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Ruling Child

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Time passed quickly when one was a kid. Of course, that much was probably a given, but it felt like mere days had passed between the time I’d first met Light, his sister Sayu was born, and our kindergarten days till the beginning of primary school. We’d just finished our first year, and had been heading home.

“I can’t believe we already have our first summer holiday,” Light said, fidgeting awkwardly with the straps of his backpack as we got in the train.

I nodded. “Mhmm. I wonder if we’ll go on vacation somewhere now, since Mum said that she thought it would be a good idea to go somewhere out of Japan, now that school’s over.”

“We can’t go anywhere, though, since Sayu’s too little.” Light countered a little too suddenly. While his words were reasonable, his tone had been unnecessarily sharp.

My stomach dropped. “Well, no one said you guys were going.”

Light flinched. “I didn’t mean that—”

“Yeah, I know. I didn’t either.”

We both stayed silent the rest of the way home, awkwardly parting ways after. I didn’t even turn to glance at his house next door when I opened the door to my own, storming through the house.

“Micchan, did something happen?” Mum asked, glancing over from the kitchen, obviously having noticed something off about me.

“Just Light thinking he can make my decisions for me and pissing me off.”

“Kimiko, that kind of language is unacceptable, no matter how angry you are. Come on, talk to me about this. And please, calmly,” Mum coaxed, carrying me up to her room. I didn’t resist it, instead choosing to just sulk in her arms.

“Light said we can’t go on holiday because Sayu’s too little,” I muttered. “It’s like he’s trying to control what I do because he can’t come. Like he thinks the whole world centres around himself, like he’s some sort of god !”

“Kimiko,” Mum said, voice gently, “maybe he just wants to spend the holidays with you and got upset that we’re going. The two of you are best friends, right? So, wouldn’t he be a little sad that both of you can’t spend time together?”

“Yeah, but still , he can’t just be mean about it!” I insisted. Even if he’d wanted to spend time together, he couldn’t decide that I couldn’t do something if it meant he couldn’t, and I told Mum as much.

“You’re right about that, Micchan. He shouldn’t have used that tone with you, and you shouldn’t let him. But even so, you need to make sure you don’t respond the same way. It’s important to be the bigger person, and try and resolve the situation instead of making it worse.”

Logically, I knew Mum was right, but that didn’t make me want to see Light at the moment. “I still don’t . . . want to talk to him yet.”

Mum bit her lip, worrying at the skin. “Light and his family are already supposed to be coming over for dinner, but if you’re sure you don’t want to talk to him—”

“I’m sure.”

“—then you don’t have to, okay?”

I nodded. And I ended up keeping to it. The whole evening, other than periodic shared glances at each other, there wasn’t a single interaction between Light and myself.

Guilt churned in my stomach the entire time, but I did my level best to ignore it, even as I looked Light in the eye before he left. I’m sorry , his eyes seemed to say.

Me too , I thought.

Neither of us said anything.


 

I sighed, sitting off to the side while Mum and Dad collected the two suitcases we’d packed for our month-long stay from the baggage carousel. We’d landed about half an hour ago, and I was bored out of my mind.

And, admittedly, I missed Light. Now that’s something I never thought I’d think. I sighed again, staring at the screen the flights were displayed on. We wouldn’t be going back for a month, so I was starting to regret parting with him on that sour note.

If I still had my own phone, all it would take was a simple text or video call for me to try and set things right, but of course, it wasn’t that easy now.

“Micchan, we’re going now,” Mum said, snapping me out of my thoughts. “Come on, we need to hurry if we want to get a cab.”

I nodded, trailing behind her as we left for wherever we’d planned to stay for the month. As it turned out, Mum had someone here who’d been willing to let us stay in a house they owned (but apparently never used), somewhere around Micheldever, in Winchester.

It took a couple of hours to get there, but by the time we did, it was already almost midnight. “I’m sleepy,” I yawned, leaning onto Dad, who gently patted my forehead until I fell asleep.

The next two days were pretty normal, with us getting used to the differences between Winchester and Tokyo, but there was something that was bothering me about the whole thing: I couldn’t help but feel like Winchester had some relevance to the story of Death Note, and that it wasn’t something minor, either.

But I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was.

“Kimiko, we’re going sightseeing today,” Dad announced the next day.

“Sightseeing? Where?” I asked, curious.

“How about Winchester Castle and Winchester Cathedral? After that, we’ll go get some McDonalds and come back.”

“Okay, sure.”

“You don’t want to?”

“No, it’s not that, I just . . .” I looked away, not really wanting to admit it, but I continued, “I miss Light. And I wish I’d apologised to him when I had the chance.” And I want to know why Winchester’s tugging at my memories, but I can’t tell you that.

Dad sat down next to me on the carpeted floor. “Well, Micchan, that’s understandable,” he said softly, patting my head. “But you know what? It’s taught you just how valuable the friendship you two have is. I’m sure Light regrets the argument too—and the fact that you both do just means that you still want to be friends with each other, right? That you don’t want to lose each other over a silly little argument.”

He was right, I knew. “But I still haven’t said sorry . . .” I murmured. “I wish I could Skype him or something to do that, at the very least . . .”

I felt Dad stiffen beside me, but when I looked at him, all his expression revealed was confusion. “Kimiko, what’s Skype?”

Oh my god, Skype hasn’t been invented yet! How do I cover this one up? “Uh . . .”

It was at that moment that Mum walked into the living room, interrupting our conversation with a tired sigh. Internally, I thanked every higher power that existed for the intervention—until I actually looked at Mum.

She looked haggard, plain and simple—her blonde hair was matted and messy, and her eyes were dull and tired.

“Mum, are you okay?” I asked, rushing up to her, concerned.

She yawned, downing the cup of coffee she had in her hand. “Nnn, you guys go have fun today . . .” Another yawn. “I’ve gotta get to a meeting in the evening so I’ll sleep now.”

“What kind of meeting? I thought you gave online English classes.” I frowned. I’d never heard too much about Mum’s job, but I hadn’t expected it to be important during our holidays.

“The place I’m teaching at is offering new material, so I’m just going to be picking that up. Since we’re here, I’ll probably be going to sort some things out, and maybe teach a few classes in person.”

“But you deserve a holiday too!” I protested. “Right, Dad?”

Dad pressed his lips together. “Of course she does, Micchan, but . . . well, Mum’s work is important. She’ll come out with us tomorrow, okay?”

There was no room left for argument. “O . . . kay. But tomorrow is a must, right?”

Mum smiled, putting her coffee cup down on the counter and ruffled my hair. “I promise.”


The rest of the holidays were fun, and I wouldn’t deny it. We even went to London one weekend, but despite everything, there were still two pressing things on my mind: Light, and Winchester itself.

It had already been three weeks since I’d spoken to Light, having parted with nothing more than a glance at each other the night before we left. Needless to say, I was still pretty bummed out that we still couldn’t speak, but I didn’t want to broach the topic with either of my parents, lest Dad remember what I had dubbed the ‘Skype Incident’. That had been an experience that I was glad was forgotten, and I still didn’t know what I would have said if Mum hadn’t stepped in.

On the topic of Winchester, I was still frustrated that I had no clue why I felt like I needed to be paying more attention—like I was missing something I really shouldn’t have been. I hated it. I’d once thought I was an expert on all things Death Note , so this was downright frustrating.

The sound of the door slamming jolted me from my thoughts. It didn’t seem as though anyone had entered or left—the only thing different was that Mum and Dad were both outside, talking to a guy—a teenager, perhaps?—whom I’d never seen before. Did he get lost? That seemed like the only reasonable explanation for a random guy from here to show up at the porch of a house we were borrowing from someone else. Or maybe he’s interested in the owner?

Then, bright red eyes met mine, and I couldn’t look away. The boy held my gaze for a few seconds, then his gaze drifted upwards, he tilted his head, and then looked away as though nothing had happened, continuing to converse oddly casually with my parents.

I didn’t like it one bit.

A few moments later, Mum came back in, clearly troubled. What should I say? Should I even ask who that was? I settled instead for a simple, “Mum, what’s wrong? Who’s that boy outside?”

Mum just sighed, her hands raking through her hair. “One of my . . . students.” She didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t ask. Somehow, it felt entirely too invasive to try, so I kept my mouth shut. This was forbidden territory now—I was on foreign turf, literally and figuratively.

“Oh,” was all I said.

Mum inhaled deeply, then smiled—properly, this time. “Come on, let’s try calling Light.”

All former thoughts evaporated at the mention of Light’s name. “Yes!”

One ring. Two rings. Three rings. On the fifth ring, the phone was picked up. “Hello?”

“Auntie Sachiko! It’s me, Kimiko—hi!”

“Oh, Kimiko! How’s your holiday been?”

“Good,” I said, then tagged on, “but I miss Light . . . can I talk to him, please?”

“Of course! Here, I’ll call him over.” A moment of silence, likely as she covered the receiver to call Light, then a second of static, followed by Light’s voice.

“. . . Mikko?” His voice was hesitant, and the awkwardness stung.

“I . . . hi, Light,” I said, just as obscenely awkward.

“Hi,” he said back. This wasn’t getting anywhere. All we were doing now was just wasting international call money.

I took a deep breath. “I’m sorry for what I said before I left. I shouldn’t have snapped at what you said.”

“Yeah . . . but the way I said it was mean, so I’m sorry too. I should have said it before you left, but I was angry and didn’t want to, so I’m sorry for that, too.”

“Me too. I was too proud to say anything, too. So . . . we’re okay now? Friends again?”

“We’re always friends, Mikko. We always will be.”

Relief flooded through me, and a weight that had settled over me for the past few months had finally been lifted. “Yeah,” I agreed, sinking into the couch as Mum gave me a thumbs up, then started recounting the holiday we’d had so far—only excluding the things about Mum’s job, the Skype Incident, and the boy who was still talking to Dad on the porch.

When the call ended about half an hour later, I felt a lot lighter than than I had for the entire month. One of two issues solved , I thought, satisfied, lulling myself into an easy slumber.


The rest of the holiday ended quickly—almost too quickly—as before I knew it, we were back on a plane to Tokyo. Back to Light , I couldn’t help but think throughout the journey.

Things should finally go back to normal now that we were back. No more black coffee-laden mornings for Mum, and late nights with random teens showing up at our porch for Dad. I could go back to playing with Light and helping take care of Sayu.

That night, I was drifting off to sleep, back in my own room, when it hit me:

It was Wammy’s House which was in Winchester!