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They were happy. Everyone could see it. They loved each other more than anything else. They were complete opposites. No one knew how they were compatible but it worked for them. They were happy.

If only it could’ve stayed that way.

Betrayal. It was one end no one saw coming. They didn’t expect them to end at all. Maybe a fallout but never betrayal.

It was her fault. It was all her fault. If only she could go back and change everything.

***

“Kirari, I don’t like this.”

Blue eyes gleamed in amusement. “Don’t worry, Sayaka. I’ve got it under control.”

It’s been ten years since they graduated. Kirari was still running the Momobami Clan. Sayaka was now a university professor. Naturally, she excelled in college and graduated early. Nonetheless, Kirari pulled a few strings to ensure Sayaka got her position, not that she needed to. But she doesn’t need to know that. The past few years were heaven. It was almost like a happily ever after.

Almost. It was then where she made her biggest mistake.

Shiori Amaha was her name. She was the heiress of a major company. Not only that, she was one of the most wanted bachelorettes in Japan. She was also Sayaka’s complete opposite. She was drop dead gorgeous. Dark hair that shimmered in the light, curves that left you wanting for days, long legs that went on and on. She caught Kirari’s attention, hook, line, and sinker. Everywhere she went, someone was always looking. How could Sayaka compete?

“What do you mean ‘engaged’?”

Sayaka’s distraught voice didn’t affect Kirari in the slightest.

“It’s exactly as I said.”

That was it. That was the whole conversation. Kirari was getting married to Shiori.

Sayaka couldn’t sleep that night. She didn’t toss and turn. She didn’t want to disturb Kirari any more. Her chest aches at the thought. Kirari was marrying someone else. What would happen to her? Kirari was the head of the Hundred Devouring Families. She was nothing, a nobody. She had no status or money. She came from a middle class family and was raised in the suburbs.

She left for work the next morning with a heavy heart. She didn’t sleep a wink. She got up early and left before Kirari could wake up.

Where were you this morning?

Sayaka read the text for the hundredth time.

I had some last minute papers to grade. Sorry. I didn’t want to wake you.

It wasn’t a total lie. She did have a small stack of essays to finish but those didn’t have to be put into the system until the end of the week.

The next few weeks were infuriating. Sayaka did her best to get her mind off the marriage but she couldn’t help it. Every time she looked at Kirari, she would only imagine her with another woman. She’d be forgotten and left alone.

Kirari wrapped her arms around Sayaka’s neck as she sat at the island surrounded by several stacks of papers.

“Something’s bothering you,” she announced. “I can tell.”

Sayaka froze. She didn’t respond.

“Is this about the engagement?”

Still no response. Kirari took that as a yes.

“Sayaka, you don’t have anything to worry about. It’s only a ceremony and a legal document. This is just like a business deal. I love you and only you.”

She gently pecked her cheek. Sayaka’s heart melted just a little bit.

“Now, what do you want for dinner?”

She should’ve known. Kirari was just a smooth talker. Shiori moved in the next month. They said something about keeping up appearances. The penthouse that she and Kirari shared no longer felt like home. Sayaka felt like an intruder. The soon-to-be-married couple got along very well. She felt awkward most of the time. She watched from the sidelines as they got closer and closer. Shiori was slowly replacing Sayaka’s place in Kirari’s life. At least, that’s what it looked like. Even Ririka asked about it only to be brushed off by her sister.

She moved out after three months. She couldn’t put up with the sight even if she was the one who slept at Kirari’s side every night. She moved back home.

“I got a job offer back home,” she told Kirari. That was a lie. “I was thinking of staying at my parents’ house until I find my own place.”

Kirari observed her coolly.

“You don’t have to work,” she finally said. “I have enough money to support the both of us.”

“Kirari, we’ve been over this.”

“Yes, yes, I know. You want to be independent.”

Those blue eyes she loves so much looks at her with adoration. For a moment she could fool herself into thinking everything was fine.

“Just take care of yourself.”

They were a five hour plane ride away from each other. The job she had gotten was better and she had quickly found a studio apartment that was just right for her. Even though she felt a little better, she could help the empty feeling inside.

Every afternoon, she came home to an empty apartment. There were no mischievous smiles or warm welcoming kisses. There was just her and the muted sound of other tenants moving around.

Kirari visited her a month after she moved. She opened the door was swept off her feet. Literally. They landed on the couch in a flurry of kisses. Sayaka laughed in what felt like forever. It was just like old times. She looked above her into crystal eyes bright like the sky. Kirari looked so carefree. For Sayaka, this was like a breath of fresh air.

“I missed you, Sayaka.”

“I missed you too.”

They spent the night together. Kirari was with her for the week. For once, Sayaka came back to a home cooked meal, albeit a little burnt, and welcoming kisses. The atmosphere was warm. It felt like home.

Her heart broke when Kirari had to leave.

“Well, I’ve got a flight to catch,” she announced. “Shiori’s waiting for me.”

She gave Sayaka a small kiss.

“I’ll see you soon.”

Sayaka watched her leave and waited until she turned the corner at the end of the hallway. She closed the door and made it into her bedroom before she broke down. How could she have forgotten? Kirari was meant to be with someone else.

A few months later, Kirari had visited again. She had been coming and going every so often but she always went back to Shiori. Sayaka couldn’t take it anymore.

“I think this has to end,” Sayaka said.

Kirari looked at her curiously.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean us. This… thing that we have. It has to end.”

“This thing?”

“Yes, this thing. I can’t keep doing this, Kirari. You have a fiancé. You’re getting married at the end of the year.”

“I told you, it’s only officially.”

Kirari looked at her with a gleam in her eye.

“You’re still my number one.”

Sayaka closed her eyes as she composed herself. Damn Kirari for knowing her so well.

“I barely see you anymore. This isn’t going to work.”

Blue eyes widened in surprise. kirari was starting to get upset.

“You’re the one who moved out first.”

“Only because your fiancé moved in. I can’t take it seeing you with someone else.”

Kirari opened her mouth but no sound came out.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Sayaka steeled herself for what she was going to do next.

“You need to leave.”

“What?”

“I said, you need to leave.”

“Sayaka, don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m serious.”

“Alright, alright.”

Sayaka gently closed the door behind her.

She cried herself to sleep that night.

For the next few days, Kirari kept banging on the door. Sayaka refused to get out of bed. She called in sick for the week and didn’t move unless she needed the restroom or food.

Eventually, Kirari left, getting the hint. She stopped coming and there were no more texts or calls. Sayaka felt more alone than before. Maybe it was a mistake but she’d rather be alone than watch Kirari spend the rest of her life with someone else.

The wedding was in December. It was March. Sayaka has taken to wearing long sleeves. She was ashamed of herself and she covered up what she had done. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It had already been two months since they had broken it off but her heart felt just as heavy. The cuts on her arms stung. It felt like a relief. It was wrong. She knew it was. But it reminded her that she was alive. Every waking moment was filled with emptiness. She felt dead. She went through the motions everyday. It was like a cycle that never ended. Still, she never once stopped thinking about her. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t even if she could.

As the months went by the cuts accumulated. It had gotten worse when she saw a clip of them on the news. It was the first time she had gotten a glimpse of Kirari for over half a year. The big announcement was everywhere. It only brought her despair. She could still vividly remember when she felt like the luckiest person in the world. She remembers how Kirari looked at her like she was her everything. For a while, she believed she was. She couldn’t help but wonder if their relationship was a mistake too.

The invitation had come in the mail. It was two months away. She was surprised she was even invited. They hadn’t spoken in almost a year. She didn’t think Kirari would even remember her by now. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to go. Just to say goodbye one last time. And to make sure Kirari was happy, even if she wasn’t.

***

When she was told to leave, Kirari thought she was joking, wasn’t thinking clearly. But as she came back day after day with no reply, she realized she wasn’t. Kirari went back that day feeling like someone took something of hers. It felt like something was missing.

She didn’t try to contact her. If Sayaka wanted to talk, she’d reach out first. Kirari had hoped she would. She couldn’t really imagine Sayaka living without her.

Nothing came after a month. She sent someone to check on her, make sure she was okay. It wasn’t like her to stay away for that long. When they told her Sayaka was fine, she didn’t know if she should feel happy or upset. Happy she was fine, or upset that she really meant they couldn’t work out. She didn’t know what this feeling was but she didn’t like it.

Shiori helped take her mind off things for a little while. The helped replace the empty space in the bed a few times. It was only fucking. There were no emotions between them. It was just a distraction. It was a distraction from what was really important. She wished she’d known it sooner.

They were like that until the wedding. Kirari had sent out the invitation. She got her RSVP back. For once she became excited. Not because of the wedding. She’d get to see her again. Even if it was just for the day. She wanted to know how she was doing. Maybe they could even work things out.

It was a grand ceremony. The vows were said, the rings were given. Almost five hundred people came. Most were wealthy businessmen, few were family. Ever since the beginning, she’d been eyeing the empty seat in the front row. As they waited for the bride to come out, she was waiting for one single person. No one noticed her impatience except her sister.

“Don’t worry. She’ll be here. She never misses anything unless she lets someone know first.”

Right. Sayaka would’ve told her if she wasn’t coming. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the organ. It was time.

Even as the preacher droned on, she kept glancing at the seat. It stayed empty. She didn’t come. For the first time, Kirari felt disappointment.

The reception was just as grand as the wedding. She moved around the room, mingling with the guests, all the while looking for a specific person. It wasn’t like her to be late. It was more likely for Sayaka to be one hour early than one minute late.

The day had gone by without a trace of her. The guests slowly filtered out and the newlyweds went home. The wedding night wasn’t special. Kirari wasn’t in the mood. She refused even as her new wife pestered her.

Wife. It didn’t seem right somehow. They had done everything right. They had the ceremony, the reception, and the marriage certificate. Maybe having a wife didn’t suit her.

The next morning, she plugged in her phone. She had forgotten to charge it the night before and now it was dead. The honeymoon phase everyone kept talking about didn’t happen. To Kirari, it felt like any other day.

She came back a couple hours later to her phone sufficiently charged. There were several messages congratulating her on her marriage. She skimmed right through them. There was one voice message from an unknown number.

“This is Grandview Hospital calling on behalf of Sayaka Igarashi…”

Kirari’s heart turned to ice at the words. Hospital? Why was she there?

She threw on the first thing she could get her hands on. She called her driver and she ordered him to go as fast as possible. She cursed the city traffic the whole way.

She entered the reception and demanded the room number. The receptionist wore a fake smile but she could care less.

“She’s on the third floor, room 4092.”

Kirari raced into the elevator. She’d never felt this scared in her whole life. Her heart was racing but it was different from when she gambled.

Please be okay, please be okay.

She raced to the door. She opened it abruptly, startling the nurse checking the machines.

Kirari stood frozen in the doorway when she spotted her lying in the bed, hooked up to several machines. The wires surrounded her and she looked so small, so vulnerable. Kirari collapses into the chair at her side.

“What happened?”

The nurse began to explain. “There was a drunk driver. It hit the taxi and she was sent to the OR for emergency surgery. Several broken ribs, fractured hip…”

Kirari barely listened to the list of injuries. She knew she should’ve been listening but she kept staring at the face in front of her. The breathing tube brought her back to the present.

“…she had minimal brain activity so we had to put her on life support.”

After a few more words, the nurse left the room. Kirari carefully grabbed a hold of her hand, making sure to avoid the wires. This couldn’t be happening. Her right arm was in a cast. So was her right leg. Various bruises lined the right side of her body. If she parted her hair, she could see the stitches in her scalp. Kirari was so excited to see her again but not like this.

She called Ririka. Her sister came right away. When the door burst open, Kirari looked up to meet eyes exactly like her own. In this moment, she couldn’t feel anything but pain. Neither of them said anything. Ririka walked behind her and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. Kirari needed her most right now. She didn’t have anyone else. The only other person she could turn to was lying comatose in a hospital bed.

She visited everyday. It pissed off her wife but she could care less. She found the cuts a couple weeks later. She lifted her hand up from the bed. It was still as soft as before. She spotted the numerous cuts scattered on her forearm. Some looked worse than others. When she confronted the nurse, she got an answer she never expected.

“It was probably self-harm,” she told Kirari. “She was likely depressed.”

Sayaka was depressed? It didn’t seem right. She asked her sister about it later.

“Why do you think?” was the reply. “You chose to marry someone else and didn’t even try to make her stay when she left.”

Kirari still didn’t understand.

“If Mary decided to marry someone else, I would be heartbroken. You didn’t even think about how she felt, did you?”

That wasn’t true. She knew it upset Sayaka, just not how much it affected her. Looking back, she kicked herself for not realizing it before. She couldn’t even tell Sayaka was pulling away until it was too late. God, she wished she could she could change everything now.

She went back to see her. Kirari gently caressed the cuts.

“I’m so sorry, Sayaka,” she told her sleeping form. “Please wake up. I need you more than ever.”

She kissed the back of her hand.

Months passed by in a blur. It had been a year since the accident and there was no change. At first Kirari hated the continuous beeping of machines. Gradually, she became accustomed to them. They told her she was still alive. There was still hope. Right?

Shiori came to her personal office one day. She went on about how they were married and she should be spending more time with her.

“We’re only married officially. There’s nothing between us,” Kirari said to her.

Shiori scoffed. “You care more about some dead person instead of your wife?”

Kirari stopped typing and clenched her hands. A little flicker of anger ignited inside of her.

“She’s not dead,” Kirari growled.

Shiori didn’t notice her mood change.

“Well, she’s barely alive.”

The flicker turned into a fire.

“Get out.”

“You know, if you cared about her so much, you should’ve married her instead.”

Shiori left without another word. Her last sentence stuck with Kirari. It made her realize how much she wanted to see Sayaka walking down the aisle in a white gown. The divorce papers were filed a week later.

Another year passed without change. Ririka had to talk Kirari into turning off her life support. She refused angrily. Even Sayaka’s parents agreed but they left the decision to her.

“It’s not likely she’ll wake up,” the doctor had said. “There’s very little brain activity but her body healed nicely.”

It did heal nicely. The casts had come off and the bruises faded. Still, Kirari held on. There was still so much she needed to tell her. She wanted to marry her. She wanted a second chance.

Ririka pushed her to end it a few weeks later.

“Sister, she’s not going to wake up. You have to end it now.”

“Just—Just give me a few minutes,” Kirari begged.

The door clicked as it shut.

“Sayaka, please,” Kirari pleaded. “I know I’ve caused you so much pain. Just give me another chance to make it right.”

Nothing happened. The machines continued to beep regularly.

Kirari’s vision became distorted with foreign tears. She held her hand tighter.

“Please. I-I love you so much. I didn’t tell you enough so please just wake up so I can say it over and over again.”

Still no change. The heart monitor didn’t fluctuate. It didn’t speed up like Kirari could feel when she hugged Sayaka tight enough. She wished she could feel it again without the help of machines.

She called in the nurse. Ririka stood behind her just like Sayaka had done so long ago. Kirari held Sayaka’s hand and braced herself. The hand on her shoulder didn’t comfort her in the slightest. Someone stood in the corner with a clipboard. Kirari closed her eyes as everyone unplugged each machine. She listened carefully to the heart monitor.

One beep.

Two.

Three.

It flatlined.

Sobs racked her body as she clutched Sayaka’s hand.

“Time of death, 9:08 pm…”

Kirari didn’t hear them packing everything. She didn’t notice as they filtered out. Only Ririka stayed as she cried over the body of her love.

She’d never get to tell her she loves her again. She never got to apologize. She never got to see her in a white dress. She never got enough time.

The funeral was held the next week. She didn’t cry there. Not in front of them. Sayaka didn’t have many friends. It was only Kirari, her parents, Ririka, and Mary. Kirari felt numb. She went through the motions. They buried her under a large willow tree. It was beautiful, peaceful. Kirari delivered fresh lilies every other week.

She lied in bed and cried every night. She always slept with her arms extended, like she was reaching for someone. She vividly recalls the times they’d snuggle in this very bed. The way Sayaka would still blush even after being together for ten years. The way she would bury herself into Kirari’s neck when she was embarrassed. Kirari missed her more than anything.

A month after she died, Kirari went back to the tower. She was technically trespassing but she wouldn’t be arrested with her stature. It was a shame they couldn’t take it with them after they graduated. The lilies were dying and weeds sprouted all over the place. It seems no one took care of it after they left. She didn’t go inside. She only sat where they had landed. Kirari fell backwards and closed her eyes.

“I’ve never loved a person more than you…”

Blue eyes snapped open. It hurt to remember. She sat up again and looked around. The moonlight illuminated the field like it had done that night. Only this time, the lilies weren’t as beautiful. It was poetic. This was their place. Now it was gone just like her. She got up to leave. As she walked down the path, she saw a light in the corner of her eye. She turned to see a single flower. It reflected the moonlight, its white petals were healthy and full. She did something out of character. She came back the next night with a small pot and shovel. She dug up the flower and lovingly placed it in the pot. She wasn’t a sentimental individual but she couldn’t bare to see the last thing that represented them die off.

Her life revolved around that flower. She took care of it night and day. She left the curtains drawn even at night. When the lights were out, the moon would shine through the window and shine upon the lily on the nightstand. Kirari would gaze upon it until she fell asleep, thinking of Sayaka. She wanted the pain to go away but no matter how much it hurts, she didn’t want to forget her. Forgetting her would mean leaving behind the most important thing in her life. She didn’t want to leave her behind.

They were happy. Ten years were spent laughing and living happily, like a dream come true. She had to ruin everything. It was all her fault. If she hadn’t been so stupid none of this would’ve happened. It was all her fault. She broke her heart and now there was no fixing it. She broke her own heart in the process.

She’ll just dream tonight. Dream of what could have been. Dream that she could hold her again. She’ll just keep dreaming until the heartache ends. Sometimes she wishes she’d never wake up and stay with her for all eternity.