View Full Version : The Sound of Flowers

June 16th, 2012, 10:05 AM
The Sound of Flowers

“Have you given any thought to what I’ve offered?”

The girl stared at the foot of the bed, watching the cat-like creature there swish its tail back and forth. He had come to her once before, in the dead of night like now, also when she was suffering from insomnia but had little else to occupy her mind with. With nothing but the faint sound of a heart monitor and respirator from the patient next door, there was little to remind her that she was not, in fact, the only person alive in the world.

“You desire to leave this place, don’t you?” the cat-thing said. It called itself Kyubey, though the girl had little ability to conceptualize it beyond a white cat that could talk like a human. “That is certainly something that you could wish for. Good health, to get out, to never see the inside of a hospital again…anything like that!”

She wanted to. She really did. It had been months since she had stepped foot outside the hospital grounds, weeks since she had even seen any of her schoolmates. Her parents visited daily, though as time had gone on, she had come to perceive the sadness they had every time, the hopelessness they felt, and so the visits were not something she looked forward to in that way. She wanted to go places with her friends, she wanted to be out in the sun, she wanted to put her hands and feet in the grass and dirt and not have to worry about her limbs swelling or having a coughing fit or passing out from the weight over her chest.

The cat-creature seemed to know this all, almost at the exact moment she would think it. It leapt from the foot of the bed onto the chair nearby where her mother usually sat and read; one of the gardening magazines she had brought the previous visit still rested atop the seat. Kyubey pawed at the cover where flowers bloomed in pinks and reds. “You and your mom could go outside and garden instead of sit around reading about it,” it said.

“Still,” she said, her voice quiet, even despite the fact that her loudest would never have woken anyone. “Still, you said I’d risk my life.”

“Well, of course. You can’t get things for free in this world,” Kyubey admitted. “Though I would guide you so you had the best possible chance in the meanwhile.” It swished its tail again, almost as if to shrug. “Besides, as far as I see it, aren’t you already risking your life to say no?”

Even if that was true…

She was not sure why, but something still kept her from accepting. Whether it was the adult-like cynicism picked up from her parents and the parents of other patients that came to watch their children waste away, or whether it was from the childlike hope she had that something stranger than a talking cat could occur, she withheld her commitment to his offer.

“Let me think about it some more,” she said, even as her voice wavered.

Though days were infinitely better than nights, it was still a difficult existence. Exertions caused pain, so she often sat around with little to do, and with that came boredom, and from boredom came lethargy. She would idly watch television or read a book, and on the occasion that her friends visited, they often brought her notes from school—at her own insistence—so she could have some idea as to what she would have been learning, what she could have been doing instead. As the time between her friends visiting increased, however, she had less and less even still to occupy her mind with.

The other children would sometimes alleviate that, occasionally coming into her room out of their own boredom. She was the oldest in the children’s ward of the hospital, so the other kids often said they looked up to her. Which, even if she were not bedridden, would have been a strange choice of words, since her condition had stunted her growth.
Though they often hesitated before entering her room. When asked, one of them had said, “We didn’t want to disturb you if your friend was in here.”

Sometimes, though, it was a sad reminder of her reality. She had been here long enough that, of the dozen or so kids she had met upon her admittance, nine now remained. While the other children were somehow more resilient about the way some of their others departed, she was just old enough to understand how hopeless it could be and what a terrible fate they had been granted.

The day following Kyubey’s second appearance, that number swelled back up to ten.

A little girl, no more than five or six, peeked her head in through the door to her room. The child was even more child-like due to a lack of hair, the sign of treatment she had already undergone. “I’m Kanon!” she said, inside-voice be damned. The girl then waddled over to the chair, seemed to examine it for a moment, then stood up at the side of the bed.

“You can sit down, Kanon,” she said in reply, unable to help but look sadly at the IV tube hanging from the child’s arm.

“Not good to steal seats,” Kanon said.


The little girl gave an exaggerated frown. “Yeah, steal. Your friend was there first, right?”

She blinked down at the child, then to the empty chair. Slowly, she processed what it was Kanon was probably thinking. “I…I only just noticed her, sorry.” She considered her words, then said, “I can’t hear or see very well from here. What does she say her name is?”

Kanon reached out as if to hold her hand out to this invisible person. The girl then giggled, suddenly, as if the person’s invisible handshake were ticklish. “Madoka.”

She spent much of that night awake again, her thoughts hovering over the little girl reaching out for the imaginary friend. “A flower girl,” Kanon had described. “Bright like flowers in my room.”

It would be nice, she decided, if there was someone around, even if it was only a figment of imagination.

“Come to a decision yet?” the cat-creature said from her room’s windowsill. “Ready to make this place a distant memory?”

“Have you offered a wish to anyone else here?” she asked, her thoughts still to little Kanon.

“Mm, it’s sort of a strange thing even I can’t fully explain,” Kyubey said, its head tilting aside, “but the magic that I can activate doesn’t work unless they’re around your age. Everyone else is too young.” It swished its tail again in that same approximation of a shrug. “It can’t be helped, really. I can’t even use the magic myself, just guide people like you to do so. I’d probably change it if I could.”

She sighed. “It…it doesn’t seem fair.”

Kyubey trotted over to the doorway that led out into the rest of the hospital, the light creeping in through the gap at the bottom backlighting its paws as it paced. “I guess you could always use the wish to make someone else here better instead. But the power of your wish is limited, to an extent. I very much doubt you could save everyone.”

“So it would have to be…to choose? Choose one, or choose myself? Not everyone?”

Kyubey’s ears—or was it his hair?—swayed along the floor, then lifted up like a helpless set of hands. “What can I say? Miracles come at a price, and there’s only so much you can spend on one. If what you pay is ‘your life,’ then what you get is a life in return. That makes sense, right?”

The slow-to-burn cynicism of adulthood welled up in her, the same kind of agonizing feeling that she knew her parents had with each day that passed. It made sense, she understood what Kyubey was saying, but…

She clamped down on that feeling, thought of little Kanon and the other children in the ward. Unlike her, they still seemed to be fine with everything, even accepting of what might be their end. Though they looked up to her as the eldest, she thought, maybe, there was something better to look to from them. That thought she had before, that ephemeral something that had put off giving Kyubey an answer before, seemed to agree.

Just wait…

“I think I’ll wait for something else,” she said.

Kyubey gave a long, drawn-out sigh, longer than she thought a creature that size could have the air to actually do. “Such magic does not exist just because you wait for it.” It made its way back to the window, a cat no longer content with the company of its master. “Do not hesitate to call for me when you find that to be true.”

Her parents were crying.

At first, she had thought it was bad news, when they came in the next afternoon with red eyes and soggy cheeks. Her mother had been in hysterics, unable to even speak coherently for over an hour, and her father had become entirely too silent. But the doctor had come in, had, over the sobs and sniffles from her mother, explained the new direction they would be going in.

“I thought…you said to be prepared,” she said to the doctor, still confused.

He had smiled to her, ruefully, though not unhappily himself. “Because I was prepared, and so was your family. This usually doesn’t happen.”

It was rare in Japan. The stigma of death to a Shinto culture was unshakable and even the very thought of the word evoked a belief of uncleanliness. Even the number “four” was sometimes superstitiously avoided due to its homonym nature to the word “death.”

So organ donation was extremely rare.

“We’ll be ready for the transplant in a short while.” He smiled over to the door. “So you should get prepared for this other thing instead, Kanade. I’m sure you’ll have help with that.” He raised his voice. “You can come in instead of eavesdropping, kids.”

The other children from the ward spilled in immediately, all smiles and shrieks of laughter at the news she had been given. They all crowded around her bed to give congratulations and adulations and ask if she was going to be afraid of her upcoming surgery and all sorts of things that overlapped and were drowned out until nothing could keep her mother from breaking out into a fresh bout of tears once again.

Kanade could only turn her attention to the little girl that wandered in last, accompanied by her parents this time, though while the adults made to introduce themselves and offer their congratulations, Kanon made for the corner of the room. The little girl seemed to look up at the person that she saw there and offered a hand, then pulled the person over to join in with the festivities.

When the din of initial excitement died down and Kanade could accept the words the other kids offered, she asked Kanon, “What does our friend say?”

Kanon looked up as if listening carefully. She then shrugged, clearly not getting it. “‘It's not wrong to hope. Good things come to those who wait.’” The girl took on a mimicry of a wise-man pose. “My mom says that a lot.”

Slowly, she reached out to take the little girl’s other hand, the one not “holding” a hand already. “My mom does too. I never listened to her.”

Kanon squeezed her hand back. “Tachibana-san should be a good child and listen to her more.”

A smile. “I guess I’ll have the time to do that, now.”

AN: In Japanese, Kanon is made up of the kanji “flower” and “sound.” The sound kanji is in the name “Hatsune,” and also what’s used in ongaku, music.

I dare you to reread it with the lyrics (http://gendou.com/amusic/lyrics.php?id=10222&show=2) of No, Thank You! (http://youtu.be/GKMINJlhCxw) from K-On!! in mind, now.

June 16th, 2012, 12:38 PM
Hmm...Angel Beats!, I think? That's my best guess, and if that's the case then I wholly approve of this.

The Sylentnight
June 18th, 2012, 04:53 PM
Hmm...Angel Beats!, I think? That's my best guess, and if that's the case then I wholly approve of this.

I think it is.

By the way, nice little story here Arashi!