Mori character sketch; future speculation.
The cellophane crinkles in his fingers, sticky from the heat of his hand. He folds it in half, and half again, deftly tucking the folds as the sugar scent rises from his hands. He breathes in deep, and all the world's sharp edges go a little blurred.
It's impossible to say which he misses most. The warm weight that once perched on his shoulders, like a bundle of sleepy sunlight. That lilting treble voice making a child's rhyme of his name. Or this, the soothing smell of sweets; the vividest reminder of his lifelong companion.
The afternoons are always hardest, but this ritual has carried him through so far. A tray of cakes every day at four o'clock would draw questions, and he has had quite enough of those.
How are you holding up? some have asked, and though they mean well, he can only stare in response. There's no one around now to distinguish his stoicism from baffled speechlessness, so they call it the former. It's just as well, for how can he possibly admit he wakes up every day feeling lonesome and empty as a park bench in January?
He's a guardian, a tenth generation protector. Not a poet, nor a painter. Mornings he stands on the threshold of the family doujo, feeling snow drifts and dead leaves rustling across his heart with ghosts' fingers. It's baking midsummer to everyone in the world but him. How is he to explain that?
Some days he eats the melon candy, bright fresh green dissolving on his tongue, and remembers days lit with laughter, pink icing breath huffing against his cheek, when the center of the world was a small sturdy hand clasped in his. Other days, those same memories come at him with harpoon edges and the treat is crushed to dust in his grip, clinging and lingering in his clothes. Then everything he touches will be sugar-gilt and strangely fragrant all evening.
The candy wrapper goes into an envelope with two dozen others, painstakingly folded cellophane cranes. It's part of his ritual; giving a hopeful shape to the empty husks of his days.
He licks a sticky crystal off his thumb, and squeezes his eyes shut against a pang of pure longing.
Come home, Mitsukuni, is his simple, silent prayer.
Please come home soon.