Red Heart

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Chapter 7

At her wits end, Mrs. Suzuki had no choice but to visit a doctor. To her dismay, it was recommended Minami be put on a very powerful medication. Never one to argue with someone who knew far more about topics she was mostly ignorant to, Mrs. Suzuki agreed.

Though she put up a valiant fight every time her mother demanded she take one of her pills, Minami always lost the battle. Such a heavy prescription was it that it took no time at all for Minami to succumb to sleep each night.

Kazumi continued to come to Minami’s room each night, but the young girl was far too deep in her slumber to be awoken by even her greatest fear.

Such a deep sleep did the medication put Minami in that it took quite some cajoling each morning just to wake her. The first morning was especially harrowing as Minami’s mother thought her daughter was in some kind of drug-induced coma.

After a few days, Mrs. Suzuki decided it was time for Yuko to come back to the house. She wanted Minami to get better acclimated to her medication before introducing her back to the outside world.

Upon arriving at the Suzuki house, Yuko found Minami once again doodling in the living room. It seemed to her that the medication was having no real negative effects. Yuko’s mind was immediately changed when she found Minami was drawing nothing more than a blotch. The look on her face made her seem as if her mind had been separated from her body.

“Minami,” said a smiling Yuko, trying to get a smile from her. But there was no smile. Minami did nothing more than continue to swirl her crayon around the paper.

“She gets like this sometimes,” said Mrs. Suzuki.

To keep Minami from hearing such a sensitive conversation, Yuko and Mrs. Suzuki took to the kitchen to speak.

“I didn’t want it to come to this,” said Mrs. Suzuki. “Putting Minami on medication was the last thing that I wanted. But nothing has worked. She just kept getting worse. She kept saying ‘that woman is trying to get me’ over and over. She was screaming in her sleep. I didn’t have a choice.” Tears began to well up in Mrs. Suzuki’s eyes. “I just want my daughter to be happy. I didn’t know what else to do.”

With a new resolve, Yuko paid another visit to Mrs. Watanabe’s house that evening. She didn’t know if she would find anything that could be of use, but if there was anything buried away in those newspapers that could help Minami in even the slightest, then Yuko would find it.

For hours Yuko scanned newspaper after newspaper. Her body was sore from sitting in the same position for so long and her vision was beginning to blur, but those minor obstacles would do nothing to deter Yuko.

“Young girl slain by mother” read a headline that caused Yuko’s heart to nearly stop. What made the headline all the more disturbing was the fact that there was a picture of the Suzuki house right beneath it.

As fast as she could, Yuko read the story. The name of the young girl had been omitted, but her mother’s name was given. “32 year Tomomi Ono was arrested after confessing to the murder of her daughter,” read Yuko. “Days before the confession, she told police that her daughter had wandered away from home and never returned. But a guilty conscious compelled her to confess everything to the authorities. When asked why she would commit such a horrible crime, Ono told investigators that her husband had left her for another woman and left her to raise their child on her own. Her frustrations turned deadly when she found her daughter had drawn . . . a red heart on her bedroom wall. In a blind rage, Ono strangled her daughter. She then buried the body in the woods just outside of town.”

A feeling of great sadness filled Yuko. She had known nothing of the case only minutes earlier, but she somehow felt a connection to it through her friendship with Minami.

The light suddenly began to flicker. When Yuko began tapping on the bulb, the sound of something scratching at the closet door filled the room. Minami’s heart began to race. “Hello,” she asked in a voice that even she could barely hear.

Taking a few timid steps toward the closet, Yuko called out again. “Hello, is someone in there?” The only response was more scratching.

With a trembling hand, Yuko took hold of the closet door. She then very slowly opened it. Something that moved so quickly that it was only a black blur jumped out at her, forcing a terrified scream to burst from Yuko.

Mrs. Watanabe rushed into the room. “What happened?” she asked. The black cat that had burst from the closet began rubbing against its owners leg. “Tom cat, where have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I thought you ran away.”

Finding that it was only a cat that had scared her so gave Yuko a great feeling of relief. A small part of her had led her to believe a ghost had come for her.

“What have you been eating?” Mrs. Watanabe asked her cat, picking him off the floor and cradling him in her arms as a mother would with her infant. “You look so fat. Did you find a mouse? It looks like you don’t need your mommy to survive, do you? Sorry, Yuko, I didn’t know he was in here.”

“That’s okay,” replied Yuko. “I found what I was looking for.”

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