The digitized squawking erupting from my alarm clock is all thrown across the room in my half-sleeping stupor. I was aiming for the hamper but it bounces off the rim, rocking it slightly.
My tired groan isn’t even loud enough to urge my body upright to fetch the chirping clock before the hamper topples over, spilling over the floor and the alarm clock, muffling the sound until it dies off itself.
I smile as I close my eyes again and stretch out my body; turning both my pillow and duvet to the cooler sides before cocooning myself up again. Is there a better feeling in the world than knowing you have an entire day free and you start that day with cool sheets?
If there is, I can’t think of it right now.
Hang on… Something’s missing
I bolt upright and instantly regret it, my shoulders feeling pretty sore… Ow
. I peer around my room and find it vacant. I swear there was a cute boy in here last time I checked…
I rub my face and check again. How out of it was I last night? I remember getting back. Then Hisao showed up. He opened up about his heart condition and we cuddled and there was a unicorn… Okay, that last part was probably a dream but I swear the rest happened.
He must have gone back to the boys’ dorms after I fell asleep. I flop down on my back, kinda sad that Hisao didn’t stay. Cuddling and cold sheets? That would be perfection.
I slap my hand around backwards on top my headboard before I feel the familiar shape of my phone. I pull it down to me and flip it open, intent on letting Fuuka know I’ll be out today. I’ll need today’s worksheets and probably some lunch too.
Huh? “C-come in?” I ease myself up gingerly as the door slides open and Fuuka’s bright smile fills the room.
“Gooood morning, Rika! How’re you
feeling?” She cheers and I furrow my brow. She’s usually not this chipper in the morning. Hell, I have to get her out of bed…
“I’m alright. I had a bit of a flutter yesterday so I’m not going to class today. There’s a note for the teachers on the table if you don’t mind taking it in…” I explain as Fuuka creeps towards me, still all smiles. Why do I feel like I’m about to be murdered?
“Sure thing. I heard about yesterday from Molly, I’m glad you’re okay.” Fuuka says, stopping at my bedside after picking up the note. She leans on the left arm rest, chin resting on her palm. “I also stopped by last night… Saw that you were being well taken care of…”
“Wh-wh-what do you mean?” I stammer as her smile becomes more sultry.
what I mean, Rika! Cuddling up with Hisao in your nightdress… You naughty
girl!” She cackles maniacally as I pout at her.
“N-nothing happened! I was just high on painkillers and felt sleepy!” I respond, my pale skin becoming pinker by the second as Fuuka continues to tease me with suggestive eyebrow waggles.
“Oh, I saw! Not sleepy enough to chew me out for ‘interrupting your Special Hisao Time’ though! You should have seen the poor guy’s face after you said that and basically clambered into his lap; he didn’t know what to say!”
“That… That didn’t happen…”
“Suuuuure it didn’t,” She winks, turning on the spot to face the door. “I’ll let the teachers know you’ll be out for today. I’ll come by with some food at lunch time too. God knows you shouldn’t be surviving on sugary snacks alone in your state.” She smirks in direction and I fold my arms indignantly at her.
“I can try…”
The day passes painfully slow. After a couple more hours sleep, what little homework I had to do got done an hour before the lunch bell is due to ring, leaving me at a bit of a loss at what to do after Fuuka arrived with food.
Fuuka’s teasing didn’t continue into lunch, which was odd. In fact, it was almost like she was avoiding the subject of Hisao all together. She talks about our classmates, how she struggled with Math without my help and even chatting with Molly before coming here.
“Did you happen to see Hisao?” I ask as casually as I can, watching her face for any kind of flinch but she just continues munching on her curry bread.
“Nope, but…” She pauses, swallowing her lunch before wincing slightly. “Molly said that Hisao was acting… weird.” Weird? Why would he…?
“Dunno. Stand-offish, I guess? Like he didn’t really want to talk to anyone. She swears that Hair-Drills Girl tried to crack a joke and he shut her down with a look
.” It says something when Fuuka looks a little concerned and I think I get why she hasn’t teased me about him since this morning.
“You don’t think it’s because of something I did, do you?” I ask and Fuuka shakes her head.
“I’m just hoping it’s not something I
said… I kinda-sorta, as a joke, suggested he was going to take advantage of you. Not that I think he actually would
, that’s why I laughed but he did turn red, sooooo…”
“For fuck’s sake, Fuuka
…” I quietly curse my friend out, which seems to shock her, bringing my palm to my face.
“I wasn’t being serious! I thought he’d have gotten my sense of humour by now!” She exclaims.
“Yeah, me too…” I sigh, slumping forward in my cross-legged sitting position. “I’ll… go see how he is later on. Give him some time to cool off, maybe?” I shrug, unsure of how to even approach this situation.
“Sorry, Rika…” Fuuka purses her lips with a look of guilt plastered across her face. I don’t want to blame her for what’s happened but I can’t help but feel a little resentment. Things were going good between me and Hisao too…
“S’okay. I’ll sort it out; don’t worry.” I smile to reassure her.
I spend the hours before the end of day bell rings either pacing back and forth or playing on my DS. I felt like I needed to do something with my hands other than fidget… Making cute digital animals hurt each other is as good a distraction as any…
Before the end of day bell rings, I take the time to shower, put on something other than my nightgown and braid my hair before I head over to the boys’ dorm.
What am I even going to say to him? Do I apologise for Fuuka and her big mouth? Do I apologise for being in such a state last night? Would kissing him again improve the situation or is that just something I want to do in general? Ugh, so many questions.
And not nearly enough time as it turns out when I find myself in front of Hisao’s door.
The seconds tick by silently as I rock back and forth on my heels. I look up and down the eerily quiet hall before knocking again.
“Hisao? It’s Rika.” I say and, just to see, I give his door handle a little tug. It’s locked. Hmmph. I guess he’s out with his friends?
I give his neighbour’s door a glance as I pass it. Hisao told me a little about him, mainly that he’s a shut-in weirdo who doesn’t like girls. Nah, I better not knock. Might think the ‘ghost’ has come to get him.
I almost reach the stairwell when the elevator doors open and reveal Hisao. He looks almost as surprised as I am for a split second before his face returns to the sullen expression he wore a few seconds before.
“Oh… hey, Rika. How are you feeling today?” His monotone voice weirds me out. He looks and sounds exhausted and he shuffles towards me, barely looking me in the eye.
“H-hey, senpai… I’m better, thanks. I was just looking for you!” I chuckle nervously and turn to keep pace as he almost moves straight past me without stopping.
“Yeah. I, um, wanted to talk to you about last night. If you’re up for it that is. No p-pressure or anything but I wanted to apologise…”
?” He shoots me an annoyed look and that’s when I start to worry.
“W-well because of what Fuuka said and because I was high on painkillers and may have d-d-done something embarrassing and-and-” I stammer in my rush to explain while Hisao pinches the bridge of his nose.
“It’s fine. Can we talk later though? I have something I need to take care of and I need to focus.” His voice is cold and tired and very unlike the Hisao I know. So much so that it makes me stop in my tracks.
“Oh, okay.” I meekly say, rubbing my arm awkwardly. “I guess I’ll see you later.”
He nods and disappears into his room without another word, leaving me alone in a silent hallway once more. Okay, things must be really messed up between us if he’s acting so… distant.
I never called for Fuuka when I got back. I just slunk back into my room and wrapped myself in my duvet, switching on the TV just to distract me. I don’t know how much time passes exactly but I think three, maybe four, shows had been on before I hear a knock at the door.
“Come in.” I yawn and the door slides open. I shift the thick sheet to give me a better look at my guest. “Hey, Hisao.” I let my eyes wander back to the screen as he enters.
“Hey… I’m, uh, not interrupting your favourite show or anything, am I?” He asks and I shake my head, the duvet ruffling side to side with me. He moves around me and plants himself on the edge of my stripped bed. “Are-Are you angry with me?”
“What?!” I look at him dumbfounded and he can only respond sheepishly, tugging at his already loose tie as he casts his gaze downward. “I thought you
were angry at me
for what happened last night!” I exclaim and his head bolts upright with an incredulous look.
“Why the hell would I be angry with you?”
“Because Fuuka and me being high and climbing on you and--”
“Wait, hold up, you think I’d be angry because of that
?” His face creases and he begins to laugh, his head falling into his hands resting on his knees. Oooookay, I’m clearly missing something here…
“Oh, man… I really, really
, needed that…” He says with a wide grin, brushing his hair back. “I’m not going to get pissy at Fuuka’s jokes! I mean, you’ve met Akio, right?” He chuckles further and I reposition myself to be sitting on my knees, though I’m still shrouded in my bed sheet.
“But what about… the other stuff…” I feel my cheeks burn as Hisao’s face softens to the sincere smile that makes me melt.
“Rika. Do I seem like the kind of guy who would be offended by cuddling?”
“N-no, I guess not…”
“And I know you were pretty out of it so I’m certainly not going to hold you being affectionately silly while doped up on medication. If anything… I thought it was pretty… Cute.” He blushes and I just stare like a freak. He said I’m cute! Heeeeheee!
“But Molly said you were a bit out of sorts today and after seeing you earlier…”
“Ah,” He nods, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah, that’s… I’m sorry if I was weird earlier… I got something last night that I wasn’t really expecting and it kinda put me in a shitty mood…”
He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out what looks an envelope. It’s decorated so it couldn’t be a medical thing… He frowns at it before waving it in one hand.
“It’s, ah, it’s from Iwanako. Y’know, the girl I told you about?” Ah, the sorta-ex.
“What’s it say? If… If you don’t mind me asking.” Hisao holds it in both hands, like a precious heirloom — but one that might explode given the look he’s giving it. He goes to open his mouth several times but can’t quite seem to find the words. He sighs heavily and holds the letter out.
Silently, and carefully, I pluck the letter out of his grasp. He flops backwards onto my bed as I open it up and begin reading…
Neat handwriting, pretty stationary… Fairly standard opening… Okay, this is getting pretty ramble-y now… I roll my eyes when she starts talking about first-years.
“Skip to the end~” I say melodically, earning a small chuckle from the still prone Hisao. I can’t think that this girl, so obsessed with such fascinating subjects as exams and teachers would have anything astounding to sa--
I wonder if we will meet again. Perhaps it's for the best if we don't?
Still, if you would like to correspond with me, by all means write me back.
I'd very much like to hear about your new school and how you are doing.
I wish you all the best.
“Whoa…” I mutter, wide-eyed at the words this… this… “Bitch
“Ha!” Hisao offers, almost bitterly, while still not moving. I throw the blanket off me and rise to my feet, beginning a frantic pace towards and away from Hisao.
“I mean; what the actual hell? This is the best she could write? A rambling Dear John full of shitty platitudes? And what’s with this ‘wishing I had said something’ bullshit! She can’t just give you a little bit of hope like that and then just… just…” I am seething with rage. How… dare
“Whoa, Rika! Seriously, there’s no need to get so worked up.” Hisao tries to placate me but I’m already fired up.
“You did! It pissed you off! And so it should!”
“Yeah but, please, just calm down okay? It’s not worth having a, y’know, about it. It’s just some dumb letter.” Just a dumb letter? Oh no… This is kicking a man while he’s down! It’s not for his benefit; it’s for hers! It’s… It’s…
. Just like that motherfucker Shoji!” My fist clench tight, crumpling the paper within my graps as my teeth gnash. I’m just about to launch into a fresh round of curses when my heel turn is met with a warm embrace and a faintest hint of musk.
“Chill out! Geez, Rika, you don’t have to go berserker mode or anything…” Hisao whispers, holding me tight in place by the shoulders. “Heh. I thought I was the one in need of a hug but looks like you need one more.”
I drop the paper in my hand and wrap my hands around his torso, resting my head on his shoulder. “S-sorry. I j-just… I just remembered something I’d rather forget all together and that letter was so awful and god, you smell really good.” I admit in a ramble and he chuckles. That makes me smile.
We stand for a while, though I think it’s more my vice-like grip keeping us together after a certain point.
“You okay now?” Hisao asks and I nod, finally freeing the poor boy. I step back, a fresh flood of embarrassment washing over me as Hisao rubs the back of his neck. “So, uh, I guess this Shoji guy is your ex?”
I breath a weary sigh and nod, shuffling past Hisao to my bed. I drop to my knees and reach under it, fishing out an old, tattered shoebox. “It’s a long
story…” I say, lifting myself onto the bed and neatly placing the box on my lap. Hisao sits cautiously beside me as I lift the lid. It’s full of old trinkets and manuals and cartridges but after sifting through the contents, I find what I want to show Hisao — even if I don’t want to see it myself.
I pull out an old, sun-faded photograph in a cute white frame and hold it toward Hisao; his shoulders pressed against mine as he curiously tilts his head at the window into my past.
“So this is him?”
“Yup. Like I said, it’s a loooong story.” I say quietly, a twinge of sadness in my voice as I look at a much younger, less experienced me.
“Well, I’m not going anywhere.” Hisao responds, his hand rubbing my right shoulder as he looks expectantly at me.
Okay. Here goes.