Dance of the Shining Stars on the Shore of Memory

Chapter 6

Fran: E-excuse me! Does Layla live here?

When the door opened, the person who came out was an old lady who walked with a cane.

???: Now let’s see, who are all of you…?

Fran: Ah, um, we’re…

???: Ah…

Suddenly, the old woman tripped over the threshold, and fell squarely into Cain’s chest, as he was standing nearby.

Cain: … excuse me, are you alright?

???: I’m very sorry, thank you for your help. Now… all of you are…?

Fran: W-we… …!

As soon as Fran looked at the old woman’s face, he grew as stiff as stone. An awkward silence descended upon us for a few seconds, and then it was Arthur to the rescue.

Arthur: We apologize for showing up unannounced. Is there a woman named Layla living at this residence?

???: Yes, there is. The one named Layla would be me.

Akira: Eh…?

Chloe: B-but… shouldn’t Layla be about the same age as…?

Heathcliff: Come to think of it, we never asked how old Fran was, did we…?

Heathcliff and I looked at each other, and I knew that Heathcliff was right.

Akira: (It’s really quite common for a wizard’s appearance to not match their actual age…)

Because of how innocent Fran had acted, I had assumed that he was around the same age as Chloe and the other young wizards.

Akira: (That’s right, Fran-san is…)

In a panic at this turn of events, I turned back to look at Fran. He was still staring at Layla, and then, like the dam had finally broken, he began to speak.

Fran: Your eyes look just like the night sky… Layla, it really is you!

Layla: “Fran”…?

Fran: Yeah! You wanted to see the White Bridesveils, Layla, so I went out and found a bunch of them! I really hope you’ll like it…

Fran blushed as he spoke with passion. Even though it had clearly been decades, when Fran looked at Layla, he still seemed to see the young girl that she had been back then. But Layla was looking back at Fran with a confused expression.

Layla: I’m very sorry, but I don’t remember anyone named Fran.

Fran: …!

In that instant, Fran grabbed at his chest. He made a sound like he had been wounded.

Fran: No, you remember, right? I was with you every year on the night of the festival.

Layla: Every year…? I’ve spent the night of the Star Dance festival by the river alone every year, though…

Fran: Everyone… I… you forgot about me, too? Have you forgotten all of your memories with me…?

Chloe: … Fran…

Chloe looked like he wanted to say something to the stunned Fran at that moment.

Neighbor: Miss Layla! You forgot your bag at our shop again!

Layla: Oh, my apologies. I simply…

Layla took back her bag, modestly bowed to us, and returned back inside of her house.

Fran: Ah…

Fran stretched out his hand to Layla’s retreating back, but it did not reach her. It was met only with the heavy sound of the door closing.

Neighbor: I’ve never seen you guys’ faces around before. Do you know Layla?

Heathcliff: Ah, we…

Heathcliff hesitated, and Cain stepped up to the plate. He held out his hand with a beaming smile.

Cain: An old friend of hers asked us to come by and check on how she was doing.

Neighbor: I see, that’s quite the job to undertake. It feels like ever since about, oh, twenty years ago, she’s been getting increasingly forgetful. It seems like little incidents like this are just getting more and more common for her. I’m getting a little bit worried about her. I’m sure everyone would appreciate it if someone could come by to check on her from time to time.

Cain: Got it! Thanks for letting us know.


Heathcliff: Ah… well, Fran…

Heathcliff noticed that Fran’s slender shoulders were shaking, and he called out very softly to him.

Fran: … I’m sorry, everyone. I’ve been inconveniencing everyone because of my own carelessness…

Akira: You’re hardly an inconvenience…

Fran: … ahaha… I was wasting all my time worrying about her being angry and having to apologize… I… I thought just because my memories were so precious to me, I just baselessly assumed that Layla would feel the same way… ah… hck…

Once again, it was like a dam breaking. Fran raised his voice and began to cry. Huge tears ran down his face like falling rain.

Fran: Uwaaaaaaa--!


Chloe said nothing, but he embraced Fran’s trembling shoulders tightly.

Fran: There’s no way that Layla… Layla forgot about me… I can’t believe she forgot… I’m the only one who’s kept these cherished memories with her…!


Chloe nodded along with Fran’s words, and his shoulders, too, were beginning to shake.

Cain, Arthur, and Heathcliff:

We all stood completely still. The wind blew through the weathervane atop the roof and it began to spin with a creak. That rusty sound mixed with Fran’s cry of despair echoed in my ears.


[int: Fran’s home, evening]

We met back up with Mithra and the others in town, and with Mithra’s magic, we returned to Fran’s house. When we filled the others in on what had happened, Bradley nodded in understanding.

Bradley: Figures that that’d happen,

Arthur: … did you know, Bradley? That it had been decades since Fran had last seen Layla.

Bradley: Nah, but this kinda thing happens all the time with wizards.


Mithra: I don’t understand what’s so sad about it, though. You forgot how much time was passing. Layla forgot about you. That’s basically the same thing, right?

Fran: … hck… that’s…

Mitile: Hold on, Mithra-san! You can’t just say things like…

Fran: No, Mithra is right… I got too caught up in the White Bridesveils. If I’d been more aware of how much time was passing, then…

Fran’s voice was soaked with tears, and it melted away into the light from the setting sun that shone through the windows. In that orange light that completely enveloped all that was bathed within it, it was Rustica who spoke next.

Rustica: … you know, Fran, I don’t think that Layla forgot about you because she ever hated you.

Fran: Huh..?

Rustica: I, too, tend to forget things that are important to me. I want to remember them, but it’s as though they simply spill out from inside of me… I’ve often wished that I could lock things up inside of a birdcage inside of my heart. And even so, I still forget them. Memories I’ve shared with a friend who is dear to me, and memories of my beloved bride as well.

Fran: That’s… doesn’t that make you sad, Rustica?

Rustica: It is sad. And it is lonely. But time passes, and as time moves on, I’m able to leave behind a little bit of that sadness as well. And then, as I’ve forgotten, I’m able to cherish new memories as well. Like that, you can smile and welcome the future as it comes. … that’s what I think, at any rate.


Rustica: Of course, there is also the very lonely feeling of being forgotten to contend with as well. But I think that I’ll be able to meet those forgotten people again. So I think that if you make new memories with Layla, I think those moments will be able to bring you joy anew.

Fran: Rustica…

Fran’s voice regained some of its warmth at Rustica’s words of kindness, but even so, his eyes wavered, like moonlight playing off clouds. When I looked at Chloe, there was something similar flickering behind his eyes as well.

Chloe: But… isn’t that just the way the one who’s forgetting feels?

Rustica: … Chloe?

Chloe: I totally understand what Rustica is saying. No matter how hard you try to remember, I think there are always going to be things you’re going to forget. But… even so… it’s still so sad to be the one who’s being forgotten about. Even if you know there’s nothing that can be done about it, and even if you hold onto that desire in your heart to make new memories… it’s still so lonely and sad that there’s nothing you can do about something precious being forgotten…


Rustica’s lips, from which so often spilled beautiful words without effort, let loose only a single breath and then pressed closed. In the heavy silence that followed, Chloe suddenly lifted his head as though it was being yanked up.

Chloe: Ah— s-sorry! I said something really out of line just now, didn’t I!? I—I’m sorry, Rustica…! After you went to such lengths to find the right thing to say to Fran, I just went and… I just thought about being in Fran’s position and got a bit emotional…

Rustica: Ah… no… You don’t have to apologize, Chloe. It’s only natural to feel that way. It’s true I’m the one who tends to forget… thank you for sharing your perspective, Chloe.

Chloe: And I’m sorry to you, too, Fran! I’m going off like I have any room to talk about how you feel…

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