Chapter 12: Block It Out (12)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Sakae walked through the darkened cafeteria and went out to the terrace. He found a bench at the back of the walkway that wound through a mass of plants and shrubs. He sat down, pulled out his cigarettes and lighter from his suit, and lit up. The night wind felt chilly as it brushed against his temples, and he realized that he was covered in sweat. Unlike the cold sweat that he felt before the broadcast, it wasn’t bad. He took a deep breath in and out, and although the smokey view calmed him down, the cigarette in itself didn’t taste any good to him. It was too annoying to be approached in the smoking areas, so he hadn’t smoked while he was hospitalized. Maybe that was why he hadn’t liked it much recently.
He didn’t care about the words that had told him to quit smoking, but somehow in the end, that man always seemed to get his way, and it pissed Sakae off. He puffed hard on the cigarette just to spite him. It shortened in a blink of an eye and almost reached his fingers, and he leaned down to extinguish it on the ground. He was wondering if he should smoke a second one when that irritating man appeared.
“Thanks for your work, Sakae.”
“I don’t want to see your face when I’m exhausted from that very work.”
“So even you get exhausted as well? It’s good to know that you’re human like the rest of us.”
“Shut up, and I’m not attending the review meeting.”
“That’s fine. I’m really grateful for your help. Thank you. If it weren’t for you, we would have never pulled off such a great show.”
“Go show your appreciation to the grandpa rangers.”
“Of course, the support that we received from our great seniors played a huge part in our broadcast tonight. They were much more useful than I had expected.”
“That was for sure.”
“You didn’t put them there to work them like dogs, did you?”
“Don’t play dumb. Did I pass?”
Shitara shrugged his shoulders without a word. The pose said, What could you be talking about? But he wouldn’t be fooled.
“You had the geezers monitoring me. They were there to evaluate how I did. Since it was a good opportunity, you made them judge my performance, and if I passed, you planned to finagle something from them, didn’t you?”
Shitara had told him, Why not relax at the Contents Division for a while. As if Shitara held the authority to decide what that time limit was. As if it was a given that Sakae would return to a position where he couldn’t just relax. And then there had been that invitation for something more, Let’s find something new that’s fun for you again.
“Even though you had disparaged them as losers and window dressing?”
“If they band together, they have enough clout to poke their noses into HR business. It isn’t strange for them to have dirt on some of the executives either.”
They were past retirement age. There was nothing for them to lose. In a way, it was a trump card for them.
“Well, that’s all your own speculation.”
“Old Man Nishikido was likely there for his help, but everyone else, it’s only natural to think that you had a clear purpose and goal for calling them over.”
“—And so he says~”
Shitara turned around, and the old timers shuffled out from the shadows of the plants and trees.
“You dare talk about us like that behind our backs?”
“And after working us like dogs!? This is elderly abuse.”
“Shitara, it’s because you spoil him like that…”
“Anyway, what did you think of today’s special broadcast? He directed a live show while making all the necessary production decisions off the top of his head. I think that it’s worth seeing such an impressive feat.”
I’m not a damn spectacle.
“Ahh, it sure reminds me of us in our younger days~”
The old timers were reveling in their memories, and Sakae sniped back at them.
“Quit spewing bullshit. I’ll sue you for defamation.”
“What is that supposed to mean…? Well, we did see a great performance tonight.”
“We used to be that voracious too at our jobs.”
“And we had all the budget in the world back in the day.”
“Yeah, we’d get multi-day shoots out on location somewhere with a slapdash proposal.”
“Or a trip overseas for a story even though there was no real need for it.”
“And all the resources to make something explode in the media.”
“And the free taxi tickets strewn about the bars like ninja stars.”
Sakae was seriously angered and threw his cigarette butt at them.
“Is this a damn graduation!? From what? Life? You can go and depart it right now then.”
“That remark really isn’t a joke for us, you know… What we’re trying to say is, those days are long over, and no one will ever achieve those heights again. The Internet is now king, and TV is nothing more than old media.”
“But still, we’re all TV men here. We really had fun watching a broadcast like today’s from a real professional. It’s too bad that you were born a little too late, but show us again sometime the fight that TV still has left in it.”
“Before you all croak?”
“Again with that mouth. Don’t bring us bad luck…”
The old men crumpled up their wrinkled faces and laughed at Sakae’s insults. The scene made him remember his dead grandfather. He had almost no memories of seeing his grandfather laughing. Why had he continued to run that movie theater that made him no money? What had he thought about Sakae? What movies did he love? Sakae felt that it was unfortunate that his grandfather had died without them ever talking about these things, but he didn’t want to feel any regret over it, and so he threw his frustration at other things.
“Keel over already, you geezers.”
“W-What the heck? It was such a touching moment just now…”
“He’s probably overwhelmed by his emotions.”
“He still has a lot to work on when it comes to his personality. I’ll be sure to give him a wallop of a lecture later.”
Shitara had to say something infuriating again as he intervened.
“You better keep your word.”
“‘Cause you know, sometimes you can lie so easily, it’s actually kinda scary.”
“You must be mistaking me for someone else.”
And then only Sakae and Shitara were left at the terrace.
“You’re going to lecture me? With a wallop?”
“Maybe with a clink, if I have to describe it.”
“What? You mean money?”
There was no way that he would dole out compensation for his work today. He shouldn’t have been serious about what he said, but Shitara silently reached into this pants pocket.
There was a clink of metal as he caught what was thrown into his hand. It was a car key.
“I don’t need a car.”
Cash was better.
“It’s not a gift. I’ve parked my car on B1, so wait for me there. I need to finish up some work first, but then I’ll head over.”
Shitara gave him a description of the car and the license plate number, but Sakae didn’t understand why he was doing this.
“I’ll tell you later. I’ll give you back your cell phone too.”
“Cell phone? …Oh.”
Sakae had used it to do some research during a meeting, and he realized that he had left it there on a desk. He had been so preoccupied with the broadcast that he had completely forgotten about it.
“Fuck off, I want it back now.”
“Like I said, wait for me in the car.”
It crossed his mind that he could opt to say, Fine, I don’t need it, I’ll buy a new one, but it was too ridiculous no matter how he thought about it. He had no reason to flare up at him to that extent— Right, the grievances (or something similar to it) that Sakae had felt had disappeared, and there was no need to act so stubborn anymore. That was why despite all the excuses that he had made to himself, he had accepted this request today.
How am I supposed to act around him from now on? Sakae wondered all over again. He felt like the distance between them was different from what it had been in the past. They couldn’t return to the relationship of a young novice and his boss.
Why couldn’t I stand him anymore in the first place?
There were no signs of life in this quiet underground parking garage, and it was just right for his thoughts. Sakae reclined the passenger seat all the way back and stared at the ceiling of the car. It was because the damn guy had shouldered everything alone. Because he had smiled foolishly as he pulled the short end of the stick. Because he never ever told him what he was really thinking… But those were the decisions that he had made for himself, and he was free to make them. Sakae imagined if he had been sent to the local affiliate stations instead, and he balked at the thought. Sakae hated it when people ordered him around, but Shitara also had a right to do what he wanted. Even that personality of his where he hid away his emotions and motives, what right did others have to criticize him for it? It was that particular trait of his in the first place that had amused Sakae so much and made him want to hang out together. And Shitara had made Sakae yearn deeply to become his equal.
What was I thinking back then?
When he asked himself that question, he felt like the thorns that he had tightly equipped on him would fall off one by one. Sakae hated feeling defenseless, and he desperately tried to find a reason so that he could hold on to his hate.
It was because when he was with Shitara, he would remember Mutsuto.
It was like he had smashed his finger against a rock while digging around under the soil, and it hurt. Shitara hadn’t done anything wrong. Sakae didn’t hold a grudge against Mutsuto either. But he wasn’t the type to pray that Mutsuto had found a place to live peacefully somewhere. His undigested memories were somewhere inside his chest, blocking him up. He was unable to spit them out or swallow them down, and the pain was excruciating. Even though he wanted to be filled up. To block everything out.
He felt like the ceiling was too close, like it was coming down on him, and he covered his eyes with both hands. He didn’t know how much time had passed when he heard the sound of the driver’s door unlock.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Were you sleeping?”
“Then let’s go.”
Sakae put the seat back up, and Shitara placed his cell phone and a can of lemonade in his lap.
“I thought that coffee would keep you up.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be back in time for work on Monday.”
Uh, that’s a full two days.
But Sakae didn’t grill him further because he had no guarantee that any of Shitara’s words would be a real answer. He had already decided to get in, and now that he was here, there was no need to ask any more questions. Glass was something that would break. A car would eventually reach its destination. He sipped at the sweet and tart lemonade, giving a sidelong glance at the stupid weekend antics along Roppangi Avenue as they passed through, and he remembered getting on the Tomei Expressway from the Metropolitan Expressway. He wasn’t aware of any preference for sleeping or staying awake, but he naturally drifted off to sleep.
Sakae was shaken awake, and when he looked out the window, he saw that they were in a parking lot. It was only when he got out of the car that he knew exactly where he was. It was a familiar view of his hometown.
“Why are we in Atami?”
“I have something I want to show you.”
There was only one place that he could think of that would be their destination. The path was different, but this time Shitara led the way to the place where Sakae had brought the three of them that night. The building of The Sea Swallow Theater somehow felt nicer than when he had last seen it. Maybe because instead of the faded, battered advertisements that had been posted on the wall, there were now shiny new posters that said Suzuki Seijun Movie Night and Great Showa Idol Film Festival lined up in a row.
“I called ahead and had it unlocked for us.”
Shitara didn’t hesitate to push the glass door open. Both walls of the staircase had flyers that no longer looked old. Not only did it hold movie screenings, but apparently it had live performances and lectures too.
“Local volunteers launched a non-profit, and they plan all the activities here,” Shitara said.
“The antique look of this place is its charm. That’s why they’ve tried their best to preserve the exterior and interior appearances while repairing and reinforcing the structure… You know how Atami is seeing a resurgence now? Combined with the popularity that Showa architecture is seeing, it’s helped bring in customers from even far away. Your old house has been converted to storage though, so unfortunately I can’t show you that.”
“Whatever, it’s fine.”
He had let go of everything with that very understanding. To begin with, Sakae never felt like this was something that was his. This place had been so shabby and run down, but now it looked like it had come back to life, even in the dark. It was certainly a testament to how much thought and care that had been put into this place, yes, but he thought that it was because it had restored its function as a gathering place for people—like it had been in the past. It was like the building itself remembered its true role. Would his grandparents be happy if they could see this? If Sakae had nurtured a little more affection for this place, maybe this would have been his job. Maybe he would have chosen to live his life protecting and reviving The Sea Swallow Theater— But it was all worthless. Speculations did nothing for the past or the future.
“What do you think?”
Sakae hurled a “Nothing” at Shitara’s back as they climbed the stairs.
“That I thoroughly have no heart. That’s pretty much it.”
Sakae hadn’t expected him to deny it, but Shitara stopped in his tracks and reprimanded him.
“Don’t say something so stupid. That is absolutely not the case.”
There was a new sofa in the lobby (but the design was still retro to complement the theater), and the vending machine was gone. The wall clock was still the same as before.
When Sakae entered the auditorium, he had even lost his sense of the size of the space that he had stored in his memories, but the musty old smell that used to be here was certainly gone. It’s really changed—he felt no grief, but the thought came to him clearly. The Sea Swallow Theater where Sakae had grown up and spent all his time was nowhere to be found. But that was fine. This place wasn’t where Sakae belonged.
Shitara told him to sit where he liked and headed for the projector room.
“Oi, do you know how to operate it?”
“I just have to set the projector to play the DVD. I’ll be fine.”
Sakae sat down in the middle of the front row. Apparently the seats had been changed to resemble the old ones, but the armrests could be raised now—the seat pitch and the comfort of the cushions had improved considerably. The lights went out, and on the screen was a countdown starting from 10. It was a well-known leader used at Asahi TV. So did that mean that he had made the video? Maybe it was the feature on Atami that had never even made it to the proposal stage before it was canned? If it was, then it made sense why he would bring him here to unveil it.
He has such strange tastes.
Sakae leaned back against the seat, but when the countdown reached 1 and cut to the feature, he pitched forward in an instant. On the screen was Mutsuto. It was a young Mutsuto, the same as when he last saw him 11 years ago. More than any of the memories that he would never forget, this one-second shot of Mutsuto smacked a vivid wallop to his head. Sakae stood up flustered and tried to leave through the emergency exit, but Shitara ran and caught up to him.
“What the hell is this?”
“Conversations with Oku that I filmed.”
“Because I believed that one day I’d be able to show them to you—what had he been thinking and how had he lived… I thought that I could show them to you now, that I had to show them to you now.”
“I don’t want to see it.”
Distorted shadows were shaking on the screen. Underneath the shadows, Mutsuto was speaking. It was Mutsuto’s voice. Sakae’s memories were called up through his eyes and his ears, bringing them back to him. Even the feelings that he had felt that day—that nothing would ever go back to the way that things were—they were dragged up from deep inside.
Shitara clasped Sakae’s cheeks between his hands and brought their gazes together so that he couldn’t escape.
“You’ll be fine, I know you will, so please watch it for me. I made it because I wanted to show this to you. It’s not as good as something that you would make, but please, just watch it. It’s nothing scary, but if you think you can’t bear it anymore, you can leave if you need to. Just watch even a little of it for me.”
There was none of his usual magnanimity that always felt so patronizing, or his fierce intensity when he was angry, or his heated passion from that one and only time that they had slept together. This Shitara was earnest and fervent, a side that Sakae had never seen before now.
Sakae silently gave up his resistance, and Shitara pulled him by the hand and led him back to his seat. Mutsuto was smiling. Sakae didn’t remember anything about the intro, but there was no movement from Shitara to go back and replay it. Mutsuto was probably at an apartment somewhere. He sat at a table as he talked, and Shitara probably sat across from him, out of the frame by the camera. There were no captions, no sound effects; it was essentially a fine cut that had been locked down—it allowed Mutsuto’s words and the changes in his facial expressions to really stand out on their own. TV killed off so much information with all of the excess embellishments that they added. Even though clear and effective communication was one of their major guiding principles.
Shitara asked a question from out of the frame.
“Can I ask you to talk about your parents?”
“Yeah… They didn’t really get along when I was little. Maybe it had been a mistake, or maybe they wanted something to repair their relationship, but my brother was born 10 years younger than me… I was happy about it. But in the end, they divorced when my brother entered elementary school.”
Mutsuto pulled a photo album towards him from the corner of the table and opened it.
Underneath the cherry blossoms in the photo, there was a large sign board that said School Entrance Ceremony. There were still childish traces in Mutsuto’s features as he stood next to the sign board and held the hand of a boy carrying a hard leather backpack. On the other side of the sign board stood their mother in a suit.
“I can feel a bit of tension in the photo.”
“You can tell?”
In contrast to the broad smile on the brother’s face, Mutsuto’s smile was somewhat awkward, while their mother’s was clearly stiff.
“My mother didn’t really like me. My father’s affairs were what caused their relationship to sour, and I look a lot like my father. But my brother was too young to understand that, and he was really attached to me. I also adored my brother, but I think that he felt easier around me because our father was never around and our mother was overprotective and always on edge. When our parents divorced, my brother cried and cried… I would have taken him in if I could, but I was still a student, and I would feel bad for my mother if I had taken him from her. That was why I had always gone to see him.”
The screen changed to a shot of Christmas cards, a stack of letters, and portraits drawn by a child.
“My mother always made a face whenever I visited. I went over every week the first couple of years of elementary school, and when he got older, I went over every other week or once a month… My father? He immediately found a new girlfriend, and they moved in together.”
“So you never realized that your brother had been bullied?”
Shitara’s voice had been gentle, with no hint of any blame or anything, but Mutsuto grimaced when he heard the question, like it had physically punched him. The close-up on his face made Sakae’s heart clench up and ache.
“I really knew nothing. He was always normal when I saw him. When I asked him about his friends, I never got a good response from him, but I figured that he was going through puberty and that maybe it embarrassed him to talk about it… I replay in my head over and over again the last time when I saw my brother, and I ask myself was there really nothing strange about him? Had there been any signs that I missed? Were there no bruises that might have peeked out from his collar or sleeves? As humans, we’re very inconvenient. We can check whatever we want on video, but we can’t do the same with our memories. The more I try to remember, the fuzzier my memories become, and now I don’t know what’s even real anymore.”
The scene changed, and on the screen Mutsuto was dressed in different clothing from before. His hair seemed a little longer, so maybe Shitara had come back at a later time. They exchanged some easy small talk—It’s pretty cold out, How have you been, I’ve started waking up early to take walks in the morning. It was as if they were friends and nothing had changed from before.
Shitara broached the topic again.
“How has your mother been since your brother’s death?”
“Half mad. Maybe half doesn’t cover it. The other boy’s parents completely lashed back against her. They insist that their son couldn’t have bullied anyone, that she must be after their money—and it’s really broken her spirit. She calls me with no regard for the time, whether it’s during work or in the middle of the night, and if I don’t pick up, she criticizes me for it. She’ll say ‘It’s because you’re so cold that he couldn’t say anything and died.’ And afterwards, she’ll ramble ‘He died with his name and face exposed, even our divorce was dug up for people to gossip about, and yet why it is that the one who killed him can live like he has done nothing wrong?’ She basically repeats the same things over and over again. ‘What is wrong with the world? You think so too, right? Don’t you believe that he should have to atone for what he did…?’”
“Is that why you used the show to expose the bully?”
Sakae had conducted a few confrontational interviews of his own. He had been great at challenging the contradictions of important witnesses in a case, making politicians flustered when they tried to blatantly assert an argument that made no logical sense. And when they panicked or lost their tempers, it only made the footage more delicious, and it had been a lot of fun for him. But Sakae didn’t think that he could ask a question like that to someone he knew very well. He had to turn his face away from Mutsuto’s pained expression on the screen.
“No, what I did was all on me. I should have distanced myself from my mother so that we each suffered on our own, but in the end, I depended on her need to depend on me. Watching someone who was more hurt and broken than me was what helped sustain me… I should have called out to someone to help me when I needed it, but I chose to save up my hate and boiled it down until it got thicker and thicker. And that had been the result.”
The scene changed again. The conversation continued in the same pattern: first they commented on how they were doing, and then they had a short exchange about the incident. The camera was always set on the table of the room, but the seasons changed, and Sakae could see the time as it flowed for Mutsuto. The curtains and the furniture would also change, but at one point the room itself changed. It was much bigger, and Sakae could tell that Mutsuto had moved. And he could see the living room over Mutsuto’s shoulder, and there was a crib with stuffed animals.
“Is your wife still visiting her parents?”
“Yes, but she should be back next month.”
“You must be looking forward to it.”
Mutsuto nodded as he gave a childish, bashful smile, one that Sakae had never seen before.
“Have you decided on a name?”
“His name is Souta. Um, we decided to take one character from your name, Shitara-san… Is that all right?”
“Sure, but now I feel a lot of pressure. Makes me feel like I need to shape up into a respectable adult.”
“You’re more respectable than any of the adults that I’ve ever known, Shitara-san.”
“Well that’s an honor. …Will you let your mother meet him?”
“No, she’s finally in a state of remission. I’m afraid that she might undo all of her progress if I show her the baby. I don’t want to hear her say that my brother has returned or that he has reincarnated. I will discuss with her doctor and decide as we go along.”
In the next scene, Mutsuto was holding a baby. Maybe the little creature in his arms was fast asleep because he had closed his eyelids lined with thick eyelashes and didn’t stir a muscle.
“You’ll probably think I’m stupid if I tell you this, but I’ve been thinking.”
“About me having something as precious as my brother—or even more so—that I want to protect. When I was 24, I couldn’t imagine the future at all. It’s hard to think about something when you don’t have it in your hands at the moment— It must have been even truer for my brother and the boy who had bullied him. …To be honest, I still check up on Facebook. I can’t stop myself. It’s easy enough to find with a search.”
“What does his profile say?”
“It’s not public, so nothing. At least just by looking at his header and profile pictures as they change, he seems to be fine. Even now, it makes me hate him so much that my head starts to spin.”
Mutsuto’s gaze darkened in an instant like clouds had covered over it. The baby had been quiet up until now, but he suddenly burst into tears, and Mutsuto frantically tried to soothe him.
“Ahhh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Don’t cry~ …Sorry, can you take him?”
A woman’s arms extended from out of the frame to take the crying baby, and the sound of the crying became further away.
“I’m sorry, he can seem to tell when I get dark thoughts.”
“It’s almost like litmus paper.”
“True, and the pH must be acidic.”
Mutsuto’s face loosened a little and stiffened again.
“What stops me from making a fake account and sending a friend request is probably my wife and son. Children especially, they’re always moving forward. I have to put him to sleep and feed him—when I’m desperately filled with the thought that I have to do what I can so that he survives past this day, I have no time to look back at the past.”
“So you’re glad that you have them?”
“Yes… I hope that the guy who I exposed can one day get married and have children of his own so that he can experience all these different emotions. It was only when I had my son that I wondered what I would do if he found out about my past—that I felt the weight of the things that I’ve done… I want him to experience the same fear and regret that I now feel. But that thought is always accompanied by the reality that my brother will never return.”
Sakae was startled by the words: “This endless regret is now an addiction at this point.”
“It’s like scratching at a wound; I just can’t stop. Even if it hurts, it scares me more to be healed, and I can’t move. I keep chewing this gum that’s lost all of its flavor, and I get more and more cavities.”
“Why do you think that you can’t stop?”
“It’s the strongest emotion that I have left that I can give to my brother.”
Mutsuto gave the answer quietly. Sakae hadn’t realized before now that the baby had stopped crying.
“I should have had a lot of happy memories, but I couldn’t preserve them as they were. Everything has turned into regret.”
Instead of a simple transition to the next scene as before, the screen blacked out for a moment. Out of the darkness appeared a Mutsuto who looked about the same age as Sakae now.
“Shitara-san, you’re a mystery.”
Mutsuto was hesitant as he opened his mouth.
“I mean, you’ve been transferred around the country, but you still come to visit me even though we don’t really talk about anything that important.”
“But the older you get, the more valuable it is to have people you can talk to comfortably, right?”
“That’s true, but that’s not the only thing that you’ve done for me. You’ve passed me work and clients, and you’ve been kind enough to be my guarantor for all sorts of things… And it makes me even more afraid to ask you. Shitara-san, what do you really think about what had happened back then? What do you think about me?”
Mutsuto’s hands were on the table laced together, and Sakae could see that he gripped them so tightly that his nails had turned white. Sakae also stiffened his hands on the armrests as he watched Mutsuto’s misery that awaited his judgement. The conversation was long over in real life, but Sakae watched it like an audience member who empathized with the film, and he prayed.
Don’t say something cruel. Just be kind to him. I don’t want to see Oku in pain anymore.
Because he couldn’t see Shitara on the screen, the few seconds of nervousness that he felt were staggering.
Shitara’s voice spoke.
“I will never forgive you.”
Sakae wanted to grab the flesh and blood Shitara sitting next to him and yell, Why did you say that? Dejection, resignation, and also self-loathing spread over Mutsuto’s face
“You purposely chose a day when Sakae would be at the desk of the control room, didn’t you? It wasn’t because the show just happened to feature the problem of bullying.”
“In doing so, it would better protect Sakae from suspicion as your accomplice. I understand the logic, but you had omitted the most important thing of all from your logic—that is how hurt Sakae would feel.”
Mutsuto’s eyes had been dark and hesitant, but they suddenly snapped wide open.
“I had thought that he would be incredibly angry, that he would never forgive me. That it was a given…”
“He was more hurt than angry that he was betrayed like that in front of his eyes. And with that personality of his, he can’t bring himself to admit it, so he’s dragged that hurt out long and deep inside of him. You said that you two were friends. Was that a lie? I will never forgive you for hurting Sakae.”
Mutsuto faced a Shitara who was off-screen. His lips moved a few times and made a few soundless words. He started to say, “I…,” but fell silent like a plaster figure. Sakae could hear the faint sound of sirens in the distance. He felt a strong and sudden realization that this was Mutsuto’s home where he had lived and spent his days.
Mutsuto seemed to have difficulty pulling his fingers apart that had been laced together, like they had been tangled and wouldn’t come loose, but eventually he hung his head down in his hands.
“He was… Souma was… an incredible guy. I’m pretty much an amateur when it comes to videos, but my eyes naturally turned to Souma’s work and I just knew. I wondered how there could be such an incredibly talented guy. When I watched Souma throwing himself into his work, it made me think that it was fun, that I wanted to work harder too. Even when he threw all the demanding requests at me, I would complain at him, but I was happy and proud about it at the same time—… Souma was an important friend to me. I am very sorry that I hurt him.”
Droplets fell onto the table. The video cut out and ended with no lingering sound and no ending credits.
“Are you stupid?”
When Sakae uttered the words, he realized that his eyes were wet.
“You’re so stupid…”
It had to be you. I could manage it without you, but still, I would think about what it could have been.
Tears and sobs overflowed from him one after another. He didn’t want to be plugged up anymore, and so he overflowed and didn’t stop. As he moaned through his tears, Sakae felt like he had finally and truly lost Mutsuto. Shitara didn’t lift one finger to touch him, didn’t offer him a single word. He just was there silently next to him.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.