July 21, 2024

It’s my call: The Final Hours


I woke up with a terrible sweat. My stomach gnawed and growled. Something was not right. I got out of my futon1 and immediately searched my room. It was dark, but I could still find Okaa-san’s2 hair ornament. It was still in the red box next to my futon along with the small bag of money and a letter. Strange. Nothing was missing, but why did I have this terrible gut feeling?

   I sat there until I saw a bit of light peek into my room. The sun had risen. I needed to prepare food for Óto-san3. I made a simple breakfast consisting of miso soup4, grilled fish and steamed rice. It may not be as delicious as Okaa-san’s cooking, but it was satisfactory.

    I glanced up at Óto-san as we ate and saw his nod of approval as he ate my dish. He had never showed his approval of my cooking. If Okaa-san were still here, he would be so much happier. I looked down quickly, my eyes felt hot and watery.

   ‘Megumi, it’s the sixth today. Don’t forget what you need to do.’ Óto-san rarely spoke to me, unless it was about Okaa-san. ‘I understand, Óto-san, I will skip school today.’ He did not reply as he put down his chopsticks and left for the hospital. There were no goodbyes.

   Okaa-san had passed away on 6 August 1938. It had been seven years and things had never been the same. The strict and quiet Óto-san became even more quiet and reserved. It was as if we had no blood relation. Whatsoever. But I understood him. She had been his love, his light… his everything. I didn’t blame him at all, but it would have been nice to have a closer relationship…

   After washing the dishes, I prepared to leave the house. It is a tradition of ours to sweep a loved one’s grave on the anniversary of their death. We continued the tradition despite the war that had been raging during the previous  six years. I could never tell him how glad I was when I learned  he didn’t need to directly participate in the war.

   The sun glared down at me as I got closer to Okaa-san’s grave. An ominous feeling washed upon me as I instinctively looked up.

   Time slowed down. I stared at the foreign object in the sky as it fell closer and closer… 6 August 1945… Hiroshima became a graveyard, and I never opened my eyes again…