“Why…? Why is it so sad?” I asked.
Tomiko shook her head. “I can’t answer that yet. But when confronting our grief, we need to give ourselves time to mourn so that we can accept and overcome it. You need a chance to shed your tears.”
“Does this have anything to do with the memories you’ve erased from our minds?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
I thought of the faceless boy.
“Please restore my memories.”
“I can’t do that.” Tomiko smiled sadly. “It wasn’t just your memories. Every recorded instance of that boy has been erased, down to Maria Akizuki’s diary entries. The incident was just too shockingly visceral; we’re afraid that any memory of it would be traumatic enough to destabilize the minds of the townspeople and create a domino-effect leading to further tragedies…”
A flicker of darkness passed over her face. “You may be able to endure it. But if I restored your memories, you wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret from your friends. In the end, everyone would find out.”
“Please think about what I’ve told you. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We must give the most care and attention to the weakest ones.”
“The weakest ones…?”
Tomiko stroked my hair sympathetically. “I wasn’t joking earlier when I said I wanted you to succeed me. If that time comes, all your lost memories will be returned to you.”
“I could never take your place.”
No matter what the personality index said, I knew that I wasn’t strong enough.
“I understand what you’re saying. I used to feel the same, but the time will come when you will have to do what needs to be done. It is a task only you can do. Do you understand? Remember what we must do in order to stop fiends and karma demons from appearing again.”
Tomiko’s words echoed heavily in my chest.