Amongst my female friends there is one girl who can apparently see ghosts.
I first met her at a university party welcoming new students, but her outward appearance showed nothing strange.
But I don’t know whether she’s just really perceptive or not, but her sixth sense is no joke.
When we got lost one time she suddenly stopped in the middle of the road and said, “There’s a dead cat somewhere around here.”
Just for fun we decided to have a look for it, and behind a vending machine we found the body of a dead cat that had been run over and hidden there.
“Since when were you able to see ghosts? What started it?”
One day while we were at a coffee shop I half jokingly asked her.
At first she avoided the question, but perhaps because I was so insistent she finally broke and started talking.
“Don’t regret asking,” she began.
When I was in the third grade of elementary school Kokkuri-san was really popular.
At the time I couldn’t see ghosts so I didn’t believe in it.
But there was a group of kids in our class that were really into it.
The centre of that group was a girl who could sense the supernatural, and each time they played she said “Kokkuri-san was right!” and “It happened just like Kokkuri-san said it would.”
In all honesty, I didn’t like her very much.
And so I ended up getting into a fight with this self proclaimed ghost visionary over it.
“She exists!” “She doesn’t exist!” It was a never ending argument, but then she said “I’ll show you,” and I went along with it.
Well, I was kinda interested to see whether it really was true or not.
Four of us, myself and three members from her group, got together to play Kokkuri-san.
We waited for school to finish and then headed for the roof.
Apparently it was the best ‘point’ in the entire school.
I kept thinking it was stupid, but I helped them set up.
We lined up some unused desks.
Then finally we began.
While we called out over and over, “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, please come,” the 10 yen coin moved over to “Yes.”
Everyone got excited that Kokkuri-san had arrived.
Seeing them like that, I thought they just looked stupid, so I joked, “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, please show us a ghost.”
The 10 yen coin moved to “Yes.”
Then everyone took off running.
Me: “… that was it?”
That was a letdown.
Like those scenes where someone loudly bangs on the door and everyone jumps, but in the end it’s only surprise.
It’s totally different to fear.
The story itself felt incomplete.
Me: “Is there more to that story? That can’t be all. The ending was weak.”
I told her honestly.
We didn’t usually hold things back from each other.
Her: “Even though I went to all the trouble of telling you that story you give such harsh words. Asshole…”
Even as she said it she was grinning.
It looked like that wasn’t all after all.
Her: “I went back there the next day and the Kokkuri-san set was gone. I guess a teacher found it and cleaned it up.”
Her: “But according to the rules of Kokkuri-san, the people who called her have to finish by passing over the shrine gate, right? We didn’t do that.”
Her: “So, the game hadn’t finished.”
I got chills.
10 years later Kokkuri-san was still going.
Where did the kids go that called her?
Me: “So why didn’t you all get together to play Kokkuri-san again? Then you could all go back and everything would be fine.”
“There’s no way,” she said. Then…
Her: “You see, other than me everyone else is already dead.”
There was nothing I could say.
She went on, ignoring how I’d been stopped in my tracks.
Her: “Some of them died in accidents, others suicide. They were all different. In the end only me, the first one to take my finger off the coin is still here.”
Her: “So anyway, it’s time for me to go. You made me tell an awful story so this is your treat, hey? See ya.”
I couldn’t say anything.
Because of her it was likely that her classmates died.
I pestered her to tell a story she didn’t want to remember.
I felt awful.
I needed to apologise.
I looked up and our gazes locked.
She stopped gathering her things and was looking at me.
Her: “I told you not to, but it looks like you regret it now, huh?”
Before I could say I was sorry she continued.
Her: “Okay, well while you’re sorry, another thing. Up until elementary school, I had droopy eyes.”
She pointed to her own eyes and laughed.
While I was sitting there dumbfounded she cheerfully went “Well then, later!” and left the shop.
Kokkuri-san had been continuing for 10 years.
Her eyes were slanted upwards.
** Translator’s note: Kokkuri-san is an animal spirit, a mixture of a kitsune, dog and tanuki. The punchline at the end of this story is that the girl who can see ghosts was born with droopy eyes. However when the protagonist looks at her he realises that she has slanted eyes. This is a particular characteristic of the kitsune; she’s been possessed by Kokkuri-san since the game 10 years earlier. **