The end of class arrives, and I start to head to my room. I walk across the grounds of Yamaku, and up ahead I see a girl rush out of the main building and run towards the female’s dormitory. I think that was Hanako. I wonder what happened?
I decide against following her and carry on towards the boys’ dormitory.
As I near the males’ dormitory I see a girl with pinkish-purple hair lying on a bench up ahead. It’s a warm day so I wonder if the sun has drained her energy. As I get near, I realise I recognise her hair and her body shape. This is no ordinary girl. I approach her to confirm my suspicions, I look at her face and see I am correct. Hitomi Honma. What is she doing here? And why is she asleep on the bench?
She does look peaceful sleeping, the complete opposite of when she’s awake. I smile as an idea pops into my head. I lean in close to her ear and blow straight into it before quickly withdrawing my face. Her face twitches and she slaps her ear. She is still asleep so I move in to do it again. As I blow, her eyes quickly open and she sees how close I am. I suddenly feel a strong force in my stomach. I double over as I fall backward onto the ground.
“Oh, it’s only you Ryuunosuke.” Hitomi says, with slight dejection. Next thing I know, Hitomi is hugging me.
Through the pain, I ask her “Is this for punching me?”
I feel her head move as she responds “No. I just missed you a lot. I thought your classes finished a while ago.”
The pain subsiding, I hug her back, and we both stand up. I say “I missed you too. Classes did finish a bit ago, I just went to the Nurse’s to ask some questions. Also, it is probably a bad idea to punch people before you know who they are, especially here.”
We stop our hug, and Hitomi looks straight into my eyes. “Isn’t it a bad idea to blow straight into a girl’s ear?”
I smile. “Touche.”
“So, been doing anything fun here for the past two weeks?”
I think and reply “Lessons, swimming, and walking to the town.”
“When did you start swimming?” Hitomi asks, tilting her head.
“On my second day I think. I took it up to use up my energy.”
“By yourself? I seem to remember I had to save you from the pool once.”
“That was because you pushed me in it! While I was wearing clothes!” I reply, Indignantly, “And no, not by myself. I have a friend I swim with.”
Pretending to be surprised, Hitomi asks “You have a friend?”
Nice sarcastic tone there, Hitomi.
“Yes I do, Miss single-friend Honma.”
For my comment, I earn a jab in my side.
“Hey, Ryuu, what time is it?”
I look at my watch, “Uh, just gone 1pm.”
Hitomi’s eyes widen. “1pm! I’ve been asleep for two hours, outside?!” Why did no one wake me?”
“Maybe they thought you had that sleeping condition where you fall asleep all the time. Narcolepsy, right?”
Hitomi stares right at me and asks “Is narcolepsy common here or something?”
I think for a moment, “I don’t know. I think it is some unwritten rule to not ask unless told.”
A silence appears, and I try steer away from the previous topic.
“Do you want a little tour of the school and the town nearby?” I ask Hitomi.
“Is there enough time?” Hitomi asks.
I look at the sky and then to my watch. “We have plenty of time before it gets dark.”
“Okay then. But first can I put my phone on charge? It died as I left Jirou’s.”
I laugh, and Hitomi gives me an evil look - a very ineffective one. “Don’t laugh, it was an agonising train ride with no music and boring conversations I could hear from other people.”
“ What do you mean by no music?”
“The battery died in my music player and I had no spares. Stop smiling! I bought a new cable from a phone store when I got off the train to charge it while I’m here. I assume I can charge it in your room?”
“Sure, follow me. I thought Nasushiobara was only an hour away.”
“It is, It was still boring though.”
“So one, one-hour train. How bad is your battery?”
“Y-Yes, but I used my phone yesterday for the five-hour trip, used it at Jirou’s and didn’t charge it last night.”
I chuckle. “Just be glad I have plugs that work.”
As I start to walk, Hitomi picks up her bag and follows me.
*** Akemi’s PoV ***
As I move myself across the grounds, I let myself come to a stop when I see something a short way in front of me. Ryuunosuke is hugging a shorter, unfamiliar girl. I watch as they talk to each other as a feeling swells up inside me. I begin to roll forward but jump when I feel a hand on my shoulder. Quickly turning my head, I see the hand belongs to Kaiya, who is looking towards Ryuunosuke. She turns her head to face me, and after a second, a coy smile appears on her face. “You’re not feeling jealous, are you, Akemi?”
Kaiya slowly says “Careful, they may hear you. Ryuunosuke and that cute girl do seem awfully close if you ask me. If you aren’t careful, he may get stolen from you by that cute, young, beautiful girl. Win him over before she does.”
W-Win him over? Against a girl he appears to be very comfortable with?
Kaiya walks in front of me before facing me and looking me up and down. A smile appears on her face, “I can think of a few ways.”
[i[W-What![/i] My cheeks go warm as I try to hit Kaiya with my arm, only to find she is easily out of range. I sit back in my chair and sigh. “I will not
Kaiya’s smiles grow bigger “Good. Oh, I wonder where they’re going.”
I look back to Ryuunosuke and his friend only to see them walking towards the boys’ dormitory. I hope they’re just friends. Their interactions make it seem otherwise, though. I hope they’re just friends! Please let them just be friends!
“Kaiya, could you help me with something, please?”
*** Ryuunosuke’s PoV ***
I unlock my door and say “Ladies first.”
The response I get is the one I expect. “I’m not a lady, but thank you.”
Hitomi enters, and I close the door behind myself. I look back to Hitomi who has already made her way to my bed and is plugging her phone into a charger.
“So, how have you been since we last spoke? Gained any more friends?”
Miki, Lilly, Akemi, Masahiro and Kaiya…
“No, no one else, still the same amount of people,” I reply.
“Still the same harem then,” Hitomi says. It isn’t my fault nearly all are females.
“I think I will need to transfer here to keep you out of trouble.”
I let out a single chuckle. “From my experience, it would be me stopping you. You didn’t just come here to see me did you? It is a very far journey.”
Hitomi just looks at me, blinking as she does so.
Confused by her reaction, or lack thereof, I ask “What?”
Slowly, Hitomi says “You forgot, didn’t you?”
I quickly rack my brain. It isn’t any of my family’s birthday, wouldn’t have been Shiori’s birthday nor anniversary of her death.
“What are you on about?”
Hitomi clears her throat and in a bad impression of me, says “‘You know you can visit me at any time.’ You told me that before you left. Also, did you forget I called you this week and said I was coming? Why else do you think I have this big bag with me?” She then points to the bag next to her. It may have slipped my mind with all the lessons…
“You have a yukata in it don’t you? And it may have slipped my mind.” Hitomi nods before opening the bag. She then unfolds it and tries to get rid of the creases.
As she is doing so, I look to see what else she has in the bag and see other clothes, all underneath a small kitsune mask. I pick up the mask and see it is a new one. I wonder what happened to her other one.
Next moment, the mask is taken from my hand, and I look at Hitomi who is holding the mask in front of her face. “Yuudai found my old one and thought it was a toy.”
I look at Hitomi’s yukata and see it fits the mask, all white, but with red lining the outer parts. I also notice a red floral pattern on it.
“I see you like it, I finally have one that is better than yours.”
Acting offended, I say “I happen to quite like my all black yukata. It allows me to hide in the shadows.”
“You’re not a ninja nor are you doing that again this year,” Hitomi flatly states.
Hitomi then looks around my room, studying it. She stops when her eyes fall onto a certain photo frame on my table. The one Tamiko made for me. The memorial photo of Shiori. I remember how happy she looked in the photo. Taking the frame in her hand, I see her mood subside. Hitomi asks me in a subdued tone “How are you truly doing, Ryuunosuke? You still miss her right?”
No point lying here.
“Of course I do. I know I have to move on, but Shiori will always stay inside me. She does still appear in my nightmares.”
Hitomi surprisingly doesn’t seem to be surprised by that. She puts the photo back and walks to me before giving me a hug. She confirms that when she says in a slightly muffled voice “I know. You weren’t the quietest in your sleep you know. I could hear you through the wall back home. I’d guess that’s still happening here too? You can just call me when you need help. Now that you have my number, that is.” That last part stings.
“Perhaps, or I could just push through it.” Hitomi glares at me. “Or, not… Are you ready for the tour?”
Hitomi’s glare subsides. “Fine. Yes. First, does your phone have enough charge?”
I check my phone and reply with “Yep. Still got a third of the battery left.”
“Good, then lead the way!” Hitomi exclaims.
“The school or the town first?”
Hitomi looks at her watch and says “The town, shops may be closed if we go there later.”
After exiting the gates of Yamaku, Hitomi and I begin our descent down the hill to the town. As we are walking I realise that I don’t know where most stuff is in the town. I wonder how quickly Hitomi will work that one out.
A few dozen steps later Hitomi looks down the long hill we need to walk down and says “This school has students that struggle with walking or can’t walk at all, right?” I nod. “Why is it placed at the top of a hill? It makes no sense.”
Her statement makes me smile. “I don’t know, but the students are stronger than you’d think. I don’t think the place was originally a school, especially one for disabled.”
Hitomi looks up at me with a confused look. “What do you mean?”
“Don’t you notice the western influenced style? There was probably some foreigner who built it, but I don’t know for what purpose.”
“You said that the students are stronger that I’d think, what did you mean by that?”
“Apparently the stalls that’ll be around tomorrow were all built by the students.”
“Apparently? Does that mean you didn’t do anything to help?”
I shake my head and reply “No, I did offer but it seemed my help wasn’t needed, unless I misunderstood.”
“You do do that sometimes.”
“What is your class’ stall anyway?”
I open my mouth to answer but then realise that I do not know. I tell Hitomi and she sighs before calling me useless.
We soon arrive in the town, and I find myself gravitating to the place I’ve been to a few times before - the Shanghai.
“’The Shanghai’. What is that?” Hitomi asks upon seen the sign.
“A place where we can rest and get some food. I assume you haven’t eaten for a few hours.”
“But I don’t like Chinese food.”
I chuckle. “You’ll be okay here then. It serves a lot more than just Chinese food. I’ve noticed western and Japanese food in it on my other visits here.”
I open the door to the Shanghai and let Hitomi go in first. We reach the pedestal at the entrance but see no one. Hitomi immediately hits the bell on top of it.
Almost as soon as Hitomi hits the bell, we hear a recognisable voice call out. “Welcome! Thank you for patronising this establishment!”
Yuuko suddenly appears, seemingly out of nowhere and bows so quickly, Hitomi barely manages to avoid being headbutted “Oh, hello Ryuunosuke.”
“You know her?” Hitomi asks me.
“Yes, she also works in the school’s library.”
Yuuko nods her head as if confirming what I am saying. “Thank you for choosing to come here, would you like a table?” I notice her eyes flicker to Hitomi before looking back to me.
“Yes please, Yuuko.”
Yuuko does another speedy bow, Hitomi still remaining a safe distance away, and says “Follow me.”
Yuuko takes us to one of the booths by the window and waits for us to be sitting comfortably before asking “What can I get you two?”
I think for a moment and decide what I want. “Could I have mapo doufu and some green tea please? What do you want Hitomi? I’ll pay.”
A sly smile appears on her face. “Could I have a large yakitori curry and does your amazake have alcohol in it?”
Yuuko’s eyes go wide “I don’t know. I can check though!”
Yuuko rushes off, and I don’t know if she has actually written our order down or not. I look at Hitomi who is staring at where Yuuko rushed off too.
After a moment of silence, Hitomi says “She’s a-”
Hitomi is cut off by Yuuko suddenly reappearing and saying “The amazake doesn’t have alcohol in it.”
This makes Hitomi smile, and she asks if she can have amazake with her yakitori. Yuuko walks off, this time at a slower speed.
As we wait, I suddenly remember what kind of stall my class is doing. “Noodle stand.”
Hitomi gives me a confused “What?”
Maybe I should clarify
“You asked what my class was doing. It’s a noodle stand.”
“I thought your class was for blind students.”
“Well, visually impaired, but yes. It should be a fun stall.”
As this part of the conversation dries up, Yuuko appears with our drinks, and as she places them in front of us, she tells us she will bring our food and scurries off.
Hitomi picks up her cup and starts drinking. As her arm lifts up, her sleeve reveals the wristbands she always wears. I notice there are more than the last time I saw her. Hitomi notices me looking at swallows the liquid in her mouth and says “It’s isn’t what you think, there are no new scars, just the faded lines remain. You can check yourself later.”
I may do that. Not because I don’t trust her, but because I care and worry about her. I may also be morbidly curious.
“So why more wristbands now?”
My simple question gets a simple answer, “Habit. Also makes them even harder to see.”
Before my thoughts go into Hitomi’s past they are thankfully interrupted by Yuuko appearing with our food. We thank her and start eating, neither of us saying anything while we eat.
I finish my food before Hitomi, something which doesn’t normally happen. “Is everything going alright at home, Hitomi?”
Hitomi finishes the bits of vegetable and meat that are currently in her mouth before replying. “Kind of. A few days ago, I overheard your dad discussing marriage.”
Marriage? He isn’t even engaged and the closest female to him I know of is Norihi… Wait.[/] “To your mum?”
Hitomi looks at me with a confused look on her face which also seems to be fighting another emotion. “My mum and your dad?” She shakes her head. “No, he was talking to my mum about me getting married.” The guy who gets her must be able to put up with her affectionate abuse like I do. “I was on the balcony watching the night sky. I think he forgets how far his voice can travel.”
“Poor guy.” Hitomi glares at me. “It would be odd for our parents to get together.”
Hitomi nods her head before moving her bowl and puts her arms on the table with her head atop them before crying out. “I don’t want to marry. I’m only eighteen.”
“I’m surprised he suggested such a thing. He didn’t marry my mother until she was pregnant with Mizuki. If you have to marry, I hope you’ll find a good guy - otherwise you can hide with me, and I’ll protect you - like you always protect me.”
My sincere statement causes Hitomi to let out a small giggle as she lifts her head.
“That would help your debt.”
I smile as Hitomi grabs her bowl and begins finishing it off. Once she has finished Yuuko appears to appear out of thin air and asks us if we are finished with our dishes. We say we are, and I pay before we leave.
We wander around the various streets in the town, and I hear Hitomi softly ask “Ryuunosuke?”
I respond “Yeah?”
Hitomi grabs and hugs my left arm. “Thank you.”
I don’t know if she did it on purpose, but I do note she has pressed my arm to her cleavage.
For her to show her weaker side in public. The idea of marriage must have been tearing at her quite badly. I’m not entirely sure why she is so against marriage. Maybe after school and possibly university, she’d be more open to it. But why is he bringing up such a thing now? I hope everything really is good at home.
We walk down a few streets and find ourselves at the edge of the town, where it starts to merge with residences. I look at Hitomi and in a flat voice say “This town is smaller than I thought.”
Hitomi looks at me. “Shall we go to the city then?”
I think for a moment. “May as well, maybe I’ll find something for tomorrow.”
“I don’t know.”
Hitomi laughs and looks up and down the street, presumably for a bus stop.
Nearing the city, Hitomi tells me that she had been asleep for two hours prior to me waking her. That means she got to Yamaku before 11am, so she would have to have left Hamamatsu before seven, before school even started.
Hitomi rotates her head and faces me. “Yeah?”
“How come you didn’t go to school today? And how did my father allow you to skip?”
A guilty smile crosses her face. “He kind of doesn’t know. My mum told him that I was at a friend’s for the weekend and will be back by Monday.”
I let out a sigh. “I hope he doesn’t find out.”
“What? My mum isn’t lying, I am with a friend for the weekend, just not in Hamamatsu.”
Any further discussion is stopped as the bus pulls into the bus station. We stand and get off. Looking around I notice it is about as busy as my home town. “Anywhere you want to go Hitomi?”
She looks at me and shakes her head “Anywhere will do.”
We start walking the streets, waiting here and there for the lights to go to our favour as we look at the names of each shop we pass. One of the shops catches Hitomi’s attention causing me to stop. I look at the name and see it is an antique shop named after a Shakespeare play. Hitomi lets go of me, and without a word she struggles to push the heavy-looking wooden door, a bell ringing as she does so. I follow her inside. As I cross the threshold, I am met by the musty smell of old books. I see Hitomi politely bowing to the grey-haired man who I assume is the store owner. Hitomi then looks around the store and stares at an old-looking oak desk with quite a few dolls on top of it. I look around the shop and see various shelves and desks, such as the one Hitomi is at. Each shelf seems to have a certain theme to it Some have sculptures, others have statues. I can see some of the bigger shelves have some sort of kinetic sculptures on them. Watching them all in my peripheral is starting to disorientate me.
I walk to Hitomi’s side and ask “Since when have you been you interested in dolls.”
Hitomi shakes her head and replies “I’m not. I like the look of the desk.”
I look at the dolls on the desk and notice one looks like my class rep I pick it up and examine it further. Hitomi nudges me and says “I thought you weren’t interested in dolls either.”
I chuckle and say “This one looks like my class rep that’s all.” Although I’m not going to buy it, I look at the price tag and see it is quite a lot. I do hope it was handmade for the price.
I carefully place the doll back where it was and explore the wooden shelves. A white jade statue of a dragon. It piques my interest due to part of my name meaning ‘dragon’.
Next to me, Hitomi excitedly says “oooh, Ryuujin. Look here, Tenjin.” I look at where Hitomi’s hands are and find them on another statue, this one of a man and a bull.
“How do you know these are god statues?” I ask her
“There are labels on the edge of the shelf.” I look and see she’s right.” You have Ryuujin, which it says is the dragon god of the sea and my Tenjin is the god of poetry. I wish I knew how to write poetry.”
A dragon god, huh? He also happens to be the god of the sea. I feel closer to him than to Poseidon. I wonder if there’s a mermaid one here. “I guess you’ll be getting that Tenjin statue then Hitomi?”
“Yep, you’re getting that dragon god, Dragon Herald.” Hitomi smiles at me. I can’t help but chuckle.
“I think I will.” I scan the other statues on the shelf as ask Hitomi “Seeing as you know the Shinto gods, what goddesses are there?”
“Thinking of females now, Ryuunosuke?” she lets out a giggle. "Hmm... The major one would be Amaterasu herself. My favourite is Ame-no-Uzume," Oh yeah, i forgot about her. She would fit Hitomi[/] "There is that sakuya goddess... I forget her name, though. There are probably a few more though." None of those fit. “What’s with that expression? Not the answer you were hoping for?”
I shake my head. “No, was hoping there’d be a goddess of the sea or a mermaid goddess other than the foreign one of Amphitrite.”
“Who’s that? They don’t sound familiar,” Hitomi asks, confusion in her voice.
“A friend said she could be her. She is apparently Poseidon’s wife,” I reply.
"That’s the trident guy right? I didn’t know he had a wife... Hmm, maybe Benzaiten? She isn't a Shinto goddess, although somehow she leaked into Shinto. I think she's more of a protector now, though... I’m going to go pay for this, you got what you wanted?” I nod my head and follow Hitomi as she walks to the counter.
After we pay for our statues, and leave Othello’s, we continue to wander around the city for a while. As we do, Hitomi holds on to my arm. We end up coming across a residential area. As we walk around the residences I start to wonder how many of the staff live here.
After wandering around the area, we head back into the centre of the city and find the bus to get back to to town.
After around thirty or so minutes, we get off in the town and find ourselves very close to the AuraMart, the only other place I know of in town. As we enter the store, Hitomi lets go of my arm. The sales assistant greets us. We walk through the aisles but I soon notice Hitomi is no longer behind me. I look among the aisles and see her standing in front one of the sections.
“Everything alright Hitomi?” I ask.
Hitomi reaches for the product in front of her and shows it to me; it turns out to be a charging lead. “What’s the issue Hitomi?”
Hitomi complains “It’s half the price of the one I paid for.”
Smiling, I quip “If only you weren’t so impetuous.”
Hitomi looks at me, scowls and says “Shut it you.”She steps away and looks at other stuff, and I go off and buy some food for when I’m in my room and want a quick meal. May as well buy the stuff now while I’m here.
Once we’ve bought what we wanted we leave the store, and as we walk back to the school, I watch the sunset. “Looks like we were in town a bit longer than we meant to. By the time we get back to the school, most of it will be locked I believe.”
Hitomi sighs. “That’s a shame, there is one area inside it I know of that I wanted to show you. Perhaps tomorrow.”
A place at school SHE wants to show ME? “Speaking of tomorrow, where are you staying?” My question makes Hitomi stop in her tracks. “What?”
“I was assuming you’d let me stay in your room.” A conspiring smile adorns Hitomi’s face, “Don’t tell me you’ve managed to change that much. I thought you liked sleeping beside me. Or is it that you’ve found a girl you like, and you don’t want to send the wrong impression to her?”
Nice try, Hitomi. “My bed at home is wider than the ones here. Plus, that was due to one of us needing comfort, such as from thunderstorms, or very bad dreams.”
Hitomi bumps into me and says “You know you like it.”
Hitomi and I reach the top of the stairs to my floor, and we hear the sound of a door slamming shut. As we round the corner, we come face to face with the albino girl I saw earlier. The girl jumps and yelps when she sees us. She puts her hand to her chest and breathes in and out.
Hitomi tilts her head and asks “Are you okay?”
“I am, yes. Who are you? I know he is Shibanuma, at least according to Saki.”
“I’m Hitomi Honma, a friend of Ryuunosuke’s.”
Rubbing her chest, Rika says “Pleasure. Now it is time for me to leave. I hope you both have a good evening.”
She then starts walking away from us. I look at Hitomi and see her expression is blank. Without another word, we go to my door, which I unlock before we enter.
After I close my door Hitomi immediately walks across my room to sit on my bed.
“So, you know the youngest daughter of the Enomotos. You know you should be careful right?” Hitomi warns me.
Careful? It may be late for that, Hitomi. “Why? Is her family powerful?”
“Very, though not quite like yours, well, ours? Anyway, getting on their bad side is a bad idea, even if they’re more powerful in Kumamoto.”
I reply with a drawn out “Right.”
Hitomi lays on my bed and looks at me, sighing. “You did something, and this Saki hates you doesn’t she?”
“I rejected her advances.”
“She let you off that easy? Maybe an Enomoto family member does have a soft side. Just be careful.”
“Careful? Such as having as a girl sleeping over in the boys’ dormitory? What if I end up getting some sort of disciplinary action against me?”
Hitomi smiles, “Don’t worry, I’d have to be caught first. Plus, what else would you do? Let me sleep outside?”
I pretend to think about the option, just long enough to make Hitomi start to worry. I then bring out my phone and look at Hitomi as I unlock it without looking. A look of pleading starts to appear on her face. Her reaction is cute - too cute to delay the next stage of my act.
“Fine, you can stay.” Hitomi jumps up off the bed and gives me a tight hug. “Ouch.”
Hitomi lets go of me, and I look at her wrist, a part of me wants to check them but she may think I don’t trust her. That couldn’t be further from the truth, I’d trust her with my life.
I send a message to Akemi to tell her that my best friend will be joining us for the festival. After I press send, I ask Hitomi “Seeing as Kumamoto is quite far from us, how do you know so much about the Enomotos?”
Hitomi finishes with her wrist. “I overheard Ryouichi talking with someone about the Enomotos. It is amazing how much you hear when you’re on the balcony.”
Hitomi looks at the phone in my hand and says “The friend you texted, who would this be? Maybe a small chance I know him.”
Him. I smile “I swim with them each morning, and I know for a fact you don’t know them.”
Hitomi tilts her head. “How?”
“The friend is female.” A gleeful look appears on Hitomi’s face. Shit.
“Oh, really? And you swim with her you say? How much do you get to see of her I wonder. Does she wear a wetsuit, a bikini, a two-piece or maybe just a skimpy outfit that barely covers her hair and nipples.”
I can feel my face going red as a swimsuit-wearing Akemi appears in my mind. To hide that fact, I go to my wardrobe and thankfully find some spare bedding at the base of the wardrobe inside what looks like one of those vacuum seal storage bags. I pull the bag out and turn around. I quickly look from the bag to Hitomi, who is replacing the battery in her music player. She then looks at her phone presumably to check its battery level, and an idea pops in my head. “Hey, Hitomi...”
Hitomi looks up at me just in time to see a bag flying towards her. She barely manages to catch it and when she removes it from in front her face, she gives me an angry glare. “What was that for?!”
“Because you were trying to tease me.”
“But it worked,” She pouts as she realises what she is now holding. “So we are not going to be in the same bed?”
Hitomi throws the bag onto the floor, making a muffled sound as it bounces slightly.
“No, look at it, it is way too small for both of us. You can take the bed, I’ll make a futon out of this and sleep on the floor.” I grab the now open bag, and Hitomi pulls the bedding from inside.
“Fine. What time does the festival start tomorrow anyway?”
I think for a second before I say “I have no idea, we are meeting my friend at midday though.”
Hitomi looks at my alarm clock and asks “Midday? So why is your alarm clock set so early?”
“So I can get my morning swim in. It’s the time I’ve been waking up since I started here.”
“Why not just swim in the afternoon, after school?”
“I think Akemi’s a morning person, and it frees up the after-school time for other stuff.” Truthfully, the idea never occurred to me.
“I wonder how pretty she is.”