Rika eyed the customers who were starting to trickle into the coffee shop. It was half past noon, so more people started to head out for lunch.
Alright, time to go.
Casting a swift glance at her watch, she downed the remainders of her tea – as how a lady would, mind you. Smoothing the creases on her sundress from sitting too long, she put on her hat and exited the coffee shop. Feet walked with a purpose as she headed to her next destination. Light brown eyes glanced at her surroundings, warm yet wary. Even though she knew nothing would happen to her in broad daylight, she still remained cautious. They always did say that it was never safe for a lady to be alone.
Now that I think about it, those might have been excuses they crafted just to walk with me.
A flower shop at the corner of the street caught her eye. She paused, wondering if that man was there. What he said earlier today raised so many questions. How’d he known about Emma’s Papa? Did he know about D-Agency? Did he know Amari, Emma’s Papa, personally? What about Hatano? That would explain his statement about Emma being surprised.
Doesn’t seem like he’s there though.
Rika tsked in irritation. She wanted answers now but it seemed like she’s not going to get them. Openly scowling, she eyed the bouquet she was holding. Lifting the bouquet, she breathed in the scent of the flowers and smiled softly. She never liked receiving flowers. Though she values the gesture and thoughts behind it, it was always a hassle figuring out what to do with them. Usually they ended up forgotten in a vase somewhere in her room.
It took her a handful of minutes before she finally reached her destination – a small hill overlooking the town. Anyone standing at the top of the hill would agree that it was indeed a beautiful sight. The young lady could see the bustling and hustling of the town and even the greenery beyond it. Plus, the cherry blossom tree accompanying the hill had finally bloomed, bringing along an ethereal feeling.
Such a beautiful view, Kaminaga-san would have killed me if I hid this from him.
Rika walked towards the cherry blossom tree. She paused right under the tree and stared at the roots of the tree. Anyone passing by would not have noticed anything out of the ordinary, but she knew better. Hidden right under the shadows of the trees was a miniature stone obelisk. A brief shadow crossed her features as she read the faint etching on the obelisk.
Here lies the memories of the most amazing men.
Beautiful existences in this world,
Unknown to many, forgotten by all.
May their souls finally rest in peace.
Rika closed her eyes briefly, reciting the words in her heart. Not that it was difficult to do so since she was the one who etched the words onto the obelisk. The one who decided to keep a hold of her memories with them, even if they were existences who were not supposed to be remembered. After all, they were spies. There were supposed to be forgotten by the world. But, the memories that she had with them were too precious for her to let go.
“Here,” she said as she placed the bouquet at the stone obelisk, “I brought flowers. They’re white carnations, symbolizing remembrance. You guys probably knew that by now. It’s the same every year.”
“I know, I know. You guys probably think I’m stupid, huh?” she let out a dry laugh. “Why is there a need to remember you guys? You guys are spies. You’re meant to be forgotten. But I can’t let go. I won’t let go.”
Memories of the fateful day came rushing in her mind. The pain. The sorrow. Emma’s tears.
“Emma’s doing fine now. After a year, she’s finally moved along. Took her a while, but she’s a strong girl.”
Emma had been distraught when she heard about her Papa’s death. After all, losing two sets of parents would have been a huge blow to anyone. She immediately became an emotional mess – which Rika could understand. Sometimes, Rika wondered what would have happened if she wasn’t there. And if Sakuma hadn’t come back for them. Oh right, speaking about him…
“Sakuma-san finally joined you guys, huh. He’d been a huge help to Emma and I after you guys died. I wish he was still here with us, but I guess he missed you guys. Take good care of him for me.”
She stood there in silence for a brief moment, not thinking of anything in particular. A sudden gust of wind breezed through the area. Caught off guard, her hat was swept off her head, long brown hair whipping maliciously at her face. Exhausted, she could only stare at her hat rolling down the hill. Sadness overwhelmed her. She suddenly felt lost. Tears started to flow down her cheeks without realising it.
“…sorry. I broke my promise yet again,” she hastily wiped her tears away. “I promised not to cry every time. And I break my promise every time. How unsightly. Just shows how much you guys mean to me.”
She looked up at the sky and let out a shaky sigh. A cloudy blue sky. Tears pricked the corner of her eyes yet again. Sobs threatened to escape from the back of her throat. But she wasn’t going to allow that to happen. She will not allow herself to become weak. She had remained strong for Emma. She will not allow herself to break. Not when Emma was finally happy. Even if it was at the cost of her own happiness.
“Excuse me, is this yours?” a voice called out from behind her.
Rika stilled in shock. People rarely frequented this area. That’s part of the reason why she had decided to build the stone obelisk here. It allowed her to be true to herself without being seen by any of her annoying neighbours.
“Miss? Are you okay?” the voice called out again, this time much nearer. It sounded strangely familiar. Like she heard it recently.
It can’t be…
She turned around to see the very man she had been wanting to see that day.