Sun Up, Fall Down by Kihin Ranno

After Michiru turned fifteen, her private painting instructor told her to paint a sunrise.

"You always paint seascapes or something to do with water," her teacher said. She was neither chastising nor praising. "And you do it very well. But if you want to be a real artist, you need to be versatile. You should try new subject matters and color palettes."

Michiru didn't want to, but she'd always been taught to obey those in positions of authority, so she does not question her teacher. She merely smiled pleasantly and bowed primly, promising to do her best.

It turned out that her best was hard to come by. Michiru tried to capture the newness and wonder of a sunrise, but the concept failed her. The colors, the reds, the oranges, and the golds, were foreign to her. They refused to blend properly. They clashed and bled together. Her magnificent sunrise looked like a mishmash of warmth, and no matter what she did, she could not get her vision to commit to paper.

But she did not give up. She continued to work on her painting. Michiru had not failed or given up on anything in her life. She was not willing to begin.

When she could no longer slave at that canvas, when she could not listen to her teacher trying to tell her the painting is bad without telling her, when she felt that she would be will if she had to look at one more warm color, Michiru left her home. She walked to the nearest body of water she could come across. It was just a pool, but the mere presence of water was enough to soothe her. She was calmed by the sound and smell of the water, by the faux blue, and by the near solitude she was granted.

Michiru did not wait long to dip into the water, bathing in the liquid serenity. She nearly danced amidst the chlorine and chemicals, imagining that it was a sea or a lake or something more natural and succeeding. She soon forgot about the few people who were with her in that pool, and she was at peace.

Then the horror came.

A terror rose up from the other end of the pool, where a small child had been screaming mere minutes before. Michiru had assumed that the boy had gone out too far and someone would fetch him out soon enough. But she had been wrong. He had turned into something terrible, something not even hell could have imagined. And now he was screeching, flinging itself about in the water, and she knew that he needed help. Help that she could not give, but relief…

Others fled, leaving Michiru alone in the pool with this monster. She was terrified, just as she knew that little boy was. She trembled in the water, wondering if she could swim fast enough to get away. But she did not move, sensing that it was not her place to run to safety.

Then the terror rose up and surged through the water, speeding towards her. She could hear the small child’s cries through the roar. She sensed his fear and the monster’s rage, separating them in her mind.

There was a flash of light, and something hung before her in the air. It glowed, suspended just above the water. She could hear it call to her, and though it did not say her name, she knew it was her own. She did not know what it was, but she knew that she had no choice but to lay hands on it.

So she did.

Later, Michiru went back to her home, dripping wet and shaking. She sat down at that same painting and covered it with black, erasing any attempt at the dawn. Then she took up her preferred palette, her blues and greens and greys and she painted the end of the world. Tidal waves rising up from the deep as thunder and rain poured down from heaven. The water rose up, destroying everything in its path, laying landmarks to waste and ruining all. She even drew tiny people running away from the apocalypse in fear. Only one girl remained to face her death, afraid but resigned to the fact that her destiny was in those waves coming to down to crush her, to sweep her away, to destroy everything she had ever been and wash away everything she had ever done.

The next day, her instructor took one look at the painting before calling her boyfriend at the art gallery, ordering him down to the Kaioh residence. She lavished praise upon Michiru for this work of art, continually asking for inspiration but never giving her enough time to respond. Her assignment of a dawn had clearly been forgotten.

She did not notice that Michiru had not slept. She did not notice that Michiru’s eyes were weary from tears. And she never knew that when Michiru saw the dawn that morning and saw that it was blood red, the child who was no longer a child had said, “How fitting.”

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