Standard Disclaimers Apply.
‘I hope it doesn’t rain today,’ Soujiro thought as he stopped to take a look at the gray sky. It did indeed look like it was going to rain, so Soujiro decided to stay at the next inn he came across. ‘ I‘ve always disliked the rain ever since that I met Shishio-sama. It even rained the day I received the news that Shishio-sama died. It’s almost as if the heavens are crying the tears I could never shed,’ he thought miserably, ‘ I sometimes wish I would just die and reincarnate into a happier life. I wouldn’t have been a problem for my so-called family all those years back. I wouldn’t have to wander Japan for answers to questions I don’t even know how to express them; answers to questions I never knew I had in the first place.’
As he mentally mused over his worthless, at least by his standards, life he entered the smallest farming town he’d visited yet. There was only one inn, three restaurants, and about fifteen homes, but plenty of rice fields. The rice briefly brought back memories he wished he’d forgotten.
Soujiro walked into the inn; and was greeted by an extremely friendly woman in her early fifties. He asked for a room for the night and worked off the fee, that he couldn’t pay for, for the rest of the day. She had mentioned that she was repairing the wall between his room and another, but he didn’t quite catch the comment. Though Soujiro didn’t really mind if he heard her correctly.
The room was very simple, but very homely at the same time. The wall had many spaces between it, each large enough for a person to walk through. As Soujiro laid out his futon on the floor he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked over to the other room to find a young man, around Soujiro’s age, rolling out a futon for himself as well. The man looked up in Soujiro’s general direction. “Ah, Hajimemashite. My name is Yamashiro Tetsuya, Doozo Yoroshiku,” he said as he bowed to the general area.
“Hajimemashite, my name is Seta Soujiro, and it is a pleasure to meet you Tetsuya-san,” he responded and bowed.
Tetsuya smiled; “there’s no need for the san. Please, just call me Tetsuya, Soujiro.”
Soujiro frowned slightly, ‘he’s awfully friendly to strangers.’ Pushing the thought aside, he responded, “Ano...okay, Tetsuya...where do you plan to travel?”
“For now I want to head towards Matsumoto to see my family again. Other than that I’m trying to find a job.”
“You look physically well, I don‘t see understand why you must travel to find a job,” Soujiro said with a puzzled expression.
“I have been blind since my birth.”
Soujiro instantly became embarrassed, “gomen nasai, I didn’t mean to offend you Tetsuya. I just have never seen a blind person’s eyes before. Please excuse me for my ignorance.”
Tetsuya chuckled, “Don‘t worry Soujiro, I don‘t mind at all. I may sound strange, but I kinda enjoy the challenges I have to face just to live a normal life,” he said and then he laughed, “ It certainly keeps my everyday life interesting, ne?”
Soujiro smiled, “I‘m sure it does.”
“Ano, Soujiro? Would you like to come with me to Matsumoto, if you don’t have anywhere else to go?”
“Areh?” Soujiro asked, surprised. ‘I don’t really trust him right now, but I could use some company. He seems to be nice, so I don’t think he’ll try anything. At least I don‘t want him to try anything. I‘m tired of causing pain,’ he thought darkly. Soujiro quickly changed his mood to a lighter one, ‘ I should visit Anji in Hokkaido, he’ll be able to help me, and he might know some answers, and Matsumoto’s on the way.’ Making up his mind he said, “I plan on traveling north anyway, so I don‘t mind.”
Tetsuya smiled, “I‘m glad you decided to come along. I‘m wasn‘t sure what I was going to do while I was traveling there to pass time. Oh, I almost forgot. Umm...Soujiro? I know bothers some people, but may I touch your face so I can ‘see’ you?”
“Areh?” Soujiro said in a confused voice, “but you said you‘re blind. How can you see me?”
Tetsuya chuckled, “I am blind, that’s just the way we can sense what things look like. For us, touch is essentially our sight.”
A sign of recognition crossed Soujiro‘s face, “Ah, I understand. I don‘t mind then, Tetsuya.”
Soujiro watched Tetsuya walk towards him, and he guided Tetsuya’s hand to his face. The sensation tingled Soujiro’s nerves, and he became slightly uncomfortable. It was certainly a new experience for him though. The only other blind person Soujiro ever met was Usui, and he could have cared less about people’s appearance. That memory of Usui brought on a flood of memories of death. Images of Shishio-sama, Yumi-san, and even of Houji-san, even though he was a little weird, passed through his mind; causing pangs of despair. He was brought out of his thoughts by Tetsuya’s voice, “Ano...Soujiro? Can you hear me?”
“Eh? Ah...forgive me for blanking out.”
“No problem. Anyway, if we want to arrive at Matsumoto before nighttime, we should leave at, or before, sunrise.”
Soujiro agreed, and they both said goodnight. Soujiro turned off a kerosene lamp, that was next to his futon, and he listened to the soft pelting of rain. ‘Hmmm...that’s ironic. It’s raining, and for once I don’t feel miserable,’ he thought, and he fell asleep shortly after.