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"Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,
A shadow on those features fair and thin;
And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,
Two angels issued, where but one went in."
SAN : THE CROSS OF CHANGES
MAY 17TH, 1958
On the great maple tree near the end of the expansive acreage of the great Oroku rice fields, Saki was at play. Hanging upside down on a high, thick branch by his legs, Saki swung himself to and fro. His face was red from the blood rushing to his head and he was getting dizzy, but he was enjoying himself.
"Are you going to do that all day?"
Saki stopped his swinging and pulled himself up, using the bounce of his momentum to do so. He felt his shoe clumsily slide against the branch as he began to get up, making him panic for second before he got up all the way.
Minya was still sitting beside him, swinging her legs back and forth. Their dangerous height didnt seem to bother her any more than it did Saki. "Sorry," he offered.
"You dont need to say that," said Minya. She scooted a little closer. "I just want to talk to you for a while."
Saki blushed when she took his hand. He tried to show no emotion. "Okay."
"Tell me about you, Saki. Tell me everything."
"Um what do you want to know?"
"What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want out of life?"
Saki searched his thoughts. She didnt ask the easy ones. "I dont know yet but if I had to choose I would be a doctor."
She raised an eyebrow curiously. "A doctor why?"
"I could help people," Saki decided. He seemed sure of his answer. "And I want to make my family proud of me. If I could help people, it would make me feel like I dont know like I made something of myself." Saki frowned, turning an embarrassed look to Minya. "Im sorry. Im sounding stupid again."
"No, Saki. Youre not." Minya squeezed his hand. "Youre the sweetest boy I know."
If Saki was already blushing, he did so to an even greater degree. "I think we should go back to my house. Its almost dinner time, I think."
"Guess we better go then." She waited until Saki got up and was about to start climbing down. "Wait."
"Can I ask you a favor first?"
Saki gulped, but steeled himself. "Of course."
Minya leaned forward. Smiling almost teasingly, she closed her eyes. "Kiss me."
Sakis eyes shot wide open as he gasped, "Wha?"
"Just once." She leaned even closer. "Please?"
It wasnt that he didnt want to. Of course it wasnt. It was just something he had never counted on getting the opportunity to. Heck, a month ago he never even thought much of girls. "Okay." As he leaned in as well, he awkwardly pressed his lips against her nose. Minya giggled, but kept her eyes closed. Embarrassed now, he tried again, their lips finally meeting.
As they withdrew, her eyes opened. "Thank you," she said, giggling some more. "Now we can go."
Now smiling broadly, Saki made his way down the tree with newfound enthusiasm.
It was a good day to be alive.
Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.
Saki knew it even before he emerged from the rice fields with Minya. A gut feeling, a sense, something just not right.
"Saki!" the voice of his mother shouted.
The second he walked in, he heard people sobbing. Heitchi could be heard crying loudly in his room. Miyoko was on her knees in the living room, her husband in her lap. Nagi was beside her, his arm around her. Both were in tears, but Miyoko wasnt strong enough to hold it back as much as Nagi was, or at least was trying to be.
Saki didnt understand right away. Walking closer, he noticed his father wasnt moving. Then he saw the cuts, the pool of blood. Just behind him was Miko.
Little Miko. Innocent Miko. She lay still on her back, caked in blood, a thick gash running across her tiny chest.
Saki stood before the bodies in silence, paralyzed, his mouth open and his arms quivering at his sides.
"Saki!" Miyoko shouted as she saw him. Desperation and unspeakable hurt was in her watering eyes. "Kenji he tried to save Miko the man just wanted Miko just Miko " Miyoko burst into sobbing, "That man that monster he killed them both!"
Nagi looked to Saki. His clothes were torn, shredded in places where it was evident he had been cut. "It was one man," he said. He was making an effort to sound calm, collected. Someone had to be. "A man with blades. A man from a mafia of some sort. I recognized him, but He must have been the man Father made a deal with two years ago to help him get his business going when he ran into trouble. Father couldnt pay him or his associates back on time didnt take their threats seriously and now this " Nagi looked away, burying his face in his mothers shoulder again. "God help me, I couldnt stop him "
Saki was too in shock to do or say anything. He wanted to cry, he wanted to shout, he wanted to scream as loud as he could let the world hear his sadness. Something was stopping him. Something cold; something dark.
He felt only emptiness now.
Whatever joy his eyes had held in them throughout his life drained away into nothing. On this day, the world stopped making sense to Oroku Saki.
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