, as if urging the season onward, its flame-like flowers bloom one by one.

They’re just like little bombs, I always think when summer comes.

One morning, when I peeked into the bus shelter, a ghost was sitting on its wooden bench.

The rays of the sun passed through his semi-transparent body. In spite of that, his outline was very clear, and he had a strangely strong presence.

The ghost noticed my gaze, glanced briefly at me, and then returned to looking at the sky, as if nothing had happened.

I hesitated for a moment, then asked, “Is it okay if I sit next to you?” and the ghost nodded and answered, “Yes.”

His voice was strangely smooth.

Having exchanged a few words with the ghost, somehow, I felt strangely as though we were in sync.

That day we didn’t talk any further, as my bus came and I got on.

The next day, the ghost was sitting in the same place.

I hesitated silently for a while, then gave the ghost a brief greeting and sat down.

He nodded silently to me, and after a little while, he said, “The weather is nice today.”

Starting with the weather, we then talked about the crepe myrtle blooming, the early cicadas having started crying, the fact that summer was approaching in earnest, the sweetness of the ohagi my grandmother made.[1]

After that strangely normal conversation, I noticed his sometimes transparent feet and face, and I finally remembered that I was talking to a ghost.

Talking to the bus stop ghost became part of my daily routine.

The cicadas started crying one after another, and next to the crepe myrtle, hydrangeas bloomed.

Every day, he’d be sitting on the bench in the bus shelter, and I’d nod slightly to him and sit down next to him.

Day after day, he was sitting there, as if waiting for something. Even though I had no reason to be there, I kept going to the bus stop and chatting with him about various things, but still, I had the strange feeling that I hadn’t talked to him enough.

He believed in reincarnation. According to him, after the body decays, the spirit of a living thing goes somewhere far away and is reborn in a different place.

Though I laughed and said it was funny that a ghost would believe in something like that, since he, who was so close to heaven, said that it was so, I started thinking that it might be true.

One morning, when I peeked into the bus shelter, he was there as usual, listlessly, vacantly staring at the sky.

When I silently sat down beside him, he told me he’d remembered something from his past.

It seemed there was someone he was holding in his heart, and occasionally when he was looking at the sky, thoughts of her would come back to him, he said.

Since it was so long ago, she must be dead by now. Even so, having not quite forgotten her, he would look for her like this, he told me with a sad laugh.

“I’ve always believed in reincarnation.” I remembered his words vividly.

“So, if I could get even one glimpse of her, I would be satisfied,” he said, still staring at the sky.

Through his semi-transparent face, the pale ultramarine of the cloudless sky came in and out of view.

“If you could be satisfied, what would happen?” I asked him.

“Maybe I would just vanish like a popped bubble,” he answered.

“In that case, why are you sitting here every day?

“If you believe in reincarnation, surely it would be faster to go look for her in a place where there are lots of people. There’s no need for you to be here, specifically.”

When I said that, he, still staring at the sky, didn’t reply.

After a little while, he finally opened his mouth.

“It’s because if she’s been reincarnated, I’m sure that she’ll come here.”

A wind blew from somewhere far away and idly stroked my cheek. I had a sinking feeling in my chest.

My throat was dry. As if my mouth had a mind of its own, it moved, and answered, “Me too.”

And then, feeling like I was dreaming, I said “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time, too.”

The summer breeze ruffled my hair.

I just silently looked at him.

While I was doing that, the sun began to set, and the warm color of the setting sun tinted the row of trees across from us.

It tinted the crepe myrtle, giving the illusion that someone had painted it a different color.

After a long silence, he raised his head and said, “So it was you.”

Then he glanced at me once, and his outline started to disintegrate; he became a vague haze, then disappeared.

Since then, I’ve believed in reincarnation.

Notes:

[1] Ohagi are a Japanese sweet made with a layer of red bean paste surrounding a center of sticky rice.

Original story by n-buna.

From → Yorushika

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