Miyoko no Naku Koro ni
Escape Chapter (4th Arc)
Episode 14: Let’s Talk
“Miyoko Tanashi,” said Frederica Bernkastel to the little girl playing at her feet. “Do you wish to escape pain and suffering?”
Like the last time, Miyo looked up and smiled. “Onee-san,” she said cheerfully, “how did you know my name? Are you friends with my parents? They are —“
“Lambda,” Frederica said, “are you not in there, somewhere?”
Upon hearing the word lambda, Miyo remembered. She remembered everything. The memories all came flooding into her. Thought it was agonizing, the process was slightly less painful and disorienting than last time. Miyo wanted to shout, but she resisted. At last, she looked back up at Frederica with determination on her face. Her brown eyes showed slight red tinges.
“Yes,” the child said. “She — Lambda — is within me. I have all of the memories, you goddamn Witch.” It occurred to Miyo, though, that something was strange. Even though she knew what a hideous demon Frederica was, some part of her lit up with enthusiasm over their meeting. Well, Miyo had always thought Frederica was pretty and interesting in the other world lines, she reasoned. That might be something about herself she couldn’t completely change.
Suddenly, Miyo snapped back to reality and remembered what was important. She dropped her toy truck and ran as fast as she could toward her house. She planned to stop her parents from going out, whatever it took, but it was too late for that. The Tanashi couple had already left. Frederica’s purpose in talking to Miyo each time was probably to buy time while her parents left. Cursing the Witch, the blond-haired child thought desperately about what to try next.
In what she thought might be a stroke of genius, Miyo called the police department and gave the officer the license number of her parents’ car, asking him to pull them over because they were in danger. She also tried telling them that a bus crash would happen soon and they needed to stop it. Neither idea worked. The police didn’t take the eleven-year-old seriously. They sternly warned her not to call again unless there was a real emergency.
Miyo hung up the phone and slid down onto her knees, resting her head against the dresser where the phone was situated. She was out of ideas. She cried a few bitter tears for her parents, but it was like she could feel the Witch’s gaze on her, so she stopped crying.
This time, when faced with the man in the office, Miyo told him clearly and carefully to contact Hifumi Takano. She begged him to wait and speak with Takano before sending her anywhere. If she had to be sent to an orphanage, she implored them not to choose Sky House. These were all good, reasonable ideas, but nobody Miyo talked with were really good or reasonable people. No matter what she tried, they still sent her to the place she considered Hell.
When she arrived at Sky House that night, Miyo paid close attention to her introductions to Sumire Ichihara, the headmistress of the orphanage, and Meisa Ebina. The former was smiling and had her silver hair tied in a bun. She wore a traditional women’s kimono. The former, as usual, was not smiling, but also wasn’t frowning as deeply as usual. She had very short, dark green hair and wore a black skirt with a light grey button-up shirt. As for Hosoda, Miyo didn’t pay more than a grain of attention to him. She knew better than to stare at him. Avoiding him, she hurried into Sky House on her own as soon as it was permissible.
When she got to her room, Miyo wasn’t surprised that the other three girls were fast asleep. She decided she would talk to them the next morning, just after breakfast. If things went as planned, Miyo thought, she could avoid getting in trouble with Hosoda or Ebina for the first few days.
“Let’s talk,” said Eriko — “all three of us.”
It was after breakfast and Miyo had quickly introduced herself to Eriko, Fumie, and Sayuri. She didn’t even try to avoid the inevitability of seeming weird to them at first — after all, she acted as if she already knew the girls, and she was strangely insistent on becoming one of the group. When Miyo said she wanted to earn their trust and be their friend, Fumie looked wary and disdainful, while Sayuri showed a quiet, hopeful smile that showed she wanted to accept the new girl right away. Eriko was in between.
“Trust is built over time, as we get to know each other,” she stated. “But we can speed up the part about getting to know each other a little bit. For one, you seem to know us pretty well somehow already. For another, we can do a bit of chatting. It should help us each of us. So let’s talk.”
“Alright,” Miyo agreed, thinking it was a simple enough request or suggestion.
Soon she was seated in a circle with the other three girls in their room, wondering what Eriko had in mind. As usual, that girl was bright-eyed and full of gentle, reassuring charm. Her eyes and her medium-length hair were deep brown like rich chocolate or fine coffee. Fumie had her long, silky black hair in a ponytail, and wore her modified pink towel as a shirt over a sleeveless, battered undershirt. She had sharp features, and there was a slight tinge of green in her otherwise black eyes. Looking a but anxious was Sayuri, with her reddish-chestnut hair highlighted with streaks of gold, and her eyes wide and blue. She was the smallest and skinniest of them all.
“I’ve been hoping for a new friend for a while,” said Eriko. “Partly because I wanted to try this talking game. It’s simple. The first person starts by saying something, anything, about one of the other three. Keep it civil, though. We let the talk flow from there, as the other girl responds and makes a comment or question about any of the other girls. If you’ve been addressed, the rules say you have to talk. Try your best to answer if asked a question. And if the conversation dies down, the last person who spoke has to reveal something funny or surprising to get it going again.”
“Ah, what a good idea, Eri,” said Fumie with a smile and a nod of approval.
“This will help Sayuri learn to talk better and more regularly.”
“It’s also an icebreaker,” Eriko told her. Then she looked at Miyo. “Alright, new kid. You start. What’s on your mind? Something about me, or Sayu-chan, or Fumi-san? Anything will work. You can ask a question if you prefer. Don’t feel shy.”
Oddly, the usually introverted Miyo didn’t feel shy or hesitant. She thought that, perhaps, the existence within her (Lambda) was talkative. Aloud, she asked, “Sayu-chan, what’s your favorite flower, or one that’s on your mind, and why?”
“I… um… You..” It took a minute for Sayuri to collect herself. “Y-you probably thought I’d choose lilies, right? Because, m-my name is written like, ‘little lily.’ But actually, it’s Hinagiku: daisies. I think they are the friendliest looking flower. Um… what’s your favorite, Fumi-san?”
“Anything pink,” the girl replied at once. “Hydrangea, rose, lotus, and so on. Pink is such a lovely and bold color. I suppose my very favorite flower would be a lotus, because the first character in my name means lotus. But, I’ve never actually seen a lotus. And you, Eriko?”
“Hmm… sunflowers, maybe?” Eriko said, scratching the back of her head a little awkwardly. “Heh, I’ve never really thought about it. But sunflowers are great, though I’ve seen them in books. And then we go back to you, our new star, Miyo-chan. Favorite flowers?”
“Lilies,” answered Miyo, without even thinking about it. She hadn’t even realized it before, but it rang true. “Why? Ehh, I’m not all the way sure. But probably because there were white lilies and orange lilies in my yard at home. … At my old home, that is.”
Silence reigned in the room for a short moment, seeing as nobody wanted to talk about their old homes, if indeed they had ever had a home. In that brief silence, a plan formed in Miyo’s mind about how to use this talk game to her advantage.
“Well, according to the rules, it goes back to me, then,” Miyo said, forcing a small laugh to relieve the tension. “I’ll reveal something surprising about myself. Um, you see… I’m planning to escape this horrible place, and I’m hoping you are thinking the same thing.”
To Be Continued