It was a rainy day when he finally sat her down to talk. It had been… how long? Days, surely, but perhaps even weeks. A month… who knows? She surely didn’t. Just sitting at the kitchen table, burnt fish on her plate and him mindlessly chopping his up across from her, felt like eternity.
When was the last time it had rained?
She couldn’t seem to recall, and it left a lingering bad taste in her mouth whenever she found her memories empty.
Her sense of time had been stunted sometime ago, and if she could, she would be able to pinpoint the exact moment, but no… that memory had long been washed away by the rain outside, down a drain somewhere in town, never to be found again. Damn, when it rained, it poured. The roof whined from above, and Shiori couldn’t help looking up to watch the drops pound against the metal roof. They would never break through, though never stopped trying.
Then there was a sound of scratching, ripping and a silhouette pulled her attention from the roof back to her untouched ash-fish. There, placed carefully by her hand was a little memo with extremely familiar handwriting. Her eyes shifted up to Suga, but he was already shoving a piece of burnt fish in his mouth, too focused on the contents of his fork to meet her gaze.
Sometimes, he was so quiet, she forgot he was there at all. Her heart squeezed in her chest. She was so glad he was there, but she wished she could remember what his voice sounded like, and if she liked it or not. She thought she did.
Shiori plucked the note from the table,
‘What are you looking at?’
Her face flushed, and she pressed a shy hand against her cheek, soaking the heat from her cheek into her hand, hoping he hadn’t noticed.
This time his eyes flashed up to hers, meeting for an instant with a small, tight smile, then even his white skin flushed pink before his eyes quickly returned to his plate. There was so much she wanted to ask him, but it was so strange to reply out loud when all he would do was write in response.
She longed for a pen, but even more so, she just longed for him to speak. She stared down longingly at her lap where her hands rested with his crumpled note. If only she could remember what all she wanted to say, maybe all of this wouldn’t be so hard.
Another scratching sound, ripping, and when she looked up, there was another note.
Her heart thumped in her chest and her face was warming by the second. Then, she remembered the rain. How silly. He wouldn’t be able to read her mind, there was no way he could ask her why she had so much to say and why it would be so hard to say it. In all honesty, she didn’t even know what she would say back. Shiori stared for a long time at the paper, trying to come up with a good response, but only silence felt comfortable. She looked across the table where Suga clutched a pen, poised over a pad of memos. He wasn’t looking at her, but the way he stared at the paper, eyes narrowed, forehead wrinkled, she knew he was waiting on her response. So much for “talking.”
With new found frustration, she slid his note off the table and placed it, balled up, in her lap with the other one before picking up her utensils and digging into her own fish. Her eyes rested solely on her meal, but his gaze on her was like a weight. He was surely confused, or maybe just still curious… there was no telling, and he certainly wouldn’t be telling her unless he could write it down. The ash-fish stuck to the roof of her mouth and coated her tongue in a thin film she didn’t think would go away until tomorrow.
Shiori heard scratching and ripping again, but before he could slide it to her side of the table, she picked up her plate, carried it over to the garbage where she scraped off the rest of the fish and set the black smudged plate on the counter. She would wash it later, she swore to herself, but she was terribly tired.
She made it a point not to look at him as she left the kitchen, and went back to the living room… or museum foyer, depending on whether someone were to actually visit or not. It was rare anyone ever did, even though the town was booming with new excavations and history being dug up in the mountains. New things were being uncovered all the time and brought to the museum for display, yet no one really cared to relive the horrors which made the town what it was today. Shiori surely didn’t, but she longed for someone to just share those memories with… to relay everything to someone who might understand and listen. That’s what she really wanted: someone to just listen.
But for now, she was content just listening to her own thoughts. Shiori shut her eyes, leaned back, and allowed her mind to wander, to remember why she had remained at the museum in the first place, and to decide if it was even worth it.
Until, there was a knock on the front door.
Her eyes shot open. Why would someone knock? Sure, it was a house, but it was also a museum. People could come and go as they pleased as long as they were open. Something didn’t feel right.
Her heart thumped in her chest, rhythmic and quick, not unlike the rain on the roof. It rang so loud in her ears, she could scarcely tell the difference. Her eyes flicked to the hallway where she knew Suga was, waiting in the kitchen. Had he heard the door? Would he be as worried as she was?
She waited a few more seconds before another knock sounded, and she realized Suga wasn’t coming. Hesitantly, she stood up and walked to the door. Sweat was beginning to bead on her forehead. She attempted to wipe them away only to have more appear in their place. Her damp hands slid as she gripped the door handle and pulled it open. On the other side she found the mayor of the town, pink slip in one hand, umbrella in the other.
“Mrs. Kanzaki? What a nice surprise. Is Suga in?”
Though she spoke to the mayor, her eyes were stuck on the pink slip where Suga’s name was haphazardly scrawled. Wasn’t pink supposed to be a friendly color?
“No. Can I help you, sir?”
The mayor cleared his throat and thrust the paper out to Shiori which she took with shaking hands, catching a few of the rain droplets on the page as it was transferred from one hand to the other.
“If you will, please see that he gets this. In regards to the museum, since you relinquished your rights as owner to Suga and he established this as a town museum for the public, our council has decided his role as proprietor and host is insufficient with the town’s needs. His contract with the town has been terminated. We will be interviewing for his replacement in the coming weeks.”
The mayor lifted his hat as a farewell before turning and marching out into the rain. Shiori stood frozen, gripping the damp paper in her hands, shaking. She wanted to scream after him, to stop him, to demand answers, but her voice was gone. She was silent. There were steps. Her eyes flicked over to the hallway where Suga stood. His eyes were wide and his hands gripping a memo – the one she had left only a few moments ago.
Shiori looked to the paper in her hands again, and noted how the rain looked like tears. Even the sky was in mourning as the rain seemed to increase in strength. She read over all that the mayor had already explained, then noted at the bottom was their deadline.
They had two weeks to prove Suga could handle it. She looked at him again, and found even his eyes were beginning to swell with tears… and like rain, his tears fell.