Tzuyu was awakened by the sunlight that forcefully made its way through the thin white curtain of her hospital room. She looked around to take in where she was, remembering the recent happenings with a pang in her heart.
They had managed to reach the terrace of the school thanks to Mina who had protected them until the end, but to complete that objective they had had to resort to a sacrifice. The memory of the pain they felt when they realized there were only five of them was nearly impossible to bear, but that was proof that she was still alive.
"How are you feeling?" Mina had brought her a bag containing a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant. She looked exhausted, but without the dirt and blood to cover her she was truly beautiful.
"I don't know, it all seems surreal to me and I don't understand if I would like to be in a dream or not"
"We have lost a lot and I understand how you feel" she had approached to her head "but we are still here and I think we should focus on taking back our lives"
The younger seemed inconsolable, so much so that She had sought comfort in the katana that she had managed to keep with her "I wish all this had never happened"
Silence fell, until an angry scream was heard from another room. The two girls immediately snapped and rushed to check, finding the other three companions watching an extraordinary news on the television.
"Thanks to all the staff who have been involved in studying the situation, it has been concluded that the zombifying virus, as many had predicted, does not have a natural cause. According to the research of a doctor in our country to make the mutation was not a direct transmission between individuals, but the breathing of a substance which, for safety reasons, it is not possible to study properly. According to what has been reported in this document, it is nothing else to spread this sort of infected gas that the new air purifier on the market, which fortunately had such a high cost that it was not affordable for everyone, but which contributed to the destruction of the whole peninsula of Korea"
"Dahyun was right, it was the work of an with a God complex" Sana would have loved to kill the perpetrator with her own hands "he has to live a long time in constant excruciating suffering, just like Prometheus"
It was her best friend who shut "shut up, the news isn't over yet"
The shot had changed and it was showing a man sitting in his cell, the same one who had been interviewed a few days earlier to explain the functions of his latest creation. He was grinning eerily and didn't seem at all sorry for having nearly wiped out an entire peninsula.
"You managed to catch me, but I don't mind having to spend the rest of my life in jail because I did my job, even if I'm sorry I didn't destroy the whole world" he ran a hand over his face, starting to laugh tastefully "you'll never know how it was possible to trigger all this and, I assure you, you better be afraid because that's not all!"
Another eerie laugh was cut short by the end of the broadcast, leaving the girls in a daze. Now they knew the reason for all those deaths, but were they relieved? Did they feel better knowing the cause of all that destruction?
The young women looked at each other to give each other strength, knowing perfectly well that soon they would have to roll up their sleeves to go back to living a normal life.
"Will you stay here in Japan?" Momo's question, addressed to the two foreign women, had been extremely cautious and full of fear.
"I do, I have an uncle here who is carrying out all the procedures to become my tutor" Jihyo was wrapped in a blanket "it will be hard to learn the language since I only know a few words, but I have no other choice"
Sana was happy with that answer and she hoped for something similar from Tzuyu too "and what will you do?"
"The doctors have contacted all my relatives and are deciding who to let me stay with, but it is practically certain that I will go far from here and that we will never see each other again"
"Why are you saying this? It's very easy to travel now and we can see each other from time to time" Mina looked confused.
The youngest of them let out a very salty tear "I have to recover from everything that has happened and I can't do it if I continue to hang out with you. I need to start over, so much so that I would also like to change my name"
The general mood had plummeted with that revelation and Jihyo was the first to try to convince her to stay there, telling her that she could host her, but there was nothing to be done and arguing became useless.
A few days passed before being discharged from the hospital and goodbyes had been devastating. Each hug contained the despair they'd shared and the pain of each loss they'd been forced to witness, but there was also the feeling that bonded them that made it all the more difficult.
The words of recommendation had been many, as well as those of encouragement and Tzuyu had gone away with a sad smile, following an American aunt who had already started calling her Sally.
The others, while they were waiting for their relatives, gathered in what had been the umpteenth hug and Mina gave each of them a look full of love "I'm proud of you, but if you try to leave I'll tear you apart with my sarcasm"
"Now your stinging words don't scare me anymore" Jihyo replied in somewhat inaccurate Japanese, proving to be the type of person who learns quickly and enjoying the surprised looks of her friends "if you want I also know bad words, Sana taught me"
"I wouldn't have expected anything different from such an idiot" Momo had rolled her eyes, but she was happy to be able to live a peaceful moment like that without fearing imminent death.
Five years passed quickly and the world had started to turn in the right direction, so much so that people were convinced not to talk about what had happened half a decade before until the anniversary of that bad period.
However, for those who expressed a desire to honor the loss of loved ones, a cemetery was built in which to mourn those who had lost their lives during the zombie apocalypse.
That day it was sunny and the sky was so clear that it didn't seem real and Momo was waiting outside the door of the Parks house, smiling as usual.
A man in his sixties let her in after giving her an affectionate smile "my little girl is almost ready, in the meantime, would you like to have a coffee with me?"
"Of course uncle, as long as this time you don't forget to put sugar in it. I hate bitter coffee" her hair was long, black and shiny, so much so that it shone with its own light. She got involved in a conversation about the ceramic creations, admiring every picture the man was showing her.
"Are you really sure you don't want to work with me?"
"I prefer to follow people during their workouts in the gym, it's one of the few jobs that allows me not to cause disasters"
The man seemed ready to retort as usual, but was interrupted by his niece "uncle, you should stop pestering her every time she comes to visit us" Jihyo had short hair and thick bangs covering her forehead, making her look adorable for anyone who watched her "hello love"
"Good morning splendor" Momo's gaze towards her had never changed "are you ready? Mina and Sana are waiting for us"
"Very ready, we can go" she had taken her hand, waving the other one to greet her guardian "don't make trouble while I'm gone, understood?"
"At your orders, but bring your friends here for dinner. I want to get back to the kitchen, I miss being a chef"
The older of the two girls beamed with pure happiness "I'll definitely be there!"
Even the man showed the same enthusiasm "this is the nephew I adore!"
In the end Jihyo had to pull her girlfriend away from him so as not to make their delay worse "you shouldn't indulge him in everything, you know he turns into a child"
"I can't help it if I love being spoiled with food, you never cook for me" she pouted.
"I avoid doing this because I don't want to give you food poisoning, you should thank me for caring"
"Those two are always late, I bet they stopped to flirt somewhere as usual" Sana was admiring her freshly done nails, satisfied with the color she had chosen "we should do it too once in a while, out of spite"
Mina totally ignored her, apparently too busy with her cell phone "I don't want to cheat on my girlfriend, I'm sorry for you"
The other girl, who had recently discovered that she was gorgeous with brown hair, looked at her indignantly "still with this story?"
"Yes, I consider myself a faithful person in all aspects"
"Minari, I don't like this game anymore" she pouted "you are mine and that's it, I can't even accept the existence of a fictitious woman in your life"
"It was you who proposed that we pretend we're just friends attracted to each other like you saw in that TV series, even though we already did it a few years ago" she raised her eyebrows, looking at her as if she were stupid. Which she, moreover, really thought.
Sana clung to her like a mussel on a rock, kissing her cheek repeatedly "I've thought about it, I prefer you as my official girlfriend. Now could you compliment me on my hair? Also on my nails, I would really appreciate it"
Mina smiled when she saw her close her eyes to brag to the best of her possibilities, giving her a light pinch on the nose "you are the most beautiful creature that ever existed in the whole universe"
"I would have called her the most annoying, but apparently love makes you pretty stupid" Momo and Jihyo had come hand in hand.
"Said the imbecile that when she sees her girlfriend in passing she risks her heart exploding"
While the two Japanese women were enjoying one of their usual and repetitive discussions about who was the worse human being, their girlfriends had sat down on a bench while waiting.
"Today is the day" Mina was looking at the cemetery gate with a sad look "and it will be tomorrow too"
"Yeah, the anniversary of their deaths always comes with impressive speed"
"It's getting easier, that's for sure, but there are times when I wish this place didn't exist at all. I don't know if It is right to say it, I'm sorry"
Jihyo squeezed her hand as a sign of comfort "don't be sorry, we think the same way. Unfortunately no one will be able to give us back what we have lost, but at least we have some pleasant memories left to cling to in difficult times"
They stood up without saying another word, slapping their respective girlfriends to stop arguing and stopping at the sight of a very familiar figure.
Tzuyu was standing a few steps away from them and, although time had changed her appearance to a more mature one, they would have recognized her even blindfolded. She smiled slightly at each of them, starting to speak with a not too marked American accent "shall we all go together?"
They entered the cemetery after having bought some flowers, finding the headstones of interest to them in a short time and taking turns conversing with those they had lost. They decided to do the same with Jeongyeon and to move the date of her death by one day so as not to make her feel lonely.
Jihyo was always devastated at the memory of the one that could have become her girlfriend, but in her heart she knew very well that what she had built with Momo was like no other. She was not sorry for the lost bond, but for the loss of the person and this was true for the other three as well.
Tzuyu too seemed overwhelmed by a myriad of emotions, but the maturity she had acquired in those years had prevented her from making her usual crying scenes "what do you think they're doing right now?"
Sana, intent on helping Mina pull the weeds near each of the tombstones, let out an amused smile "I bet Chae is pestering Dahyun to be taught how to use the katana; she did it all the time"
"Jeongyeon is definitely taking a nap, she loved sleeping" Momo was sorting the flowers carefully to ensure that each one had the same amount.
"And Nayeon must be enjoying the scene with her proud mom look" Jihyo had finished feeling sorry for and had come back beside her girlfriend to help her.
Tzuyu was observing them with an indecipherable look "would you like to go to lunch? I really want to spend some time with you today"
The surprise and joy of that request lightened the weight of that date so hated and feared by each of them, so much so that they made every tear they wanted to shed disappear.
Before leaving they made sure everything was perfectly in order, unaware of the fact that the sunlight that was warming up that January day was there only for them, sent by the people they loved so much.
This too is over and I don't know how I feel about it, but I'm still glad I finished it despite the difficulties. Thanks for reading, I always appreciate it so much and I hope to see you again.💚
PS. Remember the "subtle" spoiler I mentioned? It was the cigarettes. The four people who smoked died, and I associated that with "smoking shortens life"
Pps. The next story should be coming soon and is the sequel to Flow Like Waves.