Yumi couldn't feel her hands. She pushed her fingers through her hair. Nothing. Her heart didn't beat.
She wasn't breathing. She should be breathing. Yumi opened her mouth; she tried to suck in air. Then she remembered the accident.
It was the inbound train, the number five. She was on her way home from work. A man had rushed by and bumped her; she'd fallen onto the tracks. There was a loud blare, a blinding light, and then she was here, sitting on a park bench.
She had to make dinner for her mother at five. The sticky rice had to be right; she'd promised that she would get it right this time.
Yumi looked down at her wrist, her watch was gone. Her blue jacket and matching skirt, her favorite heels, the blouse her mother had given her when she'd started her new job.
All gone, they were replaced by a white dress and matching shoes.
All her goals seemed so pointless now. Owning a house, getting her own office, buying a nicer car or that vacation home she'd looked at every time her boss asked her to work late.
She'd never feel the wind of the savanna or lie on the deck of a ship and stargaze. She died never having climbed a mountain or felt the black sand between her toes.
Yumi looked up, a pond stretched out in front of her. She knew the place. It was where she'd come to read, a place to ponder.
Across the pond was a peculiar building, an old ruin that had no place in Kyoto Park.
It was stone with doorways that rounded on the top with three levels. Her view of it was blurry, otherworldly. A woman in a white dress stepped out from one of the doorways and waved her arm, beckoning her over.
Yumi looked away. There was a pull, gravity, to the place that made every part of her spirit want to step into the pond, cross it, and join the woman on the other side.
"No", she whispered to herself. "Hayato needs me."
Her husband's name felt like an anchor against the draw of the ruin.
"Hayato", she said again, still looking away.
And there he was as if she had just summoned him.
Hayato reverently slipped into the bench next to her. Yumi opened her mouth. She tried to breathe, no breath came.
"Hayato?" Yumi called to him.
He looked up and then through her as if she wasn't even there.
Hayato pulled his phone from his pocket and placed on the bench next to him. He opened a book, laid it flat on his lap, and squinted down at it.
"You forgot your glasses again," Yumi said. She reached out and tried to touch his hand.
Nothing. She felt nothing.
"I can't be dead," Yumi cried. "I can't."
Yumi craned her head, sobbing. "Who will remind him to pack his glasses?"
Pain welled within her, a torrent of anguish. She couldn't touch. She couldn't feel even the wind brushing through the trees, yet the pain inside made her spirit quake.
Hayato's phone rang. The caller ID read Kyoto Police Station.
"No, don't answer", Yumi cried. She tried to snatch the phone, but her hand passed right through it.
"Hello?" Hayato answered.
"Mr. Hayato Ando", the voice on the line replied.
Yumi batted at the phone, willing it to fall from Hayato's ear, but nothing. If she could only stop the news from coming, then maybe this could somehow be a bad dream.
"There's been an accident, we're going to need you to come down to the station", said the voice.
The color drained from Hayato's face.
"What sort of incident?" he asked.
"Please, just come down to the station and we'll explain everything."
Hayato hung up and jammed his phone into his pocket. He closed his book and tucked it under his arm.
Then he was up and gone. Yumi tried to follow. She stumbled out of the bench but the draw, the gravity, of the ruin across the pond pulled her.
"Let me go!" she cried, grabbing for fists of grass and coming up empty. "He needs me."
Yumi spun towards the pond; she fixed her glare on the woman still waving her arm, beckoning her over.
Her rage subsided, washed off her like mud in the rain.
"Come home", said a tiny voice. "We need you here."
Yumi stood up, dazed. She stepped out onto the pond, white shoes against the surface. One step, then another, walking on water, each step easier than the last.
She reached the other side; the blurry ruin came into focus. The woman's face was familiar.
She looked across the pond, back at the world. It was faded now, blurry. A place she could only see in memory.
They watched across the pond, pass the crystal water, into the blur that was life.
"Are you waiting for someone?" asked the woman.
"My husband", Yumi answered. "Then we'll wait together."