Ruby Ring

Ruby Ring (Fukuzawa Reiko #04)

Hello. My name is Fukuzawa Reiko. I’m still a first grader, the same as you. Nice to meet you all. Um, my scary story is about the old school building.

This is a pretty famous story, so you might already know it. It’s about the stairs in the old school building. Emi-chan, do you know the story about the 13 stairs? Stairs can have an ominous number of steps, you know.

They often say that 13 is an unlucky number overseas, right? Like, you know how Friday the 13th is a bad omen, yeah? And so, stairs can’t have 13 steps.

Do you know why? Because gallows have 13 steps. One method of execution is hanging, right? Hanging by the neck, hanging. The stairs you walk up to the gallows have exactly 13 steps.

And so, if stairs have 13 steps, they signify rising to the gallows. That’s why regular stairs aren’t made with 13. Your house is two stories, right? Have you ever counted the number of steps of your stairs? There’s a chance they might be 13.

They say that stairs with 13 steps are cursed, so you should be careful.

Ahahahaha… So, about the old school building.

Of course, the stairs in the old school building didn’t have 13 steps either. They all had 14. …But, on Friday the 13th, the stairs to the far right of the old school building… or was it the south? If you counted those stairs, where there should have been 14 steps, there were instead only 13.

So, if you went to check this, something bad would happen.

Do you know what they said would happen?

2. I don’t know.

Huh, you don’t know, huh? There are lots of different stories about those stairs, they’re pretty famous. Like, if you count going up you get 14 stairs, but if you count going down you get 13. But maybe they just made a mistake while counting?

Like, maybe they shouldn’t have included the top step when counting? They didn’t mess up? Well, that’s not really the stairs. It’s the floor. It’s not counted as part of the stairs. That’s why you only count the part between the floor and the floor, those are the steps.

Did you learn something just now? Ahahahahaha… Or maybe you already knew that. …Sorry, sorry. So, the 13 stairs in the old school. There was a way to find them even if it wasn’t Friday the 13th.

I know what it was. There are flip calenders, right? You need to make one of those show Friday the 13th. Then you put it on the wall near the rumoured 13 stairs. When you do that, the same thing will happen.

But that alone doesn’t work very well. If you don’t have strong supernatural abilities, then the 13 stairs won’t appear. But if they did appear, that would suck. “Yay! 13 stairs!”

Even if you said that, in the end, only bad things would happen. But it’s interesting, right? The stories make you wanna try it out for yourself, don’t they? Ufufu. I actually tried it myself.

Of course, I wasn’t alone. There were three of us. I didn’t want to be alone. It’s scary. They were kids from my class.

A girl called Motoki Sanae, and Sometani Yoko. They’re both a little strange. They’re not really normal. Well, Yoko-chan isn’t really as strange as Sanae-chan is. Seriously, Sanae-chan is a really strange girl.

…Ah, that’s not really important right now, is it? I’ll tell you about just how strange Sanae-chan is some other time. In reality, Sanae-chan was the one who told me the story about the calendar. She knows people who know all sorts of special information.

So, the three of us went there. To the old school building to check. When was it? I think it was the 13th of last month… yeah, the 13th. It wasn’t Friday, so we took the calendar with us.

We figured it would be easier if it was at least the same date though. Then, if nothing happened, we planned to go back on a real Friday the 13th to try again. So anyway, we snuck into the closed-off old school building after school.

It was a bit like an adventure to us curious girls. We were pretty excited. I mean, it was my first time going into the old school. The old school is pretty scary. Even in the middle of the day it’s terrifying.

But that was why we went there, to experience something scary. So our mindset was different. We went in thinking that something scary was gonna happen, something scary was gonna happen. Even a regular old school building is still exciting, you know?

There’s something off about the smell of old trees, like it makes you think of something rotting. Even the graffiti carved into the posts is strangely scary. Everything falls quiet and you think that something might be there with you. At times like that, your mental state is really important.

If you go there thinking it’ll be fun, it won’t be the least bit scary, and the smell of the old trees will simply be nostalgic, and the writing on the posts interesting, you’ll probably think of other things.

By the way, Emi-chan.

Have you ever been to the old school?

2. No.

Oh really, you haven’t? Huh… So then, no matter how much I talk about the old school, you won’t really get it, will you? Alright then. I’ll talk about something else.

Let’s see… Emi-chan, is there someone you like right now? Is there someone you want to make your own? If you feel that way even just a little, then… I’d like you to hear this story. Emi-chan.

Have you ever received a ring from a boy before? Jewellery. Have you ever received a ring full of someone’s feelings?

The story I’m going to tell you now is about the ruby ring. They say that the ruby is the most representative of all red jewels. But rubies aren’t crimson, are they? They’re kinda like a shadow cast over red, aren’t they?

If we’re talking about crimson jewels, then a garnet is a better fit, I think. So I don’t get why the ruby is representative of red jewels. I think… the ruby with real value is the pigeon blood.

It means it’s the colour of a pigeon’s blood. The red colour of rubies is like the colour of blood, yeah?

Emi-chan, do you get what I’m trying to say here? That’s right, it was chosen for the colour of blood, rather than crimson. Perhaps the colour of blood has a larger influence on people’s hearts. That’s why I think the ruby is the representative red jewel.

People often say it’s representative because it’s a precious gem, but I don’t think so. It’s because it’s the colour of blood. Alright, let’s finally get into the story.

Several years ago, there was a student at this school called Ishikawa Sayoko. She was the type of girl that made you want to protect her. She was kinda quiet, cute, and when she was in trouble looked like she was about to cry… But seeing her try not to cry was so touching.

She was pure, and not the type of girl to say anything selfish to boys.

She received a ruby ring from her boyfriend. It was very precious to her. Her boyfriend went to different school. His name was Ogura-kun.

Apparently he worked part-time in order to give her the ring. Ishikawa-san sneakily wore the ring so the teachers wouldn’t see it. Even amongst her own class, their relationship was well-known. But…

It turned out that at the same time, there was another person at school who had their eyes on Ishikawa-san. That person was the science teacher…

His name was Fukayama-sensei. But Ishikawa-san had no interest in other boys. Fukayama-sensei was head over heels for her, he favoured only her, and often tried to speak to her. That’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it? So Fukayama-sensei was often warned about his behaviour at teacher meetings.

However, he didn’t chance his stance one bit. On the other hand, while Ishikawa-san was slightly troubled by him, she didn’t especially try to avoid him either.

It would appear that as long as she was treated well, she had no bad feelings. Girls are like that sometimes, huh?

One day, her boyfriend… Ogura-kun became sick and died. Ishikawa-san was devastated. She stayed by Ogura-kun’s side the whole time, and held his hand until he passed. He looked at the ruby ring on her hand and then said:

No matter what lies ahead, my feelings will never change. …There wasn’t anything ahead for him. He was on the verge of death. Even he should have known that… A drop fell onto the ruby ring she was wearing. “Are you crying?”

He whispered quietly. Ishikawa-san thought that she mustn’t. She didn’t want their parting to end in darkness. She wanted to hold his hand until the end, to listen carefully to his words, to tell him everything she wanted to tell him, and to carefully watch over him.

If she cried, she wouldn’t be able to do that. Her eyes clouded with tears, her voice choked up, and her heart was full of sadness. She did her best to overcome it all.

Ogura-kun tried to grasp her hand. But he couldn’t. He was too weak. Yet tried again and again to strongly grasp her hand. Ishikawa-san knew what he was trying to do. This made her even more sad…

After that, she became deeply depressed. Even when her friends tried to cheer her up, it did nothing at all. One day, Fukayama-sensei noticed her wearing the ring. He confiscated it from her.

His excuse was that it was forbidden to wear rings at school, but… The reality was different. He was jealous. Of the person who gave her that ring.

Ishikawa-san was terribly sad. That ruby ring contained her memories of Ogura-kun. It was her memento of him… As such, she went to see Fukayama-sensei to get the ring back. But he refused.

What do you think she did then?

1. Gave up on the ring.

That day, she gave up. She decided to speak to another teacher a few days later. No matter what school rules she had broken, that ruby ring was valuable and she thought it was unbelievable that it was to be kept from her. But it was no good.

No other teachers would help her. They thought that even if she eventually got it back, it would be easier if he kept it for a while.

She thought that she would just have to get it back herself then. She went to visit Fukayama-sensei every day to ask him to return the ring. Then, one day… the two of them went missing.

By the two of them, I mean Ishikawa-san and Fukayama-sensei. …What do you think happened? Do you think she sought revenge on him? No. They eloped. Surprising, right?

Apparently, when she went to visit him each day, he told her that he wouldn’t give the ring back because he was in love with her. Then, he consoled the depressed girl the best he could. I’m here, he told her. You’re probably thinking, even so…

But the two of them grew close.

Ishikawa-san was lonely after the death of her boyfriend. As Fukayama-sensei told her his feelings and treated her kindly, she started to fall for him too. Emi-chan. What do you think happened then?

But you can’t understand her mental state until you’ve experienced the same things she did. That’s what I think. Ishikawa-san wanted support. In reality, she was a terribly weak person. But Emi-chan, what do you think you would do in her dead boyfriend’s position?

… The dead Ogura-kun couldn’t watch on silently anymore.

The day Ishikawa-san and Fukayama-sensei ran away, blood started to drip from her ring. Just like tears. Fukayama-sensei had it at the time. The ring was was in his suit pocket, and the blood seeped through the lining. He made a huge fuss over it.

Here’s where it gets real bad. After putting the moves on Ishikawa-san for so long, as she approached him to look at the blood on his suit, he suddenly shook her off. He was scared, you see. And he was creeped out.

Then, that very same day, he left her.

Their elopement lasted a single day. But Ishikawa-san got her ring back.

The next day they both returned to school. They professed that their disappearance at the same time was just a coincidence. When the two separated, the flow of bloody tears from the ring stopped. Then, after all that had happened, Ishikawa-san smiled even less than before.

“No matter what lies ahead, my feelings will never change…” She remembered Ogura-kun’s final words. No matter what lies ahead… Naive words, right? What do you think about it?

Fukayama-sensei changed his mind just because of that incident with the ring. Ishikawa-san, having lost her beloved boyfriend, tried to forget her pain by going along with Fukayama-sensei. But Ogura-kun… “No matter what lies ahead, my feelings will never change…”

That’s what he said. That was the type of guy he was. All he did was cry tears of blood from that ring. He didn’t do anything else. He didn’t do anything bad whatsoever. And so, Ishikawa-san was glad that she discovered just what Fukayama-sensei was like because of what happened.

She put the ring on again. Then… Hey, Emi-chan. Don’t you want the person you love to be close by? No matter how close they are, you want them to be closer, yeah?

Depending on the person, there might be some who disagree though… But her dead boyfriend was apparently that type. Do you know why I’m telling you all this?

…She couldn’t get away from the ring. Ishikawa-san’s ring. She didn’t realise it at first. I mean, she never thought of taking it off to begin with.

Of course, she wore it at home, and when she went to school she hid it beneath bandages. There were teachers who suspected that there was a ring underneath. However, whenever someone asked her about it, the ring would start to bleed. The bandage would turn red with blood. The teachers who saw this could do nothing but withdraw. Even if she really was wearing the ring…

It was a ring that bled. Nobody wants to get involved with something like that. Then, time went on. As the days passed, she never felt like finding another boyfriend again. But the one day, another boy tried to make a play for her. He tried to convince her that she couldn’t think about her deceased boyfriend forever.

He was a reliable guy.

Ishikawa-san was also thinking that she couldn’t keep going on being depressed like that… Then she tried to take the ring off. There were too many memories in that ruby ring.

But… it wouldn’t come off. She couldn’t get the ring off her finger. Then tears of blood started to fall from the ring again…

Scary, right? But she didn’t think so. At that moment, she was convinced. Of her deceased boyfriend’s strong feelings. Of how he had such a deep love for her. She clearly remembered him as he was on the verge of death.

His hand at that time. How he tried to hold her own with as much strength as he could muster… Then, she decided. She would live out the rest of her life honouring his memory. Then, at that moment…

The rubies in the ring turned from red to a clear white. They became transparent. Have you ever heard of a white sapphire? It’s a jewel like a diamond, the same type of mineral as a ruby. They’re the same mineral, but the red ones are called rubies, and the blue, white and pink ones are called sapphires. Yep, her rubies turned into white sapphires. Then, the tears that fell from the ring also turned from red to clear in colour.

As though showing his pure feelings for her, the tears became clear. Then, she was able to take the ring off…

The ring slid right off her finger. It fit her perfectly, but it was like someone took it off, and it fell to the floor… To someone who had no idea what was going on, it was probably like a curse had been lifted.

But it wasn’t a curse. When Ishikawa-san decided to live her life honouring her boyfriend’s memory, the ring no longer had to bind her. He was pleased with her feelings. The clear tears were pure tears, you see.

…But I wonder how long she could go on like that? You could probably tell her personalty from listening to the story, but it’s a little difficult to think that she could live her life without a boyfriend. If someone was kind to her again, then…

If her feelings to remember him for the rest of her life changed, then… He was single-minded, after all. It’s hard to know what would happen, right? He believed in her and so he released her from the ring’s grip.

If she betrayed that belief… Honestly, anything could happen.

“No matter what lies ahead, my feelings will never change…”

Sweet words. But scary at the same time.

His feelings never changed, for sure. And they probably never will…

Emi-chan. If you get a boyfriend, why don’t you try something to keep them in place? If your feelings are as strong as his were, you can probably do it. Ufufu… Well, let’s listen to the next story, shall we?

Oh yeah, if you wanna hear about the 13 stairs from earlier, I’ll tell you after you go and look at the old school building yourself. Okay? Who’s up next?

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