" The only requirement to be a writer is the ability to remember every scar. "
- Stephen King
Long time ago his mother, referring to a scar on his knee that he got when he was a child, said to him, " You know, there are scars in life that are invisible, but they can mark you more than anything else ."
At the time, Takiji was too young to understand the meaning of those words, but growing into an adult, accumulating experiences, after small victories and big losses, he understood their meaning.
He began to realize the difference between visible scars, such as the one he had gotten as a child, or once an adult when it came to fighting for his rights, but he had discovered that there were also invisible scars, the ones that allow him to realize that he’s still alive or - as in his case - allowed to remember excerpts from his painful past, keeping him on the border between life and death. His physical body may have died years ago, but his soul was still living thanks to certain events in his past that had formed dark, enveloped scars in his memories. He could feel its presence every time he closed his eyes to rest, or when he went on a delving mission, or even when he touched the cover of a book which had been particularly meaningful for him in life.
He would trace those imaginary scars, remembering painful moments, lost friends, narrow places. And again, the words that died in his throat at the moment of his arrest, the unbridgeable cold left by his mother's hands that could no longer embrace him; the deepest scars were those voids that were impossible to fill.
Despite everything, however, he had received a second chance to fight, to return favors received, to save lives and redeem others. He could again write literature that could move people, even in these times so different from those in which he had lived but in which some vicissitudes remained similar.
"Takiji! Wake up, someone cooked ohagi for you!"
Sunao's voice woke him abruptly; he remembered sitting at his desk trying to write something new, but without much success. He rubbed his still sleepy eyes with one hand, wiping a trickle of drool from one side of his mouth with the other, given the impression that he had at least slept soundly.
Shigeharu gently placed a small tray full of his favorite sweets on the desk, arousing a smile full of gratitude from Takiji: even before they said the name of the person who had baked those sweets, he understood who it was and that annoying feeling that haunted him even in the world of dreams seemed to disappear momentarily, replaced by a familiar warmth that spread from the chest throughout the rest of his body.
"Shiga said you were writing and since he didn't want to disturb you, asked us to bring you these. But in return he wants to read your new work." Explained Sunao with an amused grin on his face, those simple words were enough to confuse Takiji who stared at the page - completely blank - making him feel deeply guilty.
"Sunao, Shigeharu... I need your opinion." Takiji said calmly but it was implied " I haven't written anything yet, and if Shiga really has to read it, I have to know what you think first - " and of course the two friends sensed it immediately.
"All right, but don't think we'll be any less critical than Shiga." Replied Sunao in a defiant tone, Shigeharu underlined it with an amused laugh to which Takiji smiled.
"Thank you, then I'm counting on you."