The List

I haven’t seen her – her ghost, her phantom, my conscience, my greatest failure – since I landed here. Not for a lack of trying. I call out her name. Marissa. Marissa. Marissa. I call out her name to the train that passes. To the people walking perpendicular to me. To the shadows of Tokyo. There are a lot of them here. Lots of chances to call out her name. Not once did she ever appear to me.

It didn’t feel right moving to London. Moving there with her ghost didn’t sit right with me. A year has passed since I had the plane tickets replaced. A year has passed since the plane landed. A year has passed since I’ve been wandering aimlessly. What’s left of her is the ghastly memory of her in the bathtub, with her left arm sliced open, blood all over the bathroom. That’s what I’m living with: not her ghost, but what came prior to the ghost. That’s even more horrifying than anything.

Toshi-san speaks to me in Japanese. A year into my exile in Tokyo and I haven’t bothered to learn the language. And he knows it. We do this whenever I sit in my stool in the bar. I go in and he says something to me in his language and I tell him to cut it out and that I’m going to learn the language tomorrow and we laugh and he serves me my usual: two orders of Salmon sashimi and the Sake he keeps behind the counter. Life here has been a certain kind of hell for me. I’m still dodging bullets. I’m still surviving knife wounds. But the lack of Marissa’s ghost and Horus watching my back have made things especially difficult. I rely solely on only what I trained myself to do. Our choreographed routine is one of the consistent things that makes things here a bit pleasant for me.

He asks me how my day was as he lights up a filterless cigarette. Again, part of our routine. I respond with “the usual.” It’s a pithy response, but there’s nothing more to say. He knows what I do to keep my time occupied. He knows what I do in his city. He tells me that he just became a grandfather two nights ago and we end up in a lengthy discussion about how family becomes a weakness in our world. He says that he’s still afraid and considers his as a weakness, but he’ll carry on. He’ll still protect his own.

My friend goes on to inquire if I’d thought about having a family of my own. I say that in a former life, I have. I tell him about Marissa. I tell him about our love story, and how she met her demise. I tell him about the city I grew up and lived in, how its people that tainted me even more. He offers his sympathies and another round of sake for what has befallen me. “No one so young has to live such a life like you have,” he says.

“It is what it is,” I say before I lunge half my body across the counter and run my knife across his neck. “For the crimes you’ve committed, my friend. For the crimes you’ve committed.”

He was the last on my Tokyo list. It’s time to go home.

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