Snowfall

AN: Hello! It’s been a long while. I’m back with this ‘fluffy’ story of my OTP. I wrote half part since long time ago but left it in my dusty folder. Lol. Anyway, enjoy.

Genre: fluff well, angst

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LOCKED [wMatsui]

LOCKED

A/N: HELLO! Have been quite a time since my last post. :3. This time, I made a cover for the story. The art is done by me, while the coloring is done by etoileluna1305 thanks for doing the commission, my friend! XD. Okay then, enjoy the story~

Genre: angst; Rating: M

Warning: Involved violence


Day 3

It hurt.

It was a deep excruciating misery.

The place was dimly light. The walls, the floor, and the ceiling, were all greyish dusty concrete left without finishing touch; no paint, no ceramic, no wallpaper, nothing, only bare concrete. Then, there’s a rusty metal door on the center of one side of the wall. Standing in front of it was a 1 meter square column placed in a very wrong order. There is a small ventilation holes near the ceiling where wind sometimes passed through it. But it wasn’t strong enough to freshen the dump air in the isolated room. In conclusion, the room was deserted. It was unfinished; an abandoned place.

Tied on the column, or rather, chained, was a young woman in her executive suit. She was known in the name of Matsui Jurina. She had decorated numerous well-known magazines’ cover dubbed as one of the most influential woman. She’s a businesswoman, a CEO. She seemed to be in a deep sleep. Until a drop of water rang her ear as it met the base of a steel bucket that stood awkwardly in the center of the room.

Awaken from slumber, Jurina was left disoriented. She wasn’t sure where she was. All of her five senses numbed. Her view was blurry. Her breath was on one-two beat. She had a strange feeling that her nose had been misplaced. Also, her tongue tasted like copper; dry, rusty metal feel.

The next moment, the pain kicked in along with the realization. Jurina could barely felt her own body. Her head was still there, sure. However, the pounding on her chest area was choking. One of her ribs, or maybe more, must be broken. Jurina tried to move but the noisy rattling sound stopped her. Her movement shook the chain which tied her to the column. The chain was on both of her arms down to her abdomen, forcing her to kneel.

“You’re awake.”

A voice, almost angelic, spoke in a flat, uninterested tone.

The room was not as empty as Jurina thought. Leaning on the closed door was another young woman, a few years older than Jurina. Although they looked around the same age. The woman wore a maroon with white sleeves varsity jacket over black T-shirt and faded blue jeans. On her hand was a black plastic bag, which Jurina guessed is filled with food.

“Aren’t you tired?”

The woman bent her body down, so her eyes were on the same line with Jurina’s. Her expression was unchanged. It was cold, devoid of feeling.

“Are you hungry?”

The question filled with no care. As if she asked because she was told to.

“Do you want me to release your gag?”

She made a gesture around her mouth. Jurina hadn’t realized she was gagged until that point. She was thinking about nodding but the woman jumped into another question.

“Do you want me to free you?”

Confusing, if not tempting. Jurina wanted to be freed, of course. She had to hold the urge to ask the woman to call ambulance. She wanted to rest. She wanted to leave the room as fast as she could.­­­­­­ However, all the woman’s questions mean nothing. Her memory is fuzzy but Jurina knew she couldn’t trust that woman. In the first place, who took her there?

“You see, I have a box of bento here.” The woman took the content of the plastic bag, which turned out to be a bento box you could find in any station, “do you want to eat? Or you’re gonna let me eat it?”

Another confusion. The woman seemed to like taking everything slowly. Even though, Jurina’s stomach was growling shamelessly. After a few seconds, Jurina nodded.

For the first time that day, the woman smiled. It was not a pure smile of an angel that would fit her face better. It was a sly, satisfied smile.

Shiver ran down to Jurina’s body when the woman leaned in to put off the dirty handkerchief covering her mouth. She felt a chilly sensation when the woman’s finger grazed her neck. But Jurina care no less. She was concentrating to the bento box the woman placed beside her.

“There.” The woman heartlessly threw the handkerchief to the corner of the room. It floated for a while instead, before settled not far from the woman feet.

In front of Jurina was then a box of opened bento. The smell overpowering her senses. She wanted to gulp down the karaage and the egg-roll so badly that saliva leaked from her mouth.

Jurina leaned closer to the box. She tried to. The chains held her from moving far enough.

Squatting in front of her, the woman watched Jurina helplessly trying to reach the box. When she was about to reach it, the box dropped to the floor. The rice splattered all over the floor, so did the side dishes.

“My hand slipped,” stated the woman, in the most robotic way possible.

Jurina looked up in anger. She knew very well the woman was playing around. She had no intention to feed her at all. Jurina glared at the woman, although her swollen cheeks and eyelids made her looked funny rather than threatening.

“What are you playing at?” Jurina shouted. Her voice was unexpectedly hoarse. She tried to remember when the last time she drank.

The woman shrugged her shoulder.

“Who are you? What are you trying to do? Why did you bring me here?” Question, and more questions, exploded as Jurina reached her temper.

The woman replied with a set of dry laugh.

“Pathetic, aren’t you? How does it feel? To be kept powerless? Not be able to move? Helplessly screaming for help? ”

A high-pitched sarcastic shrill pierced Jurina’s ears. Her glare met with the most disdaining look Jurina had ever seen. Maybe even worse than the broad of directors that from time to time stood against her.

The woman took her fingers to Jurina’s chin. She pinched it, forcing Jurina to face her.

“No one will come to your rescue, Jurina. You have no one. Like you dispose of everyone, everyone dispose of you.”

With a powerful force, the woman released her fingers, forcing Jurina’s face beside.

Anger gathered inside Jurina. She was insulted enough to go on rampage. Jurina lifted her head, her eyes shot right through hers. The woman was watching her squirming while trying to catch her own breath. The smile had been wiped off her face. She was as expressionless as when Jurina first saw her.

Jurina used a few second to analyze the woman. She had never met her; not in public or private. Despite her cold and sly attitude, she was a beautiful woman, Jurina concluded. Helped with gleaming moonlight that seeped through the ventilation, she looked mesmerizing. Jurina would try to hit on her if they’re in different situation.

“I ask you for the last time, who are you? Why did you bring me here?”

The woman snorted. “Don’t worry. I’ll release you after the convention ends, Miss CEO.”

Jurina was taken aback. Memories coming in like a fluid. She was on her way to a convention that would decide the future of her company; her future in the company, to be exact; when she was taken. When she came to her sense, she was inside the ratty room.

“Did someone ask you? Who?!”

Jurina threw another question. Too bad. It was another unanswered question. She was alone in the room. She didn’t realize the woman already left her, alone in misery.

____________________

Day 1

It was an important day. It was the same sunny day of summer where people would love to spend all day long in the beach. Unfortunately, holiday was still far away for most people.

Covered from the blazing sun was a certain secluded place with shabby lamps as the only light source. It was the basement where people come and go with their car. Not long past noon, a young woman in her executive suit came out from the elevator. She was talking in her phone while her other hand holding a leather briefcase.

“Yes. I’m going there now.”

Her voice echoed in the lifeless room. She didn’t look too happy. She was tired after days of work preparing for the day.

Following her steps was a pair of eyes which glowing in the dark. It had been waiting for the woman coming. Sigh of relief was heard as it finally saw its target.

The owner of the eyes, a slender woman in her black hoodie and black pants, had begun to worry that she wouldn’t be able to see her target at all. She didn’t have much time. She had to finish her job and retrieve the money. Her occupier request was simple, keeping the CEO of a certain company away from a convention for a few days. She then would be given enough amount of money to restart her life. Simple, isn’t it?

However, she was slightly surprised to find her target is a female. More surprised than when she saw a familiar face on the picture given to her.

The kidnapping then became more than keeping a CEO away from a convention.

The woman let out a deep breath.

She counted one to ten before leaving her hiding place. She took her steps as lightly as she could, trying to be quiet. Even the faintest sound of footstep will echo in the basement.

The CEO was already approaching her car. She took her car key and opened the lock remotely. But before she was able to reach the car, she received a strong blow on the back of her head.

“Argh—!”

The CEO shouted, then silent.

Behind her was the woman. In her hand was a wooden baseball bat she used to knock her target out.

Beside the fact she had just got someone fainted right in front of her, her face undergo no change of expression. She wasn’t trembling like most people would. She didn’t even bat an eyelash. She witnessed the CEO withered in pain then fell onto her knees before finally losing consciousness.

The woman let out another sigh.

She closed her eyes for a second before proceeding to her next plan. She had prepared a car to take the CEO out of the building. But then she decided it’ll look more natural if the CEO leaves the building in her own car.

Without much difficulty, the woman set the CEO on the passenger seat, even adjusted her seatbelt. The CEO looked like she was sleeping, no one would suspect that the CEO was actually fainted.

Taking the driver seat, the woman drove the car out.

-XXX-

She was helpless, a weak human being.

Rena knew she could break the girl in front of her easily. She wants to. She wants to break her to the point she won’t be able to do anything. Alive but dead.

The CEO, Rena knew in the name of Jurina with the same surname as her, was still unconscious. It had been three hours since they left the parking lot and reached the building where she kept the CEO.

She looked so peaceful that Rena felt guilty.

But devil knows, she isn’t as angelic as she looks like.

The hatred inside Rena was the proof. Her messed up life was the evidence. All hidden behind the smile and flirt.

Rena shook her head. She didn’t want to look back. She would only look front.

It’s time.

Rena took the half-filled bucket used to keep the leaking water. She stared at her reflection on it for a moment before shaking her head. She looked at the person chained in front of her, and then, she threw the water to her body, automatically waking her up.

“What the—“

The poor girl trembled in shock, and coldness. She had no time to regain all of her consciousness since a hard blow hit her face.

“Argh!” She shouted. Her ears were ringing. Her cheek turned red.

Witnessing her hostage quivering in agony was Rena. She was silent. Her fist was hurting. It’s aching. She gripped so strong that blood dripping from the wound inflicted by her own nails.

It was not enough.

Rena sent another blow, which received in the worst possible way. She broke Jurina’s nose, for sure.

“S-STOP!”

Jurina begged.

But Rena didn’t listen.

No. She can’t.

__________________

Day 4

Jurina was beyond hungry. She was famished.

When was the last time she ate? Drink?

It was a miracle that she hadn’t died yet. Thanks to the dripping water from the ceiling. It’s not hygienic, not enough either, but Jurina didn’t have many choices. Her kidnapper hadn’t come back since she trampled at her lunch, which lied 30 centimeters in front of her, starting to rot. She had tried to take the food, by all means. But the chains were in the way, even her wrists bleed after a set of attempts. The food was so near yet so far.

Jurina had begun to lost hope. No matter how strong she is, she won’t stay alive after letting her stomach empty for days. Maybe this is the end, Jurina laughed bitterly. All she had done to stay alive until the point of success was null. In the end she ended up rotting in a dirty place. Like how she thought she would once when she was a kid.

Not everyone is lucky. Not even Jurina. She started poor. Dirty. Pitiful. She had no future. But she did it after all. After seasons of hard work and sweats, she built her company from scratch. It turned big. Bigger than Jurina meant it to be. That’s when she was blinded by power. And then, born the tyrant.

Jurina closed her eyes.

I deserve it.

No. She didn’t think so. All she did was for her company and for the better of people. She believes that. But not everyone thinks the same.

Jurina gave in to slumber. She was tired. Maybe, she should as well use the rest. The rest to eternity.

The sound of the door opened woke Jurina up. She was already half-asleep by then.

Following the rattling of door knob was steps. Jurina lifted her head and she met the same eyes. It was a beautiful round eyes, really. Jurina bet it looks way better when its owner smiles.

The steps stopped. The room turned quiet once again.

“Are you hungry?”

It was a rhetorical question. One look at Jurina, anyone would offer their food to the poor girl.

“Here.”

Her kidnapper squat down, offering a cup of… strawberry juice, Jurina guessed. The straw was already put in. Jurina was waiting for Rena to drop the juice like before. However, Rena was pushing the cup in front of Jurina’s mouth impatiently. Maybe she really is going to feed me.

Jurina opened her mouth and caught the straw on it. She sucked the juice slowly. A bliss washed through her when the cool drink slid down her throat. Even though she wondered why her kidnapper brought her juice instead of mineral water which is easier to get.

“Hold it yourself.”

Jurina raised her eyebrow, she couldn’t hold it. Just how?

Her question was answered when Rena walked behind her and with a click her arms were free.

Jurina fell instantly. She made sure she didn’t fell right on the stale food.

A few seconds later, Rena appeared from behind the column, now chains free. Rena had thrown them away to the corner of the room.

Rena proceeded cleaning the stale food. Jurina was thinking about thanking her later since she couldn’t stand the smell. But in the first place, it was Rena who left it there. Oh, she was playing with her food actually. Bad girl.

“Can’t you sit up by yourself?” Rena asked. Both of her hand was on her waist. Jurina didn’t notice it before, she was wearing an apron and rubber gloves. She looked like she was going to do yearly cleaning.

“Guess not.” Rena muttered to herself.

She approached Jurina and straightened her body, leaned it on the column. She then placed the juice on Jurina’s hand (which she gladly accepted). Rena took out more contents of the plastic bag she brought with her earlier. It was another bento box. Jurina stiffened. She was afraid Rena would throw it in front of her like last time.

But she’s not.

Carefully, Rena opened the cover and separated the chopsticks. She took a pile of rice with a small piece of grilled meat in it and brought it in front of Jurina’s mouth.

Jurina was confused. She couldn’t comprehend why Rena, who beat her up a few days ago, would feed her. What is she playing at?

Hesitantly, Jurina opened her mouth. She took the food on her mouth. She was waiting, but Rena didn’t show any sign that she would do anything offensive. So, Jurina chewed the food down and gulped.

“Eat the rest yourself. You can at least do that, right?” Rena put the box beside Jurina. She stood up and readied to leave the room.

“Wait!” Jurina shouted.

Rena stopped walking and turned around.

“Who are you? What are you trying to do?”

Rena wasn’t answering.

“I don’t understand, why did you act so cold then you gave me food?”

No use. Rena didn’t even bat an eyelash. She was there, standing still, soulless.

Jurina was confused, and desperate. She needed explanation. She decided to push her luck.

“Why don’t you kill me?”

Rena didn’t give any reaction. On the other hand, Jurina, with her bleeding lips, muttered incomprehensible words. Her head was down, as if gathering strength for what would come.

“Pardon me?” Rena asked. She heard the younger girl clearer than blue sky. Asking was just a way to mock the girl even further. She knew what Jurina was playing at. She tried to get Rena off guard.

Jurina lifted her head. Her face was in a mess, bruises and cuts were in every inch of her face. Her left eyelid was swollen from the impact Rena landed the other day.

Rena was expecting a full of determination stare. But it had softened. Seeing no reaction from Rena get Jurina on edge. She was getting tired, and hopeless. She had already turned into a loser.

Jurina opened her mouth one more time. “Why don’t you kill me?” Jurina repeated.

This time it worked. Rena’s patient was running out. She had acted extra nice by feeding her food. She was thinking to let Jurina die starving but she decided it wasn’t wise. Then, Jurina was testing her temper.

Rage overwhelmed Rena as soon as the words spitted out. It sounded mocking. From Rena’s perspective, the word was used to look down on her. She expected Jurina to stand up and fight her. She didn’t know the loser in front of her. She’s being a coward. The CEO was begging for help a few days ago, and then she suddenly getting on Rena’s nerves.

With the speed of wind, Rena took Jurina’s slim neck on her left hand. She slammed her hand onto the concrete column, bringing Jurina’s head with it. The impact produced a disheartening sound of cracking. Either the concrete or the skull that was cracked, or both.

Jurina winced at the pain on the back of her head. She was pretty sure she felt liquid was seeping through her wet hair.

“Die? Do you want to die?!”

Rena pushed Jurina’s neck harder onto the column. As if she wanted to blend the head with the column. Jurina couldn’t get her voice out. She wasn’t able to breathe at all. Her throat was pressured so much that she afraid it would break in no time.

Jurina had given in to the pain. Since long before. It was no use to answer Rena. Their conversation was pointless.

“Tell me, do you want to die?!”

Now with both of her hands, Rena strangled Jurina’s. Her eyes were in flame. She gritted her teeth in anger. Veins popped out on her forehead.

Jurina’s eyes were closed. Her forehead was full of line. Wrinkles formed on the corner of her eyes as she winced. Her cheeks turned bluish.

Realizing that her victim could barely breathe, Rena released her hands.

Finally freed, Jurina took a heap of breath. She coughed several time while sometime stopping to gulp what could be gulp in her mouth. Mostly dry blood.

Rena held her palm. She almost killed a human being. She was overwhelmed by anger that she lost control of herself. She watched as Jurina trying to get her breath back. She was tempted to give Jurina a glass of water but in last second she reminded herself that she hated the person in front of her. Beside, the strawberry juice was still there, left unfinished.

All of sudden, Jurina laughed. It was a laugh filled with desperation mixed with insanity. Rena thought Jurina had lost her mind.

“Why? You couldn’t? Just a little more I’ll be dead. Why did you stop? Why did you even bother to feed me?”

Jurina’s words once again flamed Rena’s anger. She slammed Jurina against the column. This time, all of her bodies. Jurina let out a silence shriek when she felt the pressure on her ripped body.

“You…”

Rena narrowed her eyes. Anger, hatred, resentment filled it.

“You. Don’t. Deserve. To. Die.” Rena shouted with emphasize in every word.

Images of her late father flashed in. Rena remembered each painful days she had to experience ever since her dad gone bankrupt. How he got drunk and beat her to the pulp. And how he ended committing suicide right in front of her.

All the pain that caused by Jurina.

“A person like you…don’t even own a place in hell.”

Rena pushed her arm on Jurina’s neck, choking her. Her face was facing the ceiling but her eyes locked on Rena’s. Jurina managed to lift only the left side of her lips, showing a sly grin. Rena was enraged even more. She pushed her arm harder. In instant the smile disappeared, changed by a slight grimace of pain.

“You will suffer. I’ll let you experience what I felt for these years. Enjoy your food while you can.”

Rena released her hand and stood up. She was walking toward the door when she heard Jurina spitting out blood. Rena turned around while swinging her left hand. The blow landed right on Jurina’s already bruised cheek.

Jurina’s world turned blank.

____________________

Day 6

Rena had to prepare for the worst. She was expecting Jurina’s lifeless body when she opened the door. But there was nothing. Nothing at all.

She skimmed the room and she couldn’t find Jurina, alive or not. Rena’s heart was beating faster. She’d lost her money if the CEO got away before the determined time. Moreover, she was wondering how Jurina could escape the perfectly locked room. The door was locked, and no opening big enough for an adult to pass through.

Bang!

Without Rena noticing, Jurina had been waiting for her. She had decided she must get a way out herself. The meal given to her two days ago had given back her strength. It was a total mistake that Rena released the chain, Jurina was able to move freely. She studied the room enough to know the way out was only one, the door. So, she hid behind it when she heard steps.

“Argh!” Rena shouted in pain. Her right hand was holding the back side of her head. She saw a bucket fell nosily beside her, followed by the sound of rushing footsteps.

It took no longer than a second for Rena to realize that her hostage was running away. Rena cursed over her unawareness. She shouldn’t underestimate a dying dog.

Rena took out a rag from her jacket’s pocket and pushed it on her wound. She walked out of the room calmly. She knew; Jurina had nowhere to go.

-XXX-

The building was abandoned, like Jurina expected. It was easy to find a way down, Jurina just needed to walk straight to the dead end.

“Hhh hhh…”

Jurina breathed heavily as she tried running as fast as she could manage. Her body was killing her. She was glad when she checked that none of her ribs was broken. But there were many bruises, and broken nose. Not to say she had only eaten a box of bento for the last 6 days.

A streak of light passed through the glass window in the ground floor. It encouraged Jurina to run even faster. She reached the lobby in no time. There, on the entrance, was a big dirty glass door. Jurina smiled inwardly, she had finally freed, she thought. Jurina hoped the door wasn’t locked.

It wasn’t.

Jurina reached the outside world. She inhaled the fresh air, which, surprisingly, had a smell of salt.

Looked down to her feet, then to her surrounding, Jurina was left speechless.

Below her was sand. In front of her was the ocean. Behind her was a cliff.

Jurina’s spirit sank to the bottomless pit.

She knew there were many inhabited islands, isolated ones. She couldn’t believe she was in one of them. She secretly praised Rena for being able to drag her here. Well, possibly, there’s a secret passage to reach here or to go out of here, and Jurina will find out.

“Are you satisfied now?”

Jurina turned around. Behind her, Rena was walking toward her slowly. As if she knew it’d happen.

Witnessing no sign of remorse, or even pain, on Rena; Jurina got irritated. She had wasted her time way too long.

“What are you trying to do?!” Jurina thumped her barefoot feet on the sand, getting closer to Rena.

Jurina grabbed Rena’s jacket and pulled her up. She was taller than Rena that it actually worked.

“What do you want? Money? I have lots. Why did you take me here?”

Their faces were a few inches apart. Both could feel each other breath.

Jurina looked stiff, while Rena was relaxed. She stared at Jurina with bored eyes. It was saying, told you so.

“ANSWER ME!” Jurina shouted her lungs out.

This time, Rena reacted. She flinched at the loud voice piercing her ears.

“Why should I?” She answered.

A hard fist landed on Rena’s face. She was thrown beside and landed on the soft sand. She coughed a few times. Blood was coming out with it.

I thought she can’t fight.

Jurina was standing on her feet, looking down at Rena with furrowed eyebrows and gritted teeth. She had enough of all the shit. She needed her revenge; she would beat Rena up like how she did to her.

Not waiting for Rena to regain her composure, Jurina took Rena’s collar. Another hit landed on Rena’s face. It was not enough. Hit after hit pounded Rena’s face. Slowly, her pale face turned bluish with red marks here and there.

Rena was starting to lose her consciousness. She lied loosely, hanging on Jurina’s grip. She could turn the table and pinned Jurina on the ground. But, she stayed unmoving. Nor she dodged the attack.

“Why don’t you fight back?” Jurina tightened her grip on the collar. She forced Rena to look up to her.

Rena with her eyes half-closed answered, “Why don’t you fight back?”

She repeated the question.

Jurina was getting more irritated. She had no time to play riddle.

Jurina lifted her fist, ready to deliver the final blow. Though the punch was never delivered. Rena suddenly head butt Jurina’s face. Jurina’s grip was loosened before finally off completely. Jurina fell on her back, quivering with the pain on her forehead.

“You asked me why I don’t fight back?”

From the corner of her eye, Jurina saw Rena who was standing limply. Rena spitted out the blood on her mouth before continuing.

“Why didn’t you fight back when I made you a punching bag? Hey!”

Rena dropped on top of Jurina. She grabbed Jurina’s dirty shirt and pulled her up.

“You want me to kill you? Ha! I could do that as easy as flipping my palm.”

Jurina cared the less about it. She didn’t care as long as she could go away and be freed.

“You need to suffer, Jurina. You need to be broken. You don’t even remember my name, do you?”

No. Jurina had totally no idea.

“You don’t remember how you crushed my father’s company and lead my life to hell. Nor you remember me begging for your mercy. Don’t you?!”

Rena shook Jurina’s shirt. Her emotionless persona was crumbling. Her eyes were teary. Her body was trembling.

Rena released Jurina who fell back in shock. Jurina couldn’t remember anything. Her mind was blank. Jurina forced her way up while cornering other people to the pit. She had many people kneeled before her, true. She made amends by giving donation to many NGOs. Of course it didn’t reduce her evil doings. She had to. That’s business.

“What’s your name?” Jurina asked, her voice was so quiet that it could barely be heard.

“Of course you don’t remember.” Rena snorted.

“Tell me then. Please.” Jurina begged.

Rena stopped sobbing. She looked straight at Jurina, analyzing her. Her hatred was not as flamingly as before. She hated Jurina. She couldn’t forget the image of her dad hanging himself. But, after a few days being with her, torturing her, to be exact, she realized that Jurina was like her. Weak. Empty. She didn’t look as majestic as she showed in public. She was a lonely young girl waiting to be rescued.

“Matsui Rena.” Rena replied, finally.

“Rena…” Jurina whispered Rena’s name. It sounded strange, unreachable. She never heard her name. Or if she had, the memory was already vanished; her self-defense system had deleted it from her mind.

“Looks like you don’t remember, after all.” Rena threw her body to the sand. She was tired. Her face was hurting. She wanted to finish all her task; and then sleep peacefully.

“Rena, listen to me. I’m sorry I don’t remember anything about you. But, could you free me? I’ll do anything you want.”

Again, Rena snorted.

“Too late. Your important convention ends tomorrow. Even if I take you now, you won’t make it.”

Jurina was dumbfounded. She had lost track of time. If what Rena said was true, that’s mean she had lost her job. Suddenly, all the pain washed through her; Jurina felt exhausted. She threw herself on the sand, beside Rena. She was contemplating what to do from now on. All she had built for years was gone. She had to attend the convention to decide her future. And it’s ending in a day.

“Just so you know, those broad of directors want you out. Sooner or later you will be kicked out anyway.” Rena, having witnessing Jurina’s break-down, told her the truth.

Jurina wasn’t answering. She knew it. She had different ideas than the directors. They often conflicted with each other. But Jurina wasn’t easy to get rid to. Guess what? They decided to keep her away.

“Hey, if you’re the one who build the company, you can start another one. Even if it takes years.” Rena sat herself up. She surprised herself by trying to comfort her nemesis. She found some part of Jurina’s that makes her wants to console her, protect her. In a way, Jurina reminded her of her siblings.

“What do you know?!” Jurina trashed her hand. She glared at Rena who was sitting beside her.

“Oh I know. Just like you, I have tried to get myself up. It’s just you bound to success while I’m to failure.”

Jurina kept glaring at Rena. She wasn’t into concept about success and failure. She had failed as so many people did. But she used it to reach another level, which not everyone could do.

“Then, you accept a job for kidnapping people?”  Jurina threw the question; she wanted to get her kidnapper irritated.

“You left me with no choice.”

Rena took both sides of Jurina’s cheeks on her palm. Using her slim fingers, she pushed it, hard. Jurina winced from the pain of Rena’s nail stabbing her delicate skin.

“Oh you do have.” Jurina managed to form a smile beside the pressure on her mouth, “there’re many jobs you could take no matter how uneducated are you.”

“I’m not uneducated. And I couldn’t let you reaping other’s people fortune, eating from their misery.” Rena tightened her lock on Jurina’s face. The image of her dad’s hanging in the living room flashed her mind.

“My business is legal. Yours aren’t!”

A punch, hard one, landed on Jurina’s face.

“YOU LED MY FATHER TO DEATH! IS IT WHAT YOU SAID LEGAL?”

Rena threw punches to Jurina’s face. The isolated beach was filled with hopeless screams. The agony Rena had gone through for years was pouring out of her chest.

Lying on the ground was Jurina who writhed in pain. She was trying to say something but every time she trying to move, Rena’s punches caught her tongue.

She must be stopped.

Jurina tackled Rena. She managed to get Rena below her. Jurina held Rena’s wrists, preventing it from moving.

“YES, I DID. DO YOU THINK I WANT IT TO HAPPEN? I CAN’T STOP PEOPLE FROM COMMITING SUICIDE!”

Rena was taken aback. She was fully aware that Jurina wasn’t responsible for her father death, at least indirectly. But she needed a scapegoat. A public figure like Jurina was a perfect one. After all, Jurina ruined her father’s company and led her life to downhill.

Rena had never liked her father. But she was the only person that could hold the family together. When he was gone, Rena was turned into turmoil. She was not strong enough to live alone. At that time she wasn’t ready.

Jurina released her grip. She turned her head down; her hair was covering her face.

“I… don’t want anyone to die because of me.” Jurina started, “but, it’s out of my control.”

Rena stared at Jurina. She had found that her eyes were beautiful (even though one was swollen pretty badly). It was sparkling with determination and hard work. Those beautiful eyes were stained with water and some sand that she got from their previous struggling moment. Rena was tempted to clean her face, wiped away the dirt and tended to the wound.

Rena sat herself up so that they’re sitting face to face. Rena took her time analyzing Jurina’s face. Her pretty face were ruined with a swollen eyelid and bruises. Her nose was bent to the wrong direction. And there’s cut on the corner of Jurina’s lip. It was still fresh, Jurina got it from Rena’s latest punch.

Unconsciously, Rena grazed her thumb on the surface of Jurina’s face. She wiped away the sand and the tears from her eyes carefully as not to hurt her. She moved to the bruise on Jurina’s cheek, grazing it gently while whispering consoling words inwardly. Let the pain goes away.

Jurina turned silent. She observed her kidnapper who was concentrating on her wound. She was indeed angelic, if not for enormous amount of strength she pulled out every time she punched. At that moment, Rena was off-guard. Jurina could take her in and escaped but instead she was petrified. She couldn’t take her eyes away from the almond shape eyes and the pair of rosy lips. She was drawn in to her.

“I’m sorry.” Jurina muttered. She wasn’t sure why she was apologizing. The only thing she was sure of was that she didn’t want to become Rena’s enemy.

Rena took Jurina’s strand hair and wiped it away from Jurina’s face, moving it to the back of Jurina’s ear. Using her thumb, Rena made a circular motion on the cut on the corner of Jurina’s lips.

No word exchange. Jurina was leaning onto Rena’s touch, while Rena was trying to soothe the pain.

Rena moved her body closer. Closer and closer, until there was no more room between them.

The sound was omitted. All left was the taste of each other tongue in each other mouth.

Jurina’s eyelids fluttered open. She was breathing heavily, so did the person sitting in front of her.

Rena brushed her hair from her forehead. She was confused. She had a battle between her two sides of feelings.

“Why did you…” Jurina choked by her own words. She had just realized what happened a few seconds before.

As a reply, Rena took Jurina by her collar. And again, she crashed her lips on Jurina.

One second, two seconds…

Jurina looked straight at Rena as they separated. The said person still had her eyes closed. She was taking in all the sensation she had just experienced.

“Rena…” Jurina called out.

Rena opened her eyes. She showed a slight smile as Jurina’s face came to sight. Jurina returned the smile. She opened her mouth, about to say something.

A fist landed hardly on Jurina’s face. She fell on her back. Her mouth was half-opened.

Rena came into view as she moved closer. Her fist was up.

And another one landed directly on Jurina’s face.

_________________

Day 8

The space was not much better than the kidnapping site. It was as moldy and as rotten as the room was. The air was stinky as if it had been years since the last time someone opened the entrance door.

Rena heard rustling and people steps before the mask over her head was forcefully taken.

In front of her, sat her employer. His smile was cunning. He was playing with his grey moustache that dangled from his chubby cheek.

“Well, well, welcome, Matsui-san.” The man addressed, he extend his hand in welcoming gesture.

If not for the room they were in and many of bulky men that stood behind her, Rena would believe that he was indeed greeted her warmly. Not to say, her wrists were sore after being tied with handcuffs for a few hours.

Rena was trying to go out of the country, escaping, when she was taken in, forcefully. She had no other choice but kept silent when she was handcuffed, and blindfolded. When she finally got her view back, she knew she’s in trouble.

“No need for chitchat. Where am I?” Rena shot a deadly glare toward the man, who proceeded with small giggle. She was acting strong. She must not look frightened. Even though, her heartbeat was in chaos.

“Don’t rush. Let’s talk slowly, shall we?” The man took his empty glass from the small table beside her couch. The black suited man sprightly filled it with what Rena guessed was red wine.

“Let’s see.” The man sipped his drink, “I don’t remember conveying my thanks for saving my position in the company.”

Rena was guarded. She knew pretty well that she was taken for letting her target escaped before the promised time. Not that Jurina could move from the hospital Rena sent her in.

“You see, you did well, Matsui-san.” The man took another sip, his eyes were half-closed as if he was enjoying the finest wine in the world, “but, I recall that the quest was that you have to keep her until the convention ends. Which, you didn’t.”

She was in trouble. Rena was well aware that she had to get herself out of the room or she will be in a great trouble. She reached her pants back-pocket, moving her hands carefully as not to be noticed by the men. From the pocket, Rena slipped a pin out. She had always put useful tools in many parts of her clothes, in case some dangerous situation arose.

“Furthermore, you were found trying to fly to another country. Tsk, tsk, tsk.” The man waved his index finger in front of his face, his expression turned into one with disappointment. The next moment, the same smile arose once again, “that’s totally unacceptable. I’ve prepared your payment, and can’t wait to hand it to you.”

His bodyguard, the man in black suit, brought a briefcase and opened it, showing rows of 10.000 yen papers fitted the space neatly. The man took one of the bundles and played it on his hand.

“Too bad, I have no meant to give it to you now.” The man shook his head disapprovingly, “not only you couldn’t keep that woman, you didn’t hurt her nearly enough that she suddenly came up and ruined my plan!”

The bundle of 10.000 yen papers flew passed Rena. The bundle came off from the force. The papers were scattering around, floating in the air before settled on the ground.

The confidence and calm composure of the man had disappeared. His cheeks reddened. His eyes were watery from all the glaring. He was clearly unsatisfied. He was angry.

Rena gave no reaction. She had trained herself to. But, inside, her heart sank. She was pretty sure Jurina couldn’t move even an inch. Not to say travel from the remote area way to the capital. Just how much her gut brought her strength? Rena thought.

The man let out a sigh before throwing himself back to the couch. The floor creaked when he landed on the furniture.

“Ah, I’m tired.” The man sulked. He caressed his forehead with his palm. His eyes were closed, while he was leaning on the backrest.

The room turned into an uncomfortable silence. Nobody moved. The breaths were taken away.

Rena studied the room. No opening. The only way in and out was the door she had come through. There were four other people beside her in the room, the man and his three guards. Two of them were standing behind the man while the other stood a few meters beside Rena, keeping her in check.

If you want to escape, it’s now, Rena.

“Kill her.”

Rena was one step behind. The man’s voice broke the room dangling silence and moved all the guards’ hand toward their weapon, gun. They took their guns from their pockets and positioned themselves to fire.

Bang.

Rena was prepared. Her handcuffs had long gone. She had picked the handcuffs off and set her arms free. She threw the cuffs on the nearest guard and ran toward the door.

“What are you doing? Kill her!” Rena heard the man shouted as she dashed through the door to end up in an unknown corridor.

Rena was running aimlessly. The corridor wasn’t provided with any lighting or windows. She was trapped.

“Get her!”

Behind her was the sound of the guards approaching.

I must get out of here.

Rena had no time to be confused. She needed to run straight until she found a dead end, there, she would find some doors or stairs.

Rena was on full throttle. Her life was a bet on a dining table. She had to get a way out of there.

Her breath became ragged. She had no idea how long had she run. She didn’t know how many stairs she had climbed down. She didn’t even sure she was running straight or she did make turns.

Why did you do this?

Jurina’s voice echoed in Rena’s mind. Rena imagined Jurina staring at her with the face that showed worries and a little bit of fear.

The corner of Rena’s lips rose a bit. Reminding herself of Jurina calmed her a bit.

Maybe, it’s because I want to get closer to you.

“She’s here!”

Rena turned her head back in unease. The shadows of her pursuer were getting closer. She could see the flash of light too close to her safe zone. They were right on her back, ready to have her dead.

She was exhausted. Even if she wanted to run as fast as she could, she had nowhere to run. The building she was in was as dark as lifeless night. She would be delighted if she could have even one of her pursuer flashlight. Without it, she didn’t have any idea where she should go.

“Hhh…hhh…”

It was a deadly silence.

She couldn’t hear the men shouting. Am I saved? Rena wondered. But, she was not outside, yet.

Slowly, Rena stopped running. She was walking limply until she was completely still. Rena held her knees while bending 90 degrees front. Her head was spinning. Her face was steaming.

Where are they?

Rena decided staying on one spot was not wise. Her pursuer could appear out of nowhere. Rena gathered all her strength she had left and started walking. This time, she kept her body close to the wall. Using it to support her body; Rena walked as slow and as quiet as she could manage.

Eventually, Rena reached an intersection. The wall was gone, changed with a cold metallic surface on her hand. She reached another stairs.

Rena held onto the railing and began descending.

Bang.

Rena was caught off-guard. One of the guards sneaked behind her quietly. And with a loud bang, the gun was fired. The bullet shot through the damp air. It penetrated Rena’s jacket then proceeding ripping her skin, pierced through her muscle, and rest inside.

Blood was gushing through the hole the bullet made on Rena’s back. She had no time to hold her wound or to stop the bleeding. Rena lost her balance on the stairs and with a loud bumping sound; she rolled on the every steps before settling on the floor below.

Rena was lying upside down. Her legs were on the fifth steps of the stairs while her head was touching the mat placed on the floor. Her senses turned duller as blood was leaving her circulation system. She was petrified when she noticed a gleaming light permeated the room from the big glass door with a gigantic sign read ‘See You Next Time’ above it.

Her head was dizzy. Her mind was screaming.

Jurina, help me.

_________________

Day 7

Jurina never liked hospital. The disinfectant smell dizzied her. For her, it’s a smell of death.

She was awakened by a beeping sound of heart-rate monitor. The beeping was accelerating when she tried to get up. She gave up as the pounding on her head intensified.

No more than a minute later, a nurse came by. She checked on the monitor before taking off the receptor from her thumb. The nurse smiled at her gently and without saying anything else, she left.

Jurina was about to ask where she was when a familiar figure appeared behind the door.

“You’re alive.” The figure stated. No significant change of tone Jurina could pick up. As if the fact Jurina is still breathing is not surprising at all. She lifted her head as far as she could get. Beside the door, stood her partner in crime, the vice-director, wearing her office outfit.

“I guess?” Jurina answered in questioning tone. She didn’t feel alive, not with constant hammering on her head.

The vice-director shrugged her shoulder, “you gave me heart attack for disappearing like that. Don’t you know how worried I am?”

Jurina lifted her hand, trying to scratch her head but the constant dizziness stopped her.

“Okay, I know you’re in no condition to travel or even walk by yourself, but we need to take you to the convention. Or else you’re going to lose everything you have built from scratch. I did what I can to save your position but if you don’t come…” you’ll be dead. She made a slashing gesture in front of her neck.

Jurina raised her eyebrows. She hadn’t realized how many days had passed since the last time she got knocked out.

“Isn’t it ended already?”

“Nope. It’s 5 a.m. now. You have 4 hours to ride back to Tokyo to save our company, to save yourself. ” The vice-director checked her wristwatch, “fortunately, I got a heli for you to ride.”

“A helicopter?” Jurina eyes widen, that was… exaggerating.

“Yep. So you come or not?”

With challenging look, Jurina’s partner, her best-friend, crossed her hands in front of her chest.

“Geez, Mayu, I could use commercial flight.” Jurina shook her head. She was unpredictable. She always does.

“No can do.” Mayu shook her head.

Showing her mischievous smile, Watanabe Mayu guided Jurina off her bed, leaving for the last spurt for saving her future. Mayu took Jurina’s arm onto her shoulder and guided her to the wheel chair.

“By the way, how did you find me?” Jurina asked as they were leaving the hospital.

“Anonymous tip. It told me your location.”

“Who?”

“I said, anon.”

________________

Day 30

Jurina was standing in front of a rundown apartment in the downtown. She would never visit this kind of place after she escaped it a few years back. Not if she didn’t find out her kidnapper address.

After a month of hell, Jurina barely scraped alive and (not) well. She somehow managed to save her company, at least her position in it. She did necessary measure for her long-lived position; some included kicking out a few dishonest directors that had constantly opposed her.

Another thing Jurina had to do was to find her lovely kidnapper, which turned out to be futile.

Jurina couldn’t find Rena. Even gouging out the truth out of the director responsible of her kidnapping won’t do.

She was told that Rena was shot and left dead. The man’s men threw the body out somewhere.

Jurina was disheartened.

After some research on the company partnership database, Jurina found out where Rena lived, where she used to live.

Jurina stepped on the stairs. She stopped when she reached the fifth floor. With the key she got from the landlady (she pretended she’s going to rent the place), Jurina opened the room 523.

The smell of dust hit her nose as the room was opened after so many years had passed. Jurina coughed several times only to leave bad aftertaste on her tongue.

Jurina entered the now empty room.

It was an 18m square of room. Small. Old. Needs repair on the glass window. The tap wasn’t on and it produced creaking sound when Jurina tried to spin it.

This is where she used to live.

Jurina lay down on the living room, the biggest room that was separated from the bathroom and kitchen. She stared at the dead fluorescent lamp hanging on the ceiling. She absorbed the entire element she could feel inside the room.

This is where Rena spent her days.

Jurina closed her eyes.

This is where she lived since she was a kid.

This is where she grew up.

This is where… her father hanged himself.

Jurina’s eyes snapped open. She sat herself up. Right, she was in a room where a man lost his life. Suddenly, the room temperature dropped by a few degrees.

A photo frame hung on the wall caught Jurina’s eyes. Jurina stood up and approached the frame. She was thrilled when she realized who was in the photo. But at the same time scared and a bit disgusted at the blood that splattered on the glass frame up to the wall beside it.

Jurina took the frame and analyzed it some more. It was a familiar face she only got to know less than a month ago.

As I thought, this kind of angelic smile suit her better.

Jurina smiled at the photo of Rena in her high-school uniform. She proceeded by taking the photo out and slipped it in between the book she brought with her.

Looking around the room, Jurina tried to find another thing that could possibly be Rena’s. But she found nothing beside several undies whose Jurina believed was not Rena’s.

Jurina took a final glance at the tiny apartment room. She stared at the streak of blood that dirtied the wall and to the worn out tatami. What the hell was happening there; Jurina didn’t want to know.

Holding the doorknob, Jurina slammed the door close.

_________________

Day -759

Rena was running happily with a pack of melon breads in her hand. She had been saving money for the treat she would give for her brothers and sisters. Her job was going on well lately. She might get a promotion soon.

Tadaima—I’m home.”

Rena slipped her feet out of her flat shoes. She kept her socks on since they couldn’t afford slippers.

Her apartment was unusually quiet. Her brothers and sisters usually greet her when she arrived.

Confused, Rena proceeded to the living room.

Her bag of melon breads dropped nosily onto the floor. Her eyes widen. She was lost at words.

She won’t be able to forget. No.

In front of her was her dad, hanging on a rusty rope. His face was calm. Lifeless. His clothes were dirty, red kind of dirt.

Slipping from his hand was a knife, fallen exactly under him. The knife was as dirty as his clothes, red kind of dirt.

Rena was screaming. Howling. Crying. Screeching.

Steps from nearby neighbors were heard all over the apartment. People were coming inside. Some were arguing with each other, some were trying to drag Rena out of the room.

Rena was scratching the tatami mat, defending herself from the force that pulling her out. On her eyes were reflected a pool of blood from stiff bodies of her deceased siblings. Stabbed, murdered, without anything Rena could do to stop it from happening.

________________

Day XX

The waves were coming back and forth, sweeping the cliff. The breeze was salty as usual.

On the top of the cliff was a woman. Her hat protected her from the blazing sun.  Her coat was fluttering from side to side. Sometimes her thin upper clothes were fluttering with it, showing a nasty scar on her back.

She was enjoying the mild sensation of coldness mixed with warmth from her coat. Past life events were flowing through her mind. But she brushed it off. She needed to live in the present and present only.

“Onee-chan, let’s go.”

She turned around to find a bunch of people was waiting not far from her.

A 12 years old boy was jumping impatiently, urging her to get closer. Behind him was another boy, older and taller. Beside them were two girls who looked exactly the same. And last but not least, her parents were there with them. She missed them all.

She moved her feet. She was walking to the people, her family. She had finally found her. She couldn’t stop smiling. After all this time, she was about to meet them. Her hand was up, trying to grasp and hug her family as fast as she could.

Don’t leave me, Rena.

A hand, warm and familiar, prevented her from moving. Her wrist ached as her body remember the strength of the grip. The hand pulled her closer, turned her around, and then enveloped her into a tight hug. Her face met with the soft chest. The warmth was familiar. The scent was familiar.

Beep.

Louder and louder, beeping sound echoed in her ear. It intensified as seconds passed.

She was confused. She had no idea what’s happening. Her view was blurry. Darkness began to consume her. Her heart was beating faster. She was scared.

What is it? Where am I?

She lost her composure. Her body was shaking. Then, the hug become tighter. The warmth was still there. She returned the hug, engulfing herself inside the protective hug.

The darkness was everywhere. But she knew she’s not alone.

A smile rose on her mouth.

fin

Path [WMatsui] [drabble]

A/N: A very short drabble. Maybe I’ll turn it to a one shot, what do you think? LOL.


Our lips melts into each other. As if dancing a graceful waltz, it moves slowly. Firmly. Without rush. I wonder, how much longer? Time is ticking.

Our eyes are closed. We’re waiting. Waiting until the breath runs out and the lips need to be separated. I wish for the moment to freeze. Unmoving.

Cold breeze sweeps my face, making me shiver. The warmth has gone. We’ve parted.

You’re standing still. Silently. Looking down to me who couldn’t look at you.

“Hey.” You call me.

Your voice is more like a whisper. Low volume. Hoarse.

You extend your hand. Your cold fingers graze my cheeks carefully, before settling on my chin. You lift my face. I meet with your unwavering gaze. Your stern expression soften. It turns into a smile, gentle one.

It’s dim under the street lamp. The light flickers now and then. It adds to the chill we both feel. It makes me feel more… alone.

“Good-bye.”

Your smile is sincere. It’s not filled with joy. No.

“Good-bye.”

I reply.

Water droplets threatens to stain my face. I pull it back as far to the back of my eyes. I need my eyes open. I need my view clear. I need to witness you disappear. Forever. And ever.

You’re gone.

You’re gulped down by the darkness, by the night.

Empty.

No one beside me. Not anymore. Nothing.

In front of me is the abyss tempted to take me in. One step and I’d fall.

I turn around.

It’s another darkness. I can see nothing.

A sigh escapes my mouth. It’s dull. I can hear nothing. My senses is off.

I take a step out of the cover of the light from the street lamp.

It shuts off immediately with a puff. For a change, the street lamp a few meters from me turns itself on. I jumps with a yelp as it surprised me.

Another sigh, and another step closer to the next light.

It shuts off. Then another turns on.

Step by step. Street lamps turn on and off.

I walk and walk.

I don’t look back. I can’t.

I’ll only face front. Until I get to where you are. I don’t know what is waiting for me, as what is waiting for you. But, I’ll find you. No matter what. I’ll find you and tell you I love you.

Hey, Jurina. They told us to choose. So you choose the darkest one, don’t you? To let me walk on the brightest side.

Rena.

First Drive [SayaJuri]

A/N: Hello! It’s been a while since I posted sth. XD. So, this one is inspired from some hajimete no drive screen caps. Haven’t watched the PV tho. lol.

Rating: T; Genre: Angst

I would like to see your smile one more time.

Sayanee held her breath. She wasn’t sure what to do, what to see, what to say. Everything around her was blurry. Or it wasn’t.

Sounds and voices slowly came back. That’s right. She was in a bus. She was in a bus along with her classmate on a recreation to the beach. It was summer, of course it’s the beach.

Nee, nee, soon after we arrive shouldn’t we buy shaved ice first?” One of her classmate suggested.

“Right! With melon syrup mixed with strawberry, that’ll be delicious!” replied another one.

“Eee~ But don’t we need to visit the cottage first?” retorted the girl in ponytail.

“Sayanee, what do you think?” the first girl asked.

Sayanee was dumbfounded. She wasn’t really listening to the girls’ conversation. Beside, she was sleeping a few moments ago.

Dou shiyou kana…”

Left with a half-assed answer, the girls continued their argument without Sayanee. Soon, they agreed to go search the ice stall first.

Sayanee cared the less about the ice stuff. She was getting ready for her next season of nap when she remembered the girl sitting on the back of the bus.

Sneakily, Sayanee turned her body around to take a peek. There she was, sandwiched between her two classmates, wearing broken white loose sweater with her slightly wavy hair. Today too, she’s flawless. She was clapping her hand upon the joker in front of her. She looked happy. Or so they thought.

After a few seconds, she put down her face. The clapping lost its momentum before stopping permanently. In between the chaos around her, she stayed silent. She never realized the pair of eyes that had been watching her closely.

Sayanee furrowed her eyebrows, followed by her lips pouting. She was waiting for the girl to show her smile, even if it was forced. But the girl didn’t even notice her.

Giving up, Sayanee turned back. She put her headphone back on. She played the rock music she loves at the loudest volume. The surrounding sound died down once again.

Following the music, Sayanee closed her eyes.

Let the sorrow passed away.

Let her engulfed in pain. All alone.

________________

“Let’s take a drive!”

The class rep, Yui, suggested. She squatted beside Sayanee who was sun-bathing.

“Eee~ Where’s that come from? No way. We’ve been trapped in the bus for hours. I don’t need another hour trapped in another moving vehicle.” Sayanee, taking off her sunglasses, rejected the offer. She had enough of moving around in a metal box, enough of car sickness.

“You know, there’s a spot far in the cliff that would be good for sunset viewing. Let’s go there!” Yui insisted.

Sayanee rolled her eyes. An hour from now is the sunset. It’ll be perfect for sunset viewing, but Sayanee was totally not in the mood.

“Nope, nope, nope. Why don’t you ask the other girls?”

“They refused!” Yui pouted. She had been running around asking the same question to her other classmate to receive the same cold shoulder she received from Sayanee. Maybe they’re as tired as Sayanee, after a set of beach volley, playing tag, and shopping for souvenirs, they should be.

“Look, they don’t want to either. Maybe you shouldn’t go.”

“Eee~ But I have been waiting for this. Beside, Sayanee, you haven’t been participating in our games all day. You should go with me then!”

Again, Sayanee rolled her eyes. Indeed, she mostly sat back and watched her friends played. She didn’t feel like moving. Even though usually, she’s the one who would initiate all sort of games. When her friends asked her to play, she would refuse while saying she was still dizzy from car sickness.

“Well, you need to find another person.” Sayane shrugged her shoulder. She wasn’t in the mood for a debate either.

“Geez. Okay then. I’ll ask Jurina instead.” With a pout Yui stood up and left Sayanee alone.

Upon hearing Jurina’s name, Sayane froze. She followed Yui’s steps with her eyes. Yui was approaching a girl who’s sitting on the wooden chair beside the juice stall. They talked for a moment. The girl seemed confused at first. But after a few more explanation, she smiled and nodded. In response, Yui was jumping around her happily.

Sayanee was taken aback.

She got up from her lazy position so abruptly that she almost fell. With a dash she shouted, “WAIT!”

________________

The heat was killing her. So did the person sitting beside the driver.

She was smiling brightly while sharing the story about her dog with the driver. Sometimes her puns came up. The driver would laugh politely even though the pun was lame.

“Hey, why don’t we turn on some music?”

From the back seat, Yui pointed at the old radio attached below the dashboard.

“This one?” the girl asked. Her finger was already on the power button. She pushed it but nothing happened.

“Ah sorry, ladies. The radio is broken. Haven’t got the time to repair it,” explained the driver, apologetically.

“Too bad, a song would be nice in a trip like this.” Yui threw her body back to the cushion in disappointment, “ah, Sayanee why don’t you sing?”

“Eh?” again, Sayanee was dumbfounded.

“You have a nice voice, don’t you? Try sing something.”

Sayanee was reluctant. She prefer not to sing in front of people. She does have confidence with her voice though.

“Ah, there’s a guitar in the back if you want to use it,” told the driver.

“Great, you can play guitar too, right?” Yui pushed Sayanee even further.

Sayanee’s face turned bright red. She was ready to dig her own grave and disappear from the world. She would be okay to sing, but not in front of the girl that was staring at her with great intensity from the front seat. She would be nervous as hell.

“He… I don’t know you can play guitar, Sayaka.” The girl admitted. She was smiling at Sayanee. Ah, what a beautiful smile, Sayanee thought. She would be fainted if she was staring longer for even a second.

Jaa, only one song.” Finally, Sayanee agreed to sing.

Yui gave her the guitar mentioned. Feeling the weight of the acoustic guitar, Sayanee was calmed down for some reasons. Patiently, she tuned the rusty guitar. Each of the strings and each of the notes.

Her palm grazed the guitar neck with care before settled on the 3rd fret. Her other hand settled on the guitar lower bout. Her fingers were ready in front of the sound hole. Along with soft strumming, the intro was played.

Soon, her voice filled the moving jeep. On one-two rhythm her head bobbed along unconsciously. Not that she realized, her two friends was mesmerized by her sudden singing voice. With the breeze that sneaked through the open window, her hair fluttered, her voice drifted away.

Sayanee’s eyes flickered opened.

The spectators gave her heartily clapping.

Modestly, Sayanee shook her head upon her friends praise. She was both embarrassed and glad. She was glad to see the girl now smiling in amusement. She was glad that it was her who was able to make the girl smile. She was glad, they were driving together.

________________

Midnight in the beach is supposedly warm, isn’t it?

It’s supposed to be comfortable for a good night sleep.

But, that night was windy.

The sea was restless. The waves kept pounding the beach. It was on rampage.

Sayanee couldn’t sleep. She had been trashing on her bed that the bed became messy. Fortunately, she was sleeping alone on a single bed. No one would bother.

Eventually, she gave up on sleeping. Her eyes were wide opened. The sleepiness was still lingered but her brain refused to deactivate.

With a throwing of her legs she sat on her bed, legs down on the floor. She rubbed her face a few times and stretched her stiff back.

After another minute of silence, she stood up. She grabbed her grey parka and the room’s key. She then tip-toed toward the entrance door. Silently. Without making any sound. You didn’t want an angry awaken roommate shouting at you, did you?

Sayanee safely slipped out  from her own room. Before leaving, she glanced at the wristwatch beside the sink. 03.30. a.m. It’s almost dawn.

The strong wind blew over her as soon as she stepped out of the cottage. For a second, Sayanee regretted for even considering going out of her cozy room.

Sayanee brushed her palms oh her folded arms. She hugged herself tightly. Really, maybe she should consider going back. But, she wasn’t.

She began a set of stretching to warm herself, continued with a jog until she reached the beach. By the time Sayanee arrived at the beach, she was sweating heavily. It made her warm but it turned chilly when the wind passed her wet body.

She ran slowly while watching the waves and the shining moon. I should have bought my music player, thought Sayanee.

Sayanee continued to jog even further. She had always been doing it every time she couldn’t sleep. She would tire her body so that her mind can rest. This time though, maybe she wouldn’t be able to.

Sitting on the beach holding her knees, was the same girl that had been in her mind all day long. She was wearing a white one piece without anything over it, despite the chilly weather. She was staring at the dark sea. Although, Sayanee doubted her mind was there. Her eyes were as empty as shade.

Gulped down her saliva, Sayanee approached her. She halted when she noticed a droplet of water rolling down from her eyes to her chin. It must be a hallucination since in the next second, her pale face was as smooth as porcelain, without any streak of tear.

The girl seemed not to notice Sayanee at all. She was absorbed by her own world. Spinning around in sorrow.

“Jurina…” whispered Sayanee.

The girl was surprised. Her eyes widened when she realized Sayanee was standing beside her.

“Ah, it’s you, Sayaka.” The girl said. Unlike her other friends, Jurina always calls Sayanee with her first name without honorifics nor she calls her by her nickname. It was either that they’re closer than the others or it was because Sayanee once told Jurina not to call her by her surname. But no. They wasn’t close at all. Jurina would call her by nickname if that was the case.

“What are you doing here? Can’t sleep?”

Sayanee deliberately settled down beside Jurina.

“Mmm, the room’s too hot. I was thinking to take a walk.” Without averting her gaze toward the sea, Jurina explained.

“At this time at the night?” Sayane questioned her. Later, she realized the question could apply to her as well.

“Well, couldn’t help it. You can’t sleep either, eh?” Jurina asked. This time, she faced Sayanee while talking.

“Same with me. The room’s too hot.” Sayanee nodded in agreement.

In result, Jurina laughed earnestly.

From the rear, Sayanee watched Jurina’s opened mouth, showing her row of white teeth. She was already back staring at the tons of water in front of them. The laugh had completely faded. Jurina’s gloomy expression came back. Her face stiffened. Her lips slightly apart to each other. Her eyes half-closed.

Sayanee wanted to ask.

There were so many things she wanted to ask. She wanted to become closer.

But despite the short distance they were in, Sayanee was frozen. She could do nothing but staring at the being sitting silently beside her. Her eyes movement, her breath…

“Hey, aren’t you cold?” Sayanee put off her parka when she realized that Jurina was trembling. She held back when she saw how wet her parka had been. She was sweating a lot.

“Uh. But I guess you wouldn’t want to use this…” muttered Sayanee, intended for herself.

“That’s not the case. I’m not cold, really. You should have used it for yourself. You have been sweating a lot, it would be a lot colder for you.”

Sayanee considering Jurina’s words. Actually, that was true. But she wouldn’t let Jurina in the cold herself.

Jaa, we’ll used it as blanket. It wasn’t big enough, but better than nothing.”

Sayanee spread the parka and covered both her knees and Jurina’s. It was only half covered with the current distance between them.

“You’re really kind.” Jurina complimented, wasn’t aware of Sayanee’s blushing cheeks, “get closer, we couldn’t get covered properly if you don’t.”

Jurina pulled Sayanee’s shoulder closer to hers, which Sayanee quickly retorted, “I’m sweaty! I-I think it’s not wise for you to get any closer to me. I must be stinky.”

“Get closer,” commanded Jurina in stern voice. Her eyes were bloodshot.

While mumbling to herself, Sayane moved a bit closer to Jurina. It didn’t satisfied Jurina as she gestured Sayanee to get even closer.

In the end, their thighs were touching each other. Sayanee could even hear Jurina’s steady heartbeat. She hoped Jurina didn’t do either way. Her heart was beating frantically that Sayanee afraid it would jump out of its socket.

“Hey, do you ever wonder what’s there beyond the sea?” Jurina started.

“What’s there… an island? The ocean?” Sayanee guessed.

“Mmm. I don’t know either.”

Sayanee was puzzled. She wasn’t sure where the conversation headed to.

“I mean… wouldn’t there be… a paradise? A utopia where god and goddess spend their days off.”

Sayanee pondered the theory for a bit. She came to the conclusion that the god and goddess would prefer spend their times in the palace on the sky. Beside Poseidon, of course, he’s the god of sea. He lives inside the sea anyway, not above it.

“Then, wouldn’t there be… ghosts? Spirits? Maybe, human soul drifted off to the sea instead of to the underworld. What do you think, Sayaka?”

Again, Sayanee was puzzled. She wasn’t sure what to answer. She never thought about where the spirits of dead people went. She was told where by the people on the shrine, but she didn’t give it too much thought. She’s the type who would live her life to the utmost, without worrying much about death.

“Ah, sorry. I must have confused you.” Jurina apologized.

“It’s okay,” Sayanee whispered . She was wondering why Jurina randomly picked up topic about the other world. As far as Sayanee knows, Jurina is not fond of horror stories. She’s a scaredy-cat, people often said.

Sayanee turned to face Jurina, but she had already fixed her eyes to the sea upfront. Her gaze was deep, as if waiting for something to come up, for light to beam through the darkness, or maybe for a real ghost to show up. The last one would be bad for the two of them.

Silence was hanging once again. Sayanee followed Jurina, staring at one point faraway in the darkness of night. Her mind was still on their recent conversation. She was perplexed, confused. She could not comprehend what Jurina’s been saying. But, Jurina seemed to have lost her interest to continue her theory.

“Let’s get back. I think we have spent way too much time here.”

Jurina was the first one to react. She stood up and offering her hand for Sayanee. Saying nothing, Sayanee took her hand and got up.

They then walked passed closed stalls, across the beach, climbing up the stairs. All the time, Jurina’s hand was on Sayanee’s wrist, impatiently dragging her closer.

Behind them, the sun was rising.

________________

Their second day at the beach was, thankfully, no driving. Sayanee was already sick with each kind of four-wheel vehicles. They did planning about riding bicycles though. They could visit the shops that located too far from the cottage. Or do some races between themselves.

As usual, Yui was taking the roll call. After all the members gathered, they rushed to the rental bicycle shop and took their own bicycle, personal or tandem one. Sayanee was thinking about skipping the cycling activity (she was dead tired after her session of running last night), but the view of Jurina riding bicycle gracefully changed her mind.

She took a single bicycle. She had never able to ride a tandem one. And she wasn’t going to try. Pretty sure she would fail. Also, with personal bike, she could stalk—follow—Jurina freely.

“We’ll get back here one hour from now, ‘kay? Now, go!”

Along with Yui’s blow on the whistle, the girls shouted in excitement. Soon, the road was filled by young girls cycling.

Sayanee glanced to the back of the group where Yui was trying her hardest to move her tandem bike. Her partner wasn’t cooperating much so that Yui was the only one moving the pedals. Her face turned bright red that it was both pitiable and laughable.

Holding her laughter, Sayanee turned around while shaking her head. The other girls were already passed her. Sayane gathered her power and started pedaling. She should keep up with the other girls.

She passed another set of girls who tried keeping their tandem bike steady. She smiled at them while passing. She was glad that she didn’t choose a tandem one.

“Hey hey, holding it there.” The one in the front said.

“Don’t stop moving! Or else we’ll fall!” Another girl protested.

Witnessing the scene in front of her, Sayanee let out a crispy laugh. She rode her bike pass the troubled girls while shaking her head.

She strode along for a while, enjoying the scene and salty breeze. She passed through a narrow passageway, a block of houses, then she arrived at the main road. High from the road, she could see the beach on her left side. There were people surfing far away on the sea, riding waves like a hero. Sayanee considered surfing but she brushed the plan off, she didn’t bring the gear and she wasn’t sure they had time to.

Sayanee strolled off a little farther, until she reached the front gate with a big red word spelled ‘SEE YOU NEXT TIME’ which most of the alphabets had come off. When she was come to realization, there was no one in front of her. To be exact, she couldn’t find anyone she knows at all. She must have been going too far off.

Turning her bike around, Sayanee was going back to the meeting point. That was when she noticed a certain girl sitting in front of the security office eating ice cream while listening to the music. Her rental bike rested on the pillar not far from her. Sayanee’s heart skip a beat. She was wondering why she always had the chance to talk to the girl in the most expected and cliché way (beside the fact she was thinking about stalking the girl half an hour ago).

“Hey.” Sayanee greeted the girl. The girl didn’t respond so Sayanee gave her a light tap on her shoulder.

The said girl turned her face up, looking surprised. She hurriedly put off her earphones. “Hey,” she replied.

“What are you doing here?” Sayaka asked.

The girl shrugged her shoulder, “eating ice cream, probably.”

She proceeded licking the half-eaten ice cream. The ice cream had melted away leaving not too much of itself on the cone.

“An ice cream stall passed through not so long ago. I thought why not, so I got this vanilla flavored one. Do you want some?” By the time she said it, the ice cream had disappeared, leaving only the cone.

“No, thanks. You should finish it.”

“Fine then.” Again, the girl shrugged her shoulder.

Sayanee watched the girl intensely. A bit of ice cream was splattered on the girl’s cheek. She didn’t seem to care about it.

“Here.” Sayanee offer her a fresh pack of tissue paper.

“Oh thanks.” The girl took the tissue and wiped the ice cream off her face. She then continued eating silently.

Smilling, Sayanee rested her bike beside the girl’s, before settling down beside her. She’s no longer looking at the girl. Instead, Sayanee fixed her eyes on the rolling waves in front of her.

“Hey, want to accompany me?” the girl said suddenly.

Sayanee tilted her head, “where?”

“There.” The girl pointed toward the sea. Sayanee was confused at first, but she soon understood what the girl mean. There was a spot below the cliff that formed a small secluded cave.

“Why there?” Sayanee asked.

“Nothing particular. I just want to know what is there.”

For the nth time of the day, Sayanee was puzzled. She was fine, of course, to follow the girl wherever she want to go.

“But we can’t take the bike there.”

“Nah. We’ll turn it back, then go there. How ‘bout it?”

“Seems like a plan.”

The girl’s eyes narrowed in a mischievous smile.

_________________

“Hmm…there’s nothing here.”

They had already turned their bikes to the rental shop. After a short walk, they arrived at the cave below the cliff. But there’s nothing there. The cave itself was only an empty space around a bedroom size that connect with the beach.

“I guess we can do nothing but sit here.” The girl threw herself on the sand, lying there for a few seconds before sat her back up. Sayanee followed. She sat beside her.

“What will you do now?” Sayanee asked.

“Dunno. Looking at the sea? Maybe.” The girl answered with no interest in her voice. Her expression indicated bore and weariness.

“Why do you like to watch the sea so much?” Sayanee inquired in true curiosity, “you were watching the waves too, last night.”

The girl shrugged her shoulder, “I don’t know, feel like it.”

Sayanee was puzzled even more. She couldn’t seem to fathom what’s the girl wanted, what her feeling is right now.

Like last night, the girl hugged her bent knees, close to her chest. Her chin rested on it. She talked no more. She was tight-lipped, her pupils unfocused.

“Can I ask you something?” Sayanee couldn’t bear anymore silent. She decided to speak out what had been troubling her.

“Sure,” answered the girl. Her attention switched fully on Sayanee.

“Last night, at the beach, were you…crying?”

The girl was dumbstruck. Her soft expression stiffened, then soften again.

Yada… you saw me?” she laughed nervously.

In hesitation, Sayanee nodded.

“Ah, it’s so embarrassing.” The girl buried her face on her palms. Sayanee noticed her ears were turning into a redder shade.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t ask.”

“No, no, it’s okay. It’s just…”

The girl looked far away to the distance. Her face became more worn-off than usual. Suddenly, she looked like she aged several years ahead.

Sayanee stared at her silently. She stayed while watching her changed of expression. By the time, it became more and more bitter, filled with more agitation and anxiety. Tears began to accumulate on the corner of her eyes. Sayanee felt bad for bringing up unpleasant subject. She knew, actually. Without the girl noticing, Sayanee had always been keeping her in check.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to say anything,” whispered Sayanee. Her thumbs grazed over the girl’s eyes that threaten to spill its baggage.

The girl looked at her. She opened her mouth then closed it again. Her lips then formed a thin smile. She averted her gaze from Sayanee. She wasn’t strong enough to look eyes to eyes.

“I…”

_______________

Sayanee had always been closer to Jurina than the girl knows.

They were classmate, but rarely talked to each other. Both have a strong presence that it’ll clash if they stays too close to each other. Sayanee does respect Jurina, and vice versa. But little did Jurina knew, Sayanee had a feeling more than respect toward her.

Jurina, by all means, is the most active girl in the class. Sayanee’s more leader like, she brings the class together, helping Yui as the vice class-representative.

That was that.

No one in the school knows that Jurina already had a lover. That’s why she kept rejecting all the love letters from her admirer. Everyone, expect Sayanee.

She knew in coincidence.

She was in a dojo, learning kendo. That’s where she met Matsui Rena.

Sayanee first impression toward Rena was a delicate girl who could do nothing but waiting to be rescued and pampered. She was wrong, though. Rena was an excellent kendoka with more than ten years’ experience.

She was surprised when Rena told her that she had a little sister in the same school as Sayanee.

Her first thought was another Matsui in the next class. But given the name, it was the Matsui in hers.

“That’s a nice coincidence!” Rena claimed happily, “we should go hang out together!”

That would be nice, but Sayanee refused, “I barely know her. Too bad. Maybe next time.”

“Ah, I see. I think you should try to approach her. She looked energetic all the time, but she’s actually shy around stranger.” Rena explained. Her eyes sparkled when she talked about her sister.

Sayanee gave her an apologetic smile. Everything that involved Jurina had never been easy for Sayanee. She would stutter here and there when she talked with Jurina, even though she’s a good speaker.

After that, Rena had never invited Sayanee to go with her and Jurina together. They had a great conversation about things but the invitation never occurred for the second time.

Rena often talked about herself, and about Jurina too. That’s how Sayanee knew many trivial things about Jurina. Some embarrassing facts, like how she still wet her bed even at her 2nd years in elementary school.

Jurina though, acted indifferent. Sayanee thought Rena hadn’t told Jurina about her. It’s not that Rena had too, but Sayanee wished she had. It’ll help her getting closer to Jurina. Sayanee regreted refusing Rena’s offer.

Sayanee didn’t think much about it. She always felt left out when Rena talked about Jurina. But why should she felt that way? Sayanee often thought. Although, she had a strange feeling whenever she listened to Rena talking about Jurina. Her eyes sparkled more than usual. Her quite voice was louder. She became more energetic. Ah, she really love her sister, Sayanee thought.

However, all came to light when she saw Rena and Jurina having a walk together, hand in hand. She was certain when she saw them kissed.

Sayanee was heart-broken at first.

She was actually more surprised than hurt. They were sisters, after all.

Nothing happened after that.

Rena had always opened with Sayanee. And Sayanee didn’t become closer to Jurina.

Though, Sayanee couldn’t see them with the same eyes anymore.

Then it happened.

Between the peaceful days, uninvited.

Jurina suddenly taken the school off. For a full month.

They were told she had some family problems. But Sayanee knew better.

Rena suddenly stopped coming to the dojo.

Like Jurina, Rena too, disappeared from the city.

A month later, Jurina’s back. Sayanee was expecting a sad and gloomy look, but she barged into the class, all frenzy and high spirited. She came in grinning widely. Moreover, she even managed to think of more lame jokes.

When the classmates asked her, she told them that she’s actually having a vacation to the Caribbean. She then received the boo-ing from her friends with mischievous smile.

Sayanee did believe that was the case, until the next kendo lesson where Rena hadn’t come back. She never did.

_______________

They were walking on the shore. Far at the west, the sun was lighted in orange. A few minutes, the night would roll in.

Beside them, not many people were there. Mostly the workers who readied to close their shops, and some couples walking casually while playing with the sands. There was a girl who screamed when the wave reached her and wet her new dress. Then she leaped to her boyfriend, clung at his arm. Sayanee scorned at the scene. She found it was exaggerated.

“Do you know, Sayaka, that I have an older sister?”

Jurina’s voice snapped her back. Sayanee forgot about the couple earlier and paid attention at Jurina.

Sayanee pondered whether she should tell Jurina the truth or lied. But Jurina seemed not waiting for any answer as she continued.

“This older sister of mine, is 6 years older than me. We live separately, she lives alone while I lives with my parents.”

Jurina halted to pick up a shell buried in the sand. She threw it off when she realized it’s only a garbage.

“I often spent the night on my sis apartment. She didn’t get along with my parents, you know. I do but I really close to my sister. It’s more comfortable being in her small apartment than my parents’ house.”

This time, Sayanee was the one who found a small white shell. She picked it up and gave it to Jurina who muttered a thank you after.

“We then… got closer than we should be,” Jurina took a breath. She closed her eyes as the memories came along with the pain attached on it, “we… did the stuffs lovers do. We became a lover.”

Jurina stopped. She glanced at the setting sun. Then, to Sayanee.

“Are you disgusted?” asked her.

Sayanee shook her head.

“Well, long story short, my parents eventually found out. Remember the time when I take school off?” Sayaka nodded, “at the weekend, once a month, we usually visit our grandma in the village. That’s when our relationship came to light. It was such a ruckus. I’ve never seen my sister as furious like that. She’s even angrier than my parents did. It’s like something that was ready to blow off between them was finally come off with an explosion.”

Jurina massaged her temple. She had forced an unpleasant memories to resurface. She was getting exhausted little by little.

“After that, what happened to your sister?”

Jurina stared at Sayanee’s eyes. She didn’t noticed her deep gaze in the ink black pupils before. Nor at her prominent chin and her high cheekbone. Jurina had just realized she really is not close with Sayanee at all. She barely knew the vice-rep, even though they sat next to each other in the class for almost three years.

“She stormed off the house. Never seen her after that.”

Sayane was dumbfounded. Never seen her after that.

“She went missing?”

“Yeah… for that one month my family searched for her everywhere. But no sign of her. She disappeared like a smoke.”

Sayanee widen her eyes. She knew the truth after a year passed. She was shocked. She didn’t believe someone as delicate as Rena would do something like running away from home.

“You see, my grandma’s village is not far from here. There’s an assumption that my sister committed a suicide here. On this beach. They said she’s giving in to the cold sea, alone…”

Jurina’s gaze strayed off to the sea. Far away to the horizon.

“Now you know… why I like to watch the sea.”

Sayanee looked at Jurina and the sea back and forth. Her sorrowful face fitted the twilight way too much. It pained her. It pained her that even after a long time, Jurina stayed still, inside a heart that wouldn’t come back.

“Do you love her?”

Jurina smiled, not giving Sayanee any answer. She turned, back facing the sun. Then slowly, she walked closer. Closer to the setting sun.

Her face was black. Sayanee was blinded by the light. Even with her hand hovering her face, she couldn’t see clearly. Jurina was only a silhouette that moving farther from Sayanee. Farther and farther. Like how their hearts are.

“…”

Sayane was snapped from her trance with a light tap on her shoulder. She turned her head to find the perpetrator. It was Yui in her summer outfit, light colored t-shirt and short pants.

“I’ve been looking for you,” announced the class rep, “where are you going?”

Yui’s question seemed faraway in Sayanee’s ear.

Where am I going?

Sayanee had no idea. She was clueless. All within her was void, darkness. She was gulped down, to leave nothing.

____________________

Cross Identity [wMatsui]

Rating: T; Genre: Angst; Word Count: 7968

A slap. As powerful as it could be, the slap painfully hit a pale cheek of a girl. The rain didn’t help. It only added the misery of the girl. A deep excruciating misery.

“You… I hate you!”

Flares were glowing on another girl’s eyes. Hatred.

The girl who just got slapped, stared at her ex-friend with blank face. She felt numb. She could feel nothing. Nothing but pain that was too much to bear. Too much.

__________________

Rena felt inhuman force shook her body. It was really annoying. She was in her dream land—being a princess with a handsome prince smiling beside her—quite a while ago before a great gigantic black hole sucked her up. At least, that was what happen in her dream.

The cold breeze of morning blew through her, especially her legs, thanks to her habit of wearing shorts when she goes to sleep. Her hand tried to grab her soul mate—blanket—back, but it seemed to move further the more she tried.

“Erggh…”

Rena let out a loud, harsh, moan, as a form of protest to whoever had enough gut to disrupt her currently rolling movie.

“…na…ke up! Wake up! You don’t want to be late!!”

Rena grumbled in her sleep. Eyes still glued closed.

“Whatever. I have woken you up. Don’t be angry if you’re late!”

Following heavy stomps of the interferer was a disheartening sound of closing door, instantly forced Rena to open her eyes.

Grumpily, Rena straightened her body. She glanced by the table clock beside her, 07.00 a.m. Why the heck should she wake up in this hour on her precious day-off?!

Rena cursed her roommate and promised to kick her ass when she meet her later. No choice, she couldn’t get back to sleep—no, no way she were going to meet her dream prince anymore—so, what left her was to wash her face to wipe away her bed face.

Half-asleep, Rena proceeded to the bathroom after picking up her towel from the back of her bedroom door. Slowly, she dragged herself until she was standing in front of a mirror.

Oh, she had a bad bed hair. Her short jet black hair was sticking out here and there. And there were pimples grew here and there on her forehead. It seemed last night she slept quite brutally, since she almost couldn’t recognize her face. She couldn’t stay still when she sleeps after all.

With toothbrush still hanging in her mouth, Rena looked up to face the mirror. Along with her widened eyes, she slammed her hand on the mirror, almost breaking it in the process.

As her toothbrush fell down from her mouth, her heart also almost stopped beating.

“How long are you gonna stay there? You’ll be late for sure, Jurina.”

In front of her was a woman in her late forties, wearing apron above her pajamas. She was a total stranger.

“Why do you look like you have seen a ghost? C’mon. You’re drooling.” The woman wiped her mouth with her palm, erasing the traced of toothpaste.

“Oh my, you haven’t finished brushing your teeth? Go gargling. Come down when you finish.”

With that, the woman left Rena agape. She swore to the God, she didn’t know who the woman is.

When she took a better look of her surrounding, Rena came to realization that she wasn’t in her own room. She wasn’t even in her dorm (her dorm definitely not using pink as wall paint).

Once again, Rena took a peek on the mirror in front of her. If not for the toothpaste in her mouth, she would have shout crazily (she ended up gulped most of it anyway).

It’s not a bad dream, right?

It was indeed not.

Staring back at her was not herself. It was not her. It was not Matsui Rena.

Later, she realized whose cheeky grin that was mocking at her right on her face. It was none other than her eternal enemy, Matsui Jurina.

__________________

Don’t go! Please, don’t leave me!

I’m sorry…

Jurina’s eyes snapped open. Her pajamas were wet from her sweat.

The pair of mismatched brown orbs moved uncontrollably, right and left. She rubbed her bridge of nose to loosen the tension. It somehow worked as she straightened her body and got up for a refreshing glass of water.

“Ouch!”

Thanks to the dark room, she got her pinkie crashed with whatever lying on the floor. She took the perpetrator and found out that it was a box of imported cookies. When did she buy this again?

“Are you okay?”

Along with sudden brightness, a sleepy voice asked her.

Jurina was beyond surprised to find someone else in her bedroom, it was more surprising when she looked up and saw the source of the voice. She was… umm… no, not naked, but almost. The girl was in her underwear, black lacy one. Jurina couldn’t help but gulped. Despite being a girl, the one standing gloriously in front of her was… oh well, she didn’t want to think about it.

“Rena, are you okay? Hello~”

The girl shook her hand in front of Jurina’s face, made sure that she was still there.

“Ah, umm, I’m okay.”

With the help of the unknown girl, Jurina got back up on her feet.

“Geez. It’s still early in the morning and you woke me up. You gotta treat me lunch for this, Rena.” The girl said with a grin on her face.

Looking closer, Jurina did recognize the girl’s face. Yet, she couldn’t pinpoint who she was.

“Rena~ Stop spacing out.” The girl called her once more, “you look messed up. Bad dream?”

Jurina stared at the worried girl. She wasn’t sure how she herself felt. But, she must make sure about one thing. First thing first.

“I’m going to wash my face.” Jurina announced blankly, ignoring the girl’s question.

There’s a bathroom inside the bedroom, how convenient.’ Jurina thought. She was then sure, she wasn’t in her own room. She had no memories on how she came up in a different bedroom, with an occupant she barely knew who called her with a different name. A name Jurina had not heard for years.

The reflection that was staring back at Jurina widened her eyes. She couldn’t believe that her long lost frie—ex-friend was, for once, standing before her. Through a mirror.

___________________

RENA

There should be a mistake. It MUST be a MISTAKE.

Matsui Rena couldn’t stop cursing all the way to school. The school she once admitted to. That day, she was supposed to spend all her day lying in her bedroom. Or watching some anime she hadn’t had time to watch. But instead, she was trapped. Trapped in a vehicle you called car that was moving towards a school she had already graduated from.

“I’ll pick you up later in evening, okay?”

The woman, whom Rena then remembered as Matsui Jurina’s mother, waved her a goodbye before disappeared along with the car. Who the hell came to school in personal car in this time and age? Well, the school was an elite school for conglomerates or public figure’s children so it was no wonder.

Anyway, for now Rena knew what she—Jurina—was supposed to do. That day was the end of the first semester, and being as unlucky as she was, it was Rena who should be taking the term report. No, she wasn’t even supposed to be here. Moreover, she was not Jurina!

Rena ruffled her hair in frustration.

What kind of dish did she eat yesterday that the next day she woke up being someone who is not her? And why it should be Jurina out of all people? (Yeah, she would be happier if she became one of those popular idols).

What worse was that she couldn’t reach her own cellphone (Matsui Rena’s phone of course). Later she remembered that she forgot to charge it yesterday and her—whoever occupied her body now—wouldn’t be able to open the phone. It was password protected. Even though it was, as silly as it seemed, used her own birthday as the lock.

“What are you doing there grumbling to yourself?”

Just about time.

The woman in her twenties, whom Rena noticed as Shinoda-san, her former dance teacher, was standing right in front of her.

“Nothing.” Rena replied heedlessly. At least, she thought Jurina would say it that way, with bored look all over her face.

It made the teacher raised her eyebrows though.

“You’re unusually unenergetic today, eh?” She teased, “Anyway, don’t forget, today you will dance for the end of year ceremony. You didn’t forget to bring your costume, did you? Meet me at the dancing room for the last practice after school. Later!”

The stylish teacher left Rena dumbfounded.

End of year ceremony? Dance?

Rena hit her head, hard.

No, she didn’t remember that the other girl was a talented dancer. And of course she didn’t know that she was going to perform that day. Not to say dance was one of her worst subject.

She didn’t bring Jurina’s costume.

___________________

JURINA

“Are you gonna eat, Rena? I can buy you breakfast if you want to.” The girl, whom Jurina found out as Kashiwagi Yuki—apparently Rena’s roommate, offered her.

“That would be nice. Whatever you buy, make it double.”Jurina replied.

“Okay.”

Jurina continued searching for Rena’s phone as soon as Yuki disappeared behind the door. At the very least, she should contact herself. She got an important performing schedule today, and she definitely wouldn’t risk ruining it.

“Where did she put her phone?” Jurina murmured to herself. She had been scrambling through Rena’s belongings but couldn’t find it anywhere. Jurina wondered why since Rena she knew was a neat type girl.

“Ah, there is it.”

Eventually, Jurina found it inside Rena’s hand bag.

“Huh? It’s not working?”

The screen still blank even though Jurina had pushed the power button.

“Is it out of power?”

It seemed like it.

“Great. Now I have to find the charger.” Jurina complained as she was standing between the mess she had just created. It would take time. A lot of it.

__________________

It was out of question that Jurina was on her way home. Her HOME, in Nagoya. She was there last night, before magically transported to Tokyo, where Rena was studying. Only her soul that is.

The conversation she had an hour ago felt absurd for her. Listening to your own crispy voice from the other line of the phone wasn’t the nicest entertainment. It only proved that she really switched body with Rena. And no, it did not appeal as a good news.

If only other people listened at how angry the other girl was… well. No. It was definitely not a good idea.

Jurina reminded herself at the phone call she had with Rena.

“You’re coming here!”

Rena ordered in Jurina’s voice. Her voice was filled with anger and resentment towards the other girl. Seemed she had not forgiven Jurina. And it accumulated into a tantrum after the series of events.

“Eh?”

“There is NO WAY I could dance in front of those people! You gotta do something about this!”

Her voice turned helpless. Rena was begging for help.

“But it takes time to go there. You know I can’t made it. There’s no way I could show up as you and go dancing!”

It was not that Jurina didn’t want to help Rena, well, help herself. But Tokyo and Nagoya were far-fetched.

“You can take the Shinkansen. Take money from my account and board the train. The performance is in the late evening, you can make it. You have to do something about this!”

Jurina let out a desperate sigh. Of course she was worried about the performance, but Rena should know that she couldn’t do anything about it.

“Okay. I’ll be there. Just don’t do anything weird with my body.”

“Hey! That’s my li—“

Jurina hanged up the call before Rena can say anything else.

She rubbed her forehead while closing her eyes. She needed to find a way. Even if there was no way, she must find one.

Throwing Rena’s phone into an available backpack, Jurina packed some pair of clothes and slung it onto her shoulders.

“It’ll be fine.”

Jurina regretted for not waiting for Yuki to get her a breakfast. Her stomach were growling and she didn’t have much in cash. She should have taken more of Rena’s money. The one who’s eating the food was technically Rena anyway.

“Fuh…”

That Yuki girl must be searching for her right now. Since Jurina left without saying a word.

Drrrrtt!!

Oh look, a message.

‘Where the hell are you going? I thought you’re coming with me to the Disney Sea today!’

And it seemed that Rena has some sort of appointment with the girl. Great!

‘Sorry. I have an unexpected business. I’ll make it up later.’

After replying the message, Jurina thought it might be wiser to just ignore it.

Drrrrrtt!!

‘What?? Where are you going?!’

Okay, this time Jurina completely ignored the message. That was until the persistent Yuki decided to call Rena’s phone.

Reluctantly, the poor girl picked it up.

“Hello?”

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!”

The person in other side of the phone was shouting crazily that Jurina had to keep the phone far from her ear, to prevent a possibility of hearing impaired.

“Geez! Calm down! I said I have some businesses to take care of. You don’t have to shout!”

“Sorry. It’s just, you should have told me. Your salad has turned stale you know.”

Oh, the girl bought Rena a salad. Only a salad? No wonder Rena was getting thinner than the last time Jurina met her.

“Sorry, really. I can’t leave this. I-I… I’ll definitely make it up for you later.”

“You know you can’t. I’m going to U.S. tomorrow. Today is the last day of my holiday. And you screwed up our date!”

Date? This girl is Rena’s girlfriend?

Suddenly, Jurina lost interest in speaking with the girl.

“I’m so sorry. I—“

“Look, why don’t you tell me where are you going so we can meet up later in the evening?”

Jurina thought about misleading the girl to somewhere around Artic, but that was not the nicest idea in the book. Beside, Rena would kill her if she did.

“I’m going to Nagoya. Err, one of my old schoolmate is in trouble.”

“Nagoya? What the—! I’m going there! Just tell me where exactly you are going.”

Again, Jurina thought perhaps it was better not telling Yuki the truth, but…

“To my old high school. Look, Yuki, you shouldn’t come. I promise you tonight I’ll—“

And the line was dead.

Jurina threw her arms while shaking her head. Trouble over trouble came to get her. How the hell Rena got herself a possessive girlfriend, anyway?

The train of events started to worn Jurina out. Along with the speed train that was getting closer to her home, Jurina was slowly drifting to sleep, hoping that it was all dream.

_________________

RENA

She was screwed. She knew she is.

At least, people would see her as Jurina instead.

Rena couldn’t keep her hands from shaking. Sweat was dripping from her forehead, she didn’t know the younger girl’s usually this sweaty.

The last exchange of messages was the last contact she got with herself—with Jurina. Since she made sure the girl was on her way to where she was, Rena couldn’t contact her anymore afterward. Out of battery might be the most reasonable explanation. She cursed herself for forgetting to charge the phone last night.

“Jurina, how are your scores?”

Rena looked up to find a girl in twin-tail and sparkling eyes talking to her—in a flat tone even though she was asking a question. She would look prettier if she put some efforts in the expression section. Rena noticed her as one of Jurina’s classmate since secondary school. Rena never spoke nor greeted the girl, though.

“I—um…”

The report had been given out by the homeroom teacher that morning. Rena had had a good look onto it of course. The scores were—uh—not the brightest scores, if you didn’t want to say it flamingly. Jurina got D for most subjects, only P.E. got an A. A total opposite of Rena back in her high-school time. Jurina couldn’t get anything right without Rena to tutor her. A bit of regret popped in Rena’s heart for leaving the girl alone.

“Bad scores?” The girl asked, which hit the bull’s eye.

“Well…”

At least Jurina wasn’t that behind in the rank. The P.E. score helped her a lot.

“Geez. You should stop your extracurricular activities and start studying. We’re going to be senior next year, you know.”

The girl seemed to care about Jurina, too much. Rena began to wonder what this girl meant to Jurina and vice versa.

“I, yah. Well, caught in too much unnecessary activities.” Rena laughed dryly. She was never good in holding a conversation with a complete stranger.

The girl though, watched her with suspicious glare. Resulting in Rena being nervous even more.

“You feel hot?” the girl touched Rena—Jurina—forehead, “wow, you sweat a lot.”

The girl brought out her handkerchief and wiped off the sweat from Jurina’s face and neck.

Ok, this was really awkward for Rena.

“It’s in the middle of autumn and you are sweating so much. Are you sick?”

The girl interrogated Rena further. She wouldn’t be freed from the situation sooner than she thought. The girl piqued Rena’s interest though. How close is this girl to Jurina?

“N-no, I’m okay.”

Rena made her best effort to smile, which didn’t work.

“You are acting weird, Jurina. Something happened?”

‘Yes, I got swapped with your friend!’ But there was no way the girl would believe her. Not that Rena had any gut to speak it out.

“No, really, everything is okay.”

It was hardly convincing. Instead, it pushed the girl to ask even further.

“I—“

“Watanabe-san! Could I have you in the faculty office?”

The girls automatically turned their head to the classroom door. Oh how Rena wanted to hug the teacher right then, for saving her from being in an unhealthy pressure.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll be there in a second.” The girl shouted back at the teacher.

“You better rest in the infirmary, Jurina. You look pale. Better get ready for today’s performance. See you at practice.”

The girl left the scene as she uttered her final suggestion.

Rena watched her disappeared behind the door. Questions were popping out in Rena’s mind. What’s that girl and Jurina’s relationship exactly? The last one mattered more than Rena would admit it.

The last time Rena met Jurina was at her graduation ceremony 2 years ago. After that she left for college. Rena noticed many things had changed within her old friend. She’s still a good cute puppy though. Rena laughed upon her own random thought.

Soon, her laughed turned dry.

Rena had never seen Jurina after they were separated, not even through social media or anything. They totally lost contact with each other.

A long sigh escaped Rena’s mouth.

She glanced at Jurina’s phone. It had been 3 hours since she last contacted the other girl and no news. Rena dropped her head on the table, feeling anxious.

Her thumb tapped on the touch screen of Jurina’s phone, clicking random apps. She then opened Jurina’s photo album. It was filled with the girl’s selfies, alone or with her friends; her trip’s pictures; or candied camera she took of her friends. Most were funny and it rose a smile on Rena’s face. She looks as stunning as always.

Rena closed the photo album, thinking what she should open next. She knew it’s violating the other girl’s privacy but she didn’t care.

Randomly, her thumb brought her to Jurina’s inbox. She was about to exit it until she saw most messages were from the girl earlier (she found out the girl name was Watanabe Mayu). They are indeed in some kind of relationship.

Rena swiped through the messages, Mayu, Mayu, Mayu, Mayu. It was all Mayu (sometimes Mom came up as well, though). Rena was really about to close it right then, when she found an unusual mail dated around 2 years ago.

Her face was frowning after she opened it.

“Matsui Jurina!”

A loud crispy voice awoke Rena from her daydreaming—her stalking routine. The phone almost crashed onto the floor, as Rena was caught in the act of violating other people’s privacy.

Groggily, Rena looked up to the source of the voice. It was her own voice. Her as in Matsui Rena.

____________________

JURINA

Calling her own name was weird enough, witnessing yourself (at least in appearance) approaching you with frowning face was even weirder.

“You! Come here!”

The perpetrator took Jurina’s wrist into her grab and dragged her away from curious’ eyes.

“H-Hey! W-Wait!”

Jurina had no choice but to come along with Rena. She ended up on the roof, one of the options where you could get some privacies.

“You…”

Rena’s face was red more than ever. She was definitely unhappy with their situation, neither was Jurina.

“Explain! Now!”

Jurina was pushed until her back touched the fence. Their faces were only an inch away. Too close.

“Well?” Rena forced her to speak.

How could she explain when she wasn’t even know what actually happened?

“I don’t know! I woke up and found out I’m not myself! I’m as clueless as you are!”

Rena’s expression turned from anger to shock, and ended up with a frown on her face.

“Look, for now, we should do something about the end of the year ceremony this evening. We’ll somehow find a way out of this.”

Witnessing the older girl glaring at her broke Jurina’s heart. She didn’t believe her for sure. Moreover, she blamed Jurina for everything that was happening. Jurina wondered herself how those kind of supernatural stuff even happened between her and Rena. She was sure she never asked to switch place with the girl. No matter how helplessly Jurina wanted to see her.

Jurina stared at Rena’s—Jurina’s—dark brown eyes deeply.  The said eyes stared back at her, filled with hatred and disgust. They were not supposed to be like this. They had been best friends for life. Yet some unexpected events turned everything upside down. Very much to Jurina’s disliking.

xxx

They were strangers.

Until the day when the older one came to the city, and coincidently live in a big house right beside the younger one’s house.

They were neighbors.

The older one was hiding behind her mother’s legs when they visited the neighbor. The younger one though, was never a passive kid, as much as her mother told her to behave. She was jumping around the older one and scared her. The older was about to cry when the younger one stopped and threw her a quizzical look. Her smile was what prevented the older to cry.

They were sisters.

The older, as a 9 years old girl, spent most of her time in the other girl house. Rather than playing with her coeval friends. The younger, a 6 years old girl, was about to enter elementary school, the same one with the older. They came to school together. Ate lunch together. Played together. Came home together. Both had each other for everything they did. When the older was bullied by other kids, the younger was there to rescue her. When the younger got sick, the older was there to keep her company.

They were best-friends.

As a high-school girl, the older grew into a beautiful yet fragile girl. The younger though, she was as tomboyish as she had always been. They shared their stories with each other. They were together whenever they could. Sometimes they argued, and ended up not talking to each other for days. But a good amount of tissues spent would bring back them smiling together again.

They were lovers.

One day, the younger was coming back home after a club’s practice. She was thinking about having dinner with the older, since both of their parents were out of town. She sneaked to the older girl’s room (she jumped from her own room’s window, what a kid). She was going to surprise her with her handmade cooking.

“Rena-chan~”

She shouted as she opened the glass window. The said girl was surprised when she heard the girl’s voice. She didn’t expect her to come so suddenly.

Facing the back of the older girl, she didn’t see the older girl was busy wiping her wet eyes. She did notice though, as she wasn’t greeted with the usual cheery smile from the girl.

“Are you okay?” She asked as the older faced her with panda eyes.

Hearing the question, the older started to cry once more. And that was how she ended up telling the younger that she had break up with her boyfriend, along with sobs and a liter of tears. The younger was listening while witnessing how desperate had the girl been. It broke her.

In the spur of the moment, the younger got closer to the crying girl, and she closed the distance with her lips on the other girl. The older, though surprised, returned the kiss, mixed with tears. They forgot about the dinner.

That was when they started dating.

xxx

“Jurina!”

Jurina snapped back to the reality. In front of her was Rena with her frowning face.

“Right. We better go to the dance room.”

Without waiting for the older girl, Jurina walked away towards the roof’s door. Rena was left speechless. But in the end, ran after the girl.

___________________

RENA

Rena was never excelled in physical activities. Dancing was even worse. It did not only need movements, it needed sense of art, beauty, and aura.

The good news was that Rena was inside Jurina’s body. It made it 10 times easier for her to learn the movements. Better news, Jurina’s body had remembered all the movement, Rena just needed to synchronize Jurina’s body with her own mind.

“Good. I think it won’t be a problem. At least you know where you have to be and when.”

Rena sneered at Jurina who was sitting on the floor 5 meters behind her. The idea of Jurina talking highly at her (in Rena’s body), was not the most pleasant thing to experience.

“What?”

Jurina snorted as she realized the older girl was looking at her with displeasure. She was used to it but she preferred not to be looked at that way.

“Nothing.”

Ignoring the girl’s annoyance, Rena went to her bag and took a bottle of mineral water. She peeked at the content of the bag as she gulped the water. Inside was Jurina’s dance costume, neatly folded. She made Jurina pick it up before coming here.

“C’mon. Try dancing one more time. And pick that towel you dropped earlier.” Jurina told her.

Rena let out a tired breath.

She didn’t like the idea of Jurina ordering her around. It hurts her pride.

Hesitantly, Rena picked the said towel and put it on the nearest chair. But, instead of turning on the music, she just stood there while staring blankly into space. It annoyed Jurina even more as she got up and pushed the start button on the music player herself.

The music started.

1 second, 2 seconds, Rena kept unmoving.

“Start dancing, Rena!” Jurina began shouting at her.

Rena shot Jurina another glare.

Jurina looked away and was fidgeting with her feet. She disliked (feared) being glared at, especially by Rena.

Rena’s eyes soften as she saw how Jurina looked like a scaredy-cat. After all, she never could be angry at the girl for too long. Her existence herself was too sweet to be angry at.

Rena wondered why were things turned into a mess. They were once a nice lovey-dovey couple.

xxx

It was usual for Rena to come home earlier than Jurina. She was part of the going-home club after all. Different from Jurina who’s an active member of several clubs.

That day though, Jurina hadn’t come home even though it was already late at night. The girl had promised Rena to visit her room soon after she hit home.

Eventually, Rena fell asleep while waiting for the girl. She caught a cold the next day since she stayed by the open window, cellphone in her grip.

Jurina apologized to her after. Rena in the stead, had taken pity of her since Jurina was grounded by her parents, for coming home at 2 in the morning.

At that time, Rena didn’t realize it was the start of their sinking relationship.

Rena had heard many rumors about her girlfriend. She’s one of the most popular girl in the school, which means that she’s liked by many people.

They kept their relationship a secret. They weren’t sure how their parents would react.

It also meant, people thought Jurina was available. She was for everybody to be loved.

Rena would not mind if Jurina was just playing around. But, what she witnessed that certain day was more than playing around.

Rumors began to bug Rena’s ears. So she decided to pay Jurina a visit. Which turned out to be hell for both of them.

That day was cloudy. By the time Rena reached the Junior High building, it had begun to rain. Thankfully, Rena remembered to bring an umbrella.

She walked passing the empty classes. It was past school hour, no wonder. Jurina’s class was on the second floor. Jurina was still in her class, as one of the students had told her earlier, it seemed the club practice was put on hold because of the rain.

Rena skipped while humming a song. She was excited to surprise the girl. And then they would come home together, and voila, they would spend the evening together.

“Ah, her class is the furthest one.”

Rena tiptoed until she reached Jurina’s class.

Though, at that moment, Rena wished she never came at all.

In her horror, Rena dropped her umbrella. It clanked loudly as it fell.

Rena left the umbrella.

She ran. Even after her breath had run out, her legs turned numb.

Following her were shouting. And hasty footsteps.

Through the hard rain, Rena didn’t stop. She kept running.

By the time she reached the ground floor, she was grabbed.

What faced her was the girl with short black-jet hair and messy unbuttoned school uniform.

“Rena… Listen to me.”

She started.

Her voice flamed anger in Rena. She freed herself from the girl’s grip. Eyes locked on the other girl, full of anger and disappointment.

She had just witnessed her dear girlfriend embraced another girl, with such inappropriate appearance.

“Rena, please…”

That was it.

A hard, full of wrath slap landed on Jurina’s face.

Jurina fell on the ground, butt first.

Rena was panting heavily. Out of fatigue, confusion, coldness, and above everything, disappointment.

She had always known how popular the girl was.

But she wasn’t worried. She trusted Jurina. She knew that Jurina would never cheat on her. After all, she knew Rena way longer than those girls.

Rena was wrong. Totally wrong.

How long had Jurina betrayed her? How many girls had Jurina dated since they vowed to each other?

Rena kept questioning herself. The more she thought, the more she resented the other girl.

“Even though I believe you…” Rena whispered.

“You… I hate you!”

That was the first time Rena shouted out loud. The rain redeemed the noise but Jurina heard it like a lightning in a clear day.

They would never stay the same. It’s too late.

Rena then left the girl. Alone in the rain.

They turned into enemies.

“Oh, you’re here, Jurina?”

The girl from before, Watanabe Mayu, was standing beside the door. In her hand was the same costume with the one Rena had.

“Are you practicing?”

It was Shinoda-sensei this time. Soon, other girls joined in. It seemed that the last practice was about to begin.

“And this is…?” Shinoda-sensei pointed at Jurina. She seemed to remember her as her former student but couldn’t pinpoint who her name was.

“Matsui Rena, Shinoda-sensei. I was around the area and thought maybe I should pay my alumni a visit. And I met Jurina on the way.” Jurina explained smoothly, “well then, I should leave now. I won’t bother you.”

With that, Jurina left the room. Leaving Rena dumbfounded.

“Let’s start practicing, girls!” Shinoda-sensei announced.

Rena turned cold-feet.

___________________

JURINA

For her utmost wish, she hoped that everything would end well. She hoped that Rena would not ruin her reputation.

Jurina was now in the school gymnasium, where the end of the year ceremony would be held. She somehow managed to snatch some girl’s uniform, and used it to sneak into the gym. The owners would kill her if they happened to know, for sure.

Soon, the performance started. Each and every Rena’s move didn’t miss Jurina’s eyes. Every jump, every smile, every wink. Each was done elegantly. Jurina was pulled into Rena’s charm, despite the one performing was physically Jurina herself.

Memories flew in. The years she spent without Rena were voided. Jurina wasn’t even sure how she managed to live it. Everything seemed blurry. The years without Rena were only a big long dream.

Then they met, in an unexpected way that no one could ever imagine. Her wish to be reunited was granted though with magical phenomenon. Such a luck?

The applause snapped Jurina back.

On the stage, the girl in ponytail, with her victorious and relieved smile, gleaming in sweat.

Jurina was stunned.

It was her own body, but she could feel Rena’s aura.

Rena was indeed beautiful.

After all these year, Rena’s still mesmerizing.

Tinge of regret and anxiety filled Jurina. She regretted the year that passed by without them talking. She should have tried to mend their relationship harder. She should have not given up.

Accompanied by the audience cheering, Jurina left the gymnasium quietly. She didn’t realize a pair of eyes had been tailing on her since the beginning.

___________________

The breeze felt nice.

Jurina had always loved being in the back yard of her school. Under a gingko tree, she found it with Rena when she had just entered junior high-school. Sadly, she never came here again since Rena left her.

Closing her eyes, Jurina let the wind tickling her face and swaying her hair.

It was a bad idea though.

Being alone like this, memories came flowing again.

Regrets began to overwhelm her.

She didn’t mean to. Jurina kept telling herself.

But she did. She hurt Rena.

And herself.

She’s such an idiot.

“You will catch a cold, Jurina.”

Jurina’s eyes snapped open.

In front of her was Rena, standing in her dance costume, talking with Jurina’s voice.

“I won’t. Stupid people won’t catch a cold.”

Jurina grinned, showing Rena’s row of white teeth.

“You said that, but you always caught terrible cold and I was always the one who had to look after your sick butt.”

Thinking back, Jurina did get sick pretty often as a kid.

“And that’s my body, don’t forget!” Rena added.

Jurina left her mouth agape while watching Rena pouted. Mou, couldn’t she be any cuter?

“If you ever catch a cold, I’ll take care of you.”

The words successfully brought Rena’s full attention. Eyes locked with each other.

What a flirt. But I like it.

Rena’s thought flashed, which she quickly denied.

I can’t resist it if you keep shaking your head like that, Rena-chan.

Jurina’s grin got even wider.

But, I miss her.

The cold didn’t seem to bother the two. Well, their faces were warm and flushed, coldness was not a problem at the moment.

“Anyway, do you have any idea how we can get back to our respective bodies?”

Rena cleared her throat, hardly, before continuing their disrupted conversation.

“I don’t know. Maybe we should touch each other? Or bump into each other? Or…kissing?”

The last one was a whisper, of course. The older of the two heard it pretty clearly, though.

“I don’t think that would work. You touched me when you helped me practice before right?”

“Would you like to try bumping into each other?”

They eventually did.

Both extended their gap until they were around 10 meters apart. Then, they ran to each other, full speed. Though, let yourself bumped into someone wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Last minute, Rena held herself right before the crash. Resulting with a shocked Jurina who was too late to brake.

“Ouch!”

Jurina ended up lying on the ground with Rena on top of her.

It didn’t work.

It only left them in an awkward situation and silence that followed.

“Could you… explain why, why did you cheat on me?”

Rena asked in whispery voice. Her memory flew through the scene 2 years ago when she found Jurina hugging another girl with her uniform unbuttoned and messy. The scene that broke their relationship. The scene where she caught Jurina cheating on her. At least that was what Rena thought. Her mind shifted to a certain message she accidentally—purposely—opened earlier that day.

____________________

RENA

“Matsui-san, thank you for saving my life.

Thank you for opening my eyes before it’s too late.”

Jurina didn’t expect Rena to ask such question so suddenly. She gulped as those brown orbs was staring right at her.

“W-why… why did you leave?”

A question to answer a question.

Rena averted her gaze. She somehow knew the reason now. She was then realized how stupid she was. She jumped into conclusion without listening to Jurina’s explanation. Even though the girl tried every way possible to approach her. Rena avoided the girl to the extent that she blocked herself inside her room. She was saved since the graduation ceremony was near and she then left for college. The other girl then stopped trying.

And now, after 2 years, this phenomenon popped up. Strangely as it seemed, it was like God wanted them to make up. By switching their soul nonetheless.

“That day, two years ago. Who is that girl?”

Rena asked, still in her whispery voice.

The question, as much as Jurina expected, made her irritated.

Rena should have asked it 2 years earlier. Rena should have listened to her. Rena should have been a little understanding, instead of having rage overcome her senses.

“Why do you ask now? After all these years?”

A sharp pain crossed Rena’s heart. After all these years… Why? Rena asked herself.

Pride? Stubbornness? Doubt?

She should have believed more. She should have…

It was all regrets.

“Was it… a misunderstanding?”

Again, Rena asked. Her voice became more timid.

With a bored look, Jurina answered, “What do you think it was?”

“I…”

“You won’t listen to me.”

“Jurina, I…”

“For God’s sake! You never listened to me, Rena! You never gave me a chance to explain that it was all a misunderstanding! I never cheated, Rena!”

Jurina was out of breath. She was shouting, with Rena staring right into her eyes.

“The girl said you saved her life. What actually happened?”

For a second, Jurina wondered how Rena learnt of that fact. However, she decided to brush it off for now.

“She was trying to kill herself. She was about to jump…to suicide. I was trying to stop her. She pulled my shirt and we kept on struggling until she calmed down. And… you suddenly came in when we were in, uh, promising position.”

A feeling of relieve washed through her. Along with it, Rena felt like a dumb. A fool. A ludicrous girl who spent years of her life in a mistake, and even brought the one she love down with her. It was stupid.

Rena began to laugh. It was a chuckle at first, then it turned into a giggle and Rena was then laughing like there was no tomorrow. Tears formed in the corner of her eyes. Soon, water droplets were running through her flushed cheek to her chin. She began to sob.

Jurina watched Rena crying into her chest and stroked her head.

They have wasted too much time.

All for nothing.

“Rena…” Jurina whispered.

Hearing Jurina’s voice, Rena straightened herself up.

She threw her gaze onto Jurina.

Feelings mustered in Rena’s chest. It was so suffocating that Rena was about to burst into bubble of air. She regretted what had happened. But time won’t come back.

“I’m sorry…”

Jurina stared at Rena, deeply. She wasn’t angry. She couldn’t.

She never forgot Rena. Not a single day. And to know that the girl had finally forgiven her was more than enough for her.

“It’s fine.”

Timidly, Rena looked up to Jurina and found the girl smiling gently at her. It made her heart skipped a beat.

The silence came back, this time along with a cool breeze that sneakily playing tricks on them.

Slowly, Rena reached out for Jurina. She shorten their distance, readied to close the gap. Jurina closed her eyes and so did Rena. They halted their breathings while both of their hearts were beating frantically.

Steadily Rena moved closer and closer…

“Rena!”

A hurtful punch landed on Rena’s face. She was thrown back a few meters behind.

“Are you alright?”

Rena heard a faint voice, the dizziness made her temporally deaf.

However, it was not addressed to her.

Rena rubbed her eyes, and the silhouette of Kashiwagi Yuki back-facing her came into view. She was tending Jurina (in Rena’s body).

Rena wasn’t sure whether she should be grateful that Yuki didn’t know the fact that it was her who initiated to kiss her ex-girlfriend, or mad that Yuki hit the wrong person.

“What are you trying to do?! Wasn’t it enough for you to mess with Rena’s life for all those years?!”

Yuki was then fully standing on her own two legs. Her face was red, possibly because of her previous running session and the anger accumulated in her. She had been following Rena since she was watching performances in the gymnasium. She somehow lost Rena and when she did find her, the girl was about to be kissed by none other than her ex-girlfriend.

“W-wait…” Jurina, in Rena’s bo—oh well, you know it already—tried to stand up and stopped the furious girl.

“Jurina?”

Uh-oh.

The more the merrier.

Watanabe Mayu came out of nowhere. She was still in her dance costume. Her face was red. Yeah, she must have been running all the way here as well. She looked confused as she saw Jurina (Rena) was half-lying with bleeding lips. She soon grasped the situation as she saw Rena (Jurina, okay it’s tiring to write this) holding off Yuki.

Another angry (maybe to be) girlfriend.

“What are you doing?!”

Mayu came over to Rena to check her bleeding lips. She was unhappy, for sure. She whispered soothing words along with curses while tending Rena’s bleeding lips.

“Ask that girlfriend of yours. Trying to take advantage of my girlfriend here. You have quite a ‘nice’ girlfriend there, huh?”

It was throwing oil to the fire.

Mayu was flared up. It wasn’t like she’s Jurina’s girlfriend, at least not yet, but she won’t approve that some unknown girl badmouthing her friend. She forgot about tending Rena—Jurina—‘s wound. Instead, she stood up and faced Yuki.

“Wha—who are you anyway? Are you a domestic abuser? Don’t you see you have punched someone until they bleed here?!”

Mayu moved forward, hands readied to give Yuki a counter punch. It was time to play dirty. Forget about them being ladies.

“S-stop!”

Thankfully, Rena managed to stop Mayu with Jurina’s body.

However, things turned ugly as Yuki freed herself from Jurina’s grip. She was out of control, so did Mayu. She easily freed herself from the weakened Rena.

“STOP!”

Rena and Jurina joined in. It was all a misunderstanding.

Stray punches, slaps, were flying everywhere. They didn’t know who hit who. Rena and Jurina’s attempt to stop the furious girls turned out to be futile. The cat fight continued.

It was not until a great invisible force broke them apart. Away from each other.

They lied on the ground for a few seconds before straighten themselves.

“What was that?!”

Someone spoke out first.

“I don’t know.”

Someone else replied.

“Lightning?”

Another one gave out her opinion.

“We would be all dead if that was the case.”

Finally the last one sit herself up.

Huh?

The four of them looked at each other. At themselves. At their clothes. At their faces.

What?

“Is it only a dream or am I seeing myself staring back at me?” The raven hair girl pointed to the twin-tailed girl.

“What, tell me, who are you?” The twin-tailed girl replied.

“Me? I’m Watanabe Mayu!” The girl answered in horror.

“W-wait! I got myself staring at me too!!!” The youngest one with ponytail shouted.

“Yeah. Thanks to you, I’m not in my own body, again!!” The one with wavy hair shouted back.

Once more the four of them stared at each other.

“You don’t say…” Yuki—now in Jurina’s body, whispered.

“We swapped bodies?” Well, Mayu was fast to grasp the situation correctly.

“Wait, so I, Kashiwagi Yuki, am trapped in this jerk body?” Yuki, with her big reaction, stared at her body. Her arms and legs were skinnier, and her assets were…smaller.

“Yeah, you trapped in my body. Thank!” Jurina shouted in annoyance. Oh god, she had enough body swapping for the day.

“Hey, don’t shout at Jurina like that!” Mayu, in Rena’s body, shouted to Yuki, at least she thought that’s Yuki.

“You talk to the wrong person, Mayu. I AM Jurina.” Jurina rolled her eyes. Yes, thanks.

Something then clicked into Yuki’s mind.

“Wait! Why aren’t you two fazed by this? Earlier you said something about not in your body again, right? ” Yuki pointed randomly at whoever Jurina and Rena were in.

“Well done, Holmes.” Jurina crossed her arms with her typical bored look.

“If I’m not mistaken, then that means…” Yuki, with Jurina’s eyes, was glaring dangerously at the group.

Rena gulped, she knew.

“The one who initiate the kiss was you, Rena?!”

Again Rena gulped.

“A-anyway, so I ended up in another body? Oh my! Not to say, in this petite figure…” Rena quickly averted the topic. She wasn’t prepared to face her girlfriend’s rage at the moment.

“Don’t change the topic, Rena. I know what happened!” Yuki shouted, automatically towards Rena’s face, who was in fact Mayu.

“You shouted on the wrong person, dumbass!” Mayu protested.

“Hey, don’t call me dumbass!”

“Stop it, you two!” Jurina tried to cease the tension between the girls. She halted immediately though, since Yuki was pointing at her, totally outraged.

“Don’t tell me to stop, I haven’t finished with you.”

Ranting and mumbling continued. Not even until the sun set, and the sky turned dark. They were confused, and helpless.

“WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?!”

Shouted Yuki. As much as the other girls wanted to know.

Jurina ruffled his hair. She had a pretty bad day, and it got worse after she stuck in another person body, moreover, her ex-girlfriend’s girlfriend.

“CAN’T ANYONE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED?”

As confused as she was, stuck inside a stranger’s body wasn’t an option.

“LIKE HELL I KNOW!”

That was rough, from Rena. Even rougher since she said it with the fairly angelic voice of Mayu.

The four of them looked up to the twilight sky. Pretty sure, there was only one person to blame on.

“KAMI-SAMA!!!!”

.

.

.

The End?

Secret

Rating: T; Genre: Angst

Cherry blossom’s petals fluttered along the wind blows. The same deserted yard was soon filled with pinkish colors, leaving the trees naked. The birds were chirping, along with the warm sun ray that sneaked between the boughs.

My hair swayed freely as I stepped to the center of the yard. I wondered. Had the time changed everything I used to experience? Had the memories flown away to nothingness? I breathed as deep as I could. The scent was still the same. The scent of leaves, dirt, and the wind. The sun was unchanging too.

I closed my eyes. The breeze washed through me. It was still the same sensation. Nothing had changed. Nothing had really changed.

Secretly, I smiled.

Slowly, I opened my eyes. In front of me was the scenery I used to see years ago. The gigantic building that I used to call school was still standing there. The white paint had faded slightly. I wondered when was the last time they repainted it? There were cracks, which seemed to have grown even longer on the brick wall. It would break down eventually, hopefully not anytime soon. Even so, the shabby building was still my old high school.

Again, I smiled.

It was time for me to move. Was it still there? I wondered.

I felt my feet moving, forming short, light steps, which ultimately turned to long, eager strides. I was getting close. Excitement rushed through my veins.

Laughter bubbled up in my throat and my lips went apart, letting out joyous feeling.

I’d missed this so badly.

__________________

That fine warm evening, I was forced to take myself to the old building of my school. I normally wouldn’t as much as take a single step towards that ratty old construction. The sole reason why I had to spend my precious evening in that mossy wooden building was because my one and only dearest homeroom teacher gave me an unreasonable task of summarizing an astronomy literature. As to why I got punished, well, the sight of me falling asleep in class (and snoring while mumbling my crush’s name) was not really her good idea of a joke.

I let out an exasperated sigh.

Sooner or later, I was standing in front of 3-stories classical styled wooden building. To call it a ‘building’ was actually too exaggerated. The size was not as colossal as our newer building, but it was bulky to say the least. The problem was, even naked eyes could see how rotten the building was. The water pipes had sprung a leak and that added the building’s rottenness. The structure was crumbling that I was pretty sure it would collapse in a matter of minutes after someone took a step inside. Wonder why it was still standing there (not so) gloriously. Anyway, it was time for me to enter. Hope nothing bad would happen to me. At least not when I was in there.

The corridor was quiet. Quiet to the point that I could feel a chill. Rumors said that this corridor had so many ghosts roaming around, I hoped I didn’t meet any. If I did, someone please tell my mother I loved her. I rarely passed this corridor. I never go through it actually. This corridor led to a certain room which I had always avoided. A room filled with dust and insects, oops no, I mean, literature and books. Yeah, it was the library. It was not like there was no library in the new building but, to my displeasure, it got no literature about astronomy.

Again, I sighed. This week would be rough, and boring. Why did it have to be astronomy, anyway? She didn’t teach astronomy, for god’s sake. We didn’t have any astronomy class, either. She was just trolling as always. Yeah, yeah, my trolling homeroom teacher.

The smell of old papers welcomed me as I opened the wooden door. It was mixed with dust and whatever insects that lived beneath it. As expected from an old building. The library was empty besides the librarian who was sitting on her desk. I guess most of the students didn’t like being in this dump of a space.

I walked past the front desk to the row of shelves. The librarian didn’t react as I walked passed her. Maybe she was too absorbed in her book. But the silence gave me the creeps. I hoped she had said something at least. A little welcome or a stupid warning? No? Okay, let’s proceed to the whatnot section called astronomy.

The shelves didn’t smell any better. I nearly choked as I randomly opened one of the books, dust was floating everywhere. I hastily put back the book back on its shelves. I coughed several times to clear my throat. It was disgusting. How was I supposed to find any astronomy book in this sea of books?

“Are you okay?”

A timid voice behind me almost got me jumped out of surprise. The librarian somehow had noticed my existence. Took her rather long, eh?

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

I rubbed my left arm, something I did whenever I felt nervous. Wait, why should I get nervous?

“Anything I can help you with?” She asked, finally.

“I need to find an astronomy literature, anything about constellations and whatever.”

It took a few seconds before she answered, “Oh, this way.” She looked irritated. I felt sorry that I didn’t care even if she did.

Anyway, she showed me the way to the furthest shelves. No wonder I couldn’t find the book.

“You can find astronomy literature here. Well, we don’t have much in collection.” She sighed in annoyance. It was not surprising, we didn’t have astronomy class.

“Can you recommend a book I should read? Anything easy to read.” I added hastily.

“This one.” She took a book. A big thick book with black navy cover that I was sure no one had read for years, judging from how dusty the book looked. That was… out of my expectation.

She passed me the book. I needed to use an extra amount of strength to lift the book. How could someone write a book this thick?

“Err, do you have another recommendation?”

She raised one of her eyebrows; she didn’t like my request, absolutely not.

“Ah, no, it’s fine with this book.” I corrected, “Can I take the book home with me?”

Her eyes investigated me from head to toe. It made me shrink, to be watched that way. She looked at me as if I was an extraterrestrial being.

“You can’t, unless you have registered yourself. And I don’t think you have.” She said concedingly and gave me another shot of suspecting look.

“Then, could I make it right now so that I can take it home with me?” holding my annoyance, I requested one more time.

“Well it takes a few days to finish your registration, besides, you can’t bring this book home, it’s a restricted book.”

My mood shrunk to the lowest level. Indeed, this girl got into my nerves

“Nevermind. I’ll just read it here.”

Grumpily, I stomped my way to the nearest table. I saw the librarian walking back to her ‘throne’ from the corner of my eyes. She didn’t make it easier. Sigh.

Anyway, let’s get over with it.

The book, I could barely read the title, it was ‘Astronomy and something’. I couldn’t care less.

I opened the cover while praying that I wouldn’t get choked by the amount of dust lying inside. No such luck. I coughed as soon as the brownish-paper got into view.

Screw this!

I flipped the pages rashly. If only I could, I’d be using this book for a better purpose. For killing cockroaches, perhaps?

For another minute I spent my time flipping through the pages to find anything that would be easiest for me to read.

I ended up slamming the book closed out of frustration. I didn’t understand anything on it at all.

I felt a chill on my back. Guess the librarian girl was glaring at me with hatred. Not that I care.

I rested my head on the table. I hate reading. Moreover to read a worn out book which topic was totally out of my league.

“Fuh…” I blew the pages lazily, dust was flying everywhere. I coughed once more. Stupid.

As I stopped coughing, I noticed a piece of paper that I failed to see at first. I picked it up and to my surprise; it didn’t look as old as the other papers. It actually smelled nice. Strawberry scent; the smell of a girl.

I flipped open the paper.

 

“Do you like this book?”

The paper said.

Magically, my bad mood dispersed and disappeared to somewhere in the eternity.

I took a pencil from my pencil case and wrote a reply.

“I like it” which was not a total lie. I like it a bit after I found the paper. It was interesting to know who wrote the note. Well, it didn’t add my curiosity to what the book about.

I slipped the paper back to the book. A smile rose on my mouth. Maybe the assignment was not as bad as I thought.

Soon, I put the book back on the shelves before walking to the librarian desk.

“Hey, I want to register myself for the library membership.”

The girl looked up from her book. She didn’t seem to be happy, even though she was about to get a new member.

“Fine, can you give me your student card?” she asked me, hand holding a pen while the other was opened to receive my card.

Gladly, I didn’t forget to bring my card (which I usually did, it was troublesome to bring unnecessary things).

“Please come back in two days from now to pick up your card, Matsui Jurina-san.” She gave me a piece of paper, it was my temporary card, I guess.

“Thank you.”

I left the library, smile still plastered on my face. I wondered what would come up next.

Omoshiroi ne—Interesting.”

I totally forgot about my assignment.

____________________

 

“Nice to hear that. Which part do you like about the book?”

“Mmm. I like to learn the name of constellations. It’s interesting to know the story behind each one”

“I see. I like it too. Do you like to stargaze?”

“Sadly, I never do any stargazing activities. I’m new to this kind of thing.”

“Ah, what a waste. Next time, we should try it.”

 

It was another warm evening. It was the same shabby library (and the same librarian). A week had passed since my teacher gave me that unreasonable assignment. I’d safely turned it to her, but even though I have no further business with the astronomy book, I kept coming to the library. The sole reason was the message I accidentally found in the book. I didn’t expect for a reply and yet I got it anyway. It made me wonder even more.

 

“I would love to. Should we meet up?”

 

I wrote the last sentence with the hope I could finally see who this girl was. Ah, I was convinced it was a girl from the way she wrote, and I was pretty sure no boys would write on a strawberry scented paper.

“Matsui-san, I’m sorry but I’m going to close the library. Could you please leave?”

I jumped out of my chair. Thanks to my good reflex, I didn’t end up lying on the floor butt first. The librarian girl never failed to give me a heart attack.

“Ah… uh. Yes. I’m sorry.” I scratched my head as I collected my things. The girl kept staring at me while I did it. Resulting in me being nervous more than ever. She was really creepy.

“See you tomorrow.” She gave me a warm smile before I passed the door. I halted for a second. She NEVER smiled. Especially not to me. For some reason I had a feeling she didn’t like me.

“Ah, uh, s-see you.”

Again, I scratched my head. I saw her giggling as I left the place. Weird.

____________________

 

“I’m sorry, it won’t be possible for the mean time. But I would love to meet you.”

“I see. Well, at least, could you tell me your name? Ah don’t bother if you don’t want to. >.<.”

“Watanabe Mayu. You could call me Mayuyu if you want. People used to call me that way. Don’t worry, of course it’s not a bother.”

“Mayu-san then. A beautiful name eh? I’m Matsui Jurina. Nice to know you. XD. “

 

I closed the note book where I collect the messages. I had been reading it over and over again. Some other time my friends called me crazy for smiling over one same book. Well, not that I care. It was our diary, our secret diary.

“Jurina! Dinner is ready.”

My mother called me from downstairs. I failed to notice, the sky had turned dark. It was so much fun reading the message. Time passed faster when I did. I wished I could meet up with her.

“Jurina-chan!” My mom shouted once more, this time with a bit of irritation.

“Coming!”

____________________

 

“Nice to know you too, Jurina. :D.”

“Nee, Mayu-san, which class are you in? I never saw you in school.”

“I’m in 3B. And you are?”

“Ah, you’re a senior. I’m in 2A. I guess that’s why I never saw you. The seniors study in the old building, right?”

“I guess so. Hey, Jurina, do you like reading? I mean, besides this book.”

“Not really. Actually I read this book for an assignment. I didn’t like it at first but ended up reading it. LOL.”

“I see, it was a good thing then, that you were given that assignment.”

“Yeah. I got to know you, so it’s fine with me.”

 

“What are you writing?”

Curses to the god of seven seas! The librarian girl was an expert on making people die from heart attack. I wondered whether she was actually a ninja.

“I hope you didn’t scribble on the book. I will charge you if you do.”

I closed my eyes and let out a deep breath.

“No, I was not. I was writing on my book.” I showed her my note book, flashed it actually, I didn’t want her to read the messages, “can you please stop showing up behind me soundlessly like that?”

“Well, I’m sorry. I’m just wondering since you are always silently writing on the corner.”

“I’m reading and taking notes. What’s wrong with that?” I shot her a deadly glare. It seemed to shock her a bit.

“Nothing. Well, it’s just that… the first time you came here you looked angry and you seemed to hate books. You’re the last people I expect to come here. But then, you keep coming, and diligently read the book.” She explained with somehow irritating look. It was cute but it was annoying.

“None of your business.”

Case closed. She looked hurt when I said that. She then nodded her head weakly and left me alone.

Now I felt guilty.

___________________

The next day, as usual, I came to the library. It was empty as always. It was only me, the books, and the librarian girl.

I walked to the shelves and picked the same astronomy book I had been reading for months. Then, I walked to my favorite spot.

My eyes met with the girl’s eyes as I walked. But she averted her gaze as she realized I saw her. It made me felt even guiltier. I didn’t mean to insult her.

“Fuh…”

I gulped. The message could wait.

Slowly, I approached her. She looked troubled as she saw me approaching.

“Hey.”

It took a few seconds for her to look at me.

“Hey. I’m sorry about yesterday. I, uh, was surprised to see you sneaking behind me so, uh.”

“It’s okay. It was my fault too.” She returned me a smile. I felt relieved. I didn’t like it when people got hurt because of me.

“Then, uh, I’m going to read.”

I nervously walked away from her. She didn’t push further so I guess, it was the end.

The girl continued reading her book; it was the same book she had been reading since the first time I came here. I wondered why she kept reading one same book.

Nevertheless, I forgot all the things about her as I found another message in the book.

 

“I’m glad. Tell me, what you usually do after school? What’s your hobby?”

 

Unconsciously, I grinned. It was not my intention but the neat writing on the scrap of paper never failed to bring a smile onto my face.

 

“I’m in track and field club. So, you could say my hobby is to run. I love sports in general though.”

 

As usual I put it back in the book, put the book in its shelves, and left. I glanced at the librarian as I walk, she was still reading. Still the same book. Didn’t she have another book to read?

___________________

 

“Track and field club? You must be… fast. LOL. Well, I’m bad with sports. Not very fond of it. I like to read more. Anything that doesn’t need muscle movement would be fine though. We’re quite the opposite, aren’t we? XD”

“Well, yeah. XD. But it makes us more interesting, right? But anyway, if I didn’t find this note I wouldn’t continue reading. So it’s thanks to you. ;)”

“Really? I just put it randomly in random book, you know. LOL. Well, I do like astronomy though.”

“Let’s call it fate then. XD. Nee, Mayu-san, seriously, I want to meet up with you. Is there a reason which makes you couldn’t?”

“Well, it’s not that I can’t. But it’s—“

 

“What are you doing?”

The stature in front of me got stiff all of the sudden. She didn’t expect me to be here, not this early in the morning. I forgot to bring back my umbrella, that’s why I ended up coming to the old library in an unusual hour.

The girl was unmoving. I would be convinced that she was a statue if I didn’t hear her breath.

“Hey, are you…okay?” I became worried.

I stepped closer to her, trying to shake her to make sure she was still alive (of course she did, you idiot).

“Don’t come closer!”

I shrugged. I wasn’t expecting that. For her to shout, I mean.

“H-hey, I was just wondering, I didn’t mean to offend you.”

She stayed still. Seriously, what’s wrong with this girl?

A piece of paper flew to my leg out of a sudden.

I picked it up and the so familiar paper—and neat writing—widened my eyes.

“This is…” one more thing I didn’t expect, “are you peeping at the papers in this book?”

I heard her gasping before she turned around facing me, cheeks bright red.

“You idiot!”

Eh, what?

What was that all of the sudden? She was usually quiet and I couldn’t imagine her speak nonetheless shouting. She could speak loudly when she needed to, I guess. Eh, why was I being shouted, again?

“I won’t waste my time peeping on your private things. I’m Watanabe Mayu, you stupid fool!”

‘Eeeee?’ was my only reaction (aside of widened eyes and gaping mouth).

“You didn’t even bother to ask my name, that’s why you keep wondering who Watanabe Mayu is.” She blew her cheeks, which I found quite funny.

Uh, it was true. I didn’t bother to talk to her. I thought she was just a typical model-student girl who didn’t like to speak with a troublemaker like me. Put it that way, the Mayu in our exchanging messages was not the brightest girl I would find in the school. You wouldn’t spend your time writing in a library if you were one, would you?

“W-well. I… was not expecting that.”

In any case, I totally had no idea. Not a slightest hint. Or it was only my denial?

That’s why my friend often called me as a dumb. Duh.

“A-anyway…” I brought my right hands in front of her, “I’m Matsui Jurina, nice to meet you.”

She stared at my hand, longer than I expected. So instead, I went ahead and grabbed her hand, shaking it heartily. She looked surprised for a second, but then a small smile rose up her face.

“I’m… Watanabe Mayu. Nice to meet you, Jurina.”

As I thought, her smile was nice.

___________________

Our secret diary turned into ‘not so secret’ meetings.

It was fun to know her through this kind of secrecy.

Whereas we proceed to be a good friend.

And we then live happily ever after…

OF COURSE NOT!

From that day on, my frequency of taking a stroll around that rotten shack increased abruptly. The library was our meeting place. She was always there when I came.

It was fun. Mayu was a good accompany to have with. She sulked way too often though.

“Yo!”

The girl, who was currently assembling a telescope, turned her head and flashed me a smile.

“Yo. You’re late, Jurina.” Look, she was sulking again. I was only late for a few sec—minutes.

“Well, you were the one who asked for coke. You know yourself there is no vending machine in this building so I had to go to a convenience store.”

She crossed her arms as the reply. Our usual Mayu.

“Yeah yeah, here take your coke.” I threw her the coke she requested. Little did she know, I had shaken the coke brutally outside. As the result…

“Wahahahaha!!” Tears formed in the corner of my eyes as I burst out laughing. She was soaked. And she didn’t look happy. Uh-oh.

“Ju. Ri. Na.” I shivered. As soon as her ‘full of killing intention’ smile appeared, it seemed that the room temperature dropped by 20 degrees.

Splash!

It was sweet. The coke was sweet. But it was not the best idea to have it sprayed all over your body.

“Wait, wait, stop it, Mayuyu!”

“You should taste your own medicine!” She laughed as if she was a demon king. Ah, it should be a demon princess.

In the end, we forgot our main intention and spent almost an hour running around the library, spraying colas everywhere. Note to self, we better wipe the floor before morning.

“Okay… it’s enough.” Mayu stuttered as she tried to catch her breath.

“Yeah, let’s stop,” I took the telescope she placed on the table. It was an old telescope of hers, actually it seemed older than I thought, yet it was still functioning as good as new. She must have taken care of it dearly. “Nee, Mayu, how old is this telescope?”

“I don’t know. It belonged to my father. Around 20-30 years, maybe.” She replied as she approached me. “C’mon. Let’s go out, the stars are going to disappear, if we keep fooling around.”

She offered me a hand with my favorite bright smile on her face.

“Un.”

That night was one of the happiest nights I ever experienced. We sneaked into the school in the middle of the night just to stargaze. It was my first time spending the night in the school. I lied to my parents that I was going to sleep over at a friend’s. Well, I did go with a friend.

Mayu showed me a perfect place to stargaze. There were stairs that leads to the roof of the building. The entrance was behind a book shelf. It was a path used for maintaining the roof, it wasn’t used anymore. Mayu told me before.

“Be careful, the steps are—“

“Woah!”

So much for being bad at sport, Mayu would kiss the floor if only I didn’t catch her in time.

“It was you who need to be careful! Geez, Mayu!”

She let out a nervous laugh.

“C’mon, it’s near.”

She proceeded to ascend. Mayu sure had some guts.

___________________

Kirei na—It’s beautiful.”

“You can see the stars with naked eyes. Isn’t beautiful?”

It was.

The sky was clear without clouds that kept the stars hidden. The moon was full so I felt like transforming into a werewolf—eh no—I mean, it felt like I could catch the moon with my hands.

“So where is Orion? Sirius?” I asked energetically. She laughed.

“Calm down, Jurina. It won’t appear even though you keep jumping.”

She pulled my jeans, brought me back sitting on the clay roofs.

“Well, in this season you barely could see any though.” She explained. Her eyes fixed on the sky. Telescope in both hands.

“Looking at them like this is good enough for me.” It was, indeed. As long as I was with her everything was okay.

I rest my head on her shoulder. It was hard, her shoulder. Yet it felt so peaceful.

“Maybe we should go to an observatory some other time. What do you think?”

For a moment I thought I saw a slight hint of sadness flashed in her eyes. I was wondering whether I said something wrong. But in the end she nodded weakly, so I didn’t think about it anymore. Instead, I followed her gaze towards the sky.

“Don’t you dare fall asleep.”

Her voice shocked me. Indeed, after a few minutes of silence I had fallen into a deep slumber.

“Uh, I-I’m not sleeping.”

“You are, Jurina.”

She pinched my cheeks and laughed at my face. Her laugh didn’t stop even after she released me. Seriously, Mayu?

“Mayu~ Stop laughing. You’re going to fall.” I pouted as she laughed. It made her laugh even more. What’s so funny?

She didn’t stop laughing. It was as if the god of laughter had fallen upon her.

“Mayu~”

I decided to follow her. I tickled her here and there. If she wanted to laugh, then I gave her a reason to.

“Stop! Stop it, Jurina!” She begged between her laughter.

“No way! You’re the one who started this.”

For around 5 minutes, we continued wrestling. Thank God, none of us fell onto the ground.

“S-stop it, Jurina.” Mayu’s laugh dispersed into nothingness. Her cheeks were flushed after the session.

I, too, stopped moving, leaving us in a ‘promising’ position. I was, uh, on top of her, both hands were on the sides of her body. Her face looked shining from this position. Thanks to the moonlit.

Our breath was still ragged, yet both of our eyes locked to each other. I didn’t know how long we stayed unmoving. I didn’t know and I didn’t care.

Slowly, my head moved itself, closer onto hers. She closed her eyes as our lips were about to touch. I, too, forgot about the world, the stars, and the entire existence, it was only me and her.

But, those lips of ours never met.

It was too sudden. The wind blew furiously. The trees were shaking uncontrollably. The ground was cracking. The earthquake came uninvited.

That was when it happened. It was so fast that my reflex couldn’t catch up. As I thought, staying on a roof without any safety measure was never a good idea.

She was falling down. It was bad enough for us to be so high above the ground, the tremor made it 10 times worse. The second I turned my head, her hands were reaching for something to hold onto. Unfortunately, there was nothing.

I didn’t know what I was thinking. The only thing I remembered was that I needed to reach her, take her in my embrace, and keep her save. Then, everything turned black.

__________________

“Jurina, wake up! Jurina! Jurina!”

It was so bright. Even though my eyes were closed, I could see the light seeping through my eyelid.

The scent was much worse. The scent of disinfectant I hate the most.

“Jurina!”

I felt a tug on my arm, followed with a warm hand on my forehead. I knew this calloused hand.

My eyelids fluttered open. The light was blinding and everything around me was blurry.

“Jurina, thank God!”

This voice… I know this voice more than anything

“Mom…”

My mother was standing beside me, crouching down. I could see wrinkles on her face from this distance.

“What happened?” I asked her.

I began to take notice of my surrounding. As I thought, I was in a hospital.

“We found you unconscious on the ground in front of the school building.” It was a different voice near the door. The voice I would rather not hear.

“Seriously, Jurina. What were you doing in the school in the middle of the night? I thought you were in your friend’s house.” She stomped her way closer until her face were only 30 cm from mine. Too close.

Maa, maa. Calm down, Rena. She must have her own reason.”

Thanks mom, for backing me up from my furious sister. She didn’t look happy though.

“You don’t know how worried I was when I couldn’t reach your cellphone! Thanks to the security in your school that you could be found…with broken leg. ” She explained, her face was red, even her ears too. She must be really…angry. And uh, yeah, I didn’t realize it at first. My left leg was at least 3 times bigger. And it felt itchy. I really did break my leg.

“What were you doing in the school, Jurina? You know I don’t tolerate lying.” My mom’s eyes pierced through mine. I gulped. What trouble had I got myself into?

That was when a certain librarian’s face popped out in my mind.

“Where is she?” I muttered.

“Pardon me?” Both of my sister and mom looked confused.

“A girl, she was with me all the time yesterday. She fell first, then, uh, I sorta followed her. She should be with me when I fell.”

My statement seemed to confuse them even more.

“There is no one else, Jurina. You were found lying on the ground alone.”

I looked at my sister strangely. Mayu should be there.

“Impossible. Mayu was there with me. She must be badly hurt considering I broke my leg.”

“If there was anyone, they should have been found right now. The school was scanned for any further casualties since the old building of your school collapsed.”

“The old building? The library is now gone?”

My heart sank. That place had memories I held dear. To know that it was gone didn’t feel right.

My question though, made my sister frown even more.

“Library? There is no library in there. There was long ago, but it was burnt down in a fire 8 years ago when I was still a student.”

I furrowed my eyebrows. No library?

“No way! I have been visiting it for a few months now. I was in the library yesterday. I even did my assignment there.”

My sister looked at me with horror. She thought I damaged my brain when I fell, perhaps.

“No. I am sure since I was there myself there was no longer a library there.”

That must be a mistake. That should be a mistake. There was no way the hours that I spent there was not real.

“Wait, what’s the name of the girl that was with you?” My sister asked.

“Mayu. Watanabe Mayu. Do you know her?”

With that, she gasped.

“What’s wrong?” I said, half-muttering. Somehow I knew it was coming.

“There was a girl who died on the fire. She was the librarian and she was unlucky to be trapped inside when it happened. Her name was… Watanabe Mayu.”

It was as if my soul separated with body. The not so cold room felt chilly all of the sudden.

“No…way.”

I didn’t believe her. I didn’t want to believe her.

“No way! She was with me! We were stargazing on the roof! We’re together all the time! No way! That must be a mistake!”

That MUST be a lie. That must be my sister’s prank. She must be kidding. No way, that was not true. All the time we spent together was real. I even had a notebook to prove it. Notebook! That diary!

“There is a book. I posted my messages with her there. It’s in my bag.”

My sister didn’t believe me. And yet, she took my bag from the chair. It was so dirty, it must have fallen along with me.

“This one?”

I breathed in relief. The book was still there, that neatly covered book.

“But it’s empty, Jurina.”

Again, my heart sank, lower and lower.

I snatched the book from my sister’s hand. She was right, it was empty. There was not even a scribble.

I flipped the pages furiously, it should be there. The messages, mine and hers.

“Jurina, stop. Jurina!”

My sister held my hands, preventing me from ripping the book.

I screamed. Despite the fact I was in a hospital, I screamed.

It was too crazy for me. It was all fakes. The time I spent in there was fake. The diary was a fake. Mayu was a fake. None of those moments was true. It was all one big illusion.

___________________

The ruins remained.

Poor school was poor.

Even after I left high-school 7 years ago, there had been no attempt to rebuild the old building. The ruins were still there. The building was not that badly destroyed, at least the classes were still there. But the library part had burnt down to ashes.

In front of me were blocks of wood. Most of them were scorched. I didn’t notice before but indeed, there must have been a great fire here. Most of the wood had blackish color, and it turned into ashes when I stepped on it.

I continued to stroll around the ruins. Strange. Even though the place was stinky and dirty, I felt comfortable being there. It gave me a sense of nostalgia.

I had no courage to visit this place after the accident. If I happened to go around the place, I walked as fast as I could. Even after I graduated, I never once visited it.

I breathed deeply.

Strange enough, strawberry scent tickled my nose.

Mmm… I knew this. It was so familiar.

I opened my eyes.

Huh?

My feet moved. I tried to move casually but to walk on the ruin wasn’t the easiest thing to do. In fact, I stumbled several times before reaching flat clean ground.

In that moment there was a light. A light that formed a shape of a girl. That silhouette I knew way too well.

“Wait…” I whispered.

It was moving away from me.

By the time I caught up with it, I was in somewhere unfamiliar. I was in the back of the old building. It was a garden with various type of flower growing in there. Pretty sure, no one took care of them, yet they grew wildly beautiful. The birds’ were chirping from above the trees. The breeze felt nice. For 3 years of my high-school life, I never stepped on the garden, nor did I know it was actually exist.

I was looking around for the silhouette. It was standing not so far away from me, just under the shade of a cherry blossom tree. I could see it clearly now. Clearly, but as soon as moved closer, it disappeared. The only thing I caught was a smile I missed so much.

There was a book, right where it disappeared. I didn’t know how it could end up there. I gasped as I noticed the black navy cover that was slightly burnt. It shocked me more when I read the title of the book. My eyes widened when I opened it. It was the same book I used to read when that craziness was still real.

A slip of paper fell when I flipped the pages.

My heart beat faster.

As soon as I took it, strawberry scent overwhelmed my senses.

My hands started trembling.

There were words written on it. A neat writing I loved.

 

“Jurina, it has been a long time, hasn’t it? After all this time, has anything changed? I hope you live to your fullest as usual. Don’t worry. Everything would be okay.

I really enjoyed the time I spent with you.

I love you.

Mayu.”

 

Tears were falling down, it wetted the paper. The words ran off a bit. It was not my habit to be sentimental, and yet I was there, kneeling down, crying my heart out. It was such a short message, yet I felt my heart was crushed. Couldn’t she at least say something more? I laughed between sobs, dry laugh. That was our usual Mayu. She didn’t change. I was glad for it.

I didn’t know how the message could appear out of nowhere. I wondered whether it was someone’s prank. I hoped it was not though. I sincerely hoped it was really hers. I was glad. I felt the burden I carried all these years crumbled.

I missed her.

I love her. Too much.

Once again, I closed my eyes and held the paper close to my heart.

“Thank you, Mayu. I love you too.” I whispered. Leaving the words seeped into me. And let the memories fade away.

Ano…

A voice, a whisper, brought me back onto my feet. I wiped my eyes as fast as I could. To be caught crying alone was… pathetic.

“Excuse me, ma’am. I’m lost. I’m going to the administration office of this school. Could you possibly show me the way?” The voice asked.

“Ah, yes, of cour—“

In front of me was a girl. Judging from her uniform, she was a freshman of this high school of mine. Her back-length jet black hair was in twin tail with a bear pin on each. Her black orbs were staring at me with curiosity. Her lips formed a gentle smile. She was a familiarly beautiful being.

“Erm… excuse me?”

The girl was staring at me, wondering whether I was still there listening to her. Indeed, I was lost for a second.

“Ah… Of course, follow me.”

I flashed her a smile and with a nod she followed me.

‘Omoshiroi ne.’

Excuse

AN: I keep writing angst, forgive me. XD. WMatsui fits the image of angst fic so badly, that’s why. :D. Well, happy reading.

Rating: T; Genre: Angst

She wouldn’t come.

Oh yeah, Jurina knew it so well that she would not show up. Not a chance.

Jurina threw a glanced at her iPhone.

18.34.

That day was the Christmas party Jurina had prepared with tears and blood just for her girlfriend, and yet, 30 minutes had past and no sign of Rena. Where would the girl be was not to be questioned. She would not answer it, at least honestly, anyway.

Out of the blue, Jurina’s phone rang, which made her jump out of surprise. The up tempo song Jurina set just for Rena didn’t make her feel better for even one bit. It was time for her to give confirmation after all.

Jurina breathed deeply. She knew what to come. Something she hoped she didn’t.

She opened the message. It was Rena. Of course it was.

Nothing surprised her there.

Everything was predictable.

‘Jurina, I’m really sorry. I can’t make it to the party. I have some business I can’t leave. Say hello to the others for me okay?

I’m sorry. I’ll make up for it next time.

Have fun.

I love you. 🙂

xxx’

Jurina had to hold the urge to throw the phone so far and full with force until it got destroyed so that she couldn’t see it for her entire life. Gladly, she managed to detain her anger with just clenching her fist.

All the surprises Jurina had prepared for Rena had turned to waste. She even did the trouble to convince her classmate to help her. She wanted it to be perfect. She wanted Rena to be happy. And now it was all useless.

Jurina started laughing bitterly. She felt pathetic. She was the stupid clown. She knew it would happen and yet she pushed all her way in.

It was not the first time Rena canceled their appointment. At their first date at the amusement park, Jurina went home drenched in rain after waiting for Rena for hours. At Jurina’s birthday party, she was left dumbfounded as the MC called Rena as her girlfriend but no one came to the stage. At a dinner with Jurina’s parent, she must explain it in a thousand and one kind of lies so that her parents didn’t see Rena as a jerk.

Excuse. Excuse and excuses.

The phrase of ‘I’ve some business I can’t leave’ had sipped into Jurina’s mind that she didn’t have to read Rena’s message to know what the content was. What is this ‘important business’ anyway?

They once had a big fight over this. But again, Jurina was too madly in love with her that she would forgive everything she did. However, it was too much.

This time Jurina was too tired to take in her excuse. The girl had disappointed her way too often. Maybe they should break up. Maybe. But Jurina realized in heart, she wouldn’t be able to.

“Jurina-chan, has Rena come yet?”

Yuria’s head popped out from behind the wall Jurina had been leaning on.

“She won’t come.”

Jurina perceived it as a true fact and yet to say it with her own mouth had her heart suffered an utterly painful damage.

“Eeee? Why? Even though you had prepared all this things.”

Yuria pouted. She was right. The giant box where a clown (let’s say it was Jurina) would pop up, the christmas cake she especially ordered for her, her favourite indie band that Jurina asked—with quite a struggle—to play at the party. Rena wouldn’t even  recognize that Jurina was trying to repair their frozen relationship. Moreover, Jurina had no idea how she should face her classmates after this.

“I’m sorry Yuria. Even after I dragged all of you to this.” Jurina muttered, guilty feeling and  furiousness engulfed her senses.

“It’s okay. But are you alright?” Yuria replied her with eyes full of concern.

“I’m alright. I think I’ll go home. After I tell the others of course.” Jurina put on her biker jacket, the faster she disappeared from the venue the better.

“I can tell them for you if you want.” Yuria offered her, which nice of her but Jurina need to tell them herself.

“It’s alright. I should tell them myself.”

Jurina let out a weak smile. Here comes the hard part.

It was surprisingly not as bad as she thought it would be. Her classmates accepted to understand and even cheered for her. At least, one big chunk of worry had been lifted off Jurina’s shoulder. At least she would not have to face glares when she met them after New Year’s holiday.

After excusing herself from the crowd, Jurina left for home. She wouldn’t worry about Rena and her excuses. She would just forget it for now. Let the time tell what she should do.

Jurina was about to ride her motorcycle (beside the fact she was underaged she rode one, yes) when she felt a light tap on her shoulder. She was alerted. There were kidnapping, raping and such lately. It became dangerous at night. And whoever it was that stood behind her, Jurina couldn’t think it was good news. She considered shouting but the person beat her to it.

“Hey. I’m sorry I surprised you. Are you Matsui Jurina?”

Jurina turned around and her eyes met a girl in her early twenties. Nothing suspicious about the girl beside her bad sense of fashion. Maybe she was not a bad guy. But appearance sometimes deceiving.

“Yes, I am. Who are you?”

The girl’s expression turned bitter. Jurina wondered whether she said something wrong or something else was the matter.

“I’m Matsui Rena’s older sister. You’re her girlfriend right?”

Rena did mention about her having an older sister, but she never got a chance to meet her before. Then she suddenly appeared before her eyes. What business she got with her at this time of night anyway? Anything about Rena wouldn’t make her night turned better.

“Yes. Why are you here?”

She stayed silent. Jurina considered to shout for help. The woman was indeed not really convincing.

“You need to go to the hospital. Now.”

“Wait, why? Something happened to Rena?”

Jurina’s heartbeats beat faster. Worries slowly overwhelmed her. If something did happen, she would not forgive herself for cursing at her.

She let out a small sigh before continuing, her expression was still as gloomy as the night. “You really didn’t know then? My stupid sister is going in an operation. With 50-50 chance nonetheless. She is sick, no, she is dying. And yet, she keeps being stubborn. She doesn’t want you to know. Even though I told her to tell you.”

She finished her sentences with another long breath. Meanwhile, the words began to kicked into Jurina’s mind.

All the world around Jurina seemed to sink. Sick? Jurina never knows. She did, when her certain girlfriend was laying helplessly on an operation bed.

“But…”

She turned speechless. Too many questions popped up in her mind at once but none she could speak off.

Jurina wondered how long had Rena been sick. It hit her, what was Rena’s ‘important business’. Her excuses, after all, were the one and only one thing. And Jurina was too dumb to even realize. Rena didn’t tell her, yes. But, that was only an excuse. She must have noticed Rena’s pale face—despite her usual pale complexion—and her who get tired much easier lately. She was too concerned at her excuse than her condition. She should have known, she should have noticed. But again, that was Jurina’s excuse.

“Where is she?”

“Tokyo National Hosp–”

Jurina left the rest of the words hanging. She put on her helmet, and then stomped on the accelerator as hard as she could, left Rena’s sister stunned.

Jurina needed to clear their misunderstanding. And she would do it fast. No more excuse.

The City of Rain

AN: This story is connected to my other stories, The Frog Song and Rainy Days and Snowflakes, with different POV of course. 😀

-Edited- I did some revision and add some more scenes. I hope it makes this story better. 🙂

Rating: T; Genre: Angst

The city of rain.

I once called my hometown that way.

The city was small, almost no bigger than a village. That’s one of the reasons why most of the town folks knew each other. It was such a lovely city. Moreover, the rain I love comes more often than in the other cities.

It had been a long time since I left. Never have I thought that I would step on my home ground once again. I guess I missed her so badly.

From the clear window, I watched the scenery changed from cornfields to houses, then back again with cornfields. It never changes. It was beautiful like how it used to be.

Within minutes I arrived at the bus stop. I was so eager to meet her that I toppled when I got off from the bus.

Looking back and forth, I couldn’t found her. I shook my head and laughed. No way she would be there. I left her for years; no way she would be there still waiting for me.

“Rena!”

I halted my steps. No way!

Slowly, I turned around.

She was there.

That silky short hair with parted bangs of hers, those cheeky grin yet awfully awesome smile, it didn’t change over years. That boyish outfit fit her perfectly; she is as cool as always.

I miss you.

“I come back,Sae!”

XXX

The city didn’t change. The barber shop around the corner of the street was still operating. I used to cut my hair there. The taiyaki shop uncle greeted me in surprise when I passed his shop. His trademark mole was still there on his face. His voice was still loud yet gentle. I reminded myself to pay his shop a visit later.

After around 5 minutes walk from the bus stop, I faced an intersection where I turned left. Three houses from the intersection was a Japanese restaurant, it was Sae’s house.

Irrashaimase—Oh my God, is that you, Rena-chan?”

The owner, who is Sae’s mom greeted me as I entered the shop. She rushed to me then she shook my shoulder in disbelief. Fortunately, the restaurant was empty so no more people who would be rushing and shook me.

“When did you come? Why you didn’t tell me that you’re going to come?”

“Mom! Rena has just come here. She’s tired, don’t bombard her with questions.”

True enough, Sae’s mom made my head spin with her train of questions.

“I-it’s okay, Sae.”

“Oh my, sorry. I’m just surprised.” Sae’s mom released her grip.

“Geez, Mom. Stop over-reacting.” Behind me, I felt Sae was furrowing her eyebrows, “anyway, I’ll take Rena upstairs. Don’t bother us!”

Sae took me hand in hand and then dragged me to her room upstairs. She was throwing death glare to her mom in the process. The thing I found funny. She didn’t change.

“So, could you tell me what happened?” she asked me as soon as I dropped my body on the tatami.

“What do you mean?”

She rolled her eyes in annoyance, “you wouldn’t come back here if nothing happened. Please Rena, I’ve known you for too long.”

I averted my gaze. She was right. Something happened.

___________________

She was there. She never leaves. The longer she stayed, the more I afraid that I would one day hurt her. And I did.

I met her by coincidence, no, it was my dirty trick. She was going home in the rain, so I lent her my umbrella. I had my raincoat so I would be fine. She tried to mutter a thank you but I ran before she could say it. That was my first step.

I wished I didn’t lend that umbrella. Neither had I purposively waited for her every single day at the bus stop.

She was always smiling when she saw me sitting there. The more she smile the more of guilty feeling crept to my heart. Her jokes were funny. They were silly to be exact. Being with her was comfy. She never fails to amuse me. Around her, I felt my shell was broken. I could be myself.

I told her that I love rain. She didn’t. She said she like it but I knew she didn’t. Too bad, this city is filled with so much rain, like my hometown does. But she never rejects my offer to drench ourself in the rain. She was so kind. And I was too cruel.

There were times, when she took me to her home. Her home wasn’t too big yet not too small. It fitted perfectly for the three members of the family. Her mom’s meatball spaghetti was delicious. She often protested about how her mom talked too much when I was at their home. But I could see the family love exchanges between them. I envied her.

“Tadaima. Ah, you’re here, Rena-chan.”

My eyes met a pair of big round brownish eyes. Along with it was a squirrel-like smile that welcomed me.

Yuko-senpai.” I greeted her.

“Hyaaa~ you are so cute.”

She launched her attack. She began groping my, err, breast. I tried to pry her hands while her sister shooting her curses (and pieces of meatball). The only thing which could stop her was a hit on her head from a table-spoon her mom was currently holding.

“Stop being such a nuisance to our guest.” Matsui Mama’s voice was stern yet I detected a hint of chuckles in it.

“But Rena-chan is so cute, I can’t stand it.”  My face reddened, not only from embarrassment, but also from the heat transferred from our close distance. She was hugging me and the touch sent me a tingling sensation.

“Just brush off, nee-chan. You make Rena-chan uncomfortable. Shooh shooh.”

“Yada! I want to be with Rena-chan.”

“Onee-chan!”

Seeing her pouting, she released her hug from me, to my disappointment.

“Fine, fine. As you wish. But we’ll talk later right, Rena-chan?” she winked at me before she left. If only she knew that my heart couldn’t stop beating so fast since she came. That wink KO’ed me.

“Geez, such a moron.”  She shook her head and continued eating her half-finished dinner.

I forgot to eat the rest of my spaghetti. My mind was too occupied to a certain person, Matsui Jurina’s half-sister, Oshima Yuko.

XXX

Oshima Yuko was my senior in high school. Like how I was Jurina’s 2 years older senior, she was 2 years older than me, and she was my inspiration.

I knew her when I entered the school. I was broken at the time. Poor, broken, homeless, and moreover, had just lost what was the most important thing for me, no, for girls.

She was great. For other people though, she was a rebel, but a genius delinquent. She grew in unfortunate situation, born from a mistress of Jurina’s late father. Her life changed though, when she was taken to the Matsui household when she was about to enter high-school.

I saw her as a genius pianist. The rebellious yet awesome pianist. My best-friend, Yuki, admired her. And so I did.

She wasn’t the easiest person to be approached to. For most of us, freshmen, she was so distant. Despite her soothing eyes when she played the piano, her eyes were icy cold when she fought. Yes, she was often involved in gang fight. And rumors said, only her sister who could stop her from fighting.

I tried to talk to her several times but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the courage to.

Time flies, she was getting a scholarship to a university in the capital. She was going to leave yet I hadn’t move any inch closer to her. So I used her sister.

Jurina was much easier to approach.

XXX

“Do you like the rain?”

“I do.”

She smiled. Another smile that broke my heart. The more she smiled to me the more I hurt her.

She was totally transparent. Everyone could see how she was madly in love with me.

I begged her to stop. I begged her to stop loving me. Yet it was all in my mind. I couldn’t say it.

“Rena-chan, you come again.”

I was at the Matsuis home when her sister came. She was on her holiday from the music university.

“What have you been doing?”

Her cheeky grin crumbled my resolution to pieces. I couldn’t stop loving her. I couldn’t tell her little sister that I was just messing with her.

“Something wrong, Rena-chan?”

Her smile turned to a pout. She caressed my cheek, wiped away my tears. I didn’t realize that I was crying.

“Why are you crying?”

She sat beside me. Her muffler was half hanging on her neck. She was taking it off when she halted and forgot what she was about to do.

“Did something happen?”

She looked at me with those brown orbs that I really like. Her eyebrows were perfectly framing her eyes, even though it was furrowed.

“Rena-chan, stop crying. You look better when you smiled.” Again, she smiled. Her calloused fingers were stroking my hair gently. I leaned in to the touch. If only it could last forever.

“Do you get into fight with Jurina? You know, she’s hard sometimes, but she truly loves you.”

No! You’re wrong!

I couldn’t hold it anymore. I took my bag and excused myself. She looked confused but she said she understood when I told her it had nothing to do with her sister.

I ran. I ran as soon as I stepped on the asphalt. The smiling moon was mocking at me.

XXX

It was raining when I reached my apartment. Back to the cold room of mine.

“Tadaima.”

No one answered. It should be.

“Okaerinasai. Long time no see, Rena.”

I was stunned. I knew that voice. It was familiar. No, it was more than familiar. Even though I haven’t heard it for more than 2 years, it was like yesterday. My mind betrayed me as it began to replay the memories I wanted to erase the most.

“You look healthy.”

I turned around, as slowly as I can. I wished the time would stop. I wished it wasn’t happening. But it did.

My utmost fear was there sitting in my couch. Grin was plastered on his face. His leg was crossed at each other.

“Don’t you miss me?” He smiled, showing me his yellow teeth,

Panic began to kick in. My hand was trembling. I felt beads of sweat running through my back, mixed with water drops from the rain earlier.

“You’ve become prettier, Rena.”

He stood up and approached me. I backed off as he was getting closer, until my back touched the kitchen’s table.

“Shall we have fun again? Like the other day.”

His whisper sent electric jolt all through my body. All parts of my body began trembling, because of the cold from the rain and because of his stinky breath that was blown to my ear.

His hand was up. He was going to caress me. He was going to devour me. He was going to taint me like he did 2 years ago. He was going to break me, for the second time.

“NO!”

It happened so fast. I took the knife from the kitchen, the sharpest of all. Without hesitation, I stabbed him, again and again.

He was screaming for help. He was screaming for mercy. My father was screaming for me to stop. I didn’t.

Blood was gushing out from his wound, stained my uniform. Strange enough, I was giggling. It burned me with excitement. I didn’t stop, even though he was now unmoving. I didn’t want to. He deserved it. He deserved to feel the despair I felt this last 2 years.

I stopped after no drop of energy was left. I was breathless, yet I was laughing. I was laughing like a maniac. It was so damn enthralling.

For minutes I kept laughing, until I was out of energy to laugh. I looked around. My white carpet had turned red. Some of my furniture was broken. And I was drenched in the stinky red liquid.

“Rena! What have you done?!”

I looked at the open entrance. Stood there was my caretaker. She was the one who helped me escaped from this man years ago.

“Shinoda-san…”  Her voice calmed me. It brought me down from my high.

She approached me and took the knife from my hands. She threw it to the other side of the room. She then checked on me. When she was sure I was okay, she checked on the body beneath me.

“He’s alive.” said her, I caught a hint of relieve in her voice. She took her phone and dialed a number.

“Yes. Could you come here? Yes. Her house. Okay.” She hung up her call.

She sighed and then she took the emergency kit from the cupboard, I wondered how she knew I put it there. She bandaged the man’s wound and then she taped him to the floor. Maybe she was afraid he would suddenly wake up and attack us.

“You! Come with me!”

She dragged me to the bathroom. In the matter of seconds, she had finished undressing me. Without waiting for the water to get warmer, she flushed me with water. In silence, she cleaned me until no blood scent was left on my body.

XXX

The next day, I was walking to the bus stop. I wondered myself why I went there. I had a thousand and one reason against me coming. I even wore my uniform, in spite of not attending the classes. My feet automatically brought me there, like other every single day.

As usual, she was waiting for me there. She was playing with a green frog doll. I guessed she knitted it herself. She looked so happy that she couldn’t stop giggling.

What is this feeling?

My chest hurt, so much. It throbbed and I couldn’t stop it. I felt like I was going to vomit. Why was that? The longer I looked at her the more I felt my lungs were going to burst.

My eyes felt poignant. My eyes’ lids were getting heavier. My view turned blur. Why is that… you keep smiling even though I keep hurting you?

She seemed to have noticed me coming as she hurriedly hid the doll. She showed me her row of white teeth, but soon she left it agape. She put her doll down and ran to approach me.

Rena, what happened?

She held my hands. Too  tight, too warm, too comfortable, it contain too much care. I didn’t deserve it.

The tears were running down through my cheek. It was not my intention to cry. Not it front of her. She must not know. She must not care. She…

She enveloped me in her embrace. It shook me. My throbbing heart was beating even faster. Her strokes on my hair were soothing. Her scent was alluring. I took a liking for her natural scent since quite a long time ago. It hit me hard. I like it so much. No, I love it.

Her way to sooth my pain was like her sister. Yet it was different. I thought I didn’t want it, I thought I was just playing around. But, I fell to her protective embrace. She didn’t know a thing yet she held me like I was the most precious thing in her life . It hurt me. I hurt her too much.

I wrapped my hands around her waist. It didn’t matter. What had happened last night didn’t matter. In that moment, I was with her and she stayed with me. It didn’t matter. Let me be by her side for that single moment.

XXX

I shouldn’t have come. I should have gone immediately after Shinoda-san told me to go back to my hometown. I shouldn’t have moved my feet to the bus stop. She was there. She looked worried. Her usual charming grin wasn’t there. I hurt her. More and more.

Jurina.

She wasn’t expecting me to come. Her shocked expression was funny. I couldn’t help but laughing.

You’re drooling, silly.

I wiped her mouth. She could be so childish some time. Her cheek was flushed. It made my smile grew wider. She was so interesting. I won’t get bored to be with her all the time.

The bus came, too fast.

We took the steps to our usual seat. The rearmost seat at the back. There, we could chat more freely, not to mention we could see the scenery from the back as the bus moving.

Hey, I dare you to sing the frog song, could you?

She raised her brow at her sudden challenge.

Of course! There’s no song I can’t sing!

She began to sing. It was nice to listen to her voice. She should have taken the music program when she entered the school. She could be a good soprano. Or maybe not.

You’re off tune.”

Hee. I think I sang it quite well.” She scratched the back of her head, oh, she should see her own face, “listen to me carefully. You are not paying attention, that’s why.

She began to sing again. It was even worse than the first one. She moved her brows along with her face muscles as she sang. Rather than singing, she looked like she was making weird face. It was funny. I couldn’t help but to laugh.

I laughed until my breath left my lungs. I forgot about him. I forgot about my awaiting journey. She was there, so I stopped moving.

She stopped when she lost her breath. Her face turned red after the exercise.

Congratulation! You’re tone deaf!

She furrowed her eyebrows.

I’m not. It was just you who couldn’t listen properly.”

She turned her face away in a funny way. She was pretending to be angry.

I laughed it off, “Yes yes. You’re not tone deaf, you’re a good singer, Ju-ri-na-chan!

I pinched her cheek in a playful manner, forced her to smile. It made her face even funnier.

Good! Now you realize! I’m the diva, Juritan!”

She held her hands high, mimicking the pose of a superstar (which I found more like the Statue of Liberty).

Yes, the diva, Matsui Jurina.”

My statement made her smile. Her trademark smile.

The bus was coming to a stop. My heart sank. It was our parting. Maybe forever.

See you tomorrow!” she said cheerfully as we took off from the bus.

I was pondering whether I should tell her or not. But her cheeky grin assured me for a decision.

See you tomorrow, Jurina.”

I couldn’t.

Her figure was getting smaller until it melted with the darkness. My hands stopped waving. My smile faded. I would not see her again. She would not see me again.

I turned around and walked home. It was just occurred to me that not even once the name of Oshima Yuko crossed my mind that day.

_____________________

“Oh my, Rena! You have gone through a lot!”

Sae embraced me in her hug. I’d concluded my story. She seemed pretty shaken. She must be. I left my hometown years ago, leaving her and my relatives. When I came back, I came with another gloomy story,

“It’s okay now. You are saved here.”

I was stunned. I was not my intention to stay. I didn’t want to.

“I can’t stay here. I don’t want to be a burden for you. Beside, he would know if I stay here.”

“Don’t be silly! You’re no burden. You can’t keep running. You need a place to stay.”

She warped her hands on my cheek. It was her way to show that she was serious.

“I…”

“Don’t go, Rena. I miss you so much. I never stop thinking about you since you left 3 years ago. I need you here.”

Her hug was protective, like an older sister. No. It was different. And yet, I couldn’t return her feeling. I couldn’t, yet I engulfed myself in her warmth. I hugged her back. For now. Just for now, I’ll be here. Until I could compose myself and I could go back to where I belong.

____________________

It was raining. The rain always welcomed me. The name of the city of rain fitted this city as well as my hometown.

I was wondering myself, why I was coming back there. I lived comfortably in my hometown but one day I decided to go back, after 3 years had passed. I made a promise to myself that I would come back. But I never think I would be swayed with the warmth of the people in my hometown that I forgot it for years. Sae was persisting that she needed to come along. I used quite a lot of persuasion skill to keep her staying home. I needed some time alone.

Now I know why I love this city. It smells like rain, more than my hometown. I only live here for a few years and yet it had a magnet that made me homesick.

I took my first step leaving the bus stop. I was going to meet her. It won’t take long to reach her house. Her home was close to the bus stop.

However, what I saw startled me. The fence was rusty, like it wasn’t painted for years.All the plants and flowers were died. It was Matsui Mama top priority, she wouldn’t let them untended. Moreover, the nameplate was gone. The kanji of Matsui wasn’t on the place where it usually hung.

“Matsui Rena.”

I turned around to meet an icy stare. I almost jumped in surprised. Fortunately, I could still compose myself.

“Watanabe Mayu.”

“What are you doing here?” her voice tone was cold. She was well-known as the cyborg, but she didn’t usually talk that way to me.

“I—“

“—am looking for Jurina?” her voice turned sarcastic. Did I do something wrong?

“Yes. But what—“

“She died.”

I was stunned.

“You…” she stammered, “YOU KILLED HER!”

I was taken aback. Her voice sent gigavolt shock to my bone. She was what?

She was now wailing. She was sobbing but I couldn’t calm her. I was nailed to the ground. My head was spinning.

“Sorry it took me so long, Mayu. Are you co—”

Behind her, was my best—ex best-friend, Kashiwagi Yuki. In her hands, were two cup of coffee. Her eyes widened when she saw me.

“Rena…”

XXX

In front of me was a tomb stone, Matsui’s family tomb stone.

My head felt so light.

Mayu’s words were ringing on my head. She was right. I killed her.

Her mom moved to the city where her eldest daughter was. She left the city of rain that couldn’t wash off her scar. It had been a year since she died. No, I killed her. Not the bus, not her, but it was me.

I never realize. When I did, it was too late.

Her smile. Her laugh. Her failed jokes. Those were memories.

I never realize. It wasn’t her who was trapped in my charm. I was.

Slowly but sure, her persona changed her sister’s. I never realize. I denied it. Silly me.

In my palm was a doll. A knitted doll of frog. The green color of it had slightly faded. Yuki gave it to me. She said it was for me. I was silly. I should have come back earlier. I left her freezing alone in the rain. I was too late.

“It must be cold.”

“Your body must be trembling.”

“Were you frozen?”

“Your hand must have turned numb.”

“It must be hurt.”

“I am sorry, Jurina.”

How come the tomb was located near a cliff?

Because it was the perfect place to follow your dearest.

Snowflakes

Rating: T; Genre: Angst

It was the same lazy day of winter, as cold as the other days where only a few people were roaming on the street. The quite yet boring day was soon turned lively as the shrieking sound of brake stomping filled the air. Soon enough the siren sound followed. People moved from their lethargic activities just to witness what was happening. The crowd surrounded a certain spot of road which beside it was a large bus with broken lamp.

With difficulties, the police officer finally managed to broke through the curious group of people. Behind him were the medics prepared with stretchers and medical kits.

On the snowy road was a poor young-girl with void looking eyes. The snow around her was turning red as the blood couldn’t help itself to stop pouring out from the girl’s wound. The lifeless girl was soon carried out from the scene, stalked by prying eyes of the bystander. Fallen down in the process was what left of a blood-stained red muffler. It lay on the cold asphalt, left to be stampeded by road users while soaked with the wetness of rain and snow.

___________________

“Do you like snow?”

“Yes.” because it resembles your name.

“How much?”

“So much.” as much as the amount of my love for you.

She smiled at my answer, the smile that warmed my heart as soon as it appeared on her fair face.

We were on the rooftop, together. Our fingers were entwined to each other. Around our neck was a red muffler she gave me as my birthday present last year. It was cold, yet warm. As long as I’m with her, the coldest day is the warmest.

“Let’s eat, before our bento turned stale.”

“Mmm.”

Right on cue, our hands were separated. A tinge of disappointment filled my lung but soon, I met with a sausage wiener presented before me.

“Aaa~” she said.

I felt the blood rushed into my face. Being fed like this was not so unusual, and despite the empty space around us, I couldn’t help but to feel embarrassed.

“C’mon.” she shook her chopstick upon me. I didn’t have other choice but to swallow it down. It was not that her care was not to my liking.

“Is it good?”

“Mmm.” I nodded while trying to chow the sausage. It wasn’t bad but it was kind of hard to bite, winter effect.

Yokatta. I thought it gonna fail like the other time.”

My mind flew away to the day when she presented me the same kind of sausage. It was… disaster. I tried to eat the whole things, and then ended up staying in the toilet for a full long day. She kept apologizing for the next whole week.

“Don’t worry. It’s… err… edible.”

Mou! Can’t you at least say it was tasty?”

She pouted at my answer. She was so cute that I wanted to pinch those cheeks of hers.

“It’s… okay.” I can’t hold my laughter anymore. Teasing her was so enjoyable.

Her pout changed to a frown. She soon began hitting my upper arms, playfully. My laughter went even louder. Lovely days, I hope these days would go on forever.

___________________

 

“Mayu-chan!!”

Those loud voice.

“Mayuyu!”

Those annoying tone.

“Mayu mayu mayu!!”

Those grin I could see even though my eyes were glued.

“Watanabe Mayu!”

“Argh!! Stop shouting my name in front of the school!”

It was irritating, a lot. I turned around to face the source of my irritation.

“Well, it was because you won’t answer me.” That same peculiar grin, oh how I wanted to slap her face, wiped away those grin off her cheek.

“I don’t see any obligation to answer to your call”

She pouted, and then she put her ace weapon, the puppy eyes. Not that it could affect me.

“Stop pouting, it won’t work.”

She sighed, deserved her that way. I smiled in victory; even the popular Matsui Jurina won’t be able to shake my heart.

Nee nee, how was your date yesterday?”

The red tint appeared on my pale cheek. The image of me and her running around the amusement park never fail to heat my heart.

“It was exciting then. And I’m sure you did uncountable lovey dovey acts.” She was smirking, so wide that I thought her cheek was ripped.

“It’s none of your business.” I kept walking through the front gate, ignoring her, completely.

“Don’t be ashamed. Just say that you were kissing in the gondola.”

Wait. We were what?

“How…” the fact popped in my brain, “YOU WERE SPYING ON US?!”

My face turned bright red, mixed of embarrassment and anger.

“You know, it’s not good to kiss for that long. Imagine how much germs were traded at those minutes.” She made a disgusted expression on her face, can’t I slap her already? “and, you know, it could be followed by other act, not to mention you were in public. I would like to watch you having… err… some experience with her though.”

“MATSUI JURINA!!”

Enough. She was so damn annoying. A good smack in the head might be able to fix her head. But she was too fast for me. She was the ace of athletic club, of course she was fast.

“COME BACK HERE!!”

I chase her but I got tired after a few steps. Need-to-work-out, mental note.

She turned smaller and smaller and soon she disappeared from my eyesight. I bet she was laughing so hard that she won’t be able to breath. And soon, the entire school will know. Sigh.

“Are you okay, Mayu?”

I gasped. The certain girlfriend the kid mentioned was standing behind me. I wouldn’t fail in recognizing her melodic voice.

“Yukirin…”

“What did Jurina say? She teased you like always, didn’t she?” She looked at me with those sympathetic eyes. But then, her smile rose and she chuckled.

“Not you too, Yuki.” I forgot she loved to tease me as well. Not that bad as those ignorant badass though.

“Sorry sorry. It was just too funny.”

Okay, I’m leaving.

“Eh, wait! Mayu~”

____________________

After school was one of my favorite times of the day. The reason was simple. It was because I would have a practice season with Yuki after school. It was our routine since I enrolled in this school this spring. She would accompany me with her piano playing while I played the violin.

I found her upstairs, in front of the upperclassmen’s class. I was about to call her when I saw her talking to her classmate. It looked intense. Too intense. I knew her. She’s Jurina’s love interest. She had had crush for her since the first time we stepped on this school’s ground. For me, she’s a weird girl who love singing in the rain. She’s pretty, indeed, but still it’s unnatural to dance around in the pouring rain, right?

“Well then, we’ll talk later.”

She seemed to notice me as she hastily finished her conversation with Yuki. I raised my brow. Was it something I must not know?

She excused herself from Yuki just in time before I reached Yuki’s shoulder. She was taken slightly aback. It was not her usual over-reaction, but it seemed even more real. I wondered what they were talking about just now.

“Ah, Hi Mayu!” her cheerful tone of voice brought the tension within me down. She was just as perfect as always.

“Yo. What are you talking about with Rena?”

“N-nothing. Anyway, we should go to the music room.” She averted her gaze. She always does that when she’s nervous. It made me even more curious. However, she rushed to collect her things and within seconds she was ready to go practicing.

Soon enough we were already in a tense jam session in the small music room we always used to practice. The melodies of the instrument blend with the air. It took us away from the reality to the land of notes. I forget all the things that worried me. It was just me and her, and our own instrument.

“Mayu, it would be better if we you give a decrescendo before the end of part two. Along with a ritardando. Then, don’t forget to you need not only fast but also soft. You need to pour your feelings into it.”

“Yes. I understand, sensei. You had told me yesterday.” I rolled my eyes. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what she meant but sometimes I didn’t like to be lectured.

“I’ve told you, but you kept doing the same mistakes in the same part. Don’t forget you need to do the last part playfully. Your staccato is too harsh. Playful, remember? I’ve told you to take down notes. Have you done it?”

That! That demanding tone!

“Don’t sulk. The competition was just a week away and you haven’t even mastered any part of the composition.”

Yeah, I knew the competition was nearing. That was why I can’t play nicely. The nervousness was too much to be handled.

“Don’t say you were just nervous and such! Mayu~ You should focus!”’

She read my mind.

“I AM FOCUS. Mou! Practicing with you didn’t get me any better. You were too detailed, Yuki.”

“You MUST be! You asked me to help you practice, so I did! At least, listen to my advice!”

She raised her tone, something she doesn’t usually do. She only raised it when she was surprised, that kind of shrieking screams. I flinched at her statement. I knew she was right but I was too irritated to even reasoning calmly.

“Oh?! So you feel forced to help me? Why wasted your time to tutor me? You’re not that good with your piano playing anyway!”

She winced at my statement. It was a sensitive topic. Lately, her piano playing wasn’t that good. Despite it was her last year of high school and she had the competition a few days after mine. It was her last chance to get a scholarship in a certain music university. If she failed, she would focus to the national exam. She was actually more than kind to fulfill my selfish request.

She went silent for a few seconds before staring at my eyes intensely. I found a tiny bit of sadness in her eyes, but my ego shrug it off and, to my regret; I continued bombarded her with my dense comment.

“You don’t have the right to tell me anything. Do that after you proof yourself!”

“Mayu!”

I sighed. We were going to have a fight. No, we were having a fight. The competition pressured us both. I went over board, which I shouldn’t ever do.

“Sorry about that.”

I apologized. I was not fair for her or me. We shouldn’t fight just before the important competition.

“It’s okay.” She answered me after a moment of silence. She was hurt. Her eyes spoke it all.

“Sorry, Yukirin. The competition drove me nut. I shouldn’t say something like that.”

Finally, she smiled. A feeling of relieve washed over me.

“I understand.”

I replied her with a small smile. At least I didn’t feel forced when I did. The anger had subdued.

“I think we should train on our own. We need to focus.” she suggested.

Somehow I disagreed, but I knew that was for the better of us both.

“Okay. We’ll meet at the competition. You don’t have to force yourself to watch mine, just focus for your own competition.”

She shook her head, “no. I’ll come. I will be there to root for you.”

She said she will root for me, and so do I, “mmm. I’ll root for you too.”

Her facial expression hardened when I told her that, I was wondering why, but soon she was back with smile on her face so I brushed it off.

“Let’s do our best.”

___________________

The next few days were the worst. I was literally practicing 24/7. Yuki was right. I still haven’t mastered the composition. I was worse than I thought I was.

Each hour seemed so heavy and so slow. I stopped coming to school, most of the student of music division did this in competition season anyway. Sometime encouragement messages were sent to my phone. Those were from Jurina or from Yuki or my other friends. I kept exchanged messages with Yuki but not much, just a few words. We both were too occupied with our own competition.

Sooner or later, the competition’s day was head on.

I was wearing a simple white satin dress with a black ribbon attached on the waist, acted as belt. I was readied for the intense competition. At least, I thought I was. The other competitors broke my mental bit by bit. They were great, and I wasn’t ready.

My turn came at last. I prayed for the best and walked to the stage. I looked around the audience. It was not my intention but my eyes met with Yuki’s. She looked contained and tired but her smile reassured me. She mouthed ‘do your best’ from the middle of the crowds.

I took a long breath and began to play. The melodies of ‘Spring Sonata’ of Beethoven mesmerized the audience. It should be. I need them to.

In one sip of breath, the song ended. It was long yet it finished in a blink. I squinted as the audience gave their applause. It was over. I could see Yuki clapped her hands excitedly. Her over-reaction calmed me. I would laugh if only I wasn’t standing on the stage.

I bowed down and left. The result wasn’t a matter anymore. I got to see Yuki’s excited face. It was more than a prize.

____________________

In the end, I didn’t get any position. That what should had happened. But, that was least of my concern.

The day had finally come, the day of Yuki’s competition. I hadn’t seen her since my competition. She said she wanted to concentrate so I didn’t bother her. I was excited to see her piano playing. I’d root for her, like how we promised.

I reached the venue one hour before the actual performance started. I want to give her a surprise before the actual performance. However, she wasn’t there.

She wasn’t in the list of participants.

Mixed feeling of confusion and worries filled my restless mind. We didn’t contact to each other since our last meeting. I definitely hadn’t heard anything about this.

I needed a confirmation. I reached for my phone and dialed her number. Bad luck. She didn’t pick up the phone. Actually, the usual woman on the phone said that the number wasn’t even listed. Panic rushed in. What happened?

I needed to ask. Then a certain rain girl’s face popped in my mind. But to not so bad luck, I didn’t have her numbers. But, Jurina might have it.

“Jurina, do you have Matsui Rena’s phone numbers?” I pushed my sentence as soon as she picked up my call.

“Rena-chan? I have it. I’ll send it to you. But what business do you have with her?”

“Please send it to me ASAP.”

“He—“

I hung the phone, cut her sentence before she even managed to finish one word.

The next second, a mail with Rena’s contact reached my inbox.

I dialed the number as fast as I could, she must know.

“Matsui-senpai? It’s Watanabe Mayu. Do you know where she is? I didn’t find her in the list of participants. You know today is the competition, right?”

“…”

She went silent. It was strange. But I bet she knew.

“Do you know where Yuki is?”

“She’s gone.”

Blood rushed to my down part of body. Her words were ambiguous, yet my brain had processed for the worst possible answer.

“She’s—“

“gone.” She completed my choked words. ”She left to Vienna two days ago. She tried to tell you but she can’t. I have told her to do so but in the end her time is up before she managed to tell you”

“WHAT? She’s in Vienna? But I thought…”

“Her mother took her there. It was sudden. She tried to tell you but she can’t. I’m sorry Mayu, I should have told you myself.”

My cellphone fell from my palm. She was aboard. I never knew. She never told me. I felt anger, then sadness. Why didn’t she tell me? I didn’t understand. She could tell me. I wouldn’t be mad. Was she afraid I would burst off like when we fight last week? We indeed promised that we would attend the same university but still it was hurt.

I hung the phone call and dialed her number. It was useless. In the center of the cold plaza, I tried to call her over and over again. But it was useless. She wasn’t between my reach anymore. I sat there, crying. The mixed of anger, sadness, confusion, disappointment mixed with the tears. The falling snow was my company.

__________________

 

2 years later.

The coldness of this city never changes. The same street, the same crossroad, the same snow. I inhaled the chilly scent of winter. It had been 2 years. The 2 years of hard work, tears, and despair. The days way in Europe weren’t bad at all. It was satisfying. Sure, it was hard. Harder than I thought it would be. But, my career won’t do any good if I stayed in Japan. My mother didn’t let me go back here so soon, moreover if she found out my main reason. But I need to. I escaped her while she was in her tour. I need to find Mayu.

I missed Mayu so damn much. I left her without any word. She must be angry. I couldn’t tell her where I had gone. I couldn’t. My mom cut all my connection to her. I tried to contact her via everything I could think of. The territories which my mom wouldn’t be able to touch. But still, no answer. I got worried but I couldn’t do anything. My mom sent me away as soon as she found out about our relationship. She was opposed of it. It should have been perfect. I would tell her that I was going after my competition. But my mom found out and dragged me there. I couldn’t even tell Rena what happened.

I sighed.

That was all in the past now.

Mom thought I had forgotten about Mayu. She recognized me bit by bit. I gained enough popularity and my career rose to fame. But yet I felt empty without her.

I must find her. In this city of rain (that was how Rena named the city). Talked about it, I couldn’t contact Rena as well. I wondered what happened but it was the least to my importance.

I walked to her home. It wasn’t that far from the station so I reached it within minutes. Strange enough it was empty.

“Hello? Anybody’s home?”

Thought about it the street was unusually empty. Our city was never crowded but it was emptier than usual.

“No one’s there.”

I heard a soft voice of woman behind me. I flinched when I saw her unusual outfit. A black kimono, the sign of mourning.

“And then where they would be?” my heart thumped faster, I had a really bad feeling about this.

“They went for the funeral, they were at the city cen—“

The woman didn’t manage to finish her words. I saw the sign that I overlooked on the door, the sign that the family of the house was mourning. I dashed through her to the city center, a funeral usually held there, in our city.

It can’t be. It can’t be. I muttered  to myself all the way to the city center.

Images were flashing through my occupied mind. She would not die on me. No, before I explained what really happened.

I ran out of breath when I reached the door. People were leaving. All were wearing black suit or black kimono or school uniform for student. Some of the students were chuckling when they descend the stairs. I sent glares at them. How dare them!

With the last of my power, I ran through the stairs and I finally reached the room.

I saw the black wood coffin. It was sealed properly. Beside it was a muffler. A red one. It was stained with blood and dirt that mixed with the color of red but it can still be seen.

I fall down to my knees after seeing the muffler. The red muffler I gave her for her birthday present. I grabbed it and hugged it. Tears began to betray myself. It was pouring out like flood. I regretted all the things that had happened. I didn’t have the chance. I should have done better. I should have forced my way to break free from my mom’s cage. But it was too late. She had died. She can’t listen to my explanation. She won’t ever talk to me again. She won’t ever call my name again.

“Yuki?”

Huh?

I felt my ears betrayed me as well. I began to hear the voice I want to hear the most. Hers.

“Yuki? Oh my God! It’s you!”

Huh?

I must be hallucinating.

“When did you come here?”

Huh?

I turned around slowly. I was not readied to meet her… remains.

But she was there. I felt the blood left my face. I’ve never seen ghost and I hoped I didn’t need to. But she was standing there with shocked expression on her face. I must be the one who shocked.

“Yuki? Are you alright? You look pale.”

She approached me and shook my shoulder.

“D-Don’t touch me.”

I stood up in reflex. In result, she was thrown, hitting the wall. She looked hurt, both physically and mentally. Huh? No, not physically, ghost didn’t have any physical body. Huh? But I definitely heard the loud thump when she hit the wall.

“Geez! What are you doing? You came back after 2 years and the first thing you said to me is ‘don’t touch me’? I can’t believe it!” she looked… angry. Her face reddened. In the end, she muttered something like ‘and you left without announcement.’ But it was too small that it was inaudible.

“I-I’m sorry. I was just afraid. I meant, I never see a ghost talking to me.”

This time, her furious look turned into confusion.

“Ghost?” she muttered. Then, the next second she burst out laughing. So hard that I wanted to remind her that we were in a funeral.

“You thought that I am a ghost?” she said between her laugh, “you thought it is ME who is dead?”

She wiped her tears that formed after so much laughter.

“But…” I showed her the muffler I had been holding.

“Oh my, Yukirin. You should look at the nameplate before the muffler. Moreover, there IS a BIG photograph in front of you but all you can see is that muffler?”

I looked down and I was taken aback. It was neither her name on the nameplate nor her face on the photograph.

Surged of relieve washed over me. However, a wave of anguish, and surprised followed.

“Jurina.”

“I lent her that muffler since she was persisting on staying in the bus stop, waiting for Rena who would never come back. I never think she would do such foolish thing as throwing herself to the incoming bus.”

I didn’t notice Mayu’s panda eyes until now. She must have crying all night. Jurina was her best-friend and cousin. For the joyous Jurina to do suicide never cross my mind, but she was there inside the coffin.

“I’m sorry.”

I was sorry, for Jurina and for what I did. But for now, I should pray my respect for her.

“Where have you been?”

Mayu asked me after I finished my pray.

“Vienna.”

Mayu rolled her eyes, “Yes, I know that much.”

I brought my head down. I didn’t know how to start.

“I’m sorry, Mayu. I couldn’t tell you. I planned on telling you after my competition but my mom dragged me to Vienna after she found out about our relationship.”

She looked surprised. She didn’t know.

“I tried to contact you but I can’t even tell you a good bye. My mom cut my connection to Japan. I tried to contact Rena instead but I couldn’t either.”

Mayu turned gloomier when I mention Rena.

“Of course you can’t, no one here managed to contact her.” She mumbled some cursed words, “you can’t contact me either. I was so angry at you that I changed all my contact address and blocked you from anything you could us to contact me.”

She sent me her well-known death glare. It made me nausea yet homesick. She was still the same old Mayu.

“I’m sorry, Mayu. I escaped here while my mom on tour. This time, let’s exchange contact, shall we?”

“You won’t stay?” she pouted.

“I can’t. I’ll stay for 2 weeks at most. But I have to comeback.”

She looked hurt but she didn’t look so surprised.

“I understand. You had your recital not so long for now.”

We both went silence.

I used that moment to memorize all the things about her. She changed so much. She was taller. She didn’t tie her shiny black hair in twin tail anymore. But she was as pretty as before. She was prettier to be exact. She emitted a matureness more than 2 years ago. I fell in love to her once again.

“Anyway, I get to see you again. That is what important. I’m in mourning period so we can’t do too much exaggerated thing, but at least we get to be together once more.”

She let out a gentle smile. She looked weak and fragile, yet she was shining.

She was my princess, my angel, and she would be once again mine.

“Of course. I won’t leave you ever again. No matter how many kilometers turn us apart.”

“Mmm! But before that, let me made sure of one fact. I am no ghost.”

“Mayu~”

The Frog Song and Rainy Days

AN: I was inspired by AAA’s song titled Koi Oto to Amazora. This story was (mostly) based on the song. I suggest you to hear it, it’s really a nice song. XD

Rating: T, Genre: Angst

I stood in the pouring rain. The water drop came down hitting my cheek, mixed with the tears that I unconsciously shed. The sky was dark blue, with gray clouds hanging loosely on it’s surface, hid the sunlight from me. My cheeks got slightly warmer when I imagined you coming to me with smile on your face and an umbrella in your hand.

What are you doing?’ you would ask me.

Don’t you feel cold?‘ That is what you would say when you reached my numb hands.

You’re getting cold.‘ The smile on your face would change to a frown as you saw how white my hands had been.

C’mon. Let’s go to somewhere warm.‘ With that familiar grin, you would take my hand and guide me away from the rain.

I love you!‘ If only I can shout it out loud, conveying my love for you.

But, as I opened my eyes, you weren’t there. It was just me, hand hanging to grab void with the rain that told me to be real. You were not there. You’re never there.

____________________

Matsui Rena is a persona I really admire. She was. That admiration soon turned to be a feeling of love. I first knew her when I entered high school, she was the student council’s president, and I was a freshman. Her speech was amazing, despite her looks, she could speak that confidently in front of hundreds of people. I admired her just that fast.

Our first encounter was when I was going home. It was raining, hard. I was running to the bus stop when I saw a silhouette dancing around in the rain. With the rain coat and an umbrella in hand, she danced weird moves while humming random song. She stopped when she saw me nailed to the ground, watching her from afar.

She then approached me, the way she ran was funny. She extended her hand, offering the umbrella she was holding at the moment. She shook her hand impatiently as I was too surprised to react. She smiled when I took the umbrella. Before I could mutter a thank you, she went running elsewhere. The fog was thick that I couldn’t point out which way she went.

That was when my admiration changed to the feeling of liking.

The bus stop near school was our meeting place. The place where I first met you. You were funny, sometime reserved and shy but mostly you would laugh at whatever I did to entertain you. Even though I knew my jokes were mostly failed.

“Nee, Jurina, do you know the frog song?”

“The frog song? What kind of song named as in ‘frog’ song?”

I raised my eyebrow, it sounds stupid. I bet it was another random song you came up with.

“It is, it is. It was the song to call the rain. Do you want me to sing it for you?”

Seemed not budged with my sarcastic response, you continued talking about the song. You sometimes stopped while smiling sheepishly.

“I don’t want it to be raining. It’s cold, you know. Better sing it when the sun is up.”

You pouted. You love rain. You love it like it is the best things that could ever happen in this world. The side of you that I found funny yet charming.

“But, I love rain. Don’t you like it, Jurina?”

I like you who talking energetically every time you stated that you loved the smell of the grass after rain. Or how the frogs will sing when it was raining.

“I… Like it.” If you were there with me.

The curved of your lips came back to life as she answered me, “Right? The rain is us, that’s why.”

You went back staring at the clear sky, while I kept staring at you. Your random statement, your meaningless words, are precious for me. The way you talked were funny.  You would laugh and sneering when you were with me. If only I could convey this feeling. But I was scared. I was afraid of losing you if I did.

I followed you staring at the sky. The light blue sky with white cotton painted the canvas.

You began humming the said frog song. Your voice was lovely. The sounds of love emitted from her, warmed every living being stayed beside you. It never fails to warm me up.

Soon enough, the water began to drop. Your smile got wider when you felt water touched your face. You got up from the chair and skipping around the street, it was a relief that the road was usually empty.

“Don’t you want to join me?”

You offered me your hand.

I got up from my chair.

“Of course.”

_______________________

One day, you came up to me. I was waiting for you at the bus stop. I readied myself to welcome you with a huge grin. But you didn’t look so well. Your face was pale, hidden in a muffler. Your hair was messy, the same with your uniform. Your eyes were puffy and swollen. I lost my intention to smile. What came to me were worries.

“Rena, what happened?”

I hold your shaking hands. It was so cold. Had you been staying out in this winter?

Instead of answering to me, your eyes sent another pile of tears. You were crying. I’d never seen you cry.

I was at lost. I’d seen numbers of other girls crying in front of me, whether because I broke up with them, or they were just wailing. But I never expected her to cry. You’re always smiling. You always keep your unbreakable facade.

Asked you to speak was useless. I knew that much, so I took you to my embrace. You stopped sobbing for a second, but started again as you wrapped your hand against me.

I never know what actually happened that day. You didn’t tell me and I was waiting for you to tell me yourself. But it never happened. Rumors said that you were dumped by your boyfriend. Another rumor said that one of your relative died. Other rumor was that you were bullied. I didn’t know which one was true.

The next day, you came to the bus stop. The usual grin plastered on your face, like the other day incident wasn’t real. You acted like how you always do. In my heart I was asking. Questions popped up in my mind. But I was scared. I was such a chicken. I didn’t have the courage to confront you. It was only the simple ‘what happened?’ but I couldn’t spill it out.

You seemed indifferent. And so I acted the same. The bus came not so long after a few words exchange. We rode it together. We were still chuckling for her previous frog song. I sang the song and you said I was off tune. But I kept singing and with that, you couldn’t stop laughing. We didn’t care about pairs of eyes that were watching us. Nor I care the grandma who let out a small smile while looking to our direction. It was what we always do. Our days. I never expect it to be the last time we sat in the same bus.

____________________

I never know how it turned out to be like this. I never think that I would spend my time sitting at the same bus stop while staring at the empty street.

I was waiting.

People told me to stop. They said you were gone. You won’t come back. But I stayed. I knew you would one day come up with that grin plastered on your face, umbrella in hand. You would be all wet and breathless. You would offer the umbrella to me, like the first time we met.

‘Jurina, you have to stop coming there.’

My sister’s voice rang in my head.

The same sentence I heard from numerous people.

I never listen.

I’ll soon graduate high school. I’ll soon leave the city where I spent time with you. You had left, years ago.

You never came back to our meeting place, even though I waited there. Sitting while staring at the sky, wondering whether the rain would come or whether the frogs would come out and sing, along with you.

You were just disappeared. The town folks said you left your home. You left the city. I didn’t know what forced you to go. You said nothing. Was I not worthy to be shared one of your story? Or it was because I was such a coward that I couldn’t ask you what’s wrong?

In my hand was the frog doll I knitted for you. You like it, don’t you? I was going to give it to you at the day you came up to me, crying. I lost my chance. I won’t ever know whether my feeling overlap with you.

I felt a drop of water caressed my palm. Was it rain? Or was it my tears?

The rain had come. Like the other days. The city of rain, you named our home. I got up and danced. The weird dance along with the random song you always hummed. I felt the water embraced me, wrapped me in a comfortable wetness.

From the corner of my eyes, I saw a light coming fast. I saw you running to me, with that bright smile and an umbrella hanging on your hand. Your eyes illuminated the road, like lamps. You disappeared, changed with our usual bus charged through me. The light is gone.