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!


Author's note

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

22. Chapter 22


The table was clear. The newspaper shelves were empty. Rows of books were gone. 

I asked the old man where everything went. 

He looked at me, his expression vague. He put on his glasses and recognition appeared on his face. 

"Didn't you hear?" he said. 

"Hear what?" 

The old man pointed out the window. He said that yesterday evening a group came in and said that this library was going to be shut down. They said that the books and newspaper were to be immediately moved to a storage area and that the old man had to find another job. 

"And what job are you going to find?" I asked. 

The old man sighed. "I don't know. In my old age, what can I even do?" 

I left the library angry and confused. Somebody made a power move. Somebody followed me and saw me reading the newspapers. Somebody became suspicious and panicked. Somebody made a mistake. 

The mistake: they exposed themselves. Whoever wanted to close down the library was likely connected to Yuki's murder. But there were only a few people with the power and influence to close down a municipal facility on such short notice. Which meant that now it became easy for me to narrow down possible suspects. 

I glanced back at the library. Through the window I could see the old man hunched over his desk, guarding books that no longer needed guarding. I felt sorry for him. What else could he do? 

I shoved my hands into my pockets. It was time to see Yuki. 




I made my way back to Hana no Sato and walked through the main entrance. Took off my shoes and went down into the basement and stayed there for thirty minutes. 

There was a fair chance that somebody was staked out at the library, waiting for me to come. And if someone was there, then they probably followed me back. Which meant it was dangerous to go into the forest right away.

After half an hour I went out through the basement employee entrance. I climbed up the outside stairs to ground level and instead of going on the main road, I walked on the side path behind the ryokan. 

Nothing to my left, nothing to my right. I glanced behind me. Only silence.

I made my way to the forest. 




This time it took me ages to get to Yuki's forest. Because I spent ages double backing. I wasn't stupid: whoever killed Yuki, whoever followed me to the forest, whoever shut down the library was probably a local. Somebody who spent their whole life here. Which meant that I could never outrun them on home ground.

So I worked with the assumption that I was watched. From somewhere. A window here, a corner there. Any local on the streets could be a spy. Or the killer. 

I walked around for an hour. Checked out the shops, talked to some tourists, then went back to Hana no Sato again. Why did I do that? Because I needed to look the part of someone who had given up on his investigation and decided to dedicate himself to advertising the Hana no Sato ryokan to incoming tourists. Make it look like Aunt Reiko had sent me out. 

It was sundown. My legs were exhausted, but I wasn't done yet. I had to see Yuki. 

Aunt Reiko was out for another village meeting. Which meant that right now was my window of opportunity. Whoever killed Yuki had the power to shut down the library effective immediately. And whoever had that power most likely had to attend this meeting. 

I told Miyazono that I was going out for a walk. She gave me a look of uncertainty and told me to be careful. Which was surprising. I expected for her to try to stop me. 

I went out. 

A sliver of sun hung above the mountain tops. Everything was painted in an orange light: the buildings, the trees, the snow. I thought it all looked like an artist's impression rather than reality. As though a feeling hung in the air that couldn't be expressed in words. The village seemed like a memory. As though it were an image from a bygone age. 

I wondered if Yuki saw the same sight when she was alive. What did she feel? What memories came to mind? What plans did she have? What dreams and hopes? 

It was getting colder. Time was running out. 

Up the gentle rise, past the huts at the edge of the village and into the forest. 

The cold air filled my lungs. The scent of snow everywhere. The birds have gone quiet. The whole world was preparing to sleep. 


A gentle gust. A voice behind me.


"It's been a while."



A/N: thank you for reading! Anything you want to see next? Comment below :) 

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