I fall and fall.
Or am I climbing?
As a vague floating sensation surrounds me, a comet shines bright in the night sky.
The comet suddenly splits, and one of the broken shards comes falling down.
The meteorite falls onto a village in the mountains. Many people die. A lake is created, and the village crumbles into ruins.
Time passes, and eventually another village pops up around the lake. Fish fill the lake. The iron from the meteorite brings prosperity. The village flourishes. After another long passage of time, the comet comes again.
The star falls once more. People die once more.
Ever since humans have inhabited the archipelago, that sequence of events has repeated itself twice.
People tried to keep that in their memory. Tried to somehow pass on knowledge of those events to the next generation. Using something that lasts longer than words. Represent the comet as a dragon. As a string. Put the splitting comet into the moves of a dance.
Once again, a long passage of time.
The crying of a newborn baby becomes audible.
“Your name is Mitsuha.” The gentle voice of a mother.
And then, the umbilical cord is cut, severing the connection that held them together as one. Just like that, a new person falls into the world.
“You two are my treasures.” “You’re a big sister now.”
The conversation of a young couple. Before long, a younger sister to Mitsuha is born. As if in exchange for the newfound happiness, the mother falls ill.
“When is mommy coming back from the hospital?” the younger sister asks innocently, but the elder sibling already knows that their mother won’t be coming back.
People inevitably die. Yet still, it is not so simple to accept that.
“I couldn’t save her…” the father laments deeply. There was nothing he loved more than his wife, and there never will be. The appearance of his daughters, which constantly grow to resemble her more and more closely, are both a blessing and a curse.
“What good will keeping up this shrine thing do for me?” “A son-in-law has no right to be saying that!”
The father and grandmother’s quarrels grow worse day by day.
“The one I loved was Futaba. Not Miyamizu Shrine!” “Leave!”
Both the father and grandmother have passed the age where they can reorder the importance of those things precious to them.
Unable to bear it any longer, the father leaves the house.
“Mitsuha, Yotsuha, you’ll be together with Grandma from now on.”
With the sound of weights resounding throughout the house, the life of the three women begins.
The days go by peacefully, but the feeling of having been thrown away by her father remains inside Mitsuha as an uncleansable stain.
— What is this?
— Mitsuha’s memory?
I had been caught up helplessly in a muddy flow, the flow of Mitsuha’s time.
Then came the part that I knew: the days of our switching.
The Tokyo that Mitsuha sees carries all the vibrant excitement of a foreign country. Even though her eyes should be no different biologically than mine, the world she sees is entirely different.
“Ah, so nice…”
I hear her mutter.
“They must be together right about now.”
The day of my date with Okudera-senpai.
“I’m gonna go to Tokyo for a bit,” she says to her little sister.
That night, Mitsuha opens the door to her grandmother’s room. “Grandma, I have something I want you to do…”
Large bunches of Mitsuha’s hair fall to the ground. I do not know this Mitsuha.
“It’s supposed to be the brightest today.”
Teshigawara and Saya-chin invite her to watch the comet.
No, Mitsuha! I yell.
From behind the mirror. As the sound of the wind chime. In the breeze that blows through her hair.
Mitsuha! Don’t go there!
Run away from the village before the comet falls!
But no matter how I try to convey my voice, it fails to reach Mitsuha.
The day of the festival, Mitsuha and her friends gaze up at the comet, now closer than the moon.
The comet splits, and the fragments become an array of infinite shooting stars, sparkling as they trail across the sky. A single massive lump of rock becomes a meteorite and begins its descent.
They simply watch, spellbound by the beauty before them.
I scream at the top of my lungs.
Mitsuha, run! Run!! Mitsuha! Mitsuha! Mitsuha!!!
And then, the star falls.