"If I died, who would care? Who would even notice?"

There was a reason Largo often retreated within himself. There was a reason his "other self" came out all the time. There was a reason he could not tell reality from fantasy.

The pain. Always to avoid the pain.

---------

Largo walked into the courtyard. There weren't very many people there, for as Piro had said, not a lot of people he knew could afford to fly to Japan. And Piro, having not earned enough money yet, couldn't afford to have his body flown back to the United States.

He wandered around for a couple of minutes, not noticing as Kimiko passed him and walked up to the casket. She attempted to speak, but failed, and just cried softly.

---------

"If I died today, who do you think would cry at my funeral?"

"Why would you have a funeral? Why wouldn't you just respawn?"

"Largo, in real life you can't respawn."


---------

Erika approached the box, taking note of the people who were and weren't there.

<His weird American friends aren't here. Figures. Why would anybody go to the funeral of such a 'loser' if there was something they could be doing?>

She walked up to the death box.

"I can't believe you. Sure, you screwed up with the junior high-schooler, but things like that can be fixed. You were going great! You would have had everything! You could be on your way home with just a little bit of work. But you chickened out. I can't respect you for quitting. Why did you do it? What is wrong with you?"

---------

"What do you mean?"

"Largo, dammit, we're not in a game! We're in the real world! There is no 'respawning' here!"

"Oh..."


---------

Yuki entered the room, shaken deeply.

<How are you going to teach me to draw now, sensei? What did you do this for? Did you really want to be rid of me that much? Why didn't you tell me?>

She began sobbing, and then realized why.

<All this time, I have been admiring your work and thinking, 'This man must be a professional!' But when I met you, and I saw how little pride you had in your work, I couldn't believe it. So I set out to try to teach you otherwise. But you wouldn't listen! Nothing I could do would make you listen! So I decided to get you to teach me to draw so I could show you how wrong you were.>

And then she completely broke down. She began talking about a concept she wouldn't fully understand for many years to come, sobbing throughout.

<I didn't do it... for me... I... I loved... love you... I just wanted... for you... to be happy... But your drawings were all so sad... Why were you so sad, Piro? Why? Tell me this! Why?>

---------

"Anyways... What do you think? Who do you think would cry?"

"Nobody. I don't think anybody would cry."

"Oh? Why not?"

"What have you done? Nothing. Who are you important to? Nobody. When have you ever done something to help save someone else? Never."

"Wha-???"

"You are worthless. You have done nothing useful to anyone. You are... like me."


---------

Ping knew not what to say. She hadn't been programmed for this sort of thing. Could this be rejection she was sensing?

No, it couldn't be. But what was it, then?

---------

"Like you?"

"Yes. Like me. Why do you think I live inside games? Because I'm an active gamer?"

"Uh... yeah."

"That might be part of it, but you want to know the real reason? I can't stand who I am. I can't live with myself. So I retreat into my mind and let my 'other self' take over. I let the gamer within myself become me."


---------

Miho Tohya felt it was her turn to say something. She went to the proper place and spoke up.

<And I thought it would be worth seeing who you were... I never got to test you, you know. I never could. Were you the one I was looking for? Were you the one who could truly understand me? Doesn't matter now, I guess...>

---------

"I see."

"No, you don't. Nobody ever does. That's another part of it."

"Okay... See you Largo."

"Alright. Bye Piro... Wait, where are you going?"

"Away."


---------

Largo decided it was only fair for him to say something. He entered the room and spoke.

"Do you realize how much pain you have brought upon others? Can you even comprehend what you have done? No, you can't. You have no clue as to what you just did. Why, though? Did I cause it? Was it what I told you? Or was it something else? Dammit, what happened that night?!?"

---------

"No, Piro! What are you doing? Get away from there!"

"I hope you have a good life, Largo. I hope you do well."

"No, don't do it! Don't..."


---------

Piro watched everything, perched on top of the casket.

"I have to do something, Sepharim."

"You can't Piro! There's nothing you can do!"

"I still have to do something."

"Piro, dammit, you chose this. I didn't want any part of it. So accept it. Accept what you have done. There is no going back! Do you understand me?!?"

---------

After the service, Largo went home. He would have to move on. No matter how hard it was.

He never would be able to look at the rope without crying. But he never would be able to take it down, either.
It's been a while since I killed myself. I thought that things would be better, without me. I thought things would be better out of life.

How wrong I was...

When they came to take me away, I didn't let them. I wanted to watch my funeral. I was afraid. Afraid of where I might be going, afraid of what I left.

I said I'd go with them after my funeral. I wanted to see my "friends" for one last time before I left. But something went wrong. They never came back for me. So now I'm stuck here.

"You never realize what you've got until it's gone"
by Eli Young (Elyscape)

---------

I remember my funeral. I remember it in painstaking detail. I remember Largo, confused and angry. Erika, filled with righteous anger. Ping, completely unknowing of what to do. Miho, wishing she had learned about me while she still had time. Yuki, so sad. So sad that she wouldn't ever get her drawing lessons. So sad that she wouldn't ever see me again. And Kimiko. If I wander around forever, I'll never be able to clear my mind of that expression. That completely broken, shattered dreams type of expression.

Remembering my funeral lead me to understand how much I really had in life. It made me realize that you never realize what you have until either it's gone, or you're gone. You can never know who loves you until you die. And then it doesn't help one bit.

---------

Sepharim could only hang around for a little bit after I died. After about a couple of days, the agency caught up with her and made her move on to a different client. This in combination with the fact that I couldn't speak to anyone made me more lonely than I ever was while living.

I began to sing one of my favorite songs, Miserable World.

"Every night I look out at the world... It brings me down.
Every time I look out at the blue ocean... I wanna drown."

"Of course," said Seraphim. "You can't drown. You're already dead, lest you forget."

I began weeping with joy.

"Seraphim! I can't believe I'm seeing you again! How'd you get out of work?"

"Well, I cured one case so they gave me a couple days vacation. I thought you might want a visit, so here I am."

"Well, thank you for coming out!"

"Yeah, about that. I didn't just come out here for no reason, Piro. We need to talk."

---------

"See that girl over there?"

It was Yuki.

"Yeah, I see her," I said.

"What's she doing?"

I floated down above her desk and watched her for a bit. She was drawing something.

"Ever since you died, Piro, this is all she's done."

"How do you know that?"

"She's my next case. They gave me some briefing information to review while I was away."

Seraphim's job wasn't only to keep people in line. Her job also entailed fixing up the lives of her clients. I was her first failure, and she wasn't about to have another. That's why she brought me here, I supposed.

"Anyway, go take a look at what she's drawing."

I took a closer look at her page. Had I been living, my heart would have stopped right then and there. She was drawing me. I was sitting on a bench in the park, drawing something in my sketchbook. And I was crying. I looked at the bottom right and to see what she titled it.

"'Are you sad, Mr. Piro-san?' She's been working on that drawing non-stop since you died."

"She what?!?"

Seraphim didn't have time to respond. Yuki's mother walked in and looked at the drawing.

<Wow, Yuki,> she commented. <That's really good. Where did you learn to draw like that?>

Yuki exploded.

<It's not good! It's the worst drawing ever! It's not good at all! I hate it!> she screamed.

She ranted on in this vein for some time.

"See the problem, Piro?" Seraphim asked. "Look what you caused."

---------

"I'm not done with you yet, Piro," Seraphim warned.

"Eh?"

"Just follow me."

---------

I was relieved when Largo got a second job. No matter how bizarre or farfetched it might be, at least he was making something. At least he was doing something. That's more than I could say.

Largo walked into the apartment on the third floor of MegaGamers. Thanks to Erika, he had managed to avoid being kicked out. Now part of one of his paychecks went to the boss of the store. He managed to live quite comfortably there. It was quite a feat on his part.

I watched him as he wandered around. He seemed to be arguing with himself about something. Then, his thoughts came out.

"Damn you, Piro! Why did you have to do it? Why?" he shouted.

He sat down and began sobbing into his arms.

"Geez," I said. "I didn't think it had effected him this much."

"Well, it did," Seraphim said.

"When I watched him, he never seemed to show much emotion," I thought for a minute, then added, "Of course, I only watched him for a couple of hours..."

"Right. You happened to have spied on him before his emotions devoped this strongly. Only recently has he been like this."

"Wait, how do you know that?"

"I did some research. It wasn't hard."

---------

"Where are we?" I asked.

"You'll see."

We drifted into one of the rooms. Miho Tohya was sitting there, talking to Ping.

<I've been wondering...> she said.

<What have you been wondering?> asked Ping.

<All this time, I've been searching for someone who could truly understand me. And I found Piro. I had a test planned so I could see if he was the right person. But he killed himself... Do you think he was the right person?>

<I don't know, Miho... I never knew him well enough.>

<Neither did I. And there's the problem.>

<What about me? Can't I understand you?>

<No, Ping. You can't. I'm sorry, but you aren't the person I'm looking for.>

<But we're still friends, right? Right?>

<...I suppose so...>

"You mean to say," I said. "That she thought I might be able to solve her problems?"

"Yes, Piro," Seraphim said coldly. "And because of you, she's been losing focus on everything else."

"What?!?"

"You heard what I said."

---------

"And here is the one most effected by your death, Piro," Seraphim noted.

I watched Kimiko. She was being recorded at the voice studio. She was so sad. Was that just her character, or was it something else?

"You broke her, Piro. You shattered her. Before you died, she felt like she had maybe done something good for once! After you died, she felt as though she would never do anything right. And those feelings haven't left yet, Piro," Seraphim yelled.

---------

"Piro, I don't think you fully understand what you did. In doing what you did, not only did you take your own life, but you also took part of everyone else's. They may never recover from what you did. Can you even begin to comprehend what you did? You had so much in life, but you ignored it. You focused on the things you didn't have. And, in doing that, you threw everything you had away."

"What do you want from me?" I cried.

"I want you to go and try to fix up these people's lives. Enter their dreams, do whatever you have to. But make an effort to actually change something."

---------

That night I visited Yuki while she was asleep. Before I entered her dream, I watched it from outside. She was standing in a garden. I was nearby. She walked up to me, to say something, and I ran away. She chased after me, crying, but I kept running. Then I melted into the dirt.

About that time I entered her dream. Everything went blank. She stood there, confused. I walked up to her.

<Yuki, move on,> I told her.

<I can't.>

<Yes, you can. Forget about me.>

<I can't,> she began to cry again.

<Yuki, your tears won't revive me. Your suffering only makes my time here worse.>

<Forgive me... Please forgive me... I just can't forget about you.>

<Why not?>

<I loved you.>

And she believed it.

I wasn't one to shatter dreams.

<You still have to move on. There's nothing you can do for me now.>

<I'm so sorry... so sorry...> she sobbed.

<Yuki, stop it.>

<I'm sorry... for all the pain I'm causing you... But I can't move on... I just can't...>

<Yuki, stop it. This isn't helping you.>

An idea came to me. Seraphim would kill me if she ever found out, but it might just work.

Her eyes widened and she tried to say something, but it was forgotten as she accepted the kiss. I knew how much she must have wanted this.

<Move on, Yuki. It could never happen. Only in a dream could things such as this happen.>

She said nothing, just tried to stop her tears.

<Yuki, at least return to your life. Your friends miss you, and this isn't good for you.>

<I... can try...>

<Good. Trying is the first step towards anything.>

<Can you... visit me? Later?>

I didn't know what to say. So I didn't say anything.

<Please?>

<...I'll try, Yuki. I'll try.>

---------

I watched the next morning as Yuki finished her drawing. Now it was even more heart-stopping than before.

I was still there, drawing and crying as before. Now there was a noose around my neck. Yuki was standing nearby, crying yet walking away...

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