Fourth Story – On Becoming Independent – Epilogue
How many meetings have we had now? This time, I decided to tell Shuto the truth. That Sudo and his buddies had no feelings of remorse whatsoever. Nor would they ever have.
Getting revenge was a failure.
To my surprise, Shuto’s face lightened up when he heard it.
“I’ve known it from the start.” He said.
“I knew it, but I momentarily lost my mind, I’m sorry. I knew them best. To them, I was even less than a bug. But I refused to admit it. I had to get ;revenge.’ I wanted to be heard. I wanted to leave a piece of myself. That was my biggest regret, I guess.” He said with sincerity.
“Shuto—” I looked him straight in the eye.
He smiled brightly and continued. “Thank you for listening to my selfish request for revenge. It may have failed but it was necessary to prove that I existed. That I was important. The teachers, adults around me and my classmates all didn’t help me and I’ve been alone all this time.”
Shuto unfolded his arms, opened his hands and extended his palms to us.
“You know, I think what I really wanted wasn’t to take revenge but to live the same mundane life as everyone else. That’s why I couldn’t forgive those who broke that trivial hope and wanted to make them pay. My desire to live a normal life then transformed to revenge. I guess I was jealous of those who live normal lives, wasn’t I?”
I nodded with sympathy, “Yeah, you probably were.”
Shuto kept repeating himself, as if seeking validation.
“My life is now over, but I’ve realized one thing. I wanted the happiness of being normal. That was my hope. Both my wish and my hope, isn’t it?”
“Perhaps.” I answered rhetorically.
Shuto nodded. “Right. I wanted to interact with people normally and die the normal way too. It was too late for me to realize it, but in my next life, if I don’t forget this feeling, my ‘revenge’ would be that I’ll become a stronger person without giving up on my life.”
I gave him a smile. “I’m sure it will happen.”
—The culture of hating and hurting others was ubiquitous and might never disappear.
I won’t say things like “Only you can change yourself. If you change, your surroundings will change,” anymore. After all, no matter how much you struggled or how hard you tried, there were just things that you’d have no control over.
Reality was harsh and cruel.
But who could say there’s no point in struggling or attempting to change reality?
In the end, Shuto found hope.
There’s no such thing as a meaningless life. Everything was within oneself. After several meetups, Shuto gradually changed. His thirst for “revenge” evolved into the desire to look into himself and find hope.
In retrospect, could I also have changed?
— I don’t know.
Perhaps a little. I think I’ve come to like myself again, even for a little bit. It wasn’t just because I wanted to save Shuto, but it was the result of my own reflection as I tried to help him. It wasn’t something I achieved on my own either. I had encouraged Shuto, and in return, he also encouraged me, which made me realize my own shortcomings and helped me come to terms with myself.
We would all change. However, there were some things that must remain unchanged.
“Good job, apprentice. You’ve done well.” Senpai ruffled my hair as he gave me words of praise. He had supervised and watched over me just as he said he would. Thanks to his silent encouragement, I was able to pick myself up again and again even when I felt like giving up. His support had enabled me to face myself and walk on my own two feet.
“Senpai.” I straightened my ruffled hair and smiled at him.
“Hmm?” He responded in his usual nonchalant tone.
“You said that we’re all supposed to change.”
“You did. I remember it well.”
“Oh, I guess I’m starting to get dementia.” Senpai scratched his head.
I chuckled at him. “Well, I don’t think what you said was wrong, but I think you’re only half right. Yes, we’re all going to change. But I’ve realized that perhaps there are some things that shouldn’t change.”
“Hmm… I see you’ve learned something out of this case.”
“Yes!” I answered wholeheartedly. “I believe in people. That would never change no matter what anyone says… That’s my conviction.”
Senpai nodded in understanding. “Interesting. You’re really something, aren’t you? You have to keep reflecting on yourself as you change, but stay true to yourself at the same time. Indeed, you have to keep a good balance… I’m amazed you were able to realize this on your own.” He said with a smile.
“By the way, your training is almost over. Do you intend to continue being an agent in the future?”
Senpai muttered, “I see,” before calling out to me, “Apprentice.”
“It’s Yuma. Coffee, right?”
Senpai shrugged with a smirk. “My, aren’t you getting better at this? As your supervisor, I can’t tell you how pleased I am. The same brand of instant coffee as last time, please.”
“Coming right up!” I answered cheerfully as I headed for the kitchen. On my way there, I faintly heard Senpai talking to himself.
“There might come a time when you will be addressed as ‘Teacher Yuma’. I hope you can surpass me and become a good agent.”
Overwhelmed with embarrassment, I tried to focus my attention into making a good cup of coffee in the meantime and picked up a packet of coffee from the shelf all while feeling like I’m on cloud nine.
T/N: Remember, it’s not what happens to you that matters, but how you react to it.