Chapter Twenty-Three: Mom’s Worry:

The next morning, Tsuzuki and Anna began their search. First place to stop? Go talk to the mother. Hisoka tracked down Yoshimi in Nagasaki. She lived in a small apartment just outside of the city. Tsuzuki and Anna stood at the door.

“Do you want me to do it?” Tsuzuki asked.

“No, I’ve got it,” Anna said. She knocked on the door. He held her hand. She held her breath as the door opened. Yoshimi had heavy bags under her eyes. Her clothes hadn’t seen an iron in days. She kept her eyes downwards.

“Oh, Anna-chan,” she said. “So nice to see you. How long has it been?”

“Are you feeling okay?” Anna asked. Yoshimi didn’t answer at first. Her hand trembled at her chest.

“Yeah, yeah,” she lied. “Please, come in.” The couple walked inside. The lights weren’t on in the living room. Everything looked clean from the darkness. Yoshimi sat down on her couch.

“How have you been?” she asked.

“Good,” Anna said. She touched Tsuzuki’s shoulder.

“This is my husband,” she said.

“Nice to meet you,” Tsuzuki said. “My name is Tsuzuki Asato.”

“Ah,” Yoshimi said.

“How are you doing?” Anna asked again. The older woman shook her head. Aside from the bags under her eyes, she looked the same as she did all those years ago. Yoshimi folded her hands in her lap.

“I can’t sleep,” she admitted. The woman trembled as she spoke.

“How long has it been?” Anna asked.

“About three weeks,” Yoshimi said.

“Did you talk to her before then?” Tsuzuki asked. The older woman nodded once.

“How was Kiko?” Anna asked. “How did she sound? Was she worried about anything?”

“No,” Yoshimi said. “Everything was fine! She had just got promoted weeks earlier.”

“Oh, that’s good,” Anna said.

“Did her job call you at some point?” Tsuzuki asked.

“Yes,” Yoshimi said. “They asked me if I heard anything from her. I said no.” She started trembling again.

“Oh,” the older woman whimpered. “Do you think she’s okay? Please tell she’s okay. Is she?”

“Did you go to the police?” Tsuzuki asked.

“Yes,” Yoshimi said. “They aren’t much help.”

“Do you think she killed herself?” he asked. Anna whipped her head around.

“Asato!” she hissed. The older woman quickly her head.

“Of course not!” she said. “She wasn’t suicidal!” Anna smacked him in the ribs.

“Ow,” he said under his breath.

“Don’t,” Anna said. Tsuzuki ignored her.

“Can we have Kiko-san’s number?” he asked.

“Sure, hang on,” Yoshimi said. She reached over for an end table and opened the drawer.

“I keep all addresses and phone numbers here,” Yoshimi said. She pulled out a small flower-covered address book and opened it. She flipped through the pages.

“Let’s see,” the older woman said. “Hm… Hm… Ah! Here it is. Ready?” The couple pulled out their phones. Yoshimi gave them her daughter’s number.

“Thank you,” Tsuzuki said.

“Please!” she pleaded. “Find my daughter!”

“We will try,” he said. Yoshimi bowed her head.

“Thank you,” she said.

“Just get some rest,” Anna said.

“I will,” the older woman said. She bowed her head again.


“Why did you tell her that Kiko might have committed suicide?” Anna asked as they walked away from the apartment. Tsuzuki shrugged.

“I was trying rule out everything first,” he said. His wife frowned.

“You didn’t have to be so blunt about it,” she said. Anna puffed up her cheeks.

“I don’t think she’s dead,” Tsuzuki said. Anna looked up at him.

“Huh?” she asked. He showed her his phone. Anna read the text with an eyebrow raised.

“What is this?” she asked. Tsuzuki smiled.

“Kiko’s soul didn’t make it to Ju-Oh-Cho,” he explained. “There has been no record.” Anna’s eyes widened.

“You mean…?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. Anna’s heart fluttered in her chest.

“Oh, thank goodness!” she said. Tsuzuki took hold of her shoulders.

“Yes,” he said. “We have to hurry. We don’t have much time if we want to find her alive.”

“Right,” Anna said. They hurried down the street.


Drag. Drag. Drag. Drag.

Why didn’t she stay down? Fight. Struggle. Struggle. Struggle. Struggle.

Keep it down. Keep it down. Looking around the city. No plan or destination. Only keep walking along.

Drag. Drag. Drag. Drag.

Why wouldn’t it end?