“We’ve got the results, 母!” Kazumi cheered.
Warm sunlight jabbed at the old woman’s eyes, which made her close them tight. They stayed closed for a long time until the woman opened them again. Her lips curved into a smile, the biggest she could manage.
“This is huge! They could’ve found something.” the man said, his mouth curved into a grin.
He dusted off his tie with his hands, then fixed the belt on his pants. Kazumi wore a suit for the occasion, the fanciest he had.
“Alright, see you later, 母! Wish me luck,” he said, twisting the cold brass doorknob. His hands were clammy, like a paper towel that’d been run under water, then heated in the microwave for a minute. He wiped his heated paper towel hands on the handkerchief he carried in his pant pocket.
His hands were clasped in front of him on the glass table.
Kazumi was worried that he might make sweat marks on the table. He tried not to think about it though, and focused on why he was here. The women and men around Kazumi stared at him, some of them drank coffee.
“When will the meeting start?” a man asked, his cheeks redder than the U.S. flag.
“Do you think they found anything?”
“No, it’s impossible. No planet has what Earth has.”
A tall woman strode into the room, her head high. Her heels clacked against the wood floor, and she stood at the front of the table.
“Say what?” she asked the woman who’d spoken. “You, what d’you say?”
The woman from before stood and fidgeted with her fingers, then answered, “I said it isn’t possible to find another planet like Earth, miss. No other planet has living circumstances like Earth-“
“Oh, you fool, sit!” the tall woman said as she shook her head.
“Yes ma’am!” the woman answered, her cheeks flushed. She put her hand to her forehead, then put her hands to her sides and sat.
“Tsk,” the tall woman murmured, rolling her eyes. “Today we’re going to talk about...”
Kazumi leaned closer to the table, biting his lip.
The woman stared at him. “The other one we found.”
Everyone grinned at each other. One man next to Kazumi even stood up and patted him on the shoulder.
“So we found another one? How good are the living conditions?" a woman asked. She sat down at the table and folded her hands together.
“Almost exact to Earth’s. There are salty waters and fresh streams, so we have hope. We’re gonna continue our exploration today.” the woman at the front of the table said.
Everyone cheered, and someone exclaimed, “We’re not gonna die!”
“Yes, yes. Now, Kazumi, since you funded this whole thing, what do you want to name the planet?”
“Um... maybe Dōyōni?” he said, his eyebrows furrowed.
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“Kazumi, we’ll reveal more details to you tomorrow.”
His eyebrows were raised and he said, “Actually, can I be a part of the search team?”
“Okay, sure.” the tall woman nodded.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Kazumi was happy, but he tried not to show it as much as he answered people’s praise and left the office to his humble home.
The door creaked open as Kazumi turned the key.
“How did it go?” a voice startled him, and he turned to see his mom sitting on the sofa.
Kazumi smiled at her and took his jacket off, hanging it on the hangers next to the door.
“They found one. It’s very similar, or so they said,” he said, “they’re sending out a search team, and I’m going with them!” Kazumi’s mom’s smile faltered a bit, but Kazumi didn’t notice, he was too busy reminiscing over his gain. Thanks to him, his family tree would continue, with him at the top of it.
“I knew that putting money into this would be worth it!” he yelled, a huge grin on his face. And making those little ‘rabbit holes,’ that was the best invention he’d ever created. “Benzaiten is on my side today! Oh, maybe I shouldn’t jinx it.”
"I’m going to see Dōyōni tomorrow!" he exclaimed, clapping his hands.
The remote was calling his name. He had it in his pocket and he couldn’t stop touching it for the life of him.
“See you later, 母!” he said, waving and closing the door behind.
He skipped to his car, the remote burning a hole in his pocket. Last night, after spamming the ‘reload’ button on his computer, he’d finally seen an email from the tall woman.
It was calling him in to explore the next day, Kazumi could’ve jumped and done cartwheels on his lawn.
Though the planet - Dōyōni, was lightyears away, the little ‘rabbit holes’ he’d created helped with that. And if they could possibly live on Dōyōni, it would be a great thing for Kazumi.
He smacked his own hand, which was lingering around the pocket with the remote.
“Get a hold of yourself!” he said as he combed his hair back. It’d gone lopsided in the battle of his hands, and he fixed it right away.
Kazumi took the remote of his pocket into his hand and placed it on the table before him, as all of the other members had done.
“Now, we’re going to Dōyōni in approximately... 10 minutes, go get changed and come back.
A man at the table lifted his head and said, “Can we eat before we go?”
“Not unless you want to either vomit your guts out in space halfway or have a horrible headache and stomachache.” the woman said.
The man shook his head, his eyes wide. “No, not really.”
“I’m so excited to go!” Kazumi exclaimed, walking into the changing room.
Suddenly, his phone rang. Kazumi turned back to where it was on the table and grabbed it.
“Greetings, is this... Kazumi Nomura?”
Kazumi took a pause, his eyebrows furrowed before he spoke again. “Yes, who is this?”
“St. Luke’s International Hospital.”
“What’s going on?!”
“Your mother has been brought to this hospital from your home.”
Tears ran down Kazumi’s cheeks as he thought about the worst possible scenarios. “I’ll be there right away,” he said as he ran out of the office.
He’d have to miss the exploration of Dōyōni, but his mother was so much more important than any of that.
Kazumi ran through the doors of his mother’s hospital room, out of breath. His eyes were widened, and his hands were on his knees as he gasped for breath.
His mother stared back at him, her eyebrow cocked. “What’s wrong?”
“Why are you in the hospital?”
She shrugged, pursing her lips.
“A neighbor passed by and saw her through the window. He said that...” - the doctor paused as she looked at her clipboard - “she was lying on the floor.”
Kazumi ran to his mother’s side and gave her a huge hug, to which she returned with equal strength.
“I’m really glad you’re okay,” he said, tears streaming down his cheeks, “I’m so sorry.”