In the early afternoon, a young man stood on top of the hill overlooking the city. The clothes he wore were freshly laundered by the older woman who discovered him passed out at her doorstep the night before. His dark hair was untangled and groomed but reached down to his broad shoulders.
“We’ll cut it back to the length it used to be, just how you liked it,” the woman had told him tearfully before he’d left her house.
He didn’t know how he liked it. He didn’t know what it used to be. All he knew was that he had a brightly-colored, irremovable mask that covered his face for as long as he could remember.
He didn’t even know his own name.
Yet, the caring woman who had combed his hair and bathed him was so warm and welcoming, and he had no idea who she was.
All he had known was to go to the top of that hill that day, where he would stand near the large boulder behind the cliff railings. Somehow, it felt like he was meant to be there. That it was a meeting place.
A place to meet her.
A soft breeze brushed against him as a young woman approached him. Her hair was light brown, its locks fluttering with the breeze. Her blue eyes sparkled like the ocean glittering under the afternoon sun. His heart called to her, as though there were words he was meant to say.
“Tell me a story,” he said, as though his lips moved on their own.
Although he observed the sadness in her stare, her laughter rang out like a song. “I figured you’d ask that,” she said. “There was once a boy in this town who everyone knew. Everyone liked him; he had a kind heart, even if he was stubborn at times, and drove some of us crazy…”
The man watched her amused expression turn serious.
“One day, the town was attacked, and the boy transformed. He became a ‘humanform’. He became Xam’d of the Lost Memory.”
“Did he turn into a monster?”
“He was never a monster.”
The woman fell silent, and the man noticed her arm closest to him fidgeting at her side.
“He disappeared for a while,” she continued. “He left his family. His father and mother, and his friends, even the girl they all knew he loved. So she went after him. She found him, but she learned that being Xam’d meant that he had sacrifices to make.”
“He had to save the world. And, in doing so, he had to forget. Forget who he was and where he came from. Who his friends were, who he loved…”
Her hand trembled at her side, but the man watched her lift it toward his hand at his side, only for her to pull it back.
“He promised the girl who loved him back that he would return to this island one day, and tell her the words he had meant to tell her all along.”
It was as though a jolt of epiphany surged through his mind. Those words… he knew those words…
Those words that he tried to grasp but slipped away like water through his fingers.
“What was his name?” he asked, the epiphany fading to black.
“His name is Akiyuki.”
The sound of her voice saying the name was a bell calling back to his memories.
“Does his story have a happy ending? This… Akiyuki?” asked the man.
The woman smiled at him sadly, with tears glistening in the corners of her eyes.
“I hope so.”