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Ephemeral Flower Floating on a Reflection Made of Sound

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Rei’s fingers danced across the chords, her voice husky, yet pure, rang out. The mirrors of her room embraced the melody and swayed in time with her own bent body; her dozen faces staring back at her in concentration, bewilderment, amusement and resentment. The golden bracelet sat heavy on her right wrist, a constant reminder of the scar beneath, of the broken promises that stringed her thoughts together.

Scattered across her bedspread were packets and packages of pills; red, blue, white, cold, hard, small and round. Rei dimly remembered a time when she didn’t need them, when life felt good on its own. When basketball and her guitar kept her company in the loneliness of this room. Was that why Fukiko demanded she hang mirrors everywhere? To remind her of her loneliness?

Her calloused fingers played on, her voice rising and lowering through the images her song produced.

No. This wasn’t Fukiko’s song. This was the Doll’s. The doll who was bold enough to slap her and strong enough to seek her out, yet soft enough to cry. Only for her. All those tears scattering just for her. Who hid away, tucked so neatly inside her arms, snuggling against her heart as they swung through the air at the playset. Rei thought back to earlier when she offered her the other doll, the one that looked just like her. The one that Fukiko gave her to be her only companion.

No, not Fukiko, only Doll. Her doll. A sharp knock struck her front door, causing her to pause as her neighbor called out the time, demanding she be quiet or he’d call the police. Rei laid her guitar aside, reaching into her vest pocket for her cigarettes and matches, a smirk playing along her lips as she lit the end and inhaled.

“Just you and me,” she told a random mirror, pointing her cigarette at it. “What lousy company.”

She glanced at the bed spread and her colorful collection, her body's primary hobby.

“I can take the tranquilizers to relax. Then take those and those,” she pointed at different packets. “To stay awake.”

Her free hand lingered over her options as she exhaled, staring at the choices through the haze of smoke. Nanako’s face drifted before her, worried and scared and she hesitated.

“I need something though,” she said to another mirror. “To stay awake, to fall asleep. To trick this foolish body of mine.”

“I should sleep,’ she decided, picking up a packet. ‘I have to be fresh to see the look on her face when we go before the committee.”

“A warm bath and tea would work,” she laughed, taking another drag, holding it in, rolling her shoulders, exhaling as she hoisted her lengthy frame upward and walked to the other room. “Yes, that would be nice.”

“I’m sure I’ve got some hidden in my cupboards,” she stared at herself, surrounded by herself. “No, only frozen food and nothing comforting about that.”

“Pills are better company,” she decided, staring around her empty kitchen.

Back at her bed she looked at them, snatching a handful of packets up and crumpling them in her fist. Kaoru no Kimi’s face loomed in front of her, a frown pursing her lips as she admonished her.

“I’ll take these just to spite her,” Rei rationalized, tearing open the containers and opening her mouth.

Her reflection showed her inelegant motions, her wild eyes, her frantic motions, the empty papers falling around her and she hesitated. Her mind wandered back to Kaoru and that lost year without her. With the missing piece of her. Rei’s hand wandered over her own breasts, feeling the lumps of healthy tissue and flesh.

“How?” she asked all her reflections. “How does she do it?”

“I know she’s in pain,” Rei brushed her hand across her cheek where Doll had hit her, the smoldering ashes of her cigarette arcing through the air. “I know sometimes it’s too much.”

She let the pills fall.

Rei looked around her, looked at herself. Simply looked. She couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to die. Death was so much more comforting. Death was an escape. Death was the only real thing that no one could take from her and that everyone had to face. The only constant in her life. She was even nicknamed the Angel of Death in an indirect way. Saint-Just of the flowers. Avenging angel of death during the revolution until he lost his own life.

“I don’t want to die alone,” she whispered, dropping her cigarette into the case her junior gave her. “Kaoru doesn’t either.”

Rei fell to her knees and clutched at the golden bracelet on her right hand. A soft moan fell from her lips as she held her wrist close to her breast, raised the bracelet to her lips and kissed it, the scar beneath aching.

“Fukiko, you promised,” she sobbed, curled onto her side, holding herself closely as she cried, the strength of her pain shaking her. “Why did you leave me?”

“You’re my sister, my true sister, my real sister,” she chanted into the night while her reflections mocked her, staring down at her, imitating her pose, their faces slack with exhaustion, their eyes dull and lifeless. “Even if you don’t know the words, shouldn’t you feel something? Shouldn’t you be able to recognize me?”

She lay back and stared at the ceiling, narrowing her eyes to shut out her own face. The ceiling is smooth and dull and boring.

“I don’t want to be boring,” she whispered. “I don’t want to live in a dull world, but I don’t want to feel.”

“I don’t know what I want,” she reached out, pulling the bedspread onto her. Pills scatter everywhere, hitting her and raining down around her silent form.

“No I do know,” she whispered. “I want Fukiko but she doesn’t want me back.”

The words echoed in the air, the truth stinging her, slapping her with its stark fact.

“She doesn’t even like me,” tears pool into the corners of her eyes. “Doll…Nanako, she likes me. Kaoru likes me.”

She counted on her fingers naming the student body.

“All the pretty kittens who listen to my songs like me,” she continued. “All the people who signed the petition.”

“Even you like me,” she pointed at the mirrors. “And you and you and you.”

“She’s the only one,” Rei wiped at the tears spilling down the corners of her eyes. Her hands groped around in the gloom of her room reaching for her pills, for her only comfort against that hard, bitter truth.

She grasped several, not even knowing which anymore, and held them over her mouth.

“No,” she decided, this time meaning it. “No, just for tonight I’ll be alone with this pain.”

She touched the golden bracelet. She touched her breasts, still fully formed. She saw Kaoru holding up her pages of signatures. She saw Nanako, agreeing with their motions. She saw the other students, their faces turned towards her expectantly.

“I’ll take you all when we beat Fukiko tomorrow,” she declared, letting the pills fall from her hand to scatter around her face while she wrapped her bedspread around her body and drifted off. “I want to have a clear mind. I want to remember it. The look on her face.”

“I want to hold Nanako when we win,” Rei whispered, sinking further into sleep. “She fits, right in the circle of my arms.”


Postscript: 15 Years Later


“Are you writing your brother again?” Rei asks, leaning against the doorway and watching Nanako scratch away with her pen, her mouth pursed just to the right, the way Rei loves.

“Yes, he sent us a letter,” she looks up, her eyes warm and tender, a smile curving her lips. “Kaoru’s reconstructive surgery went well. How was your case?”

“That’s great,” Rei walks in, leaning over Nanako’s chair to circle her in her arms, their lips touching gently, once, twice, three times in their forms covered in the fading light of the sunset. “Good, though there’s a new prosecutor in the court pool. That man irritates me to no end.”

“I know you can beat him,” Nanako laughs as she turns to circle her arms around Rei’s shoulders. “You are Saint-Just of the Flowers after all.”