Last Story – A Bouquet For Your Smile – Part 2
“Mr. Hideo Kobayakawa, passed away at the age of 27. The other day, you were hit by a truck with a drunk driver on your way home and died instantly. I apologize for being blunt, but that’s the information we’ve got and we need to confirm if it’s correct.” Senpai spoke in his usual tone.
“Oh, yes, that’s right… I’m dead. I still don’t feel like it nor have I imagined that there would be an afterlife.”
“I understand.” Senpai nodded and scratched his head, “I understand that you must still be coming to terms with it. It must seem like you died just yesterday. And now you’re suddenly being made aware of that fact… I’m sure it takes time to accept it. We are here to help you get through this and provide you with afterlife service support, or in other words, we’re here to help you die without regrets. It’s natural for you to be confused at this point, but can you tell us what you’ve experienced that left you with lingering regrets?” He said in a soft tone.
Comforted by Senpai’s sympathetic words, Mr. Kobayakawa relaxed his shoulders a bit. “Thank you. My lingering regrets, hmm… I think I know what it is, but I’m not sure it’s something you’d want to listen to… But well, to put it simply, now that things ended up this way, all I can think of is my girlfriend, Sana, whom I left behind… I want to talk to her for one last time. If I don’t say goodbye properly… if I don’t apologize to that person, I don’t think I’d rest well even if I’m already dead.” Mr. Kobayakawa bit his lip in regret and cast his gaze down.
“There might have been something wrong with me, but I don’t have the right to ruin her happiness. Sana might be selfish in some ways, but she was a very nice girl. But dying and leaving her all alone, how could I… how could I do something so unforgivable?” As he continued his monologue, Mr. Kobayakawa let out a sob.
Senpai offered a box of tissue to Mr. Kobakayawa, who continued crying, and gently comforted him. “Please calm down. There is no need to hurry, please take it easy and speak slowly.”
Using the tissue, Mr. Kobayakawa blew his nose and seemed to calm down a bit.
“Thank you.” He politely expressed his gratitude.
Senpai nodded in acknowledgment. “All right, let me just straighten it out. First of all, is this Sana your lover? It seems like the Information Department did such a haphazard job, seeing as to how the information they gave was lacking. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but could you tell us about it in greater detail?”
Mr. Kobakayawa agreed and spoke more slowly this time. “That’s right. Sana’s my girlfriend. She’s very important to me and I deeply regret leaving her all alone. I don’t think she can live without me…”
“She must be very important to you. But why do you think she can’t live without you?”
“Because she herself told me so every time. She said it as a matter-of-fact. Oh but… there were times when she said the exact opposite… and that was because I had a mental illness, that I’ve got a few loose screws…”
“Hmm,” Senpai muttered. “But Mr. Kobayakawa, it seemed like you didn’t have any history of going to a psychiatric clinic. It wasn’t mentioned in the file from the Information Department.”
“Oh… well, the psychiatrist would tell me, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you,’ every time I went and turned me away. But Sana would often get mad and say, ‘You’re out of your mind!’”
Senpai frowned. “Was she the only one who said that?”
“Well, yes. She—Sana knew that she was unstable herself, but somehow I feel like it was my fault. Surely, there must be something wrong with me. And Sana isn’t strong enough to live by herself. I have to stay beside her and support her.”
Mr. Kobayakawa’s words didn’t make any sense to me, but after listening to him, I felt as if Senpai momentarily blanked out.
Wondering, I muttered, “Senpai?”
“Oh, Sorry for zoning out. Right, you said you didn’t think you were ill yourself, but instead she was telling you so every time. And so you figured that there must really be something wrong with you. But why is she… Why is Sana not strong enough to live without you?”
Mr. Kobayakawa answered the question with difficulty. “She… she often did it.”
Senpai looked quite shaken, even though he was normally relaxed no matter the situation.
Why was that? That revelation was surely surprising, but I was more shocked to see Senpai look so perturbed.
Noticing the look of worry on my face, Senpai let out a sigh. “Please continue.”
“I may have said suicide attempts, but she actually always gave me notice. It didn’t matter what time, even if it was during the wee hours like 3:00 am. She would cut her wrist or hang herself. Because I was pathetic and unreliable, I’d hurt her over the slightest things and then she’d curse at me and do those things. It would repeat over and over again. But in the end, she… Sana would cry and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t live without you.” Seeing her plead so weakly, I felt guilty over hurting her… and I promised myself, “I must protect her.” …And that’s what I’ve been doing all this time.”
Senpai folded his arms and tapped his arm anxiously with the index finger of his right hand.
“I see. So your lingering regret…”
“Yes, I want her to be able to stand on her own and be happy. I think that was originally my purpose, but I’m now dead… If I could make sure that she can live without me, I think I can die with a peace of mind.”
“I see.” Senpai let out a groan or a sigh, “I understand what you are saying, and I would like to ask for some time so that we can plan the best course of action for your lingering regret.”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
—That Senpai didn’t immediately take this case.
“Here you go.”
After the interview, I handed Senpai his cup of coffee and hesitantly asked.
“Senpai… What happened? No matter what, you’d always accept all kinds of cases. With Yayoi’s case, Shuto’s and all the others’, you were always confident. Well, I’m not sure if it’s confidence, but you’ve never rejected any client so far. However, this time…”
Senpai took a sip of his coffee and heaved a sigh. “Apprentice, you don’t know me that well. I have my strengths and weaknesses, but I also have my limits. I can’t possibly be omnipotent in everything.”
A little confused, I asked. “But Mr. Kobayakawa barely gave details, what could you have concluded—-“
“It’s a borderline example. And a serious one at that.”
Senpai scratched his head helplessly. “It’s a case that’s out of my capability. It’s his girlfriend, Sana’s illness. Borderline personality disorder. Extreme fluctuations between positive and negative emotions, repeated unreasonable anger and praise, the pathological anxiety of being abandoned, and the behavior of inflicting intense self-harm—Kobayakawa said so, didn’t he? She repeatedly attempted suicide and even called at 3:00 am just to give notice, then she’d cut and hang herself. And he was so shaken by her that he thought he was ill too. It’s a typical case. A typical severe case of borderline personality disorder.”
“But that’s just your conjecture, Senpai. We still have to meet Sana in person to make sure—“
“I’m sure of it.” Senpai said with a grim expression.
“I know. I know how painful it feels.”
“Senpai…” Seeing that look of suffering in Senpai’s face, I lost my ability to speak.
At that moment, a memory that had sunk in the deepest recesses of my mind resurfaced. The woman I saw at that time. The traces of deep cuts on her wrist and arms. Her name was—
“Senpai, does it have anything to do with Kyoko Kasuga? What happened to her in the past?”
Surprised, Senpai stared at me. “How do you know that name?”
For a moment, I averted my gaze away from Senpai, but then I decided to face him properly and ask about that time.
“When Senpai was drunk, I chanced upon her file, but I don’t know any details.”
Senpai looked deep into my eyes for a while, as if he was exploring it, and then like a puppet with a broken thread, mumbled, “I see.”
“Senpai…” I tried to offer words of comfort, but Senpai waved his hand and looked as though he remembered something painful.
“Can you… can you just leave me alone for a while?”
Senpai spoke with such bitterness, so I couldn’t say anything but “yes” and left the office.