- SWR #2 – Amongst the Ashes
- Hanako's lost relative
- I frown at my paperwork and give a small sigh. All I can think about is Hisao, as much as I don't want to. I've had such a big crush on him in highschool and he's still part of my life, because he's dating my best friend. What am I supposed to do?
- I've dealt with it as best I can. Life has never been kind to me, but I'm trying my best here. It's what Hisao would've wanted if he loved me instead of Lilly...
- No! Don't think like that, Hanako. Be happy for them! Your best friend is in love, she has someone who cares about her. And they both care deeply about me. As hard as that makes it to get over Hisao... it's a good thing. They've both really helped me a lot. I'm a stronger person now. I don't flinch as much when people look at me, I can talk to people a little better. My past still keeps me up at night, though. It's hard to
- Sometimes I worry if they know about how I feel. It makes it hard, living with them too. I have to fall asleep listening to music. The noises they make, good God.
- I've told one of my co-workers, a friend of mine here in the office, about my living situation and how mortifying it is for me at times. She tells me that I should move out, but she doesn't understand how much I rely on those two.
- I sigh, rifling through more paperwork. I went to university for business and I was an accountant now. I made a lot of money, brokering and making loans to big companies. I just... saved it all. Put it into a bank account and helped Hisao and Lilly pay rent and utilities. They never asked me for anything else, although I always splurged on their birthdays. They always got me the sweetest things on my birthday, so I felt it was only right...
- The day dragged by as usual, making calls and taking calls from businesses who might want a loan, triple-checking our loan paperwork and forwarding it to the proper divisions in our firm. When the day was done, I put on my suit jacket, grabbed my purse and sighed like I did every day.
- I wondered when life would ever get a little different. My hand roamed to my scarred cheek, feeling the rough texture. I wondered if I'd ever meet anyone who'd love me.
- As I walked outside, I saw a man in a white tee-shirt and simple denim jeans standing outside the door, looking at a piece of paper. He had a dark brown faux-hawk and stubble covering his chin, tapping the toe of his black sneakers on the sidewalk in front of him.
- “Can I... h-help you?” I asked, tilting my head at him a little. He lifted his eyes to meet mine and they were a dark purple, much like my own.
- “Hanako?” I blinked a few times. How did he know my name. “Hanako!” He exclaimed a second time. He had a wild grin on his face and it made me flinch backwards a bit. “D-d-do I know y-you?” I probably looked horrified, but honestly, I was. Who was this man and why did he know who I was? He looked a bit older than I was, too.
- He didn't answer my question and instead stepped forward and wrapped me in a tight hug.
- That's when my vision dimmed and panic took hold. I drove a knee into his groin and threw him off of me. Some security guards from inside of my work's building came rushing out, grabbing hold of the man and pinning him to the ground. “Hey! What the fuck did you do to Ikezawa?!”
- All of the burly security guards really liked me and always looked out for me. Some of them even brought me coffee in the morning, which I always thanked them for, in the stammer they found so cute. I wish I could get rid of it.
- “I-It's okay. I'm her brother.” He groaned while they kept him pressed to the ground. “Brother...? I don't have a brother. My family's all dead...” I whispered, blurred images of the fire in my head.
- The guards dragged him to his feet. “Want us to throw him out in some alleyway, Miss Ikezawa?” I shook my head. “No, please, don't. I w-want to hear what h-he has to say.” He smiled at me.
- “I... uh. I'm you're older brother. I've been looking for you since we were separated. You were in the hospital for such a long time. We were separated and you probably forgot all about me, huh?” His smile was beaten, hurt. A smile I used to force a lot at myself, staring in the mirror as I pitied myself for existing.
- The psychiatrists and doctors who I saw told me that I probably suffered amnesia from the trauma, the mind's natural way of coping with bad memories. A lot of my childhood was fuzzy... I could barely remember anything past the day my mother smothered me to keep the flames from taking me. My dad died trying to find a way out when the hallway collapsed on him.
- “I-If that's true... how d-did you survive? M-mom and d-dad died saving me...” I could feel tears welling in my eyes.
- He lowered his head. “You probably don't remember our dog, huh? He was barking that night before the fire broke out, I figured he needed to go out, so I brought him outside for a walk. When I got back, the house was engulfed and I could hear dad yelling.”
- His face twisted into something I couldn't explain.
- “I heard it all, Hana. All of you screaming, I thought you died too. I cried so hard when they pulled you out of the house, so badly burned but alive. I got adopted before you were released from the hospital, taken by some parents who moved shortly after adopting me. I've been looking for you since. Searching through all the old orphanages, trying to locate where you'd gone. You've moved around a lot, haven't you?”
- I wanted to believe him, but I couldn't remember anything. Just the heat, just the screaming. Nothing else before or after that until I woke in the hospital.
- “D-do... do you have any proof?”
- He nodded. “C-could you let him go so he can show me, please?” I asked the guards. They both nodded, and he reached into his back pocket, retrieving a wallet.
- He opened it, showing it to me. He fished out a small picture, a wallet sized one and grabbed his license from the flap inside. He handed them both to me. I looked at the license.
- Daisuke Ikezawa. Age 26. It was a real license, the watermark and everything from his prefecture looked legitimate.
- I removed the picture from below the license and put it on top. My body seized up.
- “It was a family picture dad took. Gave me a copy when I got my first wallet, something I always kept on me when I was a kid, because it made me feel like I was an adult. It's the only picture of our family that survived the fire.”
- There we all were. Standing together. My parents, my mother with her dark purple hair and eyes, wearing a long white gown, our father with his arm around her, a tree of a man with dark brown hair and a beaming grin. And my brother, holding hands with me as we all smiled and waved at the camera. Even our dog was sitting with us.
- For a moment, memories flooded my vision. The picture came to life in my mind. We were all playing in the front yard, a friend of the family over. I was so young, then. Maybe five, six? We were chasing our akita around the yard, our mother chasing after us as well. My father's booming laughter.
- I looked to Daisuke.
- “I've been looking for you a long time, Hanako.”
- I couldn't hold back my tears. All this time, I had wished and hoped and dreamed of having a family. And today, out of the ashes, came a brother from a past I had forgotten.
- This time, I threw my arms around my brother.
Amongst the Ashes
mehkanik Feb 18th, 2012 1,189 Never
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