Updated: Sep 26, 2022
A sun beaming in a cloudless sky made for radiant sun rays to shine across a quaint suburban area. On one side of the street kids played in a red and blue colored playground whizzing down slides and swinging on swing sets cheerfully; While on the other was a busy shopping plaza buzzing with customers gazing at stocked goods and haggling merchants.
A girl with shoulder-length black hair rolling a black suitcase past the playground looked over at the smiling and gleeful children. She wore a gray shirt and blue-designer jeans accompanied by a short brown coat and light-brown heeled boots. She adjusts the strap of the duffle bag on her hip and continues walking down the concrete sidewalk until she reaches a white wooden gate with an apartment complex on the other side.
She digs a card from her coat pocket and looks up to a sign at the top of the gate then back down to the card.
“… You’re Yamagata Mari, correct?”
Mari looks at a girl wearing a long blue floral dress and sandals on the other side of the gate. The girl gives her a soft smile and walks over to the fence and presses a button, allowing the gate to fully swing open.
“My grandpa told me you’d be moving in today. Oh gosh, I didn’t even introduce myself— My name’s Yushiwara Kikome but you can just call me Kiko.”
Mari bows her head and continues walking inside the premise of the front of the apartment complex. The build was made of white brick with steel steps going up to its three floors. A maintenance and front-desk building was located to the left of it, having a sign that read ‘Free Ice Cream for Tenants’ in blue and pink kanji.
Mari stops looking at the residence and walks alongside Kiko, going up to the second floor of the apartment.
“So, are you a student? A lot of the apartments around here give special leasing permissions to students-only with their parent’s permission. Guess you’re just entering high school, huh?”
Mari nods her head.
“Oh I see, are you going to Aorima, or perhaps Shiju Academy in Shinjuku?”
Mari shakes her head from side to side.
They stop at an apartment with the number ‘206,’ in the middle of the complex. Kiko puts a key in the door’s handle and turns allowing a wave of fresh air to blow past them as the door leans open.
Kiko takes the key from the lock and gives it to Mari along with a small paper pamphlet.
“It’s nothing really. That just tells you about the curfews for students, rules, and regulations, you know… Boring stuff. If you ever need anything you can always come down to the front desk and I’ll usually be there. Oh! And we have ice cream but it’s running out quick, so make sure to grab some before this evening.”
Mari nods her head and walks into her apartment. She turns around and unzips her duffle bag taking out a small stack of white-taped ¥10,000 bills offering it to Kiko.
“O-Oh! Your rent… It was already paid off by some guy in a blue suit that came here to check on you. He said he was your guardian, were you not aware of the transaction?”
Mari looks to the side before bowing her head; She then closes the door behind her.
“O-Okay, have a good rest of your day…” Kiko murmurs from behind the door.
Her metal steps become inaudible as she makes her way back down the stairwell. Mari looks back with a sigh before dropping her luggage and duffle bag on the floor and kicking off her boots.
She digs into her duffle bag and takes out a long taka katana having a white background with pink petals twirling on the sheathe of the sword. The end-cap was silver connected by a blue and pink tassel with a smiling pink cat keychain.
Mari then looks at her surroundings, a small tatami-matted apartment with a miniature black refrigerator on the far side of the room. She steps onto the brown wooden floor and walks past the kitchen, looking at the stainless steel pots and pans neatly aligned on the countertop.
She turns and opens a light-brown wooden door to a restroom and gazes in, clenching the katana at her side. The small room had a clean white toilet along with a shower and sink, with a note on the side of the light switch with an eco-friendly symbol.
Mari closes the door and drops her back onto the tatami mats inside the bedroom. She takes out a blue-cased phone and stares at the time; A picture of her smiling along with an older man with dark hair and an older girl is saved as her screen-saver.
She looks at the picture and turns off her phone with a tear falling down her cheek. She wipes the bead of water from her face and throws the phone across the room before going into a feeble position while clenching her katana close to her chest.
“… I miss you… Dad… Maomi…”
. . .
A raging fire scorches a kitchen room full of smoke and crisp tearing wallpaper. Ceramic plates and glass were shattered along the ground, as the fire continues to blaze ferociously. A girl with short-black hair laid out on the floor and coughed while holding a hand up to her mouth.
She looks forward, her eyes becoming sullen at the sight of two individuals with their heads laid flat on a dining room table. Small holes in the side of their head caused blood to drip down the table and onto the floor. Despite the inferno around her, the patters of red liquid hitting the floor was the only thing she could hear.
"... Hey! Is anyone in here?" A man's voice exclaims in the distance.
A door crashes open behind the girl, with two men wearing firefighter gear rushing in and looking at their surroundings.
"There's a girl in here, this place is about to come down any second! Let's go!"
One of the fighters picks the girl up and carries her in his arms. The girl looks back at the wood beams covered in orange flames crashing onto the dining table.
"...Maomi! ... Papa!" She wails, with the house becoming a blur in the distance.
— BZZT BZZT
Mari's eyes open, she tilts her torso to the side and looks at her phone giving off a loud buzz in the corner.
She crawls over to the device and presses the green button on the screen before holding it up to her ear.
"Yes... I'm here... I arrived earlier today... Okay... I understand, I'm on my way."
She pulls the phone from her ear and lifts herself from the floor, grabbing her white and pink katana and dragging it along the ground with a boorish yawn.
Mari makes it to the door and looks back at the empty apartment, with only a cardboard box acting as furniture on the far side of the room.
"... I'll be leaving now." She murmurs before unlocking the front door and closing it behind her.
. . .
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