Chapter Five: Crowded House:
August 20th, 2001.
The classes began at San Diego University that boiling morning. Anna entered her Japanese literature class with her eyes down to her books at her chest. She didn’t really choose any of her classes; the school chose them. The new freshman looked around the classroom. Not many students were here at the moment. She made it here early as she judged. Anna picked a desk on the front row and sat down. The glass box went up around her and she expected to be alone.
The freshman felt someone tap her on the shoulder. Anna slowly turned around to a cute blonde-haired girl smiling at her. She looked like a teenage model with her blue eyes, freckled cheeks, and perfectly white teeth. The girl waved at Anna.
“Hi!” she chirped. The Japanese-American girl looked at her blankly for a moment. The blonde grinned at her as she held out her hand.
“I’m Rebecca Campbell!” she introduced herself, “But you can call me Becky!” Anna looked at her with big, nervous eyes. Becky leaned in so that their faces were just inches from each other.
“You doing anything after this class?” she asked. Anna blinked as she tried to comprehend what was unfolding in front of her.
“No, why?” she asked. Becky clapped her hand together with success.
“Great!” she chirped. “There is a great club I want to introduce you to!” Anna struggled for the appropriate reaction to the invitation.
“Okay…” she said. Becky reached out to pat her on the shoulder. Anna backed up startled. Her acquaintance grinned like a little kitty as she twirled her short blonde hair with her fingers.
“Come on!” she pushed.” It’ll be fun!” Anna still didn’t know how to answer as she dug deeper in her mind to say something. Becky was just pushing the girl here. Anna lowered her shoulders in surrender.
“Okay,” she mumbled reluctantly, “I’ll go check it out.” Her acquaintance’s flashed a smile of victory.
“Sweet!” she said, “You won’t regret it!” Anna forced herself to smile as if she was sitting on a sharpened spike.
May 8th, 2009.
Anna entered enter twentieth search into the Hell Stone when she heard the door slid open. She looked up to see a little girl looking at her. Both exchanged puzzled looks at each other.
“Hello?” Anna asked her in a matching tone.
“Hi,” the little girl said back, likewise. The woman studied the girl closely. Her black hair was out with two long skinny ponytails on the sides with little pink bows holding them in place. Her face put Hello Kitty to shame in the cute department. Her rosy cheeks looked so full and squishy. Anna saw a younger innocent version of herself in the girl’s big sweet caramel brown eyes. The school uniform of a mini-sailor girl completed her look. The little dark blue skirt seemed so fluffy and inviting. Her matching blouse and big white bow on her chest opened the door to innocence. Anna’s glass box began to crack. The little girl tilted her head at Anna.
“Are you a ghost?” she asked. A sweat drop formed on Anna’s head.
/A ghost?!?/, she thought, Really now?!? However, Anna ended up going along with the façade.
“Uh… yeah…” she said as she waved her hands around at the child, “I am a ghost!” Pretty cheesy, but she couldn’t chase her away. The kid probably wouldn’t leave, not easily anyway.
“What is your name?” Anna asked in an attempt to kill the awkward moment about to arise. The little girl smiled at her.
“I’m Tanaka Yoko!” she said. “What’s your name?” Anna smiled at her.
“Anna,” she replied. “Kimoto Anna.” A pause came over them as Yoko’s eyes lit up brightly.
“Ooo!” she said. “Are you related to the man that died here?” Anna paused with her lips trembling. She suddenly wished she hadn’t said her surname. The Kimoto name had some negative stigma attached to it. Anna looked down at her feet.
“Yes,” she mumbled. “He was my father.” Yoko looked intrigued.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yes,” Anna answered with fire in her voice, “But he was a good man! He wasn’t a murderer or anything!” She forced herself to calm down at the last bit.
Why are you getting angry?/, she thought, /The kid’s not accusing papa of anything. She just asked a simple question. Calm down!
“So, what are you doing here, Yoko-chan?” Anna asked when she felt better. The little girl smiled at her.
“I live here with my mom now!” she chirped. Anna’s face dropped instantly.
“What?” she asked.
“That’s right!” Yoko said, grinning. Anna dropped her head in hands. This child’s mother had bought Kimoto Manor after all. It would about get worse miles away.
Becky Campbell and some of Anna’s college friends had landed at Tokyo Airport. She looked around through her dark iris blue shades and turned to her friends.
“Okay guys,” she said sternly. “We are here to find the truth. We will not leave the country until we find out what really happened to our dear Anna! You got me?”
“Right!” the rest of the California friends agreed. Becky got out her English version of her guidebook around Tokyo.
“So,” she said. “Shall we go to the police first or get settled?”
“Settled!” the others yelled in tired voices.
“Okay,” their leader said, trying to please them, “We’ll eat and then go to the hotel.” Becky looked in her guide for a good restaurant for dinner.
“Hey, there’s a McDonald’s nearby here!” she said. A brunette in jeans a Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt peered at the leader.
“How nearby?” she asked. Becky read on. The others waited. Their leader looked up smiling.
“About eight miles,” she answered. The group pondered that option.
“Alright,” the brunette spoke up, “Fine then.” Becky clapped her hands together.
“Good!” she said. “Let’s go to MacDonald’s!” The crew headed out of the airport once they got their luggage.
Meanwhile at Kimoto Manor, Anna still had troubling adjusting. First, she learned that the stone keeping her soul anchored could kill her at any moment and now, her house had been sold-- all in the span of one day. Anna lied on her futon staring at the ceiling.
A suicide, huh? That would never fly with Becky and them. Knowing her, she would gather up the old photo club, fly to Japan, and start digging for the truth. When it came to Anna’s well-being, Becky wouldn’t rest until Anna was cared for. The American-Japanese woman smiled a little bit to herself.
Oh Becky/, she thought, /You would break your back just for me! Then, she held her door slid open. Anna sat up and looked and saw Tsuzuki stood in the doorway.
“Hey,” he said with a wave. The woman looked on at him.
“Tsuzuki… -san,” she said. “What are you doing here?” The Shinigami stepped into Daisuke’s office.
“I came to check on you,” he answered. Anna raised an eyebrow at him.
“Why is that?” she asked slightly sharp. Tsuzuki stepped forward looking rather sheepish.
“I was assigned to,” he told her with a sweat drop on his head before adding a nervous chuckle to that sentence.
“Because of the Hell Stone?” she asked sternly.
“Yeah,” he said, nodding. Anna stood up as well and walked over to him. Tsuzuki kept his eyes on her. He couldn’t seem to piece this woman together in his mind. He barely knew her now. Part of him wanted to learn more about her. Maybe he could after all of this mess is over, if there was still time…
“Tsuzuki-san,” Anna spoke up in a bold voice. “I know about the Hell Stone.” He silently worried, but did not speak.
“I looked up all about the Hell Stone this morning,” Anna pushed herself in a steady tone. “I still am trying to grasp the whole gravity of my findings. I still find it upsetting that someone is dead because of me. What makes it worse is that I can die again or become white ash when my time expires” The Shinigami felt his stomach turn.
“Anna, I’m sorry…” he began to murmur. The woman held up her hand to silence him.
“It’s taken me some time to come to this and I don’t think it will be as easy in reality,” she added. The woman paused to collect her thoughts and closed her eyes. “I am willing to accept my circumstances long enough to find the truth. It will take me a long time, but I just have to suck it up. If I die before then, so be it. I will just deal with the hand I am dealt.” She opened her eyes to see a relived Tsuzuki.
“Are you sure about that?” he asked.
“Whatever it takes!” she reassured him. Tsuzuki sailed back into his cheerful self. He felt happy that Anna wasn’t angry at him for bringing her back from the dead with an unstable tool from the Elysian Fields. She had thought about where she stood and is working to accept it. Maybe Kato-san was right, in his own shady way…
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