Chapter Twenty-Two: Broken Cherry:

June 7th, 2000.

Anna couldn�t sleep and the summer night didn�t help. Eight months and she still was not used to San Diego. On nights like this, she missed her old life. Things were more simple and innocent then. This wasn�t her choice after all; she decided that she might as well make the most of it. Sleeping would help. Too bad that wasn�t working. There was only one way to fix this.

Anna crawled out of bed and crept down to the living room. The whole time, she had to make sure that her aunt was asleep. She navigated herself to the closet once she made it to her destination. Anna used the moonlight outside to find the old record player inside. Once she found it, Anna quietly pulled it out and carried the player to the center of the living room.

Anna walked over to Allison�s desk and pulled open the bottom drawer. The girl dug through the records until she found �Don�t Dream it�s Over� by Crowded House on vinyl. A bit of nostalgia came onto her face. She really needed the music tonight. Anna carried the record to the player, put it on, and lied down on the floor. The girl lightly shut her eyes to the soft 80�s pop music streaming from the speaker.

�It�ll be okay,� she would tell herself as the music played her to sleep. Crowded House was the only thing that made her sane enough to function in life.

May 23rd, 2009.

Anna came back to earth when she heard the door open. She looked up and saw Tsuzuki standing in the doorway.

�Hi,� she said in slight distress. The Shinigami noticed her tone.

�What�s wrong?� he asked. Anna sat straight up.

�Got a box of tapes Papa made years ago, today,� she said, �No return address.� Tsuzuki looked at her for a moment.

�Really?� he asked. The woman nodded. The Shinigami stared at her.

�That bad?� he asked. Anna reached over to the tape player and hit eject. She flipped over the tape and hit play. Tsuzuki was quiet when the tape was finished.

�Could I get a copy of that?� he asked last. Anna gave a weak shrug.

�Sure,� she said, �Take what you want.�

�What�s on the other tapes?� the Shinigami asked. Her face became rather grim.

�It�s a tricky thing,� Anna replied, �I don�t want to hear anymore, but I want to know what else is on the tapes.� The Shinigami eyed her oddly.

�So what do you want to do?� he asked. Anna thought about that for a moment. Determination filled her eyes again.

�I want to listen to another one,� she said at last.

�You sure?� Tsuzuki asked.

�Yes,� Anna said quickly, �I just have to know the truth.�

�Alright,� the Shinigami said.

�But first�� she spoke up. Anna rose to her feet and walked over to her desk. She opened the drawer and reached inside. The woman drew out a pen and sticky notepad.

�We better label the tapes,� Anna went on as she closed the drawer, �Keeps the confusion at bay.�

�Right,� Tsuzuki agreed. Anna ejected the first tape and labeled it. The Shinigami took it to play for the boys later. Anna dug in the box and drew out another tape. She put it in and pressed play.

Tape Entry #3,040:

October 28th, 1999. My name is Kimoto Daisuke. I am thirty-four years old and a single dad. For sixteen years now, I have been recording this journal. I have revealed some unsavory truths on countless numbers of tapes. I�m not proud of them, but they had to come out. I didn�t choose my fate or conditions. My biggest apologizes go to Anna-chan. She didn�t deserve any of my Hell. I� I never wanted this for her. She deserves a normal and happy life. Sadly, that won�t happen for her all because of our heritage. We are all cursed because of it.

One day, Anna-chan will hear these tapes. When she does, I will regret everything that I have ever recorded on them. I know, however, I can�t keep her innocent forever. Anna-chan would have to learn the truth sometime.

For that, I am so sorry, Anna-chan.

End of Tape #3,040

Anna felt the old pain building up in her soul again. Ten years had frozen up her emotions with long periods of isolation. Anna began softly singing Crowded House�s �Don�t Dream it�s Over� to herself in English while out in a daze. Tsuzuki sat there and let her get it out of her system. He had discovered over these past couple of weeks through thought and observation, she was close to a mirror image of himself. Both seemed to be hiding some sort of a darkness that lost innocence brought with it. They hid it in different ways, however. Tsuzuki had his darkness under an overkill of goofy-happiness. Anna built a stoic glass box around her darkness and isolated herself from everyone else as a result.

Tsuzuki made up his mind at long last. He was going to help Anna end this ten-year-old nightmare for good. For now, Tsuzuki sat beside Anna and waited for her to come back. He lightly put his arm around her out of sympathy as he did so.