This post contains (gasp!) some serious, non-semi-comedic content. Consider yourself warned.
The stones break beneath my sandaled feet. My burden—my yakkaigoto—is heavy.
With the knowledge that this day heralds the end of days. I am sighted, like Apollo of days past. I am blighted, the Atlas of the days to come. And sunrise by sunrise, my shoulders ache and my endurance wanes.
I am careful to step only on the rock, though even it cracks before my weight. Master Ariom told me he’s never seen such inryoku around a man. It is true—I can feel the very molecules of my body being pulled, no, torn towards the planet’s mass. The physical pain is great, but not as unbearable as the weight on my soul.
The rising sun is beautiful, my love. Atom’s tender touch warms my face and the rays cascade through the trees around me. How I wish you could see the sunlight—the sweet taiyoukou of our country. How I wish you could leave the sanctum, so I could hold you once more.
I know you are crying. I know a tear just struck the page.
Oh my love. I am so sorry.
Master Ariom will have told you by now: this is my final letter. He will find the leaden box, this letter inside, near the epicenter. He will not find my body. I beg you to never look for it, to never leave the safety of the sanctum. By my blood—by Atom Itself—I will not risk losing you.
Is it possible that my inryoku intensifies even as I walk? I can do little but trudge across this park, and I struggle to hold the pen and clipboard in these increasingly heavy hands. Such, I suppose, is the price of Atom’s gifts.
I can see the pattern, swirling deep down in the skin of my hand.
Atom! I don’t even need a scope! What have I become to prophesy without the aide of our artifices?
It seems that by the gaze of Atom Itself, I can see the pattern with my naked eyes. And it is clearer than ever! I peer into the cells, into the molecules of my flesh until it comes into view.
The source of our strength, our foresight, and my yakkaigoto—the atom.
While the nucleus stands as a pillar in the storm, the electrons whirl about it in a tempest of speed. Only by Atom’s guidance can I follow them.
The particles dance in the storm until a color emerges from the chaos. I unwind it into a long thread, then move on to the next atom. In a fraction of a heartbeat, I see this atom’s color as well, and unwind it. One by one, quickening my pace, I unwind the threads of a million atoms until a grand tapestry unfurls before me.
It’s the picture of a man, viewed from behind. He’s kneeling on a sidewalk, his yukata robe pulled tight around his thin shoulders. His arms are outstretched as he welcomes the brilliance before him—a blazing glow that engulfs the sky and threatens to devour the entire tapestry. The soft pink of cherry blossoms rings the foreground. But the tips of the petals are blackened, on the cusp of combustion.
I know what I see. But before I can contemplate on it, the tapestry changes. The electrons alter their pace, some slowing and some zipping faster, which shifts the colors of the threads. Gradually, a new picture forms.
Earth. But there’s something wrong about it. Pinpricks of light dot the surface of the planet. Are they the lights of cities? By Atom—no.
Like in prophecies past, I’m able to delve into the tapestry by allowing the atoms to guide me in, cradling me in their warmth. I reach the surface of the Earth. My senses reel, overwhelmed by the stimuli around me. The burning stench of charred flesh, the wails of the dying, the rusted tang of blood.
I bend over and retch into a pile of rubble. A tiny hand protrudes from between two charcoaled wooden beams. A finger twitches.
But I cannot help them. I am numb—touch is the only sense denied to me. Trapped in living prophecy, woven tight against the threads, I am powerless as I’ve ever been. The atoms erupt in tumult as if sensing an intruder, and I am expelled.
My hands convulse as I write. The masters never prepared me for this agony.
My love! Images such as these haunt me every day, and it rips me apart. The stones themselves break beneath the burden—my yakkaigoto—that I carry. To see the end of days, to feel the rancid wind as the apocalypse rushes towards us all, and be helpless to stop it… by Atom’s Light, I cannot bear it anymore!
My eyes burn. My final breaths tremble with sobs. I am so sorry that I must leave you.
I have stopped walking. The sidewalk beneath me is indented, wide cracks racing out from beneath my flattened sandals.
There is beauty in this park around me, but I struggle to see the good in it. I will try, for your sake. The verdant grass, cut simply, marvelously. A patch of flowers—azaleas, I think—in the morning shadow of a fountain. The grove of sakura, their pink blossoms open, as if crying for me as they try to shelter me from what comes. Do they know?
I reach out and take a branch in my hand. I stroke the soft petals across my cheek and wipe away my tears as I imagine your gentle caress. Do you remember our picnic in Shiretoko? We sneaked in, to the falls, where we ate honeyed bread beneath the sakura grove. A grove much like this one. It was so beautiful, but I could not take my gaze off of you. I regret so much in my life, but I do not regret proposing to you that day.
Listen to Master Ariom’s teachings. Raise Akemi well—I know you will—and tell her I’m watching over her.
I pray that my visions do not come to pass, but I fear they are inevitable. Remain in the sanctum and you will be safe.
My strength fades. My knees have buckled and the cement splinters before the inryoku of my kneeling body. My blood seeps into the little fissures. I look up to see the glint of a plane flying high above—I must go now. This city will soon be devoured in Atom’s blaze. Hiroshima’s fate is assured.
I will welcome the Light with open arms.
My love—my sunlight, my blossom. My sweet taiyoukou, my gentle sakura. Though Atom takes me, I will always love you.
Thank you for reading.
It was late in the afternoon yesterday, but I wasn’t getting anywhere on my main writing project. So I decided to take a break and write some gibberish until my block was broken. I typed “The stones break beneath my sandaled feet” and then went from there. I might return later for a rewrite.