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Messages - OhGodHelpMe

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 66
1
Music / Re: OGHM's Wacky Slappy Guitar Riffs
« on: June 05, 2020, 04:50:12 PM »
Huh, that's interesting because it took me all of 10 minutes to come up with The Infant's Dream.  :hmm: I just wanted something with dynamics, so you had a section that was heavy, a section that was ethereal, and a double-time section to tie it all together.

The tempo for those songs was just simpler for me. I never use a metronome or anything. The Winter Song was easy since it's an instrumental. Though, I noticed when covering other songs, it was much easier to make because they were most definitely using a metronome. That enables copy-paste of tracks that don't need that much in terms of playing.

I don't know though, I've always viewed recording as just another means of performing.

Ah, that's a shame! Well, whenever you are able to record, feel free to let me know.

2
Music / Re: OGHM's Wacky Slappy Guitar Riffs
« on: June 05, 2020, 02:31:18 PM »
Yeah, I've been going at it pretty hard.  :clapping: I just need to figure out what to do with some of these tunes. I currently just have them for myself, but I think some of them are good enough to be shared with the world.

Most of the good stuff has been compiled into an EP here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYkBHKtZ6-I

Personally, I feel like Here's To You My Dearest Laila is my best one, but The Infant's Dream has been getting better with every listen. Feel free to let me know if you want to work on something again!

It'd be cool to get however many musicians MR has and do a song together.

3
Music / Re: OGHM's Wacky Slappy Guitar Riffs
« on: May 29, 2020, 01:45:31 PM »
This song is what happens after reading Dogura Magura at 2 A.M.

The Infant's Dream
https://soundcloud.com/tonbogiri/the-infants-dream/s-olxJ8C7mth0

5
Manga Writer workshop / Re: Protagonist Litmus Test
« on: May 25, 2020, 04:17:32 PM »
1. An exorcist. Getting paid to banish spirits and save people is quite the deal for him

2. At this point, he wishes he could have the power to save everyone in need and goes to extreme, life-threatening lengths for those he thinks he can save.

3. Alcohol. It has to be alcohol

4. I think Osamu would enjoy himself some baseball

5. He's a mortal willing to throw himself into supernatural situations that could easily get him killed. He developed a way to connect with people, to dig at what makes them sad, and then bring out their inner joy. He's willing to do anything to protect his loved ones.

6. He's a mortal willing to throw himself into supernatural situations that could easily get him killed. He's willing to do anything to protect his loved ones. It's a double-edged sword. His altruistic heroism stems from a darker part of him that wants to die as penance for those he couldn't save. His heroism was little more than one big suicide attempt, or a game of Russian roulette where he just keeps squeezing the trigger in hopes the bullet will finally come out.

7. Panic, cry, and scream. Then drink the salt water until he dehydrates himself and realizes that was a stupid idea.

8. Yoko Akiyama, as early as elementary school

9. Cooking! He's a pretty good cook himself, but the girls usually handle that for him

10. Osamu's a jazz and fusion kind of guy for sure

6
One thing that's being improved upon throughout the retouched DbEG series are the plot threads I left dangling in the draft version originally posted here. There were two big ones.

1. Lucrezia
2. Izanami's identity

While the second one has been given light in Senkumo War Stories, I did leave the plot thread untouched in the draft version. This is going to have a much bigger impact, especially in the final book. Won't say too much because massive, plot-critical spoilers.

As for Lucrezia, she's introduced very late in the draft version, and in a very uninteresting manner. I didn't have the time to properly weave her into the story. But now I do! Osamu meets her in the final (not counting the epilogue) chapter of Dawn and Dusk now, and she's been given much more personality and nuance. Having it done this way ties everything about the Exorcist Program detailed in Senkumo War Stories into Death by Ex-Girlfriend much better.

It also makes Shinju's appearance in the next book, Satori's Deception, make more sense.

Anyway, here's a Osamu meeting Lucrezia

Lucrezia's Introduction
Spoiler
(I had nearly forgotten about it, but there was just one loose end I needed to resolve before I left with the girls.)

Osamu stopped to lean against the wall as he approached the abandoned bowling alley, realizing it was probably a mistake to sprint all the way there. He took a few deep breaths and stood up straight. He needed all of the confidence he could muster. Stepping over the broken glass at the entrance, Osamu proceeded towards the lanes. The sun beamed through the row of colored windows to the left, washing the entire alley in a rainbow of radiating colors.

He looked all around but didn't see what he was looking for. He pulled out his phone and checked the notes he had written on his phone, as well as the time.

"Damn, did I miss her? Where could she be?"

Osamu returned outside, feeling very stupid for having ran all the way to the bowling alley. He looked to the left and right of the empty street before checking his phone again.

"Supposedly she comes to the bowling alley periodically."

Screaming suddenly echoed from the distance. It was coming from the direction of the convenience store. Osamu immediately rushed down the road without much of a thought. He was convinced that the person he was looking for and the sudden commotion down the street were connected. Sweat dripped down his forehead and neck as he ran. His silver peace sign necklace bounced off of his chest while strands of his hair stuck to his face.

Several people rushed out of the convenience store entrance, screaming for help. Something awful was happening inside.

"Gun! He's got a gun!" someone shouted as they ran.

Osamu stepped right inside, crouching behind the candy bar shelf. Several more men and women lied on the floor with their hands above their heads. The store was filled with the enraged screams of an armed robber, a masked, black-clad man holding a revolver to the cashier's head.

"Hurry up, or I'll shoot one of these people!" the man shouted.

"I already told you, I'm trying! The cash register is busted!" the cashier cried.

"You have ten seconds to get it open or I'll blow your brains out!"

Osamu nearly shrieked in fright as someone tapped his shoulder. He turned his head and met eyes with a very peculiar, young woman. She held her bandaged hand over his mouth, preventing him from crying out. Her arms and legs were hidden beneath white bandages, from the tips of her slender fingers all the way past the sleeves of her black haori.

She pressed her erect index finger against her lip, signaling Osamu to remain silent as she removed her hand from his mouth. Her head was partially bandaged, covering her left eye. Her long, wavy, chestnut colored hair reached down to her wrists. The light shining through the store's front windows enwreathed the outer strands of her voluminous hair in a veil of bright light.

"We can take him down. I'll need your help though." the girl said.

"Are you crazy? He has a gun!" Osamu whispered.

"We've got something stronger than that. Just wait for my signal."

Osamu watched in horror as the girl stood up, marching right towards the armed robber. This mystery woman was going to get herself killed. While the young woman approached the robber from behind, Osamu made his way around the side of the store floor, hiding behind boxes and shelves.

"My good sir!" the young woman called out, drawing the robber's attention. She now had his gun pointed at squarely at her.

"Who the hell are you? Get on the ground!"

The girl put her hands up and took a single step closer. "I mean you no harm. You know don't look like you're having a very good day, sir."

The robber fired his gun, the bullet smashing through one of the windows behind her. "The next one's going between your eyes! Get on the god damned floor!"

"I'm not having a very good day, either. This season is hell for my allergies. I was hoping to come here to get some nasal medication, but, well, you're robbing the place. Cashier, do we have any allergy medicine left?"

"Y-yes, we do!" the cashier answered.

"You move a god damned muscle and I'll kill you!" the robber screamed.

"Please, can you just let him toss me my medicine?" the girl begged.

The robber's eyes darted back and forth. He grabbed the box of medicine himself and tossed it over to her. "There, you got your meds, now get on the *censored*ing floor!"

The girl did as she was told and dropped down to her knees, her hands still raised. "Thank you, sir. You're a good man."

"The cash register! Now!"

The cashier finally managed to get it open. He backed away from the counter and let the robber grab whatever he wanted. Osamu peeked around the corner of the shelf, catching a glimpse of the thief up close. His heart bludgeoned itself against his ribs as he thought of what to do next.

All of a sudden, the girl threw the box of allergy medicine at the thief's head. The girl was absolutely insane. There was just no way she wasn't. Osamu couldn't believe one person was capable of putting themselves in so much danger. He knew it must've been the 'signal' she told him about.

The robber spun around and aimed his gun at her, prompting Osamu to charge in. He came rushing in like a football player, tackling the robber to the ground and knocking the gun out of his hand. One he was disarmed, the cashier, as well as some of the people previously lying on the floor, rushed in to apprehend him. One of the civilians confiscated the gun, leaving the robber with no chance to fight everyone off.

Osamu was suddenly pulled backwards by his collar. The girl plucked him from the crowd of citizens piling on the robber.

"Let's go. I'd rather not be here when the police show up." she said.

"Hey! Hold on a second!" Osamu cried.

The girl took him by the hand and ran off with him. The police sirens were already blaring from the distance and closing in on the convenience store. The girl led him through alleys and corridors, in between houses and crevices to avoid being seen on the main street. Once they were back in the neighborhood, the girl continued running until they reached the abandoned bowling alley. The two ran inside, stopping before the row of colored glass to catch their breaths.

Osamu bent over forwards, winded from the sprint. The girl rubbed his back as she let out an amused chuckle.

"You okay, Osamu? Sorry about all of that."

Osamu stood up, his eyes widened in shock. "You...know my name?"

"You were looking for me, weren't you?" the girl asked. "I knew you would someday."

"Then you're..."

The girl extended her hand towards Osamu. "Lucrezia. A pleasure."

Osamu nervously shook hands with Lucrezia. "Yeah...I can't exactly say it's a pleasure meeting you. You made this doll of me, didn't you?"

Osamu took out the knit voodoo doll of himself from his left pocket, showing it to Lucrezia.

"Like I said, I knew you'd try to find me someday. I'm sure you have a lot of questions, Osamu. To be honest, I do as well."

"Just...who are you? How are you capable of making a doll like this that actually works?"

Lucrezia spun around and cradled her chin between her thumb and index finger. "Hmm. Well, you did lay siege to Heaven and all. I suppose I should let you in on this."

"Let me in on what, exactly?"

Lucrezia spun back around with a devious smile on her face. "Gods aren't the only ones with special powers around here, you know. Far from it. Osamu, you haven't heard of the Exorcist Program before, have you?"

"Exorcist? No, I can't say that I have."

"Seriously? You got involved in that huge incident with Tsukiakari and Bishamon without knowing about the exorcists? You realized you could've easily been killed, right? And I don't mean by Bishamon."

"Will you just tell me, already? What is this exorcist crap?" Osamu shouted.

Lucrezia put her fists on her hip and sighed. "You boys are always so boorish. Basically, we're Heaven's police officers. The normal police department handles crimes like the one we just witnessed. Exorcists, on the other hand, handle supernatural problems, much like the incident that took place over a year ago with Tsukiakari. Actually, it was after that incident that I heard about you. You're quite the celebrity amongst us exorcists. You've got some balls for a mortal."

"So, Heaven has its own law enforcement? You're one of them?"

Lucrezia nodded. "Precisely. See, I was tasked with watching over that friend of yours, Aika, after she had her memory wiped. It was just to make sure there no weird side effects from her revival. Through her, I met your other friend, Rei, who was a complete and utter downer, by the way. Rei begged me for a way to get back at some boy she despised, but ensured me she had no intent to kill him. I wasn't even going to entertain the idea until I heard her say your name. Once she said the words 'Osamu Ashikaga', I gladly made her that doll I figured that you'd try and look for me soon after that."

"So that's what happened? Some exorcist made this doll of me? How exactly did you do it? Did you get samples of my blood or my hair?" Osamu questioned.

"Oh, please." Lucrezia scoffed. "I'm an exorcist, not a witch. Making that doll required no such thing."

"I wondered how Aika ended up getting involved with the Shoku Twins." Osamu said. "If this exorcist thing is for real, it would make sense how that happened."

"Of course. She met them through me." Lucrezia admitted.

"Are you still watching Aika?" Osamu asked.

"No, she's already made her recovery. My responsibility to watch her ended a little less than a year ago."

Osamu sighed and plopped down on one of the seats in front of the colored glass. "I was hoping to get an answer about this doll. I did, but I also ended up having way more questions about things I don't know about."

"Regardless, I must thank you for your actions back at that convenience store. I expected nothing less of the man who laid siege to Heaven. You're quite brave, aren't you?"

"Not at all. I was just scared out of my mind and didn't know what else to do." Osamu said. "You weren't so bad yourself. You kept calm even with a gun pointed at your face."

"I've faced worse." Lucrezia snickered. "As an exorcist, you end up fighting all sorts of vile creatures and demons. Things that people thought only exist in fantasies and nightmares. We have to fight those every so often."

"Really? Is that...is that why you're all bandaged up?" Osamu asked.

"Something like that." Lucrezia said as she broke her eye contact with Osamu. "You don't seem very shocked to hear that spirits and ghosts exist."

"Of course not. I've known for years now, ever since I met Izanami. Though, I've never actually encountered a ghost before."

"Good. If I were you, Osamu, I wouldn't get involved with the supernatural any further. That's a dangerous path for a normal human being to walk."

"You say that like you aren't a normal human being." Osamu said.

"Most exorcists aren't. Some of us are descendants of gods. I myself am a descendant of the late Raijin."

"Raijin?! The god of lightning and storms?" Osamu recoiled.

"Out of all the things I've said so far, that's the one that shocks you the most, huh? Oh! I made a pun!" Lucrezia snickered, a little proud of herself for that joke.

"So, uhh...can you, like...shoot lightning out of your fingertips or something?"

"I'm not a Sith lord, Osamu."

"Well, where exactly am I supposed to draw the line when we're talking about ghosts and exorcists?!"

"That's a fair point. I suppose this is quite a lot to take in."

Osamu's phone rang in his pocket, and he suddenly remembered he left Izanami and the others standing there outside the house. He fumbled for his phone and answered, stepping away from Lucrezia for a moment.

"Crap, I'm sorry, Gekko. I'm on my way back now. Alright, bye."

Osamu sighed as he hung up and slid his phone back into his pocket. Lucrezia sauntered over to him, surmising that they were out of time to talk.

"Gotta jet, huh?" Lucrezia asked.

"Yeah, I'm leaving for Hokkaido today. The girls and I are going to vacation there for the rest of spring, maybe summer."

"Sounds fun! Consider yourself lucky, Osamu. Most people don't get to take vacations. Thank you again for your help during that robbery. I could've easily done it without you."

"Gee..thanks.." Osamu grumbled.

"I'm kidding, of course. Say, why don't we exchange numbers? If you happen to run into any more trouble, you could give me a call."

(That might actually not be a bad idea. Given my luck with life so far, I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up in another supernatural snafu of sorts. If this girl is really an exorcist, I'd have one more person to count on if I ever get wrapped up in a bad situation.)

"Sure, here." Osamu said.

The two whipped out their phones and traded contact info. Osamu had to stifle his laughter as he laid eyes on Lucrezia's neon pink flip phone, complete with a Sailor Moon chain strap.

"I like that show too." Osamu teased.

"Hmm? Oh. That was an insult. I suppose we're even now, yes?"

"Sorry, I couldn't help myself." Osamu said.

With Lucrezia's number and email address saved, Osamu slipped his phone back into his pocket. The two shook hands once more and marched back outside, closing the doors of the abandoned bowling alley behind them.

"If you need any help, you know who to call." Lucrezia said. "That said, try to stay out of trouble, alright? No more incidents like that one with Tsukiakari."

"Well, I'll try. That's as much as I can promise you. I should be fine, though." Osamu assured.

Lucrezia smiled "Have a fun trip to Hokkaido. No hard feelings about the doll, right?"

"That depends, actually. Can you destroy it? I'd rather not have it existing...like, at all."

"Without killing you?"

"Obviously!"

"Very well, I can do that for you. Consider it a token of my appreciation, a sign of my goodwill."

Osamu handed over the doll, finally free of its voodoo torture. He never wanted to be stabbed with a needle again through his foot or his abdomen. The sooner that accursed doll could be disposed of, the better.

"We'll meet again, Osamu Ashikaga."

"Yeah. See you around, Lucrezia."

Finally, the question of who created the doll was resolved. Although, Osamu did indeed leave with more questions than answers. Exorcists, some assignment to watch over Aika, and him being famous among said exorcists? It seemed there was so much more to the supernatural world than just gods and heaven.

Still, it seemed this Lucrezia wasn't a foe or a villain of any kind. Having her number handy provided Osamu with a bit of comfort, knowing he had an exorcist to call upon if thing got hairy again.

"Alright, time to go."

7
Why Have You Forsaken Me
Spoiler
Some days are exciting and easy to get into, providing us with great times, laughter, and memories. Other days are seemingly endless loops of continuous boredom until the person experiencing it feels the urge to jump off of a bridge. Such was this day for Anzu and Giuseppe. Anzu took up her responsibilities, and with nothing better to do, began to clean around the house. She tied back her hair and began wiping the floor, cleaning the dishes, and wiping all of the glass in the house. Meanwhile, Giuseppe laid on the couch watching television, looking half asleep and half suicidal.

Seeing Giuseppe practically weld himself to the couch, Anzu stood in front of the tv with her fists against her hip. The veins in her temple throbbed as she stared daggers at him.

"What's up?" Giuseppe asked.

Anzu recoiled in stupefied shock. "What do you mean 'what's up'? Aren't you gonna get off your ass and clean up your own living space?"

"I will soon. Just....just let me die here. I'll be right back, I promise." Giuseppe groaned.

"Look at you, you look miserable! Like your wife divorced you, took the kids, and told you she's dating a man with more money than you!" Anzu scolded

"Why such an oddly specific example?" Giuseppe questioned.

"There's things to do around the house and it's a beautiful day outside." Anzu continued. "So get up! The mirrors need to be cleaned, the counters need to be wiped, and the toilet needs to be scrubbed!

"Please don't tell me what to do."

Anzu went into the bathroom to grab the toilet scrubber and handed it to Giuseppe. "Get up. At least help out. I'm not the only one who lives here."

Not even the Rapture lift Giuseppe off his seat. However, the thought of making Anzu do all his housework for him certainly did. As it turned out, his will to remain as inactive and catatonic as humanly possible wasn't as strong as his sense of guilt. Giuseppe unenthusiastically got up from the couch, grabbed the scrubber, and asked for the toilet cleaner so he can help out.

"Here I am scrubbing toilets, thinking about all the crap in my life. Being commanded by a girl who isn't even alive anymore."

Giuseppe's growled as he scrubbed. "Damn it."

He finished scrubbing the toilet and proceeded to wash his hands. Looking in the mirror, he noticed his hair was getting longer than usual. His curly, messy hair now covered his ears and almost touched his shoulder blade.

"I should probably cut this soon."

"Staring at yourself in the mirror trying to convince yourself you're beautiful?"

Giuseppe yelped as he was caught off guard by Anzu's sudden appearance in the doorway. "Why don't you ever say something or make some noise before you talk! You almost gave me heart attack!"

"It's like you have a bag of doggy treats where your brain should be." Anzu snickered. "How did you manage to get spooked in such a small space when you know it's only me and you here?"

"I get tense when I haven't had wine in a while." Giuseppe sighed.

Giuseppe fell to the floor and procceeded to hug the toilet and pout at the absence of alcohol in his life, which he believed was the answer to most of everything.

"Alcohol? What does alcohol taste like?" Anzu asked.

"Like fornication and regret, with a sprinkle of misery and self-loathing." Giuseppe answered.

"You make it sound awful, though." Anzu mumbled. "Are you done with the toilet? Help me load up the dishes. We're almost done."

Giuseppe released a defeated sigh. "Yes ma'am."

Giuseppe managed to gather the will to get off the bathroom floor in much the same way he gathered it to get himself off of the couch. He sauntered into the kitchen to help Anzu clean the dishes. Anzu scrubbed the plates, bowls and glass, handing them to Giuseppe to put away in the dishwasher. When the last dish was in, the dishwasher was closed and the sink was wiped clean to avoid the silver getting stained.

Feeling quite accomplished now that all the cleaning was done, Anzu did the honors of pressing the start button on the dishwasher. She released a satisfied sigh and darted her eyes across the sparkling kitchen.

"A clean house!" Anzu cheered. "All the chores are done now. Did you want to do anything today, Giuseppe?"

"Nah, I didn't really have anything in mind."

Anzu looked out of the apartment window to see what the weather was going to be like. She was surprised to see thick blankets of pallid clouds looming in the skies of Sapporo.

"Ah! It looks like it's going to snow!"

"Huh? I thought you said today was a beautiful day earlier." Giuseppe said.

Anzu nodded. "Snow is beautiful! I don't know what people have against cold weather! It's much better than warm weather, if you ask me. Fall and Winter are just so nice, you know?"

"I get you. Regardless, it looks like it's not going to be the best day to go out. Want to find something to watch?"

"Seriously? You want to watch more television?" Anzu asked with a look of disgust.

"Well, it's either that or freeze outside."

"Alright, alright. Just no stupid game shows, please."

Anzu and Giuseppe plopped themselves down on the couch, resting their bones after spending so much time cleaning. Anzu looked as though she could fall asleep right then and there, which surprised Giuseppe. He had no idea how ghosts work, but it really did seem like Anzu could still get tired or hungry. Before he knew it, his mind conjured up some odd questions, like if ghosts can sweat or if they need to shave. The thought grew too weird for him to consider any further, so he surrendered his attention to the television again.

Giuseppe stared at the television, trying to find something to watch. Anzu did as well, but soon glanced over to Giuseppe.

"Hey, do you mind if I ask you something?" Anzu questioned.

"Sure. What is it?"

"Well, you know a little bit about my parents after reading from my diary. But I don't know anything about your parents." Anzu said. "I noticed the pictures of you and someone whom I can only guess is your mommy."

Giuseppe's head sunk as the troublesome situation with his family reminded him of memories he had been trying to forget. He didn't answer her question at first. He just sat in palpable quietude.

"Oh, I'm sorry....should I have just kept my mouth shut?" Anzu lamented.

Giuseppe shook his head. "No, it's fine. I'll tell you."

Anzu sat on the couch cross-legged, eager to hear about Giuseppe's parents.

"You were right. That woman is my mother. Or, was. Her name was Maria, she was born and raised in Italy. She moved to Japan for some work opportunity or something, and she ended up meeting my dad here in Sapporo, at an ice sculpting party."

Anzu clapped her hands together. "Oh yeah! The city puts together an ice sculpture festival around this time of year, don't they? What an interesting place to meet."

 Giuseppe nodded. "The two hit it off immediately, and four years later, I was born. I had a pretty good childhood, more or less. My father worked, so he wasn't around throughout the week, but my mother would always keep me company. She was actually the one who got me into music from the 70's, mostly obscure hard rock records."

"Wow, your mom sounds amazing. I'm sorry for your loss. I really am."

Giuseppe closed his eyes. "It's alright."

"Where's your father these days, if it's okay to ask."

"Prison." Giuseppe answered.

"What?! What for?"

Giuseppe paused. His lips trembled and gave way under the weight of his words. "For killing my mom."

Anzu looked horrified, but also greatly saddened. She hadn't realized Giuseppe had gone through something so horrible.

"Giuseppe...I-I'm so sorry, I didn't know...."

"Nah, really. It's okay. I was seventeen when it happened, so it still kinda lives with me."

"Wait, if it was really murder, as in a clear act of malice, then...."

"Dad's on death row. His execution is in just a few months."

"Why aren't you more bothered by that? You're dad is gonna die!" Anzu cried.

"Because he was a scumbag who never loved me and took the one person on this earth that ever did."

"But....that's not true...." Anzu muttered.

"Man, now I know how you felt. This really is depressing. I gotta say, you're kinda lucky you can't remember anything about your life. I'd kill for that ability right now. Ah crap, probably not the best expression to use after that conversation."

"Giuseppe. Promise me you'll visit your mom's grave sometime, okay? There's no reason to be scared."

"It's...not that simple, Anzu. It's just....ah forget it. I really need some alcohol. Let's go grab some sake or something."

"Wait what?! But I can't just walk into a liquor store!" Anzu gasped.

"It's like you have a bag of doggy treats where your brain should be." Giuseppe said, returning the insult from earlier. "Nobody would be able to see you but me."

"Oh that's right! I'll go get my shoes!" Anzu said, running into the bedroom.

Giuseppe and Anzu ventured out into the streets, heading towards the local liquor store. The thick swathe of clouds in the sky darkened and the air had grown colder. It definitely looked as if it was going to snow. The two walked side by side, with some people passing right through Anzu. Giuseppe kept his hands in the pockets of his hoodie as he strolled down the sidewalk, pacing himself ahead of Anzu.

"Hey, would it be possible for me to get some warmer clothes?" Anzu asked. "I'm hardly ever prepared for January weather and this cardigan isn't going to be enough."

Giuseppe did not answer here, he simply looked at her and put his finger on his lip, signaling to her that he can't speak to her while there are still people on the street.

"Oh, I get it." Anzu said. "But we will get clothes, yeah?"

Giuseppe nodded in agreement.

Anzu smiled. "Thanks Giuseppe!"

Giuseppe entered the liquor store first , followed by Anzu. Anzu's eyes sparkled at the collection of beers, malts, and varying kinds of wine. She looked around the shelves in child-like wonder, not only at the immense variety of alcohol available, but also the sheer quantity.

Giuseppe browsed the shelves for a suitable drink for his alcohol needs.

"Wow! I've never seen so many bottles of alcohol!" Anzu gasped.

"My mother was Italian, so wine was her thing. It caught on to me when I was legally allowed to drink." Giuseppe remarked.

"I wonder how they make wine. Something involving grapes, right?" Anzu asked.

"Well, it varies from place to place. It can be relatively simple or really complex. It usually isn't just grapes though, it's a mixture of different kinds of fruits and produce. You have to cut them up, bust the skin, bruise the produce, all sorts of stuff. Than you have to stir all of it, mix it with yeast and let it all ferment, which converts the natural sugars of the fruit and produce into ethanol and carbon dioxide. There's a whole lot of natural bacterial and molecular processes that have to take place before you can even start cold stabilization and bulk aging of the wine."

"Wow, you sure know a lot about it."

"You can thank my mom for that."

Giuseppe grabbed a bottle of red wine, paid for it, and walked back home with Anzu. By the time they got outside, the clouds began dusting the town in snow, just as Anzu had predicted. What Giuseppe saw as a sad sky of grey was a beautiful sky of darkness to Anzu. They got back to the apartment, took their shoes off at the door, and sat down at the table as Giuseppe opened up the bottle of wine.

Giuseppe rubbed the bottle of wine against his face as if it was the chalice that Jesus himself drank from. "Oh baby, I've missed you sooo much!"

"Alcoholics, I swear." Anzu chided.

"I'm not an alcoholic, just an alcohol enthusiast! Wanna try some?"

"What?!?! But I'm only seventeen!"

"You're also dead. Come on, it's not like you're gonna go to jail or something."

Anzu blushed and put her hands flat on her face, closing her eyes and dreadfully imagining herself drunk as a sailor. "But what if I get drunk and you decide to have your way with me!"

"You should win an award for these dramatics, Anzu. Here, have a glass."

Giuseppe handed Anzu a glass of red wine, as red as the devil himself. The tempting glass of liquified sin almost seemed to speak to Anzu, begging her to drink it. Anzu spoke with her hands over her mouth, as if she was speaking of something forbidden.

"Will it burn?" Anzu asked

"Maybe a little." Giuseppe answered.

"Well....okay. Down the hatch then."

Anzu took the glass and began to sip away at the wine. To Giuseppe's surprise, and to her own surprise, she absolutely loved it. It would take her some time to get used to the smell and the taste of alcohol itself, but one glass ended up turning into half of the bottle in just a few hours.

"You know, I...I just.....pfffffttttthahahahaha!" Anzu stammered, utterly inebriated. "I'm so wasted!"

"Uh, are you okay? You may have had too much to drink." Giuseppe said.

Anzu burped. "Are you kidding me?"

Giuseppe sighed as he clasped his hands and sent off a prayer. "Damn it....forgive me mom. I didn't know she'd get drunk so easily."

"Hey, l-let's go to the churchy churh. Come on, right now. Let's go!" Anzu demanded.

"The church? Are you sure you'll make it over there?"

"Of course I will! I'm gonna praise the good lord and thank him for the wine! Now get your shoes on!"

Giuseppe sighed, regretting his decision to let a seventeen year old girl have alcohol. Regardless, Anzu and Giuseppe went back to the church, walking along the dirt path leading up to the church as the snow fell gently onto the earth. The church was filled with dull, indirect light from the outside, so much so the light piercing through the colored window panels didn't extend past the window sills. Giuseppe and Anzu stepped inside and closed the door, rubbing their arms to stay warm from the cold.

Anzu pointed to the room covered by a thick plastic sheet. "Oh hey, have you ever been back here?"

"No, I haven't actually. Have you?"

"Sure have, but I only peeked inside. The whole room has these plastic sheets draped on the windows and stuff too, so I never bothered taking any of it down. May as well do it since we're here, right?"

"Your sense of adventure spikes when you've had alcohol. Alright. Let's do it."

Giuseppe lifted up the plastic sheet covering the doorway, allowing Anzu to step in as he followed behind her. One by one, they began taking down the sheets draped over the windows, revealing beautiful, blue stained glass images depicting various scenes from the bible. Even without much light, the room seemed to be engulfed in a shade of light blue. The room was small, and looked as if it may have been an office or private talking place.

"I didn't know this place could be so beautiful. The room I mean. The rest of the church is lovely, even if it's been abandoned." Anzu remarked.

"Yeah, I'm pretty impressed. It must've been amazing when it was still being cared for." Giuseppe said.

"You know, if we end up sleeping here again tonight, we could sleep in here instead. It's smaller so it will keep us warm. Unless you're tired of sleeping here." Anzu proposed.

"Well, we'll see how the night goes. If it's still early, we'll head back. If we end up staying late, we'll sleep here."

Giuseppe and Anzu exited the room and sat in the fifth row of pews in the church. They simply sat, took in the atmosphere, stared at the high ceilings, the statues, and even into space.

Giuseppe broke the silence. "Hey, Anzu?"

"Yeah?"

"Did you want to go over your diary again? We could read more if you want."

Anzu squished her tingling hands between her thighs. "I'm honestly scared of knowing the truth. But, yeah. I'll go get it."

Anzu retrieved her diary from the podium, bringing it back to the pew to read with Giuseppe. "Okay, let's see. 'Dear Diary. Mom doesn't want me. She can't want me. She doesn't seem bothered at all that she might not ever see me again. I wanted to tell her I loved her, but that I also hated her. I hate her for making it all look so easy, so simple. She didn't cry a single tear, and I could hardly keep my eyes open. I might not see her or my sister again, and I still can't stop crying. I don't like our apartment, I miss living in the house with my mom and sister. It's cold here, it's small, and my dad just stays in his room all day. I prayed all night for the past eighteen nights, but god never answered me and still let my family get torn apart. But I just want to know why. Just the 'why' part would be enough. But nobody talks to me. Nobody tries to heal the real victims in all of this; me and my sister. Without each other and without our parents together. I'm going to stop praying. It doesn't work anyway.'"


Anzu flipped the page and cleared her throat, preparing to read another excerpt. "'Dear Diary. When I went to knock on Dad's door, he just told me to go away. It sounded like he was crying. For once, I disobeyed father and entered his room. I'll always regret it. When I tried to hold him like Mom used to when she was around, he snapped and threw me on the ground. He threw a bottle at me and scratched my head, the bleeding still hasn't stopped all the way. I cried and screamed at him to stop, but he just kept punching me and kicking me. This wasn't the most heartbreaking part of it. It wasn't until he was done and began laughing did I truly feel any pain. I don't know what happened to Dad, but I'll have to cover up my bruises and cuts before I can go back to school. I just wonder how Megumi is doing. I hope she and mom are alright, wherever they are.'"

Anzu kept her head down, her hair draped over her face as she refused to look up and face Giuseppe.

"Your father beat you? Why?"

Anzu kept going. "'Dear Diary. Dad kept telling me he hates me, he wishes I was never born, he wishes he never became a Dad, and that I'm nothing but a heavy burden on him, the only thing restricting him from a happy life. He said he hates my hair, my smile, my eyes, everything. I wanted to believe he was just saying that because he's under so much stress. But ever since that day, he never even looks at me anymore. Maybe he's right. Maybe I am worthless. If me or my sister weren't born, Mom and Dad would still be together, living their dreams. Maybe having us prevented them from being able to do that. I hope God isn't watching, because I've started cutting myself in the past few days. It helps with getting rid of the anxiety and the pressure, without the trouble of making someone listen to my troubles. If nothing I do is ever good enough for him, if nothing I could ever be could ever satisfy him, then let there be at least one thing that I can do that will make him happy. Destroy myself until I'm just like him. Maybe then, we could understand each other. Maybe then, I could figure out why I keep crying when it's time to go to sleep.'"

Giuseppe closed his eyes tightly as he heard the last entry. It was hard for him to listen to as he imagined Anzu going through all of that. Now, more than ever, Giuseppe felt awful for Anzu. But to his surprise, Anzu laughed. It wasn't a sincere laugh, it was Anzu clearly trying to cheer herself up.

"Anzu?"

Anzu looked up at the magnificent statue of Jesus on the cross, right behind the podium and the organ.
 "Don't worry, I'm fine. Reading all of this just makes me glad I'm dead. I don't have to be burdened with any of that anymore, so that's an upside in all of this."

"Still, it doesn't mean ghosts can't feel pain."

Anzu smiled. "It's alright for now. I'll deal with the pain when it gets here. I've already spent three years alone. How much more painful can it really get?"

Giuseppe also looked up at the statue of Jesus hanging on the cross, his head bowed in agony. "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?"

Anzu glanced over at Giuseppe in confusion. "What's that from?"

"It's what Jesus cried out when he was suffering on the cross."

"So you've read the bible?"

"Nah, just saw a few movies."

"You're smart, Giuseppe."

"And you're brave."

"Brave? How come?" Anzu asked.

"To go through all of that when you were so young, to die, and to still smile like you do are things I wish I could do myself. But, I'm just hopeless like that. With you though, you just never really give up hope, do you?"

Anzu shook her head, balling her hands into fists.. "That's not true. I do give up hope. That's why I started cutting. It was because I lost hope in life, my dad, and myself. Perhaps even my mother too. Giuseppe....."

"Yeah?"

Anzu's voice shook and cracked as her tears built up. "If Jesus can cry out on the cross like that, is it okay if I cry too?"

"Of course you can."

Anzu, in death, let out two years worth of tears that had her turbulent life had built up. She weary leaned her head on Giuseppe's shoulder as her cries filled the empty church. Giuseppe remembered crying exactly the same way when he was her age. Neither of them were strangers to tragedy and heartache, but it pained Giuseppe more to see such a young girl go through such a cruel set of circumstances. Not only did Anzu had to live through such terrible events, but she had to experience the memory of them all over again now that she was dead.

Before they knew it, it had gotten late and shadows benighted the church.

"Do you want to head home or sleep here?" Giuseppe asked.

"Let's go home." Anzu answered.

"Alright."

The two of them stood and shimmied their way out from between the pews.

"You look tired." Giuseppe said.

Anzu stretched out her arms as she let out a loud yawn. "Yeah, I kinda am. I think I did too much today."

"Get on my back, I'll carry you."

"Come on, that's not funny."

Giuseppe knelt down. "I'm not kidding, I'll seriously carry you home. Get on."

"My my, how chivalrous of you."

Giuseppe carried Anzu on his back, her long hair draped over her shoulder and spilling onto his shoulders. Neither of them said a word as they made their way home beneath the winter moon on that quiet, peaceful night. Giuseppe was troubled on the inside however. He wondered how the constant flow of memories would affect Anzu in the future. He dreaded finding out exactly what resulted in the end of her short life. All he knew was that Anzu still had a lot of sorrow in store for her.

As they got home, Giuseppe got into a shirt and sweatpants and readied himself for bed. He let Anzu borrow another pair of sweatpants as well, which she had to tie to make it fit around her waist. While Giuseppe slept, Anzu said she would stay up and listen to music until she felt tired. The lights in the living room remained on, but Giuseppe's room was completely dark. Anzu was at least able to get her mind off of things with the various kinds of music Giuseppe had stored on his computer.

 She remained entertained until one song came on. It was one of Giuseppe's favorites; Otis Redding's version of A Change Is Gonna Come. Anzu rested her eyes and laid her head on the desk as the song played, but soon fell asleep. Giuseppe couldn't quite sleep knowing Anzu was still out there, so he went to go check on her to see if she was still doing okay.

He found her sleeping at the desk with her earbuds still in. He took them out and held them up to his ears, noting it was one of his favorite songs. Once more, Giuseppe carried Anzu on his back, shut off the light, and put her on his bed. He covered her up as warmly as possible and proceeded to sleep on the floor.

He began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, their meeting really was a work of fate. For two people to share such similar circumstances and meet by chance seemed top perfect to him. Whatever the case was, he sincerely wanted to help Anzu get through the tough journey of piecing her memories back together.

He'd be there, to carry that weight.

8
BEHOLD, THE FRUIT OF MY LABOR




Tsukiakari and Osamu on the cover of Death by Ex-Girlfriend: War Cloud! As you can see by Osamu's new hairstyle and their black robes, this is them after...well, you know. Tsukiakari is even wearing Yachi's red prayer bracelet from Senkumo War Stories. I love visual continuity like that.

War Cloud comes out on the 17th of May.

9
Music / Re: OGHM's Wacky Slappy Guitar Riffs
« on: May 10, 2020, 11:09:51 PM »
The Spooky Boogie
https://soundcloud.com/tonbogiri/spooky-boogie

Finally got around to recording this big old joke of a song.

10
I have been silent.

That is because I've been working quite a lot. With the Senkumo War Stories series finished, I can go back to the ease and comfort of Death by Ex-Girlfriend.

In the time I've been out, I've been able to finish re-writing War Cloud AND Dawn and Dusk!  :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

War Cloud will be out May 17th. Dawn and Dusk probably sometime in June.

With that, DBeG's classic trilogy is finished (that's what I call the first three books). Next up is Satori's Deception, renamed from Satori no Akuma.

Looking forward to it

11
I am quite pleased that my works received such wholesome title changes

Praise the Emperor.

12
Alright, I've done you all a huge favor.  :clapping:

If you haven't read War Cloud yet, I've uploaded the document to my google drive. This version is the one I intend to publish soon. I recommend reading the doc versus reading War Cloud here, as the doc is in proper novel format and has a bunch of huge changes like extra dialogue, extra chapters, extended scenes, and a fight between Bishamon and Tsukiakari! It's a huge improvement over the original, where Bishamon was just killed off in anti-climactic fashion.

Didn't feel right to do after writing out everything in Senkumo War Stories.

Read War Cloud here

And you can read the novel version of Aika Crisis here.
Same deal with this entry and all future entries. Big improvements, extra scenes, and story changes.

13
And I Sang Holy Holy
Spoiler
The next followed the same blueprint as last. Giuseppe rushed off to work in the morning, leaving Anzu to hang by herself at the house. It was a warm, Tuesday afternoon. A blinding wave of golden sunlight poured in through the windows of the apartment, flooding the kitchen in its radiance. Anzu took the liberty of giving herself a quick tour of the kitchen.

Her bare feet slapped against the white, tiled floor as she skipped over to the fridge, flinging it open. The contents of the fridge were utterly depressing. A closed, styrofoam takeout container from god knows how many days ago,  single block of cheddar cheese, two bananas, a jug of milk, and a container of two dozen eggs all stared Anzu right in her disappointed face.

"I don't know what I was expecting." Anzu sighed. "He's lived alone up until now. Maybe he'll eat better from now on, since there's two of us."

Anzu closed the fridge and searched through some of the cabinets over the double-sided sink and gas oven. Salt and pepper grinders, garlic and onion powder, aluminum foil rolls, and not much else.

"He seems to work so hard. He should treat himself better than this."

Anzu's gaze wandered around the kitchen, quickly finding the framed picture on the granite countertop. Seeing the photo had been ripped nearly in half, Anzu's expression of wonderful curiosity soured into a look of confusion. She set the framed photo back down, noticing that only one person in particular was torn from the picture.

Anzu smiled. "That little boy is him, isn't it? He looks so happy here."

She turned around, spotting another family picture on top of the media console. Giuseppe and his mother were photographed in a pizzeria, both of them holding up huge slices of pepperoni pizza. Anzu focused in on his mother, noticing her olive skin and unbound, raven hair. Remembering Giuseppe had mentioned he was half Italian, Anzu figured he got it from his mother's side.

Anzu released a gentle gasp. "Wow, what a beauty! You must have some amazing parents, Giuseppe."

Looking at the photos of Giuseppe with his mother and father, seeing all the fun trips they took and moments they shared, Anzu found herself smiling with joy. Echoes of pleasant memories and familial love just oozed from each photograph, which in turn made the apartment feel like a warmer place. It no longer felt like just an apartment to Anzu, but a fully lived in home.

Anzu's chest tightened and her vision blurred. The joy she felt became an overwhelming wave of sadness and longing. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she let out a mournful sob and suspiration. She closed her wet eyes, wiping her tears with her sleeve.

"I can't...remember what they looked like..."

Giuseppe pulled into the garage that evening, the sky split in half by the faded light of dusk. He turned his car off and leaned forward on the steering wheel, releasing an exhausted sigh.

"An actual ghost." Giuseppe said. "I have an actual ghost living with me. Unless...I was just dreaming it all."

It was far more believable that Giuseppe was simply losing his mind. He opened up his glove department, pulling out his copy of Magura Dogura.

"A fetus's dream...I wonder if something that crazy could really happen to me." Giuseppe shuddered.

After calming down a bit, Giuseppe locked the car and marched back upstairs. He returned home to find Anzu listening to his music as usual again, though at a much lower volume this time around, as not to disturb the neighbors.

"I'm home." Giuseppe said, taking off his brown leather shoes.

Anzu leapt off of the couch in joy. "Welcome back Giuseppe! How was work?"

"Hey, was that Smokestack Lightning just now?" Giuseppe asked.

Anzu nodded. "Oh, yeah! I'm starting to get into all the bluesy stuff, Howlin' Wolf especially. But don't change the subject! Tell me how your day was!"

"Geez, get off my back. It was a regular work day as always."

"Okay, but that's even more reason to do something fun tomorrow!"

"Hmm...alright. Did you have anything in mind?"

Anzu scoffed. "Well that's not very manly of you, you should surprise me."

Anzu grabbed a hair tie from her pocket and wrapped her hair in a voluminous pony tail, still letting bangs of her hair drape over her face.

Giuseppe collapsed on the couch, talking with his face buried in the cushion. "I just wanna die. Go away and let me sink into the fires of hell."

Losing her patience, Anzu crossed her arms and put her foot down. "You're not going anywhere until you come up with something! Now get up off your ass!"

"I'm not on my ass, I'm on my face." Giuseppe muttered.

"Ugh! Get into something more comfortable, we're spending the night at the church!" Anzu ordered.

Giuseppe rose his face up from the cushion. "The church? Alright, I'll put something on."

Giuseppe went in his room to change into a black thermal and a pair of skinny, black sweatpants. Anzu peeked through the door while he was changing, poking her head in the room and taunting him. She made a flirtatious whistling noise to get Giuseppe's attention.

"Nice underwear, baby. What kind of service can I get for twenty-thousand yen?" Anzu teased.

"What?! Get out of here!" Giuseppe shouted, completely startled.

Anzu shut the door and snickered quietly to herself. "Gotcha!"

She went ahead and walked out of the front door, sitting at the top of the steps that led down to the courtyard. She turned her gaze up towards the moon as she waited patiently for Giuseppe to get himself ready, the evening breeze tugging at her hair. Giuseppe finally came out, and the two began their walk to the abandoned church together.

"Hey, I forget. How exactly did you come across the church?" Anzu asked.

"I just went for a walk and got a little lost." Giuseppe answered. "Before I knew it, I stopped walking and saw the church up on the hill. That's really all there is too it."

Anzu laughed quietly. "Maybe it was fate, right?"

"Yeah right. More like blind luck and idiocy."

"Maybe, but you got to meet a dead girl because of it! Pretty cool huh?"

"Anzu...you really don't remember anything about your life? Like, how you died?"

Anzu shook her head. "Nope, not at all. Just my name, some of my favorite foods, possessions, and minor stuff like that. But I don't remember how I died or anything."

"That diary. Is it still at the church? Maybe there will be some clues in there." Giuseppe suggested.

"You think so? I hadn't actually read it since I awoke in the graveyard. Learning about how I died sounds a little scary, honestly."

"But, you were so young. Aren't you curious?"

"Of course I'm curious, but also terrified."

"What, scared you died doing something dumb like drag racing?" Giuseppe teased.

Anzu crossed her arms, closed her eyes, and looked away from Giuseppe. "I'd rather die choking on brownies, like the brownies you still haven't made me for proving I'm a ghost!"

Giuseppe had completely forgotten about that bet. "Ah crap. That's right..."

The two of them completed their march up the hill and entered through the creaky doors of the abandoned church. There was an eery silence as the moon shone through the colored windows of the abandoned building, its pale light turned into waves of color.

"Oh look! Our beds are still on the podium! The lantern is probably there too." Anzu said, her voice reverberating through the sanctuary.

Anzu ran towards the podium, jumping on top of it and turning on the lantern that was left in between the mattresses. She waved from the podium, signaling Giuseppe to come up and join her. They both sat down on the mattresses together as Anzu prepared to open her diary. As she opened it, she kept the book away from Giuseppe's view, blushing as she held it close to her chest.

"What's wrong?" Giuseppe asked.

"Even if we're trying to figure out what happened to me, this is still a girl's diary." Anzu hissed.

"Okay, fine! Take your time and read whatever you want from it." Giuseppe groaned.

Anzu skimmed through the pages, looking for an appropriate entry to read out loud. "Ah! Found one! Dear Diary, today is the day Mom leaves. She's taking my sister with her, but Dad said I have to stay with him. We have to move out of our house in just a few weeks. I'm really gonna miss this place, and my mother and sister. Dad says this is happening because he and Mom can't get along anymore, but nobody will tell me why that means we all have to separate. I'll pray to god and ask him not to let my Mom and sister leave. I really hope he answers."

"That...that sounds a lot like a divorce." Giuseppe said. "Do you remember anything about your parents?"

"No, I don't. This all sounds depressing though. Should I keep reading?"

"We don't have to go through all of it in one sitting. Let's just take it a step at a time and work from there. Maybe you'll remember something that way."

"Alright. I'll read the next one. Dear Dia—"

Anzu suddenly shot up in fright, blurting out an alarmed scream.

"What's wrong?!? Giuseppe recoiled.

"There was a spider on my blanket!" Anzu cried.

Giuseppe facepalmed. "You've got to be kidding, you're scared of spiders? You realize it wouldn't even be able to touch you, right? So far, we learned that living things pass right through you and can't sense you at all."

"I...I knew that!" Anzu pouted. "I was just pretending to be scared. Haha, f-f-funny huh? G-Got ya!"

Giuseppe threw his pillow at her face. "Just keep reading!"

"God, you're so abusive." Anzu sighed. "Where was I? Oh, yeah! Dear Diary, today is the day me and Dad move. We're going to a small house in a more quiet neighborhood, and I'll have to say goodbye to the few friends I have here. I'll miss my teachers most of all, since my classmates always picked on me. Whoa, whoa whoa. Wait a minute. I was bullied? Me?!?! What a crock of crap, why would anyone bully me?!?! I'm awesome!"

"Source: Anzu." Giuseppe said.

Anzu leaned in towards Giuseppe, holding her fist to his face. "Careful what you're saying, Giuseppe! We don't wanna reenact a scene from Fist of the North Star!"

"I'm surprised you even know what that is. A little before your time, isn't it?" Giuseppe asked.

"I watched a rerun of it while you were gone. There sure is a lot of fisting in anime."

"Let's stop talking about fisting and just get back to the diary, Anzu."

"Right, you're right. Let's see...ah! Last few lines." Anzu said, finding her place again and taking a small breath. "I'm not ready to go. I really don't want to leave. But I want Dad to be happy and for Mom to stop crying. Please God, I'll do anything to make them both stop hurting."

Giuseppe sat in silence for a few moments, thinking about what Anzu was going through during her time alive.

"Looks like I had it pretty rough when I was still alive. Bullying, divorce, a move nobody wants." Anzu said.

"If you died here in Sapporo, maybe it would be possible to find records pertaining to your death. We could search for them, if you want." Giuseppe offered.

Anzu sighed and stood up to stretch her body. "I'm done for tonight. Let's not talk about this anymore, it's so depressing. Hey, wanna head over to the convenience store? I'm getting a little hungry."

"We can go, but just don't pick anything up. It'll just look like a floating item and people will freak out." Giuseppe said.

"Understood, komandir! Let's go!" Anzu cheered.

"Komandir?"

Giuseppe walked alongside Anzu with his hands in his pockets as they passed by the park, crossed the streets, and walked by the local stores. Anzu sauntered with her hands behind her back, a smile on her face, and her hair blowing in the wind.

"How can you remain so calm after reading that kind of stuff? You must've gone through a lot during your life." Giuseppe said.

"Well, I suppose it's because..." Anzu paused, coming to a stop on the sidewalk. "You take my mind off of it!"

Giuseppe felt a deep sense of worry inside, but if what Anzu said was true, how could he dare question it? It was her life, and he didn't have much of a right to make her accept any of it. He put himself in her shoes, wondering what it would be like to have died at the age of seventeen, to only be able to remember the past three years of complete spiritual stasis. The more he thought about it, the more saddening it really seemed. People are born, then they die and move on, but Anzu was stuck in the middle.

Anzu and Giuseppe entered the convenience store together, though the cashier could only see Giuseppe. The welcome chime rang as Giuseppe stepped through, but not when Anzu did.

"Alright, what do you want?" Giuseppe asked in a low voice.

Anzu's eyes widened with excitement as her lips formed an ear-to-ear smile. "Ooo! What are these?"

"Huh? You've never had Mochi before?"

Anzu shook her head. "Nuh uh! Never! My dad never let me have those when I was young!"

Immediately after saying that, Anzu gasped in shock. She slapped her hand over her mouth and stood petrified in the middle of the aisle.

"Anzu...you remembered something again." Giuseppe said.

Anzu closed her eyes tightly, still keeping her hand over her mouth.  She couldn't decide whether she should be feeling anger, sadness, or longing. She didn't even know why she felt any anger at all. A tidal wave of emotions hit her all at once and she couldn't understand why. So, instead, she began to cry. It was the first time Giuseppe had ever seen the usually energetic Anzu weep. It occurred to him just how lonely Anzu's existence had been these past three years, for nobody could hear her laugh, sing, or even cry. Giuseppe embraced her as she wept, trying his best to comfort her.

"I know, Anzu. I know. It's alright. Everything is gonna be alright. Do you still want the Mochi?"

Though her face was buried in his chest, Anzu shook her head as if she was saying yes. Giuseppe grabbed the box of Mochi and made his way to the cashier. Anzu let go of Giuseppe, knowing that if he kept holding her, it would look odd to the cashier. The two walked close together as they left the store and made their way back to the abandoned church.

"Are you okay? Anzu?"

"Oh! Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little shaken, you know?" Anzu said, her eyes still red and swollen.

"You remembered something about your father shortly after reading from the diary. Maybe your memories are slowly starting to come back?"

Anzu nodded. "Yeah, I guess so. It was like recovering from memory loss and recognizing someone you'd completely forgotten."

"Well...I mean...that's exactly what just happened, isn't it?" Giuseppe asked.

"Not quite." Anzu said. "I can't remember who my mom and dad were or even what they looked like. I wonder if they're still out there, somewhere."

"If they are, I know they miss you sorely." Giuseppe said. "It must've been hard for them, having to bury their daughter at such a young age. Not only that, but you had a sister too. It sounded like she was about your age."

"I've got to be stronger than this, Giuseppe." Anzu said, drying the last of her tears. "As scary and overwhelming as it may feel, I've got to get through that diary. I have to remember what happened to me, who my parents were, and who my sister is. This really isn't just about me anymore."

"We won't rush though, okay?" Giuseppe said. "We'll take it a step at a time. I'll help you do it."

Anzu smiled as held Giuseppe's arm. "Thank you."

They made their way to the dirt path where they could see the church up on the hill, the moon shining upon it from the left side of the building.

"Giuseppe?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you wanna share my Mochi with me?"

"Of course, I haven't had some in a while!" Giuseppe sang.

"Okay but leave the strawberry ones for me! I love strawberries!" Anzu squealed.

"Whatever you say, princess."

With the night growing colder and darker, Anzu and Giuseppe went back inside of the church. They sat on their beds with the lantern between the heads of the mattresses, far up enough so that it wouldn't melt the mochi. They ate the entire box of mochi together, but Giuseppe made sure to let Anzu have most of it.

Her stomach full of frozen, strawberry flavored bliss, Anzu yawned and stretched her arms into the air.

"Sounds like it's time for bed." Giuseppe said.

"No way, I'm still up!" Anzu protested. "C'mon let's do something else, like play tic-tac-toe or something!"

"Don't try to hide it, your eyes look tired as all hell. It was a big day for you after all."

"Was it? We didn't really do anything." Anzu said.

"Of course we did! We read your diary, learned more about your past, you remembered something about your father, and you got to eat mochi for the very first time, as a dead girl I might add. I'm sure all the other dead girls are crying from the heavens."

"What are you talking about? When did any of that happen?"

Giuseppe's eyes widened in shock. He sat frozen for what felt like an eternity, gazing into Anzu's empty, neutral stare.

"...Anzu? You didn't forget everything, did you?"

Anzu made a finger gun with her left hand and clicked her tongue. "Gotcha!"

Giuseppe groaned as Anzu erupted into a fit of laughter. His heart had nearly stopped, all for a joke at his expense.

"You should've seen your face!" Anzu chuckled.

"Yeah yeah, I'll let you have that one." Giuseppe sighed. "Well, I'm getting sleepy. Goodnight, Anzu."

Giuseppe turned off the lantern and got comfortable in the covers. Anzu sat on her futon on her knees, pouting at the sudden dropping of the conversation.

"Hey!" Anzu said.

Giuseppe got up from his bed. "What? I said goodnight."

Anzu inched her way over to Giuseppe on her knees, hugging him tightly. Giuseppe was too surprised to hug her back. Though Anzu was a ghost, her embrace felt just as warm and genuine as anyone else's.

"Thank god I met you." Anzu said. "That was the first time someone has held me while I was crying since I died. Thank you for that."

"Of course...we're friends, after all." Giuseppe said.

Anzu smiled,  put her hands on Giuseppe's cheeks, and kissed his forehead. She crawled back over to her bed, said goodnight, and the two went to sleep.

They slept in that day and were awoken by the sun shining directly through the colored windows. The rainbow of heavenly light was almost blindingly bright. Giuseppe shook out his hair and checked the time on his phone. As he checked, Anzu moved and moaned in her bed as she woke up as well.

"What time is it?" Anzu yawned.

"11:02" Giuseppe said.

"Crap, really?! I always get up early but I slept in this time around." Anzu yawned again.

"It's alright. I don't have work today or tomorrow. If you're still tired we could go back to sleep." Giuseppe said.

"Nah, I'd feel like such a douchebag. Let's get up and get out of here, get our day started." Anzu said.

Anzu staggered onto her feet and offered Giuseppe her hand, helping him get out of bed. The two of them rolled up their futons, the colored shade of the windows veiling them in a purple shine.

"Did you still want to eat breakfast?" Giuseppe asked.

"Can we? I'm starving. Natto and a fried egg on rice sounds delicious right about now." Anzu said.

"Sure, let's go get that for you."

Giuseppe smiled and held the church door open for Anzu, letting her go out first.

Anzu walked by and smiled back, impressed yet again by his politesse. "My my, how chivalrous of you!"

It was another beautiful day for Giuseppe and Anzu, a great day to have a late breakfast and a chat with a friend. Though she was dead, Anzu felt as if she was very much alive. And now, she understood what it felt like to have someone to count on.

14
Alright, reworked the first chapter  :thumbsup:

I'll try to keep this standard of quality throughout the rest of the story

15
Oooh yes, these delicious notes. I'm going to implement the heck out of these  :clapping: I definitely wanted to add a ton more content to this first chapter but it was already 5k words and I was super tired. Will expand upon this for sure.

The thing I remember most about this story is how fun it was to write it. There was at least one new chapter everyday because I loved writing all of the cozy, funny, and tragic scenes. Can't wait to make everyone go through the heartache again (though I don't think anything I write will ever top Inari Standoff from DbEG, as hard as I may try).

Definitely intend on publishing this once it's all cleaned up.

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