Twenty Minutes Ago:
“So who have you been playing against? There’s no rival for my affections I should be watching out for, is there?” she signs, keeping her smile so I know she isn’t serious.
“I’ve practiced through the Internet, so I don’t even know who I’m playing.”
“Risky. You never know what may happen when you don’t know anything about who you’re dealing with.”
“Yes, I’ve learned that lesson well,” I respond.
One Month Ago:
Tanabata arrived. Like the last festival, the main part of it was on the courtyard in front of the school, just as one entered the gates. As before, class projects generated plenty of food and entertainment booths. But it was less stressful for Misha and me this time. I had to admit that Satou was a big help in that. Hisao and Hanako did a good share of the work as well. Thankfully, Hanako never brought up her question about bullying again.
This would be the last school function before the summer break, so everybody was in a good mood. Tanabata usually has romantic significance for couples, too, which made me wonder how Hisao, Hanako, and Misha were getting along in their respective relationships. I even wrote a Tanabata wish in their honor.
Hisao seemed to be doing fine. Nobody seeing him with Satou had any illusions about her needing his help getting around; you don’t hold hands like that for guidance.
Hanako certainly spent a lot of time hanging out with Demachi. From what I had seen, Demachi didn’t act like Hanako was his girlfriend. He always seemed friendly but indifferent toward her. I wondered if Hanako was setting herself up for disappointment.
Misha’s relationship was the most mysterious of all. She wouldn’t even tell me who she was dating. “It’s too early. We don’t want people to know yet,” she would tell me.
Well, she had the right to keep it private. Gossip is rife around here; even I ‘hear’ a lot of what’s speculated about. Of course, Misha is my main channel for it, so if she chooses not to tell me anything I won’t find out. Oh well.
My thoughts on this were suddenly interrupted by a figure running past me, heedlessly reckless in her flight. Looking back at the receding figure, I realized that, instead of the expected Ibarazaki, it was Hanako.
“What could have upset her?”
I wondered. Turning to look in the other direction, I spotted the unmistakable hair of Misha. She was sitting at a table with someone I couldn’t make out at that distance. Walking towards her, I soon realized what had happened: Misha was sitting with Demachi, holding hands, with eyes only for each other.
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. My mouth was like sandpaper. My vision blurred.
Turning back around, I tried to track down Hanako. Her path seemed to take her into the school. Once inside, I tried to figure out where she could have gone. Most likely, she went to the Library or the tea room. Both of those were on the second floor, so that’s where I went.
The tea room was empty, and a search of the Library turned up nothing. Where could she have gone? If I didn’t find her soon, I’d have to check the dorms. As I walked back down to the first floor, I realized there was one other place she could have gone. If she was there, then she was expecting me to find her.
The Music Room was unlocked when I arrived. Going directly to the third closet, I opened the door to find that Hanako was indeed in there. She was even sitting the same way as before.
This time she looked up to see me arrive. “How could you?” she signed, anger on her face, tears in her visible eye.
“How could you let me go on about Manabu when you knew he was seeing Misha?”
I sat down before replying. “Hanako, I didn’t know. Misha told me she was seeing someone but never told me who. She said she wanted to keep her relationship quiet.”
My breath caught in my throat. For some reason I found it hard to see. Then I realized I was crying. Oh god, how could that hurt so much?
I slumped against the wall, sitting much like Hanako was. I even put my head down in my lap.
I don’t know how long we sat there next to each other before Hanako tapped my shoulder. I looked at her; her face was still lined with tears, but the anger seemed to have dissipated.
“You really didn’t know?” she asked.
“No, I didn’t. If Misha doesn’t tell me the gossip, I pretty much don’t know about it. She wouldn’t tell me who she was seeing.”
We sat there, together in our misery. The minutes stretched on.
Finally Hanako wiped her face. She pulled out a note—a tanzaku—to show me. “This was going to be my Tanabata wish,” she signed and handed me the note.
I wish I find happiness with the one I love.
I gave her a sad smile at that. I pulled out my own Tanabata wish to show her.
I wish my friends find happiness with the ones they love.
Hanako did a sad chuckle in return. She started crying again, putting her face in her hands. So I cried more, too. Then the most surprising thing happened.
Hanako wrapped her arms around me and just bawled. Her breath came in gasps as she leaned against me and cried. I put my arms around her in return, and we both sat there crying our eyes out.
Part of me thought that this was the point where our interactions kept getting interrupted. Some part of life outside of the two of us would intrude as we got to our most vulnerable, our most raw emotions.
Nothing like that happened this time.
Code: Select all
10 Bb3 O–O
11 O–O a5
12 exd5 cxd5
13 Rd1 d4
14 c4 Qb6
15 Bc2 Bb7
16 Nd2 Rae8
17 Ne4 Bd8
18 c5 Qc6
19 f3 Be7
20 Rac1 f5
21 Qc4+ Kh8
22 Ba4 Qh6
23 Bxe8 fxe4
Third time in a row that the capture of a major piece is followed by a similar capture. But I lost a Knight to her loss of a Rook, an advantage to me.
Still, it causes us both to remove one stocking.
I found an appropriate picture on the shimmie for this scene, so… excuse me, something in my eye…
Chapter 3 Chapter 5