This story is by Mizoun Alsadouni and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
On a sunny Monday morning in Osaka 2005, Yuriko was lying down in her beautiful bedroom bed. The window was open, and the breeze of march was gently blowing on the curtains of her room giving her the energy and vigor she was trying to gain despite her illness.
She was lying down remembering her childhood specifically when her parents started telling her about her illness (MS – Multiple sclerosis) and taking more care of her more than before so that they decided to move to somewhere closer to the hospital that was going to follow up with her illness on a daily basis.
Yuriko was much more upset about the sudden moving than she was about the disease itself. As she started making friends in her old city and was able to join a reading club where she first met her old friend Haruka.
Haruka, the pleasant girl who saw and accepted Yuriko’s shy personality and was able to smoothly and easily integrate her into the school community. She also shared her interest in reading and taking part in fun school clubs activities.
Yuriko’s personality changed somewhat because of her friend. She became the type of girl who would initiate the morning greetings and would take initiative in presenting her ideas to others. All of which made her more confident and happy.
Here, Yoriko stopped thinking about her past and focused her attention on the voices coming from outside the window of her room. Some cats seemed to be fighting over a piece of food. She tried to get out of bed but couldn’t. It was too much of a strain on her to get up and observe the outside world which was sometimes entertaining to her and some other times disturbing.
She rolled over to her other side and focused her eyes on a picture hanging on the bedroom wall. “such happy days” said Yuriko, eagerly and sadly.
That picture was taken in the reading club at her old school in the sixth grade. She went through all the club members in the picture but then focused on her friend Haruka. “I wonder where exactly are you now? And what is it that you’re doing?” she said desperately.
She didn’t know anything anymore about her friend! They had stopped communicating since middle school after she and her family moved from Kyoto to Osaka. Despite all this, neither her illness or relocation had stopped her from thinking about Haruka, her best and only friend. She couldn’t make any new friends in the new city… as her life was just a mere routine, slow and boring routine with no change whatsoever! She went from home to school to the hospital and back home, and so on.
Her personality returned to what it once was, quiet and secretive, silent and not showing any expressions. She did not engage in any dialogue. Only responded as needed. She gradually and slowly became a chaotic mess. She blamed her illness for coming between her and her life that had somewhat started to be happy, ideal and full of fun with some adventure.
Here she decided to get out of bed when she heard the train passing by her house. She placed her hand against the window so that she could watch the passersby and people coming and going, that was her favorite thing to do and she used to try very hard not to miss it. Wishing perhaps she could glimpse her childhood friend’s face. Oh, how she hoped for this with all her heart despite knowing it was almost impossible.
She remembered that it was time for her medication, so she tried sitting on her chair to take the medicine. She decided to spend some time on her laptop… she went through some files and said to herself “Even though my illness worsened, I did accomplish a lot and continued my studies. Maybe I was keeping myself too busy to avoid thinking about losing my friend! Does she remember me, or I’ll never come across her mind ever again?
As she placed her hand on her cheek, she decided to open her desk’s drawer and re-read some of the more recent messages that they had sent each other right after she and her family moved out of the city! They had exchanged mail addresses, but after one year she had stopped receiving any more messages from her. Perhaps, they had also moved to another house! But why did she stop writing to me and not tell me any more news about herself or mention her new mail address? Every day, she would pose all these questions hoping to make sense of what had happened after all this time and the long wait.
“Dear best friend Yuriko,
I sincerely hope you are fine and well? How was your last appointment with the doctor and have you gotten any better?
If you’re wondering about me, I showcased a number of new booklets in the reading club, how I wish you were here with me. We would have such a nice time together. We’ve visited one of the famous bookstores here (maruzen) and was able to read a lot of manga. The bookstore owner decided to offer the students a special discount on purchasing any book from the store.
I’m looking forward to read your reply .
best regards, your friend that will never forget you
Ah, has she forgotten me? This is the last message I got from her and since then, I haven’t been able to know or guess what had happened to her. She must’ve forgotten me!! But how could I forget her?
She closed the window and fell asleep. that was her daily routine! There was nothing special about her life anymore, she was overtaken by depression and disappointment along with her illness (Multiple Sclerosis) and she was no longer able to continue her treatment sessions.
Lying down on her bed as usual, listening to the radio station NHK the announcer was reading the program’s contact details “ for those who wanted to follow up with what was new, all they had to do was click (follow) on twitter” . The famous social media platform.
Yuriko had an idea. She decided to create an account and follow the program as a change of pace and to break her boring daily routine. She got off the bed heavily to get to her desk slowly opened her laptop and typed twitter in google search. There was a whole new world she had just opened up for herself.
She finally was able to create her new account. She started listening more and more to the famous radio station NHK and began to feel a sense of happiness as she browsed through news cultural and local tweets.
“where have I been all this time, away from this marvelous world?” She said, blaming herself.
Every day, she spent as much time as possible surfing tweets and profiles entertaining herself and distracting from her unbearable reality. The reality that started with a disease then losing an old friend and ended with a negative and miserable life.
Days went by, until she found her old school account Shikadai. She contacted the account asking about the address of her friend who was studying there with her and asking them to help her find that address so that maybe they could restore her happiness again.
She waited for them everyday to write her back but didn’t receive any response. “I shouldn’t put too much hope into this, they might not answer me back.” She said hopeless .
Weeks later, she received a notification of a new message on twitter. She got off her bed with great difficulty trying very hard to get to her desk until she managed to do so. She was surprised by receiving a response to her message, finally after all hope was gone.
She read the message very carefully.
“Haruka and her family have long since died in a traffic accident. we are deeply sorry”
She felt as though life had stopped suddenly. It was a terrible news. The events passed before her eyes quickly. Her tears burst and she could never move. She wished she did not know what happened. What is this life?
After days of shock, she was able to accept the death of her friend ,but decided to create a Twitter optimistic account about hope and friendship to help people accepting the life.