I listened to the wind rustle the leaves as I walked home from school. It was the middle of spring, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. I used to pick a whole bunch of the blossoms and take them home to my mom. I quit doing that some time ago, and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t because my mom and my dad are visiting America. I’d take them to my sister, but then she’d rant about how I just killed them.
I continued down my street and into my house. I was so hungry and usually my sister had a sandwich waiting for the both of us to enjoy together, but she didn’t today. That was weird. I wonder where she could be.
“Yukiyo?” I called but no answer came. Searching the house while calling her name, I found a note. It read:
I am writing this because there is someone in the house. If
you find this instead of me, I have been taken by this person.
Please, don’t come looking for me. Call the police, then
mom and dad. I don’t want you getting hurt. I can hear them
coming. Please listen to me, do not try to find me.
I had to reread it a couple of times before comprehending it. All at once, the ground seemed to shake, and I stumbled around the house calling out Yukiyo’s name. Crying, I backed up against a wall and slid down to the floor. What was I supposed to do? Should I call the police and my parents as she suggested? That seemed to be the most logical thing to do. Instead of calling anyone that moment, I got up and went to Yukiyo’s room. I laid down on her bed and cried myself to sleep.
When I woke up, the sun was setting. My eyes burned, and my whole face felt puffy. I went to the bathroom to clean up, and then went to the living room to think. I grabbed the phone to call the police, but then set it down. I wondered what Yukiyo would do. Come and get me, that’s what she’d do. I want to do the same for her. I went to my room and gathered some things in my backpack. Tomorrow morning, instead of going to school, I’d go ask around town if anybody has seen her.
My alarm went off, and I laid there listening to it for a couple of minutes before shutting it off. I rolled out of bed and got dressed. I grabbed my backpack and went into my hometown, Hakone. Hakone was a very small village in the mountains, far from any important cities. It was the kind of village where if you walked into it, it was like walking into the past. I loved growing up here, but now I looked at all the passing people with suspicion. Several people were out and about, running errands or heading to school. I, on the other hand, was looking for someone to talk to. The only problem with that is that I am extremely shy. I decided to go up to an old woman who was known in the village as the sweet old lady.
“Excuse me, kashikoi obasan?” She turned to look at me. “Have you seen my sister, Yukiyo? She’s about my height, short bobbed black hair?”
“Ah, yes, I know Yukiyo.” She replied. “I saw her early yesterday with her boyfriend. She said they were going to visit Tokyo.”
Yukiyo didn’t have a boyfriend. “Did she seem scared or worried? Did the men seem suspicious?” I asked.
“Well, she seemed a bit off, but she smiled when the man came over to her after she told me about Tokyo.” She answered. “Why, is she okay?”
I put on a smile as my sister must have. “Yes, I just forgot she was going today. Domo arigatou gozaimasu.”
I walked around asking other people, but most of them hadn’t seen her and those who had, told the same story as the old woman. I sighed. It was getting late, and I should head home. I walked home and sat down on the couch. Pulling out my notebook, I pulled the coffee table closer and grabbed a pencil. So a man who took Yukiyo was planning to take her to Tokyo. Why? What did he intend to do with her? Is she already there or is she still here in Hakone? Too many questions, not enough answers. I started to nod off before I could start trying to answer any of them.
When I woke the next morning, I was still on the couch. My neck had a cramp in it, and I had knocked my notebook onto the floor. I noticed something that had been pushed under the couch. I picked it up and looked at it. It was a receipt for a hotel named Mejiro Hotel in Tokyo. I ran upstairs to take a shower. After dressing in jeans and a simple white tee, I headed downstairs, packed my backpack with the needed items, and went out the door. I knew where I needed to go: Tokyo. I didn’t quite know where I was going when I got there or what I was going to do when I got there, but I was going. On the bus, I put my earphones in and listened to music the whole way there.
I had never been to Tokyo before, but now that I’d had, I felt like I was a much smaller part of the world than I did in my small village. Huge buildings towered over me. Thousands of people bustled about, bumping into me and one another, without even giving me a second glance. I started to feel the pressure of anxiety clawing its way up my throat. I swallowed, forcing it back down. Breathing deeply, I made my way to the nearest hotel. I went up to the receptionist and asked her about the Mejiro Hotel. She gave me directions. I thanked her and left. When I arrived at the hotel, I stood there with my mouth slightly hanging open. It was traditionally made with sliding doors at the entrance. It was beautiful. The next thing I saw made my mouth hang open even further, there stood Yukiyo with a tall man. But he was just tall, he wasn’t muscular or anything along those lines. Yukiyo could have easily gotten away from him. Then I saw the gun in her side. I nearly missed it, but it was there. He pushed her into a car and got in the other side and drove away. I pushed away the urge to run after them and walked inside.
“Konnichiwa ohayo gozaimasu.” I said to the receptionist there, a small, middle-aged woman.
“Good morning.” She smiled, a smile that looked practiced. “What can I do for you?”
“The man and woman that just left, will they come back?” I asked her. “If they will, what room are they in?”
The woman remained smiling but looked annoyed. “I’m sorry ma’am, but I cannot give you that information.”
“Please, it’s important.” I asked her again.
“I just told you, I cannot give out that information. Have a good day miss.” She turned to leave into the room behind the desk.
“That woman was my sister!” I pleaded with her.
“Fine.” The woman sighed and rolled her eyes. Walking back, she asked, “What was her name?”
“Ohara Yukiyo.” I replied, praying the man didn’t give a false name for her.
“Let me see your ID.” She asked, holding out her hand.
“Why?” I asked, digging in my backpack for it.
“Because we check everybody’s IDs that come in here, regardless if they paid before-hand.” She said, rolling her eyes again.
“Oh, here.” I said and handed her my card. My hopes sky-rocketed. Yukiyo would have had to give her ID.
“Looks like you check out.” She said and handed me my card back. “They are checked-in for one more night in room 63, floor 6. Here is the extra key.”
“Domo arigatou gozaimasu!! Please say nothing of my being here.” She looked at me weirdly. “It’s her birthday, and I’d like to surprise her.”
After walking back outside, I pondered on where I should wait. I decided on a bench in a park that was across the street. As I sat there, I played on my phone, trying not to look like a stalker staring at the hotel building. I saw a couple of cars I thought were Yukiyo and her captor, but they were just ordinary people going about their day. Finally, the car I’d been waiting for pulled in. I waited until they walked inside before following in pursuit.
As I walked into the building, they were going into an elevator. I hurried over to the second elevator and pushed the button. I arrived on their floor as he pushed Yukiyo inside and locked the door. He turned to walked back towards the elevator, and I tried to look casual as I walked past him, looking down at my phone as if texting someone. He didn’t seem to notice my lie because he returned to the elevator. As soon as the doors closed, I practically ran towards room 63. I frantically pulled out the back up key and opened the door. I heard someone gasp, in terror and then in surprise.
“Kiyoko!!” Yukiyo ran to me and all but pounced on me. Then she realized the situation. “What are you doing here? I thought I told you to call the cops.”
“I couldn’t just call the cops and sit around knowing I could do something about it. Besides, you’d do the same for me.” I had started to cry, the relief of finding her washed over me. She smiled at me and hugged me again.
“My little sister is no longer little. Now, let’s get out of here before he comes back.” She said, tearing up, and tugged on my arm.
We ran down the hallway and took the stairs down into the lobby. We made sure the man wasn’t in the area before we ran up to the receptionist. We asked to use the phone, and we called the police. When the man came back, he was met with cops and handcuffs. My sister gave her story, and I gave mine. After we watched him taken away in the back of a cop car, we took a bus back to our small, unimportant village of Hakone. It may have been small and unimportant, but it was home, our home. More so, now that I had my sister back, and my parents were coming back later that day. No one could have made us want to live anywhere other than our small, unimportant home. My sister and I made tea and sandwiches and sat down, waiting for our parents. As soon as we heard our parents unlocking the door, we ran to them and engulfed them in hugs.
My mom laughed. “I’m glad we were missed so much. Maybe we should leave more often dear.”
“No!!” My sister and I yelled together.
“Why not?” My dad questioned, noticing the urgency in our voices.
“Let’s sit down; we have a long story to tell you.” I told them and began my side of the story.