From “The Futon Storeroom”
That night near midnight, when O-Mitsu came round for her as she had promised, O-Yū felt, oddly enough, just a little bit relieved. It was easier to go ahead and get it over with than sit with her mind playing through one scenario after another. As O-Mitsu had instructed, O-Yū meekly folded up her bedding, set her pillow on top, and carried it all with both hands as she followed behind O-Mitsu until they arrived at the room that was known as the futon storeroom.
O-Mitsu said not a word while they were walking down the corridor. Then, when they arrived and O-Mitsu placed her hand on the sliding door, she suddenly said something most unexpected, though she never turned to look at O-Yū.
“O-Sato’s forty-nine days have been fulfilled, correct?”
Indeed, yesterday had been the forty-ninth day. It was often said that the souls of the dead remained in this world until the forty-ninth day after their death and afterward went on to the next world. Because of that, O-Yū had been counting the days until her sister’s forty-ninth. She had been terribly worried that once that day had passed, her sister’s presence might dissipate.
“Yes,” she said. “It was yesterday.”
O-Mitsu nodded and slid open the paper door.
“Go inside,” she said. (more…)