Kyoko tries to keep Kato's death a secret, but that's starting to spill out through the tiny forming holes that have worn through over the five months.
Chapter Five: The Brave Front:
December 27th, 1977. Kato sat in his living room looking at Midori’s old hand-made Christmas cards. Each one had cute little kitty cats with Santa hats on. Pigs were for his birthday. That was all she could draw. Still, those cats and pigs became Kato’s joy. Looking at those cards only made the heart hurt around this time.
Kato’s thoughts were interrupted by footsteps. He looked up and saw Kyoko walking in from the kitchen with a tray of tea.
“You looked like you needed,” she said. He said nothing; just waved the tray over to the table. His friend set it down likewise as the old man moved his cards.
“Cute cards,” Kyoko spoke up.
“Yeah,” Kato mumbled. The woman poured him some tea.
“Riku made me a Christmas card this year,” she said.
“Ah,” her friend said. Kyoko poured herself some tea.
“Funny,” she said. “Eleven months and I don’t know you.” Kato glanced at her.
“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked. His friend shrugged.
“You haven’t told me about your home or family,” she said. Kato said nothing. Kyoko pressed her lips together as she picked up her cup. /Still not the right time, I guess/, she thought.
“Midori,” Kato answered. Kyoko glanced up at him.
“Hm?” she asked.
“My daughter’s name was Midori,” the former priest said.
“What was she like?” his friend asked. Kato lowered the four Christmas cards in front of him.
“You have to promise me,” he said.
“Promise you what?” Kyoko asked. Kato looked up at her with desperate eyes. He leaned in across the table.
“Stay by me no matter what,” he pleaded. “Promise me that!” Kyoko gave him a sharp nod.
“Okay,” she said.
September 2nd, 2009. Kyoko sat in Kato’s abandoned living room. Everything was still in place; like it was waiting for him to come home. She shook her head.
No/, the old woman thought. /He’s never coming home. Then, there was a knock on the door. Kyoko looked up.
“Who is it?” she asked.
“The landlady,” a voice replied. “I need to talk to the owner of this apartment!”
“Coming, coming!” Kyoko said. She got up and walked to the door. The old woman opened it a crack.
“Yes?” she asked. The landlady blinked.
“Is Kato-san in?” she asked. Kyoko shook her head.
“No, he isn’t,” she said. The landlady blinked.
“Okay…” she said. “When can I see him?”
Kyoto bit her lower lip. “Why?”
“I need to speak with to him.”
“I can give him a message.”
“When can I see him?”
Kyoko breathed out. “Okay, look. Kato-san has been taking care of a sick friend in the country these past few months. I’m just managing his apartment while he’s out.”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“Well, he said that you would understand.”
Silence. Kyoko shuffled her feet. Come on/, she thought. /Say something, damn it! Anything! The landlady took a moment to think about her options.
“You said you would take a message, right?”
“Okay. Just tell him that utilities and read are due this month and there will be an inspector by the apartment in two weeks. Oh, and we’re having a tea party in the lobby week.”
Kyoko nodded. “Anything else?”
The landlady thought about that for a moment. She shook her head. “No.”
The landlady left. Once the footsteps were out of hearing range, Kyoko breathed out. She looked all around her. This game kept getting harder to play. Kato had lived as a recluse in the apartment. The landlady tried to invite him out to the apartment’s social gatherings. Kato always refused. He hadn’t contacted the old village in a long time. The only time Kato left his apartment was to pay the bills and shop for groceries. Kyoko did such a good job maintaining the apartment that no one noticed that something was off.
The old woman sighed. But now, they were starting to ask questions. Kyoko could only use the same answers so many times. Pretty soon, more questions would follow. Then, she would have to face Anna for the first time in years. Kyoko shook her head.
No/, she thought. /I can’t tell her. Not yet. He doesn’t want me to. I have to keep up this game even longer.
Five months and Anna didn’t know the truth. Kato wanted it kept that way. /After Anna stops her family for good, I’ll tell her the truth/, Kyoko thought.
She looked around at Kato’s living room. But right, she had to keep up with this game. The old woman sighed. Lucky that Kato made it a little easier to play. Not by much though.