(TL: There is a companion piece to this work titled ‘A Game to Make Him Fall‘. If you’re going to read it, please read it after this story.)
My morning always began with me activating my computer glasses, and checking a certain future prediction.
“Well, I guess that’s about right.”
Lately, I hadn’t seen the number it broadcast cross 1%.
‘The probability I can kill my wife without being found out.’
That was what I had preset the future prediction to calculate.
It had already been around fifteen years since home PCs got to be able to perform simple predictions if you entered the query. It was being used for various applications, and I was employing it without exception.
My wife and I were what you’d call a political marriage. The company my grandfather managed, and the financial support my wife’s father- now my father in law- had proposed, drew this political marriage together. When I was normal in looks, and there wasn’t anything particularly special I could do, the reason she wanted me was simple because that girl I’d never met had taken a liking to my photograph.
“I can’t think I’ll love you, but if you’re alright with me.”
Ten years had gone by since I said that to her. And our marriage. It’s not like I had a girlfriend or anything. And her looks weren’t for worse. My grandfather’s company avoided bankruptcy, and I was to be its next company president. Every little thing was going swimmingly. In respect to the world, and in respect to common sense, that surely how it was. But I didn’t think so.
Maybe because I felt strongly that I had been bought with money, to an extent I mildly hated her.
If I didn’t want it, I could have simply shook my head, but the situation wasn’t one to allow it. I mean, it had come to the point where grandfather’s company wouldn’t last a few days, and in the case it did go bankrupt, some part of me was convinced that stubborn grandfather of mine, with his overly strong sense of responsibility may try and choose converting his own life into money. He said his life was enough to save mine from massive debt, so I could only permit the marriage.
“I may kill you and take all the money you’re to inherit for myself. Even so, are you alright with me?”
When we were done with the marriage, those words I nonchalantly tossed at her. For a moment, she made a face of surprise, before smiling as she assented.
“That’s fine. It’s only a matter if I can get you to fall before that, right”
Her challenging words somehow made her out as a gallant warrior, making me open my eyes wide for a second. And within the day, I had inputted, ‘the probability I can kill my wife without being found out,’ into my glasses. After entering that simple question, the wearable terminal took in various affairs, computed to a precise value of them, and output a probability. The first number to come out was ’38.235%’. That surprisingly high number froze me in shock. For it to be so close to 40! I thought, but then I recalled my wife was going on a trip starting the day after. What’s more, a trip alone. Killing her, and making it seem she was still overseas sounded possible.
“Shall I make it seem I took a trip myself, and kill you? It seems I’ll succeed almost 40% of the time.”
“I see, good luck with that. Want me to bring you anything back?”
Her flippant words were so interesting I found myself asking, “You think I can’t kill you?” only for her to reply, “No, if you do kill me, it will be because I didn’t put enough effort into it,” with cold eyes.
I saw her off, and calculated another future prediction.
‘The probability I will love my wife half a year from today.’
I’ll bet, I nodded to myself. Even if I thought she was an interesting woman, it was a fact I didn’t harbor very good sentiment towards her. I couldn’t think that would change within a mere six months.
A few days later, I told that to her when she returned. I had been excitedly looking forward to her reaction, but she only returned an, “I see.” To be honest, it was a let-down.
“I was sure you didn’t hate me.”
She picked me as a marriage partner, so even if she didn’t hate me, I was sure she had some favorable sentiment towards me. But she had said two simple words as if she didn’t care at all. I won’t say I wanted her to cry, but I at least wanted to see her vexed expression.
“… Could I ask how you plan on killing me next?”
“Before I left, you said, ‘Shall I make it seem I took a trip myself, and kill you?’ didn’t you? I was waiting for you the whole time. If you came, I was sure it would’ve been a splendid honeymoon.”
“You want to be killed?”
“If possible, I want to be loved.”
I thought she was an incomprehensible woman. In front of her, I flipped the switch on my glasses, and computed the probability again.
‘The probability I can kill my wife without being found out.’
So out of ten times, I won’t be found once. That’s quite a number.
Since we were the only ones in the house at the dead of the night, that’s what I could expect. I stopped my thoughts here.
“Right now, it’s around 12%. I guess I won’t for now. If I do kill you, I’ll make it so you never returned from that trip, and leave your body in some ditch nearby. I’ll bet they’ll think you were the victim of some hit and run.”
“In that case, I recommend the park nearby. That place is famous for suspicious activity.”
“… I don’t understand what goes on in your head.”
“I’m just desperate to get you to love me.”
When I turned her some dangerous eyes, she gave a light laugh, and handed over a box, calling it a souvenir.
“I’ll throw it away.”
“I gave it to you, so I don’t mind whatever you do to it.”
So to fully answer her request, I threw it into the trash can with good momentum. And triumphantly turning to look at her face, I felt a bit of regret. Her eyebrows were drawn together sorrowfully as she looked at that box. I didn’t want to look at her eyes, so I hurriedly applied myself to my room.
While we were married, of course, our rooms were separate. Because I thought I’d never be embracing her, and was sure she didn’t want to be embraced by me either.
That brutal lifestyle continued and half a year passed. When my mornings began, before I even left the bed, I’d look up, ‘the probability I can kill my wife without being found out’. And after getting up, I’d get my appearance in order, and head to the living room.
“It was 15% this morning.”
“Oh my, then should I be feeling relieved?”
“You never know. It’s possible I laced that coffee of yours with poison.”
“When I brewed it just now?”
“If I prepared it yesterday, it’s a possibility.”
“Then I’ll keep that in mind. And here’s some for you.”
“Thank you kindly.”
Taking that coffee that obviously didn’t contain any poison in hand, I arrived at my seat. From there up to eating the breakfast she prepared was our usual flow.
Otherwise, there were some days we wouldn’t have a proper conversation, but I had begun, more or less, feeling a sense of comfort at that. Her policy of nonintervention was nice. The breakfast and lunch she arbitrarily made was charming. But that was a different recognition than love, and if I were asked, ‘do you love her?’ the answer would certainly be a, ‘no’.
And just like that, two years went by. It was what others viewed as the time period where spouses broke up as couples, and began operating as a family. She said she wanted to go on a date with me.
“Well I don’t want to go.”
“But I do. Let’s go to the aquarium today!”
“I do not love you. It isn’t even a like.”
“But I do love you.”
And so what, I thought. Why did she think we could get along as a normal couple after so long? My irritation caused me to stare at her in silence. I perceived her easy smile.
“Are you sure you’re fine with that? You plan on letting this chance slip by?”
“What do you mean?”
“If you answer my invitation, you may be able to kill me.”
“I don’t just want to kill you. I want to kill you without being found out. If I get caught, there’s no meaning.”
“Exactly! Do you remember today’s numbers?”
“5.7… I believe?”
“Right, haven’t they been falling lately? Are you sure you’re fine with that? If you go places with me, that number may just skyrocket! If we’re in a crowd, and you stab my back with a knife that has nothing to tie you to it, you won’t be caught. But for that sake, we have to start going into crowds.”
“When we’re talking about killing you, you sure are in a good mood.”
“I want to be in a good mood for today. It’s alright, I’ll leave my back to you.”
“To be stabbed?”
“Oh, you can hold me tight if you wish?”
Lured by her amused laughed, I formed a smile. In the end, my opposition was overcome, and we went on our first date. We were almost into our third year of marriage.
If you only gave me two choices of fun, or not fun, I’m sure I had fun. It was my first trip to the aquarium in a long time, and I get the feeling I was in high spirits unbecoming of my age. It was a day my heart danced too much for me to check the numbers. And for her, smiling beside me, I wanted to thank her for that time alone.
When night came, we ate dinner at home as per usual. It was a bit more extravagant than usual, and looking over the table lined with nothing but my favorites, I finally looked at the calendar.
“It’s my birthday?”
“So you forgot it after all. We were celebrating it every year, for argument’s sake.”
Thinking back, I got the feeling there was always a day once per year where my favorite food was extravagantly lined up. Thinking it was a whim, I hadn’t been mindful at the time, but come so far, I realized those must have been my birthdays.
“I won’t say thank you.”
“You just did, so that’s enough.”
“I don’t have the mind to celebrate your birthday.”
“I did it because I wanted to, so you needn’t mind it.”
“Thank you for being born.”
Thinking back, I can understand she was only embarrassed, but at the time I was flustered, and ‘is this woman alright?’ was all I could think.
As expected, my attitude didn’t change, and neither did hers.
But once a month, we got around to going out together.
For me to kill her. For her to date me.
Did I really intend to kill her? If you asked, I would have to answer, I never did from the start.
It was true I didn’t think well of her, and if she died, then… it’s not like I never considered it. But something as high-risk as killing her wasn’t an option a coward like me could choose so easily.
As we’d become a married couple, it came up as just the right topic of conversation.
I’m sure she knew that. She knew, and used it in negotiations. We all acknowledged it, and I hopped on board those bargains.
Why was it? I thought I had a slight idea of what it was, but I hurriedly closed the box. I mean, it’s been so long.
From then on, two years passed, and for the marriage, it was our fifth year.
“Today was 2.564%. The worst. It’s way too low.”
“I’m relieved it looks like my peace will go on.”
“You never change to begin with. You’re the epitome of peace.”
“That’s not always the case. I cooked today’s fish too long, and burnt it black.”
“Mine looks normal, though.”
“I quickly did another one for you. Just look over here, burnt black.”
Saying that, she showed the fish on her own plate, and gave a bitter smile. I took her plate, exchanged it with mine, and started on my breakfast.
“You sure? It’s practically charcoal.”
“And are you sure? I may have laced that plate with poison when you weren’t looking.”
“If it’s poison you set, I’d like to try it.”
“Then go ahead.”
“Thank you for the meal.”
While eating our usual breakfast, I looked at the clock. Next to the time, it displayed the date.
Already five years.
To be honest, I thought it was time to call it quits.
As she ate her breakfast, before her eyes, I did a future prediction. Seeing the numbers projected on the glasses’ lens, I let out a sigh.
As I thought. It was low. What I told her before was a number plus one. And when I woke up, it had been ‘1.564%’. By the way, that added one was a worthless display of obstinacy.
In the past, I had talked with a friend knowledgeable on the future prediction system about the predictions I was doing, and bout us spouses. Because I was curious about the numbers decreasing over the years.
You sure are an idiot, he said and sighed, after which he gave me a thorough explanation.
According to him, ‘the probability I can kill my wife without being found out’ query would start its calculations from the probability the individual who input it was likely to ‘kill their wife’. Meaning the rate declining over long years likely indicated a change in my feelings, he said.
That’s absurd. After that thought crossed my mind, it was followed by, even if that’s the case, what do you expect me to do after so long. And it became hard. After saying nothing but cruel things to her, she was always the same, and after ignoring anniversaries, I only put up with whatever she gave me.
It was five years. Five whole years.
Just what sort of face am I supposed to put on as I tell her I treasure her?
And in the end, even after that, I chose to continue doing nothing but putting up with your feelings.
But let’s end it already. It’s time to call it quits. I’ve no idea if I love you, but I’m sure I do treasure you. I think that’s what I’ll tell her.
Today was the day you were born.
I finished my breakfast, and got my appearance in order to go out to work as I always did. As always, she saw me off to the door. I lightly opened my mouth, and let out a voice that sounded like it would fade away.
“See you soon.”
“… Yes. Come back safely.”
She was making a teary face as she smiled, so it made me somewhat happy, and I tried saying, ‘see you soon’ again. I said it in a little clearer of a voice than before, and she really looked like she would burst into tears, so I hurriedly departed to leave the house.
This is a place I could return. Those words I couldn’t say because I didn’t want to think it. If you were going to so delighted, I should have said them sooner, I thought as I headed for the company.
Let’s start over.
I honestly thought it. I’ll buy a bouquet on the way home. I already reserved a cake. Let’s celebrate for what we never celebrated before. I don’t know what sort of present will make you happy, so let’s go buy one together. Let’s start from there. I didn’t even know her preferences. When she had a perfect grasp of mine, and I never even said anything about them, it was simply embarrassing. But I’ll learn them from now. We have plenty of time. We’re a married couple.
It was the first time I realized how long the time I spent at the office was.
After operations, I bid my leave, and as I planned to return home directly, I dropped by a flower shop.
I didn’t know what color she’d like, so I chose the standard roses, and had them wrap them. They asked how many I wanted, so I randomly threw out a hundred, making an unbelievable portion. Even so, they said they only had what they’d prepared for the day, and with the number reduced by seventy, all was well with the world.
When I leaned in to accept the bouquet, the glasses against my face fell, and made a metallic sound. The shock instantly brought up the morning’s prediction from its history.
The number it displayed opened my eyes wide. I hurriedly put the glasses back on to see the number refresh by the second.
The digits rose with each blink, and finally exceeded the 50% mark.
‘The probability I can kill my wife without being found out : 52.385%’
The moment I saw it, I ran as if a switch had been flipped.
I recalled the words of the friend I’d consulted about us.
“If you want to treasure your wife, yet on top of those feelings, the probability exceeds 50%, then be careful. Because regardless of how you feel, it means it’s come to a situation where it’s more than possible.”
What do you mean? When I asked, he just laughed it off with a how should I know?
A situation where it’s more than possible? What situation is that? I thought, as I set my feet to the road home. Her face floated in my mind, and a cold sweat flowed.
I passed through the shopping street, and as I passed the appliance store, my feet came to a stop. Because the news running on the television display projected her image.
‘Traffic accident, dump truck, critical condition’
I frantically sorted through the information flowing in. As the final blow, they uploaded her image once more. I fell to my knees.
I don’t really remember what came after. On the end of the shrill ring of my cellphone, I could hear my father-in-law yelling something, but it didn’t reach me.
You were asleep. On a hospital bed with many machines fastened to you.
The bandage I saw made me want to avert my eyes, but the first I’d ever seen of your sleeping face was so beautiful I couldn’t keep them off.
Were the first words to come out.
“I’m sorry for everything.”
And the next were an apology.
Luckily, the two of us were the only ones in the room, so I sat beside her, and did a future prediction again.
‘The probability I can kill my wife without being found out 99.274%’
I’ll bet, I thought. Even if my feelings got in the way, if I were to touch any of the numerous buttons around me, I’m sure she would die. And if that could be traced, then a light hand against her throat would be enough to do her in.
My friend had said it, that it would, ‘start its calculations from the probability the individual who input it was likely to ‘kill their wife’.’ Hesitation, so to speak. When it came to killing, whether my feet would be held back.
The current her was an existence that might die before I could even hesitate. If I even walked to the starting line, she would depart.
“Hey, today’s probability was 0%. It isn’t just a matter of being low.”
I said it to her as I always did. I mean, the probability was 0%. Even if the lenses of my glasses projected ’99.358’, I wanted her to live, so the probability was 0%. There was no way I could kill her.
“So I promise your peace for today. So don’t sleep there forever, let’s take some lunch, and go to the park. I never said it before, but I love the sweet eggs you make. The fried chicken you make is also delicious. I had always eaten those lunches you put all your heart into making in silence. But even so, you smiled in delight, so I had convinced myself it was fine if it stayed that way.”
Gently to warm it up, I stroked your face going cold. Praying it would flush with the usual pink.
“Today I learned it for the first time. That you wanted me to say, ‘see you soon’. Because of my petty backbone, I could never say it to now, but that place had already become my home to return to long, long ago. I made you cry, didn’t I. Were you crying when I wasn’t watching, or is that just my conceit? I won’t let you cry anymore. It’s true. I swear it.”
My sobbing had risen to the back of my throat. The depths of my nose gave a prickly ache, and unable to endure it, my tears flowed out.
“I’m really sorry. Thank you for waiting all this time. And now I want to hear your voice. Dearly.”
I gripped her hand hard enough to turn white, and sobbed. I didn’t have confidence that my words would come out properly. But even so, I knew there was something I had to say.
“I love you. Come back, Yuri…”
We spent the sixth anniversary of our wedding in a hospital room.
Our anniversary and her birthday were close, so it had been almost a year since she was bedridden. In the eyes of the world at large, Yuri had become a human vegetable. I didn’t want to use such a disgusting term to describe her, but whenever I had to explain her condition, I was driven to use it out of necessity. I’ve really got to polish my vocabulary, I got the feeling she gave a greater smile than usual when I said that to her that day.
As Yuri had always done for me, I would change the room’s flowers every day, and talk to her about trivial things. I’d wipe down her body, and if the weather was nice, I’d open the window and we’d bathe in the sun together. I was learning cooking under one of my subordinates, and I was just getting desperate to have it be the first thing she ate when she woke up.
“Hey Yuri, today’s probability was 0% again. Your peace is safe today.”
Looking at the numbers that had only dropped 3% in a year, I smiled a bit. It’s fine, I can wait. I’ll wait forever. So take your time, and come back.
A few days ago, the doctor had told me to keep, ‘turning off her life support within my field of vision’. Her prospects of recovery were low, it seems. I raised my voice and punched him, but now, I’m properly repenting it. So Yuri, don’t be angry when you open your eyes.
Half a year later, father-in-law had given up.
But I had not. I frantically overcame it whenever I felt I would, and desperately talked to you who wouldn’t respond.
And another half year, the seventh year of our marriage.
Lookin at Yuri, who wouldn’t respond if spoken to, I thought to the five years I wouldn’t respond to her.
Did it feel like this? To deal with me who wouldn’t talk back… did I have Yuri taste this sense of nihility?
Even when it was her birthday, my eyesight was clouding, and there was nothing I could do. Without wiping the tears streaming down my face, I spoke to her.
“Happy birthday. I brought the flowers I couldn’t get to you last time. This time I have a proper one hundred. Amazing, isn’t it? We can go buy a present once you wake up. For seven years’ worth, it doesn’t matter whatever you ask for. And I haven’t the slightest what you would want. You’ll have to tell me in detail next time.”
“Hey, today’s probability was also 0%. Why are you still in bed?”
“What color do you like? What are your hobbies?”
“What did you do when I was away? What flowers do you like?”
“Show me some pictures of your childhood next time. What high school did you go to?”
Having come so far, I was taken aback. I hadn’t noticed the numbers going down. The number kept dropping, more and more. My heart rate rose in inverse proportion.
It couldn’t be it couldn’t be it couldn’t be.
“Good morning. You sure slept in today.”
Behind her oxygen mask, her well-shaped lips quietly smiled. Her large eyes reflected me as they lightly shook.
“Good morning. Masahiro.”
Her voice didn’t come out, but on the shape of her moving lips, I broke into tears.
And I was continuing on with my habit.
That was today’s result.
Rising from the bed, I pat Yuri beside me, and today once more, the small life beyond her energetically burst into tears.