I Quit the Going-Home Club for a Girl with a Venomous Tongue - Epilogue
Epilogue – My Beloved Comet
My story will come to an end soon.
Therefore, I will write down my life story for the last time. I planned to burn all my diaries, but I heard that there was a demand for them. In the end, after the persuasion of my relatives, I decided to keep them. Hopefully, it could help someone else’s life.
* * *
I can say with confidence that my life was a joyful one.
If one were to ask me what was the happiest moment in my life, I would say that it was giving birth to my daughter, Alice. I remembered when I saw my daughter for the first time, I cried. At that moment, I felt like I was the happiest person in the world.
She grew up to be a good child. My husband said she looked like me when I was younger. Raising a child was a challenge on its own. We had to deal with constant anxiety about her future and until she became independent, we had our hands full with taking care of her.
The day I sent her off was the day my role as her mother was finished. Being a mother was the most difficult role I had in my life.
As I watched her back as she walked away from our doorstep, I felt both sadness and joy. The strange sensation brought tears to my eyes.
That day, the twenty years worth of family life that the three of us spent together came to an abrupt end.
It felt both refreshing and nostalgic. My husband and I hadn’t been married for long and our daughter was born soon after our marriage, so our life together wasn’t very long.
Just as I thought my biggest role in life was over and there was nothing else for me to do but pass on quietly, I realized that I still had my husband by my side.
And so, I suggested to him…
“Let’s go on a trip.”
“You want to go somewhere?”
“Let’s see. We have all the time in our lives now. We’ve been together for a long time, but since our daughter was born, we didn’t get to be alone very often, so…”
“Alright, I’ll look for a good place.”
“Let’s go somewhere overseas.”
My husband stared at me with surprise. He probably thought that I wanted to go somewhere in the country.
“I want to see what the world looks like. I don’t need something extravagant like a trip to outer space, but at the very least I want to die knowing what kind of planet this earth looks like.”
And so, we set out on our journey.
I had no idea how big the world was.
My husband and I saw and walked among various springs, clouds in the mountain ranges that flowed like rivers and the vast, deeply gouged valleys.
We talked to the people who lived there, learned about their culture and tasted their food.
We saw the strong animals that roamed the land and touched and felt the architecture that hid a long history behind their solid surface.
If it wasn’t because of my husband, I wouldn’t have made the trip at all.
His presence was irreplaceable for me. My mornings always started joyfully whenever I saw him by my side and my sleeps were always free from nightmares whenever I saw his shoulders beside me.
Love was an amazing thing.
My husband’s little sister once told me this,
‘Love transcends all logic.’
If my husband was with me, I was confident that I could do anything and live anywhere I wanted.
No matter how much the world changed, my feelings for him would remain the same. My love for him would burn hotter and longer than any kind of flame in existence.
* * *
Our time passed by in bliss. Before we knew it, twenty years had flown by. Alice’s children, our grandchildren would come to visit us from time to time.
Yes, I became a grandmother.
I thought that I would never grow old, but I realized that I could not resist the fate of the living. I could no longer walk as nimbly as when I was young. My hand lost a lot of moisture and my bones were standing out. My whole body was wrinkled like dried plums.
Sometimes, I looked back and felt jealousy toward my youth, but even so, the current time was the happiest time for me.
I realized it when me and my husband were having tea at a certain coffee shop in the city.
Children in uniform were sitting nearby, chatting and laughing, reminding me of the good old days between me and my husband.
“Do you remember? A long time ago…”
“A long time ago… There was a sweet shop we went to around here, wasn’t it?…”
My husband’s hearing had grown weaker. I always tried my best to raise my voice so he could hear me properly.
“Ah… Yes… You ate a lot, didn’t you?…”
“Back then… You used to drink tomato juice all the time… I miss it…”
I realized it. His time was nearby.
We often reminisce about our past. I heard that it was difficult to tell if one was going senile or not, so we did this to keep each other’s condition in check.
We’ve stopped traveling around the world. Our body has grown weaker and besides, we’ve seen enough of the world. I, in particular, had no more regrets. Nowadays, just taking a walk every day in a quiet place made me content.
I held my husband’s hand and threw a remark at him, ‘You’re getting old.’ I laughed after I said that, in which he coughed and laughed in response.
I felt even happier than I ever was.
Yes, I had to push myself to move around, but the happiness I felt was calmer, gentler and warmer.
One day, my husband could no longer walk anymore. His eyesight too, had deteriorated.
Fortunately, he didn’t forget about me.
Sakaki Arina, his wife.
He never forgot that and always called my name.
I walked to the nearest convenience store with a cane. I remember when I was younger, I would imagine his happy face as I was thinking about what I would cook for him. The miso soup I made would bring a smile to his face and I would be happy for the rest of the day because of it.
I never thought of asking my daughter for help.
She wanted to take care of us badly, but I kept refusing her. She would eventually realize that parents didn’t want to inconvenience their children no matter how old they got.
* * *
My husband was lying down on a hospital bed. Just like sixty years ago, I held his hands tightly for a long time.
I whispered in his ear. ‘You did your best.’
I was glad that we were able to grow old together.
I was glad that we were able to love each other.
I was glad that we were able to raise our child together.
I was glad that we were able to live together.
I knew that we could never die together.
I knew that we couldn’t shed tears for each other in the end.
I knew it would be very painful to be left behind by the person that I loved, but I still felt happy that I was able to stay by his side.
He would be leaving this world before me.
But I would stay a little longer in this world.
The world without him would probably be… Very lonely…
“Arina… I’m sorry… I’m really sorry…”
“It’s okay… Don’t worry…”
He was surrounded by so many people. Me, our daughter and our grandchildren.
It was thanks to him that I didn’t spend my whole life by myself. My biggest fear was the possibility of him being alone on his deathbed.
I vividly recalled the day we first met.
He approached me, who was sitting alone inside that library.
I said a lot of terrible things to him, but he never left me alone.
Like a comet, he circled around me as many times as he could.
He called my name in a whisper.
I held his hand tightly and told him that I was here by his side. He continued,
Those were his last words.
“Likewise… See you later…”
That was the end of the journey of my beloved comet.
The comet with its beautiful tail would never return to me again.
But I would shine like the sun for a while longer… In a world without him…
* * *
My lengthy story was over.
After my husband passed away, my daily routine was to visit his altar.
There was a picture of his face there and I greeted him every day with a good morning.
That became my routine every day.
The routine in a world without him.
After he passed away, I grew fearful of the world.
I thought that the world was cruel because it continued to tick by even after he passed away. But those feelings gradually went away as I realized that he was probably watching over me somewhere.
For ten years after his death, I lived a normal life. My daughter came to see me frequently and my grandchildren visited me often. I was truly grateful that I have lived this long without becoming senile.
Another fifteen years passed and I turned a hundred and ten years old last month.
I was still shining brightly like the sun. It had been twenty five years since he passed away. All of our friends had long since passed away. Even his sister, Ugin-san passed away at the age of ninety, twenty years ago.
Alice was still alive, but I didn’t know what would happen in ten years.
“Good morning, Dear…”
I called out to you in front of the altar.
Don’t worry, I remember everything. Your name, our daughter’s name, our deceased friends’ names. I haven’t forgotten any of them.
I became forgetful lately, but I still could recall your face.
I wish you would turn into a ghost and haunt me, but you never appeared even once.
“I’m going to visit the others again today… I’ll bring your picture with me…”
I rode the bus while holding a cane. I had an escort with me. I was a rare case who could still walk by myself at my old age of a hundred and ten, but at the same time, I realized that my fire was starting to die down. Starting from next week, I will be living with the others in a retirement home.
Everyone gathered with old pictures in their hands.
They sat in their wheelchairs and talked to each other with a picture of their youth in their hands.
I brought a picture of our wedding. You looked cool and I looked beautiful in that picture and I was proud of it. It was well received by everyone, which was a given because you were my amazing husband.
I have tried to enjoy my life ever since you passed.
But I still missed your voice very much.
I haven’t heard your voice for twenty five years. I’m greeting you everyday at the altar, but you’ve never replied to my greetings. Recently, I’ve been watching old videos that we recorded, over and over again. From our wedding, the time when our daughter was still a little girl and when we traveled all around the world. The digital world was amazing.
You were gone, but the proof of your existence remained.
* * *
I used to cry a lot at night.
Whenever I closed my eyes and went to sleep, I saw your back in my dreams.
Everytime that happened, I’d force myself to wake up because I knew that it wasn’t you.
“Ah… I miss you so much…”
I’d wet my pillow and spill out my feelings for you.
“I miss you so much… I miss you… So much…”
I held your picture strongly in my chest so that it wouldn’t be torn by the passage of time.
This was the only way I could show you my love.
As long as I still had these feelings, I would still shine as your sun.
Will I see you when I die?
I wanted to know the answer, but at the same time, I didn’t.
If I knew I won’t see you, I would have to live even longer. After all, I was the only one who knew you the best and it wouldn’t be good if I were to die.
What was the use of this long life other than devoting myself to you?
Ugin-san, did you meet him?
If yes, could I meet him too?
* * *
I could no longer walk. Someone had to push me in a wheelchair if I wanted to move around.
It had been a long, long life, all I had to do was to end it.
It was evening, I looked at the setting sun and muttered to myself,
“Are you watching this too?…”
My caretaker misunderstood me and answered the question for me.
I was asking that question to Sui, but I decided to move on with the conversation and said, ‘It’s beautiful…’
I knew that he was with me.
He was right beside me the whole time.
That was why I wasn’t afraid of leaving this world behind in that empty room.
It was unfair though. Me, our daughter and our grandchildren were there when he was on his deathbed. But I died alone.
No, that’s wrong…
Because you were always by my side the whole time.
* * *
I woke up.
I sat up, rubbed my eyes and looked around.
I remembered that I had fallen asleep in the school library.
I looked at the clock and was surprised to see the hands of the clock pointing to 17:05. It seemed like I had been sleeping for an hour.
There was no one in the library, not even the librarians. It was just me by myself.
“How do I get out now?…”
I sighed and straightened out my disheveled uniform.
I looked at the book I was using as a pillow.
My Beloved Comet.
I reached into the bag at my feet, separated my belongings and put the book away. I saw my textbooks and remembered that I had a test coming up. I shouldn’t have been sleeping.
Suddenly, I heard the door being opened.
I lifted my head and looked toward the door.
“Geez, why are you still here?”
There you are…
You’re standing there, in front of me, with that hateful grin plastered on your face…
“Arina, I told you to make some friends, why are you back here again— W-Wait, what’s wrong?!”
I couldn’t stop the tears from falling from my eyes.
I had wanted to see you for so long.
I missed you so much.
I missed you… I wanted to hug you so badly…
But crying was all I could do.
“A-Arina-san? W-Why are you crying?”
“I-I don’t know, dummy! Look away! I must look so ugly right now!”
I didn’t mean to say that.
I have been looking for you for a long time.
In a world without you.
“Don’t cry, I’ll never leave your side from now on, okay?”
“Don’t ever leave me again, please…”
“I’ll never do that. I’m the comet, remember?”
“Yes… And I’m the sun… You’ll never stay away from me even if you want to, huh?…”
I stopped crying, took his hand and sat up.
“Let’s go home.”
“Yes, let’s go home.”
I won’t shed any more tears.
Because you’re here with me.