It was autumn, then. The leaves were falling outside. Saya was working on a strange case, though not quite as morbid as many of their other cases were. She was looking into a village far from the city, a supposed disturbance in the air brought on by the local religion.
Her brother had just returned from abroad three days before. It had been a long time since he was home. She gave him a hard time, saying that she pitied the future spouse he would marry, the future kids he’d leave behind, the little sister that would be too old to run after him.
“Must be easy being you, leaving all the work to someone else.” She was shaking her head as she shifted through boxes of books, old papers, in the parlor. History laid at their feet. “You get to go to all those nice places, while I have to stay here.”
“We can switch next time,” he said.
“You’d be a mess if I left you here all alone. The house would be a disaster. Shambles.”
“Might not even be a house left,” he added.
She grinned wide. She was always first to forgive him, even when they had arguments that left her fuming.
She was researching old folk tales. A nun who was starving that ate the meat of a sacred creature, and unknowingly cursed herself into an unending life, who was rumored to live in the village to this day. A disaster took place there over ten years ago, and thirty-three people disappeared. Those with connections to the village had asked for her help before in searching for their loved ones, their friends.
She considered making a trip, but waited to consult Masamune instead. They always relied on one another for direction. If there was any trait they shared, it was crippling indecision—Let me ask Masa, I want to see what he thinks. I need to hear what Saya has to say first. They pulled each other along, never knowing where, guessing at the turns, the route.
But she was losing patience. The sight of the open books put her off without warning. She closed the one in her lap, a slim novel from the Edo period about the Yaobikuni. The final lines echoed in her mind—“…what did she know? She was no more than a child, but alas, all sins are the same…”
She watched Masamune at the table, paging through an academic paper she found in the archives.
“We have all of this, but it’s rather pointless. Wouldn’t you say so?”
“I don’t follow,” he said, but he did not seem to be listening.
“I mean…” She struggled for the words. “It’s just a glimpse into a world we’re not a part of—not yet. And even then…”
“You could say that about anything, couldn’t you?”
He was paying closer attention now. She noticed him looking up at her, his voice more focused. “That it’s pointless. You can’t know everything.”
“That’s true. But it’s different with us, it always has been.”
They had grown quiet now. A soft breeze blew past their window.
The two of them used to tease the other for their failed love lives—one of them was too restrained, the other too distracted—but they both knew, in the end, that this was never the reason.
Between them--a lifetime of loss.
“We’ll meet each other again next time, won’t we, Masa?”
Saya looked past her brother and at the scenery behind the glass panes. The trees outside the mansion were colored like the sun.
“Yes, Saya. We will.”