Epilogue: Part Two
"When she awoke, the world was on fire." -Scott Westerfeld, Uglies
"The whole world can become the enemy when you lose what you love." -Kristina McMorris, Bride of Scarlet Leaves
"When his wife was at his side, she was also in front of him, marking out the horizon on his life. Now the horizon was empty: the view has changed." -Milan Kundera, Encounter
"Because death is the only thing that could have kept him from you." -Ally Carter, Out of Sight, Out of time
The world had ceased to exist. For the longest time I felt as if I were falling through the darkness with no sense of self, except for a terrifying storm of unfathomable fear, grief, regret, and anger. The storm howled with tempest and such winds of outrage, all I could do was be carried and tossed about by its furious winds. The world was dark. There was nothing within its except the storm and I did not even know why or who I was. All I knew was the raging emotions and the regret and a horrible, bitter resentment….
The one thought that brought back the sense of self, that ended the darkness and unknowing...was why?
It was then that I woke up.
How much time had passed I did not know nor did I know where I was. I had opened my eyes to a familiar sight of the inner courtyard with the fountain bubbling nearby and the sunlight glaring down on the red bricks. Memory came to back to me of what this place was and who I was. The storm of emotions still whirled within me and I panicked as my last memory came to me…
….Katsu's terrified eyes as the end of a whirling tunnel of dark and light….I had been so scared and angry…
I was confused by the storm that resided within me until the realization of why I must feel that way. I did not want to acknowledge the possibility and had run with silent tears around the estate. There was no one there. Only the sound of my own sobs and heavy breathing. I searched high and low for Katsu, Kokai….for anyone…
...I was alone...
I tried to leave the estate and could not. If I walked off through the gates, I would find myself back at where I had begun. The inner courtyard. At first I thought I might be some specter haunting the estate, but I never saw a living being. I had been taught that we go to the Pure Lands when we die, and there we can be where we were most happiest with the ones we loved, unless of course we choose to return to the mortal plane in a new life. Was I stuck in some sort of limbo? The storm raged on and on within me and I had wandered about the estate for only Spirits knows how long.
Something finally happened when I had cried out for someone to help me, for the Spirits, and that all I wanted was to be with him again. My children.
I was on my knees in the inner courtyard, despising the cheery weather and fountain that had brought me some peace in life. Nothing ever changed. It was always the same and I was caught in that storm. Oh, how I wept… "Why am I here?" I shrieked. "All I want is to be with them!" I was angry because I had been denied a life with them, all that sadness and heartbreak….and regret for… "I should have told him!" I wailed out to an empty world. "I loved him! I did not want to go...I want to be there with him, our children! I'm scared and angry...and….and…."
"You don't have to be anymore," A comforting voice interrupted me. I gasped and gaped at the man standing across from me at the edge of the courtyard.
He appeared as I remembered him from my youth, not the the husk of his former self that he had been at the prison. I ran to his open arms and cried as he held me. How was this possible? He stroked my hair as my sobbing eventually ceased. "I'm sure you're wondering how I am here," He commented when I looked up at him. I was in a state of shock after being alone for so long and I had thought to never see anyone again. My father took my hand and led me to the bench, urging me to sit down beside him as he kept a hold of my hand. "You could have been with us earlier or choosing to go back if you had acknowledged your regrets and let them go," He informed me softly. His eyes, the same as mine, looked at me with a sad expression. "You have been holding yourself back."
"I just want to be with them," I whispered, somehow knowing his words were right. I was stuck in this loop because of refusing to acknowledge the truth and my own regrets and attachments.
"You can watch them if you want," My father responded. "When you are ready, you can join the rest of us or go back renewed. You cannot watch them if you come though." I nodded in understanding and stayed sitting as my father stood up. "Will you come?" He asked me quietly.
"Not yet," I replied with a sad smile. "But soon."
My father bent over to kiss me on the forehead. "I've missed you," He said warmly. "Join us soon for I cannot return here."
His back was to me as he retreated out of the courtyard. "Wait!" I called out. "Is….Mom there? Kohaku?"
My father turned back to look at me with that look of love I remembered. "She is," He answered me. "Kohaku left after a short while. He wanted a chance at life."
I closed my eyes as my father left. A sense of peace overcame me in that moment. It was a euphoria of acceptance and inner peace that I had never known before, not even in life. To be precise, I was not happy as I had been, but I had found calm and acceptance. The storm was gone, the void that I had felt in life was gone though it had almost disappeared those last three years I had lived, they were but shadows that haunted me now. In time I would be happy again, I knew that, and had come to accept that I was gone from him and from my former life. From afar I could see what happened to those I cared about, able to see, but not able to touch. I would be so close and yet so far away. Sometime my emotions and reactions would boil up within me as I watched their lives go on by, but I was accepting for I knew I could do nothing. Life is messy and no single person's life is ever perfect. I would be with them all again, I reasoned, even if they left eventually as Kohaku had.
I would watch. I would wait.
Someday he would come here. I would finally be able to him that I loved him. We could then go together to be with the others or to start over again anew if he so wished. My life with him had not been my choice. It had been his choice the first time, the second choice when given to me had been for Kokai primarily. Yet this time...when it would come...it would be entirely mine.
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