That evening, I watched Mother sleep in her futon. She looked like a little girl sound asleep before me. She was only missing a teddy bear or a rag doll. For some reason, nights like this gave me a sense of calm that was far beyond my understanding. She couldn�t look at me with those worried eyes of hers. She went to sleep like a little baby. The doctor prescribed sleeping pills on New Year�s due to the pain preventing her from sleeping.
�Just make sure she takes these every night,� he instructed me as he was leaving my house. �It�s not much, but this should help for the time being.� I kept my eyes to the ground as I let the words come tumbling out of my mouth.
�I don�t understand,� I spoke up. I heard Doctor Akai paused inches away from me.
�Understand what?� he asked. I jerked my head upwards.
�Why is she like this? She keeps trying to tell me something, but the pain always gets in the way.�
�You shouldn�t push too far.�
�What�s so desperate that she has to risk the pain to try and tell me every chance that she gets?�
�That�s enough, Iwao-kun!�
�She told me to stay away from the Eda twins. She never told me why. I can�t understand why she�s so afraid of them. I believe they aren�t dangerous or anything, right?�
The color drained from the doctor�s face. �What did you say?�
�Mother told me to stay away from the Eda twins and I don�t know why,� Doctor Akai rushed forward and grabbed me by the shoulders. My mind and whole body went into shock as he shook me back and forward.
�Stay away from those girls!� he shouted into my face.
�Why?!� I cried.
�They are of the devil! Stay away from them! They will drag you into hell! Run away from them while you still can!� I trembled as I broke down into tears.
�I�m sorry! I�m sorry! I�m sorry!� The doctor calmed down and let me go.
�I�m so sorry about that,� he said. �I didn�t intend to frighten you like that.� I stepped back and took heavily breaths as I stared with a nervous fear in my eyes. I couldn�t even bring myself to speak. Doctor Akari took a minute to recompose himself.
�As for your mother�s pain and why she doesn�t want you near the twins,� he spoke in a civil voice. �You�ll have to ask her when she gets better.� My senses rebuilt itself long enough for me to talk.
�When will that be?� I asked. He placed his hand on my shoulder.
�I can�t really give you a proper answer,� he said. �Give her the pills for the time being.� I lowered my eyes to the ground.
�Yes sir,� I mumbled.
�Very good,� he said. Doctor Akai removed his hand from my shoulder and turned to leave again.
�Good night,� he said over his shoulder. I stood in silence as I watched his back disappear into the distance. I looked down at the small white bottle in my hand. This could help her, huh? I dropped my shoulders. Doesn�t hurt to give it a try, does it? To my relief, the pills were working.
It�s funny, really. When she�s awake, everything was intense. I kept feeling that something is going to break between us. She could be the one to break it. I could be the one to break it. I almost didn�t want to play that game with her. My mother had suffered enough as it is. I didn�t want to build onto it while she�s awake.
But when she was sleeping, I felt like I am in the eye of the storm. There was no accusatory looks my way. No trembling in her hands as she sat in the living room staring out into space. No violent pain that attacked her so that she couldn�t try and tell me what she has to say. It�s all just calm and she looked like a little kitten in her futon.
I reached forward and pushed some of her deep plum hair out of her face as she slept. She aches to tell me something so badly. I wondered what it was. It felt like the pain was some sort of a curse that�s kept her from talking. Then again, I could be overanalyzing things because of my encounters with Haruka and Juriko. Why did my mother and Doctor Akai hate them so much?
�Iwao-kun�� I heard my mother mumble. I looked down. She was still sound asleep in front of me. Her hands gripped her pillow.
�Hm?� I asked. �I�m here, mother. I�m right here.� I leaned in for a listen. I put my hand on her shoulder. It was strange that she felt so warm. She didn�t speak. I wondered if I hallucinated it the whole time.
�Don�t pull me back in,� Mother mumbled as she trembled in her sleep. �I can�t go back to them. I can�t go back to them. I can�t go back to them!� I pulled back with a puzzled face. What did she mean by that? Go back to who? The questions all began to slowly close in around me. I didn�t see it right away.