THE END WHERE IT BEGAN
How can I just throw away my pride and dignity? And for such a wanton man.
Tears continue to fall from the corner of Reina’s eyes. She trembles both in cold and misery. She has been standing there watching the moon glisten in the river. The sound of waves hitting the rocks never bothered her. She is drowning in her own foolishness.
A person could stand with their head held high and look at others straight in the eyes without wealth and influence. No one can destroy a man with firm pride and outstanding dignity. And yet, she disregarded hers.
Women in her era had been struggling to be recognized as an individual. Obedience was expected from them. Others were even forced to work for brothels entertaining men especially the foreigners. Much a reason why natives hate foreigners. Not do they only seize their country but also their women. And so, men bear poor opinions on women.
Still, women prove they can stand side by side with men. Things are starting to look brighter, though there is still a fraction of the population who isn't in favor of these changes.
Two things that raise hate in their country. And sadly, she's both.
Her mother is from the West who was greatly involved in the peace treaty between the warring countries. It has been peaceful by then though there are still natives who disapprove of the Western system. On the other hand, her father was a loyal soldier to the country who happened to meet her mother after the war. They had gotten along although the initial encounter was rough. So as a result, they had her and her older brother, Haru. Children with native names and foreign features.
People often find them weird, so they are avoided. It is confusing for them to see children of both native and foreign descent. Both she and her brother obviously looks different. Sticking out like a sore thumb. And thus, if not avoided, people often talk about them behind their backs.
Despite that, her mother and father never taught them to hate those people. Ignoring them was the best course.
‘We have nothing to be ashamed of. Both your father and I may not have given you riches but we are still proud people because we have lovely children like you.’
She hadn’t understood what her mother meant at that time. Perhaps she was dreaming of her children growing up successful and proving everyone wrong in their opinions. Not that it actually mattered to them.
Tearful sounds drown in the turbulent waves.
Her poor parents. They suffered enough discrimination during their younger years. But as they should have a more peaceful retirement, she just had to bring in another problem. Surely her older brother would curse her if he knew.
She disappointed them. The consequences of her actions will not only bring them shame but also condemnation. She can't say naive things like ‘never mind her as she can take it all.’ This isn't only about her.
Even the school established by her mother will be put into disgrace. They may be living in the outskirts but news travels swiftly like the wind. Far worse, the baby inside her womb will also suffer the same fate. Had she been more careful of her actions, she wouldn’t be in this situation.
Reina looks down at the rapid flow of water below her. Over the years, the Houren river has been growing violent due to the river becoming shallower. The presence of boulders in the river makes it even more dangerous, that everyone in town forbids their children to be near it.
The river is turbulent like the mixed emotions crippling inside of her. She is thankful none from her family discovered her condition. Their frail heart won't be able to take it. Moreover, there is no guessing what Haru could do. Though she kept their relationship a secret, he always hated her fiance, Tomohisa.
Reina raises one foot on another. The sound of waves hitting the rocks below her matches the sound of her beating heart.
Reina’s hands are shaking as she tightly grips the timber supporting the bridge. She fears heights, but she’d rather do this than stab herself while she slowly bled to death.
She took a huge breath as she continued sobbing. She will take this secret to her grave. Losing her life will do good for her family. They can even view this as an accident as the railing of the wooden bridge was below her waist. Anyone could fall into the river with this height.
She closes her eyes as her whimper becomes louder. She sounds pathetic for someone trying to kill herself. She chose this option yet she is still afraid.
She let one foot forward. Tears and sweat are flooding her face.
She looks upward and calms herself. She is just delaying the inevitable. This is her choice and all she can do is pray her family will remain strong after seeing her demise.
I’m sorry, my child. Your mother is weak. Goodbye mother, father----
Bolts of electricity stop Reina from her attempt. No one should be here at this time. The voice is familiar to her. She turns to where the voice came from. Thanks to the full moon, she is able to confirm the presence. It was Sou Mitsuei, her miserable fiance’s older brother. What a coincidence.
Mitsuei has this unreadable look on his face. What is he doing at this time of the night pulling his horse?
Reina is too surprised to react. She just stood there unmoving.
She didn’t know what exactly happened. The next thing she knew, she is already in his arms with an angry look on his already intimidating face.
“What in God’s name are you doing?” Mitsuei yells out of fear and anger. He had never expected to witness an act of suicide from an acquaintance. He has so many things to say but he is busy catching his breath.
“M-Mister Mitsuei?” Reina’s eyes flicker in shock seeing him fuming with so much rage.
The anger in his voice awakened her. As if realizing her disgraceful actions, Reina wails like a child.
Mitsuei jolts in surprise. His earlier displeasure was thrown off the river after hearing her loud cry. Perhaps she didn’t honestly want to do it.
He sighs in relief. But the harsh beating of his heart hasn’t calmed down. He couldn’t believe he felt nervous seeing her attempt. He just rushed at her without any thought. Good thing she didn’t have enough courage.
If I had been a minute later …. Mitsuei violently shook his head. Never did he wish to imagine the outcome.
“Alright. We need to discuss this with your parents,” Mitsuei demands as he is about to settle her down.
“No! I can’t return home,” Reina argues.
Mitsuei raises his brow. He is already confused as it is. But now the young lady is refusing to go home.
He notices her trembling. It is a cold night after all and she is only wearing regular clothes.
He breaths out heavily. He can't just leave her here. Neither can they stay here for God knows how long she plans to.
“Fine. Then you best come home with me. I couldn’t leave you out here. Who knows what would you have done next,” Mitsuei responds.
Reina lowers her head in shame. She only added more problems for her family.
The ride to his home has been awfully awkward. The road they are taking is familiar to her. She had been here multiple times. Aside from being her fiance’s residence, it is also a tourist attraction for most people.
Hanneau is the name of the inn owned by the Sou family. It has been here for as long as she can remember. Her family is even a frequent customer.
“Is - Is Tomohisa at home?” Reina inquires with a shaking voice.
“No,” Mitsuei flatly answers.
Reina sighs. She is relieved somehow. She isn't ready for the confrontation.
It wasn’t long enough until she saw the stairs leading to the entrance of the inn. It is a wide establishment. They opted to widen it rather than adding rooms to different floors. The terrain of the mountains made it tricky to build rooms. Nonetheless, it is a popular place for relaxation. The steam coming from the back of the entrance is due to the natural hot spring situated near the inn.
Mitsuei unmounts from his horse first. Reina has been quiet the entire journey. The sudden turn of events renders her speechless. What made it even more awkward is because they are both carried by his horse. His silence is making her anxious.
Just as she is going down the horse on her own, Mitsuei lends his hand for support. He is a gentleman despite his terrifying face. He even covered her with his coat earlier so to protect her from the cold.
She takes his hand and she sees a young boy running towards them. If she remembered it right, he is one of the staff’s children. He greets them with his bright smile. Mitsuei entrusts the horse to the young lad before facing her.
Mitsuei says with a blank expression. “Shall we go inside?”
All Reina can do is nod her head. His facial expression is a sign of doom. She can't read what is on his mind. And it is giving her anxiety. Plus, he had witnessed her disgraceful act. Surely he is disappointed. And every minute passed scares her terribly.