Fourth Story – On Becoming Independent – Part 6
Mr. Sasamine came and left like a storm but my meetings with Shuto continued. As our discussions increased, Shuto’s lingering regret seemed to change to something else other than revenge. It’s not as dramatic a change as Senpai noted, but as Mr. Sasamine said, it meant that the door to Shuto’s heart had gradually opened through such an extremely orthodox method.
However, Shuto was still at a loss as to what to do. But that wasn’t surprising. Having to confront oneself at such a tender age of fourteen surely was difficult.
I kept seeking advice from Senpai, sometimes I even complained, but he warmly supported me and continued this three-legged race with Shuto.
Our daily lives went by repeatedly that way.
A thought flashed in my mind so I decided to visit the school Shuto attended once more.
There was something I needed to do.
Otherwise, I’d feel like I’d revert back to who I was before.
In fact, it’s more of an important matter that I needed to settle. And I think it’s an important step in order to resolve Shuto’s lingering regret.
I waited in front of the school gate until classes were over and Sudo and his friends headed home.
What I’m trying to do might be wrong and perhaps I’m just trying to impose my ideals and revel in self-gratification. However, the more I talked to Shuto, the more I was reminded of my own dark emotions and that’s what pushed me to come all the way here.
How long have I been waiting? It was now dusk. Spotting Sudo passing through the school gate alone, I hurriedly stopped him.
He looked at me suspiciously.
“What is it this time? Do you still think we’re the bad guys?”
Calmly, I spoke. “I’m sorry about last time. It’s just a bad habit of ours to run our mouths without thinking. Please don’t take it to heart. I’ve something to tell you. Why don’t we head over to that park nearby?”
He seemed a little apprehensive.
“Relax, I just wanted to clear things up. To tell you the truth, I’m so annoyed at being dragged around by that guy, you know.”
I pretended to be calm so he wouldn’t realize my unease.
“Fine, but it’s the last, okay?”
The night has fallen, and the streetlamps gradually illuminated the street. The children who were playing during the day have all left, leaving the park in deafening silence. We stood in the center of the park and faced each other.
“Sudo, I hope you’d hear me out with sincerity.”
“What is it? Are you gonna reprimand me?”
“Well, not exactly. I wanted to apologize for what I said the other day. But I want you to think about it.”
“Huh?” Sudo asked in confusion.
“Think about how painful Shuto’s death was. Did he have any regrets? How did he feel when he jumped down from his apartment? If you were in his shoes, how would you feel being driven into the corner like that? Would you have any regrets?”
“I know it was awful of us to—“
“You knew it was awful and apologized, but you’re missing the point. Back then, we heard your real thoughts inside the classroom. We know you weren’t sincere.”
There was a look of dismay in his face, but it was immediately replaced by a snarky laughter.
“So you were the one behind that voice and loud bang? Man, that was real scary.”
Now that he was aware that I knew his real thoughts and since we were alone together, he dropped his “remorseful perpetrator” mask.
“Fine, yeah, I wasn’t remorseful. I couldn’t care less what that disgusting pest was thinking. I’m repenting my sin. If I say that and shed some tears, would you be satisfied? Isn’t it pointless? I have no tears to shed for that garbage bug. I’ve said it before. Miss, do you have dementia already?”
Hearing those words straight from his mouth, I couldn’t help but sigh.
I couldn’t even feel angry anymore.
Cold, barren emotions filled me. This kid didn’t just bully Shuto. He killed him. And didn’t even feel an ounce of guilt. Nor any other kind of emotion for that matter.
Shuto was nothing more than a “plaything” for them; they toyed around with him like a child who poured water over an ant’s nest and enjoyed killing them guiltlessly.
Feeling disheartened as I realized that, I opened my mouth to speak. “Sudo, do you know what Shuto kept thinking about till his death? His greatest regret?”
He frowned, confused by my sudden change of tone.
“Huh?” He asked.
“Shuto’s greatest regret is—” my voice echoed loudly throughout the park. “Revenge against you.” As soon as I said that, one of the street lights flickered in the distance.
Sudo was startled, his eyes fleeting between the broken street light and my face. The space around us became distorted. It was my doing, of course. I was making him suffer the way Shuto did, even for a little.
“W-What’s happening?! What are you?!” Frightened out of his wits, Sudo screamed.
“How can you call yourself a ‘human’? You’re nothing but rubbish without emotions. You don’t know how blessed you are to be a human. So…” I spat out. I was so overcome with anger, everything else seemed meaningless.
The rest of the street lights exploded in a chain reaction, banging continuously. We were enveloped in darkness with only the moonlight shining upon us.
“What the—What are you?!” Sudo collapsed into the ground, trying his best to stay away from me. But in the distorted space, movement was difficult, so no matter how much he struggled, he couldn’t move for even an inch.
“Shuto didn’t do anything wrong, but he was slowly killed by a human like you. You’ve toyed around with him like a cat playing with a mouse.”
I looked down at him with cold, apathetic eyes.
“If all humans are like you, then I won’t expect anything from humans anymore. I’ll just focus on being an agent who resolves lingering regrets. I’ve told you earlier, didn’t I? That Shuto’s greatest regret was—” I spoke like an executioner giving the final words, “revenge against you.”
Sudo sat and looked up at me over his shoulder, tears streaming down his eyes.
“I’m sorry. It’s our…my…fault! Please forgive me.”
“…” As soon as I heard that, my body suddenly lost its power.
I knew that his remorse was superficial, that he didn’t really mean what he said. He didn’t genuinely regret his actions.
I stopped releasing my power, and turned on my heels without a word.
—But still, I wanted to believe in humans.
—That’s right, this was the important matter I needed to settle for me and Shuto. I wanted validation for my existence, and I thought that by believing in humans, I could have that.