Chapter One: Welcome Home:
“It’s good to be home!” Anna said aloud with her arms in the air. She twirled about laughing. Tsuzuki stood by holding Kirika-chan.
“Honey, I’m happy for you,” he said. “But shouldn’t we get to Iijiri-san’s house soon?” Anna turned to him.
“Yes, yes,” she said. “I didn’t forget.”
-Five Hours Earlier-
Anna awoke when her cell phone rang on the floor. She grumbled to herself as she reached around for the plugged-up device.
“Hello?” she mumbled.
“Anna-chan?” an old lady’s voice asked. The younger woman narrowed her eyes.
“Kyoko-san?” she asked. “Is something wrong?”
“Me personally, no,” Kyoko said. “But, you and your husband need to come to Kobe quickly.”
“What for?” Anna asked.
“I need to tell you something.”
“Can’t you tell me right now?”
“This is really big. Get down to Kobe as soon as you can.” She hung up before the younger woman could respond. Anna stared at her phone.
“What the hell?” she asked.
“Baby?” the woman heard next her. Anna turned to see Tsuzuki laying in their futon, eyeing her. Anna clutched her phone.
“Babe,” she said. “We have to go to Kobe today.” Tsuzuki sat up with a funny look.
“Why?” he asked. She pressed her lips together.
“Kyoko-san wants to tell me something.”
“I don’t know.”
Anna walked over to Tsuzuki. “I’ll show you the neighborhood as we go there.”
“Okay,” her husband said. “Can we take a taxi?”
“No,” his wife said. She started to walk down the path alone.
“Hey, wait!” Tsuzuki shouted. He jogged with the baby to keep up.
“I lived in this neighborhood until I was twelve,” Anna said. She and Tsuzuki looked at the neighborhood in question. Nothing really special about this place. It looked like any standard neighborhood in rural Japan. Anna broke into a gentle smile.
“It’s the same as it was when I first lived here,” she said.
“It’s nice,” Tsuzuki said. His wife walked down the path. Tsuzuki followed behind with the baby.
They passed a metal fence. Anna paused and giggled.
“What?” Tsuzuki asked. His wife turned to him, smiling.
“This neighbor had a big dog that scared me,” she said. “He’d come running up, barking at me. I used to run away crying.” The woman broke into laughter.
“Is that the dog?” Tsuzuki asked, pointing behind.
“Hm?” she asked, turning around. A big black dog charged towards the fence. Instead of crying this time, Anna laughed. The dog jumped on the fence, barking. She scratched behind his ear.
“Hi there,” she said. “Hi there. I remember you. You’re not so scary anymore, are you? Are you?” The dog panted as Anna pet him. Tsuzuki walked over for a better look.
“Anna-chan?” an old man asked. “Is that you?” The couple looked up to see an old man in a bathrobe walking off his steps.
“Koike-san?” Anna asked. “How have you been?”
“Sore, but I’m fine,” the old man said.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Is Kyoko-san home today?”
“Who’s the handsome young man beside you?”
“Oh.” She turned to the shinigami as he stepped forward.
“I’m Tsuzuki Asato, Anna’s husband. And this is our daughter, Kirika-chan.”
Koike-san whistled. “Nice to meet you.”
By one o’clock, the family made it to Kyoko’s house. They found the old lady standing on her porch. She perked up when she saw Anna and her family.
“Anna-chan! Tsuzuki-san,” Kyoko said. “I’m glad you’re here.”
“What did you want to talk about?” Anna asked. The old lady’s face turned serious.
“Follow me,” she said. The family followed the oldy lady into the house.