Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
"I didn't think you'd be outside, boss…"
After walking the distance between my house and the restaurant, I immediately found Hiro sitting on the outdoor table, staring at me.
"That's three days’ worth of salary deduction."
"Ah. Yeah… I didn't think I would be so caught up on the panel project that I didn't get to work on night shift. Sorry.
What are you doing here outside, anyway?"
"We just turned the AC on, so you'll die immediately if you enter."
Imagining its feeling was enough to bring a chill to my whole body. At least I escaped the heat for a short moment.
"Where are the others, then?"
"Hmmm. Seems like we're a little few today or they're late. They are buying refreshments, anyway."
I suppose that he is actually not slacking off as the newspaper on his hands is not upside down.
"Seems that we all woke up late…"
"Sorry if I'm a bit late to ask, but what 'panel' are you talking about earlier?"
"Oh? So you didn't hear from Sean?"
The thought immediately rose in my mind that Hiro hadn't come to the underground base for a while after his marriage. On the other hand, Sean is still a resident down under. If you ask me why that is Hiro’s case, I can't possibly answer that as I don't even know how it is to be a husband to a wife, let alone have a ring on my ring finger. But even with my assumed basis, I can use it as a reference at some point.
Nonetheless, there might be ten more years until I realize, or prove that life, love, and stress may just be proportional to each other. That claim is however coming from a nineteen year-old dork. I will probably regret that I said that once I turn 29.
"I did some more research about the AMM and…" I told Hiro the rest of the story about it.
I became a little impatient after talking for sort of a long time with him. I steeled myself and hoped that the scorching heat inside the closed space of the restaurant is gone. Without any more pauses, I opened the door.
It was already decently cold to the minimum of just defeating the heat; instead of what I was expecting. But it is unusual to see the dining hall of the restaurant to be so empty. I heard some noise around the back, but there was no point in asking as I realize that Hiro was not behind me.
Making my way to the staff room, the door of the offices suddenly opened in front of me with a person coming out of it.
"Hey, lil bro. It's good that you're finally back."
Ah, when did you start working here?"
I was shocked for a different reason, as there was no apparent hint of surprise on the tone of my question upon seeing Sis, or Yuna. After all, I did make the suggestion of not going far away and work in the offices of Giotto's before she left to live with Hiro after their wedding.
It should be a huge help to Sean who handles all the business and economic functions of the restaurant behind what is happening inside the lively kitchen. We're talking about someone with a former decent position at some entrepreneurial firm in the accounting; but is actually just a professional procrastinator.
I don't see a reason why I'm different from the latter, so yes, two procrastinators that once lived on one roof is not entirely bad as they can take turns.
But seriously, don't do that.
Continuing to my question, she answered.
"I just started this Monday, so I'm still new."
"I wonder how much your husband got bothered when you brought that up."
"Pfft… He got so boggled."
"Well, what can I say? It's nice to be working with you as your senior."
"Tsk. I don't like how that sounded, little brother."
"Can't do anything about that. It's technically true."
"Anyway, even though it's Thursday today, we'll be eating with family later this dinner. You're a loner so you might as well join us merry bunch."
"Huh… So the last time I ate alone with the Akanamis was when I just moved in my house. I guess I'll crash in a bit more as payback to Rin crashing in to my place every time."
"You just want to eat my sister's food."
"I do suck at making excuses."
"Oh, yeah. I have a spare, spare, spare key with me. Want me to give it to you?"
"Ehhh. Uncle Shuu will chase me with a bolo if you do that."
"You do suck at making excuses. Go wipe that excited face off."
On the serious side, the same statement upon handing out a spare key to Rin can be applied. Surely my ears have better uses in times of emergencies.
You win, Sis."
▪ ▪ ▪
After work, I was asked by Hiro to excuse myself with Sis early so I can send her home while the others clean up. However, there was an unusual hefty precipitation in the middle of summer after sunset. It was thankfully not that strong to be unable to use an umbrella, so we headed out.
Upon reaching White Street, the showers reduced to a light rainfall. The reflection of the street lights to the wet tarmac and concrete road have become more visible after the noisy ripples ruining the mirroring image from the puddles.
"Heya," a voiced called out.
"You went out, G?"
"Just walked home a friend. I'll be going inside so good night."
"Same. Enjoy the slightly cold night."
After entering and closing door, Ginji remained standing behind it, dropping his arms as though frail. He heaved heavily with his trembling lips.
"What is that 'room'…?"
~ ~ ~
"It's really starting to rain bit by bit, huh," Sis mentioned.
"I'd assume that you at least know our experiences since your former company is here in 527, after all."
"Ugh… That was a clear struggle on my part. I can't believe I commuted and walked a foot of water."
"Hiro's good at choosing your house. He avoided the low-lying area."
"Ohh. So that's why Giotto's is elevated from the ground."
"I can't say, since I haven't experienced flooding when I started working. And we renovated and all."
I have complained over and over, but I am aware that we are still on better days than those below this country. It is probably three and a half hours if you board a flight from Capital to Manila to reach Philippines. From what I heard, they have been visited by so many strong typhoons in a span of year, and that waist to head height of floodwater is nearly a norm. I can't even imagine the volume of precipitation whenever a torrential rainfall cries down there.
I guess that mentioning strong typhoons is quite an understatement. Just this November 2013, a devastating typhoon just hit that country—which was considered as one of the most powerful occurrence of a phenomenon in history. Now keeping that in mind made my complains preposterous. An emotionless however even felt anxiety and stress towards it.
I guess it had turned to a trauma by this time.
"Despair rains and floods…"
"Did you say something, Gin?"
"Just talking to myself.
Aunt Sumi~! We're here to crash on dinner!"
▪ ▪ ▪
Hours before the dark sky wept, the gritty noise of the pencil was heard as it stroke repeatedly on the rough paper. The back of the shirt damped and the several drops of sweat on the temple did not stop Ginji from his own enthusiasm in his practice.
It was dark in the time when he met with Gin as he comes back home under the rain, thus, being unable to clearly see the face he was making. That is, a face lacking the enthusiasm he had which was replaced by nonchalance despite those overflowing thoughts.
I stopped and put down the mechanical pencil after a sound of pop came out from my phone speaker.
At this point SMS is not near to being nonexistent, but had become very rare over the past decade. People mostly use messaging apps as of late, as the usage of mobile data had become very convenient. At which, I use both the methods of communication on a regular basis.
This time, the notification came from my messaging app. Although, I am pretty sure who was the one that messaged me. I only have about a dozen of friends after all, as I have cut ties with all my acquaintances back in Mykes aside from my group of friends. I don't see a lot of people personally and verbally cutting ties with others. One simple click or tap in social media can do that for you.
The world has become a "better" place.
Having my rants once again placed on my head's recycle bin, I looked on the message, and I was right. Shuri once again wants to eat loaf bread.
I said no loafs to her.
That was not some kind of code, so don't be confused. It was just a shortcut to telling me that she is planning in coming to our place, and asking for loaf bread at the same time for a snack.
Nico once told me on a break at some point: Try eating a piece of bread right after you just woke up. I have known that Gin had experienced some near death situations, and I don't want mine to be choking on bread with a dry throat.
Now I want mochi.
Meaning, I always give Shuri cold water first, or sometimes I don't even take out the loaf. The reason why she visits anyway is usually to have a nice chat with how things are going with life, and share inside jokes from my time in Blue Ink.
An hour passed, and she indeed came.
"You're rarely here in Ginga and you had the time to drop by here. Is the academic year done already?"
"Kind of. I have nothing to do in the dorms anyway so I came back home."
Our schedules seldom intersect since we have different academic timelines. Shuri after all is a student to one of the biggest schools in the Capital, or in the country, generally. I study from June to March, while she does from August to May.
Still, I don't know the difference in level of education of TSU compared to Mykes; as that is the only school I can reference with since Blue Ink is extremely hard to compare to other institutions with its rather revolutionary system.
"Hmmm… Summer vacation really flies fast. It's nearly June."
"Oh, yeah. When will your classes return, Ginji?"
"Wow… That's quite a long one." Her eyebrows however furrowed a bit in confusion. "I was expecting that you'll be ranting about not going back to school. It's hard to see you so chilled out."
"Ahhh. So that showed on my face. But well, this is the first time that I didn't hate coming to school. I never thought that I will say this, but it was fun… and just a tiny bit scary."
"Your school is cool and all, but it really did seem dangerous…"
"Things got resolved before the school ended, thankfully. Teardrop was apparently the one behind it.
Oh yeah, Capital also had become more peaceful after the subjugation of underworld, huh?"
"Yeah… Crime rate exponentially decreased after that. But TSU really got into a pickle when a gram of illegal drugs were found in one of the students."
"I heard in the news."
"By the way, did you know that Yuki Amagami is actually a guy?"
"Well, I suppose I do like reading shoujo manga-
Wait, what did you say?!"
"Woah there. You were also in ManCon but you did not meet him? You're so hopeless!
Anyway, here's a picture."
All I thought in that sudden shock was that for a guy to write such a good manga surely knows a maiden's heart. She then showed a picture of her holding a signed volume beside Yu…
I fell from my chair.
"Hey, Shuri! Are you sure this wasn't photoshopped?!"
"I'm not so delusional to do that! And you know that your editing skills are way beyond mine."
"Does this mean that Yuuga is keeping it a secret…?"
But shortly after, she changed the topic.
"I really don't like having weird dreams. There was one time that I'm being shipped with the male lead in Yuki's manga."
"Ah, yeah. That really sounds extremely absurd."
"But speaking of dreams… Have you ever had a dream that is so realistic?"
"Hmm? Well, I have weird dreams, but most are usually down to earth."
"No, not like that. What I meant was… you almost feel yourself inside your dream."
"S*ord Art Online much?"
"I'm serious, though. I feel awake even when I am asleep.
It's been three times that I have dreamed of it… I see myself inside a gray, square room. It's so big that it could be the size of a mansion."
"That sounds a little empty…"
"Whenever the dream begins, I always hear the sound of a closing door. And on the second and third time, I saw a silhouette of a person… but it's literally black, like a shadow. Although, I only see its blur at this point."
"Okay, now that sounds creepy… What's so realistic about it?"
"It's like… I'm in control of myself in the dream. I saw a door on my first dream. I opened it and left the room, but it just woke me up."
"Y-Yeah… I really can't relate."
After we heard a few patters on the roof, we realized that it had gotten dark even before sunset as the dark clouds piled up. After a clap of thunder, I stood up.
"Do you have an umbrella, Shuri?"
"We should probably go, I'll walk you home."
▪ ▪ ▪
The next day.
"For today's weather, the majority of the northern and central parts of Orio will be having three to five hours of thunderstorm around the late afternoon. We highly suggest that you bring an umbrella outside, as the light to heavy rainfall will most likely persist until sundown."
For the entire time I've been living alone, I had gotten tired of the redundant news that mostly does not concern me.
I have always found myself over my day-offs to only be watching the weather and the noontime shows while Haku is having a hard time being a tsundere and itching to nab the fox tail on my hand. By this time, I don't understand why people around the late teens want to live independently from their family. If that is because of everyone's rebellious phase, I sure can't relate to that as I wasn't a part of that "everyone."
In reality, living by your own earnings and expenses is very hard and boring at times. Simply put, it's a pain in the neck.
There are many situations—like being a working student and having a house bought and not rented. You will think of what you'll eat for the day, your monthly tuition, electric, water, and ISP bills; and the loans of this house that is thankfully about to be finished in a few months. Perhaps there is also an emergency so you have to consider it.
Some of those aren't entirely essential, but it happened so you live with it. At least I have finally cut to my electric costs with the solar cells.
Oh, and one more problem—a flooding neighborhood. Just hearing the weather forecast makes my anxiety rise up, as a mere thunderstorm can produce a flood of filthy water up to the knees.
Ah, Nagi and Shiro are about to visit soon.
~ ~ ~
"Nagi and Shiro."
"Wow, I'm surprised that you're still okay after bathing under the 1pm sun."
"Just let us in, Gin."
I opened the door and made them come inside the abode.
"Hmmm. Ringo's not here?" Shiro pointed out.
"Your life does not only revolve around your lover, but she's still the worrywart I know so she'll probably think I'm dying from solitude."
Nagi scratched his head and smiled.
"Last time I checked, even solitude failed to kill you."
"I'm friends with it now."
"Gee, thanks for sharing."
Immediately after my phone vibrated and rang, I quickly answered the call.
"Uhh. That was fast."
"I forgot to ask you last night but, is Yuuga actually Yuki Amagami?"
I blew the tea I was drinking.
"Woah, that's gross!"
"How did you know?"
"You remember Shuri back in ManCon? She took a picture of him that time and showed it to me. I was so shocked I fell from my chair. So I'll take it that you already know.
He suddenly became silent for a few seconds, but then continued.
He was probably waiting for my response, but eventually realized that it was Nagi that he heard shouting earlier.
"Is he trying to keep that a secret from the others in the club?"
"Alright, that's all I have to say. Bye."
Don't worry, I noticed that silly girl coming in. Rin, who is rummaging in my fridge, finally spoke.
"You should probably do some shopping, Potato."
"Eeep…!" Shiro shuddered and restlessly asked. "Since when have you been here, Ringo?!"
"Just a few. Wait, you didn't see me coming in? That's one point for me, Potato!"
"Who wants pizza?" Rin suggested.
In which Nagi responded to, "Who says no to that?"
As a follow up, I asked, "Homemade or delivered?"
"Well, you make pineapples great on pizza, so homemade."
"Then I'll give you a budget so Nagi and Shiro can buy the ingredients."
"If you buy me two pounds of mozzarella, Nagi, I'll turn on the AC."
"Bring it on…! I will face the battlefield (sale) if there is one!" Nagi was baited while Shiro was facepalming.
"Pfft… typical Potato!"
"But don't buy pineapples, okay…?!"
~ ~ ~
I became worried that the dark clouds piled up early under the area, but the two came back after 50 minutes.
After closing the door, the rain began to drop.
"That was really in the nick of time…"
"Oh, wow. You really checked all the boxes. And the mozzarella…
We had a deal, Nagi. The rain will raise the humidity anyway."
"I noticed that your family's car is now parked in your space. Since when did you put a roof there?"
"A few days ago. If I had an electric car, I can surely charge it with the sun's energy."
"So you have a solar panel now?"
"A powerful one, at that. Thank goodness for the versatility of our material."
"Man, that's so OP… If it actually defends against a nuclear bomb, I would be so amazed."
"It's worth giving a try, but we'll be chewing more than we can swallow if we did that. Thankfully, the power plant for its production was shut down decades ago."
"Ah, yeah. We can't have any casualties."
"By the way, did you two seriously not bring an umbrella?"
"Geez… you should have watched the forecast before coming here."
Rin added, "We will have a downpour."
"Ugh… this will be a pain…"
I thought to myself that it will be okay if I overdo the amount of pizza dough just to be sure. But when I was initially kneading only one dough from my planned three pizzas, the drops of rain have become heavier and the drizzle turned into a downpour.
"The rain's gotten bad, huh…" Rin mumbled while obliterating pesto on a mortar.
"Hahh… Thank goodness it's my day-off."
An hour has passed and the rain hasn't let out. Worse, the rain got stronger and the sound going to my ears tells me that the wind also had gotten bad.
So while I was making marinara…
"Nagi? Can you do me a favor and check what's going on outside?"
Just after reaching the front door, he retreated even before holding the doorknob after he heard the loud heaving of the wind. Alternatively, he opened up the curtains and nearly saw nothing beyond the window, as the visibility has been reduced because of the rain.
After finally getting a clear look outside, he vigorously closed the curtains back. Hearing that, it easily took our attention.
"What, did something happen outside?"
"N-No… It's just that…
I don't think Shiro and I will be going home today…"
That wraps up 049!
[Flute music stops]
Thank you for reading!
050: The flood and its aftermath.
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