Halo Twenty-One: Noriko:
This is not my life.
It feels like I am living in a dream. All of my memories keep getting mixed up in my head. I can’t tell my friends. They would think I was crazy. They seem to be understanding with Mikado, Chiharu, and Anri. But still…
I looked down at my wrists over the bathroom sink. I remember how many times I have cut them before. I cringe as I can almost feel the sting of the blade going across my skin. The sensation sent me over the edge. Only for that short moment of time, I could feel relief. I’ve cut many times on my arms, legs, stomach, chest, and even my neck.
My fingers crept over to the drawer under the sink. But then I freeze. No, I shouldn’t be doing that. They’ll start asking questions. I could just hide the cuts. But it’s summer. They are going to notice that I am wearing long sleeves.
I end up drawing back my hand.
I scare myself when my mind wonders back to that place. This wasn’t the first time tonight. I can’t say when they thoughts started. Izaya didn’t help that day either. I don’t think I remember the place I was born. I don’t remember anything about this life. I don’t think I ever had any parents. But I know I had them. I know they exist, but I can’t see their faces. I feel their warmth around me. I remember going to the beach with them. I remember having a happy meal at the table with them. I even remember the roses that I gave mama for her birthday.
Those aren’t real memories!
I turned around in the darkness. There was no one there but I knew who that voice belonged to. But that can’t be right. I remember them. They did exist. I know they did. I… I…
I turned and happened to look at myself in the bathroom mirror. My whole body became tense. When did my face look so sullen? There was no life in my eyes. My hair looked to brittle. I reached up and touched my right cheek. No… This isn’t right! This isn’t right! Oh god. It’s all coming back now. I could see the cuts on my arms. So much all over the bathroom. I hadn’t eaten in days. I have scars all over my back. More scars cover my body. Oh god. I think I’m going to be sick.
I ran over to the toilet and threw up. I coughed and sat back rocking. What was that just now? I didn’t like it. No. No. No. I need to cover the mirrors. Yeah, that’s it. Just cover them all up. I pushed myself to my feet and went into the hall closet.
I can’t stand to look in a mirror.
When I woke up, the pleasant smell of flowers teased my nose. A small smile spread across my face. I don’t have any flowers in my apartment. I sat up and looked around. Somehow, I ended up back in my apartment. I guess I fell asleep. What time is it?
I pulled out my phone. 9:28? I’ve been asleep for that long? I don’t even remember what happened. Where did all of the time go? It was morning last time I checked. I looked down at my phone again. It was then I noticed that I had thirteen missed calls. Some were my friends. A couple of spam calls. My therapist. I rolled my eyes. Really? Can’t they take a hint? But then I noticed one number that I didn’t recognize. Who called to call me when I was out cold? I started to go through each message. My friends were just calling and asking how I was doing. I couldn’t bring myself to call them back. What could I say to them?
“Hey guys, I passed out hours ago and then just got up. By the way, I am having flashbacks about cutting myself and other strange memories. Plus, mirrors give me the creeps now.”
I got some people trying to scam me for a prize for a contest I never entered. No thank you. My therapist tried to get me to come back. I all but scotched at their calls. Why can’t they just take a hint? I don’t want to go back. They can’t help me. It was all Yuki’s stupid idea in the first place. Since she disappeared, I just stopped going.
Then came that last number. I should’ve just deleted the message without listening to it. But something inside of me wouldn’t let me do it. My finger hoovered over the key for what felt like forever. Before I knew, I had hit play. At first, I heard static. I should’ve hung up then. But the line went silent. Only for a second before I heard a familiar voice singing.
“A canary sings. A cradle song. Sleep, sleep, sleep, child! Above the cradle, the loquat fruits sway. Sleep, sleep, sleep, child!”
What… What is this? This woman sounded like me. Not yet it wasn’t me. Was that a baby crying in the background?
“A squirrel rocks. The cradle by its rope. Sleep, sleep, sleep, child! Dreams in a cradle, with the yellow moon shining down. Sleep, sleep, sleep, child!”
There was another pause before the next few words triggered something inside of me.
“I love you, my son.”
My heart raced against my chest. More memories started to fill my head. When was a I mother? I could see my little son. His cheeks were so little and round. He slept so peacefully in my arms. How could something be so soft and delicate? My heart sank as I remembered what happened to him in his short life.
I reached up and touched my cheek. Oh no… Why was I crying? No. Not this again. I slowly rose to my feet. The tears wouldn’t stop flowing. I sink down to my knees. My head started to swim. I think I’m going to be sick.
Suddenly, my phone rang.
Who is it now? Against my better judgment, I called over and picked up the phone.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello?” a voice repeated on the other line. It sounded like my voice only more robotic. Each ‘hello’ got faster and faster. I tossed my phone across the room. What the hell was that? I could hear a baby crying from my phone.
No, that wasn’t coming from my phone.
I ran to my front door and stuck my head outside. Suddenly, the crying stopped. I would hate to think that I was going crazy. I… I need to get something to eat.
I pushed myself to my feet and walked to the kitchen. I just need something to eat and then I can figure out what to do from there. I turned my head and looked over at my phone. It looked so lonely and abandoned just lying there on the phone. Still, I didn’t want to pick it up. Nothing good comes from phones. Or mirrors.
I smacked myself in the cheeks. Come on, I can’t be thinking like that. Get it together. I took a deep breath. I can do this. I am going to be fine.
I have been trying to act normal for the rest of the day. Too many flashes of memory came into my head. I tried to put the pieces together. I married and I had a son. Somehow, the baby died and everything fell apart.
I rubbed my forehead.
It didn’t make any sense. I’m only eighteen. I haven’t even been kissed yet. But have I really? I turned and looked at my phone still on the floor. I should call somebody. How long have I been alone? I need to try and talk to someone. I wondered what my friends were up to over summer break.
I was just about to shove more rice into my mouth when my phone rang again. Did I will them to call me? I started to get up but froze. Something inside of me told me not to pick it up. The ringing demanded that I answer. I slowly lowered my chopsticks and walked into the living room.
“Hello?” Noriko asked.
“Good evening, dear,” a man’s voice said on the other line. At first, it didn’t register in my head.
“I’m sorry, but who is this?” I asked.
“You do know who this,” he said. I slowly shook my head.
“No,” I said. “I think you have the wrong number.”
“No, I don’t.” Why didn’t I hang up then? I had a bad feeling about this.
“What do you want from me?” I asked.
“I just want to talk, dear,” this man said. Something about the word “dear” made me cringe. I really should’ve hung up then. It got worse when he asked me one question that sent me further into a spiral.
“You really don’t remember being my patient, do you?” he asked. I froze. A flash of memory shot through my head.
“Kitano… -sensei?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “You are starting to remember. The question is how much.” I slowly shook my head.
“No… This is not happening,” I said.
“Oh, but it is,” Kitano-sensei said. “Now, how much do you remember?”
“No…” I said again. More memories started flooding back. I saw a dull grey room. Particles of dust floated around in the air. I sat on the bed with no life in my eyes. Was I even aware of where I was?
“It’s not real. It’s not real,” I mumbled to myself.
“Oh, but it is,” Kitano said. The color drained from my face.
“But I don’t even know you,” I whimpered with a trembling voice. I could feel the tears well up in my eyes.
“But you do,” he said. Then he said a last name that I hadn’t heard in years. My phone slipped from my hand and hit the phone.
I didn’t hear his voice. I don’t even remember what happened next. Before I knew, I had run out the door.
I don’t want to go back home. I didn’t take my phone with me. I don’t think I even locked the door. I looked over my shoulder. No, I can’t go back. But what am I going to do? I started to chew on my thumb again. None of this makes any sense. None of this makes any sense.
The flapping of wings made me turn my head. It was then I noticed where I was. When did I get on the playground? And it’s night? I looked down at my body. A scream built up in my chest as I saw streaks of red all over my skin. Did I do all of this? When did this happen? It felt like something was crawling underneath and burning. I shivered as I tried to remember what I did in those hours I lost. My head started to feel so fuzzy.
I think I’m going to be sick.
I took in gulps of air. I didn’t know why I was here but I didn’t want to go home either. My friend are going to wonder where I am. They couldn’t reach me if they called. I didn’t have a phone on me. I didn’t even have any pockets either. I took a look around. There was no one in sight. On the one hand, no one could see me like this. But who would find me if I broke down?
Suddenly, my body went still.
Somebody is humming in my ears. It’s almost so… so….
I could just stay here for a while. That should be fine, right?