Last Story – A Bouquet For Your Smile – Part 9
The next day.
Instead of visiting him, I decided to invite Mr. Sasamine to meet up. As for the meeting place, I chose to go to Kyoko’s grave (even though she’s long gone to heaven and there’s not a trace of her existence left there).
From here on out, I’ll be facing him off. And for that reason, I figured being in Kyoko’s presence would give me a boost of confidence like I’m in my home ground.
Mr. Sasamine arrived right on time, walking leisurely on the gravel with his sandals as he waved his right hand at a right angle. “Hey, Yuma! Sorry, I made you wait. I thought I came on time, but I think I shouldn’t have made a lady wait, right? Anyway, why did you call me here? How can I help you?”
I gave him a light nod and took a deep breath. He looked the same as always.
“I have something to tell you. It’s very, very important.”
“Is it something you can only say here? Didn’t I tell you there’s nothing here but the pungent smell?”
There was a glint in his eyes.
I stared into his eyes and said, “There’s nothing here — I thought that kind of thinking was what made you and I different. You said you wanted to invest in me, but I might disappoint you. And for that, I’d like to apologize in advance.”
He whistled clumsily before saying, “Looks like you’ve braced yourself for something. But I don’t think so. Rather, I think today will be a memorable day for you as you begin to embark on the journey of a true first class agent.”
After saying that, he laughed out loud.
I’ve always wanted to be a first-class agent more than anything else. And despite feeling swayed by Mr. Sasamine’s tempting offer, I was still determined to refute him, step by step, with what I had learned during my training.
“First of all, I’d like to talk about the first client I met during my training.”
Alright, let’s do this. With a deep breath, I decided to voice out my feelings.
“She was a high school girl who was struggling to sort out her conflicting emotions between the boy she liked and her girl best friend.”
Despite the abrupt change of topic, Mr. Sasamine listened attentively and encouraged me to talk. No matter what kind of agent he was, his skill was something to be had.
I continued. “She said her regrets were about the boy she had a crush on. But as the investigation continued, it turned out that it was never about the boy, but the dark feeling of jealousy she had against her best friend.”
“Oh my.” He reacted with exaggeration. “But I guess that’s the thing with people — instead of their regrets being about leaving the person they liked behind, I think negative emotions like resentment and bitterness are stronger.”
I shook my head lightly. “I don’t think so.”
“What?” He asked in surprise.
“In the end, she—Shion, let go of her so-called negative emotion and sincerely wished for the happiness of her best friend and the boy she liked.”
Mr. Sasamine nodded. “That’s great. Hats off to Shindo’s skills, I guess?”
I shook my head again. “No, I think what’s important is that she—Shion, ultimately went to heaven because she prioritized thinking of others. Even if she vanished into thin air, wouldn’t the path she chose have been meaningful?”
Mr. Sasamine shrugged.
“Yuma, that’s nothing but sophistry. She—Shion only did that in that situation because she wouldn’t have been able to clear her lingering regrets otherwise. It all happened according to Shindo’s strategy. Do you think there could have been another way to clear her lingering regret? That was the only way.”
He continued. “In the first place, in order to reach that end, was it really necessary to investigate the boy and her best friend? There had to be another way to let Shion reflect upon herself and clear up her regrets, right?”
“That may be true, but…”
“You’re just captivated by that beautiful ending. Things just happened to unfold so beautifully. And that made you think that Shion’s lingering regret was also beautiful and irreplaceable. But that’s more of an isolated case. It’s rare for people’s lingering regrets to be resolved so neatly.”
Was that how it was? That I was merely immersed in the symbolism that goes with resolving lingering regrets?
“Let me continue what I was saying. Our second client was, in my honest opinion, selfish and only thought of herself—or at least that’s how I saw it. I couldn’t accept her at all. Or so I thought, but…”
I took a deep breath and continued.
“But she was actually just like any mother who cared about her child very much. When she and her daughter got connected, she finally went to heaven. If she wasn’t able to fill that void with her daughter, she wouldn’t have peacefully gone to heaven. Was it pointless to let her and her daughter form that connection?”
“It’s pointless.” Mr. Sasamine said bluntly.
“I actually heard a little about that client from Shindo. He told me that he had to communicate with the daughter to let her know of the existence of her real mother. Do you know how much she suffered? Did you think of the kind of life she will lead from now on? If you ask me though, I’d say it’s none of my business. But, going by your logic, interfering like that would have ended badly, wouldn’t it?”
I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t think of anything to refute what he said.
As long as Yayoi was saved, wasn’t that enough? Did I properly consider her daughter—Asuka’s life in the future? Only God knows the answer.
I continued talking despite feeling unnerved about how Mr. Sasamine quashed my conviction in an instant.
“The third case was that of an old man who cherished the family he left behind—”
“That’s enough. I’ve already heard of that. And about that, I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now.” He interrupted me, not in a negative tone but with a kindness that seemed to be filled with compassion.
“What do you think was the best way—the most efficient way—to clear the client’s lingering regrets? You probably have persuaded him by saying things like ‘Don’t worry about your family; they’ll be fine,” but what really happens to them is beyond our control, isn’t it? You poke your nose too much in their business. Remember what I said? When humans go to heaven—”
He held out his hands and continued. “They turn to nothing. White lies are necessary sometimes. Besides, if you had failed, how were you going to help him?”
I turned my head down, feeling dismayed. “I…”
I bit my lip hard. Perhaps things had really just fallen into place at that time.
Indeed, whether his family moves on or not, I’d have been able to clear Mr. Genjuro’s lingering regrets. All I had to do was “persuade” him. Without even realizing it, I had interfered with the family and stirred them up.
No, that’s not what I meant. What I really wanted to say was… What I wanted Mr. Sasamine to understand was…
“No… That’s not it… I…” I reluctantly shook my head over and over again.
—I was breaking down.
I braced myself.
“Oh my, you’re shaking just as I thought, Apprentice. By the way, Sasamine, is that the best you can do with your third-rate nihilistic persuading tactics?”
Senpai suddenly appeared with a large bouquet of flowers and incense in his hands.