First Posted at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu
Arc 2: The First and Last Date
From that day onwards, Mr. Death always came to my window. Before I knew it, the scent of the blooming cherry blossoms began drifting inside my room through the open window. As if it were a signal, I raised my head. There, I saw him standing beside the bed as if he had always been there.
“Hi. You come here almost every day. Are Death Gods usually this free?”
“That’s not true. This is also a part of the job.”
It seemed like Mr. Death was faithfully keeping up his promise from when I told him, “I want us to become conversational partners.” He came to my room every day without fail. The question flashed my mind as I wondered what happens to the work he was assigned to, except me, of course. But, feeling a chill down my spine as I wondered what his work was, I quickly shelved that thought.
“Did something interesting happen today?”
“I don’t know if you would call it interesting, but I was besieged by cats just now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I couldn’t sleep, so I was rolling on top of the lawn. Before I knew it cats besieged me…”
“What’s with that.”
I ended up laughing just imagining it. Seeing me chuckle, Mr. Death honestly added, “I thought I was going to be eaten”. I laughed even more uncontrollably and teared up.
I wonder how long it had been since I laughed like this. I never thought that a day would come where I laughed like this in the hospital.
“H-How strange. Mr. Death, you’re surprisingly funny.”
“You think so? I have always been told that I’m boring.”
“Did the other Death Gods tell you that?
With my words, the air around Mr. Death abruptly changed.
I should not have said that. The mood turned sour. I fumbled as I tried to find a different topic of conversation, but nothing good came out at that time. I couldn’t smooth things over, and in the end, before I could say anything, Mr. Death uttered a quick “sorry”. “Eh?”, I asked again. Clearing his throat he uttered, “Its nothing”, and turned his back towards me.
“I’ll go back for today… See you tomorrow.”
Saying so, Mr. Death left my room, and his silhouette disappeared outside the window.
I didn’t know the true meaning of the ‘sorry’ he had left behind. I stared absentmindedly at the sky dyed in pink with the cherry blossoms, now completely visible with his departure.
The next day, evening came but there was no sight of Mr. Death.
Bored all by myself in the room, I called out to him multiple times, asking, “Mr. Death, are you there?”, but to no avail. He said it was a part of his job, but this was sheer neglect! …Was what I wanted to say, but I had no one to grumble to.
“Sigh. He didn’t come today either.”
I often spent my days in and out of hospitals. At some point in time, it had become the new normal for me and my family. Visits from my parents, who came every day in the beginning, gradually dwindled. From once every two days, to once a week, to once every two weeks…
They were working, so it couldn’t be helped. I wasn’t a selfish kid who would force them to visit more frequently. But a part of me felt bored. Without anyone visiting, my room felt desolate.
“Stupid Mr. Death…”
“Huh, what’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing…! Why are you late today!?”
As I wished I could see him, Mr. Death appeared. But for some reason, I could not be honest with him. I hurtled some curt words at him.
Yet Mr. Death softly apologized. Pulling out the chair under my bed, he sat on it.
“My boss forced some work on me.”
“Is it alright for you to tell me about it?”
Recalling the events the day before, I timidly inquired. However, Mr. Death replied that it was fine and further asked, “Will you hear me out for a while?”
“My boss is good for nothing.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. He suddenly said that he was going out to play and disappeared after telling me to sign and submit the documents in his place.”
“That’s what most Death Gods are like.”
Massaging his temples through his hood, Mr. Death spoke as if he had swallowed a bitter bug.
I was taken aback by Mr. Death’s attitude.
He suddenly began talking, and it was surprisingly a conversation about Death Gods. Perhaps this was his way of apologizing for his actions the day before. To make amends for ending the conversation abruptly yesterday, he pretended to casually talk about it today.
What a clumsy fellow he was.
“Did I do something weird?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
Seeing me laugh, Mr. Death tilted his head in puzzlement. He seemed oddly cute doing so, and I ended up having another burst of laughter.
“You laugh a lot.”
“I wonder if that’s true. Maybe its thanks to you, Mr. Death.”
“Yeah. I wouldn’t laugh by myself, would I? It’s because Mr. Death comes and talks to me that I can laugh.”
Hearing my reply, Mr. Death sunk into silence. For some reason, it seemed as if he had a troubled expression on his face, under the hood.
I wonder why it was that I could discern what Mr. Death’s expression under his hood was, despite not being able to see it.
Interrupting my words, Mr. Death called out to me.
“I’m just asking, but do you have anything you want to do?”
“Something I want to do?”
“That, um…things you never got to do in your life and such…”
“In other words, something like a bucket list, fulfilling my regrets before I die?”
“Well, simply put…”
Mr. Death mumbled.
I unconsciously looked towards the window.
The cherry blossoms were in full bloom outside.
“I don’t think I have any.”
“Things like regrets, I don’t think I have them. I told you, right? To take me away quickly.”
“That’s true, but…”
“Yeah, so that’s enough for this topic. Let’s talk about something positive.”
I forcibly wrapped up the conversation. After staring at me for a while, Mr. Death said, “Don’t just say that, think about it for a while.” He then continued talking about his troubles from earlier.
Although I laughed as I listened to his tales, I was reminded countless times of the cherry blossoms blooming outside; and that one tree that hadn’t.
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