Ryusei and Chie returned to the pathway. Tall grass had given way to dense trees, so close together they almost blocked out the sun. Some of their leaves had fallen, covering the dark mossy ground. Tiny white mushrooms were scattered around their roots. The sound of trickling water had faded away, but every once in a while, a bird chirped in the distance. Amidst this endless wave of trees, it seemed as if they were the only two people left in the world.
“Do you think this is where Miwako hanged herself?” Ryusei asked.
Chie stopped walking. The question sparked a series of troubling thoughts. Had Miwako died here? Now that the thought was planted in her mind, the mountain felt anything but peaceful.
She could almost hear the forest spirit calling her, beckoning her to join souls with it, just as Miwako had, to remain here forever.