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the silent supernova (of a falling star)

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supernova:

a supernova is a massive explosion of a dying star. the event occurs during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star, which is dying. the explosions are extremely bright and powerful. the star, after the explosion, turns into a neutron star or a black hole, or is completely destroyed.

 

 


 

 

When a star dies, does it make any sound?

 

Does a star die in silence from the lack of oxygen to transmit a sound, or does it die with such a noise that no one can hear for no one is near when it dies?

 

When Hoshimi Junna dies on a random Tuesday, Daiba Nana realizes that the lack of people has nothing to do with the lack of noise.

 

Hoshimi Junna dies on a random Tuesday. 

 

Not even a Monday. Nana would settle even for a Friday. 

 

But that’s when she dies, laying in bed as she did on any random day. Because that's what this was, a random day like any other.

 

She doesn’t die in the middle of a revue. She doesn’t die of old age. She doesn’t die from a sickness that will take her apart until she is left a corpse living until death takes her.

 

Hoshimi Junna dies on a random September Tuesday and there is nothing Nana can do about that.

 

Nana doesn’t notice. Junna liked to sleep in the last few days. It was their last year, she could afford to rest a little after the revues. She laid in bed, unmoving and frozen, just as beautiful as she had always been.

 

Nana didn’t notice she wasn’t breathing until she was ready to start the day and Junna remained unmoving.

 

Did stars shine after their death?

 

Of course not, Nana. They turn into supernovas, a bright explosion that lasts only but a moment, and then they turn into black holes from the lack of light.

 

Nana had tried her hand in messing time. Perhaps that had even affected Junna, Junna who seemed so bright even if Nana’s hand felt an unmoving chest.

 

“Junna-chan.”

 

She shakes her. Junna makes no sound. Her body is heavy to move.

 

“Junna-chan, wake up.”

 

Nana has yet to register anything. She stares at Junna with empty eyes and then notices the unmoved sheet, how Junna's body is frozen in temperature and movements.

 

She slips under the covers, pulls Junna against her chest. One hand around her back, the other holding her face against her heart.

 

No warm breath caressed her neck.

 

Nana caresses Junna's cold cheek. “Come on, Junna-chan. I know you are better at swimming, but no need to hold your breath for more.”

 

Nana doesn’t feel anything.

 

Junna doesn’t either.

 

Nana closes her eyes, breaths in her scent. Junna had smiled last night, had said they could go to that new cafe opened with Nana today. She’d made plans to drop by the library. She told Karen she’d help her with the math homework.

 

When a star dies, no one is there to know of when it dies.

 

“It’s okay, Junna-chan. Rest for a while.”

 

Death never came with a warning. 

 

Death never told you when it would knock on your door.

 

“I’m here and I won’t let you be a silent falling star.”

 

Nana wishes it did. Nana wishes this supernova lasted long enough for a not silent goodbye on a random Tuesday morning.

 

 





“Banana-chan, why does the room smell…?”

 

Nana doesn’t look up. She had just been telling Junna about the bright stars they could look at together, of all they could look at from the rooftop of their dorm.

 

“Banana-chan…? Junna-chan?”

 

Mahiru steps closer. And then she screams. And then Hikari comes in, and then Karen and-

 

“Nana!”

 

Claudine makes to go to her but Maya stops her.

 

It’s Maya who steps first. It’s Maya who Nana looks at first.

 

She can see the others behind her. Kaoruko is crying, holding Futaba. Karen is on the ground, so is Mahiru. Hikari only stands in silence, Claudine already has the phone in her hand and is talking to it through tears.

 

“Daiba-san.” Maya touches Junna’s neck. Nana doesn’t understand why she closes her eyes and swallows so harshly. “Let go of Hoshimi-san.”

 

She shakes her head, holds Junna closer. “No. She’s cold. Junna-chan is always cold in the morning.”

 

A sob is heard in the room. Nana doesn’t care to see from who it comes from. Maya barely finds the courage to look at her.

 

“Hoshimi-san is-”

 

“She’s cold.” Nana smiles, kisses the top of Junna’s cold head. “You’re cold, aren’t you, Junna-chan? It’s okay, I’m here. A warm banana for you.”

 

She may be gone, but Nana doesn’t abandon her friends. Nana will keep Junna close.

 

Tears escape from Maya’s eyes. Karen gags and Hikari pulls her out before she makes the room smell even worse from vomit.

 

“You have been here for a day already.” Maya holds her stare, even through tears. “Hoshimi-san is dead.”

 

Nana stares back. She keeps smiling.

 

“Step back before you join her, Maya-chan. I’m going to hold Junna-chan because she is cold.”

 

She may be gone but Nana won’t let her go. It was her fault for not noticing, it was her fault for having a deep sleep. 

 

What if Junna had called out for her? What if she’d begged Nana for help and Nana was too deep in her sleep to realize? What if it was her fault Junna couldn't keep shining as brightly as she always did?

 

She wouldn’t leave Junna alone now. She won’t let her supernova be unheard.

 

“She is dead.” It’s Hikari who speaks. Unlike the rest, even if tears escape her eyes, she is the most held together. “Let her go.”

 

Nana wouldn’t let them take her Junna away. “Never.”

 

Hikari doesn’t talk. Maya doesn’t hold her back when she steps closer, lets her sit on the bed.

 

A small hand touches purple hair. Hikari doesn't move it, simply lets her hand rest there. Blue eyes meet hers and only then does Nana really pause.

 

“Hoshimi Junna is dead.” Hikari’s words pierce the air. “She’s dead.”

 

Nana smiles, and only then do the tears start.

 

“Tell me, Junna-chan,” she whispers, mouth leaning against Junna's temple. “Were you always a star meant to fade away in silence?”

 

The next sob is far too close and it’s too late when Nana realizes she’d been the one crying all along.

 

 





The funeral is a quiet thing.

 

They hold the gathering in their dorm living room. Mahiru takes care of the drinks, Nana sits before Junna’s picture. 

 

Junna’s picture that Nana took.

 

(They’d asked her if she were truly ready to handle it.

 

Nana had to be held back to not throw the case of Junna’s glasses right in Claudine’s face.)

 

She sat there as calmly as she ever sat upon that couch. She accepted the comforting words from all the students and teachers, yet she understood nothing. She just nodded and nodded and only kept staring at Junna’s picture.

 

It had been mere hours after they'd come back from placing Junna in the casket. The funeral would happen tomorrow. Everyone was crying far too hard and Nana had been the one to sit on the lone couch of the living room and meet with everyone that came to pay their respects.

 

One had to take the lead and who else but the one who was closest to Junna?

 

It was bad luck to cry over someone’s dead body in a casket. Nana hadn't cried. She had uncovered the thin blanket covering the casket and simply had stared.

 

Even if paler than usual, Junna looked beautiful. Nana had been the one to wash her body. Her parents couldn’t handle it, had broken down and Nana had done nothing other than let them hug her, the last piece of their daughter that was still alive.

 

In Albania, back when her mother took her to her grandparent’s funeral, they did this. Washed the body and made sure it was in the best condition. It was a tradition to respect the person and only family was allowed to do it.

 

Usually, the body wore nothing, a way to show that you came into this world with nothing and left with nothing. Junna laid in her last bed with her revue outfit on, one that Nana had sewn herself overnight. She looked beautiful, almost as if she’d get up and tell Nana off for making her wear it outside of the stage.

 

Junna had come to this world like a shining star. Nana would make sure to let her leave the same way.

 

“I guess you really held your promise to let me take care of you.” Nana smiles, leans closer to the casket. Junna’s green eyes are closed, her face so bare without her glasses, glasses that Nana kept in her hand. “You really are a liar, Junna-chan. I thought we were supposed to remeet on the stage.”

 

Her lips meet Junna’s forehead. She doesn’t let go until Kaoruko calls out for her.

 

Nana steals one last look. She stares at her unmoving chest, the same way she had stared at it for hours. 

 

Sometimes she felt as if it’d move. 

 

It never did.

 

 


 

 

Death, she soon came to realize, loved silence. 

 

In the aftermath of the funeral, after she’d been the one to throw the last shovel in Junna’s grave, they’d all gone back to the dorms. No one spoke, everyone just cried in silence. Nana simply kept staring at the sky and wondered if Junna had become one of the stars she loved so much to go after.

 

Beside her, Karen sat, holding her hand. Nana didn't care for its warmth, even if her hold tightened when Karen leaned her face against her shoulder and cried silently.

 

Everyone had lost Junna, and it seemed they had also lost the capacity to comfort without silence.

 

 


 

 

The room didn’t smell bad. Mahiru had opened the windows when Nana had gone to the hospital but had yet to change the sheets.

 

Nana laid in one of the beds, in Junna’s bed. She stared at the ceiling in silence.

 

She had yet to cry. One had to be strong. One had to deal with everything, one had to do the talking during the visits, one had to hold Junna’s parents. They had years without meeting her face to face. But in the end, she was their child, they would mourn just the same.

 

Nana stares at the picture in her hand. Junna is smiling brightly, holding a purple frog plushie she brought Nana. It was one of her favorite pictures. 

 

Nana smiles. “I never wanted this to be the end of your stage.”

 

And then everything goes dark.



 




 

Are you sure of your choice?

 

Yes.

 

This will be much more than just holding back time, Daiba Nana-san.

 

I know.

 

What you will have won’t be the real her.

 

I understand.

 

What remaining brilliance you have- that will be her.

 

Will you do it or not?

 

I understand. May it be so.



 




 

“Nana.”

 

Nana smiles when she opens her eyes, finding Junna staring at her with a warm smile. She always got up earlier than Nana. Today was no different, her hand caressing Nana’s bangs away from her eyes.

 

“Junna-chan. Did I make us late again?”

 

Junna doesn’t reply. She only stares, green eyes-

 

Nana keeps smiling. “Of course I didn’t.”

 

Junna extends one hand, the same way she always did in the mornings to help Nana get up.

 

“Let’s go, Nana.”

 

A warm hand grasps a colder one. 

 

It was the start of a new day.

 

 





Kaoruko screams when she sees them.

 

Nana blinks, taken aback by how pale Kaoruko had become in the span of seconds.

 

“Ho- Hoshimi-”

 

Maya freezes. They were the only ones in the kitchen and both were in different degrees of shock. 

 

“What is wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

 

“Because we are.” A clear voice cuts the air. Nana looks at Maya, whose glare is colder than the hand that Nana holds. "Hoshimi Junna is dead."

 

She smiles peacefully. “She was."

 

“Do you hate her so much that you bring back what isn’t meant to be here?”

 

Nana tilts her head. By her side, Junna stares at her with confusion in her eyes. “Is everything okay, Nana?”

 

Maya doesn’t understand. Of course, she doesn’t. What love could Maya understand that wasn’t the love for the stage?

 

“I love her enough to keep her where she belongs.”

 

Maya doesn’t break eye contact. Nana doesn’t care to either.

 

“I see.” Maya steps closer, still with enough distance between them. “I guess you have never loved Hoshimi-san then.”

 

If Maya ends up with a bruised shoulder from barely avoiding a vase thrown her way, Nana is too busy sitting by Junna’s side to take responsibility.

 

 


 

 

It is an evening like any other. Nana lays by her own bed. Junna sits by her chair, holding a book and staring at it in silence. 

 

Nana stares at her with a smile. She was so beautiful. Nana couldn't get enough of looking at her. 

 

She wouldn’t leave her Junna alone again. Nana had forgotten how sleep felt the past few days, spent her time dozing off at the table before scrambling to look at Junna, just to make sure that Junna was still there.

 

Nana lost her once. She wouldn't lose her again.

 

Not when she had yet to grasp her star. Nana would do anything to help Junna reach her dream.

 

“Junna-chan.”

 

Junna turns at Nana with a smile. “Yes, Nana?”

 

“Do you remember what you told me?”

 

Junna blinks. “When?”

 

“During our revue. About your star.”

 

Nana can’t remember either. It seems the only thing she never wanted to forget, her past, had all been shrouded in a dark shadow. Judging by Junna’s clueless gaze, she didn’t remember either.

 

Of course, she wouldn’t. How could she remember something Nana didn’t?

 

“It’s okay.” She gets up, lays a hand on Junna’s cheek. The girl blushes, just as her Junna used to, and keeps looking at Nana with those green eyes that-

 

Nana doesn't look at her for long, steps behind, and hugs her. Junna doesn't talk, continues to stare at her book in silence. Nana's arms wrap around Junna the same way they had done countless times before.

 

Silence. All she had left of Junna was silence.

 

Nana buries her head on soft purple hair. They lack Junna's lavender scent, lack their smoothness too. Nana can barely breathe and her chest doesn't move the same way Junna's doesn't.

 

Tears spill from her eyes. Junna doesn't react to it, simply keeps staring at the book.

 

Nana smiles with her eyes closed but the tears don't stop.

 

She didn't want this, she wanted Junna back.

 

She wanted her Junna back. 

 

Even for a moment. Even if enough to hug her one last time and feel her.

 

But she'd settle with this. She could handle the pain of loving a touchable ghost, could handle the pain of hurting her friends each day passing that she missed school to be with Junna, at each time they would look at what they all lost and wasn't meant to be there. 

 

"I'm sorry..." She doesn't let the sobs escape her mouth. 

 

Just once. Just one last time. That is all Nana wanted. The chance to say goodbye, to say all she had kept silent and locked in her heart, her untold truth.

 

"I'm here, Nana." Junna's voice is soft, even if it sounds far too empty. "I'm here."

 

Nana continues crying and hugs her closer, palms settling upon a heart that didn't beat anymore.

 

“You’re right, Junna-chan. You're here. That’s all that matters now.”

 

 




 

Junna’s body is cold in her arms.

 

Nana shakes it as hard as she can, whispering her name in a panic. But no reply comes. All she feels is an unmoving, heavy body that does nothing but lay there.

 

She has to protect her. She has to. It’s her fault for not doing more, it’s her fault for letting Junna go sleep without telling her to be careful, to not leave Nana, that she lo-

 

Everything fades into darkness after that.



 




 

No one speaks to her much. 

 

Maya has taken to only being around Claudine.

 

Kaoruko can barely look at her before running away, Futaba by her side.

 

All Hikari does is sit silently by her side. She hadn’t spoken to Nana ever since the funeral. But she sat by her, silent and there.

 

Mahiru cooked for them. Nana has forgotten how the kitchen looks like. She went there with Junna once. Junna’s hand couldn't hold the egg and it fell on the ground. Junna only apologized and Nana said it was okay. 

 

She never went there again.

 

Karen was the worst of them all. Just as Hikari, she sat by Nana, but she’d try to talk about Junna before Nana slammed her hand on the table or thigh and Karen went silent. It was unnerving- being around a silent and guilty Karen.

 

Nana doesn't blame them. She was putting them and even herself through hell. But she couldn't let this Junna go, couldn't let her go even if all Nana now had was a puppet that resembled her friend.

 

Why couldn't they at least pretend they were glad Junna was back? 

 

Did they really hate her that much?

 

 

 





“This is not okay.”

 

Hikari rarely spoke to her. Nana doesn’t look at her, keeps looking at Junna. Junna who held a book in her hand and kept the same small smile on her lips that Nana could draw in her sleep.

 

“What isn’t, Hikari-chan?”

 

“What you are doing. Hoshimi-san-”

 

Junna looks at them then, raising her glasses with a hand. “Do you need anything, Kagura-san?”

 

Hikari doesn’t reply. Nana doesn’t miss the tears in her eyes, nor how she turns to look away.

 

None of them could face Junna these days. 

 

It was okay.

 

Nana would look at her enough for everyone.

 

“It’s okay, Junna-chan.” Nana taps her fingers on the table slowly, still looking at Hikari. “Hikari-chan just misses you a lot.”

 

“But…” Junna looks confused. “I am here?”

 

Hikari gets up and runs away. Nana should hate the small smile that blooms on her face.

 

Good. No one deserved to care for Junna in her new beginning if they couldn’t love her after her end.

 

Nana coughs, holding a hand before her mouth and blinking when she sees the blood in it. Junna stares but makes no comment, turns to look at her book again.

 

Nana smiles. It was okay. Anything for her to be able to live just for a little longer with Junna by her side.







“Nana barely shines anymore.”

 

Futaba. It’s Futaba that’s speaking behind her closed doors, Nana’s ears picking up the voice. By her side, Junna does nothing but keep reading.

 

“She’s grieving, Futaba. What she passed-”

 

“We all lost Hoshimi-han!” Claudine and Kaoruko. “But Nana-han didn’t lose just Hoshimi-han. Where is the brilliance she had? That person- that isn’t Nana-han.”

 

Silence. Nana is frozen. 

 

“I’ll take Karen to the giraffe.” Hikari. “If someone has answers, it’s him.”

 

“I can’t do this anymore.” That’s Mahiru’s crying voice. “Every time I see them… That’s not Junna-chan. She doesn’t reply unless Nana looks at her, she doesn’t look like Junna-chan. Even her eyes-” That's Karen who can't finish her words.

 

“She’s dead.” Maya. Nana is coming to hate the sound of her voice more than ever. “Hoshimi Junna is dead. What we see is barely but a ghost. We need to solve this before we lose Daiba-san too.”

 

"If we already aren't." Karen. "I... I saw some bloody napkins, when I was with Banana-chan. She hid them from me but..."

 

"We must hurry then." Maya again. "Hikari, take Karen to the theater. We must be ready." Claudine.

 

Nana doesn’t move from her seat, even as the others move away from the door. All Nana does is put a stray purple lock behind Junna’s hair, smiling at the small smile she gets in return.

 

There is no glitter in those green eyes. 

 

But it’s okay. Nana is used to clinging to dead things just for the brilliance they once had.



 




 

Why did you do this?!

 

The brilliance of a stage never seen before, Saijo Claudine-san, the breaking of an already existing stage-

 

Shut up! This is not about the stage! What did you do with Banana-chan?!

 

I did nothing that I should have not. The brilliance of Daiba Nana-

 

Is slowly disappearing. That brilliance is feeding whatever creature sits by her side. And it's killing her too.

 

I see you understand, Tendo Maya-san.

 

That’s a Korosoru, isn’t it? 

 

Sharp as your blade you are, Kagura Hikari-san.

 

How… How can we undo this?

 

The same way you have dealt with Korosoru. Daiba Nana-san is overcome by grief. And the most brilliant of plays are always those that are filled with tragedy. 

 

Begin the revue. We are stage girls. We will deal with Nana-han.

 

I understand.

 

 





The stage is cold.

 

Nana has to sigh. Didn’t everyone already learn their lesson from the revues? But here she stood, Junna by her side, eyes empty yet sharp, bow in position. 

 

The gem in her bow glowed a sick yellow, unlike Nana’s faint golden. 

 

“Do we really have to do this?” Nana pulls out both of her swords. “We were all doing fine, all because I-”

 

“Broke the cycle of life.” It’s Maya who steps forward, who talks first. Claudine joins her. “Nana, we have been understanding until now. But we lost Junna. We won’t lose you too.”

 

Nana bares her teeth. It seemed her little friends weren’t so little anymore. Nana coughs, spitting out blood, not caring of how Maya's gaze turns into worry.

 

“That’s no way to speak to me, Kuro-chan. Or did Maya-chan brainwash you so much that you can only think the same way she thinks too?”

 

Claudine freezes. Good. Nana enjoys her more when she’s the nice and understanding Claudine anyway.

 

“Nana-han, this isn’t you.” A sharp blade is pointed in her direction. “And we care enough for you to stop this.”

 

“Or what? You will complain to Futaba-chan again?” Nana steps forward. Junna follows. “Let’s just get this over with. Maybe I’ll cook for everyone again if we end this soon.”

 

“Let’s do this, Nana.” Junna smiles. 

 

That smile is all Nana needs to grasp her weapons tighter, throwing herself towards seven people. Even with her lack of strength, Nana would do anything to keep Junna by her side until she too joined her.



 




 

Nana isn’t afraid of death.

 

When she found this family, that is what she realized. She’d be sad if she lost someone she loved, sad from the grief all her friends would pass through.  But she wouldn’t mind dying.

 

Death was something tricky. For you, it was the end. For others, it was just the beginning of a new cycle of despair.

 

Death wasn’t nice for those that it left behind. It was why Nana didn’t mind her own. She wouldn't know what happened with those she left behind, and thus she wouldn't be sad.

 

She already was happy with everyone. Junna smiles at her before being sucked into a conversation with Karen and Claudine. Nana smiles, stares at her in silence as she eats.

 

She didn’t want to die anytime soon, but she wasn't afraid of death. She’d regret the scripts she had yet to finish, but that’s all. She knew her friends would hold themselves together, would comfort each other and get through it.

 

She didn’t think she could be that strong if she lost anyone. She’d be, but she wouldn’t be the same Nana anymore. So she’d rather be the one to close her eyes forever first than see herself lose who she loves.

 

But it was okay. It was okay.

 

It wasn’t the end of anyone’s path anytime soon. 

 

They were okay.



 




 

Nana lays on the ground, breathing hard and unmoving. She couldn’t see the end of the ceiling of the stage. She didn’t care to.





























Above her, the yellow gem of her sword shines brighter than before.

 

Around her, one person is missing.



























“Junna-chan…” Nana swallows. There is no strength left in her. “She really is dead... isn't she?”


























“She is.”


























“That was a Korosu... It never was Junna-chan. No matter how much I could pretend otherwise.”

























“You nearly died. Your brilliance was giving her life and was taking yours.”


























“I just… I wanted her to keep shining. Couldn’t her supernova come later? Just… just for a little more... I just wanted her. For one last time. Even for a moment.”


























“I miss Jun Jun too, Banana.”


























Nana closes her eyes. Finally, the tears escape, silently and without a sob or sound. Reality crashes upon her and it breaks her already broken heart into tinier pieces.


























“I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m sorry…. My Junna-chan… everyone…”


























There, with weapons on the ground and bodies barely able to stand up, does Nana let herself grieve for the star that fell in silence. And by her side, with tears in their eyes, does everyone grieve for the one they lost and for the one they nearly lost.

 

 





“I hate that you died on a Tuesday.”

 

The graveyard is silent around them. There is not much noise except the loud rustling of the leaves of an oak tree that was near Junna’s grave. It was okay, Nana thought, Junna always enjoyed silence and nature.

 

“You just…  It isn't fair on you to go on such a random day.” The ground is still soft under her hands, worked carefully as she planted some flowers moments before. “You left me. You left everything behind. Your unused new notebook, Karen-chan’s plans to be tutored by you... ”

 

Death, Nana realizes, never tells when it's its time to come. It simply does. It doesn’t do second chances, it doesn’t do ends that last long enough to give you time for the last goodbye.

 

“Everything left in the middle… your path too. What kind of stage girl interrupts her stage without a warning?” 

 

Nana stares at the writing engraved on the stone.

 

                                     Hoshimi Junna

 

                          01. 10. 2002 - 10. 09. 2019

 

               May you rest between the stars that you sought.

 

She wrote that quote. Junna’s parents asked her to. You're her closest person, they said. She wrote in her letters about you, they continued. She would want this, they confessed.

 

Nana didn’t mind. She would do anything for her Junna.

 

“Do you know what a supernova is, Junna-chan?” The leaves rustle around her. Nana smiles, sits closer to the head of the grave, tries not to sit on top of the newly planted blue flowers. “It's the death of a star. Something so beautiful, yet not lasting long enough. Not dying loud enough.”

 

But it lasts for 100 seconds, Nana! That is the whole beauty! Just as stage girls, they burn instantly, and can either turn in a neutron star that keeps shining, or in a black hole. Isn't that so beautiful?

 

Nana caresses the engraved words. “Why did you have to die so… silently? You shone so brightly every day… and you just… One night I fell asleep while staring at you and the next morning you-”

 

She swallows. Acceptance came hard, but she was okay. 

 

She had to be. She would be.

 

“I hate that your end came so sudden. You weren’t supposed to die like this.” Her nails dig on the ground. “You were supposed to live, and to go to university, and to shine and to find your new stage and- and-”

 

Let us remeet on a new stage, Nana.

 

Nana breathes out. “I am sorry. That I didn’t cry during your funeral. That I tained our friends' memory of you. That I couldn’t be strong. I have yet to accept that it wasn't my fault but... I'm trying. For my sake. For everyone's sake.”

 

Even so big and strong, you are just like a kid, Nana.

 

Around her it’s just silence. For the first time in weeks, Nana finds it comforting. There is a comfort to be around people that won’t hear you, that won’t judge you. It’s just her and Junna’s grave.

 

Just her and her Junna.

 

“It’s okay.” She breathes in, breathes out. “It’s okay. This was the end of your stage, Junna-chan, you couldn't control it. You can rest at peace now.”

 

Nana smiles. Death would come, to her, to all she knew. The end was inevitable, no matter how much she could try to stop time and cheat death. 

 

You couldn’t cheat death. No one could.

 

“I will… I will always remember you.” 

 

Nana stands up, dusts her knees. She takes out a black box and she caresses it gently. Nana places it on the ground, pops it open.

 

The light reflects on the lenses of the same pair of glasses Junna loved to wear most.

 

“This isn’t the end of my stage.” 

 

Nana looks away. 

 

Silence. Peace. 

 

The sun shines through the tree leaves. 

 

Junna would love it here. Nana hopes she loves wherever she is.

 

“When my stage ends…” Nana looks to the grave, so silent and alone. 

 

Was her body really under Nana?

 

Wasn’t Junna cold? 

 

How could Nana stand so normally when she laid under her feet-

 

Nana swallows her tears. She couldn't break down now. “I hope I will meet you, Hoshimi Junna. When my time, just as yours, comes.”

 

She stands there for a moment. Nana hopes that if she focuses enough, she can hear a voice in the wind, that her life can be like all the plays she has seen and written where she’d feel a shadow close and know it was Junna. That her life can be just as the stage she loves and can give her one last bittersweet end.

 

She stands and hopes for one last moment, one last thing, one last memory of Junna-

 

Nothing comes.

 

Nana turns and walks away.

 

Junna was dead. Her Junna was dead.

 

It was the truth and even through silent tears, Nana could accept it. She was gone and she would never have her back.

 

But life went on. Not as Nana wanted it to, but it did. And she would try her best to live it to the fullest, chasing after her dream.

 

Yet, all she could do now was take one step, and another, and another and another until she met all of her friends, waiting by the gate for her with gentle smiles.

 

Junna could have died, Nana thinks, but it didn’t mean she was forgotten.

 

“Let’s go home,” she says.

 

Junna would live in them, in her, until the very moment that Nana would join her. Or maybe she wouldn’t. She didn’t know what awaited her after she closed her eyes. She just hoped that whatever it was, it was something that kept Junna safe.

 

Because when Nana closed her eyes, she knew she would close them with Junna still in her heart.

 

But with the sun shining above them, all Nana cares about is that she may not know her end, but she knows the way she will live until then.