A number of monsters ran behind the lanterns. They were all short, almost child-sized. All wore hats and animal masks instead of the usual cloth masks.
“Look, the child-monsters.” I pointed, but they had already run out of Satoru’s sight.
“Children? Weird, since when did they have children dressing as monsters?”
“But they just went by. Over there.”
A loud bang announced the arrival of the first fireworks of the night. A brilliant flower of light bloomed in the dark sky. Then came the second, and the third. The colors and shapes reminded me of chrysanthemums and peonies. A cheer went up a twinkling golden lights fell like cherry blossoms. These were done with pure pyrotechnical skills, no cantus involved.
“…beautiful,” I whispered.
“Yeah.” Satoru put his arms gently around my shoulders.
Following the fireworks, a traditional band struck up a tune that echoed all around us. The unique sounds of the flute, drums, and gong brought forth the heady ambience of the Summer Festival.
What was I doing here?
I asked myself this as we continued to walk.
It hadn’t even been a week since I learned of Maria’s death. In that time, I had kept myself busy with work and the festival had hardly crossed my mind.
Still, everyone attended the Summer Festival. Apart from those who were sick or looking after children at the day-care centers, no one shut themselves in on this day. I couldn’t bear the thought of spending this time alone.
There was another reason I had accepted Satoru’s invitation to the festival. The seasonal festivals in Kamisu 66 all followed a theme. For example, the Demon-chasing, Planting, and Illness-dispelling festivals during the spring dealt with plentiful harvest and health. The summer festivals were to worship our ancestors and pray for happiness in the next world. In other words, this was the night when the worlds of the dead and the living were in close proximity.