Yah, so some of you may have noticed, I haven't updated my stories in...a while...
Well, to those who don't know, the reason for this is because I was working on another project that counts as an X-mas present to a bunch of people I know outside of the internet, and my loyal readers/good buddies.
Anyways, you probably won't see much of it until around the 23rd or so, the reason is because I'm still in the middle of the editing process + scanning process.
I'm just setting up a place here.
So...look forward to the anthology.
okie dokie!! X3
~*back to school*~
(Okay, I'm starting to upload the project now.
I hope you guys cry from this. )
'I remember that day, how could I forget something like that? I remember every detail...the way it snowed so heavily, the cold, stinging wind.'
In the snow covered city, a teenage boy walked to his destination. Which would be just around the corner.
'I thought it was supposed to be a normal reunion, I'd see my childhood friend, Chikane, after 7 years. I wondered if she'd recognize me? Looking back on that now, I wonder if things would've turned out differently if she HAD forgotten about me?'
When looking around the street corner, he saw a bench where a girl around the same age sleeping peacefully.
"I wonder, if that's her?" He said to himself. Slowly approaching the girl, he sat next to her.
"...." At first he thought she was pretending to be asleep, but it turned out she really WAS asleep. "...She's gonna freeze to death out here." Even if it might not have been Chikane, this woman would still freeze out here.
His conscience couldn't allow him to just leave a defenseless girl out here on one of the coldest days of the year, "Hey, ma'am, if you sleep out here you're going to freeze to death." He advised in a monotone voice as he softly shook her shoulder.
And than, the strangest thing occurred. The moment his hand touched her shoulder, he heard a single heart beat, his surroundings became distorted and was replaced with a buzzing background, kinda like a TV with no signal, in the center of the buzzing background a young girl sat alone: holding her knees to her chest and crying heavily.
Just as quick as the vision appeared, it vanished without warning.
"I...must be tired..." He didn't want to believe it was anything supernatural.
"Mmmm..." She stirred, her eyes slowly opening. She looked in his direction, seeing his face.
At once her eyes widened, "Yuuto?" It probably WAS Chikane after all. She pinched his cheeks. "Is this a dream? Are you really here in front of me?" She said with disbelief.
Having his cheeks pulled so hard like that hurt like hell, "Yes, I'm actually here right now, and that hurts so let go!" Yuuto said as best he could with his face muscles stretched, becoming teary eyed.
She instantly let go and embraced Yuuto with all her might. "Yuuto! Yuuto! I missed you so much!"
Yuuto tried to keep himself standing, "Yah...well, it's great to see you too."
She held his hand, "Come on, lets go. You must be tired from coming all this way to see me." She tugged him in a certain direction. "My home isn't far from here, lets go, come on hurry up!" She said as she pulled Yuuto along.
"Alright, hey, you don't have to pull so hard. I can walk on my own!" Despite Chikane's frail look, she was actually a lot stronger than she appeared.
Yuuto couldn't help but feel a certain uneasiness towards Chikane.
'I know I haven't seen her for at least 7 years, but I can't help but feel uneasy. It's great that she's happy, but would a normal person really be this happy?'
Chikane stopped in her tracks, turning her head towards the snow-covered playground, no one was there at the moment. Chikane pointed out the old and rusting swing-set in the center of the playground.
"Hey, hey, Yuuto, look! Do you remember that swing-set?"
Yuuto stared at the swing-set, his memory falling back to seven years ago. "Yah...of course I remember..."
'That was the day I met Chikane.'
That day was a cold autumn afternoon, the sun was still setting, a lonely little girl sat on the swing, swaying back and forth. Holding onto the chains as she kicked off from the ground...
"...." Tears streaming down her small face due to the hell she had lived today. She tried to get over it as best she could as she wiped the falling tears on her sleeve. She felt how hot and wet her cheeks were, she didn't realize how long she'd been crying till just now. Than, just when she pulled her hand away from her face the most unexpected thing was presented before her. An ice-cream cone.
A young boy around the same age was holding it out for her. "Want it? My mom said; 'Ice-cream can make anyone happy.'" He said this while smiling.
Rather than accept this small token of kindness, the sad and lonely little girl instantly grew frightened. Her hands moved over her head as she quickly scurried around the swing. Acts of kindness, love, generosity...these were things she had never experienced before. "Please don't hurt me!" She cried. The single phrase had become a force of habit to her. She had no reason to trust this boy she had never met before, it may have well just been a new tormentor.
He raised one eyebrow in confusion, he had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.
"Hurt you?" He questioned. "No, I'm not gonna hurt you. I saw you crying and so I-"
"Shut up! Go away!" She shoved his hand away, hence rejecting the ice-cream as it fell on the dirty ground. "Just go away! Can't you see I'm a monster! Why...why can't everyone just go die?!" She screamed at the top of her lungs as she burst out crying.
Instead of running away, getting scared, or yelling back, he merely pat her head.
"You don't look like a monster, I don't see horns on you, or evil eyes, or sharp teeth, you're not a giant, and you're not trying to eat me either. You look like just a normal girl, that's all." He smiled as he continued to pet her.
At once, her crying stopped. She blinked a few times, confused at what to do in this situation. The feeling of someone being kind to her was entirely new and surprising.
"Here, you can have mine." He held out his own ice-cream cone to replace the one that was just tossed aside.
"...." She was unsure whether to take it or not?
In her heart she felt it was okay, but her mind said it wasn't worth the risk because of past experiences with this kind of thing. She was half afraid that it was a trick. Cautiously, she tried reaching out to take the treat before her. She was close to taking the treat, but she pulled her hand back. She took a deep breathe as she managed to hold down a small portion of her fears and slowly grip the ice-cream's cone in her small hand. Before she were to take her first bite of the delicious treat, her eyes examined the boy who had given her the ice-cream. He just stood there with a smile, not trying to snatch it back, slap it out of her hand, shove it in her face, hit her, nor spit on the ice-cream. She assumed it was safe, so she brought it up to her lips and licked the very tip. It had an interesting, unfamiliar flavor that she never tasted before (She'd never eaten chocolate before in her entire life). "...thank you..." She said in a hushed voice as she continued to devour the rest of it.
"You're welcome." He sat on the swing next to her. "So, why were you crying here anyways?" He asked.
"...Because I have no friends..." She said with pain in her voice.
"No friends." He looked up to the sky, placing his hand on his chin. "My mom says, a person with no friends will have a very boring life. So, how about I become your friend?"
"Eh?" She turned her head to look at him with disbelief. "Why do you...want to be friends with me?" She tilted her head to the side in confusion. She had never had anyone she could truly call a friend before, so someone being kind to her like this and asking to be her friend was an entirely new experience to her, it was only natural for her to be distrustful. But she did feel a very warm feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Don't know?" He shrugged. "But I feel like we could be good friends, if that makes any sense." He scratched the back of his head and laughed.
Her eyes darted to the ice-cream in hand. "Promise." She said silently.
"Promise? Promise what?" He asked.
"If...you become my friend...promise me that....that!" She said in a very shy voice, cheeks turned bright red and averting her eyes from him. She couldn't get out the right words to say. When finally opening her mouth, ready to say what she was going to say all that came out was: "(Voiceless)"
At least, that's how Yuuto remembered it.
"I can't seem to remember...what I promised back than...? It's like my memory was locked away behind a giant iron door, and I lost the key to it."
(More to come)
When they arrived, Yuuto was awestruck by the sheer size of Chikane’s house.
She pulled Yuuto inside, "Come on, Yuuto! Are you hungry, I'll make something, just wait right over there." She pointed to a room where there was a kotatsu in the center of the room and a screen door leading to the outside...not much else in there of any significant importance to this story.
Yuuto sat at the kotatsu...he placed his head on the table-top. Completely comfy...
The warmth of the heater felt comfortable since he just came out from the stinging cold. His eyes trailed over to Chikane in the kitchen.
'She looks so much different from when we were kids.' He was thinking that Chikane really 'grew up.'
He shook his head to get the dirty thoughts out of his head, 'No, no, don't think like that!'
"Hey, Yuuto, I only have instant ramen." She looked like she was about to cry, holding the ramen with two hands to cover her face.
Yuuto scratched the back of his head, "Uh, I'm okay with instant ramen."
"Oh really." Her sad, tearful face suddenly became filled with happiness, she twirled on one foot and headed back into the kitchen.
"Than I'll make it right away!"
"Ah..thanks...uh..." He seemed to forget her name momentarily. "Uhhh...name...name..."
She suddenly froze in place.
"Yuuto...have you...forgotten my name?" The tone of her voice was her usual one, but there was something strange...like a hidden voice within her voice.
It finally appeared in his mind, "Chikane!" He exclaimed. "Sorry, it slipped my mind for a moment." He laughed it off.
"...." Chikane was silent. There was a lot of tension in the room, even an idiot could sense it. "...pft..." But in the end Chikane ended up laughing. "Oh, alright, if that's all it was, than I'll forgive you this time." She continued to cook, having that happy smile on her face again.
Yuuto felt a chill run down his spine.
'That...was a weird feeling...' He turned his attention to the screen door, staring at the outside...
Once again, drifting away off in his own world...
And than, like before: a singular heartbeat-like sound, the world in Yuuto's eyes started twisting and distorting into unrecognizable shapes.
Now the surrounding had more details: A slanted hill, two silhouetted children stood facing each other. A girl and a boy. The young girl slowly stepped towards the boy, something in her hand, a staff?
She touched the staff to his forehead. A black swirling light coming from the staff and surrounding the boy's skin, sinking deep into it.
The boy held onto his head as horns started bursting out, the silver colored grass becoming red with blood.
Afterwards, the horned boy ran off, leaving the young girl on her own.
And just like last time, the vision vanished into darkness, as if it was never there.
Chikane took off Yuuto's hat, and pat his head, as if looking for something.
Yuuto was taken out of his day dream, "What are you doing, Chikane?" He asked.
Chikane smiled, "Ah, they're still here." She touched the tip of Yuuto's horns. "You still have them, I would've thought you'd have cut them off by now."
Yuuto stepped back, "How...do you know?" No one should've know about Yuuto's horns, it was a very closely guarded secret. Just like the secret of him liking sob stories.
A type of smile that said: "I've known all along." Was plastered all over Chikane's face.
She touched her cheek and tilted her head off to one side, "I wonder..." As usual, her way of thinking was impossible to decipher.
"Well, I'll get back to cooking now, it'll be ready soon."
-Later that night-
As Yuuto rested on a futon laid out for him in the spare bed room, staring up at the ceiling. He couldn't help but wonder why Chikane knew about his horns?
'Come to think of it, these things appeared a short while after I left this place years ago. I wonder if she had anything to do with that?' He stared seriously at the ceiling for a while, before he eventually laughed it off and rolled on his side. "Nah, something like that's impossible." Than again, having horns weren't exactly 'normal' either.
It's amazing that it hadn't hit him up to now. "Hey wait a minute, I haven't seen anyone else in this house other than Chikane." He sat up with realization. "Does that mean, the two of us are completely alone?!"
"Correct, Yuuto." Chikane's voice whispered silently in his ear.
Yuuto backed away from Chikane who was lying on her side next to Yuuto. She must've been quieter than an invisible ninja from the future to have snuck in without making a single sound whatsoever.
She sat up, "Yuuto, what's with that look on your face? A cute girl comes into your room and you look like you're about to faint?" She moved in closer. "Is my body not good enough?" The cute/sad face she put on was simply irresistible.
"...." Yuuto remained silent, he tried to look at her face...but he was preoccupied with looking at something else at the moment. Two something’s actually. His pants were growing shorter by this time. (Bow chicka bow wow)
"It's not that." He answered with blood trailing from his nose.
A smile crept onto Chikane's face, "Hey, Yuuto, do you...want to play a game with me?" She asked in a very normal voice.
"A game?" He thought it would be one of those erotic games hence the embarrassed look on his face. "Uh, what kind of game?" He asked stupidly.
She reached behind her back. "A game...of life and death." Holding a very large kitchen knife over Yuuto's head. "Okay?" She thrust the knife down at Yuuto.
Yuuto had just barely dodged it, the blade's edge about one inch away from his most important male part. "Hey, I could've been neutered just then." He backed away as quickly as he could; trying to put as much distance between that knife's edge and his male parts as possible.
Chikane stood up, leaving the knife in the ground. "Aww, Yuuto, you got out of the way too quickly." She still had that cute smile on her face. "I was hoping to leave a cute bleeding mark on your head." Yet her words were so wrong, they befitted a yandere character rather than a moe one.
"Hey wait, what is this about?! I thought we were supposed to be friends?!" Yuuto didn't understand why Chikane was doing this.
Chikane tilted her head to one side, "What do you mean? I'm only doing this because I love you." She started advancing on him.
"You forgot? I think I told you many years ago...my family is coated in blood, since back in ancient times, my family has this tradition: To kill someone important to them. They would mark them with a curse, like your horns...and than try to kill them on a certain day. And when they die, that spirit becomes our servant for all eternity." She explained, standing in front of Yuuto. "That's why no one's here right now, because tonight is that night. Where you will become one with me...forever..." A scary smile on her face.
The knife had floated by her side, the tip pointed at Yuuto.
She broke into a creepy laugh.
((I just found out that one of the drawings didn't scan.
It was a fanservice drawing too, *SAD!!!!* ))
Yuuto broke into a run as quick as he could, running straight past Chikane and out the room door. When he ran to the door leading outside; he found it boarded up, with nails and glue.
"What the hell is this?!" He tried kicking the boarded up door, to see if it would break. But to no luck, that thing was shut tighter than a chastity belt. "Ah, the window!" Running to the nearest window, which was in the kitchen (When passing by the screen door in the living room, he found it was boarded up too). He tried opening it, however it was also nailed shut.
"Dammit." Than he thought of trying to find something he could use to break the window, something hard and blunt. He picked up an unused frying pan, and smashed it as hard as he could against the window.
As if he had been hit by something invisible, he fell backwards, landing on his back. When looking back to the unharmed window, he saw a seal forming on the window and than vanishing as quickly as it arrived.
"What the hell...magic?"
Very sharp kitchen ware floated above Yuuto, suspended in mid-air and ready to fall.
"I guess, you could call it something like that." Chikane's voice came from nearby.
She stood by the door, wearing a black reaper's cloak over her pajamas. She waved to Yuuto... "You can't leave now, after I've waited so long for you...I won't let you go."
"But, does it really not bother you to kill me?" Yuuto asked, getting out of the way of the knives’ tips. "What's the point of this?!"
"So you'll never leave me, ever...everyone leaves me in the end. Before we met..."
"There was a cute little bird who came to me on the playground. When I held out my hand, happy that something wasn't afraid of me, it's life was cut short."
"Hey, hey, you're that monster girl right?" A group of kids who constantly bullied Chikane were standing in front of her. One of them picked up the dead bird and held it out to Chikane. "Go ahead, eat it...monsters eat these kinds of things don't they?"
"...." Chikane was silent, a sorrow filled look in her eye as she stared in horror, experiencing firsthand the cruelty of humans.
She shook her head. "No."
"What, you don't want it? Than, I'll just throw it away." The evil child threw the bird away, tossed it like a piece of garbage.
They watched Chikane's tears and laughed.
"Ha-ha, a crying monster, oh how scary."
As Chikane's sadness grew, so did her anger.
"Unforgivable..." She said silently. "Humans are...UNFORGIVABLE!!!" As she spoke, the ground around her started cracking, holes forming around her.
"Ah, their cute little screams when I tore them apart." She held her cheeks and smiled. "Nightey night, Yuuto."
The knives blasted straight towards Yuuto.
But only barely missed him, causing him to make a weird pose.
Chikane burst out laughing, pointing at Yuuto. "Yuuto, that pose is so funny!" Once again, finding Yuuto nearly being killed/neutered funny.
Yuuto took this pause to run right past Chikane.
"Dammit, there's got to be a way out of here." Yuuto looked to the nearest room in the hallway, breaking it open.
He was expecting some kind of exit, but instead he found a room filled with nothing but blood stains and torture devices. It made him sick to his stomach...
"What...the hell is this...?"
"This is the punishment room." Chikane's voice came from down the hall. She was still smiling, "Whenever I was bad, I would be put in this room." She took a step past Yuuto, standing in the very center of the room.
"I called out a certain phrase every time the pain was unbearable:" She mimicked a sad child's voice. "Yuuto, save me!" She than went back to her 'normal' self. "I always believed you'd come save me, but you left...so I gave up hope on that." She undid her robes, bearing her whole body to Yuuto.
"These scars are a constant reminder to what a bad girl I was...but now, I'm good so I rarely get to come in this room now."
If the room itself didn't make him sick enough, Chikane's scarred body made him feel like throwing up.
He clutched his head, something forcing it's way inside. An image, of a little girl crying and screaming as she bled.
Chikane tilted her head off to one side. "Hey, hey, Yuuto, this game is becoming boring."
Formless shadows started coming to life.
"Can't you die already?"
More images appeared in Yuuto's head, a young girl hiding in the closet as shadowed figures moved around.
One of them stared at her, reaching out it's deformed hand. More hands started breaking through the closet doors.
"Help me!" She screamed.
'What's going on, why am I seeing this?' Yuuto couldn't understand any of this, or even why he was seeing this.
Suddenly, his senses were brought back to his current problem, namely the giant, formless, shadow that was about to attack.
A strong punch to the gut was all Yuuto felt as it propelled him against the wall, completely knocking the wind out of him.
As he tried to catch his breathe, his body was held up by the formless shadow. He felt something wrap around his throat, squeezing what little breathe was left out of him.
As he tried to squeeze out any gasps of breathe he could, his vision becoming blurry, and his hearing filled with the sound of the crazy laugh of Chikane. He felt hatred and contempt for her, but a small sound pierced through the laughs. It sounded like a small droplet of water hitting the ground.
When he focused on Chikane, he saw...she was laughing and crying.
"Chikane? I just don't understand what's going through your head!" The horns on his head pierced through his hat, becoming larger. Blood-red tribal markings started forming on Yuuto's whole body.
He found pulling the formless shadow's arm easier to push away. He gripped it with full force and pushed it away, falling against the wall, he gasped for air. Wanting a moment of silence, but it was cut short as the formless shadow slammed it's fist down on him. Having no time to dodge, he held up his arms. Blocking the full force of the impact. He slowly started standing, lifting the shadow's fist with him.
"DAMMIT!!!" He pushed the shadow's fist away and rushed straight in, punching straight through it's formless body, watching it vanish into particles around him. Not wasting a second, he rushed straight towards Chikane.
"Enough with this game already!" He punched through the formless shadows in his way, but it wasn't over yet, he rushed forward and grasped Chikane's shoulders.
However, once he did that the entire room went black, Yuuto was falling into the shadows...
He hit an invisible ground hard, "Ow...where am I now?" He rubbed his head, but found his horns gone. But that wasn't important right now, his main concern was getting out of where he was now.
As he got to his feet, he saw absolutely nothing around...except.
He saw Chikane, holding her knees and sitting alone.
"Chikane?" He called out to her.
"This world, is such a cruel place." She said quietly, like a voice at the edge of a whisper.
"Since I was so small, everyone's always been...my enemy. Everyone always runs away from me." Windows started opening around them, playing Chikane's memories.
"Even you ran away."
One memory in particular, of a crying girl calling her friend on the phone, tears streaming down her cheeks as she desperately said: "Come over here and help me!"
"....." Yuuto remembered that day, however he had dismissed it as nothing more than a simple joke by his friend. Judging by the way things are now, it might have been different if Yuuto had taken the time to help Chikane back then.
"Do you even remember the promise that was made?" Chikane asked, a large window opening up behind her. Showing Chikane and Yuuto when they first made their promise.
Yuuto had forgotten Chikane's words back than. But now he heard it loud and clear.
"Save me when I'm in danger."
Those were the words that Chikane used back then. And the promise that Yuuto broke by leaving her behind.
"Chikane...I..." Yuuto couldn't think of words to say, he could apologize to her but what good would that do? What could he do to save a broken mind as it was?
Chikane stood in front of Yuuto, "For a long time I was waiting for you." Holding her hands behind her back and leaning forward.
"Chikane." Looking into her eyes, he saw the emptiness, despite the smile.
"I waited and waited, and so many bad things happened to me, and I called out to you...but you never came." She said with an even wider smile, tilting her head off to one side. Traumatic memories played in the screens all around Chikane, things that would make a normal person commit suicide.
"And after the horrible things were done and you didn't rescue me, I kept saying; "Yuuto must be busy, but he'll come back next time." that's what I said...time...after time...after time...after time..."
"Chikane." Yuuto's shoulders shook, the guilt growing inside him. Seeing the way Chikane had constantly been waiting for him to come rescue her, but he had been breaking that promise...that promise he forgot.
"I didn't know-"
"Why...Yuuto? Why is this world so cruel?" She asked, her smile fading. "Was I merely born to be a monster?" More memories around. "Was I never meant to be happy?" She looked up and smiled again. "I wore this smile because it was the one thing that proved I still had hope...hope that you'd come save me. Because I loved you, Yuuto." This would've been a tear jerking moment, but Chikane didn't cry. Just smile, that empty look in her eyes still present.
Yuuto understood now. Chikane had never had anyone she could ever truly call a friend, no one other than Yuuto.
The thing that broke Chikane's mind, was her memories, memories of so much pain, and the only thing that kept her alive all this time was the thought that Yuuto would come back to her...but even that caused her mind to break. Until she became like this, now wanting to kill Yuuto and make him into a slave to her magic.
"It's all my fault." Yuuto said silently.
'She became like this because I broke my promise.'
"Chikane...I didn't know...I'm sorry." He said slightly louder. He placed his hands on her shoulders. "However, you don't need to kill me to make sure I keep my promise. I'll say it loud and clear, I'll stay by your side from now on!" More windows opened up, this time filled with good memories shared by the two of them.
He pulled her into a tight hug. "I don't deserve to be your friend, I don't deserve your forgiveness, I don't even deserve to be the one you love. But, I want another chance...and this time, I won't let you fall. I'll always catch you. I'll always save you from now on...Chikane!"
These words, were new to Chikane. Words of kindness that she hadn't heard in so long. "...." A look of confusion on her face as Yuuto embraced her.
"Chikane...I...I..." Soundless words were followed, as quiet as a single raindrop amongst thousands more. Yet Chikane understood as though she had said them herself.
The light in her eyes become whole again. She slowly wrapped her hands back around Yuuto. A warm smile on her face...
Yuuto and Chikane were sitting together on a bench on a bridge, overlooking the frozen river, as the snow fell on the unsuspecting world beneath the white sky.
"Chikane...shouldn't we get back inside, before we freeze?" Yuuto said, stroking Chikane's head.
A warm smile on her face as she rested against Yuuto's chest. "I want to stay like this a little longer." She whispered softly.
Yuuto smiled back at her, "Alright, if that's what you wish." Yuuto stared up at the naked sky, 10 thousand snow flakes maybe more, a soothing scene before them.
Chikane looked to Yuuto. "Yuuto, I want to make a promise with you: If there's ever a time...when I disappear, I will come back to you. Okay?"
Yuuto wondered what she meant by that? "What do you mean? It's sounds like you're saying we won't see each other for a long time."
"That's...exactly it..." Chikane disappeared from Yuuto's grasp, now standing on the edge of the bride railing.
A shocked look on his face, Yuuto stood up. "Hey, it's dangerous there!" He shouted out in concern.
Chikane continued walking regardless. "I really enjoyed my time with you, Yuuto." Without another word, Chikane spread out her arms in an eagle-spread. "Farewell for now, Yuuto." She fell backwards, right over the bridge's edge.
Yuuto rushed forward, reaching out to her...but it was too late, his hand failing to grasp her.
He woke up on a train heading back home.
"...." He was silent, he clenched his knuckles. "I...failed again." Once again, just like last time he was unable to keep his promise, and it felt like nothing had changed.
"I wanted to save you, like I should've long ago."
In the city, Yuuto sat in a large plaza full of people, he had his cell-phone in hand. Staring at a picture of Chikane when she was younger. Ignoring the snow that fell on his head.
"But in the end, I couldn't save you even though I promised. I was useless in the end."
A figure stood in front of Yuuto. Leaning over to him, she tilted her head to one side. "Why are you sitting out here in the snow?" She looked exactly like Chikane.
"You'll freeze to death out here." She smiled warmly. The same smile and face as Chikane.
She held her hand, "Come on, you shouldn't have a sad look like that on your face on Christmas Eve." She giggled as she pulled Yuuto with her.
"Huh, hey, wait!" Yuuto was unable to resist as she pulled him along.
"Didn't I tell you I'd come back?" A soundless voice echoed inside Yuuto's ears.
This new girl looked over her shoulder at Yuuto. "What's wrong?" She asked. "Could it be you don't want to spend your Christmas with a cute girl like me?"
"...." Yuuto was silent, still hadn't got over the voice in his head.
Yuuto grasped her hand tightly. His shoulders shook as he wiped his eyes with his sleeve.
"Hey, are you crying? You're a man aren't you?" She said, staring at him with a disbelieving face. "A man shouldn't be crying." She added.
"Oh forget it, by the way, what’s your name?” He asked without delay.
"My name?" She placed a finger on her cheek, looking off to the snowy sky. "Actually, I don't remember."
"Where one story ends, another begins anew. But than, I guess it's not exactly a new story...it's just a retelling."
“…it saw a painter in front of a finished canvas. Perching itself atop the canvas, it asked the painter: "Mr. painter, why do you paint?"
The painter smiled and responded: "Because, that is how I live." He knew life ends, but a painting can survive for years to come."
A single tear rolled down her red, puffy cheeks. Wiping her tear away with her sleeve. From the open window on her left, she felt a gentle breeze sway against her cheeks.
"A wind of change?" She said quietly to herself.
"Brrrr..." She shivered, as she breathed she saw her own breath, that's how cold it was, despite it being summer, call it one of those unlikely cold summer days. Even the kotatsu she was sitting at didn't help warm her up (because it was broken).
The levels of her annoyance were steadily rising as it just got colder...and colder. She was even wearing a blanket over herself, but even THAT didn't help. She couldn't understand HOW her friend could even remain in this ice-box, let alone live in it.
"Reiji, it's cold." She pouted.
Reiji completely ignored her. Too busy hovering over his incomplete canvas. A serious look on his face as he stared directly at the soon-to-be masterpiece. It was possible that he hadn't even noticed it was cold, focusing 100% on the canvas he was painting.
And just like that, her anger levels rose even further. "Reiji...Reiji..." She called but still no luck. Hating to be ignored she thought she'd need to take drastic measures. She made her way to Reiji's side.
Hovering around him like a bee encircling a flower, she waved her hand in front of his face while calling out: "Reiji~" In a sing-songy voice.
And even that didn't work out. Reiji just tapped the tip of her nose with the opposite end of the paint brush.
That got her even more annoyed. She lunged forward and ended up covering his eyes, nose, and mouth. "Reiji!!! Pay attention to me dammit!"
"....." Reiji was silent for a few moments. He then ended up flailing his arms around, not because he was playing along...but because he couldn't breathe!!!
Gripping on her hands, he pulled them away from his mouth at least. Using his superior strength, at last he gasped a big breathe of air!
That made her let go and skip two steps back. Holding her hands back and leaning forward, "So, are you gonna pay attention to me now?"
Breathing slowly to let the air into his lungs, he looked over to her.
For revenge, Reiji pulled on her cheeks as hard as he could, this kind of stuff was normal for the two of them.
"Miyako, I could've suffocated just then!" Obviously he'd be pissed. He coughed a couple times before stabilizing.
She didn't seem to really care that much, "Well, you weren't paying attention to me." She pouted.
He knew she wouldn't apologize anyways, "Yah, great...so what do you want?" He thought there must've been a good reason why Miyako would bug him while he's in the middle of painting.
"....." She was silent at she stared at him with a blank expression on her face.
She blinked once. Twice.
And then she raised her right hand's index finger. "Reiji..." She began. Taking a deep breath she shouted out as loud as she could: "IT'S FREAKING COLD IN HERE! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, DAMNIT!!!"
The epic loudness of the yell caused Reiji to fall over on his side.
He sat up, "Hey, if you can only complain than just go back to your own house! With your heater and rich person stuff!" He shot back as he dusted himself off.
"Besides, I prefer the cold over the heat. If it's cold I could just pile my clothes on, if it's hot than I can only take off a certain number of layers and it'd still be hot." Logically, it made sense.
She stared at him with an annoyed look in her eyes, the kind of look that said: "Your logic bores me."
"Your logic bores me." She said aloud. She moved towards the only door leading outside, "Well than, if you're gonna be like that I'll just go home. And to think I was just trying to spend time with you." She looked over her shoulder to see if Reiji was feeling guilt.
Instead she saw him hovering back over the unfinished canvas.
"Oh fine, cya around Reiji!" She slammed the door behind her.
"...." He remained silent not even reacting to the slamming of the door. He looked over his shoulder seeing that his 'house' was now completely empty. "She's gone." A sad tone in his voice.
He returned his focus to the unfinished canvas. However, his mind was filled with the yelling Miyako.
"Maybe I should've paid more attention to her? She does keep me company." He shook his head to get the thought out of his mind, "Maybe a change of scenery will do?" Staying in his house only caused his mind to remain unfocused.
He set up his canvas on a bridge suspended over an ever flowing river, the setting sun clearly reflected on the water's surface. "Perfect." Reiji said with a smile on his face.
He focused on his unfinished canvas, prepared to paint a masterpiece. Something soft and small brushed across his right leg, looking down he stared into the green eyes of a black cat.
The cat looked at him once before going off on its way.
His eyes followed the cat's path as his eyes beheld a young woman sitting on the railing of the bridge. Legs swaying back and forth as a couple cats surrounded her. She pet the ones closest to her.
He was struck in complete silence, never before had he seen anything quite like it. A varied mixture of feelings were swelling up inside him, a warm feeling that filled his entire being, could it have been love at first sight?
Without even realizing it, his hands had begun to paint what he could see.
"Am I that interesting?" She said with a weak voice as though she was sick. She didn't feel angry not even annoyed that she was being painted without permission, all she did was look at him with a curious look in her eyes.
"Ah, sorry." Reiji quickly apologized, realizing it was probably rude to paint someone who he'd never met before and without their permission, most people were self conscious about those kinds of things. "I can scrap it if you want?" He really didn't want to scrap it, having already painted a fair amount. Than he'd have to start a new one all over again.
She was quiet for a few moments, her finger against her cheek. "Oh my." She laughed. "One must finish what they started." After her words of wisdom, she sat perfectly still. "Paint quickly, for I have to go back home soon."
He felt a strong feeling of excitement surge through his body, this feeling activated the adrenaline in his mind which made him an even better painter. "Yes ma'am!" Taking the brush in his hand he placed the tip against the canvas. His eyes scanning the unfinished painting and his model, he took one big deep breathe and than...let his instincts take over.
A couple dexterous strokes of the brush against the canvas, dipping in some paint, waiting for certain parts to dry out before continuing, careful not to smudge or make unnecessary strokes. And after 1 hour and 23 minutes of careful work, the canvas was finished.
"It's finished." He said quietly to himself, taking 3 steps back from the canvas. He made a square with his thumbs and index fingers. Getting the canvas directly into the square. "This'll do." He said to himself as he reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a small digital camera.
Carefully aiming, he pressed a button on top, 'click' went the camera, saving the picture to it's memory. "Now to go ho-" He nearly forgot about his model. "Oh, right," He turned to face her, "Thanks for all your help...miss..." His voice trailed off.
"Zzzzz..." A soft breathing sound of sleep escaping her soft lips. She had probably fallen asleep a short time ago.
She looked so vulnerable, so fragile, such a small existence she had. It was like a reflection in a puddle, it would vanish at the slightest touch.
He stood next to the sleeping girl, he remembered what she said earlier; "I have to go back home soon." Having finished his painting, he didn't want this girl to get in trouble with whoever was supposed to be watching her.
"Hey, miss." He called at first.
Amazingly enough, she started to stir. She blinked once, twice, three times. Wiping the sleepies out of her eyes as she yawned and stretched. "I'm sorry, did I fall asleep while you were painting?" She asked in such a tired voice. "I'm sorry." She apologized.
He actually got his painting done as quickly as possible and it turned out well, so he really didn't feel that the girl should apologize. "Don't be sorry." He shrugged, "You were a good model." He saw that the paint on his canvas was dried now.
"Hey, miss." He called out to her. While she was looking, he turned the canvas in her direction. "It's thanks to you that I was able to paint something like this." In truth, he hadn't painted something like this in a long time.
"...." She didn't say a word, all she had was a look of shock and surprise on her face. As if she couldn't believe someone painted her so brilliantly. The painting looked so life like to her, she felt as though the boy had taken a picture or opened a window through time as she watched herself 1 hour prior.
A soft smile was shown on her face, "I like it." She admitted.
She got to her feet and paced around the finished canvas, "Did you ever hear the story of the bird and the painter?"
This story was unfamiliar to him, he wasn't sure if it even existed. "I don't think I've heard of it."
She smiled, "The story goes; A bird watched a painter finishing his canvas, the bird asked; "Mr. Painter why do you paint?" do you know how the painter responded?" Turning her head to look at Reiji she paused for dramatic effect.
Reiji shook his head, having not known the answer.
She giggled softly, placing her hands behind her back and spinning on one leg around Reiji, finally stopping behind him. "Because that's how I live." She said softly, but there was a certain pain in her voice that Reiji couldn't quite put his finger on.
She started walking slowly across the bridge, "Thank you for painting me, uhhh, I'm sorry I don't know your name."
Reiji looked over his shoulder at the strange girl, "Nanahara, my name is Reiji Nanahara." He called out to her.
She chuckled and tilted her head, "I'm Ayane." She responded from the other side of the bridge.
Reiji wondered why she didn't give out her last name? "What's your family name?" He asked, not realizing that it may have been a sensitive subject.
She placed a finger against her lip, and winked at him. As if saying, "It's a secret."
After that gesture she was gone. She had made such a large impression on Reiji in such a small way, like a bee who pollinates a sunflower so that it may live and thrive in this world. And just like night and day she vanished, but Reiji felt he'd see her again.
Reiji thought back to the small story she told him, and the pain that was in her voice as she told it. He couldn't help but feel curious about it, however it was most likely a subject best left for another time.
For now, it was time to go home. The mid-day sky would soon be replaced with the night...
-The next day-
Today was, like yesterday, cold and windy despite it being summer.
On this particular morning, Reiji peddled up the steep hill with his bike, the look in his eyes made it seem as though he was half asleep. "So tired..." He mumbled to himself. "But, at least it's the final day before the Summer break." That thought kept him happy.
"Hey, lolicon…" Miyako's half-asleep voice came from behind him.
Reiji felt a weight on the back of his bike. Feeling the bike falling backwards, he peddled with even greater strength than was originally required for this hill. "Morning...Jailbait!" He said through clenched teeth, already beads of sweat were dripping from his head due to this hellish exercise...AND IT'S COLD OUTSIDE!!!
Miyako squinted at Reiji in a way that said; 'are you that weak?'
"You're out of shape, Reiji." She commented with disgust. She hopped off the back of the bike, "it's faster if I walk."
Reiji let out a huge breathe of relief, breathing heavily from that 'workout'...if it could be called a workout.
He fell off the side of his bike, once again becoming familiar with the ground.
"Sorry. But I didn't get much sleep yesterday." The truth was, he was working on some wall art in his room before falling asleep, that alone took him all night.
"Eh? Reiji, you should take better care of yourself." She frowned, obviously disappointed in Reiji's lack of self care.
She turned on her heel and continued walking, "Also, if you‘re late I‘m not feeding you today." She said as she broke into a run that rivaled the track team. "The bells about to ring." She called back to him.
"Bell?" Reiji's brain was currently disorganized at the moment. "Bell...bell...?" He mimed, he glanced to his school uniform and the bike he on his left.
He put two and two together, and so his reaction was a little something like this:
-.-?? ... -.- ........ O.O!!!!
"Oh crap I'm gonna be late!" He ran at first, but than stopped when realizing he had a bike back there. He turned around and made a mad dash for his bike, he had just gotten to it before finally.
<bell sound here>
He was already too late. "No way." He was late, "Aw, man..." In his school, late students weren't allowed to attend classes for the whole day, the gates were locked until dismissal.
He fell off his bike for an unbelievable second time. "What do I do now?" He could go home and-
"Nanahara-san?" A quiet but familiar voice called out to him.
"Huh?" Turning his head slightly to the left, he saw the same mysterious girl from yesterday. "Ayane?" He was a little surprised to see her here of all places.
Since Reiji had nothing better to do, he ended up walking with Ayane. He pushed his bike between them as they walked, he asked; "What were you doing here anyways, Ayane?" The odds of them meeting in the same place after meeting was highly unlikely.
"The route I was on was close to where I was staying, so I decided to take a quick walk." She answered honestly, raising her index finger and closing her eyes as she answered.
She raised her middle finger next to her index finger, "This is the second time we've met, if we meet again by chance it's probably fate at work." She giggled in a cute way.
"Ah, yah." Reiji was thinking about what she said earlier:
["The route I was on was close to where I was staying..."]
'But...there are no houses around my school. How far did she walk?' As he tried to unravel this mystery, he wasn't exactly paying attention to what Ayane was saying.
"...Nanahara-san...?" She tilted her head to one side, a curious look plastered on her face when noticing Reiji's puzzled look. "Hmmm..." She waved her hand in front of his face. "Hello? Nanahara-san?"
"Hm?" Reiji was snapped out of his thinking by Ayane. "Ah, sorry, did you say something?"
She laughed, "Oh, not really." She spun on her heel as she moved forward. "Hey, Nanahara-san, do you paint often?" She asked in a curious tone.
"Uh..." The truth was, he tried painting something whenever he had free time.
"I guess." But he was kind of embarrassed to admit that he basically had very little contact with people other than Miyako.
An image of Miyako appeared in his mind. A pained look appeared on his face. 'Now that I think about it, I've only really communicated with that loli-looking girl. Am I...that pathetic?' He felt like sulking right now.
To change the subject he asked, "What about you? You seem to know a lot about painting."
She paused in her tracks, "Do I?" There was pain her voice. "If you must know, a long time ago I used to paint." The tone of her voice so quiet and withdrawn, it kinda seemed unlike her. "But do to certain circumstances, I don't paint anymore."
Reiji felt that it probably wasn't any of his business, but he asked anyways: "Why'd you stop painting?" Though he saw Ayane smile, he felt pain in her heart. He couldn't explain what he felt, but it was just...there...like he knew.
Ayane lifted her finger to her lip, "I'm afraid that's a secret." She said as cheerful as ever. She took a deep sigh watching the clouds pass by, "It looks like...it's gonna rain soon." She frowned. Turning to Reiji she took a few steps towards him. Being merely a few centimeters away from him.
Reiji's cheeks turned red, he could hear his every heart beat. Staring into Ayane's eyes, he took a deep gulp.
'What's she doing? Is this...some kind of confession, did she fall in love with me already?' Even in manga, things didn't progress this fast...unless it was an H-manga! Did that mean that they were going to...
An image appeared in his mind that caused the redness in Reiji's cheeks to deepen, unable to take it anymore he turned away from Ayane. Panting heavily and sweat dripping down his temple, 'Oh man, that was too close.'
Instead she just pat his head, "Thanks for walking me back, Nanahara-san."
She turned onto a stone road, leading to the hospital.
"...You...live in the hospital?" Reiji asked, he sort of felt sorry for her. "Do you have a serious illness?" He asked, not realizing he may have been prying.
He thought she'd say; "I'm afraid that's a secret" again.
Instead, she said; "Actually to tell you the truth..." She paused for some reason, averting her eyes, she held a serious/sorrowful look on her face.
"Ayane?" Reiji called out her name, wondering if she was okay. "If you don't want to talk about it than-"
Ayane shook her head, "No it's not that...I was just pausing for dramatic effect." The smile on her face returned. "The truth is, I have really bad allergies. My face gets all puffy and gross, it's not life threatening but it becomes really difficult to do regular activities."
"Eh?" Reiji felt like falling over, since all it turned out to be was allergies. Even though there's probably some kind of medication or something.
"So what are you allergic to?"
At this, Ayane did put her finger up to her lip and said her phrase; "I'm afraid that's a secret."
Ayane opened the door to her room, "Welcome to my room." Her room consisted of herself, a hospital bed, a night stand, and a book shelf with a large surplus of books. Excluding the book-shelf, it was just things you'd expect a hospital room to have. She took a seat on her bed, covering herself with the sheets. "Thanks for walking me up to my room as well, Nanahara-san."
"No problem." Reiji didn't look at her, he was staring at a painting of a field of sunflowers by the window. Such beauty he could see in the painting, it was almost like he could see the feelings reflected in it. There were also some canvases stacked up behind the painting, covered so Reiji had no idea what was in them.
"That's an amazing painting, did you do that?" He asked.
"...No...that was done by my mother." Her voice trailed off. "The last painting she ever did." Ayane rest her head on the pillow.
"Hey, Reiji, I'm starting to feel tired."
"Oh, I got it. Afraid I'll do something indecent while you sleep?" Reiji joked.
"...I'm a dangerous sleeper..." She said in a quiet tone.
"What's that mean?" He asked.
She looked to him from the corner of her eyes, "Wanna find out?" A sweet voice she used, but an evil aura she had.
"...." Since Reiji liked to keep all his bones in place, he backed out of this one.
"No thanks." He shook his head.
"Before I forget, write down your address, please." She asked.
"Because I'm a stalker." She laughed cutely.
When all that was done, and Reiji was exiting the hospital he overheard a conversation between two people:
"Hey do you know why the east wing is closed off?"
"That's for people with really bad things, odds are everyone admitted there will die sooner or later."
"....!" Reiji stopped in his tracks when hearing the last part.
[Odds are everyone admitted there will die sooner or later]
"Ayane's room...is in the east wing."
-3 days later-
At first she knocked on the door, as it was the proper thing to do. It opened on it's own, revealing a dark room and a large pile of clothe. "It's so dark in here."
"Nanahara-san?" She stood over Reiji. "You doing okay?"
"Uh...hey, Ayane." He waved to her. "Can you help me up?"
"Sure." She pulled on his hand. However, when she stepped back her foot slipped on some clothe. "!!!"
As she fell, her free hand grazed the light-switch.
She crashed hard, feeling a throbbing pain in the back of her head. As she opened her eyes, she felt her breathe being taken away.
Not because Reiji was on top of her, but because of what was above Reiji.
"The sky." She said to herself, tears growing in her eyes. She felt like she was actually staring into the true sky. "How beautiful."
"Well, you see it happened a little something like this..." Reiji began to explain the event of what happened prior to Ayane's arrival.
[Miyako rang the door bell, but no one answered. Most people would've either left, or just stopped ringing the doorbell. She however, with her tsundere personality kicked the door open. For such a small, frail looking body she had great power in her legs.
What she saw was a giant pile of clothe in the center of the room. A look of shock and surprise on her face,
"Wh-what is that?"
A hand shot out of the pile of clothe!
"EEEKKK!!!" She screamed, being surprised by the dead-looking hand.
"He-he-help..." It reached out for something.
"Ah, stay away, zombie!" Picking up a random shovel, she hit the hand over and over again until it stopped moving.
Her breathing erratic when she saw the hand twitch.
Reiji's head popped out of the pile of clothe. "I thought I was gonna suffocate in there!" He gasped for breathe!
"And you hit my hand with a shovel!" An excruciating pain in his hand, ignoring the question of why there's a shovel in his house, or why Miyako would believe Reiji's hand to be a zombie.
"Reiji?! What are you doing under there?!" She grabbed his hands and pulled with all her might.
"I don't know! I come home and there's this pile of clothe here, I trip and fall in, I've been here since last night!" Reiji complained.
"...." Miyako let go of her hand. "Oh...right...eh-heh-heh..." She laughed nervously, twiddling her thumbs while laughing. "Sorry."
Reiji fell right back against the pile of clothe.
"So it's your fault." Reiji could already tell.
"...." An awkward silence between them.
To break the silence, Miyako exclaimed; "I'll...I'll go get something to fix up your hand." And with those words, Miyako ran out the door.
"Wait, rather than that! Help me up!" Reiji called out, but it was already too late. Miyako was long gone. He fell right back down. He didn't even notice the door opened only minutes later later.]
"And that's when you showed up." He finished off his explanation with a simple shrug.
However, Reiji’s words had fallen on deaf ears. Ayane was lost in her own little world, her gaze never turning away from the painted ceiling.
She started reminiscing about a time from the past:
On a warm spring day, a little girl sat by her mother’s bed side. She watched enthusiastically as her mother painted a portrait of the outside world.
Tugging on her mom’s sleeve, she asked in a shy voice; “Momma, why do you paint so much?”
With a smile and a warm voice, her mother responded, “Any painting could be my last, so I want to leave a lot of myself in this world.”
At the time, Ayane had thought her mother had magical powers to stay alive through painting. “Than, I’ll start painting too! So momma will get better quicker!” She believed so hard, that she could keep her mother alive just through painting. If only she had understood what it meant…
“Ayane? Ayane? You okay?” Reiji’s voice had brought Ayane out of her delusional state.
Rather than answer Reiji, Ayane pointed to the painted ceiling.
“That…was it you who painted it?” She asked in a curious tone.
He scratched the back of his head, “Oh that, yah this room was boring so I just put that up there…sure beats wood, doesn’t it?” He asked, he couldn’t see it’s beauty because he was the one who created it. He could only appreciate it’s craft and skill, but he could never see it from the view of someone seeing it for the first time.
Ayane placed a hand on her chest, she felt her heartbeat from watching the painting. “It’s truly…a masterpiece.” She complimented, turning her head towards Reiji, “You are a very talented painter, Reiji.”
“Oh,” Reiji’s cheeks turned red as he scratched the back of his head, “I’m not…really that great.” Every artist’s greatest critic was themselves.
“Hey, Reiji…” She grasped his right hand into her own, with a cute smile she asked, “Do you want to go somewhere?”
“…” Reiji remained silent as he stared blankly into Ayane’s big, hopeful eyes.
He finally said, “Don’t you think this is moving too fast?” He joked.
In retaliation, Ayane’s cute gaze turned into a piercing stare.
“Are you expecting…something perverted to happen?”
-About 30 min. later-
Somehow, through some sort of powerful Ayane-styled persuasion, the two adolescents ended up sitting in a diner.
Reiji’s head was making friends with the table, “How…exactly did you persuade me into doing this?” He wanted some kind of explanation.
With a laugh she answered, “It’s because you can’t resist a cute girl.” She placed a straw inside the strawberry milk-shake she ordered. A happy look on her face as she sucked on the straw.
A very happy look on her face when she pulled her lips away from the straw.
“Thanks for the treat, Reiji.” She wasn’t without manners at least.
“N-No problem.” Reiji scratched the back of his head, but was than snapped back to his senses. “NO, WAIT A MOMENT, MONEY’S TIGHT FOR ME!!!!” He explained, trying to plead with Ayane not to order too much.
“Hm?” She hadn’t been listening to a word he said, the waitress at their table had already left with an order.
“Oops.” She stuck out her tongue.
Reiji’s head slammed on the table…hard, making a loud thudding noise.
“Why…why are you trying to bleed me dry?” He felt like crying, he just knew by the end of the day he will have lost a lot of money.
Ayane opened her mouth to answer Reiji’s hypothetical question, instead of giving a long winded speech she merely said; “Just because.”
That answer made Reiji want to throw himself out the diner’s window…or dine and dash, he was considering his options here.
As Reiji saw Ayane happily slurp her milk shake he remembered that conversation he overhead about the East Wing.
“Hey, Ayane…why are you in the East Wing?” When he asked that question, the atmosphere between them suddenly grew cold. Like someone who said something wrong at their friend’s mother’s funeral.
“Why is it you don’t attend school?” Reiji continued.
Ayane didn’t let it show though, pulling her lips away from the straw she took a deep breathe before speaking.
“Because, I’ve been ill for a while. So I haven‘t been in school for a while.” She explained.
Reiji felt he shouldn’t press the issue any further. However, his curiosity had gotten the better of him.
“Mind me asking what kind of illness do you have? I don't think you have allergies.”
“What kind you ask?” She placed her finger on her chin and tilted her head to one side. “Hmmmm…” She seemed to be thinking, or stalling for time;
Reiji face-palmed himself. “The flu?” Reiji repeated. He had expected some kind of rare, complicated illness that were only found in a select variety of people or something like that.
“I guess, it feels like the flu and I haven’t been able to get rid of it.” The waitress brought over various desserts, Reiji held in his comments about the possibility of eating all that might get Ayane fat.
Reiji knew the kinds of risks in telling a girl she might get fat…he had a feeling he’d end up on the evening news as a homicide victim found floating in the river.
“By the way, that was a lie.” She exclaimed as she started digging into a chocolate, jumbo Parfait.
“HUH?!” Even though it seemed unlikely, Reiji had completely believed Ayane’s lie. “So than…what is your illness?” He asked once more.
“I’m afraid that’s a secret.” She said as she took another bite of her delicious dessert. Of course she wouldn't tell, she lied about it twice already.
“Aren’t I paying for your food?” Reiji countered.
He was really curious to wonder what Ayane’s illness was.
“True…alright, I’ll make you a deal…show me a good time today, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.” She smiled mischievously, making Reiji wonder if she was serious.
She leaned in towards Reiji, “Than do you want me to show you my special areas?” She asked seductively.
“!!!” Reiji had been so shocked from the sudden suggestion he fell off his chair. Twitching on the ground as if he'd been electrocuted by a sudden bolt of lightning.
Ayane looked down at him, “Lightweight.” She mocked as she continued to eat her food.
As the day went on, many crazy, unexpected things happened but as Ayane said; “They were fun.” rather than terrifying and shocking for Reiji.
And now the two were crossing that bridge where they first met.
Ayane leaned against the railing, staring down into the ever-flowing river.
Reiji couldn’t tell what she was thinking, if he knew anything about Ayane it’s that he could never predict what was going on in her head.
“Hey Reiji…” She began, “Do want to know why I started painting?”
“…Yah…” Reiji couldn’t lie about how curious he was, and Ayane was opening up to him. He would be a jerk if he refused.
Ayane’s story began with her mother, a world renowned painter, one of the few people who mastered many mediums;
But one day, Ayane’s mother starting feeling very ill.
-Ayane age: 7-
On a cold winter’s night, Ayane had been awoken when she heard a loud thudding sound coming from the hallway.
Climbing out of her little bed, she staggered towards the door. The moment she opened the door, she saw her mother had collapsed.
“I learned my mom had a genetic illness…” Ayane paused, her illness was probably the same one.
-Ayane age: 9-
Ayane had gone to live with relatives, but every day she found a way to visit her mom in the hospital. At times it became a hassle, but she still arrived to keep her mother company.
Ayane was really close to her mom, seeing her as her idol, the woman she wanted to grow up to become.
“Hey, Ayane…do you want to learn how to paint?” Her mother asked.
Of course, Ayane jumped at the chance to learn the craft her mother had perfected.
“I progressed quickly, it was probably because I had always watched my mother paint. She told me that she lived through her paintings…at the time, I thought she meant it literally. But I was wrong.”
-Ayane age: 13-
It was just a normal day to Ayane, she was going to visit her mother and show her a painting she had worked on.
But when she slid the door to her mother’s hospital room open, she found her mother lying on the ground.
She had called the doctors, but it was already too late.
Ayane’s mother had passed from the world that day, her last painting was one of sunflowers with a red mark staining the canvas.
As Ayane finished her story, tears started falling from her eyes.
She wiped her eyes with her sleeves, but they just kept falling faster.
“When I realized…I won't live to see my next birthday, I tried to follow in my mother‘s footsteps by leaving pieces of myself behind.” Her shoulders shook as she continued wiping her tears, her voice becoming heavy and stuttering.
“B-But, I was never able t-to create anything a-as good as m-my mo-mother. When I-I look a-at what I‘ve d-done, I think: ‘who will re-remember me, wh-who would m-miss me?’ Not a single p-person will k-know I was here, I-I‘ll fade into the s-seas of time…forgotten.”
Reiji couldn’t stand seeing her like this, he wanted to do something to take away her worries.
“That’s not true.” Reiji exclaimed, placing his hand on Ayane’s shoulder he continued; “I know you existed, I know you‘re here right now, I know that your name is Ayane!” He spoke with such passion, he was practically burning up. “You’re not your mother, you're Ayane.” He spoke in a softer tone.
Ayane looked away from Reiji, wiping her tears once more.
“Thanks…Reiji…” She used his first name now, meaning they had probably grown a little closer.
She turned to face Reiji and moved in closer, “Reiji…do you want to kiss me?” She asked with a cute face.
Like earlier, Reiji had been taken aback by the sudden, unexpected sentence that came from Ayane.
His cheeks turned bright red, he was literally frozen in place, unable to say anything and unable to move. Kind of stuck in that limbo where he neither wants to or not.
Ayane grasped his hands, into her own.
“Reiji…” She said softly as she looked into his eyes. She moved in for the kiss…
‘Hold on, I don’t know about this? Don’t you think this is progressing too fast. We haven’t known each other long enough!’
Things that Reiji wanted to say, but couldn’t, he’d be lying by saying he didn’t want to.
As he waited for Ayane’s kiss, he became anxious, he started imagining what it would be like…what it could lead up to…where their future would go from here.
And than he remembered;
[“I wouldn’t live to see my next birthday.”]
Those were the exact words Ayane used, even if he progressed in this relationship it would only lead to pain.
Ayane paused just before their lips met, as if knowing what would happen by taking this leap.
She stepped back from Reiji. Instead of giving an explanation, she just laughed in his face.
“Did you think I was actually gonna kiss you?!” She teased, “Sorry, but you haven’t built up enough points for that.” Once again referring this as a dating sim game.
“Huh? Hey! I can’t believe I believed you!” Reiji ruffled his hair in frustration. He probably should've seen that coming, she's been doing similar things all day.
It was in that moment, a very strange wind blew past Ayane. Looking in that direction, it seemed as though she was looking into the setting sun vanishing beneath the city buildings.
Ayane smiled warmly, “I wished, these days would’ve continued.” She mumbled under her breathe.
“What?” Reiji had heard her, but didn’t know what she was saying.
She shook her head, “No, it’s nothing.” As she turned on her heel she made her way to the other end of the bridge. “Well, I’ll be going back now. This‘ll probably be the last time we meet like this.”
“Huh, why?” This was a sudden change, Reiji wanted to know why. He wondered if he had done something to upset her?
“It’s not your fault, just fate. They’re transferring me to a hospital in another city.” As she spoke, it was with her back turned to him. “In two days, to be exact. I won‘t be able to come out of the hospital after that.”
Reiji felt a clenching in his chest, disappointment,
“Oh, I see.” Than an idea came to him, “But there’s nothing wrong with me visiting you tomorrow, right?”
She tilted her head off to one side, “Hm, I don’t think anyone will have a problem with that.”
“Alright, than, tomorrow I’ll come see you.” And with those words, Reiji saw a bit of happiness light up in Ayane’s face as she approved.
The two had gone their separate ways, and Reiji was back home.
As his key reached inside the lock on the doorknob, he felt a sudden wave of realization hit him, “Did I forget something?” He wondered to himself.
He opened the door, at first there was nothing that seemed to have changed. And than when he closed the door behind him, he saw something small rush in from the kitchen and the next moment he felt a weight against his chest being thrown at him, which knocked him against the door as he fell on his bottom.
Thinking of only one person this small, “Miyako!” He scolded, “What are you trying to do by attacking me?” As he scolded he paused mid-sentence when he realized…
Miyako was crying against Reiji’s chest.
‘Miyako?’ It was rare for him to see her like this, usually she had more of a tsundere kind of personality. “Hey, why are you crying, that’s not like you.” He spoke softly.
Her sounds of crying stopped, looking up at him with a sad look on her face and tears still streaming down her cheeks, it reminded him of Ayane earlier.
“You left me alone.” She sobbed, “When I came back, you were gone…” She lowered her head like a child when they do something bad. “I thought you were mad at me.” She confessed.
Reiji sighed, knocking her on the head, “Idiot…how could I ever be mad at you?” He pulled her closer in his arms, hugging her to take her fears away. He didn’t say anything more as Miyako let it all out…
-Next day, afternoon-
“Though we’ve lived in two separate worlds, the two of us have always been together.”
“Hey, Miyako, I’m right here.” Reiji waved his hand in Miyako’s dazed face. “Did you hear what I said?”
Miyako snapped out of her monologue, “Uh…” She tried to think of some sort of witty response.
It ended up like so, “This is not the loli you are looking for.” She said in a mysterious voice as she waved her hand slowly through the air.
“…” Reiji remained silent, “Anyways, I’m gonna try to find my way back to their room, you wait here.” Because he knew Miyako would probably get lost if she went alone.
She waved him off, “Yah, yah, I got it. Just go, find your friend and come get me, alright.” She didn’t seem to mind, plopping herself in the waiting room bench.
“…You gonna be alright by yourself?” Reiji asked with a worried look on his face.
Her cheeks turned red at the thought of Reiji being concerned for her, she wondered if they had grown slightly closer since last night. Her cheeks turned to an even darker shade of red just thinking about what occurred last night.
“Ar-Are you worried about me?” She stuttered.
“…Yah…because you’ll probably be confused for one of the runaway child patients.”
Miyako felt like falling over, or getting something very heavy and striking Reiji with it very hard.
She felt angry for having gotten embarrassed, as a sign of her annoyance she started growling. She just started flailing her arms attempting to hit him.
“Just go already, or I‘ll accuse you of being a pedophile! You‘ll go to jail!” She could only get away with that because she looked younger than she actually was.
Reiji laughed as he went on his way.
Miyako’s expression of anger became a sad smile, “…Come back soon…” She said under her breathe, in a whispered voice that Reiji could never hear.
Taking a deep breathe her gaze fell to her swinging feet.
'I wonder, why are you the only one who sees me?'
Miyako could only act like this around Reiji, to everyone else she was just a quiet, reclusive rich girl.
She sighed to herself, it was than that her brain switched from Miyako thinking time, to Miyako thinking about storylines time, her skills were writing fictional stories.
Since this was one of the few times she had a chance to be in a hospital, she thought she’d go explore…regardless of Reiji’s earlier warning of Miyako being confused for one of the child patients.
Ironically, as she had been walking down the Hospital’s many corridors, her creative mind going into full swing, one of the nurses called out to her; confusing her as a child patient.
Miyako ran away right after that, she ended up diving inside a random room, not bothering to knock or anything.
“…A ninja?” A female’s voice addressed Miyako.
Miyako looked up, there she saw a girl lying on one of the hospital beds, a book in hand. She had probably been reading peacefully until Miyako burst into the room.
“Uh…” Once again she tried thinking of a witty response; “…” She wasn’t able to think of a single thing.
“S-Sorry, I’ll just go now.” As she opened the door, she heard the footsteps of the nurse coming down the hall.
Thinking quickly, Miyako closed the door and leaned in against the wall as the door opened, nearly hitting her in the face. Times like these she was glad she was flat chested…but at the same time, a little sad.
“Sorry to disturb you, Ayane Norihara-chan, you didn’t happen to see a small girl come through here did you?”
“…” Ayane was silent for a few moments, looking to where Miyako had been hiding, and than to the nurse.
“…Nope, no one’s been in here since this morning.” She lied.
“Oh, alright, well, I guess I better go back to looking. Let me know if you see that kid.” The nurse than left the room.
“Yes ma’am.” Ayane waved her off, and once the door was closed she looked to Miyako.
“…” There was an awkward moment of silence between them.
Already knowing what she was gonna ask, she responded with the following; “Loli.”
“Ah.” Now she understood completely. “And so what brings you here?” She asked.
“I was visiting someone here with my friend.” She took a seat by the bedside.
As she got closer, she saw something within Ayane’s eyes. Something sad, she had that kind of skills. “Hey, is something wrong?” She could tell.
Ayane flinched as she wiped her nose and eyes, “N-No, nothing’s wrong at all.” She turned her gaze to the window.
“Can I ask you something?”
It felt kind of strange that someone she hardly knew was opening up to her, nonetheless, “Alright.”
She took a deep breathe, and than said; “Why is it…that mankind always tries to leave something behind? But in the end, everyone turns into a forgotten memory?”
Miyako didn’t take long to answer, she had pondered that same question years ago. And this was the answer she obtained;
“Those of us who leave something behind, I don’t believe we’re ever really forgotten. Ourselves, our names, our lives, our histories may be forgotten,” She placed her hand over her chest, “but I believe the things we left behind will survive in a physical and even a spiritual sense.”
To better prove her point, she reached into the bag that she carried with an over-the-shoulder strap.
She pulled from her back a stack of printed papers, “I plan to become a writer in the near future.” She passed the stack of papers to Ayane.
She felt a sense of satisfaction while watching Ayane flip through Miyako’s writing.
“I originally started writing…because I could never tell a certain person how I really felt.” She felt a sense of embarrassment from saying this.
“If I say ‘I love you‘, it’ll come out like ‘I hate you’. I want to go left, I‘ll go right.” She laughed at her own faults.
“But…” Her shoulders shook, “I really want to tell them how I really feel. And…I want them to feel the same way. Because, without a doubt I really love them.” She wiped her nose on her sleeve.
“Yesterday, they were gone for a long time, and I got really scared. I guess at that time I realized how much it would hurt if they were gone.” She felt sad just thinking about it.
“…” Ayane remained silent.
She reached over and pat the top of Miyako’s head, a gesture of calm and understanding.
“It’s alright, your feelings will reach someone soon.” She said with her million dollar smile.
Than her tone became sad, her once joy-filled face replaced with sadness, “I envy you, you’re trying to reach someone you love through something you love to do. I, however,” She looked to the forgotten paintings, “can’t even do that. Even if I wanted to, they‘d only feel pain in the end.”
“But, isn’t it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?” She quoted from someone in the past.
Ayane shook her head, “With love, people change…that’s probably what they had in mind. But, that kind of pain never goes away. I wouldn‘t want to wish that pain upon them.”
Taking another deep sigh, she continued, “If I did stay with them for what little time is left, it would only be short-lived.”
“But that‘s-” As Miyako was just about to say another word.
The door opened, originally Miyako thought it would be the nurse again.
“Finally, I thought I was gonna grow old and die in this place.” He wiped his nose with his sleeve, seems like he had sneezed a little while ago.
“Oh, Miyako, you’re already here? Luck favors the flat-chested it seems.” As soon as Reiji had made that comment he was swiftly kicked in the shins by Miyako.
“Well, if you’re gonna be like that, I’ll just go home.” She felt some satisfaction from seeing Reiji jump around.
“Hey, I thought you were gonna stay here?!”
Miyako had changed her mind, “I’ve got a project I’m working on, I’ll be by your house late.” As she said that, she felt something else inside her.
She wondered if what Ayane had been saying, was directed towards Reiji.
She felt hopeless by comparison, so she simply left.
“Who was I kidding.”
Reiji didn’t seem to notice Miyako’s change, it was only slightly from her usual personality so Reiji didn’t pick up on her tone or that look in her eyes.
“Well, that was Miyako, a childhood friend of mine.” He explained as he took Miyako’s empty seat by Ayane’s bedside. “So, what do you want to do?”
“…” Ayane remained silent, a wind blew in from the window.
Ayane sighed to herself. “Hey, I think you should go after her.”
“Who, Miyako, don’t worry, she’s always like that.” He spoke from experience, not like it was the first time Miyako had gotten angry and left.
“No…” She locked eyes with Reiji, “To save that one, you should probably go after her.” She spoke with a serious tone.
Reiji averted his eyes from Ayane’s gaze, “Miyako will be fine.” He kept saying, but he couldn’t exactly lie. For a moment, before Miyako left he felt something weird around her. “She’ll be…fine…” He sounded unconvinced.
“Reiji…what is Miyako-chan to you?”
It was the first time anyone had ever asked that, “Miyako is…” He thought about his answer carefully, remembering as much as he could about Miyako. “I’m not sure it's complicated. I thought for a long time I liked her, she felt like an irreplaceable person to me.”
“Is that so?” Ayane continued to stare at Reiji. Tilting her head to one side, she asked; “Have you fallen in love with me?”
“…Probably…” Reiji answered truthfully, he turned his gaze to Ayane. “What about you?”
“Me?” Her gaze shifted from place to place within the room, she seemed to be thinking.
“Yah, I think I have fallen for you.”
Reiji felt a sense of happiness within him.
But what Ayane said next erased that happiness.
“And that’s why, we can never be together.”
She saw Reiji was going to protest, so she cut him off; “It’s because you’re too conflicted in your feelings. Right now, you‘re leaning towards me, but there‘s no point in pursuing this relationship.”
Reiji felt hut, he still didn’t understand why Ayane was saying this. As he tried to think of reasons, he remembered Ayane’s own concerns of yesterday…
“I told you before,” As if she voiced Reiji’s thoughts, “My life won’t last much longer, it wouldn’t be love to accept this kind of love only to have it cut so short. You’d be left with nothing but pain in the end.” She sighed, “I would only be thinking of myself by doing that, it wouldn’t be love it would be selfishness.” Her tone became sad.
When she looked back to Reiji, she smiled but it was a sad smile. “That’s why, as much as I want to stay by your side, it’s simply impossible.” Tears started to stream from her cheeks. “Fate is cruel, is it not?” She questioned.
“Ayane…” Reiji could understand her logic, it was undeniable. “I hear what you’re saying, and I realize how hard it must be for you to do this.”
It was not that Reiji had given up, he had just accepted Ayane’s logic. Fate was cruel, trying to fight the inevitable is just a foolish dream.
In this world, there’s no such thing as a miracle.
‘Ayane would never magically be healed, and we’d be able to stay together until the end.’
Ayane leaned over, taking Reiji’s cheeks into her hands she pulled him forward. She brought her lips to Reiji’s forehead, and held it there for a few seconds before pulling away.
“As I said, this’ll be the last time we meet. But I‘ve changed my mind…I‘ve given you a magic spell, I‘ll be sure to watch over you and Miyako-chan.” She simply smiled normally. “You’ll understand soon enough.”
Reiji realized this was indeed goodbye, so he brought Ayane into his arms and held her tight.
“I’ll never forget you.”
“…” Ayane hugged him back, “What if it becomes painful?”
“Even than, I’ll never forget.” He didn’t even have to think of the answer.
“Well, you certainly do know what to say, don’t you?” She giggled.
Reiji smirked, “So I’ve been told.”
He pulled away from the hug and pat Ayane’s head. “Sayonara.” He said as he made to leave the room.
“Sayonara, Reiji.” Ayane waved to him as Reiji left the room.
She sighed to herself, turning her head to the window she didn’t bother wiping her falling tears away. “Do…what I can not…Miyako-chan…”
Her eyes laid upon an empty canvas and her mother’s belongings in the corner of her room.
“…” It was in this moment, that Ayane’s ‘inner eye’ started to open. The first time in a long time.
“~I thought I lost my way~”
She moved towards the empty canvas. Though to a normal person, it was just a blank sheet of paper, to her she was able to ‘see’ what it would become.
“~But than, you came along~”
Her hands obeyed her command as she picked up the brush and danced along the canvas.
“~You held out your hand, and taught me to see again~”
She couldn’t believe it, she had figured she’d have gotten rusty but her hands moved so accurately with her vision for this painting, it was like a dream.
“~Even though our time was short, I cherish those memories~”
And finally, it was finished. Her first ‘true’ masterpiece:
She had painted two birds soaring through the mid-day sky.
Having been tired out by her painting she sat on her bedside, just staring at the masterpiece she created.
She smiled, realizing she couldn’t have done it without Reiji…
“~These are my last words to you, for everything you‘ve done~”
Ayane smiled to herself, tears were still falling from her eyes but they were a mixture of tears and joy.
Her grip loosened with her paintbrushes, they slid gently out of her hand. She coughed, but there was blood there. She than realized…her time had ended.
But she had no regrets.
She opened her mouth for her final words; “Farewell, my first and final love.”
Her eyelids became heavy as everything turned black.
“~I will never forget~”
Miyako rested her head on the bridge’s railing. She watched as the sun was setting.
“…” She was deep in thought. “Who was I kidding, Reiji will never see through my shell.” She got up on the railing’s edge, she balanced along it, while looking down to the flowing river below.
“If I disappeared, who would miss me?” Certainly not her family, they had other children who could inherit the family fortune. And Reiji probably only saw her as just an annoying girl.
She sighed to herself in defeat.
“Miyako!” Reiji called out.
He was breathing heavily and looked as though he’d run a marathon. “Finally found you.” He sounded relieved.
Miyako didn’t expect this kind of story-line styled event, it seemed unlikely in the real world. Turning away from Reiji she wiped her face with her sleeve. “Wh-Why are you here, how did you find me?”
“I was guided by a bird.” Reiji took a step forward. “Why don’t you come down from there, it feels weird talking to you when you’re taller than me.”
“Oh shut up!” She would’ve hit him, but she decided not to.
Her tone became serious, “Reiji…do you find me annoying? Do you think you’d probably be better off without me?” She turned on the railing, now facing him.
She looked into Reiji’s eyes with that serious look on her face, she’d know if he was just telling the truth, or just telling her what she wanted to hear.
A moment of silence followed, as the two adolescents unwaveringly stared at each other.
Finally Reiji said, “At times, you can be annoying. You‘re a violent loli who will probably accidentally kill me in some horrible way.” He said harshly.
Miyako’s gaze fell, she felt like crying from Reiji’s harsh words.
“However,” Reiji scratched the back of his head, “I can tell, despite everything you say and everything you do, it‘s just contradicting how you really feel. Right?” Reiji hit it right on the mark. “Besides, I like those parts of you. It‘s so much fun to pick at.” He smiled and laughed.
“In short, if I wanted you gone, I would’ve done it long ago. But I couldn't do that, I'd miss you too much.”
Though Miyako might’ve been assuming things, she felt that Reiji indirectly accepted her for who she was.
She just stood there in awe, she never expected someone, especially Reiji, could figure her out so precisely.
“~And so now I know without a doubt~”
A smile crept up on her, “Reiji, you better catch me.” She broke into a run while on the running, kinda like a ninja.
“H-Hey that’s dangerous!” Reiji was concerned for Miyako’s safety.
“I don’t care!” She jumped from the railing, falling into Reiji’s arms, feeling his warmth like yesterday.
"~That is my solemn wish~"