Another Novel

Chapter 1: April

…Do you know who Misaki is? The one in third-year Class 3? Did you hear the story?

Misaki? Is that someones name?

Yeah. No one knows what characters its written with. It could be a last name, so its not even necessarily a girl. Either way, Misaki So-and-so or So-and-so Misaki, there was a student named Misaki twenty-six years ago.

Twenty-six years? Wow, thats a long time. Thats back with the last emperor.

1972. The forty-second year of Emperor Hirohitos reign. I think that was the year Okinawa was returned.

Okinawa came back? From where?

Are you stupid? America was occupying it up till then, ever since the war ended.

Oh, so thats why there
e still all those graves.

Now that I think about it, the Winter Games were in Sapporo that year, too. Pretty sure the Mount Asama Lodge incident was, too…

What lodge on Mount Asama?

Are you for real? Whatever, I guess. Anyway. What matters is, twenty-six years ago, there was a student named Misaki in Class 3 of the third-years. And then…are you sure you never heard this story before?

Hmm…hold on. You
e saying the kid was named Misaki? Not Masaki? If its Ma-saki, then yeah, I heard a little bit about it.

Masaki? Huh. Maybe its like that in some versions. Whod you hear it from?

An upperclassman in my club.

Whatd he say?

I dunno if it was twenty-six years ago, but there was a third-year student named Masaki a long, long time ago…and, um…the way I heard it, it was a boy. And something really weird happened in his class that year. But my upperclassman said its a secret, and you
e not supposed to go around talking about it. So he said he couldn tell me anything else.

Thats it?

Yeah. He said, ”If you joke around about it, bad things will happen to you. ” I bet you its one of those things. ”The Seven Mysteries. ”

You think so?

You know how piccolo music starts playing in the music room in the middle of the night when no ones around, or how sometimes a hand all covered in blood reaches out of the lotus pond in the schoolyard? So I figure, maybe this is the seventh one.

I heard that the mannequins in the home ec room have actual heartbeats.

They totally do!

Theres a ton besides that. I know like nine or ten of the ”Seven Mysteries ” at this middle school. But this story about Misaki or Masaki or whatever it was…I don think its one of those. Most of the stories feel pretty different from the rest of the ”Seven Mysteries. ”

Wow, really? So you know the details?

A little, I guess.

Tell me!

What, you don care if something bad happens to me?

Thats just a superstition, obviously.

Yeah, you
e probably right.

So tell me!

Actually, I don know if I should…

Come on! Ill never ask you for anything else!

And how many times now has it been the last thing youll ever ask me for?


Oh, for crying out loud. If I tell you, you can go blabbing to everyone you know.

I won tell anyone. I swear.

Hmmph. Okay…


So maybe its Misaki or maybe its Masaki…I guess for now, Ill say its Misaki. Ever since their first year, this kid was popular with everyone. Brilliant student, accomplished athlete, really good at drawing, and even a talented musician. On top of all that, Misaki was gorgeous. And if he was a guy, he was chiseled. Whichever way, Misaki didn have a single flaw.

That sounds kind of obnoxious, don you think?

Nope, they say Misaki had a great personality, too. Not obnoxious or stuck-up at all. The kid was nice to everyone and just casual enough. Thats why the teachers and students and everybody else adored Misaki. Well, you get it—Misaki was popular.

Huh. So people like that actually exist?

So third year started, and Misaki got put into Class 3 when they switched up the room assignments. And then all of a sudden, Misaki died.


It was still first semester, right before Misakis fifteenth birthday.

What happened? Was it a car accident? Did Misaki get sick?

I heard it was a plane crash. Misakis whole family was going to Hokkaido, and on the way back, the plane nose-dived. But there are other theories, too.

So the other kids got this horrible news, and it was a huge shock.

I bet it was.

How could this happen? everyone was shouting. Other people were wailing, It can be true! And a bunch of kids were absolutely wrecked with crying. The homeroom teacher had no idea what to say to them, and the whole classroom had this otherworldly atmosphere…and in the middle of all that, somebody said: Misakis not dead. I mean, look. Can you see Misakis here?

This kid pointed at Misakis desk and said, ”Look, Misakis right there. Where else would Misaki be? Misakis alive and right over there. ” After that, student after student chimed in, backing up that first kid. ”Its true. Misakis not dead. Misakis alive. Misakis right over there… ”

…What did they mean?

Nobody wanted to believe that such a popular person had died so suddenly. They didn want to accept it. Thats what I figure. But it didn end that day. The class kept it going for a long time after that.

What do you mean?

Everyone in class banded together after that and kept pretending, ”Hey, Misaki is still alive! ” I heard even the teacher was in on it all the way. ”Its true. You
e right, all of you. Misaki isn dead. In this classroom, at least, Misaki lives on as a member of our class. From now on, we all need to work together to graduate. All of us, together. ”… Or something like that, at least.

It makes a good story, I guess. But I dunno, its kind of creepy.

That was how they ended up spending the rest of their middle school careers. They left Misakis desk exactly how it had been, and sometimes they would rest a hand on it and start talking to Misaki—who was supposed to be sitting there—or they would goof around with Misaki or go home together… But of course, it was all just an act. At the graduation ceremony, the principal was even considerate enough to set up a seat for Misaki…

Hmm. I guess it is a good story…

Yeah. Basically, this is a beautiful story with some great source material. Actually, theres a scary twist at the end.

Oh? Like what?

After graduation, they took a group photo in the classroom. The next day when they were looking at the developed picture, everyone noticed something. In this class photo, tucked away in a corner, they could see Misaki, who couldn possibly have been there. Misakis face was pale, like a corpse, and smiling like everybody elses…

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