This is the 12th chapter of a novel I am translating and publishing on this blog. See this post for the first chapter and more details about the novel.
I want to thank the author, Yuki Hoshizaki (星崎ゆうき) for giving me permission to translate and publish this chapter here. You can find the original Japanese text of this chapter here.
Because of the large amount of time it takes to translate a chapter, as well as my desire to focus on content that my readers enjoy, I consider this translation to be in a provisional state––in other words, if I don’t get enough feedback, I may stop translating this story. So if you enjoy it, please consider liking or commenting here, or rating/commenting on novelupdates.com (see this story’s page here, which has links to all the other chapters).
For those of you who may have not read the entire story so far, or have read it some time ago, I wanted to explain something. But as this could be considered a minor spoiler (or at least an unnecessary explanation), I would suggest skipping the next paragraph and going right to the story if you want to figure out things on your own.
Beginning from this chapter, we go back in time to near the beginning of the story. However, this time we see things from the perspective of Sora instead of Mizuki.
Past, Present, You
by Yuki Hoshizaki
Translated by J.D. Wisgo
Chapter 12: June 30 (afternoon)
In front of a gymnasium near the site of the train derailment, several police officers guide large vans arriving one after another. Workers wearing dark blue suspenders transport occupied coffins from the white vans into the building. The autopsies are being performed not a hospital, but in this place––making it painfully clear that there is no need to transport any of them to a medical facility.
The entrance of the gymnasium, hastily designed as a mortuary, is wrapped in a large blue sheet, and there is a whiteboard with the names and addresses of those confirmed dead. No small number of lives was lost in a split second as a result of this terrible train accident.
“Like what if…what if right now, time stopped, except for us. I wonder what would happen?”
I totally adored Mizuki’s stories that began with “what if…” because I felt that whatever came next was ripe with hope and possibility. Talking about hope was no simple matter. There was no shortage of desperation in our everyday lives, but what followed Mizuki’s “what if…” introductions was always positive.
The whiteboard I’m gazing up at now has “Mizuki Aiba” written in bold letters. This reality is the polar opposite of hope and good luck. It’s blatantly obvious how meaningless are any prayers for Mizuki’s survival or hopes for his death to be some sort of mistake. Prayers or hopes can’t change hard facts that are already established.
On the first floor of the gymnasium, now filled with sobs of intense sorrow and vacant echoes of ringing cell phones, only the bodies whose personal details have been confirmed are laid to rest.
“Sora, honey it’s better that you not see this.”
Below Mizuki’s mother is a barely recognizable body wrapped in white cloth. Pale legs, marked up with countless cuts and scratches, are visible through horribly torn school uniform pants.
You should go to school once in a while. Oh, how I regret saying those words. Despite never taking anything seriously, always slacking off, and barely ever attending class, Mizuki managed good grades. But without a sufficient attendance count, he was not likely to graduate. That’s why I…
I no longer care whether time is “flowing” or “accumulating”. But, assuming the past is somehow part of the present, I want to rewind back to the past. Please, let me do this just once.
I cover my mouth as a wave of nausea hits me. Causing unpleasant feelings so strong that my body rejects them, my deep sorrow becomes a monster slowly devouring my soul. Just as I find myself collapsing to my knees, my cell phone slips from my hand and falls to the cold floor of the gymnasium. Mizuki’s mother consoles me, gently patting me on the back.
I reach out my hand towards the phone on the floor. I tightly squeeze the cord of the pink pouch where I keep the phone, doing my best to calm down, even a little. This device still contains memories of Mizuki and I. The exchange of messages between us forms a set of memories outside of my mind, which will likely be eternally preserved through some sort of network. A set of memories that will never be added to…
I just can’t stand the thought of heaps of memories that will never be added to again.
I can’t bear the idea of a Mizuki who only exists in the form of tiny remnants.
In an instant the soundless, vacant space becomes a terrific clamor, and a strong gust of wind makes breathing difficult. I squint against the brightness and look around at my surroundings in a half daze. On the dull gray ceiling is an electric sign showing train arrival times. A crowd of people lines up to get on the next train.
“What is this…”
“An inbound train will be arriving momentarily at track five. Please remain behind the yellow line.”
The pink cord hangs down from the cell phone held in my left hand, swaying in the wind. I quickly check the screen: June 30th, 8:00 a.m.
It’s only a few moments before that horrible train accident. When I raise my gaze from the screen, standing before me is a middle schooler facing the other way, wearing a short sleeve uniform shirt as he waits for the train. The narrow-shouldered boy appears a little tiny for his age, but by no means is he short.
The rushing sound of the train gradually increases and a silver train car comes into view, slowing down as it approaches the platform.
He can’t get on that train.
The sounds of the crowd and train muffle my voice.
Don’t drown out my voice, please!
I grab Mizuki’s arm with all my might.
“What do you want?”
Mizuki, don’t you recognize me?
A gust of air from the oncoming train tousles our bangs. I don’t have the wrong person. From the loose, dark blue necktie to the handful of hairs sticking up on the back of his head––there is no doubt the highschooler standing here is Mizuki Aiba. Desperately trying to hold back tears, I can do nothing but stare dumbly at him. After some time the train stops and the flow of people began moving forward, pushing us inside the train.
“Can you please wait a minute?”
I cannot help but squeeze his hand even tighter. The noise entering my ears is silenced, and I get the feeling that time has stopped for an instant. Perhaps we’re outside of time, just a little bit.
“What are you…trying to do?”
It doesn’t matter what I am trying to do. He just can’t get on that train. That’s all that matters.
Before I know it the train is gone, and only a few people remain here. And yet, like the rising and falling of the tides, I’m sure this place will soon be swarming with people.
“You don’t…you don’t remember me, do you?”
He stares at me for a moment, but soon turns back towards the train platform without answering my question. If he intends to wait for the next train, it’s probably best for me to stop him. I’m fairly calm now, especially considering the difficulty of comprehending this situation.
Immediately after the derailment, a local resident had pressed an emergency button located along the track, averting the secondary disaster of the next train colliding with the train at the site of the accident. But in this reality, there was no guarantee that the emergency button would be pressed. So it was impossible to say with any certainty the next train was safe.
“I’m really sorry. But I need you to do something for me.”
I stand next to him and gaze at the silver train tracks, glittering in the light. When I imagine what’s about to happen at the end of these tracks, a feeling comes over me akin to regret: Could I have done something differently? A majority of the people standing here a moment ago will lose their life in the next ten minutes. Mizuki casts a sidelong glance at me, saying only, “Why?”
“You might not believe it, but I’m still a high school student. Are you trying to make me miss school?”
I was well aware of that. I also knew the reason he usually didn’t go to school. I even knew he got great grades without watching the lectures––and that his attendance record was borderline passing.
I know everything about you, so please! Please listen to what I have to say!
“Please, I’m begging you!”
[end of chapter]
(English Translation Copyright © 2019 by J.D. Wisgo)