Chapter 7: Promises Made, Promises Kept
A Ranma ½ story
by Adrian D. Moten
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Editor's note: This is an incomplete draft of chapter 7; ADR hasn't been writing because of school concerns. Please send any comments you might have about it, to encourage him to continue!
There was so much life behind those twinkling green-gray orbs of hers. She always smiled, seemingly no matter what occurred in her life. It was a gift, apparently; few could take the good with the bad as well as she could. In fact, one could say she was nearly blissfully unaware about what was going on, but to anyone that observed her long enough would know the opposite to be true. She was a sharp one, indeed. Rather than become angry about what spiraled out of her realm of control, she adapted instead. Not one to try to force the Fates to behave favorably for her, she bent in the winds of change. Sometimes, it called for a major sacrifice on her part; so be it. Better to relinquish in order to save than to become hardened and lose it all. And she her job admirably, of which no one could doubt. She was so perfect in that manner, so loveable, so… Words fail to accurately describe the feelings she causes to blossom within the hearts of those whom she touched.
All the more reason to grieve now. Those same eyes that held dear to the many joys of life were vacant, staring dully at one empty spot in the air no more than two feet away from her. Soon they, too, closed with aid of a doctor’s fingers gently pushing down the eyelids until they met. Then the medical staff took her away, disappearing into the void of eternity.
It was hard on them all, but it took an exacerbating toll on one in particular. It was she, who felt that the entire matter was her fault, that thing were the way they were. Has she not been so selfish, so irrational, maybe she would still be alive now? However, tears of grief and anguish refused to fall from her eyes; the wells beneath had run dry days ago. All that remained was the feelings of despair and guilt. No matter how hard she tried to wish it away, it clung to her like moss from the backyard.
Frustrated, she squeezed her young eyes shut and balled up her fist. After forcing the tension to abate, however, briefly, she looked back to the empty bed…
…Only it wasn’t empty now. She was back underneath the linen, her arms at her side once more. Her eyes, once unfocused and lifeless, were now complete orbs of obsidian, giving her a smoldering gaze.
She stumbled back in fear, one word leaving her quavering lips. “Mother…”
Mother’s lips then moved, as if she was a marionette. “Kasumi, you deeply disappoint me.”
The lifelike dead doll cut her off brutally. “Unruly. Brash. Arrogant.”
On the verge of tears, she visibly flinched at the accusations. “B-But I didn’t mean to—”
“How can I have such a selfish daughter as you?” she said in the most unforgiving tone of voice.
That did in what flimsy defenses the oldest daughter had erected. She fell to her knees and sobbed into her hands. “M-Mother…” she whispered. “I…”
A low rumbling sound crept through her grief, alerting her to its presence. Kasumi painstakingly removed her hands from her face, excepting it to be Mother. She was wrong; her eyes caught sight of a sphere of malevolent black roaring towards her. She screamed, unable to defend herself at all, but her voice was lost in the swirling howls of the terrible ball. An instant later, it smashed into her, shattering and scattering her body and spirit to the grasps of oblivion.
Kasumi bolted upright in the semi-darkness, a cold sweat breaking out on her forehead. An overwhelming fear fiercely gripped her body, paralyzing her vocal chords, and all she could do was shudder. She drew up her knees to her chest, unthinkingly entangling the flimsy white linen around her limbs in the process, and wrapped her arms around herself, as if to ward off the artic touch that coursed through her soul.
For a few minutes, she remained in that position, unable to think about anything other than the exceedingly vivid images of Mother. The displeasure that was so prominent in her tone of voice. The seething spite directed to her actions. The unforgiving words used to describe the way she was. The smoldering anger…
“Hey, sis. Feeling any better?” Nabiki said, as she opened the door, and clicked on the light.
The simple question gently shook the oldest Tendo daughter out of her self-focused thoughts. “Um, I suppose so, Nabiki. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, after what happened this afternoon, you looked like you were going to collapse from stress.” She walked past the wiry chair with a brown plastic seat situated opposite of the bed and sat on the foot of it. “And you know how bad stress is for the baby.”
Kasumi blinked once, but before she could open her mouth to ask what Nabiki meant, the answer suddenly slapped her alert. She was pregnant with Ranma’s child. She caused a devastating chain of events, from the breakup of Ranma and Akane, to her youngest sister utterly despising her, to her father openly incensed and attacking the father of her child, and the nerve-shattering fight between Ranma and Ryouga—
The mother-to-be gasped at the sudden realization. “Oh, my! Where’s Ranma? Is he all right?”
“He’s already out of surgery, so I’m guessing he’ll be fine.”
“Surgery?” she echoed, horror creeping into her voice.
“Yep, apparently there was a lot of damage done to the tissues and blood vessels, plus the bones had to be manually reset. Compound fracture, you know.”
“Oh, my… oh, my… oh, my… Nabiki, call a taxi.”
She blinked. “Why?”
“I need to go to see Ranma. Hurry!”
Nabiki blinked again, standing up. “Um, sis—“
“Please, Nabiki,” Kasumi said, swinging her legs over to one side of the bed. “I have to know; how is Ran--Ahh!”
If it weren’t for Nabiki’s quick reflexes, Kasumi would have fallen flat on her face. However, it wasn’t by much, and the middle Tendo daughter sharply rapped her knee against the hard tiled floor, which provoked a string of expletives muttered under her breath.
“Sis, you’re forgetting a lot of things,” she said, helping Kasumi to sit back on the bed. “Like for example, your legs being tangled up in the bed sheets.” Gingerly squatting, the younger girl began to unwind the sheet from her older sister’s ankles.
“And you’re already at Nerima General Hospital. I conned an orderly to let me borrow this room.”
Kasumi opened her mouth to say something, but closed it, as the information sank in. “Oh, my… I didn’t realize… I was just… I got so… I—“
Nabiki waved her off as she freed up her sister’s legs. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I know. Stress and all… Just don’t scare us like that again, okay? That stunt you pulled this afternoon had us all scared shitless.” She looked at her directly. “Just what the hell were you thinking? Especially considering you’re pregnant?”
Kasumi looked down to her bare feet. “It was all my fault, Nabiki. Because of me, Ranma was suffering for my mistakes.” She swallowed. “I just wanted to protect him from any more harm, that’s all.”
The middle daughter sighed a little. “Oh, Kasumi.” Tentatively, Nabiki slipped an arm around her older sister’s shoulders. “Don’t take everything so hard. It’s not your fault. No one could have predicted any of that was going to happen.”
“Akane despises me.”
“She’s just angry. Give her some time.”
Reflexively, Nabiki’s arm tightened around her sister’s shoulder.
“—She was so furious for what I’ve done.”
She didn’t respond for a long moment; all she could do was gently rock her older sister until something came to her. “Look, it’s just your guilt talking to you, playing with your mind. I’m sure Mommy understands.” Nabiki winced a little at the reflexively used term; she hadn’t said that word since her mother died. Steeling her resolve, she forced herself to ignore it.
“Do you think so, Nabiki?”
She couldn’t see her eyes with her bangs in the way, but she tried her best to sound affirmative. “Yes, I think so. So don’t worry so much about it. You know stress isn’t good for the baby, especially this early in development.”
“All… all right. I’ll try not to.”
She smiled, a little pride taken in her admittedly limited talents of comforting others. “That’s good to hear.”
They sat in the room in silence; the low humming that came from the fluorescent light fixtures in the ceiling.
“Nabiki, where is Father?”
“Daddy? I think he’s with Saotome-san.”
Silence answered back with the same reply Soun had been receiving for the last eight hours. Genma had not spoken since Ranma had been taken to the Operating Room. For a while, the Tendo father assumed the portly man had fallen asleep in the waiting room; it was nearing two o’clock in the morning. However, the portly man had gotten up, went to the snack bar past the lobby, and bought a cup of hot orange pekoe tea and some rice crackers out of the vending machines. Then he came back and painstakingly ate each cracker, finishing the wafer chip with a sip of tea. The amber liquid grew cold as he chewed on each of the thirty alabaster crackers individually, occasionally pausing in between each one as he gazed off into space for varying amounts of time before he resumed his odd habit. Finally, the tea was gone, along with the crackers. Genma disposed of their containers in the nearest waste receptacle, and then settled back into the green-and-blue foam-lined wooden chair he had been occupying since their arrival in the waiting room.
Soun frowned a bit, then focused his attention elsewhere. His eyes lighted on an auburn-haired woman dressed in a blue kimono. A slim bundle of white cloth currently rested in her lap, underneath the palm of her hands as she spoke with a depressed Akane.
It was by sheer coincidence the Saotome matriarch was en route to the Tendo home to visit with Akane and “Ranko” when catastrophe struck.
To be continued.
|Layout, design, & site revisions © 2005||
Webmaster: Larry F