Chapter Nine: Kompeito Kisses:
Chilling autumn rains
curtain Mount Fuji, then make it
more beautiful to see
The rain stayed soft all morning as Tsuzuki insisted that he and Anna go out for the day. She looked at him oddly at the idea at first.
â€œBut itâ€™s still rainingâ€¦â€ she said.
â€œYes, the shinigami said nodding, â€œYouâ€™re not afraid of melting in the rain, are you?â€ Anna made a face at him. She playfully hit Tsuzuki on the arm.
â€œHa-ha!â€ she said sarcastically. He winced and whimpered at the impact.
â€œSeriously,â€ he said, â€œYou have to get out more.â€ Anna looked over at her laptop.
â€œButâ€¦â€ she said. Tsuzuki turned her face back to him.
â€œNo excuses,â€ he insisted, â€œI canâ€™t have you cooped up in here all day because of the rain!â€ He gave her a cute smile. â€œBesides, your laptop will be happy to have a break this morning,â€ he finished. Anna pouted at him.
â€œJust a walk?â€ she asked. Anna pressed her lips together firmly as she saw the eager look in his eyes. Something told her that â€œnoâ€ was not an option. She looked down at his palm.
â€œO-kayâ€¦â€ Anna surrendered at last.
So here they were, out having a nice little morning walk in the light rain. Anna and Tsuzuki couldnâ€™t speak at first. Their emotions for each other had now been brewing tightly for a few days; anything could make it burst. Anna stopped in her tracks at the entrance of her neighborhood. Tsuzuki stopped beside her with a puzzled look on his face.
â€œAnna?â€ he asked.
â€œDo you think Iâ€™m flawed?â€ the woman asked.
â€œWhat?â€ he asked blinking.
â€œAm I flawed?â€ Anna asked him again.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t know,â€ Tsuzuki answered with the best way that he could, â€œI still donâ€™t know much about you. You wonâ€™t tell much about yourself.â€ Only the rain drowned out the silence as Anna clinched her fists at her sides.
â€œI think I am,â€ she confessed in a firm voice.
â€œWhy?â€ the shinigami asked as he tilted his head at her. Anna looked down at her right wrist and sneered at the pale scar tissue just below her hand.
â€œThe scars on my wrists and back,â€ she said through gritted, â€œI am tired of being weak! Emiko and her friends did what they could do, but that wasnâ€™t enough.â€ The woman breathed in heavily as if in a vain attempt to keep herself calm enough to talk in a normal tone. â€œI already died once,â€ she said, â€œI refuse to go back there again. Every time I look at these scars, I want to scream at myself for being so weak and flawed in the first place.â€ Tsuzuki understood as he looked at his right wrist. He too hid his own scars he hid under his watch. Tsuzuki thought of himself as â€œflawedâ€ just as Anna saw herself.
Annaâ€¦ he thought. The woman turned around to face him.
â€œNever mind,â€ she said with a smile, â€œLetâ€™s go, we have a long way to go, donâ€™t we?â€ Tsuzuki looked at her oddly.
â€œAnnaâ€¦â€ he said. She playfully grabbed him by the hands.
â€œCome on, silly!â€ Anna said, â€œLetâ€™s go!â€ She dragged him out of the neighborhood.
â€œWhoa, Anna!â€ Tsuzuki cried, â€œSlow down!â€ They walked into the city within ten minutes and passed by a flower shop.
â€œLook Anna, roses,â€ Tsuzuki said as he stopped to see the display of red roses for half price. The woman wrinkled her nose with a frown.
â€œBleh!â€ she complained. The shinigami gave her a rather odd look at her reaction.
â€œWhat do you mean â€˜blehâ€™?â€ he asked. Anna made a face at him.
â€œRoses are so clichÃ©d,â€ she complained, â€œPeople use roses for everything: weddings, funerals, birthdays, Valentineâ€™s Day, anniversaries, White Day, other celebrations. What do they use? Roses.â€ Anna shook her head at the blooming red in front of her. â€œI hate roses,â€ she said, â€œThey are used so much that they just meaningless to me. I mean, why not give someone you love something like gardenias or lotus blossoms? That would impress the hell out of me!â€
â€œSo, you like gardenias and lotus flowers?â€ Tsuzuki asked trying to piece together her logic for himself. Anna rolled back her shoulders.
â€œYeah,â€ she admitted, â€œPersonally, any flower is fine as long as itâ€™s not a rose.â€ Tsuzuki looked at her slightly intrigued at that answer.
â€œI like tulips myself,â€ he replied. Anna looked at him with a slight interest.
â€œDo you?â€ she asked.
â€œYeah,â€ the shinigami answered proudly, â€œIn fact, I grow them in my garden along with hydrangeas every year.â€
â€œThatâ€™s rather interesting,â€ she said nodding, â€œCould you show me your garden sometime?â€
â€œSure,â€ Tsuzuki replied with puppy ears. They walked further into Tokyo after their little talk about flowers. Tsuzuki glanced at his companion.
â€œHey Anna, you hungry yet?â€ he asked.
â€œHm?â€ she asked.
â€œYou had breakfast yet?â€ the man asked in another way.
â€œNo,â€ Anna replied as she tried to figure out what he was suggesting they do next. Tsuzukiâ€™s eyes perked up.
â€œGreat!â€ he cheered, â€œI know a cafÃ© with great sweet pastries. Come on, letâ€™s go!â€ Tsuzuki dragged her further into the streets.
â€œTsuzuki!â€ Anna yelped as she did her best to keep up in pace, â€œSlow down, youâ€™re hurting me!â€ The shinigami didnâ€™t listen; his stomach was too loud at the moment.
They made it inside the cafÃ© named Little Kokoâ€™s from the increasing rain. Tsuzuki draped his coat around Annaâ€™s shoulder when the bell on the glass door jingled.
â€œThis should help,â€ he said.
â€œThanks,â€ the woman replied as she pulled the coat closer around her body. He ordered the food and they took a seat near the window. As they ate a breakfast of apan bread and cinnamon rolls, a thought crossed Annaâ€™s mind.
â€œTsuzuki,â€ she spoke up. He stuffed more red bean bread in his mouth.
â€œYeah?â€ he asked.
â€œWhy exactly did you kiss me that night so many years ago?â€ she asked as she set down her cup of green chai tea. Tsuzuki looked up rather confused by such a question.
â€œWhat?â€ he asked.
â€œYou know, when Papa was killed,â€ she began to explain; â€œYou stayed with me under that gazebo in the backyard. You tried to talk to me, but I didnâ€™t reply because I was in so much shock then. You then kissed me that night. Why did you do that?â€ Tsuzuki lowered the apan as he tried to think of the right answer to give her.
â€œI canâ€™t really remember why anymore,â€ he said shaking his head. The faint glow in Annaâ€™s face grew dim with disappointment.
â€œWhat do you mean?â€ she asked.
â€œIt was ten years ago,â€ Tsuzuki reasoned with a shrug, â€œAll I know was that it just happened. Iâ€™m sorry I canâ€™t give you a better answer.â€ Anna shook her head trying to smile.
â€œOh,â€ she replied as she tried to hide her true feelings about this, â€œNo, itâ€™s okay. I was just curious, thatâ€™s all.â€ The look on the shinigamiâ€™s face told her that he didnâ€™t believe her.
â€œI see,â€ he chose to say instead. They ate in silence after that exchange. The awkward blow seemed to be a painful loss Anna despite her attempts to push away the feeling.
He took her to the book store and the music store. There wasnâ€™t much Anna wanted to buy this morning. Neither one really spoke the whole time. They seemed to be holding out for something more; something more hard to describe. By noon, Tsuzuki took Anna home. She turned to him at the door.
â€œWell, Iâ€™ guess Iâ€™ll see this evening,â€ she said.
â€œYeah,â€ the shinigami mumbled. He could just go back to work from here and carry on as if nothing happen. This should alright, shouldnâ€™t?, Tsuzuki as Anna was opening the front door. However, the moment changed when a memory lit up like fire in Tsuzukiâ€™s mind.
â€œAnna, wait!â€ he yelled. The woman paused at the open doorway and turned around.
â€œYes?â€ she asked. Her guardianâ€™s eyes looked brighter than the stars in the country sky.
â€œI remember!â€ he exclaimed, â€œI remember why I kissed you that night!â€
â€œWhy?â€ she asked with peeked interest. Tsuzuki didnâ€™t answer in words, but quickened his walk over to the woman and embraced her by the waist. Anna was taken-aback as he planted another kiss on her lips. She didnâ€™t even have time to think as he wouldnâ€™t let up. This was just like Halloween night in 1999, the woman thought through the confusion. Her hands inched to take hold of him in this state. No, this is different! That kiss was soft and sympathetic; Tsuzuki was being gentle then. This one was not that first kiss.
This kiss right now was different. Anna felt as if someone had taken that Halloween night kiss and cranked it up times twenty. Her heart raced as she felt herself getting hot in the cheeks. Her mind couldnâ€™t even form anymore reasoning for why this was taking place. Something inside of her told her to let go as if it knew that she wanted this deep down. Anna found herself breaking down and giving in as she closed her eyes and kissed him back in the same passionate force that Tsuzuki delivered. Her hands finally grasped onto his coat in this kiss.
After about ten minutes, they let go with their eyes locked on each other. That kiss wiped away any possible words that could follow. Tsuzuki only bowed his head and disappeared. Anna only stared on in the dim mid-morning. She gently touched her lips with her fingertips. Though she couldnâ€™t explain it then and there, she suddenly felt so cold without Tsuzuki; cold as the drops dripping from the roof and dropping on the front step below.