The Snow Maiden

I was always a straight B student. Because a C made me look dumb and an A wasn't worth the effort. Scoring an A is for suckers. This pissed off the wrong people (my parents), so I was punished by being sent out here: a village in the snow country. But instead of building character, I met this village's darkest secret: the girl in the snow. She was dead and she changed my life. - UPDATES EVERY MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY!

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My latest story! I think it's the best yet :)
AA

19. Chapter 19

I knew what I had to do. 


My calendar: two weeks left in this village. Then I had to do go back to Tokyo because the new school year would start. Before I would count the days before I could go back. Now I counted them again, but for a different reason. 


Two weeks to find out what happened to Yuki. 


For the next couple of days, I stayed quiet. I did my work diligently, gossiped with Miyazono, tried to avoid Aunt Reiko, avoided stepping outside.  Because I didn’t know who was watching me.


It's a funny thing. Miyazono somehow found more work to lay on me while Aunt Reiko softened her attitude towards me. She even gave me a can of Coke to drink. What an outrageous expense! Something must be wrong with her. But I digress, for whatever reason, Aunt Reiko acted kinder towards me. After work she invited me to her office to chat. She asked me how my mother was, how everything was going in Tokyo. 


I told her that everything was fine. I had two years of high school left and then I'd go to a university to study something - God knows what though. 


"Is that so...well, then that is good to hear. How is Miyazono treating you? I see that she is working you hard." 


Ugh, it felt creepy how caring Aunt Reiko was all of the sudden. I'd almost prefer it if she kept her distant demeanor. Almost. A kind Aunt Reiko is still better than an Aunt Reiko who'd willingly starve me as punishment. 


"Why don't you go outside?" she suggested one time. "Fresh air will do you good." 


I only smiled slightly and said something about more work needing to be done. Aunt Reiko looked like she had something else to say, but I excused myself. 


There was a reason why I stayed inside and out of sight. It was all part of my plan. 


Anyways, back to Aunt Reiko. Miyazono and I somehow ended up working together a lot. One time I asked her why she assigned my work shifts to be the same as hers, and she said that, "somebody has to keep an eye on you." 


After work, she'd drag me to the kitchen and cook a simple meal. Rice, miso soup, maybe some leftover fish from dinner. Even though it was Miyazono's fault that I was drowning in work, I still enjoyed these late night meals with her. We'd gossip about the guests, about Aunt Reiko, about anything in the village. Sometimes I’d tell her about stuff that happened in Tokyo. Sometimes she’d tell me about country life. 


I told her about how Aunt Reiko suddenly began to act kind towards me and how weird that was. I asked her if she knew what was up with Aunt Reiko. 


Miyazono thought for a while, arms crossed, her eyes closed. She asked me for the today’s date and I told her. 


She said, "I'm not completely sure, but I think this week might be the anniversary of Aunt Reiko's husband's death." 


Oh...I said nothing. 


Miyazono leaned across the table. Her hair smelled nice. I steeled my will to not stare at where my eyes want to rest. 


In a whisper she said, "You know, I was going to ask you about this...but a few days ago I saw Aunt Reiko eating by herself and she was crying...but she always eats by herself, so I wasn't sure why she would cry…”


I recalled how Aunt Reiko suddenly asked me about Mom and how my life in Tokyo was and how it felt like she wanted to talk...Oh God, I think I might have done something horrible to her. 


I looked at Miyazono and said, "Nobody likes to eat alone." 


There was surprise on her face. Those were her words. 


Miyazono said, "I guess it is on the anniversary of her husband's death that she feels lonely." A moment of silence. She was thinking about something. I waited. 


She said, "And I think that maybe it is on days like these when the loneliness becomes unbearable, when you realize that you are all alone in this world and there is no one you can share a meal with." 


Again she was saying philosophical stuff like this. But this time I agreed with her. It wasn't too difficult to imagine myself in Aunt Reiko's shoes. She probably didn't have many friends because she was working all the time and she couldn't call people like me and Miyazono and the other employees her friends because it was still a boss to employee relationship. And being a widow at such a young age and without children, there is no one she can turn to. 


I said, "Do you think there is something we can do for her?" 


Oh God, I can't believe that I said that. The demon that worked me like a horse, the callous monster that starved me, the warden that kept me in my prison cell of a room — and now I wanted to help her. 


But still. After hearing all that, there was no way I couldn't help her. She was still family. For better or worse. 

 

Miyazono smiled and said, "Nobody likes to eat alone."

 

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A/N: Do you think they should make something nice for Aunt Reiko?

 

 

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