The setting sun turned the snow a pink like Nezuko’s yukata. Tanjiro went into the village this morning but has not returned yet. The family was busy with the day’s chores, and now Nezuko was cooking dinner with her mom at their stone oven.
“Onii-chan, is really late today,” Nezuko mused quietly to herself as she cut the vegetables for the soup her mom was mixing in the pot. It was a really cold day that he shouldn’t have gone out.
“That means your brother is working really hard,” Kie cut through her daughter’s thoughts. Kie tasted the soup after Nezuko plopped the cut up veggies into the pot. “We have to make the food especially tasty then to make sure he gets his strength back.” In her mind, Kie knew that Tanjiro with his good heart was most likely caught up in helping one of the villagers again.
Nezuko smiled gently with her mom as she hummed in agreement, but that night Tanjiro did not come back.
His portion of the food was put away for his breakfast. The younger siblings all wanted to stay awake to see their brother back home safe. Nezuko and Kie both hushed them and told them to sleep to be ready for tomorrow’s chores. When their mom left for the washroom, Nezuko promised them that she’ll stay up if they went to sleep, which they begrudgingly agreed to.
“As long as Nē-chan doesn’t eat my goodies!” Shigeru giggled.
“Ah, I’ll definitely eat it! I’ll eat it all up like a demon!” Nezuko laughed and tickled Shigeru. Everyone joined in the tickle fight with laughs and howls bouncing around in the small house. When their mom came back, Nezuko was tucking in her tuckered out little siblings.
True to her word, Nezuko was up to the best of her abilities. She would close her eyes to only shake herself awake to await her brother’s footsteps. Nezuko closed her eyes at some point in the dark night that when she opened them again she saw the sky was a cerulean blue through the door and her family still asleep. The whole time her brother hasn’t been back yet.
Nezuko knew her brother would be fine; he knew the paths like the back of his hand. The nagging feeling in her heart wasn’t helping her though. That feeling was maybe why when she heard a thump at the grove of trees near the house, Nezuko silently slipped out of the house with a torch that wasn’t necessary with the incoming sun but can be used if the noise wasn’t from her brother.
As she approached the grove, her bare feet crunched the snow. Nezuko’s puffs of breath fogged her vision a little, but she saw that there was no one as she stepped into the shadows of the trees and bushes. Nezuko rationalized it as her imagination or snow falling from the trees.
Nezuko turned around to head back to her warm home when a figure with bright pink eyes swiped at her with its claws. She swung her torch barely hitting its chest when red sprinkled from her shoulder. The immense pain felt like needles digging into her skin. She could barely gasp from the pain before she collapsed onto the ground with tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry…I’m sorry,” Nezuko said quietly into the cold air. She closed her eyes only seeing the red eyes of each of her family members.
The rising sun turned the red snow into a golden orange.