Miyoko no Naku Koro ni
Episode 11: Memories
In a dream, Miyo heard an eerily familiar voice say these words.
“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.”
She had stayed up longer than the other three girls, as long as she could, just thinking, thinking, and striving to remember. She felt there was something she desperately needed to recall. But she soon wished she had never tried. After hearing the words in her sleep, Miyo woke up, only to find her mind abruptly flooded with memories. She didn’t just remember the brief exchange with Bernkastel on the day her parents died. Miyo also saw flashbacks and memories of the other two worlds she had lived through. All the feelings of those worlds came along as well.
How best to describe Miyo’s pain? It was like her parents had died and left her three times. It was like she had been beaten, burned, and tormented not once but almost a dozen times. The terror and horror of death returned, as she recalled slowly running out of air in the coffin, and the feeling of Hosoda’s big hands choking her. It was tortuous and physically sickening to think of Eriko’s hideous death again. Burning hatred for Ebina and the other staff members from the first world. The attempt to murder Hosoda in the second world. The physical pain. The emotional pain. All the feelings were too much for Miyo to handle.
And one of the worst parts of it all was remembering how that Witch appeared to her in both worlds, and indeed in this third world, too. In Miyo’s mind, it was clear that this terrible existence, Bernkastel, had cursed her, and caused all the pain and deaths so far. Bernkastel had said this time, “I’ll be playing with you for the next little while.” So, that evil Witch planned to ruin this world too, and kill Miyo again. The child trembled, scratching and pulling at her hair, her brown eyes wide. At last she couldn’t handle being silent any longer.
“Why me?” she screamed, there in the middle of the night. “Why are you doing this to me? What did I ever do that was so wrong? I don’t want to die! I hate it and I’m terrified! You damn Witch! How dare you curse me?! How dare you kill me?! How dare you kill Eriko?! You goddamn demon Witch! You want to fight?! Then come down here and fight me, you coward!”
This woke up all the girls in the room, and some of the staff in the halls and downstairs. Halfway through Miyo’s screaming, Eriko and Fumie got up and came close to her, begging her to be quiet. Miyo only stopped screaming because those two girls decided to knock her over and hold her down with their bodies.
Eriko put a hand over Miyo’s mouth and hissed into her ear, “Do you want the rest of us to get punished because of you? Even Sayuri? Shut up and snap out of it, Miyo-chan!”
“Eriko,” Miyo said shakily when the girl removed her hand, “you — you’re going to — you’ll die! You’ll die all over again. And Fumie, you’re a dirty traitor! You betrayed me. You even betrayed Eriko. Are that obsessed with Sayuri? I bet you lust after her, you homo! Let me go, both of you! Sayu-chan, give me the key! The key to the birdcage. Give it here!!!” Unconsciously, Miyo’s voice had risen to a savage shout once again.
For a moment, the three other girls were too shocked and confused to know what to do, or to say anything. Meisa Ebina entered the room at that time, kicking open the door angrily. Her face looked poisonously irate. But knowing Ebina, she had run here before anyone else to handle things herself and ensure that nobody hurt the kids too badly.
“What the bloody hell is wrong with you, child?!” the green-haired woman demanded of Miyo. She, of course, didn’t shout, but her words sounded extremely fierce nevertheless.
Miyo was silent for a moment, looking at Ebina blankly. Then she asked in a low voice, “Why are you even here at Sky House? Are you on our side or not? I don’t understand you at all.”
Ebina seemed taken aback for a few seconds, but then she stepped forward and slapped Miyo’s face. “You’re not only an impudent brat,” she growled; “you’re also talking complete nonsense! What is wrong? Did you hit your head? Did you fall?” Ebina took a sharp breath and then put her hands on Miyo’s shoulders, giving her a shake. “Answer me! Did Hosoda or someone else hit you on the head? Have you vomited today?”
“She wasn’t hit,” Sayuri offered timidly. “I was with her all afternoon and evening.” She looked at Miyo, who was staring blankly at nothing, looking very mentally unstable indeed.
“Tch.” Ebina clicked her tongue and stood up from where she’d been kneeling next to Miyo. “And I had high hopes for you, too. Perhaps you could be of use in my plan, I thought. A smart girl like you. Now your mind is broken. Utterly useless.”
To the other three girls, the woman said, “Get her back into bed again and hold her down if you have to. It’s the middle of the night and I don’t feel like dishing out punishments. I was going to let you all play outside tomorrow, but that’s canceled. You’ll all get half-portions at breakfast. Now, I’m going back to sleep. Do not wake me again, if you value your little sniveling lives.” Ebina left it at that, exiting the room and closing and locking the door behind her.
Miyo went to bed peacefully after Ebina’s words — that is, she returned to her futon and stopped saying strange things. But she stayed awake the rest of the night, her widened brown eyes staring at the ceiling. Eriko and company, despite being confused and a little disturbed, managed to fall asleep again. In the small hours of the morning, when it was still dark, Miyo slowly and silently crawled out of her futon. Her face remained frozen in the same expression: one of desperation and fear. Stealthily, she looked through Sayuri’s things and found the birdcage key.
Thanks to what she remembered from the past world, Miyo knew this key would open the back door. She couldn’t afford another thought for her companions. They would suffer, but if Miyo was gone, at least they wouldn’t be killed by a Witch’s curse. Miyo had to leave right away, all by herself, to make sure the curse didn’t affect anyone else. And maybe — just maybe — by leaving Sky House, Miyo could escape this labyrinth of despair created for her.
With the key in hand, the child crept down the stairs and tip-toed toward the back door.
“Stop!” a voice exclaimed from behind Miyo, just as the lock clicked open.
The voice belonged to Hosoda.
To Be Continued
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