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Miyoko no Naku Koro ni
Desperation Chapter (3rd Arc)
Episode 1: Hope
“Miyoko,” said Frederica to the little girl with her toy truck, “do you remember me?”
The Witch stood in her usual form, the Gothic version of Rika Furude, aged a few years. Her long black dress had frilly and wide sleeves of white lace, and a blueish-purple ribbon was tied in large bow over her chest. She had a black cat’s tail, or something that looked like one, and long, bluish hair with straight-cut bangs in front. Her eyes and face were empty of expression as she looked down at the child.
Miyo looked up and smiled. She seemed delighted by the sight of the Witch. “How do you know my name, Onee-san?” she asked. Before even waiting for a reply, she added, “I’m very sorry, but I can’t remember meeting anyone like you before. I think you’re really pretty, though! I like you. Let’s play together!”
“We shall be playing together for the next little while,” said Frederica, having decided to interact with the child a little more than she had previously. “Listen well. First, you must not go out with your parents today. Secondly, everything that happens from now on is a game, or a challenge, between the two of us. And thirdly, remember this: I am a Witch called Bernkastel. Now, I must depart. I have high hopes for you, Miyoko Tanashi.”
With that, Frederica vanished.
A few days later, Miyo had forgotten that entire exchange. It was the last thing on her mind. Now Miyo sat in the corner of her room at Sky House, crying silently. One of her arms was marked with three ugly burns from cigarettes. A big man named Hosoda recently finished tormenting her with those. Another girl, about a year younger than Miyo, sat wrapped in a blanket to her right, sobbing and whimpering, but not too loudly. She had large blue eyes and reddish-brown hair with blond streaks.
Presently, that girl moved closer to Miyo. She said in a timid voice, “You’re still new here, Miyoko-senpai, so you don’t have to answer. But, well, how did you end up here?”
Miyo didn’t want to answer, but when she considered again, she figured it would be better to talk about things, and maybe try to make a friend. “My parents both died when a bus crashed into their car head-on,” she stated. “It was only a few days ago.”
“That’s terrible,” said the other girl. “I’m sorry for your loss. Didn’t you have relatives?”
“None,” re;plied Miyo with a slow shake of her head. “Daddy told me to contact his professor, Hifumi Takano. But when I mentioned that to the man in the office, he said he could only send me to relatives or to an orphanage.”
“Maybe you’ll be able to contact him someday soon,” the younger girl suggested. “Oh, as for me, well… I don’t remember my parents. They either abandoned me or died when I was a baby. I was at a different orphanage for a while, and the people were nicer there, but it’s hard to remember. 3 years ago, that place closed, and I got moved to Sky House.”
“I see.” Miyo looked at the cute little girl sadly. “Um, so, my name is Miyoko, but I go by Miyo. It sounds like you’re my senpai and not the other way around. So you can just call me Miyo-san. We’ve shared a room for two nights, with those other two girls, but I’m sorry. I still don’t know any of your names yet. I’ve been too sad to care.”
“That’s understandable,” said the younger girl with a slight smile. “My name is Sayuri. The other two are, let’s see. The oldest girl, the one who wears that pink towel all the time, is Fumi-san. The girl about your age is Eriko. She’s like our leader who pulls us together. I hope the two of them come back soon.”
“Are they being punished, too?” inquired Miyo.
“No, they’re just at dinner.”
Miyo had skipped lunch and it ignored it when her name was called, which apparently was enough to warrant three painful burns that would leave lasting scars. Sayuri was punished at the same time, also burned by Hosoda. The two of them were then locked in their room and told that they would get no dinner.
“Hey, Sayuri-chan. I’m just curious.” Miyo felt like she needed to keep talking in order to stop thinking about how much her burns stung. “Why did you get punished?”
“Oh. Well…” Sayuri fidgeted awkwardly, and her cheeks flushed pink. “There’s a birdcage down in near the staff room, past the kitchens. Sometimes they let us kids go look at the birds one at a time. And I’ve been going to see the birds every day I’ve been allowed. But today, I just couldn’t stand it anymore.”
“Couldn’t stand what?”
“The birds don’t have any room to fly. Their cage is filthy. They’re prisoners, just like us. I often cried for them. So today, I took the key, opened the cage, and the window, and let all the birds go free. I actually made it so there’s a little less work and noise for the staff to deal with, but Hosoda was still angry enough to punish me.”
That story touched Miyo more than she thought anything could anymore. It almost brought tears to her eyes again. Sayuri’s brave action was moving, and showed that her personality was unusually kind, pensive, and somehow poetic. Freeing the birds also symbolized hope. Sayuri didn’t let the birds loose because she felt rebellious or defiant. She did it because she still had hope that she, too, would one day fly freely, far from this house of torment.
“I’m really glad I met you, Sayu-chan,” said Miyo softly, showing a weak smile. “And I can’t wait to meet Eriko and Fumie officially. Thanks to talking to you today… I feel like… maybe I shouldn’t give up yet.”
Sayuri returned the smile. “You definitely shouldn’t give up. It’s possible to have fun times even in a place like this. Ebina-san isn’t exactly kind, but sometimes she treats us special, like letting us go outside, lightening our punishments, or letting us borrow books. With people like Eri-san and Fumi-san, it’s even easier to have a good time. Eri-san acts so kind and giving and cheerful even when she doesn’t feel like it. And Fumi-san is kind of cute; she tries to seem elegant, but she’s still a silly kid at heart, like all of us.”
“Maybe the four of us can do something after breakfast tomorrow,” Miyo suggested. “It would really be a miracle if I could forgot the pain and just play games again.”
When she heard herself say this, Miyo froze. The words “play” and “game” brought something to her mind, but she couldn’t quite grasp what it was before it sank into the darkness of her tired brain once again. It was highly irritating, feeling like she’d almost remembered something critically important, but it slipped away again.
“What’s the matter?” asked Sayuri. “You got all stiff suddenly.”
Miyo shook her head. “It’s nothing. Maybe I’ll remember it later. I know. Let’s go ahead and lay out the futons. When Eriko and Fumie come back, they’ll be surprised.”
With a nod, Sayuri got to her feet. It felt good to have something to do.
To Be Continued
Episode 9: A Nameless Penalty
Next: Start of Arc 3: Desperation
Episode 11: Memories