4: A Mysterious Phone Call, and a Farewell

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Qualia the Purple

Arc 2: 1/1,000,000,000th of a Kiss

Chapter 4: A Mysterious Phone Call, and a Farewell

Yukari sees other people as robots, and one time I had asked her what kind of robot she saw me as.

And I was told that I looked like an "all-purpose" robot.

When she put it like that, it seemed like I was just a dime-a-dozen worthless thing, but Yukari reassured me that it was really something amazing, and from her point of view I supported a lot of peripheral devices. According to her, as long as I had the proper equipment attached, I could adapt to any situation.

Almost as if trying to prove her right, the cell phone parts she had used in order to repair my left hand still seemed to function as a cell phone even after becoming my left hand.

My left hand still looked completely like a normal left hand to me, and yet I could still use it to make and receive calls.

On the other hand, even though Yukari had used a jungle gym to repair Nanami's body, it's not like she could suddenly turn her body into steel or was any sturdier than a normal person, so this phenomenon seemed limited to me.

By the way, it's not like I could just use this phone whenever I wanted; there were definitely a few limitations here.

First, it had to be nighttime.

Whether there was light or not, when the sun was out I couldn't use my left hand as a phone. It didn't have to be pitch black, but I had to be in a somewhat dark room, and also my left hand never worked as a phone if I wasn't alone (quite a while later, I guess the technology got better or something, but this particular restriction went away).

And, most importantly, the phone took a dreadful amount of stamina to use.

One time, I used the phone to talk with Yukari and felt so hungry afterwards that I collapsed.

I had been watching a Western movie on the TV while talking, but of course just as a cell phone normally needed electricity, my left hand was part of my body, and so instead of electricity it consumed my stamina.

In the first place, this was my left hand and not a cell phone, so the more I used it as a cell phone the more terrible the stamina drain became (and this wasn't an additive effect we're talking about; it was more like a multiplicative one). So before I knew it, I was absurdly hungry. My body started shaking even though it wasn't cold, I grew dizzy, and I felt a cold sweat flow from my forehead like a waterfall. When I weighed myself later I saw that I had dropped a kilogram in two hours. At that point, things were obviously not a laughing matter anymore, and I ended up calling Yukari over to my place again to help me out of this mess. Now, I always kept honey and some sweets in my room for when I needed to make a call.

Anyways, because of that, the people from the police ended up buying me another cell phone for daily use, and I never told anyone - not Nanami and certainly not my parents - about my left hand. Instead, that left hand cell phone became something I used exclusively to call Yukari.

So, when I got another call on that phone, I was convinced it was Yukari and picked up the call without any doubt in my mind.

This might sound rather strange, but I picked up that call before the phone even had a chance to ring.

I had no idea how, but I just knew. I knew that I was getting a call.

It wasn't even like one of those desk phones that makes a noise when it senses another incoming call. No, I felt that I was going to get a call, and before the ring I picked up the phone. And then...

Before the person on the other line could talk, I knew who it was.

Indeed, before I heard anything from the other end, I realized that it wasn't Yukari calling me... and I could not even begin to believe who was on the other end. My body froze over. But whether or not the person on the other end knew how I was feeling, she spoke six words, almost sounding like she was mumbling to herself through tears.

"... Please... Yukari will die like this..."

By the time I had regained my senses, the call had already been cut.

But even so, I continued staring at my left hand for quite a while.

I just couldn't take my eyes off that hand, even after the display that was showing through my skin had faded.

Calm down. That wasn't anything. It was all a hallucination... I guess in this case, an audio hallucination?

Yes, I was just hearing things. Obviously. If I thought about it for more than a second, I would realize that I never had heard a ringtone. So nobody had really called me - it was all just my imagination. Yes, I was just so worried about Yukari and so tired that I had just dozed off for a second...

... Yukari will die like this?

I inhaled through my nose and exhaled through my mouth, trying to calm my racing heart. I repeated those words to myself. Yes... things couldn't go on like this. I understood that all too well. And in the bottom of my heart, I knew what the best thing for Yukari was right now. But I just didn't have the courage to decide, and I had grown so obsessed with this decision that my hesitation had turned into a hallucination. That was all this was...

Yes. Otherwise, there was just no way.

No way that it had been me on the other line.

No way that it had been me speaking into the receiver on the other side.

I had a feeling that the voice on the other end was a bit different from my own voice, which I had become so familiar with.

And yet, I still somehow felt that the voice on the other end had been mine.

I still felt that the person with that voice had been me.

But of course, that was impossible.

So, this must've been a hallucination born from stress. It couldn't have been real...

Once I convinced myself of that, I managed to regain a semblance of calm in my heart. And then, finally…

I made up my mind.

The next day, I went up and told Yukari.

Told Yukari in a completely roundabout, timid, uncharacteristic way, that it might not be the end of the world to maybe consider what Alice was proposing as just one other option.

Told her that even if she picked that option, that even if we separated from each other, we would still always be friends.

"We can still see each other whenever we want... or maybe not. But you know, you can probably still come back during holidays and stuff, right? And I can also go over there to see you, maybe? But anyways, Yukari, even if you choose to go over there, we'll always be friends. Right?"

"......... Yeah. That's true."

"And I'll... I'll always be waiting for you. Well... uhh... that's assuming you choose to go with Alice, I mean."

What a stupid hypocrite I was.

I knew that for kids, most friendships ended when one person transferred out of the school.

But I completely bought into the belief that we weren't like that. That we would always be friends.

... In the end, the thing that made up Yukari's mind was my words... my approval.

Yes, after I had said all that to her, it's not like Yukari could've chosen anything different.

I... this person who was supposed to be Yukari's friend... I had driven her into a corner.

Alice and Yukari both waited until the third school term had ended before transferring away.

I learned that the school at Jaunt had a dormitory system, and that Yukari had to go alone without her family (of course, before she moved there, she had gone over with her family to the Jaunt campus during winter break so they could check it out and fill out all the necessary paperwork).

It took less than half a year before I received a notice that Yukari had died.

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