TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE.
(the last thing you remember is shuuya's face. what a childish face that was, a lovely face. a face stricken with heartbreak and horror as you smiled at him, terrified, as you tipped yourself off of the edge of the school roof.)
you are the spitting image of your mother, father says, as you are growing up. you had such a carefree and happy childhood, and you turned out to be the same. a girl who saw nothing but happiness in a future where nothing could be wrong, and everything would be perfectly fine.
despite that your parents were academics, that your father was a teacher, you weren't always the brightest. you were satisfied simply passing classes, because there were more important things than a number on a piece of paper. father didn't mind too much, nor did mother, as long as you weren't failing. there were more important things.
they were always researching something together, but back then, it wasn't important. in no way did it impact your life, and they, and you, were happy. nothing else mattered but that odd thing that they called happiness.
life changes when you're in high school. one day, mother comes home with three children a little younger than you, with eyes as red as the clips that adorned your hair. on that day, you became what they would call a 'big sister'.
when you saw that they weren't happy, you sought out a way to change it. when they cried that they were monsters, you took your red scarf and wrapped it around your neck like superman, and claimed that red was the colour of heroes, and that you should all be heroes together. it was a silly, childish game, but that was how you found your happiness together.
those days were spent happy, running around, chasing each other under the sun. tsubomi, shuuya, seto. at night, the four of you with a torch and a book huddled under the covers reading together.
was that what being a big sister meant?
high school also brings a dark-haired boy with a deadpan face and bright red 100s marked across his test papers that sat by the window and thought of better things to be doing. you could tell he wasn't happy; you tried your best to get across to him.
shintaro was a mysterious boy who kept your interest, who was confused by you folding cranes out of your test papers, their necks coloured with the scores of your 40 or 50 as you hid it away with an embarrassed smile. shintaro was a smart guy, but you knew he was wrapped up in his own problems. he didn't like people. you tried your best.
you wished you could help him.
one day, father comes home different. that day, mother doesn't come home, and you learn what it means to mourn. the four of you, all dressed in black, stand over your mother's grave, all three of them clinging to you and sobbing, and you do your best to be strong.
that spring, you find out why your father changed so much, with eyes as black as the void he had fallen into, and you learn that adults lie.
you see the files on the two students that he taught, you see something about a heat-haze that your mother likely fell into, and you know your father won't stop at anything to get her back.
suddenly, red doesn't mean the colour of heroes anymore. it's what is going to take the happiness away from those you so desperately tried to give it to. you can't let him hurt the other three.
you cry alone in your classroom as you decide what you must do. he tries to help. you don't know that shintaro saw you that day.
the school roof seems so high, when you're sitting on its railings in the dead of night. it was pretty hard to break into the school, but you got there eventually.
how scary it was, at the age of sixteen and planning on dying. oddly enough, despite your fear, you were at peace, in the hope that you would be able to save your siblings from a horrible fate that, surely, your father's students had to suffer because of what the heat haze was doing. maybe you'd be able to talk to whatever being was inside him.
your father was on top of that roof - but he wasn't your father, either. the snake that possessed him wanted nothing but destruction to gather around the queen, rather than your father's wish to see your mother again. you knew what you had to do, to stop that snake from getting its own horrible wish.
it was when you turned around on the railings, when shuuya came running up the stairs crying out for you, as they all tried to tell you to stop - you smiled, tearfully, at shuuya.
"you know, i'm kinda scared, shuuya-kun -"
you wouldn't let the snake get what it wanted.
the last thing you remember is shuuya's face. what a childish face that was, a lovely face. a face stricken with heartbreak and horror as you smiled at him, terrified, as you tipped yourself off of the edge of the school roof.
(father, mother, thank you.)
(shuuya-kun, tsubomi-chan, kousuke-kun - thank you.)
(shintaro. i'm so sorry. i - i love you.)
you wake up in the heat haze, and indeed, you had one of those snakes, but there was no way you were returning to the real world like the others - that was the intention. if you never went back, the evil snake couldn't rally the rest of them around the queen.
but you never got the chance to save them all like you wanted. instead, you helplessly watched all the endings you didn't want to see in the hope that one day shintaro might return to you. instead, you saw him retreat into his room to never want to return, saw the effect of the heat haze on other unfortunate souls, and you sat, and waited.
until one day, you weren't there anymore. you didn't know what happened for you to not be in the heat haze, but you woke up in a strange new city called elysion, without a snake, without anyone. you truly were alone for the first time after your death.
you weren't sure what it was, but even when you'd settled in halcyon, the city of bright lights and wonder and magic, enrolled in school, made friends, there was something niggling in the back of your head that made you cry yourself to sleep every night. that strange thing called happiness that you spoke of so often, the mysterious thing that you tried so hard to bring to everyone else, seemed to be eluding you. it was something of not having anyone you knew, not knowing whether shuuya and tsubomi and kousuke were happy, worrying about shintaro - not having saved them the way you wanted.
was your death truly that meaningless?