Chapter 2.Winter: Gifts

Life 1

Takashi was in a confused panic; what could he do with Ta-kun, whose cries were fading to whimpers? He did not know whether this small boy was hungry or cold. It was becoming dark outside. The sunset turned to dusk and the white snow grew increasingly gray. Trapped in the snowstorm, Takashi could hear nothing but the sound of wind. As the storm began to die down, he noticed that the fuel gauge was low. Maybe in a couple of hours the car would run out of gas, and both of them would die. He wanted to die and yet he had no intention of taking Ta-kun with him. People in the town were probably making a big fuss over their disappearance. He supposed they were worried about Ta-kun, not him. He remembered the faces of the Kishigami family. "Damn it! I didn't mean to cause everyone trouble. I am sorry I stole the car. I wanted to die alone. Why are you here with me?" Takashi asked Ta-kun. "Why are you here with me? I'm in such a mess." Ta-kun cried bitterly. Takashi felt completely at a loss.

"Should I move the car?" Takashi thought that it would be a good idea to drive the car to somewhere people could notice and then go back to the woods alone. He started the engine. The car barely moved, since its front end was stuck in the snow. It shuddered and shook off some snow. He thought he was just wasting gas and stopped. Then he realized that he wanted to survive. He found his urge to survive both annoying and surprising. "Why do I have to live?" As night began to fall, he thought Ta-kun must be very hungry. He wondered how he could contact people in the town. He was also hungry. He had not eaten anything since he had miso udon stew for lunch in the Kishigamis. When he remembered the delicious hot noodle stew, his stomach growled. He missed the happy time he spent with the Kishigami family. That was what he wanted. He regretted destroying their happy life. He looked for food in his pockets. There was a piece of chocolate. As he removed it from his pocket, he touched something. It was his RUICA. He was stunned. With RUICA he would be able to save Ta-kun.

With the RUICA in front of him, he thought about Yukio, his father. He thought his father hated him because he did not live up to the expectations of his parents. He had tried to be a good son to his mother. He entered a famous junior high school and left his old friends behind. But still his father was not satisfied. He did not know how far he could go to please his father. He wondered whether he was born to fulfill his parents' expectations. He had not decided anything by himself. Everything was done for him by his parents. However, he was fed up with the life that parents wanted him to live.

Ta-kun cried weakly again. "For God's sake! I have just made a decision by myself, why did a baby interrupt me?" He desperately wanted there to be something he could control. A car or a machine he could operate. It was not a human being. He did not think he could control people, but his parents believed that he was under their control as if he was a robot.

Takashi swallowed the chocolate down slowly. "I'm still a pig about food, even though I'm dying. Samurais never ate food before they died. It's absurd to feel hungry, when I want to die. Ta-kun must be hungrier than me."

Takashi wavered between feeling regretful for his actions and wishing he could disappear. Finally he turned on his RUICA.

Meanwhile, in the town hall, they had narrowed the route based on information people sent. "That black 4WD was definitely Mr. Kishigami's car. If so, I think the car drove toward Kanayama Dam from Todoroki Pass." "Well, there are several side roads around the Kanayama area. The car may be someplace there." They thrashed out the situation over the map. "All right. Attention please, residents of the Todoroki Pass and Kanayama area. Please stand by to search there." People from the region started gathering around the Kanayama area. There were seven side roads that led up the mountainside. The search seemed likely to take a long time.

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