I look up at the glistening night sky, specks of light pierce through inky clouds. I turn and look down the valley at the lights of the once bustling city. Often I find myself staring for hours, from this place of peace, separate from my darkened life. The contours of the gentle hills direct the bite of the wind to jab at my skin. I know every street, every passage, every building. But from here, I can almost begin to believe that I don't, that this is the first time I have seen this place of misery. But the truth always returns: This is where I live, but I know that soon, I must leave.
Morning. Another dreary morning. Cold biting winds creep in through my frosty windows, the rising sun obscured by chilling condensation. Autumn has arrived, rows of trees once a vibrant emerald now a rusty gold. I can see little beauty, all I see is loss. As leaf after leaf falls, trodden into the earth by passers-by, I know that once again my morning will be filled with loneliness. Just another dreary morning in this never-changing town.
I manage to persuade my limbs to cooperate, forcing myself out of bed. Weary. When am I not? I don't sleep these days, or at least very little. My head constantly swimming with worries that haunt me perpetually. Only two terms remain at this school, after which I will move to a small town just outside Tokyo to pursue the family trade. I have no say, my grades could easily get me into college, but I can't go. My future is all mapped out, predetermined. So why bother? There is nothing for me here. But then, there is nothing for me anywhere.
I hear a muffled shout from my Aunt, Suziko. I'm looking after her until she is stable enough to work again. She contracted malaria on a business trip a couple of months ago, though it wasn't serious enough to remain in hospital, she is still on medication and suffers from extreme exhaustion.
Every day I make her food and clean the house before I go to school, then when I get back, I make her more food, check she's taken her medicine and ignore her claims that she doesn't need me any more.
And every night I go to my room, try and force myself to work, but I fail. I just lie on my bed, wishing for something to happen. Or someone to knock on that door and tell me that I can go.
But they never do.
Every day is the same, no one new, no change.