The Favor

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The Favor

Post by Duper » Thu May 29, 2014 1:36 am

Hi All. First time posting here. (actually something like 3rd post or something equally as lame.)
Here's a short story I've put together. Thanks again to Silentcook for helping me with a bit of info that wasn't necessary but added some flavor to this 2600+ compilation of words. it got big.
Also a Big thanks to Cpl_Crud for some help a name as well. Cheers guys!!! Of course, critique and feedback welcome. That said, I'm aware of a couple issues with tense, but I felt it was ready to be offered up for "slaughter". oh, on last thing, I'm going to need some help with the honorifics. I used some, but not on each instance of a name. One of the hazards of living in the US. My apologies up front.

If nothing else, I hope you enjoy it.



I changed a bit of the wording and added the spoiler tags over the "other" ending. I would have removed it, but that would have been bad for a few of the posts.
**Late post note** After doing a bit of research, I made a critical cultural error with the description of the graves. Most Japanese cemeteries don't have burial sites. I may rewrite this to account for that.

The Favor

Warmth. Spring had finally taken residency in the valley, basking everything in the glow of its smile. The winter had been bitterly cold. While the Miyagi area was no stranger to the truculence that was often dished out, this year had been more so; as though it were wreaking vengeance on the land. Locals feared that it would never relinquish its hold on the countryside. Fortunately time has a way of peeling back the most stubborn of seasons. Now, the light brine of sea air drifts gently in from the east instead of a driving gale. Its shallow bite scouring away the final shadows of the unforgiving season. And everywhere life was starting to take notice.
One yard in particular is enjoying the change. A light breeze passes by, feeling its way through the ancient cedars and unmowed grass, while mossy stones and gravel paths glow in the late morning sun. The stabbing chill swiftly becoming a hollow memory here. This, the local cemetery, where a solitary figure takes in the view. A proud, wrought iron gate stands as acting sentry over the newly birthed flowers popping up amongst the weathered obelisks. The idle guard does not impede entrance, but it doesn’t invite it either. But, this was normal. Infrequent were those that would cross its post.
Today is to be different however, for as the sun draws its line toward mid-day, a silver car approaches barely intruding on the silence.
Gravel lightly crunches under tires and brakes squeak faintly as the vehicle purposefully stops. The hollow cluck of doors opening, a grunt and the muffled slams as doors returning to their assignment. A young girl with unruly sandalwood hair pulled back into pigtails grasps the bars of the gate; an inquisitive gaze peering through the ribs of the aged sentinel. A young mother pushes through the portal and starts up the wide path, resolve etched across her face. The child hesitates then breaks into stride with her mother. They aren’t far along before they suddenly stop. The woman seems to have noticed the grounds keeper’s utility shed. A forgotten hose and mower outside betrays its otherwise nonchalant demeanor. A smile just tugs at the corners of her mouth. But that’s all the distraction the pig-tailed girl needs and she’s off like a shot. Whirling about, the mother calls out to her fleeing child.

“ICHIGO NAKAI! Stop right where you are!”

The child thunders to a halt, giggling all the while; the mother standing with both hands on her hips.

~Honestly. What is she thinking? If she weren’t my own daughter…~

“Ichi, do you even know where you’re going?” I try to sound cross but I’m too nervous. Besides, this is the first nice day in a long time.

“umm..No.. I don’t!” she replies a bit perplexed, pouting slightly. “Where ARE we going Mommy? Why are we here? What are all these funny looking stones? Are we going to see Daddy?”

That felt like a kick in the gut. I should have expected this. Idiot. Reaching her, I tussle her hair lightly, and continue up the path.

“Yep! We are.”



“Why is Baabaa staying in the car? Doesn’t she want to see Daddy too?”

Another kick.

Flinching, I choose my words carefully. “oh, she does. She... just wanted us to have some “you & me” time.” I doubt she’ll catch the hesitation.

“Oh.” She replies thoughtfully. “Cool!!!”

“ ‘cool’??” This brings me to full stop. “Where’d you hear That? Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.”
She giggles and shrugs.

Note to self: less time with Auntie Rin.
Last edited by Duper on Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:24 am, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: The Favor

Post by Duper » Thu May 29, 2014 1:43 am

Continuing on, my legs seem to not want to obey. Each step is becoming a force of will. I don’t remember it being this far. Actually, I don’t remember much from previous visits; mostly just the car ride home. I guess Mom nearly carried me back the other times…from what she tells me.

A knot swells in my throat.

As the path narrows, it begins to slope down a bit, our destination coming into view. Ichigo skips along merrily beside me, oblivious. I’m surprised that I’m a bit envious. Of all the things I Can do, skipping is not one of them, at least with these legs. Regular prosthetics won’t handle it. Well, not for very long at any rate. It never ends well. I chuckle to myself dryly. That’s it, keep yourself distracted and you might just…

“Are we there yet Mommy?!” she asks brightly.

“Nearly.” …oh well.

Her innocent delight and growing excitement mirrors a growing panic within me. I slow to settle myself, but...

“Here we are.” drawing a shaking breath.

“Where Mommy?” asks Ichigo in utter puzzlement.

“Here.” pointing the modest grave site. Did I pick that out? So much of that time is still a blur. There was a service and people, but I don’t remember their faces. I lost a whole week after that. Thank god it was between terms. If Mom hadn’t been there for me…

“Mommy? WHAT’s here?”

I need to stay focused.

“Ichigo, remember when I told you that Daddy ...died and had to go away and you spent a lot of time with Baabaa?”

“Uh-huh”, her face in genuine concentration.

“Well we had to bury him here in the ground.” I guess she hadn’t understood as well as I’d thought. She must have actually thought we were going to see him.

The next few minutes pass answering many questions and explaining how we understand death here in Japan. It takes every ounce of strength to stay in control. When she finishes, she wraps my leg in a hug and looks up at me, a slight frown touches her lips.

“That makes me sad Mommy. I miss Daddy”, her arms tighten. “What do we do now?”

“That’s a good question dear.”

My stomach ties in knots as tears begin to burn. “For now… we ..we can talk to him if you would like. I’m sure he’ll hear.”

“Ok”. She brightens a bit at the notion. Walking to the side of the grave as though it were a bed, she plops down on the grass.

“Daddy, I miss you. I miss you reading bed time stories at night. And dinner time. I wish you could eat dinner with us. Mommy still puts a plate for you and coffee. She misses you too Daddy. So does Baabaa. She cries sometimes. I really really miss you Daddy.” She pauses and looks up at me. “Mommy, you wanna talk to Daddy?”

“Yes dear, I do.” I take a deep quivering breath.

“Love, winter finally broke. I…I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. Mom is here too, but will be by in a bit. Ichi is right, we...I…” the knot in my throat doubles in size. “I miss you. I wish..I wish yo…..”

Something breaks inside. An unexpected knife lodges in my gut. …No, not now, not Again!

A torrent of pain all but wipes away the world around me. Crashing down over my head, it collapses everything familiar to me.

My husband is Right Here, beneath my feet. He’s so close, but…but…


... I so WANT to hold his hand, feel him at my side.. but I can’t. I reach but there’s nothing there. No more hugs. No quite time late at night. His arms around me in bed. “Nguuhhh….no. no no no no no…”
“WHY?!! Why did you leave!?!”

Clenched teeth are the only thing keeping me from screaming at the top of my lungs.

“I know why, but WHY? It’s not fair! Things were going so well! Your new job at University, my degree nearly finished… Your heart was fine. The doctor said so! All the running had been paying off. The new medication. I shouldn’t have suggested the marathon. Stupid stupid STUPID! I’ve done some dumb things but this takes it. Oh god, was this really my fault? No... please it wasn’t but if I hadn’t…nnNnnn”

Nausea sweeps over in sour rush.

“You never promised me forever. We both knew..but I wanted it. Oh god I wanted it! I didn’t want you to go! Pleease! …come back….come…back Hisao..

The howling in my ears is deafening. My knees hit something damp, my body shaking uncontrollably. I can barely draw breath. I can hear someone crying and …footsteps on gravel. Running. It doesn’t matter. I don’t Care! I’m alone! “ALONE. AGAIN!

DAMNIIIT!!~” It escapes with the force of a gunshot. My throat tears with the strain, and my fists slam the ground spraying pea gravel everywhere.

I can’t see, my face awash in tears, searing my cheeks.

Arms slide under mine lifting me off the ground. The side of my face is pressed against something soft. A heart beat croons in my ear, a strong heartbeat. And now a voice drifts through the fog and the racking pain in my own chest.


gentle rocking.

“It’s OK dear. It’s OK. You’re not alone.”

“but it’s been a whole year Mom! Why am I being such and idiot? Why does it still hurt So Bad? Am I THAT weak? Is th..”

“No Emi.” she cuts across me firmly.

Tightening her grip she continues, “You’re many things, but ‘weak’ is not one of them. This kind of pain takes a long time to fade. Trust me, I know.”

Oh no. how did I forget?
“..Mom. ..I, I didn’t mean… I’m sorry. I…”

“My dear, don’t worry. It’s easy to forget these things when it’s still fresh. I’m still here and so is Ichigo.”

“M-m-mommy?” comes a small voice from behind.
Last edited by Duper on Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:57 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: The Favor

Post by Duper » Thu May 29, 2014 1:47 am

Oh God! Ichigo! She must be…

Pulling away, I spin around to find my daughter. That look ... It’s something I never want to see again. Peeking out from behind a nearby headstone, her eyes wide and swollen with tears, too terrified to move. She’s trembling. Tormenting pain flees before my horror. Wiping my face with a sleeve, I drop to my knees again, only with arms wide for Ichigo.

“Oh Honey, I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Come here…”

She takes a couple hesitant steps. A hand rests on my shoulder.

“It’s OK Ichi-chan, Mommy is OK.”

At this, she breaks into a run slamming into me. We nearly go over backwards as she begins to cry. Mom wraps us in her own hug whispering comfort and assurance. We stay there a long time…I think. My head is still spinning, it’s hard to keep track.

“Hisao was a good man, Emi. He was every bit the man your father was and possibly more. He will always be with you. Death wouldn’t keep him from you. Love doesn’t end with death you know. He will always be watching over you and his little girl. Just as your father does you and me.”

Her words settle over me like a blanket fresh out of the drier.

“When did You get to be so wise?” I snort.

“Oh, it was free with the gray hair,” she smiles and winks.

I love my Mom and tell her so.

“I love you too Baabaa!” chirps a muffled voice from amongst the tangle of arms.

“Thank you Ichigo. You’re the bestest grand-daughter a baabaa could eeeever have!” Mom’s sing-song voice makes her blush and giggle.

Taking a moment to re-adjust my legs, I get to my feet brushing off my skirt. Turning to face Hisao’s grave, I looking down and give my daughter a nod. I bring my hands together and bow my head. She does the same, occasionally stealing side glances at me. We finish praying and head to Dad’s grave. More tears. More hugs. And more questions from Ichi. So much like her dad. Always wanting to know “why”. Heh.

On our way back to the car, I suddenly remember something my husband told me years ago in this very place.

We’ll go on living until we stop. And when we stop living we’ll be able to know that at least we had time together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I love you, Emi, and right now that enough for me.

This memory falls like a singular drop of water landing in the center of a pond. Its ripples fanning out to every corner and resonating against the shores, rebounding its harmony back toward the center.

“It was a wonderful time Hisao. Thank you, Love. I will see to it that our daughter knows just how wonderful it was; how wonderful you were.”
Tears. But they don’t burn this time. The sun feels nice today. Finally.

“Ichi-chan,” starts my mom out of the blue, “How would you like to go get some ice cream? And maybe a trip to the park?”

My daughter’s eyes nearly pop out of her skull with excitement, “YEAH!!!!”

“What flavor are you going to have?” asks her Grandma.

“Strawberry! Of course!” she chimes with a smile so bright, the sun might be jealous.

She and my mother “race” to the gate with Ichi giggling at the top of her lungs, pig tails bouncing as they go. I slow, also reaching the gate, letting my gaze wonder back across the many headstones. Somewhere over there, under the ground, is the body of the man I love. His race has finished but, mine continues and I won’t quit. I won’t. He wouldn’t want that.

Giving the maintenance shed one last glance, I pull the gate closed behind me.
Last edited by Duper on Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Favor

Post by Duper » Thu May 29, 2014 1:48 am

As Emi and Ichigo Nakai and Meiko Ibarazaki cross the many rows, a single slender man with brown, tasseled hair; unseen by mortal eyes, eavesdrops on the family from beneath a cedar bow. A broad smile breaks across his face.

“Good girl.” He murmurs, nodding at Emi.

The distant giggle of the young girl echoes across the yard bubbling against his ears.
“So much like your mom.”

As the beaming specter watches them climb into the car, a hand settles on his shoulder. Glancing around he is greeted by a tall, fit man who gives his head a jerk over his own shoulder. And turning, Hisao Nakai and Kenichi Ibarazaki retreat into the shadows; content.

**BEEP** **BEEP** **BEEP** **BEEP** **BEEP** **BEEP**

Emi wakes with a start, slapping the alarm into silence. Realization racing as her face hits the damp pillow. It had all been a dream. Another dream… She looks across the bed at the empty pillow and pulls it in, tight against her chest and begins to weep in earnest.
Last edited by Duper on Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Favor

Post by Velitation » Thu May 29, 2014 2:25 am

For the story, I thought it hit the tones it needed to hit. The intro was a nice touch. Some of the dialogue did not seem to be that characteristic for Emi, but it was alright for the most part. The OC helped with the story and didn't hog the spotlight. I thought the plot as a whole wasn't all that bad, to be honest. Somewhat clichéd though.

I'll point out a some things for editing:
  • “ ‘cool’??”
    Check capitalization here and in a couple other areas.
  • Her and my mother “race” to...
    You may want to phrase that as {She and my mother "race"} for proper subject-verb agreement.
Other than that, good work.
[fahsign]Velitation[/fahsign] Remember, it's just a game.

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Re: The Favor

Post by Duper » Thu May 29, 2014 2:28 am

Thanks. I'll make those changes now. I'm a grammar Nzi. (hate that word)

I'll comment on Emi as I thought this might come up. I came at it with this idea.

Emi and Hisao had about 8 years together. Ichigo is about 4 1/2 here. They were very close and Hisao becoming more driven spurred on by who Emi was and with Emi opening up a great deal more and much more assured after experiencing the revelation at the end of the original story. This opened up some old wounds that she had thought she had dealt with. I didn't do well conveying that. I did hint (hard) that she had spent a great deal on the edge of a nervous breakdown. She had let go of notion that Hisao still had a very serious condition. I leaned on the recklessness they both flirted with in the original story. All that and being a parent of nearly 5 years while attending college.

Not justification, just my process. :)

If you can narrow down some area's that bothered you, I'd like to consider it.

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Re: The Favor

Post by brythain » Thu May 29, 2014 3:18 am

"Giving the maintenance shed one last glance, I pull the gate closed behind me."

That should be the last line of the story, from my perspective. Making a whole long story 'just a dream' tends to make me feel a bit cheated. Can you imagine going through a whole KS route only to be told, "That's just a dream, you actually had a manly picnic, got really drunk, and now don't know where you are or whether you are alive or dead!" ?

Once that last scene occurs, it throws everything into question: - is there a child? - is Meiko still alive? - is Hisao dead or did he marry someone else or just go away (maybe, to Scotland)?

We can't tell, because it was all a dream. :(
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: The Favor

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu May 29, 2014 1:37 pm

I think the only thing that was supposed to have been a dream was the bit after that line.
There's still an empty pillow beside her...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The Favor

Post by Duper » Thu May 29, 2014 3:55 pm

Brythain, your consternation is legit. A couple of things.

I'm thinking of removing that last bit as I wrote it in a very late draft. It was more for me, mostly. It gives a certain emotional jarring that brings us back to the fact the reality is that the one we lost and love is Still gone and will remain that way.

None the less, I originally wrote it with the two spirits leaving the scene. In fact, the whole end sequence was the FIRST thing I wrote, and the beginning. Originally Meiko's fiance' was in the car and was trying to help Emi, but that got dropped fast. So, if it helps, you can ignore that waking sequence and stop where I'd intended it. I have some post story notes I wrote that I'll post later.

While we grow as people with the progression of life, there are something that we seldom have the ability to change. Processing trauma is one of those things. Emi, for all her gusto and bluster can still be very fragile at times internally. With her previous history demonstrating her propensity to process events in dreams heavily, the possibility for this to work out as a dream isn't too far off the mark, however, it really isn't the light fluffy ending I'd prefer. ;)

Thanks for posting. I'd lightly considered the ramifications of but not in depth. Well done and thanks.

Mirage, indeed. That pillow will remain empty. Every morning.
(well... for another 18 years or so). ;)
Last edited by Duper on Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Favor

Post by poopooface » Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:13 pm

Well, I have to say that was pretty great. As I'm younger than most on the forums and only good at writing informational text, not stories, I'm afraid that's all the insight I can give.

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Re: The Favor

Post by Duper » Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:38 pm

Aww, no worries. If you were entertained then mission accomplished! Keep writing if you enjoy doing so. a girlfriend of mine WAAAAaayyy back in highschool wanted to be a writer. She wasn't that good, honestly. (yeah, that got me into lots of trouble. ;) ) but she was determined and really tried hard. By the time she finished college, she was a very good writer, but it cost. I laugh now, because it all played out so much like an anime trope! XD She was really a great gal. So, keep at it if that's your passion! We learn more by our failures than our successes!

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