The first time they met, Dazai was blinking his eyes open, splayed over his bed. The sun was just skimming his headboard; the sound of cooing birds mumbled in his ears.
Chuuya stood in his bedroom, deathly translucent and staring outside the open window, deep red hair in startling contrast to the rest of his gossamer figure.
Dazai had the ability to see dead souls.
The ability itself was uncommon; very few had it, and those who did usually lived in seclusion and slowly turned senile. Seeing dead people was mostly a curse, because they were in pain and just wouldn’t leave. Not until they’d driven everyone else to insanity. Not until they’d begged and pleaded to be free, to escape the land of the living; until they’d lost themselves watching the people they love most forget about them, move on while they were stuck in the eternity of death.
Mages were not uncommon either – rare, but not uncommon. Abilities were like fingerprints – absolutely different from the next, even though some superficially looked the same. There were general categories magic-users were put into, though the characteristics were revised often and being expanded almost weekly. Magic was something yet to be understood. People no longer blindly accepted the existence or manifestation of magic without explanation.
The ghost was just another trapped soul that had crossed paths with Dazai. But there was something about him – just something – that Dazai couldn’t put his finger on. A sense of familiarity. He did not talk. But Dazai felt like he had an immediate understanding of what he was thinking.
The ghost was in a state of mourning.
His hair and clothes were still under the breeze – under the air of the living. He was wearing the clothes he died in – all souls did. Dazai could only see the ghost’s back from his place on the bed, but his clothes appeared to be in pristine condition. Many ghosts had bloodstains, ripped shirts, stabs and slashes marring their appearance. He did not; he was almost serene.
“My name is Osamu Dazai,” he whispered or breathed. His lungs felt wider, larger, air fresher and just more, breath deeper.
The ghost was still. Dazai almost wondered if he could hear him.
“What should I call you?”
Chuuya turned his head just a little, looking at Dazai in his periphery. His lips parted a little, as if to say something, but he licked them and they fell shut again.
“You know,” Dazai was semi- glad he’d worn pyjama bottoms to bed the night before, semi-curious of the ghost’s reaction if he hadn’t, “it’s impolite not to introduce yourself to someone when you first meet them.”
Dazai had met ghosts like these before, too often – though it was more common for them to be traumatised and panicked (i.e. screaming his ears off), those who knew they were going to die, if they were sick or tortured before death, were much more silent. That’s why, when the ghost’s soft voice cracked in a murmur, Dazai was listening:
“You know me.”
Dazai was sure he didn’t.
“So-oooo,” Dazai drew out, “do you know how you died?”
The ghost was still standing by the window, perhaps waiting to see if any of his senses would work. But he was dead; he would not be able to feel the cold of the air, smell the freshly cut grass, have the weight of the windowsill beneath his fingers. Dazai had left to brush his teeth and get dressed.
“Care to share? You know, the sooner you tell me, the sooner you can go.” That was a lie, but one that usually worked.
“I don’t want to go.”
Dazai’s squinted and looked at the lone figure. What a peculiar dead person. He didn’t even have any questions or seem confused. Very out of character. Maybe he was just very dazed. Dazai supposed the shock of being dead would probably not make you think too much about the future.
“Why do you have bandages?”
The ghost was half-turned in Dazai’s direction, finally giving him an eyeful of the side of his face – the thin, elegant brow, the curve of his nose, the crystalline, shimmering blue of his eyes. Dazai gulped.
“Oh – these?” he shook his right wrist in the ghost’s direction while addressing him before rolling one of the bandages up and pushing it wrist-forward in his direction. The pair were still at least five, if not seven metres apart, and the ghost’s eyes flickered to Dazai’s bared wrist and then back to the window, body still slightly turned and open to Dazai. Listening, but tense and cautious.
“Failed seals,” Dazai corrected. The scar tissue was messy and purple, even after so many years. Dazai never had figured out how to trap his magic.
Seeing dead people made you wish you were dead.
Observant – very observant. To notice that after barely glancing at the scars? Dazai almost already felt like he was being duped somehow.
The ghost placed a hand on his own chest, grasping for something, digging his nails in as if searching for a sensation. He would be met with nothing.
He seemed to be someone who could stand silences, but Dazai was not one for suspense. He took a step closer. “What’s your name?” An eye for an eye; a name for a name; a backstory for a backstory. That was what trust was, wasn’t it – an exchange of sorts?
When Chuuya looked at him, his eyes were liquid and glistening in anguish. Even Dazai’s dulled, emotionless heart seized in pain.
“I wish I could tell you.”
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