You and I will be walking hand in hand…
You and I will never going to end.
Just another moment in your eyes.
I’ll see you in another life.
In heaven where we never say goodbye.
Jurina was in front of Rena’s home knocking, and Rena’s mom who answered the door immediately smiled when she saw Jurina was standing at their doorstep.
“Ohayou, Auntie!” Jurina’s cheerful greeting, and bowed her head to give respect.
“Oh good morning Jurina-chan. Please, come in.” Rena’s mom widely opened the door and gestured the girl to come inside.
Leaving her shoes on a mat next to the door, Jurina followed Rena’s mom towards the kitchen. Then Jurina stood there watching Mrs. Matsui preparing breakfast.
“You’re early. I don’t think Rena-chan is up yet. Why don’t you go in her room and wake her up. Then let’s all have breakfast.” Rena’s mom suggested while preparing the table.
“Hai…” Jurina responded beaming, and bowing her head once again.
In a flash, Jurina was upstairs in front of Rena’s bedroom. Since then, she knew that Rena never locked the door of her room. So Jurina opened it and peaked around the door frame.
The sun was only just risen and a dim glow filtered through drawn blinds. Her eyes adjusting to the gloom, Rena’s room was neat and tidy as always. Well, mostly neat and tidy. As usual. The desk on which Rena’s laptop and accompanying hardware resided was strewn and festooned with all manner of plushies, action figures, stickers and key-chains featuring her favorite anime characters.
Jurina padded into the room a few steps. There Rena was, still sound asleep in bed. Jurina’s lips quirked up into a smile as she thinks of an idea on how to wake her girlfriend up.
Rena lay on her back, shoulder length black hair spilling around her head. The white colored bedclothes were tangled about her legs. She wore a cute printed PJ which the upper shirt had ridden up to her tummy.
Having slept over several times in the past, Jurina still couldn’t help but smile by just looking at her cute sleeping posture.
Jurina stood for several long seconds, eyes wandering up and down Rena’s sleeping body. Rolling her lower lip between her teeth nervously, unsure exactly of what was she’s going to do.
Tucking her stray hair behind her ear, she moved around the foot of the bed and slowly, cat-like, slid onto the bed.
Jurina moved over Rena’s legs on hands and knees. She could feel her own heart hammering and her breathing grew shaky.
Lowering her face, Jurina involuntarily inhaled the faint scent of Rena’s skin as she moved up her body.
She immediately drew back when Rena stirred and murmured in her sleep. Pausing, Jurina was amazed she hadn’t been awakened yet. After taking a deep, steadying breath, Jurina moved up so that she was almost eye to eye with her.
“Rena-chaaan. Time to wake uh-up.” Jurina said loudly.
Rena flinched, and then blinked her big brown eyes.
“Wha… nnmmph… Jurina? W-Why are you here?”
“Waking you up obviously, sleepy head.” Naughty cat-like smile formed on her lips.
“Um… Why are you in my bed…” Rena asked, her eyes searching for Jurina’s, and then they met. “…on top of me”
She finished in a hushed tone. Her expression became one of mild embarrassment. She began to blush. Jurina had just realized that Rena’s questing hands were finding the covers and pulled it up to her mid-section.
Feeling her own cheeks heating up, Jurina still didn’t know why or what was she doing.
“I saw you sleeping and… I… thought I might have to kiss you.” Jurina moved ever so slightly closer as she spoke.
“Did you?” Rena whispered.
“But… I just woke up.” Rena told her in a plaintive whisper.
Jurina blinked at Rena’s reply then bursted into laughter. When Jurina subsided, she noticed that confusion was visible on Rena’s face.
“I’m basically laying on you now, telling you that I am going to kiss you; and your biggest concern is morning breath?” Jurina grinned.
Rena’s lips formed into a shy smile, and then Jurina felt Rena’s hand moving up to her left cheek and her thumb caressing on her lower lip.
As if her head was pulled down by an unknown gravity, Jurina’s lips automatically pressed on Rena. After a muffled squeak of surprise, Rena returned the kiss. The two kissed ecstatically for several minutes, their lips forming an air-tight seal and forcing them to breathe each other’s exhalations; they were fairly giddy and light-headed in seconds.
Jurina moaned, vibrations of pleasure spreading throughout her body. While Rena’s hand worked around the back of her head, she felt Rena’s fingers running on her hair. The urgency of the kiss soon left them breathless.
When both of them parted, practically panting, Jurina saw tears welling in Rena’s eyes. Jurina reached out her hand and wiped desultorily at her eyes. Rena gave her a long, soulful look, then cocked her head to initiate a kiss. It was a painfully gentle, tender, and brief kiss on the lips.
Jurina’s hands meanwhile were making themselves busy by sliding over Rena’s shoulders and down to around her waist. Then her mouth left Rena’s and shifted kisses from her face down to her jaw and into her supple neck.
They were so engrossed in their early morning make out and suddenly both were startled by a knock at the door followed by the voice of Rena’s mother.
“Girls, get downstairs now. Your breakfast is getting cold.” Then they heard footsteps walking away.
“Oh, shoot! I forgot to tell you that your mom’s making breakfast.” Jurina slowly climbed off of her.
Finally making it downstairs, the two found Mrs. Matsui in the dining room sitting in front of the table with well prepared breakfast.
“I was having a hard time waking Rena-chan up.” Jurina explains upon approaching.
Rena caught her eye and the girl gave her a look. Which Jurina only flashed a playful wink with a knowing smile.
“I’m pretty sure she was up all night reading visual novels. Rena you should regulate that habit of yours, it’s not good for your eyes and most especially to your health.” Rena’s mom scolded her.
“Yes mom.” Rena responded then nudged Jurina with her elbow.
“Come on let’s eat.” Mrs. Matsui ended their conversation as the two settled and starts their breakfast that morning.
The dreams faded and there was only the darkness; but this time it was scary. It seemed to push in on me from every direction and there were flashes of red everywhere. No matter which way I turned there was only darkness and those red flashes which kept coming at me like lightning bolts.
There was nothing I could do to avoid them; nowhere to run, nothing to hide behind; no escape. They came rushing at me; pulsing, blinding, screaming silently into my mind. They hurt me too. In a place where I had nobody they hurt my soul. I was terrified; more scared than I have ever been.
I have no idea how long I cowered in the dark but gradually I became aware of something. There was a light ahead that hadn’t been there before. At first it was dim, just a lightening of the darkness which was still not ready to let me go. But now I had a goal; something to work towards.
I can’t say that it wasn’t tempting to stay where I was. At least I knew I was safe there… kind of. I had no idea what I would find when I reached the light, but I didn’t care. I could have stayed there huddled in the darkness. I was too scared to move. I could have waited until the darkness consumed me; and trust me it was trying.
Fortunately, I was too curious and too stubborn. I had to move; had to do something and no matter what I found at the source of the light it couldn’t be worse than the darkness.
As I walked towards the light I began to hear sounds far away in the distance. They seemed to be coming from the same direction as the light. That was the first time it occurred to me that I might be dead. Walk into the light?
I’d walk towards it until I knew what it was, but there was no freakin’ way that I was going to go anywhere unless it was back to Rena-chan. No way was I giving up on that; most especially on her.
So I trudged warily through the lightening dark. The red flashes seemed to be fading out. I was leaving them behind in the darkness as it faded into the light. As I grew nearer to the source of the light the sounds got louder. Some of them resolved into voices; strange ones that I didn’t recognize, speaking a language I didn’t understand. And then; just when I thought I would find out what the light was all about, I fell.
I thought as I plummeted downwards with a body that didn’t exist, through space and time that wasn’t there. I was pretty sure that I was dead and being sucked… somewhere. If I had had a voice I would have been screaming but it wasn’t with fear. I was angry as hell.
And then – a moment of extreme disorientation and the light was there again except that this time it was coming from behind closed eyelids and I had a body again; my body. There were sounds all around me; voices talking in quiet tones, some I recognized, some I didn’t; the sounds of footsteps, breathing, crying; strange mechanical clicking, whirring and beeping and over it all a deep rhythmic pulsing that I didn’t recognize at all.
As I became aware of the sounds I also became aware of my body again. I was lying on my back with my head raised. I was hurting all over but not too badly. It was mainly a dull ache that made me well aware of its presence, but didn’t make me want to scream. This was just as well because I wouldn’t have been able to scream if I had wanted to on account of the great lump of plastic in my mouth that I was in danger of chipping my clenched teeth on.
I had a fleeting and somewhat ludicrous daydream that one day that piece of plastic and I were going to have a battle with my teeth as my army, and I was going to chew the thing to bits and spit it out. It wasn’t that I particularly hated it, it was just… strange and I couldn’t work out what it was and why it was there.
In fact I was generally confused and it took me a while to realize that the chunk of plastic wasn’t just in my mouth making my jaw ache and teeth itch; but it went all the way down my throat. For a blinding moment there was complete and utter panic; but I was getting clearer and managed to drag myself away from the edge of the chasm. I knew where I was; I knew what was happening and I knew that if I was going to choke on the plastic I would have done so by now.
I was okay. I kept repeating that and focused on the hiss and click of machinery that synchronized with the rise and fall of my chest. My throat relaxed around the tube and I stopped wanting to cough and choke. I was quite proud of myself when I managed to get calm and reasonably comfortable and I declared a temporary truce with the plastic.
That being resolved, I extended my awareness to other parts of my body. I was fairly comfortable although it was quite hot even thought I was only covered by a thin sheet. I had a flash of embarrassment when I realized that I was naked underneath but that was ridiculous so I pushed it aside.
I felt someone was holding my hand, presumably my mother or Rena. I was slightly startled when my other hand seemed to rise from the bed of its own accord and something pressed against my wrist. Stupid. I was going to have to stop freaking out at everything. It was just a nurse taking my pulse. It would be a lot easier if I could see her.
I paused to take stock. Okay… I was obviously in hospital and just as obviously in deep trouble. I noticed a sound that had been in the background for a while; soft crying and I realized that someone was upset because of me. That decided me that it was probably a good time to let everyone know that I was back. It was then that I made the scariest discovery of all – I couldn’t move. Although I could hear and think quite clearly and I could feel ever touch, Still, I couldn’t move.
I started to panic in earnest. I was screaming inside and the darkness laughed at me. I heard someone speak, their voice urgent. The words ‘in distressed’ were the only ones that filtered through. I heard Rena call my name and I tried; I really tried to answer her but I couldn’t, goddamit; I couldn’t. The strange throbbing intensified and the shocking realization came to me that it was my own heartbeat.
And then the darkness came for me. This time I fought it. The feeling of being terrified at the dark places; the lonely places and the nothing place. It all came back to me now.
Here, at least I had Rena-chan. What if I couldn’t come back? What if I had to stay here alone in the stygian blackness? Had all this just been to say goodbye? No way. No way was I going to say goodbye. I was going to get back to Rena no matter what. I was… I was…
It didn’t matter how hard I fought; the darkness was relentless. It didn’t fight back, it just gently but irresistibly took me away and then I was alone again. I raged and cried and begged, but there was no one there; no one to hear.
Sometimes I heard voices. They seemed to be close; but not close enough to make out what they said. I always ran towards them but they always faded away in the end. Sometimes I felt I was too tired; too demoralized to run but as long as there was a chance they would lead me back to Rena, I always followed.
And then; suddenly the light was there and I embraced it totally, throwing myself at it and falling as before.
This time there was no preliminary getting used to things slowly; I was totally and completely ‘there’ and the first thing I was aware of someone crying; no sobbing.
I wanted to reach out, just touch her hand to let her know that I was okay; to make some contact, in some small way, but she was as distant as the moon. The panic at not being able to move was muted this time; overlaid with frustration.
I felt a sudden exhaustion and when the darkness came again I had no energy to fight it. I remembered that somewhere I had heard someone say that you need to pick your battles. You fight the things that are really important; the battles you need to win. All the rest… just let them go. So I let it go; I let the darkness take me.
After that there were lots of times I found the way back. Sometimes there was a lot of action around me and I felt sick and confused. Sometimes I was drifting and unable to gather any sense; any focus. But sometimes I knew exactly where I was and what was going on around me. I heard my mother and I heard Rena. I even heard the doctors telling them that the longer I stayed asleep the less likely it was that I would wake up.
They started talking about brain damage and organ failure and long term maintenance and the words scared me; but also made me feel angry. What the hell did they know?
I wouldn’t be thinking like this if I had brain damage… would I? Sh–. I was letting them get to me. I was starting to believe their crap myself. This was my life; mine, and I wasn’t about to let them talk me out of it.
So I kept coming back; kept trying to move; to speak; to let them know I was here, but it just wasn’t happening. I knew I was tiring; starting to get weaker, more exhausted every time and I knew that there was a chance that I wouldn’t be able to keep going; to keep fighting. But I was damned if I was going to stop until I absolutely had to.
And then came that day; the terrible day; the last day. I was having one of my more lucid moments, just lying quietly and listening to everything. Now and again a nurse would come in and do what they did and then leave again. They keep turning me over; I don’t know why, but it was nice. I liked it best when I was lying on my side facing the door. I knew it was facing the door because that’s the way everyone came from. I liked facing it because then I would be facing Rena-chan when she came in.
When I was lying on my side Rena would sit down and bring her face really close to mine when she talked to me. Sometimes, I could feel her breath and sometimes she would even kiss me. Those were the times when I knew for sure that I wasn’t in hell.
That day though, I was lying on my back when she came in. I knew it was her because of her scent. Lying there with nothing else to do, not even breathe, my senses got really acute and I could hear; smell and feel things that I otherwise wouldn’t, when other things got in the way.
I waited for her to touch me; she always touched me, but that day she didn’t. I heard no rustle. No movements from her. I think Rena just stood there. I wished I could see her face; see what she was looking at; what her expression was. I thought that I could feel her sadness, but I didn’t know. It was at times like this that I wanted to cry; I wanted to be able to cry. I could feel her pain and knew I was causing it. Sometimes it was almost unbearable; almost.
It seemed as if Rena had been waiting because she stood there for a while, until the nurse came and greeted her. Then I felt Rena went and then sat down. I gave a metaphorical sigh of relief and pleasure. It didn’t last long.
Rena took my hand and held it really tight. That’s when I knew that there was something wrong. She didn’t usually hold it that tight and her hand was shaking. I sensed that she leaned over and stroked my forehead with her other hand.
“You’re so beautiful, Jurina.” I heard she said.
There was something strange in the tone of her voice; something that made me really nervous.
“You’ve always been beautiful but, I don’t know, since we got together you’ve been getting more and more beautiful every day.”
Soft pads of her fingers traced my face, gently brushing my forehead; eyelids; nose; cheeks. If I could have I would have sighed. It felt so good.
“Oh Jurina; why did this have to happen? We were happy. I have never been so happy. You have always been the best thing in my life, even before we got together. You’re so much better than me. You pull me up. I’m so sorry that I didn’t realize that meant that I would pull you down.”
“This is all my fault. If I hadn’t texted you and called you that night… If I hadn’t lose my patience and just wait for you to arrive. We could have had the whole summer together and free to be wherever we wanted to be. But no; I had to rush it: I had to spoil it. It was just…” I heard her sigh heavily.
Do you remember that night? When we were watching the stars? You were so… pure. I loved you so much it physically hurt me. And then you were so… you. I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t know. I didn’t know I was dooming you. I can’t bear it, Jurina. I’m sorry but I can’t. You were always the strong one; always. Maybe it seemed that it was me but it wasn’t. Inside, where it really matters, you were the strong one; the one who always knew what to do; who could always find a way. That’s one of the reasons I love you; your strength. But I haven’t got that strength; that inner calm. I can’t do this, Jurina. I can’t do it on my own. With you by my side I can do anything but without you I’m nothing. I can’t cope with this Jurina; I never could but… When it first happened I thought I could will you through it; that my love was so strong it would find you wherever you were and bring you back. But I couldn’t.”
Yes you could; you did. You don’t know it Rena; not yet but you did. You made me fight the darkness, Rena.
“I’ve always sat here and watched you sleep and I’ve prayed. I’ve prayed to everyone I could think of but no one answered.”
I did. I answered. It was silently, but I answered.
“I’ve watched every flicker, every movement. I’ve watched the numbers on the machines and listened to what everyone’s said and I don’t have hope anymore. I know that there are people who have done this for years; sat beside the one they love and waited; kept hope alive in their hearts, but I can’t. Maybe I’m weak and a fool. I know it hasn’t been long; not that long but… I’ve heard what they say. No one expects you to wake up, Jurina; no one. They are talking about moving you to a long term rehabilitation unit. Rehabilitation… that’s where they put people to fade away when there’s no hope; no chance.”
The bleakness in her voice was chilling. It’s as if all emotion had leaked out of her. Although she was still touching me; stroking me, I could feel that she’d completely withdrawn and there was nothing but a shell left. Was that how she saw me? I wasn’t thinking about what she said; about the plans they had for me, all I cared about was her.
“I couldn’t do that, Jurina. I couldn’t go to that place every day and sit by your side waiting for you to die. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry but I just can’t. I know I promised I would never leave you but I can’t stay. I just can’t stay; not without you.”
What? She was leaving? She was leaving me? She was going away and leave me? No. My heart thudded in my chest; twisting painfully. If I could have I would have shouted at her.
‘No, don’t go.’
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t even cry. The monitor gave a strange little beep to register the change in the speed of my heartbeat. I’d worked out most of the sounds now and how they related to what was happening to my body.
For an instant I felt Rena tensed but then she sighed again.
“I would have been worried about that, Jurina; I would have wondered what it meant; whether you were getting better; worse. I would have told you to hold on… to please, please hold on but…”
She stroked my hair and I knew she was looking into my face. I so wanted to open my eyes right now, and look into her.
“They say that even if you do wake up now you probably won’t be you anymore. I couldn’t stand that. I don’t know if you are going to wake up or not Jurina and to be completely honest at this point, I really hope you don’t.”
Wait. What? She wanted me to die now?
“I want to be with you again. I want to hold you and see your smile and look into your eyes, but I’ve lost any hope that I will ever see them again in this life. They keep saying that a miracle could happen and that we shouldn’t give up just yet but I have, Jurina; I have given up. This should never have happened; never. You are too good for this. You are too good and pure and beautiful for it all to end like this and I can’t sit here and watch it happen. It’s only been a few weeks but I’ve watched you slip away a little more every day. No I haven’t. How much longer before I watch you disappear altogether? I can’t do that.”
What did that mean? ‘can’t sit here and watch it happen…’ Where was she going to go? What was she going to do?
“I love you so much; too much maybe. I can’t live without you, Jurina. And I really, really don’t think you are going to come back to me. I know that you are strong and that if you do come back you will understand and forgive me. I want to be with you again. I know that isn’t going to happen; not here so… if you can’t come to me then I will have to come to you.”
She sounded more positive; her voice firmer but… Woah. SH–. Surely she couldn’t mean what I thought she meant. She couldn’t be thinking of—
That’s when I started to fight. Okay, I had been giving it a bit of a go but nothing like this. I was scared; more scared than I can ever remember being in my life.
If I didn’t get this stupid body working RIGHT NOW! My beautiful, beautiful Rena was going to do something really, really bad. I felt her warm and soft lips mildly pressed on my forehead. Rena kissed me.
“Goodbye, Jurina. Maybe I’m a coward. Maybe I’m a fool but I know that if you could have come back you would have come back. You have no idea what it’s been like; sitting here and watching the crap they’ve been doing to you. When the breathing tube gets blocked they have to suck it out and it makes you choked and your heart goes crazy because you can’t breathe while they’re doing it. And they have to feed you through a feeding tube. You have tubes and needles in you everywhere and they inject drugs into you twenty times a day. That’s all that’s keeping you alive and what’s the point in that? How can you ever come back to me from this? The worst thing of all is when they move you around. Even when they just lift your hand it’s so… lifeless. I have never seen you anything but full of… no bursting with life. Even when you were asleep you were always moving. I can’t bear this; I just can’t. Please understand. I can’t live without you and I can’t live with you like this.”
I was going crazy by then. I knew what she was talking about; I KNEW it and I had to just lie here and let it happen? I had to let the one I love walk out of that room and walk out of life? LIKE HELL I WOULD.
My body was like a lump of lead but my heart and soul were writhing; screaming; fighting. I was literally screaming at my useless body to move: just a bit; just enough. There was nothing on the outside to show the huge struggle that was going on inside. I was screaming and sobbing; begging God; the universe; anyone.
‘Please, please don’t let her die. Please let me stop her before it’s too late. How could I ever live with myself if I let her go now? I can’t do it. I can’t let her go. I can’t let her die. I can’t… I can’t…’
“Goodbye, Jurina. I love you more than anything. I have always loved you. We’ll be together soon.”
No, no, no, no, no. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening. I had to… I had to… My stupid, useless body was actually beginning to fight now; struggling to surface. Even the monitors were sounding the fight because my heart was speeding up. I didn’t need that freakin’ beep to tell me that. I could feel it hammering in my chest as if it was trying to get out.
Rena kissed me once more and I could sense her withdrawing from me, but paused for a moment.
“Jurina… I don’t know what’s happening with you right now. You’re struggling with something.”
Yes, you fool. Make the connection. Wake up. You’re as unconscious as I am. You’re blind. You IDIOT Rena.
“Yesterday I would have been worried about that but it doesn’t matter now. Just try and hold on for a few hours. Just a few hours, Jurina and I’ll be there for you. I’ll be waiting and I’ll catch you when you fall.”
No, God. No. I was not going to let her do this. I was not. I was not. Her hand started to slip through mine and I put everything I had into holding on. It was slipping, slipping. My fingers twitched. Great. It was a start but not enough; not nearly enough. She had already let go and I knew she was walking out the door.
Of course it wasn’t a word, how could it have been, but it was a sound. It was definitely a sound.
Come back. Oh please come back; please, please, please Rena. Please come back. I could feel the hot tears scoring down my cheeks but what good would they do if she couldn’t see them? I tried to call her name and made another sound. Had she heard? Would she come back? Please, Rena. Please.
“Jurina… are you crying? Jurina? Can you hear me? Did you hear me?”
Yeah… like I was in any condition to answer. So what else could I do? A respite? She came back but would she stay? I knew that the nurses would be there in a minute; swarming all over me because the machines were going crazy. They would push her out and I would never see her again. Hold my hand Rena. Oh please hold my hand.
When I felt the cold fingers slip into mine I concentrated so hard; threw everything I had into holding on to them and suddenly it was as if I had broken through a seal and Rena yelped as I crushed her fingers. Let her yell. After what she just did to me she deserved a few broken fingers.
“Jurina. Oh my God Jurina. You… you…”
Yeah; no thanks to you.
Although, maybe it was thanks to her. If she hadn’t said what she said I wouldn’t have fought so hard and who knows what might have happened. The tears were flowing freely now. A feeling of intense relief was making me begin to drift again. But I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t be sure that if I did that Rena would be there when I woke up.
To Be Continued…