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The Simple Job of Driving People to Suicide

A 2ch story about skies, be they cloudy or blue.

Much like I'm An Alien, it's a very good story, but be wary of some of the content... which should be evident from the title.

——

#OP
My job is primarily the cleaning of rooms.

Why would I go cleaning other's rooms?
Because it comes along with suicide.

Clean everything up and leave a note, and no one will doubt it was a suicide.
Making it all tidy. That's the important part.

The procedure goes as follows.

1. Take over the person's body.
2. Put on an appearance of sadness.
3. Make the surroundings tidy. (Most crucial step)
4. Write a note.
5. Die.

But no, I didn't say "commit suicide."

#OP
My target then was a girl with nervous eyes.
This ended up being my final job.

All the people I had driven to suicide beforehand certainly seemed like the kind to do wicked things.
Such a young, harmless-looking target I had not had before.

She was slender and fair-skinned, always kept her gaze low, and had a very restrained laugh.

#2ch
How many so far?

#OP
^ This girl was to be the seventh.

#OP
But there could have been no mistake.
If she was to be my target, she was an evil person.

I had killed others without hesitating, hadn't I?

I closed my eyes, thought about the face of my distant target, and took over her body.

On that sunny day in August, my final job began.

#OP
The target was gazing out the window.

She was in a high school classroom, seemingly in the middle of class.
Everyone else was looking up at the blackboard and down at their notebooks, busily writing what was on the board.

This girl alone, my target, was lazily gazing outside.

Not that there was anything of note out there.
A bus stop, a Lawson store, a drug store, a Joyce.
A tacky billboard for Bon Curry stood out most.
Overall, a typical rural landscape.

#2ch
Could this be Morioka in Iwate prefecture?

#OP
^ Very impressive. I did more or less model it on that.

#OP
I attempted to move the target's hand.
The pen felt unusually large, which was mostly because her hand was so small.

I tried diligently copying what the teacher wrote on the board.
I was able to move smoothly, as she showed little opposition.

Suddenly I saw the teacher looking her way, seeming surprised.
The reason for this should become clear later.

#OP
To observe the target's reaction, I wrote "Hello" in her notebook.

I then temporarily relinquished control.
The target opened and closed her hand to confirm she was free.

From this, it seemed she was aware of being controlled.
Some people don't even notice that.

The target stared at the "Hello" I had written, deeply interested.
But she displayed no further reaction.

#OP
The lecture ended, and lunch break began.
I took over the target's body again.
This is when things would really begin.

First, with regard to the target's friends.
I would have to make it appear to them that the target was in pain.

I could make her sigh often, or eat little, or say unusual things.

By doing this, the people around her could be convinced that there were "signs" of a suicide, making the possibility reality.

#OP
I looked around the classroom in search of her friends.

But no one came to speak with her.
Or even looked her way, for that matter.

Everyone formed their groups and started on their lunches.
I waited for someone to call to her.

#OP
The target remained solitary until halfway through lunch.

I finally came to realize this girl, my target, being isolated was a very commonplace occurrence.
My target appeared to be very much alone.

#OP
I initially thought it worrisome, but thinking on it, it was in fact favorable.
Someone with no connections to anyone around her could die anytime at all and it wouldn't be suspicious.

Pupils from the same class would have nothing to say but "She was always a shy girl..."
She would be categorized as an "other."

#OP
I let her be for a little while.
I had nothing to do, after all.

Even without my interference, the target would play the part of "someone who might commit suicide."
I temporarily stopped controlling her.

#OP
I was taking control of the target from a one-room apartment.
I could take over a person's body from anywhere as long as I knew their face.

I set my alarm and began an afternoon nap.
Controlling people takes considerable stamina.

My next job was the all-important "putting things in order."
I would have to keep my physical condition up until then.

#OP
I woke up and checked up on the target.
Her last class had just ended, and she left the room earlier than anyone else.

She didn't go to any clubs.
She put in earbuds for a Walkman and headed straight home.

When she came home and entered her room, I took over her body again.
I observed the room through her own eyes.

My first impression was:
"What IS this?"

#OP
I was at a loss for a moment.
My job was to put her things in order, but there was nothing.
Literally nothing in the room besides a bare minimum of furniture and some textbooks.

No magazines, no regular books, no TV, no computer, no cushions, no dolls, no plants.
The room was completely barren.

#OP
Depending on the person, this part of the job could take as long as five hours even for someone with my experience.
But for this girl, it was over in two minutes.

The only trash around was bottles of alcohol, stuffed away in her lowest drawer.
I started to put them into a bag, but thinking about it, leaving them around felt more befitting of a suicide.
So I put them back where they were.

#OP
The one trace of personality I could find was a mess of CDs on her shelves, as well as a CD player and headphones to listen to them.

Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith.
Definitely the tastes of a depressed person.

These, too, felt appropriate to have in the room, so I left them be.

#OP
It was the first time the job had been so easy.
It felt like I was merely setting a table.

It seemed it would be no problem to have her commit suicide right then and there.
I didn't think it would be wise to tinker with things any further.

I had a sense of... perhaps not disappointment, but of being cheated.
Still, I was pleased it would be easy.

#OP
To finish, I wrote a suicide note with the target's hand.
Tearing out a page from a history textbook, I wrote "It's all pointless. I'm killing myself."

If this girl were to write a suicide note herself, I felt it would be sudden and simple, and wouldn't blame anyone in particular.

#OP
I put the note in her pocket and was about to leave the house.

Suddenly, the target showed her first opposition.
And it was, in fact, unbelievably powerful.
She very nearly took control back.

She moved her mouth to say "Wait."
In forcing it open, she cut her lip and it started to bleed.

I was surprised, but also relieved.
Things had been going almost disgustingly well.

#OP
The target said this:
"I want you to make a little change to the note."

#OP
Instead of speaking myself, I had the girl say:
"What do you mean?"
An observer would have seen her talking to herself.

She replied.
"Will you change "It's all pointless, I'm killing myself" for me?"

"Why?"

"I want people to think "It's for the best that she died." If that's possible..."

#OP
I was quiet for a while, but figured it couldn't hurt.
I modified the note as she instructed.

I felt the target attempt to say "Thank you very much."

It seemed the job was to end without her even pleading for her life.
What on earth was this girl thinking?

All of a sudden, I realized something.

#2ch
Do you like Kotaro Isaka?

#OP
^ I only know Coin-Locker and A Pierrot.

#OP
Was it possible this girl was intending to commit suicide from the start?

She'd totally cleaned out her room, she knew what she'd want in her suicide note.
Weren't those things independent of my interference?

If this was true, all I was doing was killing a suicidal girl who already wished for death herself.

#OP
That was not what I wanted.
It would be no fun killing someone longing for death.

So I decided I would tease this girl before killing her.

I took over the target's body, prepared a different farewell note, left it on the living room table, and left the house.
I then had her walk the whole night.

#OP
The town was unusually hilly.
With all the stairs and slopes, not many people rode bikes.
There were many steep inclines, and many winding roads on top of that.

I had her walk endlessly through this place, on feet so delicate they might break if she tripped.

#OP
Crickets chirped through the terribly humid night.
The girl soon started to sweat.

After walking three hours in uncomfortable shoes, her legs seemed to be in terrible pain.

Pain ran through the arches of her feet and calves.
She felt it with every step I made her take.
She couldn't even look up.

#OP
By the time she was getting unbearably thirsty, I gave her control in front of a vending machine.
She had only some change with her.

The point of this was to have her buy and drink something of her own volition.

Even still, the weariness kept building.
The pain kept getting worse.
She continued getting hungrier.

#OP
After walking eight hours, the target finally arrived at her destination.

It was a platform giving a view of the entire town.
As she reached the top of the spiral stairs, I gave her back control.

Moved beyond her limits, she collapsed on the spot.
I placed her body on a chair I had prepared.

I sat across from her on the other side of a table.

#OP
The target greedily ate through hundred-yen cup ramen.
Forgetting about her wish for death, she leant on the handrail with her elbows, looking down at the town.
"Pretty..." she remarked.

She seemed to lack the energy to think about anything, making no effort to keep up an appearance.
She turned around, crossed her legs, and laid back in the chair smiling.

#OP
The target looked back and asked me: "By the way, will you kill me or not?"

I wanted to explain myself, but I couldn't find the right words.
I didn't have the energy to think about things, either.

Of course, the target was exhausted from eight hours of walking.
But I was just as tired if not moreso from making her walk for eight hours.

#OP
I decided to take the target back home.
I beckoned to her, and she silently followed.
She seemed particularly obedient, from what I could tell.
Well, I was able to control her, after all.

We staggered down the spiral stairs.
I opened the car door and got inside when I was struck with an incredible drowsiness.

#OP
The target stood looking worried in front of the car, so I opened the passenger door and said "Get in."
She said "sorry" and got in the seat.

I was unable to resist sleep, so I decided to take a ten-minute nap and then set out.
I fell asleep in the middle of setting the alarm on my phone.

#OP
I woke up feeling warm.
The light of sunrise was shining into the car.

Looking to my left, I saw the girl sleeping.
I opened the door, got out, and washed my face at a fountain under the platform.

I was sweating all over, so I went back to the car to get a towel.
Just then, the target woke up, and looked at me drowsily.

#OP
While we wiped our sweat with the wet towel, I pondered how I should begin explaining myself.

The dry wind was pleasant and refreshing.
The target pulled off her shoes and socks and washed her feet.

Usually the target would be asking something by now, but this girl hadn't said anything for some time.
I was just about to give up.

"All clean. Go ahead," the target suddenly said.
She looked at me attentively.

#OP
The target spread out her arms and opened her hands.
"Drop me, hang me, do whatever you want."

Water dripped from her hair, and her wet hands and feet gleamed.

I didn't care for that.
"Oh, I'll kill you soon. In a very terrible way."

"A very terrible way?", she repeated with a stupid look on her face.

"Yeah. Just get in the car."

The target put on her shoes and walked to the car.

#OP
We got a good breakfast, and I took the target to school.

The target typically came late and wanted me to delay her going to class, so she actually arrived earlier than usual.
She got out of the car, looked back at me, bowed slightly, and walked away.

#OP
I had my own first period class to get to, but there was something to be done before that.

I closed my eyes and imagined the target's face.
She had just entered the classroom.

The target was opening the door quietly so as not to draw any attention.
However, a group near the door looked her way to see who was coming in.

Just then, the target's face suddenly brightened, and she greeted them. "Morning!"
Naturally, this was my doing.

#OP
No one responded to the greeting.
Of course, no one had expected her to greet them like that.
They just figured they must have misheard her.

The target's face turned a deep red.
She couldn't help being embarrassed by it.
She was fine with dying, but didn't like having her greeting ignored.

#OP
But afterward, every time the target passed by a classmate in the hall, I had her bow her head to them.

The target wrote, "Give me a break" in her notebook so as to tell it to me, but I displayed no reaction.

#OP
At lunch, the target tossed Calorie Mates into her mouth.
She put in her earbuds and started to study, so I took control and removed them.

By just putting in those earbuds, she was making herself look like someone who's given up on communicating.

The target wrote in the notebook: "You shouldn't have."

I borrowed her hand to cross it out, and underneath, wrote "I'm just pestering you."
She looked at this and just wrote "Jerk."

#OP
Once all her classes were over, the target left the classroom sooner than anyone else.
Usually she left calmly, but today she was in a hurry.

But open returning home, she was visited by further tragedy.
Brought about by me, of course.

I took over her body and began tidying up her room once more.

#OP
Her lowest drawer was filled with whiskey.
Cutty Sark, Johnnie Walker Red, Ancient Clan.

I didn't know where she had gotten it, but I drained the bottles - likely to be the girl's best friends - down the sink.

The target tried to say "Stop! That's such a waste!"
It might have been her most desperate reaction so far.
But I didn't care.

#OP
According to the girl's schedule, now would have been a good time for her to lie down on her bed and listen to music.
Instead, I put the bottles in a vinyl bag, placed it back in the drawer, and had her leave the house.

But I wouldn't have her walk eight hours straight this time.
After about ten minutes, she arrived at her destination, the park.

I had her sit on one of two swings.
Naturally, I was sitting on the other.

#OP
The sky was gloomy, and sunset was approaching.
I gave the target the flowerpot I was holding.
"What's this?", she asked.

"An aglaonema nitidum curtisii," I replied.

"No, not the description. What's it for?"

"Your room is so dreary. Use this to spice it up a little."

"...Is this more of your pestering?"

"Can you think of it as a present?"

#OP
The target held the flowerpot and stared at it.
"I mean, I could. I guess it's pretty."

"I can live with that, I suppose."
I got off the swing and stood in front of the target.

She held the flowerpot on her lap, looking at me somewhat nervously.

After a while of this, the target gently let the pot down at her feet.
"Will you kill me?", she said, starting to swing.

#OP
I asked her again:
"Do you want to be killed, then?"

"Hm... I think I'd rather be killed than commit suicide," the target replied.
"It's not your first time, right? I'm just number... whatever, right?"

I thought a little bit and said:
"Exactly how much do you know?"

The target stopped swinging, and said, glancing at the pot rather than me:
"I don't know that much. Just that what you're doing now is what I used to do."

#OP
"I drove eight people to suicide. The targets' ages went from 19 to 72.
Six were men, two were women. I had four jump off a building. Hanged three. The other died by razor."

"I'm betting it was the same for you.
One day, I was suddenly able to control people's bodies, and at the same time I felt like I had to do something with it.
Sound about right?"

"I felt like I was doing a good thing.
The best thing about it was that every time I drove someone to suicide, I died myself, and it felt like I was reborn."

#OP
"What about you? Do you know why you have your powers?"

I shook my head.

"This is just a total guess, but I think the baton's been passed from me to you.
And the reason for that is because I stopped killing people.

With my ninth target, I made a simple mistake.
I sympathized with her."

#OP
"And then, all of a sudden, I lost my powers.
My target ran away from me and committed suicide herself.
So maybe a successor appeared to take my place.
Maybe somebody decided I wasn't useful anymore."

The target looked up at me and asked:
"The first person you killed... It was a woman in her twenties, wasn't it?
Shoulder-length brown hair, tall, with pretty fingers..."

The target took my silence as an affirmation.

#OP
"Well, I couldn't kill that woman.
You never would've guessed it, but it turned out her favorite pastime was talking to photographs.

I don't know why, but that kind of thing...
It just made me lose all my motivation, I guess."

"A while after I let her go, I lost the ability to take over people's bodies.
And a while after that, now I've gotten controlled myself."

The target pointed at me. "By you, obviously."

#OP
"I suppose I've "outlived my usefulness," huh?
The successor comes to take out the predecessor - maybe that's how it works?"

"For all I know, some of the people I drove to suicide might have been doing what I was."

"So," the target smiled, "you'd better kill me soon, huh?
Because if you don't, you could be targeted next."

#OP
Instead of responding to that, I asked the question again.
"So do you want to be killed?"

"I think that would be best."

"But do YOU want to be killed?"

"Me? ...Well, I'm scared to die.
But even so, I think death would be easier than living.
So, yeah. Maybe I do want to be killed."

#OP
"Maybe I'd better, then," I responded.
"But sorry, I'm not here to give you an easy way out.
I want you to die lamenting that the time wasn't right."

The target looked at me, expressionless.
"I think you'll die before that happens."

"Sounds good. I think death would be easier than living."

"...Please don't imitate me like that."

"The algaonema doesn't like direct sunlight."

"Huh?" The target looked down at the flowerpot.

#OP
"But you need to put it in a sunny place.
So, weird as it sounds, finding a "bright shadow" is best for it."

"...Er, you are going to kill me soon, right?
Because if you don't, someone else might kill you?"

"It likes high temperate and humidity, so put it somewhere warm.
Spray the leaves with water once a day.
Same with the water as with the sun: lots, but not too much."

"I'm not raising a plant..."

"While I'm at it, I should mention it's expensive.
You could buy about ten bottles of that whiskey."

"Huh?!" The target's body stiffened.
Her head was likely filled with beer bottles.

#OP
"If you let it wilt, I'll take over your body and go around telling your classmates "Please be my friend!""

"Give that stuff a rest already, please.
So this agla... nidum... What was it again?"

"Just curtisii is fine. Remember it!"

"Courtesy?"

"Good enough."

"Azure Skye."

"...Hm?" I looked up at the stars.

"That's my name. Please remember it."

"Oh, your name... Yeah, I know."

"Not Cloudie Skye."

"Nope, Azure. Not the most fitting name, is it?"

#OP
"So, what's your name?"

"Claude Skye," I said.

"Come on, don't tease me..."

"No, it's true. It's an amazing coincidence."

"Hmph. Glad you've got a fitting name," Azure said, pouting.
"...So, you want me to take this curtisii back home with me?"

"Well, of course."

"That's embarrassing..."

"Then you're gonna get a lot of embarrassment from here on out."

"I feel like I'm gonna die just after today..."

"People don't die that easily."

"It sounds so convincing coming from you."

#OP
"Well, we'd better break this up soon," I said, watching Azure.
"After all, you seem to be enjoying this all too much."

Azure recoiled as if hurt and her expression tightened.
"Yeah right..." she said, her face turning red.

For someone like Azure, appearing to enjoy talking with others was the most agonizing thing there was.

#OP
"Goodbye, Mr. Claude." Azure left the park.
She hurried off as if running away, so that no one in the park would notice.

But a classmate of Azure's saw her leaving the park and the flowerpot she carried.
He averted his eyes, as if he'd seen something he shouldn't have.

I promptly took control of Azure's body and said "Good evening!" with a smile.
The boy looked very concerned, but said "Hey there," bowing his head slightly.

#OP
The classmate left, and Azure returned to me.
"Just what are you trying to pull?"
She was in tears. How embarrassed was she?

"I want to make you do things you don't want to do.
And I don't want to let you do anything you want to do."

"Won't people think I'm weird?
They'll think I'm stealing plants from the park!"

"Does it matter? You're going to die anyway, right?"

"Well, sure, but until I do, I'm still going to be thinking about what happens after!"

"Well said. Precisely. So it's worth doing."

Looking utterly shocked, Azure said: "Do you enjoy teasing high school girls?"

"It's the best. You should try it sometime."

#OP
Every day afterward, whenever Azure passed an acquaintance, I had her politely greet them, and sometimes even start up a conversation.
Regrettably, her classes ended by the time people had gotten accustomed to Azure actually talking.

After her last class, I thought Azure was going to make a beeline out of the room, but she wrote a message in the corner of her notebook, likely directed at me.

#OP
Azure sat on the swing as I had made her do before.

"Hello, Mr. Claude."

Due to it being a hot day, the swings were extremely hot as well.

Azure had come to confirm that she was raising the curtisii properly.
And as far as I could tell, she had made no significant mistakes.

#OP
"Damn, it's hot." I wiped away my sweat.

"Let it flow like a river. It's refreshing."

I ignored her and covered my body with sunscreen.
Azure periodically threw pebbles at me.

I took over Azure's body and had her spray her forehead at the water fountain.

Soon, Azure and her uniform were soaking wet.
"Refreshing," she said, sitting on the swing.

#OP
"You're already on summer vacation, huh? I wanted to try more things."

"I love summer vacation!", Azure cheered.
"I can just stay at home and not meet anybody.
Too bad SOMEbody threw out all my alcohol..."

"You don't like meeting people or going out, huh?", I asked.
Azure recoiled like she'd made a mistake and mumbled "Err... If I had to say..."

I took over Azure's body and dug around in her pockets.
But I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I relinquished control.

#OP
"You," I asked. "Where's your cellphone?"

"Phone? I don't have one."

"You don't have a cellphone? A girl in high school, in this day and age?"

"Surely you can tell I don't need one.
Haven't you noticed that yet?" Azure wrung out her hair.

Indeed, if Azure had a phone, it would serve her no purpose a clock wouldn't.

#OP
"What were you going to do?"

"Call a friend and invite them over."

"No thanks!"

"Then that's lucky. It'd hurt, wouldn't it?"

"...Yeah. Immediately."

"Since you don't want to meet people or go outside, then I thought I'd have people come out and meet you."

"What's the point? I'm already outside, and I'm meeting with Mr. Claude."

"Then let's take that a step further," I suggested.
Or rather, decided.

#OP
Azure seemed to want a drink, so I took her to a coffee shop.
I ordered two espressos.

"I hate coffee. It's so bitter."

"I know. That's still strange to hear from someone who drinks whiskey."

"Coffee pretty much tastes like poison."

"Spoken like a true poison-drinker?"

"Yeah, using other people's bodies, but..."

I didn't say anything, so Azure smiled, "It was a joke!"
Even if it was, it didn't make much sense and wasn't very funny.

#OP
I looked through the books on the table, and Azure stared at me oddly.

"Are you studying?"
"Yeah. Exams are coming up."

"I see... Alright then. I'll study too."
Azure took an English book out of her bag.
Seeing it made me feel somehow nostalgic.

Our coffee arrived. Azure timidly sipped it after putting in plenty of sugar.
"Yuuuck!" Her face contorted. "Still bitter..."

#OP
After about two hours of study, Azure stretched and told me:
"By the way. I lost my powers about a week after my target ran away."

"Doesn't matter to me. I'm not letting you get away."

"Is that how it looks to an observer, I wonder?"

"Yep. Definitely a professional killer after his target."

"Hmph..." Azure said unenthusiastically.
"This has been going pretty well, though.
Huh, I guess this might actually be a good place to study."

"What the hell," I said. "Let's stop studying, then."

#OP
We entered the movie theater and went down the stairs.
"Well, this definitely isn't a good place for studying," Azure said, looking around restlessly.

Exhausted from cramming for exams daily, I fell asleep minutes into the movie.

It was almost over when I woke up.
The characters were crying over something emotional.
Don't get so beat up about it, I thought.

"What was the movie like?", I asked.
Azure replied, "It was about a murderer who gets a terrible punishment."
I felt the film makers would probably be disappointed with that description.

#OP
"You know, people who kill others usually end up dying at the end of movies and shows."

"Yeah, it's always death to people who kill," I said, then sneezed.
"People look for that sort of justice."

"But what if a person could change?"

"Well, I dunno. Once you kill somebody, even if you're a total saint afterward, you just can't quite be trusted."

"So people would think we'd be better off dead?"

"I guess that's what it comes down to."

#OP
"For some reason, that almost excites me," Azure remarked after we left the theater.
"We're two youths who shouldn't be alive."

"How does that excite you?"

"Because we're Azure and Claude!", Azure said, peering at me.
She smiled in a way that expected a response.

#OP
I was about to reply with something mean-spirited.

When all of a sudden, I felt like I was being watched.

"Azure," I said quickly.
"Remember when you resisted to make me revise the suicide note?
How were you able to do that so forcefully?"

"Well..." Azure started to say, then got suspicious.
"Could it be... Are you being controlled?", she asked.

#OP
"No, I'm fine. I just felt like I was being watched for a second."

"Ah... Huh, I kinda feel it too."
Azure shyly smiled for whatever reason.
"So you've finally become a target yourself. Buddies!"

"We can't be sure yet. It could just be my imagination."

"But if you are starting to get targeted, why would they go for you before me?
Going off what we talked about before, I should be killed first."

"I thought so too, but there's two "people who should be dead" here. Which means..."

#OP
"Which means killing you and then me would be the quickest and easiest way."

Azure nodded in agreement.
"Whoever it is, they made a smart move.
I've been controlled before, but it's your first time, so you can't resist too well.
So I see... Maybe I'll be personally killed by Claude himself..."

"Well, tell me already. How did you resist being controlled?"

Azure turned away, then sharply remarked:
"I can't tell you. Because I know you want to know."

#OP
We had just left the plaza.
As we passed under the shade of a tree, I circled behind Azure and wrapped my right arm around her thin neck.

It was my first time being taken over.
It didn't feel very odd at all, so I was fooled into thinking I was moving by myself.

My brain must have been thinking "My arm moved, so I guess I told it to move."

#OP
Force was gradually put into my arm, wrapped around Azure's neck.
Thinking I had no other choice, I took over Azure's body and tried to thrust myself away.

But Azure could resist it.
She defied my control and didn't do anything.
Indeed, this told me that she truly did want me to kill her.

But it also gave me a hint.

As Azure's body started going limp, I gradually pulled my arm away from her neck.
Azure slipped through and fell to the ground.

#OP
After my attempt to defy the control, my arm hurt like it'd been smacked with something hard and all my skin turned inside-out.

Once I'd confirmed I could move my arms freely again, I looked up at Azure.
"So it's not about "resisting" control... It's more like "overwriting" it, isn't it?"

Azure coughed, looking displeased.
"What a shame... You figured it out too quickly."

#OP
"So did you know about that to begin with?"

"No. I figured it out from how you resisted me.
Taking control while being controlled made for a good learning experience."

"I see... But I bet your body hurts like heck, huh?"

"Yeah. Not even really sure what I'm saying, it hurts so bad."

"Same here. And I'm dizzy. And it's hot, of course.
Claude, my neck was really sweaty, wasn't it?"

"Not really..."

"Yes it was. Man, that's embarrassing..."
Azure was always the type to worry about incidental things.

#OP
"Well then..." I squatted down and looked at Azure.
She averted her eyes, and I pulled on her cheeks.
"Ow, owww!", she said, the energy gone from her voice.

"So what was that "I can't tell you" thing about, huh?"

"I was imitating you. Ha ha!"

"Not to mention resisting my control..."

"And because I did that, you got the hang of it. That's good, right?"

I tried to stand up, but lost my balance and fell on my hands, cutting one on a twig on the ground.

#OP
We were having a surprising amount of trouble moving.
Just standing up made us sweat.
We moved on at a caterpillar's pace looking for refreshment.

We went to sit on the edge of a water fountain in the park, but I fell right in.
That's what happens when you have no power in your abs.

#OP
Coming up out of the water, I rubbed my face with my hands.
Passersby in the plaza focused their attention on me.
Azure laughed, though carefully, given her aching body.

I sat on my hands in the water and looked up at the sky.
An airplane left a trail among the clouds.

Two crows on a nearby tree looked at me.
They looked like they were watching their soon-to-be prey.

#OP
"What are you even doing?", Azure asked.
"Someone controlling you again?"

"Who cares? It's refreshing," I replied.

"Please, my whole body hurts. Don't make me laugh."

"Go on, laugh yourself to death."

Azure stood on the edge of the fountain and leapt in next to me.
She made a splash, and I covered my eyes.
People in the plaza looked toward us again.

#OP
Azure didn't come up after ten seconds, so I helped her get up.

"I was about to drown to death," Azure gasped.
"In water shallower than a kiddie pool, at that."

""High School Girl Dies in Water Fountain"?
That'd raise some eyebrows."

"Feels nice," Azure said, closing her eyes.
"So if you got controlled again, could you resist?"

#OP
"About that. Why aren't they pursuing us?
They could have just kept your head down and drowned you there."

"Maybe they're surprised we could resist?
You're experienced, Claude. What do you know about people resisting?"

I thought a little bit before answering.
"Your case is unusual in more ways than one.
It probably wouldn't surprise someone that you'd resist."

#OP
I wasn't trying to praise Azure with that, but she looked pleased.

"But if it were someone else, then sure, they'd probably be surprised, and might look into what was going on."

"I see... Ah, right. Take this, Claude!"
Azure splashed water at my face. I silently splashed back with twice as much.

After doing that for a while, we got out and wrung out our clothes.
Still dripping, we went over to sit on a bench and waited for them to dry.

A bell rang through the plaza to indicate closing time.

Our clothes were dry. Azure sneezed and yawned at the same time.
"Well, see you," she said, and left.

#OP
I thought it was possible I'd never meet Azure again after that.

If they were to seriously come for us, even with our meager resistance, it would probably only be a matter of time.

I figured I would at least try to make my room dirty.
If only to add to the workload for the cleaner.

Two weeks passed.

#OP
Then, when I was reading a book in a coffee shop, I thought I heard my name being called.
Of course, that name wasn't "Claude Skye."

When I looked up, I saw an employee waving at me excitedly.
She was an upperclassman at my school who was friendly enough to greet me if we saw each other.

Soon, we were having a conversation.

#OP
After a reasonable amount of time, I quietly left without being noticed by my friend.

I decided I would stop coming to this place.
It was a place I rather liked, but if I had acquaintances there, I had no other choice.

Just as I sighed over having to find a new coffee shop, my body was suddenly taken over.

I wondered, was I too late?

After inspecting my own body, I started walking straight ahead.

#OP
Imagining the pain that was soon to come, I opposed control and moved my mouth.
I attempted to communicate with the person who was trying to kill me.

"Just two minutes. Let me talk."

But my body kept moving on its own.

"This has to do with you, too!"

Pain ripped through my tongue.
My lips were cut and bled.

#OP
"Hey, why do you think a target suddenly comes to mind, anyway?
And why do you feel the need to drive them to suicide?"
I chose my words carefully.

"I led six targets to their deaths.
Maybe the exact same way as you.
But I couldn't kill my seventh."

"And so now, you're after my life.
What I was doing to other people, now someone else is doing to me."

#OP
"You can't really know what it's like for the people you're taking over the bodies of.
I know it now that I'm the one being controlled, but the fact of being controlled isn't something that's easily noticeable."

"It feels awfully natural, having your body taken over and moved.
Maybe what's happening seems strange, but it's hard to identify the reason."

"What I'm going to say now, well, there's no proof for it, and it's skipping over logic.
But most importantly, it's a theory that I would be happy with."

#OP
"Hypothetically, what if we who take over people's bodies are actually being controlled ourselves?
We feel like we're thinking for ourselves and killing people, but what if it's not really us?"

I realized I had hit my limit.
I wouldn't be able to talk any more.

I did not feel my feet stop.

#OP
It was getting dark.
On the road, I saw children in yukatas, grade-school boys on bikes, stylish middle school couples, and people heading to a festival.

A brother and sister, about eight and six years old, sprayed each other with bug spray, the smell of which reached me.
I heard the sound of a flute in the distance.
I smelled burnt sauce as well.

I thought I heard my name being called.

#OP
I couldn't move my eyes, but I saw a blue skirt in the corner of my vision.

"My job was over quick after you left.
Then I walked over here and saw you..."
I knew who it was from her voice.

"So, uh," my friend started.
"Were you talking to yourself back there?"

I looked at her in silence.
She saw my mouth and gasped, "You're bleeding!"

#OP
She seemed to recognize my gruesome reason for not talking.
For some reason, she encouraged me with "It's gonna be okay!"

"A friend of mine knew somebody who had that problem, too.
But it was just a temporary thing. It's nothing really bad."

I didn't really understand, but it had bought me some time.

I took over my friend's body and threw myself to the ground.
In judo terms, I used her body to do a ouchi gari on myself.

#OP
By doing this, I had stopped myself.
I then used my friend to talk for me.
My body tried to shake off my friend's, but that I was able to resist.

"One day, you're going to meet someone you just can't bring yourself to kill, just like us.
And in the next moment, your own life will be targeted.
Why not put a stop to that cycle?"

After saying this, I thought what to say next, with us still in the same positions.
I eventually realized my body was no longer being controlled.

My shoulder started hurting from the collision with the ground.

#OP
I relinquished control of my friend, but her eyes stayed shut, and she didn't move.

I wanted to tell her to get off me, but I couldn't move my mouth at all.
It seemed it would be a problem for meals as well.

I took over my friend's body again and freed myself.

"I wasn't expecting any of that to happen..." She was pale.
"And what was I even talking about back there? What's wrong with me...?"

#OP
"Hey, are you hurt? You okay?", my friend asked.

I couldn't move my mouth, so I nodded, and she interpreted it as "I'm fine."
But she seemed to think I couldn't talk out of shock.
She apologized to me over and over, almost about to cry.

I felt sorry for her, but with no easy way to explain, I just ran away.

#OP
Going against the crowd of people headed for the festival, I dragged my cold body home.
I reached my apartment, opened the door, and threw myself onto the bed without undressing.

The room was humid and I was in pain.
I couldn't even get up to turn on the fan.
I was terribly thirsty, but I also couldn't be bothered to get water.

Too much trouble, I thought.
"So this is Mr. Claude's house, is it?", Azure said.

#OP
I got up and looked toward the kitchen where the voice had come from.
I saw Azure's face lit by the refrigerator.
She took out a can of Highball and drank it down.

Azure took the can away from her lips and remarked "Tasty!" with a smile.
I was relieved and lied down on the bed again.

#OP
"Long time no see, Claude - I guess is what I should have said earlier.
You didn't seem to notice me, so I followed you here."

I wanted to say something, but I couldn't speak well.
Azure emptied a can and came into the room.
Her face was slightly red, and she seemed drunk.

#OP
Did she not realize I had no energy to move?
Was she just too drunk?
Azure started fishing through my things.

She found a carton of cigarettes, remarked "Payback for dumping my booze," and tossed them in the trash.

She threw out many of my CDs and books, too.
But she would occasionally say "This is good stuff" and put it back on the shelf.

#OP
I gestured to Azure and made a cup with my hands to ask for water.
She filled a cup with cold water in the kitchen and brought it back, exclaiming "Behold, water!"
She dribbled it onto me from about a meter above the bed.

I opened my mouth and managed to drink it.
My face and the bed got completely wet, of course, but I was happy to have some water.

#OP
"You don't seem too energetic today, Claude."
Azure sat on the bed, poking my face with an empty can. "Luckily, I'm fine!"

I gave her a glance of "we'll see about that."

"You look like you want to go out," Azure said joyfully.
"But I won't let you. Ahaha.
...Well, anyway, Claude.
You haven't been talking. Or moving.
Are you tired? Did something happen?"

I didn't respond.
"Huh, whatever," Azure said.
"Anyway, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

#OP
Azure moved my body over, got behind me, and wrapped her arm around my neck.

"Payback for before," Azure said.

Azure's neck was cold before, but her arm was warm today.
Or maybe it was just my body that was cold.

"Since I'm drunk..." Azure said into my ear.
"Since I'm drunk, I might say some weird stuff, but it's 'cause I'm drunk. So don't worry about it."

#OP
"So... Why haven't you been pestering me lately?"

Azure let go of my neck, took her arm down, and put it over my chest.

"Why haven't you been messing with me?
Claude, why are you leaving me to myself if that's how I want to be?"

Azure poked my chest with her finger.

#OP
"It's a little lonely, you know?
And I like being lonely.
So I'm asking you to put a stop to that.
That's what your job is all about, right, Claude?"

Azure stopped poking.

"Plus, I've been thinking about how I want to die, as usual.
So you should get in the way of that, too.
Why do I have to tell you that?"

#OP
I grabbed Azure's neck, and she happily exclaimed, "Ah, he moves!"

She was right to recommend taking her drunken rambling with a grain of salt.
But it seemed like Azure wanted me to "not worry about her."
Which made me feel like I had to worry about her.
It really did feel like it was my duty.

#OP
I pushed Azure's hand away and faced her.
I thought I'd first try to explain that I couldn't talk right now, so I pointed to my mouth and made an "X."

Azure seemed to misinterpret me.
"If you say you can't, that just makes me want it more."
I tried again, pointing at my lips.

Eventually, I struggled to type it out on my phone, explaining what had happened earlier.
But Azure kept nodding and going "okay" while reading it, ultimately falling sound asleep on my bed.

#OP
Listening to Azure sleep made me sleepy too, so I went to sleep on the sofa.

When I woke up, I felt considerably better.
I tried a tongue twister.

"She sells sea sells by the sea shore, she sells sea sells by the sea shore..."

I seemed to be able to talk clearly enough.
Azure was sleeping with her belly button out.
I got a cold beer from the refrigerator and pressed it to her cheeks.
"Brrr..." Azure woke up.

#OP
"How long are you going to be borrowing the bed?", I asked.

"Claude, he speaks!" Azure rejoiced.

"You should get going soon," I said, drinking my beer.
Azure sleepily said "I don't wanna," then looked at the clock and went "Yikes!"

Azure laid on the bed in silence for a while.
She seemed to be thinking about things.

#OP
Azure sat up on the bed and said:
"Um... Sorry for being clingy earlier."

"Oh, so you remember."

"Yeah. Good thing I didn't forget!"
Azure tumbled onto her side in the same sitting position.
"I want beer too, Mr. Claude."

"Get going already. Time's a-wasting."

"You mean time to get wasted," Azure said, and laughed to herself.

#OP
"Still, I give up..." I said.
"You end up liking being pestered, and then not pestering you ends up being the same thing.
So either way, I end up making you happy."

"Could you not overthink it and just pester me?"

"Got it," I said, putting one arm under Azure's knees and one behind her neck.
I lifted her up and carried her to the hallway.
I was surprised by her lightness.

#OP
I took her to the door, opened it, and stepped outside.
"That's enough," Azure said.
I kept walking, though.

Azure looked up at me.
"I get you. So this is how you'll pester me."

"With humiliating treatment, yes."

"So I guess you noticed the state of my legs?"

"Yeah."

"You had your vocal chords, Claude, but my legs are super sore."

#OP
"Meaning you resisted?"

"Right. Like we established, if I'm going to be killed, it'll be by Claude."

"I suppose you know what I'm going to say next?"

""Then I won't kill you," naturally.
So at the very least, I want to go away before you do."

"I see. Well then, I won't let you die before me."

"Alright then, I won't let Claude die before me!"

After that conversation, I felt embarrassed.
It felt like the two of us had made an eternal oath.

#OP
Of course, things never go exactly as you want them.

We both knew it was just for peace of mind.
With our experience, we knew death wasn't a gentle or pretty thing.

#OP
The next day, I was going to invite Azure to the usual park.
But I realized I'd lost the ability to take over people's bodies.

However, Azure did end up coming to the park.

"I thought you'd invite me, so I just came myself," Azure said triumphantly.

"Not bad," I remarked, patting Azure's head.

Azure pushed me away. "Please, don't treat me like a kid."

#OP
"I guess you want to die just as much as usual."

"Well, even when I'm all prepared to die, suddenly I have a happy thought.
And then all that preparation goes down the drain.

On top of that, I'm getting strangely emotional, I feel like.
If I'm not careful, I might just be happy all of a sudden.
So I want to avoid getting sentimental."

Thus, I invited Azure on a sentimental journey.
Because I wanted to do whatever I could to make Azure sentimental.

#OP
Azure basked in the pleasant breeze from the car window, quietly singing something.
I wondered if she thought I couldn't hear it.

It was a song I knew well, so I thought I might sing along as I drove, but I decided against it.

I had been hoping to hear Azure sing, though.
Having two only hobbies, alcohol and music, it figured she would know how.

#OP
We ordered hot dogs and crepes at a food cart, and sat down to eat.
Half the paint had come off of the ancient, Coca-Cola-red bench.

Azure took off her sandals and sat sideways, putting her legs on my lap.

"You know, I've been thinking about this a while now, but I don't know much of anything about you, Claude."

#OP
"Like, I like music, for example.
But you knew that already, right?"

"Yeah, I saw your music. Your taste isn't bad."

"What an honor!"

"Nah, I'm just easy to please when it comes to music."

"...Er, so... Is there anything like that you like, Claude?"

"Do you mean something I really like?
Or just "kind of" like?"

"Really like," Azure said, understanding my intent and smiling complacently.

#OP
"I like things that slowly revolve."

"...Hmm? Give me some examples."

"Merry-go-rounds, Ferris wheels, music boxes, clocks, sunflowers..."

"The earth? The moon? The sun?"

"Yeah. Sure. I like heavenly bodies."

"Or me? Which do you like more?"

"...Hm?"

"Slowly-revolving things or me."

"The former."

"...Well then, I present slowly-revolving me."
Azure stood up and began to leisurely spin.

#OP
As stated, I do like slowly-revolving things.
That fondness combined with Azure made me feel unusually relaxed, but I didn't even notice.

"I didn't think it'd be that effective..." Azure remarked.

#OP
While cooling ourselves off with some Pocari Sweat bought from a vending machine, Azure and I returned to the parking lot.

I could see cumulonimbus clouds past the clear sky.
Cicadas stopped and buzzed in the trees.
I supposed we had the same remaining lifespan as they did.

I smelled incense coming from a house somewhere.
Wind chimes played, and sunburnt children with fishing rods ran past.

#OP
"Should we just run away?"

"Aren't we going to be running from that psychic force wherever we go?"

"I don't know, but it can't be easy for them if it's the other side of the planet, right?"

"And then what would we do?"

"Settle down somewhere with a little brook.
...Or maybe we can be bank robbers?"

"And then you'll die after being shot 87 times?"

"Yeah. Let's be Bonnie Azure and Claude Clyde."

"Doesn't sound very realistic."

"I know. It was a joke."

#OP
I drove with no destination in mind.
We stopped at a CD store and Azure bought Rubber Soul, which we played on the car stereo.

Upon getting onto a mountain trail, we encountered many sharp turns.
Azure fell over in her seat with a "Waaah!" on every left.
She'd unfastened her seatbelt at some point.

I later took a right turn by mistake, causing her to fall over toward the driver's seat.

"Well," Azure cut in, "I'm going to say something selfish now."

#OP
"I've killed eight people by now, right?
Well, I regret it.

Now that I really think about it, I don't know for sure what those people did wrong.
Even if they were bad people, I didn't have anything personal against them.

Then why did I do those things?
If you were one of them, Claude, I think I would've even killed you then.
Thinking about it that way, I've done something truly terrible.

...But, well, I've secretly been pretty pleased with all the things that have happened since I stopped at nine.
And that's even taking into account what's to come."

#OP
"Actually, about that..."
I told Azure about the theory I had thought of earlier.

"I see," Azure said. "I was wondering about that myself.
Why did we just automatically have targets in mind?"

"It's an ability that would be useful for all sorts of things.
Why should it be wasted on just killing specified targets?"

"Yeah, yeah. It's really weird when you think about it."

#OP
"But," Azure said sharply, "where's the proof? How do we prove there's someone controlling us?"

"I thought you'd say that, but there's no proof of our murders either.
Since we just convinced people it was a suicide, they could have been doing it of their own volition."

"But most importantly," I said, "for whatever reason, you don't think you were killing people of your own will."

"I killed eight people," Azure said.

"Knives don't kill people. Knives are just tools you can use.
And in that same way, someone used Azure to kill those people."

#OP
"Think about it this way," I continued.
"Maybe in part, we should take some responsibility for killing those people.

But what reason was there for those needless murders?
Our powers could be used for all kinds of personal benefit, so why didn't we do that?

Maybe they were limiting our ability.
They made sure we don't do anything they don't want."

#OP
"Hmm... If that's true, then I'm glad, but..."
Azure's head dropped and she waited a short time.
"But I'm still just terrible. I mean, here I am thinking how lucky I was to meet you because I killed eight people."

"That's not right. You met me because you stopped at eight."

Azure gave a worried smile. "Well, you can't say that for sure.
But I feel like I should bear the responsibility until we can be sure they were bad people."

"That's some impressive dedication.
You're assuming you're a cold-hearted murderer until you know it was for a good reason?"

"Well, what else can I do?"

#OP
"Left," Azure suddenly said.
I noticed without being having to be told.

I stopped the car and we got out.
Contrasting the blue sky and white clouds above, the ground was filled with yellows and greens.
Countless white windmills stood spinning in the breeze.

"It's got sunflowers and windmills twirling...
A place practically made for Claude," Azure said, standing at my side.

#OP
I felt like I'd seen the scene a long time ago.
A girl in uniform, a man in a suit, a mismatched pair standing in a sunflower field together.

Of course, I hadn't really seen it.
Maybe it was simply due to how well the spectacle suited my tastes.

#OP
Azure counted on her fingers.
"Umm, merry-go-rounds, Ferris wheels, music boxes, clocks, sunflowers, heavenly bodies..."

Then she looked toward me and said "That's it, right?"

"Yeah," I nodded.

"Oh, and slowly-revolving me."

"Right. Well, you don't need to be spinning, really."

Azure went stiff in front of me.
"Ooh... Sneak attack."

"That bothers you, does it?"

"It does. You're embarrassing me."
Azure seemed to think to herself, "So I don't have to spin, huh..."

#OP
"That's sunflowers down. Let's go to the next one."

"You want to visit all of them?", I asked.

"Yep. All the slowly-revolving things.
One by one, and watch them revolve."

It did seem like an ideal way to pass the time.
"Is that okay with you?", I inquired.

"Of course. I'll have you see all the things you like, and get attached to all of them.
And then you can cry "I don't wanna dieee!" into me."

"Gotcha."

#OP
I bumped into Azure teasingly.
"Hey, that's not the Claude I know.
Don't you always have the final say?
Can't you make me do what you want?"

"Nah. I've lost those shady powers now.
I can't control you anymore, Azure. Thank goodness for that."

"That won't be a problem. At least, when it comes to me.
I've gotten in the habit of doing what you say."

"I see," I said. "Spin."

Azure starting spinning around in place.

#OP
After two hours, we arrived at a department store picked by Azure.
I was surprised the anachronism of a rooftop amusement park still existed.
The exterior was also castle-like and old-fashioned.

""Still existed," you say? It's brand new, actually.
And anachronisms are cool sometimes.
I guess it might have been the latest fad."

Azure assured me there were lots of things there I liked.

We parked in the underground parking lot and went inside.
The ceiling was incredibly high, and the cool air was intense.
I felt like I had been shrunk.

#OP
We came across a store with a pleasant atmosphere.
Azure left me and went inside, but I went after her.

"Go look in a Melonbooks or something, Claude."

Azure wanted to do her own things, it seemed.
So I wandered around.

I hadn't been to a department store in a long time.
As a result, I felt like some of my childhood memories were still around.
Of course, it's not as if I'd ever visited this place.

#OP
I sat on a bench near the entrance and waited for Azure.
Everyone coming and going looked happy.
In fact, anyone who came here would have to have some degree of affluence.
They would have to be people with money to spend on "wants."

Many guests came with their children, and they all looked like they came out of storybooks.
They had fine clothes, well-kept faces, pretty builds.

I thought about their futures, and how they compared to my own.
I sighed. I was only discouraging myself.

#OP
Azure was soon standing beside me.
"Alright, let's go," she said.
I didn't ask what she'd been doing.

The elevator looked crowded.
We rode an escalator, far longer than the ones I was used to seeing.
Azure pointed out the instructions on the wall.

"Hold hands inside the yellow lines, it says."

"Hold hands with your kids, it means."

"Close enough. I'm younger than you.
Look, we're inside the lines!" Azure held out her hand.

I softly held her thin white fingers.
Azure gripped tightly back.

#OP
"Makes it seem like we're lovers." Azure looked up at me with a smile.

"What, just because of this? More like we're brother and sister, I'd say."

"Is that how it looks to an observer, I wonder?"

"Yep. Definitely a friendly brother and sister."

"Even if I do this?" Azure re-grabbed my hand, locking her fingers between mine.

"Hey now," I said.
Even so, I held her hand tight.

#OP
When we arrived on the rooftop amusement park, loud music started to play.
It seemed to be coming from the clock tower up above.

"It's a mechanical clock," Azure said.
"And here I thought I was the 100,000th visitor."

"It's raining," I said, holding out my hand.
It was only just drizzling, but I expected it would get heavier.

"So it is. Well, we better get on these quick," Azure said, pointing to the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel.

Colorful lights reflected off the wet pavement.
As a result, the rooftop looked rather Christmas-y.

#OP
The merry-go-round wasn't a cheap childish thing like most, but designed rather elaborately.

Just in case, I said:
"I'm fine with just seeing them, actually.
I never said I really wanted to ride them."

But Azure bought two tickets, and we were soon sitting in a carriage together.
The carriage started moving, and Azure spoke to me.

"You know, you said you'd kill me in some awful way..."

"Yeah, I guess I did say that."

"What way would that be?"

#OP
I put some thought into my reply.
"Let's see. First... I wouldn't kill you in a simple way.
I'd make it take a lot of time, take it very slowly.
I'd make sure you'd have lots of regrets, get you attached to as many living things as possible.
You'd be going on in that way for a long time."

"Lots of time, huh? So then when would you kill me?"

"It takes a while to get accustomed to happiness.
A decade, two decades. Could even be a century."

"I take quite some time to kill, do I?", Azure remarked proudly.

#OP
As I expected, the rain was getting more severe.
There were less and less people on the roof.

We got on the Ferris wheel.
When it was at about half height, Azure said:
"I'd like to be killed over a century's time."

"I was hoping for the same."

"But it sounds difficult."

"After all, we can't even be sure about tomorrow right now."

"Is this something we can't escape from?"

"I've been thinking about it too.
But I think they can do anything to us if they feel like it."

"Hmm..." Azure hung her head and pondered.

#OP
"How does this sound?", Azure said as the Ferris wheel approached two-thirds its maximum height.
"Mr. Claude, please state the established procedure for driving a target to suicide."

I went through the steps in my head.

1. Take over the person's body.
2. Put on an appearance of sadness.
3. Make the surroundings tidy. (Most crucial step)
4. Write a note.
5. Die.

"Yes. And the first one being blocked is a problem.
But how about you do everything you can to get in the way of two, three, and four?"

#OP
"For example, number two.
Wouldn't it be nice to make me so happy that there'd be no reason to believe it was suicide?"

"Yeah. I feel like it's my duty to make it so nobody thinks it's a natural suicide."

"Right. What's happiness for you, Claude?"

"Times like now. Being with you, Azure."

Azure looked away shyly.
"Umm... I mean, I'm really happy to hear that, but don't be satisfied with just this.
There's still so much more to come, right?
I don't want to say something so tired, but I think life still has lots of fun things left."

#OP
Our Ferris wheel reached its highest point.
We could see all the rain-drenched town from there.

Azure said, clinging to the window and looking down:
"Right. I'm going to the same college as you, Claude.
I'll study hard, and be your junior."

"You're gonna have to try really hard," I smiled bitterly.

"I'll be fine. You'll be teaching me, after all.
So we'll go to a cafe together again, and watch movies, and drink.

Every year, we'll visit the graves of the people killed by us.
We won't live the greatest lives, but we'll live strong.
We'll live in a bright shadow.

By that time, we'll stop talking the way we have been.
We'll talk honestly to each other about the past. For example -"

#OP
"For example, the fact that I desperately tried to keep myself from liking Azure, but it ended up being in vain."

Azure looked at me with wide, round eyes.

"Isn't that right?", I emphasized.

"...Right. We'll talk about that kind of thing.
And how when we met after school, I would get my hair cut and dress nice, and I actually really enjoyed it."

"And how when Azure suddenly showed up at my apartment, I felt incredibly relieved."

"And how when you carried me because you were worried about my legs, I wished I could tell the whole world."

"And how Azure was outrageously cute when she was drunk."

"And how when we kissed, I only pretended it was a mistake."

#OP
We returned to the store all wet, still laughing at each other.

Thinking about it, this summer was constantly making Azure and I soaking wet.
And yet this was the first time it was from the rain.

When we'd finished off some warm coffee, music played through the store to indicate closing time.

We stepped outside and walked through the rain without umbrellas.
Azure hummed to herself.

A couple without a future, we would forever talk about happiness we were too late to have.

#OP
The rain died down considerably.
Azure told me to look into the sky, and I could faintly see the moon.

"Unfortunately, you can't see the stars, but..."

Azure took something out of her bag.
I knew what it was before she could unpack it.

"A music box, of course."
Azure handed it to me.
A cylinder music box in the shape of a grand piano.

"Now we've gathered everything you like, Claude.
Play the song," Azure told me.

#OP
It was very sudden.

While winding up the box, I suddenly felt the cloudiness in my heart cleared.
I escaped not the one trying to kill me, but a different, higher existence than that. I felt truly free.

Instantly, my restrained and weakened feelings were liberated.

The girl before my eyes suddenly seemed as if a god.
Thinking "Ah, so she was," I embraced Azure without a word.
Azure yelped in surprise, but soon hugged me back.

Of course, I thought.
It was only natural to be so full of feeling.

#OP
Some way or another, I would free Azure from this terrible cycle.

We wouldn't cling onto this abject dead-end happiness, but truly smile from the bottom of our hearts.

By the time the music box concluded its song, that was what I had decided.


But as it turned out, that was the final day for us.

#OP
Well then...

#OP
It may feel sudden, but that's more or less the end of it.

#OP
The girl I met that sunny August day was a girl with nervous eyes.

#OP
She was slender and fair-skinned, always kept her gaze low, and had a very restrained laugh.

#OP
As for our last conversation... that's a secret between me and Azure.

#OP
The end.




#OP
It's over! So now, a bit of advertisement.
Some people already noticed, but I'm the author from "Virgin Landscape."
http://fafoo.web.fc2.com/other.htm
Thanks to everyone who kept it bumped and gave their impressions!

#OP
Oh, and of course: thank YOU for reading all 10,700+ of my words!

#2ch
Really interesting story! I read it all in one sitting!

The one thing I'm still wondering about is the teacher being surprised way at the beginning.
Did the explanation for that get left out?

#2ch
^ I think he was surprised to see her paying attention in class.

#2ch
Caught up!
A question, though: Is "overwriting" referring to using yourself to control yourself?

#2ch
^ Maybe resisting and the ability are separate?
I think the idea of overwriting is your brain sends its own commands on top of the things your body is doing on its own...

Anyway, I thought it was adorable how Azure and Claude wouldn't be honest with each other.

#2ch
>"Is that how it looks to an observer, I wonder?"
>We'll live in a bright shadow.
>The cloudiness in my heart cleared.

Phrases like these taking on a different meaning in the latter half made me grin.
I wanted them to find a bright shadow to live in...

#2ch
I loved it!
I cried a little.

I wanted them to be happy... (´;ω;`)


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