Empty. Ignored. Nothing. Tsukishima Kei felt nothing of his consciousness. When he tried to reach back into his memory, nothing could be taken back. Everything was forgotten. He doesn’t remember how long it’s been like that. How long he’d seen people in his home, and he was unable to talk to them, as if he didn’t exist. He knew he existed, he could interact with items. Although he doesn’t feel his body, or the nerves telling him he knocked over a book, he could sense it. He seemed to be the only one who knew of his own existence. His view had changed, he no longer saw the same colors. Few things from his old existence was remembered, and his thoughts took longer to process. He tried to communicate with the people who still had the dark outlines of their bodies, with their colorful auras stuck inside. The auras which were always vibrantly expelling the energy that would eventually get stuck inside the container of their bodies, and yet his outline was different. The outline he saw when he stretched out where his hand should have been was faint and barely noticeable. It wasn’t as real as the others, and he knew he was missing a body. Yet he could tell his aura was there. Fading along with his mental state, his aura was there.
"Here you go. It's all yours. Careful though, it's an old house. It’s been up since the mid-1800s, so it’s pretty valuable." The words the real estate agent told him echoed through his head as Yamaguchi stood in front of his new house. It was his own house, and it was spacey. There was a hill in the backyard that led into the woods. It was farther from the city then he hoped, but it was a beautiful estate that he got for a cheap price. The outside of the house needed a new paint job, but Yamaguchi would take care of that later. He got out the keys and rushed up to the door. He eagerly waited for the click of the lock before opening up the door and walking in.
He turned on the light and locked it behind him. The furniture was already moved in, with only a few boxes left, and Yamaguchi had the whole house to himself. He took out his phone to call the real estate agent and make sure all the payments went through. After a few rings, the line clicked through.
“Hello?” A calming voice was transferred through.
“Ah hello. This is Yamaguchi Tadashi. I just wanted to make sure all the payments went through,” Yamaguchi walked over to the kitchen.
“I just cashed them in now. Everything is taken care of, you don’t need to worry.”
“Thank you, Mr… Um. Mr. Refreshing is it?” Yamaguchi stuttered a bit, trying to remember the man’s name.
“Yes, but there’s no need to get so formal. You can call me Sugawara,” he reassured.
“Okay, thank you Sugawara.”
“Just doing my job. I have an open house in twenty minutes, so I have to go. Hope you enjoy your house. Any problems and you contact me, ok?”
“Ok,” Yamaguchi replied. The line clicked out, and Yamaguchi set his phone down on the edge of counter. He walked over to the fridge, only to be disappointed when he found out it was empty. He suddenly shivered, realizing that the fridge let off more cold air than he thought. Closing it, he went to grab his phone, only to realize it wasn’t there. He started to panic, looking all around the counter, before noticing it was on top of the fridge. Thanking the fact he was tall enough to reach it, although barely, he swiped it off the top and grabbed his keys out of his pocket. He drove to the nearest store and grabbed his favorite foods. On his way back home, Yamaguchi ordered some fries to eat, only to end up eating them right there in the parking lot.
When he got back home, he fit everything into his fridge. Checking the time, he realized that he didn’t have anything to do for the rest of the evening.
“So bored,” he yawned and slumped down into the corner chair, which was comfy enough to fall asleep in. He almost did fall asleep, but a book fell from his bookcase, making a quiet thump on the carpet. He quickly got up to put it back. He picked it up, only to realize it came from the shelf that was just out of his reach. He reached up as far as he could, only to lose his grip and have it pathetically bounce off his face.
“Ow.” He rubbed his nose and picked up the book again. He looked at the cover, and decided that if he can’t put it back, he might as well read it. Curling back up in his chair, he started to read the book, ending up way into the story. By the time he made it to the end, the last bit of sun that was shining through the window was long gone, and it was almost eleven at night. Yamaguchi realized that he needed to get up early tomorrow for a case, and left the book next to the chair. He went into his bedroom and set himself an alarm, slowly drifting off to sleep. The sound of the alarm echoed through the room, and Yamaguchi opened his eyes. He stretched and got out of bed, trying to hurry and get ready. He attempted the brush his hair, although the tip hasn’t ever been able to successfully flatten, before going to make himself breakfast. However, when he walked past the bookcase, another book fell off the top shelf.
“I wonder if it only falls when I walk past. It’s probably because of the vibrations or something,” he murmured to himself. He ignored the book as he had to go get ready. He quickly made himself some toast, and rushed out the door, making sure he wouldn’t be late.
He went to work, and in today’s case, he was defending someone who was said to be shoplifting phones, although Yamaguchi knew he was innocent. It was a somewhat small case, yet he only recently finished law school, so he never got anything big. Yet whether it was important or not he learned that he had to take it seriously or else someone innocent could get fined or go to jail, which he would never forgive himself for. He ended up winning the case, and was thanked by the man. Yamaguchi himself wasn’t naturally someone who would argue on a regular basis, but it was the fact that he managed to help set things right that made him choose to be a lawyer. He choose to go home a bit early since he didn’t have anything else to work on, and he still had stuff he needed to put away in the attic.
When he got home, he carried the boxes from his car into the house. There was a rope sticking out from the ceiling in the hallway, which led to the attic. Yamaguchi pulled open the ladder, and coughed from the dust that came straight out of it. When he went to go get the boxes from the other room, he heard another book fall.
“I need to fix that shelf, I wonder wha-” he stopped halfway through when he looked over at the single book. He could have sworn a book fell this morning, and he knows he didn’t pick it up. Confused, he went over to pick up the book, and it was the same one from the other night. Looking back over at the corner chair, he saw two books stacked up. Dropping the one he held, he walked over to the small pile. The two that were stacked up were different, and the cover of the bottom one looked like the one from the morning. Yamaguchi put the book down, only getting more confused by the moment. He cautiously went back to the boxes, only to glance over at the bookshelf every few seconds. He hauled each of the boxes into the attic, and none of the books fell when he did. Before closing the attic opening, Yamaguchi decided that it would be easiest to fix whatever tilt the bookcase could have. He went back into the attic, but this time he would have to climb to the back instead of just pushing in a box. Most of the attic was too small for him to stand up in, so he turned on the light and crawled through to the back. He read each of the labels that he put on the boxes to make it easier for him. Just as he got to “Fixing Tools” his hand hit the wooden plank wrong.
“Ah!” He yelped as the wood broke, and his hand fell straight into a hole. He took it out of the hole, only to find various splinters slowly pricking at his palm.
“Owwww…” Yamaguchi was able to pluck most of them out, and he couldn’t feel the ones that were left, although his hand still stung a bit. He went to look at the plank, only to notice that a case was hidden underneath. Yamaguchi was astonished at what he found, and he lifted it up out of the hole.
It was a small jewelry box, with a small ingraining on the top. Looking at the top of the case, he found himself looking at two words, yet they were blurred out as if it was scratched out. The scratches looked inhumane, and only a few characters could be made out.
“ki? A?” he attempted to read the few visible characters, before deciding to find out what exactly was inside. He opened it up, only to see old coins hidden in it, along with a few small jewels. The small bit of light wasn’t enough to make out the coins, but the jewels managed to glow red, with a few green tints that appeared and disappeared. Closing it quickly, he rushed down the steps while carefully holding the case. Fixing the bookcase could wait. Setting it down carefully next to the lamp, Yamaguchi got out his phone so he could search up the gems. He turned on the lamp and opened it up again, excited to see what he found. Only this time, the box was empty. He stood there, shocked at the empty case. He closed it and looked at the top. The engraving that was once blurred was no longer carved in the top. He rubbed his eyes, wondering if he was starting to see things. He kept opening and closing it, as if to make sure it wouldn’t change again. He grabbed his phone and went into his recent contacts, clicking under the real estate agent’s name.
“Hello?” a soft voice came on the line.
“Sorry to bother you again, this is Yamaguchi. Do you have information on any of the previous owners of the house?”
“I have a bit of information on the previous owners, but anything farther back would require finding the paperwork. Do you know who exactly you are looking for?” Yamaguchi paused for a second, realizing that three letters weren’t enough to find a name. He thought about what else could have helped him figure out what was going on. The falling books were fine since the house was on a hill, but they shouldn’t have been misplaced and the box shouldn’t have disappeared.
“Sugawara,” he paused, “Why did the previous owners move out?” The entire time when he was checking out the house, he was never given any information on why the house was for sale.
“They never told me why they moved out, but I can’t give you a way to contact them if you want to ask; it’s against the law. Confidentiality issues. Is everything alright with the house?” Sugawara was a bit worried about the drastic change in attitude from when he first moved in. Yamaguchi, on the other hand, was figuring out what he could say that wouldn’t make him sound crazy. He himself didn’t have a clue to what was going on.
“Yeah, the house is fine,” he wasn’t technically lying when he said that. The problem was in the books that keep falling and the jewelry box that went empty. He glanced over again at the box. Still empty. “I was just curious, I thought I found something from the previous owners. It’s just an empty box though.”
“That’s unusual. Usually people don’t just leave an empty box when they move. What does it look like?”
“It’s a rectangular and wooden jewelry box. There’s a really faded design around the border, and other than that, just a broken lock. Looks pretty old too, so I don’t think it really matters,” Yamaguchi lifted up the box, as if maybe there would be something on the bottom.
“It doesn’t seem too important, and if it was they would have taken it. I wouldn’t worry so much over a box.” Sugawara’s calming tone almost made Yamaguchi think that everything was just a simple misunderstanding, and that maybe he just imagined something. “Well, if any problems come up, make sure to tell me and I’ll see if I can help!”
“Okay, although everything should be going fine. Goodbye.”
“Bye.” Sugawara hung up, and Yamaguchi set his phone down.
I have to at least do something today, Yamaguchi thought to himself. He decided to shove the box and books to the back of his mind. He walked over to his kitchen, where he could have sworn he bought some seeds for planting before he moved. Gardening was just a little thing he did on the side so he could grow things to eat, but it was calming too, which was just what he needed. He opened the drawer and looked over the small packets. Grabbing the first one, which was a strawberry packet, and walked out the door, making sure not to lock himself out.
Yamaguchi ambled around the house for about a minute, trying to figure out where to plant it. He saw a spot on the side of the house where the dirt seemed a bit different than the rest, like it’s been dug up before. He knelt down next to it to plant the seeds, but he looked at it first. Yamaguchi could tell something was off, but he couldn’t figure out what. Shrugging it off, he dug up tiny holes for each of the seeds. Placing them in, he filled the holes back up again. He watered them, letting it soak through, and then decided to go back inside.
He walked past the bookcase again, expecting a book to fall. But this time, nothing fell from the top shelf. Yamaguchi glanced at it again before continuing to the next room. He slumped down on his couch, turning the TV on. He flipped through the channels, and before he knew it, he was staying up laughing at a late-night comedy show. He eventually turned his TV off, and went to bed for the night.
When he woke up the next morning, he got up and went to work. Every time he passed the bookcase, nothing fell. The box was still empty. Everything was normal, but it was the fact that everything was normal that made Yamaguchi uncomfortable. He continued through his day, and all way way to night, still nothing showed. Another day passed. Nothing. And the next, nothing. Yamaguchi was starting to get less antsy about the whole thing, and he managed to get halfway through another day without a disturbance.
He turned on his gas stove to cook himself some eggs. He got out a skillet and put it on the stove, feeling a shock the second he touched it to the stove. He felt his arm go numb for a second, and he started to panic that he accidentally hit some kind of nerve in his arm.
Realizing he had feeling back in his arm after a few seconds, he calmed down and got an egg out of the fridge. He cracked it almost perfectly, getting no shell into the pan. He turned to throw the egg into the garbage, and when he turned back he noticed that the fire wasn’t blue like usual. It let off a dark purple glow, and an uneasy feeling spread over Yamaguchi. He cautiously led his left hand over to the handle, before grabbing it and moving it back one. In doing so, he made a mistake. The flames spiked up and spread over his arm, burning the underside. He recoiled his hand back with a yelp, holding it as it burned up. He looked over to the right of the stove, and in that moment he saw something, or someone, in the air. He doesn’t know what came over him, but he took his right hand and swung it straight at the figure. His fingers just went straight through air. He would have mused over why he did that, but a stinging pain spreading through his arm told him otherwise. He rushed over to the sink, turning on the cold water, before adding in a bit of warm water so it wasn’t too cold. He stood there for a few minutes while clenching his teeth, although the pain barely went away. He turned off the water, and didn’t bother getting a towel. The burn hurt enough without something rubbing against it. He twisted the knob to the stove, turning it off. Yamaguchi would make sure to get it fixed later. He went over to the medicine cabinet and grabbed a bottle of Ibuprofen. He saw a bottle of aloe vera gel, and thanked himself for being prepared much earlier that year. He took the gel and put a bit over his burn. He knew it hurt a lot, but he didn’t see any blisters forming, so he wouldn’t call for actual medical help, since it doesn’t seem to have burned too much into the skin. Yamaguchi’s underarm was red from his wrist to his elbow, and even with the gel cooling it, there was a sting left over, as if it was slowly searing the inside of his arm. He opened up the bottle, and took out two of the pills to take. He grabbed the nearest water bottle and drank half of it along with the pills.
Yamaguchi looked towards his phone and wiped his eyes. He realized that he was crying the whole time, although he wasn’t really surprised by that. He grabbed a roll of ace bandages and turned on his phone. He clicked under the contact he thought he wouldn’t have to call again. Putting the phone up to his ear, he started to wrap the bandages around his left arm.
“Sugawara, I’ve decided I want to move out.”