Saito

*Saito*

I have sen crazy in the span on forty-three years. When you work as a therapist, nothing surprises you anymore. That was what I believed at first.

Now, I’m working on a rather complex case of my own: myself. Hard to explain, really. The events almost blend together in my head.

I remember last night. Thursday was my shortest day. I only had six patients that day. Most of the week was all the same to me. I only listen stoically take notes, and make suggestions. That’s it. Last night started out the same. Then, I gathered up my things and prepared to go home. I walked out to the lobby.

“Good night, Fukuda-san,” the receptionist said.

“Night Usagi,” I said back. Then, I headed out the door. I made it out to the parking lot and got into my car.

It kind of blurs up in my head from there. I remember driving home; that much is true. I was alone on the highway. I only had my headlights. I was going to pick up dinner, see my family, and go home.

Suddenly, my hands went numb. I thought I was imaging it at first. The feeling spread its way through my arms. My feet felt numb as well. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Was I having a stroke? My vision became blurry as I kept driving. I had to get off the road before I caused a wreck. But, I couldn’t see where to stop. I couldn’t even tell how fast I was going. I kept driving as if by instinct. I could feel my heart pounding up to my eardrums. Then, it all went black…

The next thing I remember was waking up in my wife’s bed in her house. I opened my eyes and looked around. I drove all the way here in that condition?

“Oh good, you’re awake,” I heard someone murmur. I looked up to see my wife standing at the doorway, staring at me. Her blue eyes were flooded with worry. I blinked at her in the dark.

“Misato?” I asked. “How did I get here?” Misato took a step into the room.

“You drove up here erratically,” she said. “I thought you were drunk at first.” I gave her an odd look.

“What? Why? You know I don’t drink.”

She shook her head. “You parked your car in the lawn. I rushed over to help you inside. You could barely walk and you were mumbling incoherently. I asked if you were sick, but you couldn’t answer clearly. I finally put you to bed. You even kept stumbling all over the place.” I took in her words slowly. All of that happened? Why did I know to come here first?

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in the back of left shoulder. I winced and gritted my teeth.

“Saito!” Misato exclaimed. “Saito, what’s wrong?”

“It burns!” I yelped.

“What burns?” my wife cried. I leapt out of bed and pushed past Misato.

“Saito!” I heard her cry. I ran straight to the bathroom. I turned my back to the mirror lifted up my shirt. My blood ran cold at what I be held. The number twenty-nine was still burning and fresh on my back. I could hear it sinking in deep to my veins. The hazy blue light drew me in.

A faint whisper brushed past my ear. “Next year on the Fire Festival, you will die,” I heard. Then, it all just stopped. The sounds, the pain, and glowing came to a grinding halt.

I have been studying myself under these conditions ever since.

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