Match Seven: Ame Onna:
Kiku looked down at his wrists in his bathroom. He trembled at the black spots on them. Sometimes, they would swell up and turn darker. They would spread to the back of his hands gradually. The same things appeared on his feet. He tried his best to hide these spots on his hands and feet. But how long would that last? Where would the next spots appear on his body?
“Why so ashamed of them?” a voice asked. Kiku froze as he looked in the mirror. She stood inches away from him. Each time he saw her, she looked more human. She smirked at him like a cat as she put her arms around his shoulders.
“Three more to go,” she murmured in his ear. He can’t feel her around his body. But she makes his skin crawl.
“You already know the answer to the question that you’re going to ask,” she said.
“Please…” he pleaded.
“You know how this works.”
Kiku lowered his arm. He could feel his wrists and feet starting to ache. The nightmares that plagued him every night weren’t enough anymore. She started to appear everywhere more and more often in the daytime. Tonight, she pouted.
“Why won’t you acknowledge me like you used to?” she asked. The Japanese man closed his eyes.
“I just want to go back to when things were peaceful,” he pleaded. She looked at him like a sweet little child begging for candy.
“Aw, Kiku, you know that isn’t possible,” she said. “Everything will come to an end. The marks on your hands and feet are proof of this.” Kiku tried to hide his hands in his sleeves. Sena was the first one to spot them when the first one appeared on his left hand during Ivan and Li Ying’s wedding.
“What is that?” she asked. Her husband tried to hide his hand.
“Nothing,” he tried to lie.
“Did you have an allergic reaction to something?” Sena asked.
“No!” Kiku paused and shifted his eyes back and forth. “I mean, I don’t think so. Maybe it will go away by tomorrow.” He walked back to their bedroom before she could ask any more questions.
“Honey?” she asked. Unfortunately for him, the spot on his left wrist didn’t go away. In fact, it started to swell. Sena sat up next to him and looked at his hand.
“Ew, that’s not good,” she said. Kiku tried to hide his hand. He started to open his mouth, but Sena covered it.
“No, we’re going to a doctor,” she said. “I don’t want to hear it.” The younger woman stared him down, daring him to argue back. Her husband dropped his shoulders and lowered his eyes. The trip to the doctor didn’t produce anything. Kiku’s doctor couldn’t describe what he was looking at after several tests.
“Have you come in contact with any poisons lately?” he asked. The Japanese man lowered his eyes.
“Her,” he said under his breath.
“Excuse me?” the doctor asked. His patient shook his head. In the end, Kiku was sent home with ointments and antibiotics. Part of the Japanese man wanted to laugh dryly, but he went along with this charade anyway. As predicted, they didn’t work. In fact in three days’ time, the spot on his left hand started to smell with the swelling. Sena had to back up and cover her nose.
“What is that?” she asked. “Is it supposed to do that?” Kiku turned away and ran to the bathroom. If one hand was bad, the second spot on his other hand made things worse. Wearing gloves in the spring made his hands itch.
She picked up his left hand and kissed it the top of it.
“This is only temporary,” she reminded him. “It will all go towards the greater good.” The greater good. Just another one of her lies. Yet, he doesn’t dare to call her out on it.
Around three in the morning, Sena awoke to an empty side of the futon.
“Kiku-kun?” she asked. The brash young woman sat up and looked around. She noticed the light on across the hall.
“Babe?” she asked. Sena got up and walked across the hall.
That damned woman smiled in the mirror.
“Your little wife is awake,” she said. She turned Kiku’s face to hers. That cursed woman always took delight in seeing the terror in his eyes.
“Hey, would it be funny if she walked in and saw us right now?” she asked. The Japanese man shook his head.
“No, no, no, no!” he said. Her laughter clawed at his fragile sanity.
“Why?” she asked. “Okinawa has to know about this glorious day of reckoning approaching you and her.”
“But she has nothing to do with this!”
“Oh, but she does.”
“Babe?” Sena asked in the hallway. Kiku’s heart pounded against his chest as her footsteps grew closer to the door.
“Don’t come in here!” he cried.
“What’s the matter?” his wife asked. She tried to open the door. The knob turned back and forth.
“Why is the door stuck?” Sena asked.
“Please, don’t come in. Just go back to bed.”
“Just let me in!”
“Okinawa, don’t!” The door knob stopped turning. Kiku walked over to the door. He pressed his ear to the wood.
“Sena… -chan?” he asked.
“Fine, I won’t open the door,” his wife said. “But just talk to me. What’s going on? It’s been about four years and you’ve closed me off. How am I supposed to help?”
“You can’t!” Kiku looked down at the backs of his hands. They were starting to swell and itch again. The smell was enough to make his nose curl.
“Just go back to bed!”
“I won’t until you tell me what’s wrong!”
Kiku drew his knees to his chest. He could feel that cursed woman staring at his back. She looked like she would fly away as the doorknob turned. She put her hand on Kiku’s head. Meanwhile, the Japanese man tried not to scratch his hands.
“You wouldn’t understand!” he shouted.
“Then help me understand!” Sena shouted back.
His wife sighed outside. “Look, you’re not giving me much to help you with. You stopped going to therapy. I have been keeping everyone else away from you, but some of them keep getting in.” The vile woman wrapped her arms around her prey.
“She’s right, you know,” she hissed. “How long are you going to keep her at bay? She has to know the truth. The older countries already know I am coming back. Why not let Okinawa in on the truth as well?”
“Who is that in there with you, babe?” Sena asked outside. The cursed woman smirked.
“Why don’t you open the door and see?” she asked. Kiku looked up with big eyes.
“What are you doing?!” he cried.
“Who are you talking to?” Okinawa asked.
“Nobody! Just go back to bed! Please, Sena-chan! Go back to bed!”
“I won’t until you tell me what’s going on!” his wife shouted. “Who is that in there with you?” The cursed woman rested her chin atop her prey’s head.
“Well, Kiku-kun?” the vile woman in red asked. “What’s it going to be?” Kiku looked like he was about to throw up. This was part of her plan, wasn’t it?
“You figured it out,” she said. “You are the mainland, but I have to have all parts of you and your relatives.”
“Please leave my Sena-chan out of this,” Kiku pleaded. “Aren’t I enough for you?”
“No,” she said. “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
“That’s it, I’m coming in,” his wife said. Sena started to open the door again. “Hold on, I just about got it to open.”
“No, don’t!” her husband shouted.
“It’s just about… there…”
The cursed woman’s lit glowed like burning coals. “Yes.”
The turning of the knob stopped again and footsteps walked away from the door. The Japanese man appeared shocked. The cursed woman, on the other hand, frowned.
“Aw, that’s it?” she asked. “Well that’s a letdown.” Kiku shook his head.
“That’s not it,” he said.
“Oh?” she asked. The Japanese man looked up when he heard a click in the door. She perked up as she tried to contain her enthusiasm.
“I’m coming in,” Sena said.
“Stop, Okinawa!” Kiku shouted. By the time the door opened, it got worse. Sena poked her head inside and looked around. She paused when her eyes locked with the Woman in Red’s.
“Good evening,” the cursed woman said. Sena slowly backed up into the hall.
“Babe, who is this?” she asked. The Woman in Red let go of her prey and walked over to her new plaything.
“Nice to meet you, Honda Sena,” she said. “Your husband and I are really close.” Kiku frantically shook his head at his wife. He tried to speak, but no words came out.
“Kiku-kun?” Sena asked. “What is this? Is this why you have been suffering so much for close to three years now?” Her husband shut his eyes.
“Yes,” he said. No sooner had he said, his whole spine went stiff. The Japanese ripped open his eyes and gasped.
“Babe, what is it?” Sena asked. Kiku turned and looked behind him. The Woman in Red stood back in the corner with a mischievous smile on her face.
“Summer’s over, my dear Kiku,” she said with her eyes.