“I just don’t care anymore.”
What does that mean?
“We’ve been trying so hard… but I just can’t care anymore…”
What does that mean?
“I don’t care anymore. I don’t even want to care anymore.”
What the hell is she talking about?
We’re all gonna get out of here… how can she not care anymore?
“I mean… none of us ever stood a chance, ya know? So… I don’t really have a reason to care anymore…”
What does that mean?
“You’re special,” She smiles softly, tucking a lock of golden hair behind her ear. “I get why she chose you, Aki.”
What does she mean, ‘chose me?’
“I know what you want to say… or what you’re thinking… you’re thinking ‘how could she say something like that? What does she mean? How could she not care? How could she give up?’” She looks at me. Her beautiful blue eyes, so full of happiness and life, are down and broken and sad.
“She chose you Aki, she chose you to leave. Everyone else is already dead Aki.”
But she’s not.
“‘But she’s not,’ that’s what you’re thinking, right? ‘And there’s her and Daiki and Honoka, and none of them are dead… so what is she talking about,’ am I right?”
She knows I can’t answer.
“I know you can’t talk Aki, but you could at least nod.”
“We’re not dead yet, but we might as well be. You know she’s not gonna let us out. It’s you or no one Aki.”
She smiles sadly at me, I can almost see tears in her eyes.
“She’s going to let you choose Aki. She’s going to let you choose if you stay or leave.”
There’s a moment of silence, not that I could respond.
“You have to leave.”
I jump forward to make gestures of protest. I extend my hands, waving them in a way to indicate that I wouldn’t do that, that I can’t do that. I can’t leave them behind.
“No, Aki, you have to leave. You have to get out. If you don’t, then it’s all pointless. Then all the time I spent caring will be worthless. I’ve stopped caring if I get out, but I still care if you do. Aki, you have to get out. When she asks, say yes. Nod your head. Press the yes button. Do whatever she tells you to do to indicate a yes. Because… you’re our last hope… If one of us… If any of us gets out… All of it… all the death… all the suffering… all the pain… all the sadness… all of it will have been worth it… so please Aki… Please… please leave. Please leave with her.”
I pause. I stop dead. Her eyes are begging, pleading me to say yes.
Relief floods her expression and her eyes well up.
“Thank you… thank you Aki…”
“All right second fiddle, you out. It’s time for my private meeting with my prince charming.” HER voice comes from the door.
“Of course Miss Mariko.” She bows before glancing at me and then quickly hurrying out past Mariko.
“Alright then… It’s time for your choice Prince Charming.” Mariko smiles devilishly. “Will you leave this mansion with me, while the others live out a peaceful life here… or will we stay here, where I continue to torment your friends until we’re the only ones left, then I subject you to an endless torture.” She pauses again. “Make your choice. And since you can’t respond verbally, nod to leave with me, and shake your head to stay.”
Of course I do, even though i promised Rin, how could anyone not take a second to think it over.
I hold up a hand to signal I have a question.
I make a gesture similar to a pen on paper.
“Oh, here,” She pulls out a small notebook and a pen, “here.” She hands them to me.
‘If I leave with you, all of them will be able to live out their lives here in peace, with everything they need taken care of?’ I write and hold up for her to see.
“Of course! What’s the point of the prize if you’re not getting what you were promised?” She smiles more genuinely and spreads her arms in my direction.
And I nod.
Her face turns into one of absolute elation.
“YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY!!” She declares, jumping up and down over and over again. “My Prince Charming loves me back! He’s going with me! He’s loves me back! He loves me back!” She declares repeatedly with complete excitement and happiness.
I move my hands in a gesture asking her to calm down.
“Oh, right. Sorry Prince Charming, you probably want to keep your love for me secret, since I’m behind all this.”
That’s not really it…
But I nod anyway.
“Okay! Shall we go Prince Charming?”
“Okay!” She turns towards the door and makes her way over, a massive spring in her step.
“What are you waiting for Prince Charming? We’re leaving!”
My eyes widen briefly before I quickly follow after her.
She opens the door to see Rin standing there with her head bowed.
“Get out of my way Second Fiddle!”
“I’m sorry Ms Mariko.” Rin replies, stepping out of the way. She quickly glances at me. I give her a slight nod and a tiny smile. She looks up slightly and mouths ‘thank you.’
I mouth ‘I’m sorry.’
Then, ‘Goodbye’ is exchanged between us.
As I follow Mariko, and look back at Rin. Thinking that I’ll only have one regret leaving this place now.
That I never wrote Rin how I feel.
Then I remember.
I quickly rip out another page of the small pad and write three key words on it. Then I hold it up for Rin to see.
She takes a second, and her eyes well up. Their broken sad look almost seems to mend itself.
And she mouths,
Then Rin runs off in the other direction, presumably to go tell the other two that I’m leaving. That they get a peaceful life here.
A peaceful life that I won’t be a part of.
But that’s okay.
Because they’ll all be safe.
And they’ll all be happy.
And that’s enough for me.
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