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A while back, I worked as a cop in a rather small hamlet out in Upstate New York. It was a town of about 600 people, situated in an area near the Catskills. Barely any crime took place in the town, mainly just carjackings and teens looking to have some fun (i.e. vandalizing).

There was a Japanese couple, Haruto and Mina, who were immigrants from Japan. They owned a small Japanese shop outside of town, where you could buy Japanese snacks, ramen, candies, you name it. I used to stop by most of the time, mainly to grab some stuff for dinner. However, a few years after the shop opened, a much larger supermarket opened, and I ended up going there to shop instead. After a while, I stopped going to the Japanese shop.

Around this time, I started to notice a strange girl glaring at people from outside the window. I usually thought nothing of it at first, but then I started to get weirded out. The girl was always glaring, staying in the same position for hours and hours on end. Within the new few weeks, the girl continued glaring out the window, looking at me as if she was staring right into my soul. This began happening on a daily basis now. Every time I would pass that area of town, I would see the girl, staring out the window, glaring at me. After a while, I put two and two together, and deduced that this girl must be the couple's daughter. I went to the shop, which was about to close, and went over to Haruto.

"Hey. Mind if we talk?"

Haruto and I sat at the back of the shop, where he put down two crates and a small table. Once I was settled, he asked:

"What is the issue?"

Slowly, I said, "Your daughter, why does she stare outside the window like that?"

Haruto's eyes began welling with tears, and he told me the shocking truth. 5 years before they came to the town, they had a daughter, Reiko. The three lived a happy life in Tokyo, until one day, Haruto looked away for a split second to get the mail, and found that Reiko was gone. The Japanese authorities, via CCTV footage, found that a hooded figure had kidnapped Reiko. A week later, after a nationwide search was conducted, Japanese cops found Reiko's body in a bin. She had been stabbed in the gut and left to bleed out. The kidnapper then stuffed her body in a bin, and got rid of any and all evidence accusing the kidnapper of the crime. To this day, they never found the kidnapper.

By the end of the story, I was in shock.

"You... mean to tell me that your daughter has been dead the entire time?"

Haruto looked at me. "Yes."

By the time I got back in my patrol car, I was near the point of tears. A week later, I responded to a 9-1-1 call from Mina, who sounded urgent. I rushed to the shop, and saw Haruto's lifeless body in the room behind the shop itself, hanging from the ceiling. There was a note attached to him, which I read later back at the station. I was near tears when I read it.

The note read:

"I cannot bear the pain any more. My sunshine, my princess, Reiko is gone. It's all my fault. If I hadn't looked away, none of this would've happened. I'm sorry Reiko, I failed you. Mina, my love, I love you dearly, but I cannot keep living, knowing I caused my daughter's death. I don't deserve life, I deserve to burn in hell."

-Haruto

A week later, Mina moved back to Japan. Since then, Reiko stopped appearing in the window, and the building was eventually torn down. Eventually, I got a job as a detective in Chicago, and I bid farewell to the small town. Sometimes I miss the town, sometimes I wonder how Mina is doing, and sometimes, I wonder if Reiko's killer was finally put to justice, and if Reiko's spirit can move on in peace.

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