It is sitting on a table at the bottom of the stairs where a vase once stood. It is written in pink ink on paper torn out of a book that will no doubt never be read. It has a different tone to it, however…
Dear Chieko Yasu,
Ah… I… I can’t believe it! Someone actually murdered. Oh God, oh my goodness…
This is too much.
I cannot bear to even write your name. Aah, this is terrible. I’m going to die. We’re all going to die.
We were supposed to band together… now how can we when you are gone?
Akihiko tilted his head to the side, struggling to think of a solution. For once unable to find something to say that would help ease the situation. He was typically very good at it, but he couldn’t even think of anything to say to himself to make things better. Still, he wasn’t going to just let her stand there and feel awful all on her own. He slowly approached her and gently placed his hand on her shoulder, hoping she wouldn’t react too violently to the slight touch.
"I’m sorry…it’s quite a tough situation to be in. But if you ever need some company I’ll be happy to stay with you as long as you need." He hesitated and offered her a small smile. "I’m sure things will work out."
She sniffled again when she realized what tense she used, though didn’t bother to correct herself. Perhaps that was just her mind preparing her for the inevitable. She smiled at his words of comfort and nodded. “Yes,” she said absently. “I hope they will.”
Then she leaned forward into a hug, hoping for the best. If he pushed her away, she’d survive. But he seemed like a nice person. And maybe, maybe he wanted a hug, too. She wasn’t sure whom he was in danger of losing, but she always believed actions spoke louder than words.
Seeing the Lolita model get embarrassed herself only made him feel worse. He straightened his back and tried to adjust his suit in an attempt to seem casual, but his face was still pink.
"I - I wasn’t reading it. I just picked it up for some reason," he replied sheepishly. "To be reading something like that at a time like this would be completely inappropriate."
He hesitated after the sentence, remembering for a second time the announcement. The book incident had him forgetting for a second, but now that he had calmed down a bit, the memory was coming back in full. He glanced back over to Tomoko and noted her disheveled appearance. Of course. She was probably having a hard time coping with the situation and here he was making a fuss over a book.
"…if I might ask, how are you feeling?"
Tomoko smiled sadly. Normally she would’ve thought his embarrassment to be cute and amusing, but now it seemed out-of-place. In fact, every feeling except grief and worry seemed out-of-place. “Yes, I suppose you’re right,” she said softly.
Seeing him study her suddenly made her feel self-conscious. She awkwardly adjusted her wig so that it was in was in-place before brushing the bangs out of her eyes.
She hesitated at his question. Should she pretend she was fine? No… no… that would not be the Rococo way. She must embrace her feelings. She frowned and sniffled, tears threatening to fall. “I… am not.” She sighed. “I’m just worried for my daddy. He and I were very close.”
Akihiko’s face paled and he felt himself getting lightheaded. The image lasted only for a second, but he could still feel it searing into his mind. The youngest of his older sisters, blindfolded and tied up. Even after the announcement was over, he simply stood there, completely numb to his surroundings. Eventually, his body started moving on its own accord.
It shuffled him out of the room and away from anyone else, desperately seeking isolation. It meandered from room to room until it finally found somewhere devoid of any other human life - the young adult’s section. Still dragging his feet, it brought him in front of a book shelf. It pulled at random books and discarded them just as quickly, mindlessly flipping through pages for no apparent reason. The trance was only broken when someone else happened to cross his path.
Akihiko snapped back into reality and stared at the person for a second, not sure how to react. He glanced down at his hands to see what he was doing, having completely blanked out earlier. The open pages described a graphic sex scene and he slammed it shut and shoved it back into the shelf, face glowing red. The spine of the book read 60 Shades of Black. Of course, of all the things to be holding he was holding that. And whoever had come in probably saw it to.
"Ah…um…h-hello! I was just…looking for something to take my mind off of everything," he stammered.
A soft shriek — more of a squeak, in actuality — escaped Tomoko when a picture of her father flashed across the screen. Tears welled up in her eyes and she found herself unable to look at the screen. There was no doubt that the other kids were just as scared as she was.
She grew up being daddy’s little girl and one of the few people that could make him smile even after a long day of work. He always promised her the world, and now to think he might die made it feel like the temperature in the library was dropping rapidly.
Sniffling, she excused herself from the check-out desk as soon as Monobear disappeared. She stumbled off in the direction of somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps an exit, if such a thing was around to be found. She tripped and went tumbling to the ground right by the entrance to the young adult section of the library. She got to her feet, trembling, and proceeded to look around.
Eventually she came across a boy reading a book. Why is he doing that, of all things? she wondered. She tried to speak up, but the only thing that came out was a sad whimper. When the boy realized she was there, he put the book back. She read the title out of curiosity, for what could possibly be more interesting than the situation at hand?
Her face grew warm when she recognized the title. Finally, she was able to find her voice. “My goodness, I’m… I am… my goodness,” she spluttered. “My apologies for interrupting you! I do not judge you for your choice in literature, though that is a very strange novel to be reading to distract yourself.”