Chapter 7: Aruku

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A mere desire to be treasured, for years and years to come. All of my victims were guilty, proven innocent for none. I am the contortionist, controller of my puppets. They simply let their greed, selfishness, and ignorance take a toll in their life leading them to miserableness. I simply put them out of their anguish. Mere mortals wished for forgiveness, but I granted them merriment.

I once knew of a beautiful young girl. That was until she came up with an illness that impaired one of her legs. She couldn't walk properly. At first, she used a cane, but it didn't work so well. The other children in the orphanage would often steal her cane, causing her to fall while being made to crawl around like a dog. She would often talk to the picture of her pet cat Pumpkie every night. She would talk towards the picture about everything, as if Pumpkie was still alive and well. She missed her cat dearly. However, Pumpkie was the only one who understood her. Until she finally got adopted by a servant. She was then named Ku. What a lovely name isn't it? Ku ri ko.

I would often catch sight of Kuriko and her adoptive mother. I watched her comb Kuriko's hair, brushing the soft hair calmly while singing to her. The servant always had a knife nearby. It would often make anyone wonder, why does she own a knife? Everyday, I watched them. I watched them for a whole year. I analyzed their daily activities, their desires, and even some things that the other didn't know of. I sat in the Sakura tree and I watched, awaiting for my feeble prey. However, what surprised me was Kuriko's friendship with one girl. What was her name again? Ah, Hana.. the name she told Kuriko to call her. Hana forgot her real name due to a mysterious illness, she had got it after she started playing the biwa. It was a lovely biwa, to be honest. Just a bit.. bloody. Oh no, they never hurt themselves while playing the biwa. They simply never learned from their greed.

The winds blew on a stormy night. A silent freight within clear sight. For every dawn raised another pawn. Many could hear the booming tsk tsk tsk as the colors were whisked. Blue, green, white, what a pleasant sight! The victims run until they are spun. A dash or two of victims to brew, slightly caught in an askew.

Kuriko finally awoken with a painful headache.

She was well taken care of by her adoptive mother. She had anything she could wish for. She even had a wheelchair, so she wouldn't have to walk everywhere. She steadily pushed the wheels as she moved towards the door. Outside, she could breathe in the constant fresh air while watching the other children play with each other. She awaited for her friend Hana to come back home. It had been weeks since she saw Hana. Sometimes she would often think to herself how Hana and Kaito disappeared within thin air. She wondered if she could go check on them. Although, she wasn't allowed outside of the house. Her mother would often scold her saying, "The day you leave this house is the day you'll lose everything." Of course, Kuriko never believed her mother. After all, what was there to lose? She didn't have actual parents, nor siblings. All she had was Hana. But even sweet Hana was nowhere to be found.

She waited. And waited. And waited. For four years, she waited for her best friend to come back. But no matter how long she waited.. her friend never came. She sat in her wheelchair while being fed, bathed, and clothed by her mother. She never wore a single smile on her face ever since the disappearance of her friend. That was the only person she lost. The only person who could put a simple cheery smile on her face.

Kuriko's mother disappeared for weeks. She waited in her wheelchair, watching out the window, for her mother to return. She waited for Hana and her mother. No matter how long she waited, they never came back. Did they abandon me because I'm crippled...? Thought Kuriko to herself as she watched butterflies flutter past her window. She admired their beautiful colors. The glowed in green, white, and blue. Colors that weren't common in her town. Usually she would see yellow, orange, black, or purple butterflies; she never knew those three colors existed for other butterflies. Nor did she know there were butterflies that glow.

She noticed the beautiful butterflies fluttering towards Hana's house. Kuriko knew she wasn't supposed to go outside, but the butterflies tempted her. No, her longing desire to see Hana once again tempted her. It drew her towards the house. She wheeled herself towards the front door. She breathed heavily as she started to shake uncontrollably. Fear ran through her veins as she sat in the doorway, staring at Hana's house. The house that had been empty for months, four years even. She closed her eyes while forcing herself to roll towards the house. She went up the ramp onto the front porch of the house. The doors and windows were shut tight as she tried peeking her way through. It was clear that no one was in sight within the house. Disappointed, she sighed sadly as she sat on the front porch. She watched the wind gush through the leaves of the Sakura trees near the house. The petals falling as butterflies fluttered past them, dodging as if they were flying for their lives.

Suddenly, she saw a figure in the corner of her eye. It contained of a tall black mass. Kuriko turned her head to see a woman in a black dress and veil looking at the trees as she did. "Um.. lovely day, right?" asked Kuriko as she looked at the woman with kind eyes. The woman turned her head, facing Kuriko while replying, "Yeah, it is. Too bad my daughter can't enjoy this as much as you seem to." Kuriko felt as if the woman wore a heartfelt smile underneath her veil. Kuriko smiled too, for she could relate to the woman. She thought to herself before asking another question, "Are you still grieving for your loss?" The woman nodded. "I see. Well, I can kind of relate." "You can?" asked the woman in reply. Kuriko smiled sadly, "Yeah, I lost my special... friend, if I consider her that. But she was more than just a friend to be honest. She made my life much more cheerful. After she disappeared though.. I wasn't happy anymore. I tried finding happiness, but no matter what I did I just couldn't find any hope. A few weeks ago my mom went missing too. To be honest, I never really considered her my mom I guess. She was there to take care of me. She just wasn't the best." The woman frowned while asking, "How so?" "She used to always have a knife by her side. No one knew why, not even me. Sometimes she would often talk about how she was going to be powerful soon. Whenever she got made fun of for taking care of me.. she would often take that anger back out on me. She used to even steal my wheelchair to make me crawl for her amusement." The woman stood up off the sill and said, "I'm sorry you went through that. I can help you find your friend, what's her name?" Kuriko replied in astonishment, "Her name was Hana. Will you really help me?" The woman nodded while holding her hand out for Kuriko to grasp. Kuriko smiled excitedly as she took the woman's hand. She was able to stand up and walk with the woman.

They walked towards the river. The woman told Kuriko to stare into the river. Kuriko watched the fish swimming within the water. She felt herself being pushed in by the woman. She struggled to swim, fading deeper into the water as she gasped for her final breath of air. She sunk for a while into the water. She awoken, inhaling the air she could finally breathe. Kuriko sat up to look around the place she was in. It was a gloomy cave consisting of one beaming Sakura tree. She walked up to the tree, only to see a piece of string attached to the body of it. She followed the string with her eyes as it went further and further towards the top of the cave. As her eyes faced objects, people, strung up on the strings within the cave. 

Finally, she recognized one of the figures. It was her friend Hana. She desperately climbed onto the string, crawling her way towards her friend. She reached for Hana as she got stuck onto the string near Hana. She hugged Hana as her vision blurred. She caught a glimpse of a green butterfly fluttering out of her chest as she faded away. All she could see was peace and quiet engulfed in black while her soul slipped away from her.

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