One empty seat in the classroom.
It was his seat. He was close enough to reach out and touch my shoulder. But he was far away. Without a word.
He didn't wake up after summer vacation.
I didn't know much about his illness, but all I knew was that he had fallen into a coma due to damage from cerebral ischemia. The doctors told the Sakakikis to be prepared, but he is still alive a month later. Still, there were no signs of his awakening.
Did you go to the comet ......?
Makoto Takane asked me timidly.
'Will that ...... comet be saved?'
'You'll definitely be saved.'
'I see. ......'
'If you're his best friend, you better believe it.'
There's nothing we can do for him now. All we can do is fold our hands and pray. It's the only thing I can do, and I feel so frustrated and helpless. There's really nothing I can do.
Visitation was restricted, so I couldn't go often. Besides, it would be very inconvenient for his family for me, a stranger, to visit him so often.
So I prayed silently.
That I would hear his voice again.
That I could talk to him again.
I prayed every day, hoping that by praying like that, he would appear in a flash.
Word of the comet's fall spread quickly, but over time, fewer and fewer people talked about him. I was more angry than sad. But there are people who care.
'Senpai. Is it true that Comet has collapsed?
I was studying in the library when Taku Nakatani, a junior student, came up to me and said in a whisper.
Yes. That's right.
'Was it for real? ...... Is Comet senior still in a coma?'
'If I wasn't, I'd be going to school.'
'Oh no,...... why of all people would Comet Senpai have to go through this,......'
'It can't be helped. It's not someone's malice or an accident.
No, it's no one's fault. He is fighting against himself. Even though I knew that, I couldn't help but feel the need to take my anger out on him. As Mr. Nakatani said, 'Why are you doing this to him? I always had a feeling in my heart to yell at him. Even though I knew it would make no sense.
'You like Comet-senpai, don't you, ......?'
He said it guiltily.
I reply shortly.
It is also my answer to Nakatani. I have felt his favor since junior high school. I think I expected more or less when the comet disappeared from my side. I did not blame him for that. It's natural for a human being to have that kind of s*xuality.
Not only him, but other boys seemed to be thinking the same thing, and they started approaching me more and more under the guise of sympathy. They would ask me about the comet's condition and then quickly digress to focus on me.
I was terribly uncomfortable with the fact that they were using him as a topic of conversation, but I just kept my cool and let it slide. I knew he would be sad if I was furious and yelled at him. I didn't want to ruin what he had done for me.
'Alina. Thank you for your sympathy. My brother would probably be happy to hear that. Maybe.
I was allowed to visit Ugin-chan in her presence, and I entered the quiet hospital room.
He seemed to be sleeping peacefully, but his oxygen tube and heart rate monitor gave me the creeps. He looked a little thinner than when I had seen him before. My heart rate increased as I thought he was losing his vitality.
Ugin sat in a chair and stared at him silently. As I stood there, she pulled out a chair and motioned for me to sit down.
'Brother, you were a little strange a few days before you collapsed,' she said. He said he had a laziness and a headache, and his speech was slurred and he was tilting his head. I found out later that he had aphasia. It's scary, isn't it? I gradually lost all of my 'words' - speaking, reading, and writing.
Loss of language.
I closed my mouth at that strong word.
What do you think was my brother's last word?
'What was that?'
'To-ji, teena. Do you understand?
'I want to drink tomato juice. My brother is really an idiot! I really wish it was a joke like usual...''
Ugin-chan laughed and immediately became quiet. Her lonely back was too cruel to watch. They both fell silent, and in the stillness of the space, only his pulse moved on the monitor.
He is still alive. But no one knows for how long.
As I left the hospital room and said goodbye to Ugin, he said this to me.
'Alina-san. My brother, I might not make it. Of course I trust that it won't come to that, but it is very possible. So please think about it carefully.
I was so taken aback by Ugin's open declaration of the possibility of my brother's death that I could not open my mouth. Her pragmatic nature was very much like his, and the strength of her resolve even terrified me. Normally, I would never say such a thing because it would be a bad omen. But she was not afraid to say it.
But I am sure you will be fine. Love transcends theory.
The look on her face, smiling wickedly, was like his again.
It had been perhaps a year since I had met him. It was autumn. The application for the center exam was over, and in a few months, the year would be over and the entrance exam would begin.
His consciousness is still missing and no progress has been made. That's rather comforting. Because when there is progress, it can only end in awakening or worse. I don't want to think about the latter.
When the topic of the festival came up, I thought back to last year's festival. He is not in my memory. In my notebook it was written that I went around the school with him, but I had no such memory. My memory of the comet does not come back, nor does his consciousness. It seems as if the invisible man is trying to separate us.
I cursed my fate.
His consciousness did not return in the winter.
And steadily became a part of our daily lives.