Chapter 7: Meeting Minori
Hanako stared blankly up at her uncle. What could she say? Would he even believe her if she tried to explain? He had too! People thought he killed his wife but he insisted he hadn't. Even with evidence against him he still would not believe it had been him who had killed Akane. Or so he insisted.
Couldn't he believe the words she would offer in explanation?
Hanako took a step back and inhaled a deep breath. Takuma glanced down into the box once more, and while shaking his head, he closed it and locked it tight. He stuck his arm out, offering the jewelry box back to Hanako. She only stared at the jewelry box. She made no move to take the box though something within her told her to grab it and never let it go.
“I didn't hurt anyone. I didn't,” she said at last. Hanako finally looked away from the box to meet Takuma's gaze. “You have to believe me. I found this box in the park. I don't know how it got there since, according to Shizuko, it belongs to mom now.”
“Jewelry boxes don't just magically appear in parks. They don't grow legs and walk out of people's apartments, Hanako,” Takuma stated, his arm dropping.
“I'm not saying it did! Takuma, I think it's Akane,” Hanako said. She hadn't thought it was the woman until recently. Once she learned that the jewelry box had belonged to Akane, the idea that the ghost she had seen was that of her dead aunt had popped into her head. For some reason it just made sense. Who else could it be? She was certain that the thing she had seen in the park was not exactly human and she was almost positive that she wasn't losing her mind. Why couldn't ghosts be real?
Takuma shook his head and walked around Hanako to sit on the sofa. He set the jewelry box down on the small coffee table that sat in front of the couch.
“How is that possible, Hanako? Akane is dead.” Takuma rubbed at his eyes with the heels of his palms. Hanako turned to him slowly and watched as he wiped away tears that were beginning to fall from his eyes.
“Takuma, it makes sense that it's her,” Hanako stated. “The police say that the victims... they're mouths are...” Hanako motioned with her hand, pressing her finger to her cheek and moving in an upwards motion to represent that the girl's cheeks had been cut open. “It wasn't you obviously. So, it's Akane.”
“Yeah, but she's dead. Don't you understand? It isn't possible!”
Hanako nodded, understanding why it would be hard to believe. But if it wasn't Akane, Hanako could only think of one other thing it could be, and it wasn't something she was willing to believe because then she really was crazy.
“So, you don't believe in ghosts? Tell me, Takuma, if you didn't kill your wife then who did?” Hanako's voice was low as she spoke, clearly she was accusing Takuma of lying. “I don't know much about vengeful spirits, but I can why Akane would become one.”
Takuma shook his head and refused to answer his niece. He stared at the wooden box filled with jewelry and chunks of skin. He shivered, then looked away.
“Do you really think you're innocent, Takuma?” Hanako asked, her voice accusing.
“Hanako, stop it. I don't want to hear this nonsense.”
Hanako frowned and walked over to the coffee table. She picked up the jewelry box and then retreated to her bedroom. She glared at the box in her hands and nearly threw it across the room, but the fear of having to pick up its contents kept her from doing so.