Day 18: Mary-san’s Call
“What’s up, Mary? It’s rare to hear from you at this hour.”
Having finished up dinner, I was lazily lying around, lionizing the epitome of a slovenly lifestyle. As I speak to the girl across the line, I take up and take a proper seat in the chair… no, rather than rare, this is the first time Mary’s called so late. I mean, it’s always from noon to evening, we talk the whole afternoon away.
That’s why I thought my relationship with Mary was, so this felt a bit refreshing.
“What’s this, did you get lonely on your own, and need someone to talk to?”
In short, if I had to say, my words were something like me hiding my embarrassment. I was happy Mary called outside of her usual hours, and in order to make sure she didn’t realize it, I thought I would tease her a bit.
‘Good evening, Akira… that’s right. Won’t you talk with me?’
… At her words, I feel something’s terribly off. Was good old Mary always this honest? She’s supposed to be more bashful, more obstinate, more…
… No, I see. That’s not the part I really found strange, it was her dripping voice. When it was Mary’s voice no different from usual, that voice was so sopping wet it was practically gleaming. It softly enters my ears, melting its way into my brain. Even when it was a cute voice, it contained colors within that were almost repulsive, a disgustingly flattering voice.
… Something was clearly off.
The Mary I knew wasn’t the sort of girl to put out a voice to envelop and melt her conversation partner. Absurdly overflowing with energy, the sort that makes me cheerful just listening to it, she’s the sort that lets out a voice like the sun, that girl called Mary.
And my doubts changed to something more firm on her next words.
‘… That’s right, I should’ve just done this from the start. Akira, won’t you talk to me forever and ever?’
‘Morning and evening, noon and night, please talk to me forever. If you do that, I’m sure I’ll have nothing left to fear. As long as I have you, I’m sure I can be happy… why did it take so long for me to realize it? If I noticed sooner, then, for so much longer, I could…’
“Wait… wait a second.”
I couldn’t stand to listen to that voice any longer, I interrupted Mary’s words.
“Who the hell are you?”
‘… What are you talking about? It’s me, Mary. The Mary who talked such a long time with you, and the one who’s going to talk to you for ages to come.’
“… Now that’s strange. The Mary I know isn’t this sweet on me, she’s a cute tsundere tomboy who doesn’t know when to give up.”
… It irritates me. For some reason, it’s incredibly irritating.
I’m not supposed to be this short-tempered, but why do I feel so irritated this time around? I don’t know clearly what’s irritating me, but anyways, it’s irritating.
Shutting away that irritation, I ask Mary.
“… Oy, Mary.”
‘Yes, what is it, Akira?’
“I can’t hear it, the sound of your footsteps… what happened?”
‘Ah… I’m not doing that anymore.’
For argument’s sake. Just for argument’s sake, at that moment, I definitely still had the leisure in my heart to try and carry a level-headed conversation with Mary.
But… those words, they got me.
I could tell the restraints on my heart were coming off.
“Oy, try saying that one more time.”
‘… I’m not doing that anymore. I mean, isn’t that right? All I had to do was give up on walking. Give up on becoming Mary-san, and talk with you forever and ever. I mean, I’m sure that way will be so much more fun. Hey, Akira, don’t you think so too…’
Snap, a blood vessel popped in my head.
“Quit screwing around.”
‘I’m not screwing around with anything. I’m already…’
“And I’m telling you, whatever you’re doing is screwing around.”
‘… That has nothing to do with you. Whether I quit being Mary-san or give up, that should be irrelevant to you Akira.’
“It’s got everything to do with me… Oy, are you taking me for a fool? My friend, my dear, dear friend Mary wasn’t going at it with the guts to give up like that… Who are you? Give up? I don’t know a Mary who’d babble something like that.”
‘… Why are you saying such a thing?’
“Christ! You can’t get it if I don’t spell it out!?”
I yell. This half-hearted Mary isn’t eh Mary I know.
… Even I can tell. I can at least understand it’s unreasonably to lose your temper just because someone says something different from what’s on their mind… but you see, whether it’s unreasonable or not, the resentment that pushes past all that crap is ‘rage’.
Simply adhering to my own emotions, I was angry.
“A Mary who’s given up on being Mary-san isn’t my friend, is what I’m saying.”
‘… That’s… can’t be.’
“It’s making me sick. Don’t say another word. If you want to sob, then go on, get. And don’t call me again.”
The moment I said that, I heard a cramped voice from the other side of the phone.
As if she hadn’t even tried to feign composure before, as if she had lost all the support she’d been clinging to.
As if that was all that kept her up, Mary fell into a panic.
‘… I… mean. I mean, I mean, I mean, I mean, ImeanImeanImeanImean! Then what am I supposed to do! I can’t do it anymore, I can’t take it! Anymore walking, walking any longer is impossible for me! It’s because I’ve learned that…!’
“… If you’re going to speak, make it so I can understand.”
‘… I was afraid.’
Mary took a complete change, to a quiet, fearful voice as she said it.
‘… There was an… accident. A car almost hit me. I was scared, when I thought of what would happen if it really hit, when I thought of not being able to save her, when I thought of if I was the only one who got out, and I’d have to see her corpse…! … It was scary, so scary, and I can’t walk anymore.’
‘… Even if they were both death, uncle’s time was sad, but it wasn’t this scary. That person lived to the end of the end, giving a smile in his last moments. Because he looked at me, he gave a smile…!’
‘I never should have learned. That there was such unreasonable fear in this world, I never should have learned. That there is life that might die before my eyes without me being able to do a thing about it, I never should’ve found out. If I never learned, I’m sure I’d be able to keep walking on… but I learned, I found out. So… I can’t do it anymore.’
“… I see.”
While listening to her words, my head cooled off.
… I don’t know the specifics of what happened. Even if I knew then, I’m sure it was something I wouldn’t be able to understand. But at this very moment, the girl called Mary across the line is definitely afraid. Knowing there was despair she couldn’t do anything about, she was trembling in fear.
… As I thought, I can’t read the mood or peoples’ hearts.
I didn’t even try to find out what Mary was thinking when she said such a thing, I just couldn’t accept what she was saying and snapped.
I think that was a failure. That’s precisely why I want to do what I can. Just when I was about to try to the utmost of my ability to give Mary some words of consolation…
‘… I’m sure it was no good for a no-good like me to try at all.’
The words about to come out stopped in their tracks.
‘I wasn’t even an urban legend to begin with. A badly done failure. Swept away by a moment’s emotions. I let my heart dance without ever learning my limits.’
“… Oy, shut it.”
‘I tried so pointlessly hard like an idiot, didn’t I.’
‘… So at the very least, you could laugh at me.’
I heard a large banging sound. It’s the sound of the chair blown falling back as I stand.
I hear a snap inside my head. The sound of two, maybe three blood vessels popping.
Ah…………… who gives a damn. I no linger give the slightest care about a single word coming out of her mouth. A fool’s just spewing some foolish drivel. Are you an idiot? Do you have any intellect at all? Why are you able to make me so angry? … No, no, if she’s actually aiming for that, then she’s a master tactician. She really is just a hopeless bastard.
I take a deep breath, sucking in air with all my might, using all my strength to change the voice I spat out.
‘Heh? Eh? … Eh?’
“Idiot! Idddiot! Aaah, piss me off, make me sigh, drive me up the wall will you!? Mary, you reaaaaalllly are a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge idiot!”
‘Eh? … Heh!?’
I throw whatever vilification I want at a flustered Mary.
“I always thought you were a bit stupid, but I never thought it was this bad! How on god’s green earth did you reach that conclusion? Why are you thinking like that!? There’s this thing called looking at things objectively, and just one millimeter is enough, at least put in the slightest effort to apply it, stupid Mary!”
“You’re better off just emptying that empty head of yours; even if you get an idea, you’ll only be able to reach a trash conclusion, idiot! Ah, this is so, not, not, not happening, that brain of yours more smooth than any mirror isn’t even taking in a single word I’m saying, is it!?”
“What are. What are you saying…!?”
Mary’s voice was filling with anger.
Like hell I know, I just arbitrarily went on a rant.
“I’ll say it again ang again, damn fool! You! Are! An! Idiot! A numbskull! Off in the head!”
‘T-there you go again…!’
“What’s this, you can’t even get angry like a fully function member of society!? Going to be peer pressured by everyone without any critical judgement to cross a busy road on red!? Now that’s really something, go start over from kindergarten, fool!”
What I heard after that was a voice I was hearing for the first time.
‘… Please stop screwing with me!’
… Mary’s angry yell.
‘Saying such arbitrary things, how arbitrary can you be!? Why are you saying such things, why are you even able to say such things!? … I tried my best! I worked and worked, I walked whether the sun was up or down, even when I was feeling lonely alone, I kept walking without a single tear! … But, but even so! Even so, I was scared! I was scared, so scared I couldn’t help it, why are you able to say such things, Akira!?’
Hmph, I make a sound from my nose.
If you understand that much, then why can’t you comprehend the most important part?
‘Akira, can you understand my pain!? Akira, do you understand anything about me!? … You can’t, you don’t! I mean, Akira, you aren’t doing a thing! Holed up in that room, you’re just a useless college student who only lazes around!’
I roughly scratch my head.
… You’re right. That’s just the sort of guy I am.
But you see.
‘Someone like you! … Someone who isn’t working like you can’t understand me, can you!?’
… Even so, I can see what you’re failing to grasp.
Once Mary had spat it all out and was panting out of breath, I shouted.
“That’s precisely why, you idiot Mary!”
“Now listen here and listen well… Just as you say, I’m just a college student. Randomly living, randomly spending my time, randomly attending college. That’s why I don’t understand a fragment of your pain, and I’m not putting in the slightest effort to understand it! In the first place, for a guy who forgot the word hard work before he left the womb, there’s no way in hell I could sympathize with you. That goes without saying! … But you see!”
I know. Even if Mary didn’t tell me, I know.
I’m a half-assed guy.
Forgetting dreams and passion and goals somewhere that I can’t recall, just somehow living haphazardly because my body isn’t dead. That sorta guy.
Naturally, I’ve got no motivation or any splendid convictions. I’m going to college so I can receive an allowance from my parents, a hopeless guy.
And I’m well aware of that myself… that’s precisely why.
… That’s even more why I think it.
“You’re working hard, aren’t you…!”
I just slammed my honest thoughts at Mary.
“For the sake of your goal, for what you want to become, you walked across Japan…!? Idiotic! There’s no way I could do something like that! Are you stupid!? You have to be stupid to try so hard! There’s no way I could ever imitate you, and I don’t plan on ever trying to!”
Mary really is an idiot.
Why can’t she see it?
It’s such a simple fact even I can understand it.
“– That’s why you’re amazing!”
“Much better than someone who spends his whole day doing pointless things, living his days as if he’s dead, much more than anyone else I know, Mary is someone who tries really, really hard! Even I can understand that! … And yet, and yet! Why are you insulting yourself!? That’s crazy, it doesn’t make any sense! Cut the crap, I won’t let you make fun of Mary! Mary’s efforts were definitely not for nothing! So, so you see…!”
It might be against the rules for someone who’s not working to say that to someone working their best.
It might be a little strange for me to say such a thing to Mary.
… But even so.
“You shouldn’t give up! Don’t give up on it, Mary…!”
On my arbitrary argument, Mary doesn’t say anything.
After a few dozen seconds go buy, she quietly mutters.
‘… Thank you, Akira. Just hearing that for you makes me feel rewarded. What I’ve done up to now hasn’t been pointless, I think… but.’
“… But what?”
‘I’m not that strong. I gave up on becoming Mary and folded long, long ago. That’s why there’s no value in you saying such things to me…’
Hearing that, I let out a sigh.
“You’re not lying, but you’re not telling the truth.”
‘… It’s all true. I’ve already…’
“Try saying you don’t want to become Mary-san.”
‘A-as I just told you. I’ve already given-’
“Wrong, not, ‘I’ve given up on becoming Mary-san’, try saying, ‘I don’t want to become Mary-san’. Give it a go.”
‘… That’s easy. I… don’t want to…’
The phone went silent.
Mary couldn’t say the words that came after.
“Look at that, I was right.”
‘… Y-you’re wrong. It’s not that I can’t say it.’
“I’m the opposite of wrong. Listen here, I’ll spell it out clearly.”
Why can Mary herself not understand something even I can grasp?
… Just how awkward can she be?
“You want to become Mary-san, don’t you.”
“I mean, you haven’t said a single time that you’re sick of becoming Mary-san. It’s not that you don’t want to become Mary-san, you’ve just become scared of walking. Because you’re powerless or some ridiculous reason like that, you’re trying to give up. When you said you wanted to make someone smile, it wasn’t a lie, and you can’t make it a lie… isn’t that right?”
‘… Even if it is…’
The voice that came back was on the verge of tears.
‘What’s impossible is impossible.’
Mary spoke as if spitting out the dregs of her tea.
‘I can’t do it anymore. Until now, no matter how painful it was, I could keep going on admiration alone. But it’s not working anymore… Akira, you said that I still want to become Mary-san… yes, you’re not mistaken at all. I want to become Mary-san so badly I can’t help myself. This admiration, this yearning has yet to disappear from within me.’
But, said Mary.
‘But, even so… I gave up. There is a fear that yearning cannot overcome. So it’s no longer possible for me.’
“… So you can’t do your best for your dreams anymore?”
‘… That’s right.’
The voice was quiet, yet it was accompanied by a definite weight, making me swallow my breath.
A wish… a wish to become Mary-san.
Not a sham, not a fake, a wish to become the real one. I’m sure that’s what Mary is composed of, and what she is at her base. That most important portion was now about to snap.
It hadn’t completely broken yet. But the way things look, it’s going to snap before long, and there will be no going back after that… it was just a premonition. Just the premonition of some random human without any spiritual powers. But at the same time, I had a strange conviction it was definitely on the mark.
That’s why I tell Mary.
“… Listen here, Mary. I’m going to say something selfish.”
It was my own arbitrary wish, I had no idea if Mary herself wanted it. But, even so, I wanted Mary to remain Mary.
That’s why… I wouldn’t let her give up. Like hell she’s giving up.
“It can just be for now… do it for me.”
As Mary didn’t seem to get what I was saying, I lay my words over hers.
“If you can’t do it for your own sake anymore, then do it for me. For the guy who was moved by your work, don’t give up… please. I’m begging you.”
A while of silence followed, and after a while, Mary spoke.
‘You’ll tell me to keep at it…? When I don’t want to do something so painful anymore, when there’s no end in sight, you’ll still tell me I have to keep going…’
“Yeah. Keep going for my sake. Become Mary-san for me. I want you to become Mary-san no matter what.”
‘… T-that just selfish. That’s just your selfish whim!’
“That’s right… I’m a selfish guy, I should know that best.”
‘… What’s that… supposed to mean?’
I take a glance at my wristwatch.
… Around ten.
Without answering Mary’s words, I one-sidedly give a verdict.
“I’m sorry, but the call will have to end here. I’ve got some business to attend do… until next time.”
I touch the end call button.
A call came in from Mary, but I ignored it.
I slip on the bike jacket hanging on the wall, take a few notes out of my wallet and shove them into my pocket. From the organizer, I take my keys, and carry my full face helmet with me as I rush to the parking lot.
Stationed there- having been completely neglected lately- was a motorbike for travel purposes. I press in the key, turn the ignition on, and start up the engine.
“… Just you wait, Mary-san in training.”
The exhaust noises resounding through the night town, I raced the bike.
Of course, I was headed to where that idiot urban legend was.
“I’ll make a Mary-san of you. If you can’t walk anymore, then I’ll go and get you… so don’t give up. You’d better not give up before I get there… Mary.”