“Dear Kotomi. The world is beautiful. Even when it seems to be filled with sadness and tears, open your eyes. Do what you wish to do. Become what you want to be. Make friends. Don’t rush, and take your time in becoming an adult.”
“Your mother and father probably threw away their belongings and thesis and replaced it with the bear and this letter..”
Do you know what that means? Take a moment to envision that scene on the plane.
The Ichinose couple had had their fair share of turbulent flights, but since their departure, something had felt… wrong… about this one in particular. Their fears became reality two hours into the flight.
It started when the pilot abruptly announced over the intercom: “I don’t… know how to say this… *sob* We.. the plane… the plane is going down! It’s going down, and oh, God, there’s nothing - nothing we can do about it!”
It started with a stunned silence, when - “Nooooo!” A young girl shrieked, voice trilling with fear. “I don’t wanna die!”
“This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening!” A man half-muttered, half-sobbed. “Please let this be a dream!”
Suddenly, the entire plane broke out into a mass confusion of screaming, crying, and devastated wailing.
Amidst the chaos, Ichinose Koutarou shakily reached for his wife’s hand. Funny how a life-or-death situation could so easily set one’s priorities straight. Only a couple hours ago, they had been arguing - but now he could barely remember over what. “/Anata/…” He squeezed her hand.
Mizue, bold, fearless Mizue who had stolen his heart back in highschool - she trembled like a leaf now, eyes wide and wet and looking so very, very young. Though fear for himself sat like a heavy rock in his gut, Mizue would always be more important. He’d sworn, once, that he would die for her - yet how could that be possible? They were going to die together.
“My baby…” Mizue murmured. “Kotomi… My poor baby! She’s going to grow up without her parents.. Oh, Koutarou!” She began to weep silently.
“Now, now.. she’ll be alright,” he tried to assure her. “Our colleagues will see to her every need… Daijirou has agreed to be her guardian..”
“She’s not even ten years old yet,” his wife wept. “Oh, oh, today is her birthday! Oh, I’m such a fool! I should have stayed home! We should have been there for her birthday - Koutarou! Her present!”
Frantic hands tore at her seatbelt and made a grab for the precious bundle in front of her - a soft, cuddly teddy - the largest in the store. Trembling hands caressed the plush, cradling it as if it were her own child.
“Mizue.. what..?” He’d given up even the tiniest shreds of pride he never thought he had. Tears poured down his face, sobs catching in his throat as reality dawned on him. To never see his child again, to never hold her in his arms or kiss her goodnight! It was too much to bear.
“She must have this,” she said, fierce determination colouring her voice. “She wanted one so very much, she must have it! Help me, Koutarou!”
He moved without thinking. The briefcase by his side was quickly opened, its once-precious contents dumped on the floor in favour of this much more valuable cargo.
The roaring of the plane was deafening in his ears. Soon - soon it would be all over.
“Here, Koutarou,” Mizue’s voice called to him. It was quieter, calmer. He glanced at her with frantic speed, hands still trying to stuff the bear into the case.
A sheet of lined paper was held out to him, a piece of paper and a pen. “She needs a birthday card to go with it.”
Soon.. Soon he and Mizue would be gone. They would be in eternity, to face whatever fate that awaited then after death. Somehow, as he wrote, that did not bother him as it should have. Their love as a family was strong, he knew. Surely whatever god up there, if there was one at all, would not be so cruel as to separate them forever.
He passed the paper to his wife, who carefully wrote a few lines before sealing the envelope. It was slipped into the suitcase and shut tightly. She handed it to him, and as he always did, he placed it under his seat.
They sat back now, holding hands. His eyes met hers, and she smiled. He smiled back, and they both pretended not to see each other’s tears.
“I love you.”
There was a roar of engines, a mighty shout, a deafening crash of waves - then darkness, and no more.
Tossed by the waves, battered, but unbroken, a metal suitcase, carried by the hands of love, made its way to shore.
As promised, here’s the post about how/why I see Nagisa, Fuko, and Kotomi from Clannad as autistic. These are my personal headcanons and reasonings, and I have no issues with alternate interpretations.
From the start, Nagisa is shown talking to herself and trying to comfort herself in the notion that things can’t stay unchanged. The first thing she says is a food name, which she later says is something she does to calm herself down; saying the name of a food she really wants to eat, and knowing/hoping she can eat it later. Many autistic people have what could be considered unusual calming techniques.
Not long after this, Tomoya is trying to teach Nagisa how to make friends, as she has none (since she is repeating the school year due to previous illness), and/or how to convince people to join the Drama Club. Nagisa struggles with this, which is another potential autistic trait; difficulty with social situations and customs. However, when Tomoya asks about something she likes, she spills everything she knows about it (the Big Dango Family) without prompting and even sings the song. It stands to reason that the Dango Family/song are Nagisa’s special interest.
When Nagisa and Tomoya decide to play basketball, it ends up raining that day and school is cancelled. On a hunch, Tomoya goes out to the school anyway to find Nagisa waiting patiently in the rain, and she comes down with a chill afterwards. Autistic people often follow plans and schedules even when it may seem unreasonable unless otherwise notified.
Nagisa is also often prey to Tomoya’s joking around, not understanding sarcasm and dry humor, another common autistic trait. Despite learning later his penchant for making such jokes, she continues to fall for them even when they’re not directed at her.
From the start, Fuko is shown carving a wooden starfish, which she refuses to stop doing despite hurting her hands with the carving knife and splinters. She barely notices Tomoya when he calls out to her and only pays attention when he gets closer. Autistic people often become absorbed in enjoyable and/or repetitive tasks (in ADHD this is called hyperfocus) and it becomes clear that starfish are Fuko’s special interest later, as the mere mention of one can send her into a happy daze thinking about them which is difficult to snap her out of.
Fuko is also very childlike, speaking in the third person and preferring childish things over more adult things. This could be another telling trait, as many autistic people are viewed as childlike at certain times.
Like Nagisa, Fuko is also easily tricked and doesn’t understand sarcasm; Tomoya used this to his advantage to play jokes on her like pretending he had turned into a girl and squirting milk up her nose (during one of her starfish-induced dazes).
Kotomi is perhaps the most obvious example of an autistic character. She spends all her time sitting quietly in the library, in the same spot on the floor, sitting with her legs in a strange position and never speaking, only reading. She never looks up from her book unless Tomoya specifically calls her by “Kotomi-chan” rather than “Kotomi” or another variation. Autistic people will often only respond to certain words or phrases, esp. if in a focused state such as that.
When Tomoya takes Fuko to meet Kotomi, Kotomi is able to recite by heart facts about the starfish, including the English name and the scientific name. It is later shown she is quite good at memorization like this, knowing odd facts and being able to calculate trajectories at the drop of a hat. This trait is common in autistics, i.e. knowing unusual facts and being able to recite them when prompted.
Tomoya later needs to teach Kotomi how to greet people and make friends. From there on out, she introduces herself the same way to everyone: “Hello, my name is Kotomi Ichinose. I’m from [class]. Will you be my friend?” Kotomi also needs encouragement at first to hold typical conversation, and also needs guidance on making jokes, which she practices on her own like a stand-up comedy routine; however, the jokes she almost cries laughing at are ones that no one else understands. Having an unusual sense of humor can also be an autistic trait.
Kotomi also loves to play the violin, but being out of practice, she sounds horrible. Despite this, she thinks she sounds great and even insists on holding a concert. Enjoying noises oneself makes even though no one else does can be an autistic trait, esp. with sensory issues.
Despite that Kotomi later becomes proficient at conversation (if not jokes or violin), social skills are often something autistic people have to practice, since they don’t come naturally.