Absolute Justice - Chapter 1 (Part 1)

CHAPTER 1


part 1

An envelope arrived in her mailbox today.

No, not a simple word like 'envelope', but it felt more like involucrum --- Latin sounded more luxurious and elegant, which suited that thing. Something thick and solid sparkled like pearls on the light purple paper. The size is A6, same size as what companies usually use to send greeting cards or invitations.

Is this a wedding invitation?

Imamura Kazuki thought so while taking out her personal letters and pamphlets from the locker of the apartment's post box. With two hands filled with letters, the woman shoved her suitcase across the lobby.

Kazuki got on the elevator, pressed 8, toward the top floor. Waiting for the elevator, she rechecked the letters that had accumulated in the post box during her bussiness out of town.

The luggage felt heavy, there were some catalogs from shopping centers and online stores. If she could, she hoped not to get things of such catalogs. The post box will get full, and it sucks. Not only on chuugen or seibo, the catalogs also arrived on setsubun, Valentine's, Halloween, and such days of the year because Kazuki is a loyal customer.

Ever since she worked as a non-fiction writer, Kazuki couldn't neglect to send gifts to people around her, namely those from publishers, fellow writers, cameramen, illustrators, or journalists. Despite her famous name, Kazuki's existence in the industry was nothing but dust. She always has a thought that she could finish a book is all thanks to many people.




It was only October, but there was already a seibo catalog. Feel like only yesterday she just did chuugen.

With a sigh, realizing how fast the seasons change, Kazuki quickly checked the envelopes tucked between the catalogs. Credit card company, issuer, bank... her hand stopped on the light purple envelope she had just glanced at. On one side, a flower-shaped embossed decoration was printed. The recipient's name is written by hand. Not with a brush or ballpoint, but a pen and ink to give an elegant impression. Not only that, the letter was also written in purple three levels darker than the color of the envelope.

Even though the address and name of the recipient were written in kanji, somehow it seemed like the letter came from abroad. About to flip the envelope, Kazuki wondered in silence; from whom the letter came from. But the desire disappeared when her fingers touched something.

It seemed that what she had touched was lacquer, a letter seal. They are usually made of melted wax once the envelope has been glued before getting stamped. A letter made with a neat structure and so detailed, is unmistakably a wedding invitation letter.

The woman who had entered her forties without a single sign to plan a marriage in her life, got out of the elevator, shaking her head in wonder.


*   *   *


Unlocking the unit door, Kazuki entered the house she had left for the week. The unit in a ten-year-old apartment building consists of two rooms; a living room and a kitchen. It is forty minutes away from the city center and thirteen minutes on foot from the nearest station. She bought it five years ago. This apartment didn't have a well-lit layout, but this was all that Kazuki could get at the time. Kazuki entered the main room after taking off her shoes and leaving her suitcase at the front door. The letters were just lying around on the living room table, then took out a can of beer from the refrigerator.

Hokkaido at times like this is cold already. While spending the night doing research on northern territorial disputes, Kazuki always turned on the heater, shivering in her rented guesthouse room. She didn't even have the urge to simply drink beer.

Still standing, she drank the beer straight from the can, sighing with satisfaction. So much like an old uncle, she thought with a bitter laugh.

The woman sat on the sofa holding the second can on one hand. While I'm not lazy yet, I should probably just tidy up the bills, she thought. The research this time, Kazuki was given 500,000 yen in advance. Research funds include transportation costs, meal allowances, gratitude, and others. Normally, the funds are in the form of reimbursements claimed after writing the report. Kazuki received special treatment because five years ago she won a non-fiction nomination in the prestigious Takeshita Youichi Award category.

The non-fiction genre in literature is not a popular genre. However, since Takeshita Youichi's name is widely known, writing down the award on her business card can make research easier.

Kazuki's award-winning book, Treasure In Darkness, was taken to the big screen and became a big topic. Requests to fill seminars and write essays also came in abundant, sometimes she was also called as a commentator on news events. That award changed Kazuki's life massively.

And along with her busyness that came, the pride she had as a woman slowly disappeared. She gave up the urge to paint her gray hair, and she wasn't even preening in front of the mirror anymore. She also stopped wearing contact lenses and continued to use bottle butt glasses. So did with her clothes, to move easier and comfortably, she simply wore a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Kazuki basically has a tall body. And because she joined an athletic club in middle school, her posture was straight.

She also had a boyfriend once, but Kazuki had to leave the house for research every day, stayed up late to make drafts, then spent the afternoon on sofa. In the midst of an upside-down life as that, her boyfriend suddenly was not there anymore. She too had dreamed of marriage like most people, but now she has given up.

However...

While drinking the beer, Kazuki glanced at the light purple envelope that was sticking out among the scattered piles of letters on the table.

Turned out it still hurt her heart every time a wedding invitation letter like this arrives. Does this mean there is still a feminine side in her? Kazuki snorted, mocking herself.

To her, invitations of all kinds gave off an evil smell the moment the seals were opened. The event will obviously ruin her weekend, holiday, or mid-term holiday. The expense is also inevitable. The invitation itself is poisonous.

After finishing the beer in the second can, Kazuki took the third can and took off the tight jeans she was wearing. Then with a messy appearance --- wearing only a T-shirt --- she approached the table. Feeling the edge of the envelope with her index finger.

Who will get married this time?

Someone from publishing?

Or acquaintances?

For real though, what is the original purpose of a wedding reception?

Some say to share happiness, but coming to an event like that, not even once did Kazuki feel happy. In the end, she had to make a lot of donations, listen to the boring bridal couple's first meeting's nostalgia, act as if she was moved at the wedding speech, and force a smile. What's more, is when she saw the bride's mother crying emotionally, the bride will feel guilty for letting her gramps die without seeing her wearing a wedding dress or shiromuku.

Others say a reception is held to express gratitude to those who have helped them. However, if you really feel that you have been helped, it is better not to invite them, so money and time will not be wasted.



Even so... Kazuki suddenly thought.

If ever there is a miracle and she is given the opportunity to get married... when that time comes, she would make a super tacky wedding reception, luxurious, full of happiness, and full of stories about the people she loves.

Kazuki pinched a cigarette to her lips and lit it. Taking a deep breath, then let out the smoke in a languid breath. In the ashtray on the table, piled with old cigarette butts and ashes, Kazuki tapped the ashes, ignoring the old pile of cigarettes.

She finally took out the envelope from the mountain of letters. Placing it in front of her, then squinted her eyes as if challenging. When she first noticed the flower stamp sealed on it, her desire to open the envelope slowly vanished. Well, at least, it's better than postage with hearts.

All right, so who's married this time?

She pinched the invitation with the tip of her nails she always cut short so that it was easy to type on the keyboard, then flipped the invitation carefully like she was playing a menko. Soon after, Kazuki swallowed hard when she saw the name of the sender.

Takaki Noriko.

Kazuki froze. The initial N was printed on the purple lacquer.

Lie.

This must be a lie.

From Noriko...?

Blood had receded from her face. Her hands turned cold. Her breathing became fast and faltering.

Behind Kazuki's oxygen-starved brain, Noriko's face appeared.

The face of a woman she should have killed.



-   N O T E S   -

  • Chuugen: presents swapped in mid summer (mid year).

  • Seibo: presents swapped at the end of the year.

  • Setsubun: day before the beginning of spring.

  • Shiromuku: a formal white bridal kimono.

  • Menko: a card game made from thick paper or cardboard. A player need to flip the other player's card with a gust of wind or by striking their card against the other card.



TL note: I was so annoyed to the bone reading this novel in one go. But that's what makes it interesting xD