5. Everything To Come

I turned out the light and kept drinking. Thankfully, today I was able to get drunk in a more peaceful fashion.
At times like these, the quickest way to get back on your feet is to not resist the flow of your emotions, but jump into a pool of your own despair and wallow in self-pity.

My familiar apartment began to feel a bit different than usual.
With the moonlight through the window coloring the room a deep blue, the night summer breeze blowing in, and the presence of Miyagi in the corner staring like a sentinel, it felt like a much more eerie place than before. I didn't know my apartment had this side to it.
I had a sense of being in the wing of a stage. Like as soon as I stepped away from here, it would be time for my performance.

All of a sudden, I felt like I could do anything. It was nothing more than me temporarily forgetting my lack of talent in my drunkenness, but I mistook it for something inside me changing.
I turned to Miyagi and proudly proclaimed:
"In my last three months, with my 300,000 yen, I'm gonna change something!"
With that, I finished off the last of the beer in the can and slammed it down on the table.

Miyagi seemed unimpressed. Raising her gaze a few centimeters at best, she said "Ah," and her eyes dropped back to her notebook.
I paid it no mind and continued. "It's not a helluva lot, but it's my life. I'll make it 300,000 yen that's worth more than 3 billion! I'm gonna work to get back at this world!”
In my intoxicated mind, I thought it sounded pretty cool.

But Miyagi was apathetic. “That is what everyone says.”
Putting her pen aside, she grabbed her knees and rested her chin between them.

"I've heard at least five statements to that effect in my time. Everyone speaks of extremes when death is nearing. Particularly those who can't say they've had a fulfilling life thus far. Under the same logic by which losing gamblers continue to hope for an increasingly unrealistic turnaround, those who keep losing in life come to hope for unrealistic happiness. Many feel reinvigorated when the closeness of death reminds them of the sparkle of life, and they come to believe that they can do this or that - but those people are making a crucial mistake. They have only just arrived at the starting line. They have only just regained their composure after a long losing streak. Mistaking that as a chance to turn things around will do them no good.

"...So please, Mr. Kusunoki. Think of it this way. The reason your remaining thirty years were so lacking in value was because in them, you accomplished not one single thing. You understand that, yes?”, Miyagi bluntly reminded me. "What can a man who would accomplish nothing in thirty years change in a mere three months?"

"...Won't know ‘til we try," I argued, but even I hated how hollowly my words rang.
I didn't have to try anything to know that she was right on the money.

"I would consider it a wiser choice to seek a common, average satisfaction," Miyagi said. "There can be no recovery. Three months is simply too short a time to change anything. That said, it's a bit too long to do nothing. So don't you agree it's more shrewd to accumulate a number of small yet definite joys? You lose because you consider only victory. Being able to find victory in failure results in a minimum of disappointment."

"Okay, I get it already, you're right. But enough logic already," I shook my head. If I weren't drunk, I may have tried to make an opposing argument, but I didn't have the energy for that now.
"I'm sure I'm one of those guys who doesn't really understand just how useless he is. ...So, hey, could you tell me everything that's gonna happen? How'd I spend those lost thirty years? Maybe if I heard that, I could stop having any unreasonable hopes."

Miyagi didn't open her mouth for a while, then spoke in a way that sounded like giving up.
"I suppose. Perhaps it is best for you to know it all now. ...However, just as a reminder, you need not despair at anything I say. The things I know were possibilities - but now, they are things that will never actually happen."
"I know that. Just gonna be hearing my fortune, sorta. ...And I'm never gonna go nuts over you saying one little thing. It'd only come to that if there were nothin' else to come to."
"I hope it won't come at all," Miyagi said.

There was a sound like the earth shaking. Like a giant tower toppling over. It took me some time to realize the sound came from fireworks, since I hadn't really gone to see any in years.
They were always something I watched through a window. Not something I watched while eating food from a stand, nor something I watched holding hands with a girlfriend, looking back and forth between them and her.

As soon as I was able to make my own judgments, I was a social outcast who avoided places with lots of people. Being somewhere like that felt like a mistake, and the thought of meeting someone I knew there gave me cold feet.
In elementary school, as long as no one forced me to, I never went to the park, the pool, the hills behind school, the shopping district, the summer festival, or any fireworks displays.
Even in high school, I still didn't come anywhere near prosperous places, avoiding what main streets I could when I walked through town.

The last time I actually saw fireworks being launched was when I was very young.
I want to say that Himeno was with me then, too.

I'd already forgotten how big fireworks looked up close. I similarly didn't recall how loud they were at that distance.
Does it smell of gunpowder? How much smoke stays in the sky? What kinds of faces do people look at the fireworks with?
Thinking of each individual detail in that way, it was apparent I really knew next to nothing about fireworks.

I was tempted to look out the window, but with Miyagi watching, I didn't feel like doing something so miserable. If I did, she'd probably say something like, "If you want to see fireworks that much, why don't you go out and see them?"
Then how would I respond to that? Would I tell her I'm too timid to handle everyone's eyes on me? Why was I still so concerned about how others saw me when I had so little time left?

As if to sneer at me as I battled my urge, Miyagi crossed in front of me, opened the screen door, and leaning out the window began to watch the fireworks go up.
Rather than being moved by the sight of something beautiful, she seemed to be admiring the sight of something unusual. At any rate, it didn't seem that she had no interest.

"Hey now, should you be looking at that too, miss observer? What'd you do if I suddenly took off?"
Still watching the fireworks, Miyagi sarcastically replied, "Do you want me to watch you?"
"Nuh-uh. I want you to be gone as soon as possible. Havin' you watching makes it hard to do anything."
"Is that right? Perhaps it may make you feel rather guilty. ...Incidentally, if you were to flee, and make it a set distance away from me, I would have to conclude that you were up to trouble and have your life terminated. I would suggest you take care."
"What's a set distance?"
"It's not particularly exact, but I would say roughly a hundred meters."
That's something I wish she'd have said to start with. "I'll be careful," I told her.

A sequence of smaller sounds echoed in the sky. The display seemed to be entering its climax.
I realized things had quieted down next door. Maybe they'd gone to see these fireworks too.
Then finally, Miyagi began to talk. About everything that could have happened.

"Now then, about your lost thirty years... First of all, your life at college ends in a blink," Miyagi said. "You merely pay bills, read books, listen to music, and sleep - often. It gradually becomes impossible to distinguish one hollow day from another. Once that happens, the time flies by. You graduate college having learned nothing in particular, and ironically, you end up in the line of work you scorned most back when you were brimming with hope..

"You know you should have accepted the reality back then - but unable to let go of the feeling that you were special, believing that this wasn't where you belonged, you could never get accustomed to it. You travel back and forth between home and work every day with vacant eyes, working your body into dust, and with no time to think, you come to enjoy drinking the days away. Your conviction that you will someday be famous vanishes, and you become someone quite estranged from your childhood fantasies."

"Can't say that's uncommon," I squeezed in.
"Indeed it isn't. It's a very common kind of disappointment. Of course, the agony felt will vary from person to person. You, of course, were a person who needed to be superior to everyone. Lacking someone to depend on, you had only yourself to prop up your world. When that pillar crumbled, the pain was enough to set you onto destruction."

"Destruction?", I repeated.
"You came to realize you were approaching your late thirties. It became your lonely hobby to ride motorcycles around aimlessly. But, as you yourself knew, it was a dangerous hobby. Particularly for someone who has half given up on life. ...The one small mercy is that when you one day crashed into someone's car, you did not injure any pedestrians, only yourself. But a very severe injury it was - you lost half your face, the ability to walk, and most of your fingers."

It was easy to understand the meaning of "lost half your face," but harder to imagine.
Perhaps it was something dreadful enough that people would just look at it, and their only thought would be "a place where there was once a face."

"As your appearance was the only thing you could rely upon, you began to consider going through with your last resort. But you couldn't bring yourself to take the final plunge - you couldn't let go of that last sliver of hope. "Even so, maybe something good will still happen." ...Indeed, that is something no one can fully deny, but it is no more than that - it is simply a kind of devil's proof. That unreliable hope carries you to fifty, until ultimately, you die alone, in shambles and with nothing. Loved by no one, remembered by no one. Grieving that it should not have been this way.”

It was a strange thing.
I was able to readily accept everything she told me.

"So, your thoughts?"
"Right, well. First of all, I'm really glad I sold off all thirty years," I replied.
It wasn't crying sour grapes; like Miyagi had said, they were no longer possibilities, but things that would now never happen.

"Heck, I think it might've been better to sell off all but three days instead of three months."
"Well, there is still time for that," said Miyagi. "You're allowed two more lifespan transactions."
"And you'll be gone once it's down to three days, right?"
"Yes. If you truly can't stomach my presence, then that is certainly an option."
"I'll keep it in mind," I said.

Honestly speaking, having no hope for my three months, leaving just three days seemed the more elegant way to do things.
But it was still that devil's proof, the hope that something good might happen, that gave me pause.

The three months to come and the "lost thirty years" Miyagi told me about were entirely different. The future wasn't set in stone.
So something good could happen. There could still be an event that made me glad to have lived.
It wasn't a zero-percent chance. Thinking of it that way, I couldn't go dying yet.

Rain woke me up in the middle of the night. The sound of rain flooding out of the broken drainspout onto the ground was unceasing. I looked at the clock; it was 3 in the morning.
A sweet scent filled the room. I hadn't smelled it in a long time, so it took some doing for me to realize it was woman's shampoo.
By process of elimination, it was unmistakably Miyagi who had the scent. It led me to think that Miyagi took a bath while I was asleep.

However, it was difficult for me to accept that conclusion. I don't mean to brag, but my sleeping was light enough that you could probably just call it napping.
Even the smallest sounds like newspapers being delivered or footsteps from the floor above woke me up. It was unusual to think Miyagi could take a shower while I was asleep without waking me even once. Maybe it blended in with the rain.

I decided to postpone working this out. I felt weird thinking about a girl I'd only just met showering in my apartment, so I stopped thinking about it entirely.
More importantly, I needed sleep for tomorrow. Getting woken up on a rainy night like this, well, it happens.

But it wasn't easy to get back to sleep. So as usual, I borrowed the power of music. I put one of my unsold CDs, "Please Mr. Lostman," in the player and listened to it with headphones.
This is just what I think, but the kind of person who listens to Please Mr. Lostman on sleepless nights can't live a decent life. I used music like this to excuse myself from having to get used to the world.
Maybe I was still paying the price for it now.

Chapter 6

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