Chapter Twelve: Sleeping with Ghosts:
I still get depressed at times. I should feel happy now. I'm surrounded by great friends, and have the company of my loving wife. Iâ€™m not the only one, however.
Anna and I have both lost someone dear to us. She lost her father and I lost my sister. We wonder every day why they were taken from us. Why not us instead? To this day, it doesn't quite seem fair. Our losses have drawn us closer together. If Ruka and Daisuke-san hadnâ€™t died, Anna and I wouldnâ€™t be together.
I look down to see Anna snuggled sweetly beside me. She looks so peaceful as she sleeps, but I know the truth. She and I are expert liars. Sure, we pretend everything is fine. However, we canâ€™t convince each other. Ironically, we can't convince ourselves most times.
I kiss Anna on the forehead. I will never leave you.
Anna has her own problems. She canâ€™t connect to people, though lately sheâ€™s been doing a little bit better. She talks to people more often, but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s enough. We have our episodes, but we are both very different.
Anna locks herself away within herself. She says she wants to be alone. Sheâ€™ll stare at that laptop screen, distant. Anna barely eats or sleeps when she studies a particular topic. I canâ€™t seem to pull her back when she gets in that state. Itâ€™s how she coped in America during her high school and college years. She doesnâ€™t need to do this anymore. Yet, I donâ€™t know how to tell her this. My words wonâ€™t sink in when she gets like this.
Mine problems are worse. I feel like I want to die again. Nothing feels good. I feel numb all the time now. Then the tears come and just wonâ€™t stop. I can barely get out of bed when I feel like this. A few friends have been able to pull me out of my deep downwards spirals. Even Anna has done it once. She pulled me into an embrace, and wouldn't let me go until she was sure I felt more like myself.
When she says â€œYou are not allowed to break down on me, got it?â€ I know she's right.
III: Iâ€™m Fine
She lies to me about how sheâ€™s doing at times. I know, because I do it too. We say we are fine, but nothing could be further from the truth. Anna hasnâ€™t fully recovered for her loss. She acts as if she has, but itâ€™s never that easy. Daisuke was her world. My wife is, and will always be Daddyâ€™s Little Girl. He raised her mostly on his own. Because of his family, their happy home was destroyed when they killed him. On top of that, Anna was taken away to a foreign country shortly after her Father passed away so, she's never gotten a chance to recover properly.
Yet, we still lie. â€œEverything is fine,â€ we say. Or - â€œWe can handle this.â€
Lying does not help, but we've become quite proficient at it.
IV: And I Must Scream
Itâ€™s raining tonight. I watch Anna from the couch as she stares blankly out the window. I want to scream at her so badly -
â€œEverything is not fine! Canâ€™t you see that, woman?! We are miserable! Donâ€™t you understand?! Itâ€™s not okay for you to stare at that laptop for days and days! Why canâ€™t you tell me whatâ€™s wrong?! We are a married couple! I want yo help you, but how can I do that if you wonâ€™t help?!â€
But, I remain silent. My own despair holds me back. After allâ€¦ I donâ€™t want to sound like a hypocrite.
Anna fights to survive. Sheâ€™s trying to hold herself together. I want to tell her to stop, give up, but to do that is like telling her to stop living. Anna wants to live. She has that second chance wants to use it well until she has peace for Daisuke, Yumiko, Kirika, and herself. But she really doesnâ€™t have to fight anymore.
Itâ€™s then I notice her eyes on me. She wants to scream too; I can see it in her eyes. Itâ€™s a standoff now. I rush forward and sweep her into my arms.
â€œAsato-kun?â€ she asks, looking up.
I feel the tears forming in my eyes.
â€œI will never leave you!â€ I whisper loudly in her ear. Tears begin to roll down my cheeks. I gently tackle her to the floor before she can speak, slide off her robe, and begin to grope and fondle her. I'm not sure if she wants this, but somehow- I really need her right now.
Grief has awakened my inner demon.
A violet-eyed angel wandered through the dark and lifeless woods. Heâ€™d been wandering for days, unsure of his destination. Hunger and thirst plagued him. He didnâ€™t have a single ally to aid him in his suffering. The angel looked up at the vastness of the empty sky. Where am I to go, my lord?
Suddenly, low grunts caught his ear in the distance. Curious, the angel followed the sounds. His path led him to a hill made entirely of red bones, where he saw a young woman standing alone at the top. Judging by her shabby, threadbare purple ninja gown, he assumed she was a warrior. Dried blood clung to her pale skin as she ferociously swung her sword as if in the midst of battle.
â€œWhere are you, you bastards?!â€ she screamed. â€œCome out and fight me!â€ Her moves became more erratic as if she was being attacked by, then slaying invisible monsters. The angelâ€™s heart ached for her as he watched such senseless violence. Poor soul, she must have been left over from a war of centuries long since passed. He put his hand to his chest. I wishâ€¦ A soft breeze whispered in his ear and the angel nodded.
â€œI understand,â€ he replied. The angel made his way up the hill. The warrior woman swung her sword, screaming when the angel grabbed her hands from behind. He wouldnâ€™t let up no matter how hard she struggled from him.
â€œLet me go!â€ the warrior screamed. â€œI have nothing left but to fight! Itâ€™s all I am now! I have nothing else left to be!â€
He smiled, shaking his head.
â€œShhh,â€ the angel whispered in her ear. â€œThe war is over. You donâ€™t have to fight anymore. Lower your sword.â€
His gentle words enticed her into loosening her grip, causing her sword to clatter noisily to the barren ground at their feet.
â€œGood girl,â€ the angel whispered in her ear.
The warrior woman sank to her knees with him, breaking down into as she wept torrents of salty tears. She sobbed until finally, she collapsed into his lap.
The angel gently stroked her dirty red hair as she cried herself to sleep, allowing her to rest in his lap.
â€œShhh!... Itâ€™s okay,â€ the angel whispered. â€œI am here for you. You can rest now.â€ He gave her a gentle peck on her dirt-covered cheek.
VI: Soulmates Never Die
I glance out the window beside us. Itâ€™s going to be daylight soon, and itâ€™s still raining. Anna sleeps naked beside me on the living room floor. I pull her into my arms and kiss her lightly on top of her head.
â€œI will never leave,â€ I whisper. â€œBecause, soulmates never die.â€ I hold her in my arms as she sleeps.