(originally supposed to be posted on tuesday, but i ended up getting busy)
I looked over in confusion and set my eyes to the feminine voice that had called out my name.
A rather short and petite girl stood, wearing a pink sweater with a black rose design that was on it. She also wore light blue skinny jeans that had a few, small rips that were present on her thighs all the way down to her knees. But, it didn’t show her skin, and instead showed the white patches underneath her jeans.
She also had a handbag in her right hand, and was clenched tightly as she pointed at me in a jittery manner.
Though, her face was completely covered by sunglasses and a black facemask, along with a white hat to top it all off. Her brown hair hid under her hat and covered her ears, and reached down to her shoulders, which were silky and shining in the lighted food court.
Miyake and I stared at the odd girl in discomfort, not knowing who she was in the slightest.
But, even if I couldn’t see under her mask, I could sense that the girl was undeniably scared. Her index finger that pointed at me was trembling, and her legs were quivering so much that it looked like she was going to fall any second.
“Okumori-senpai…” She then whimpered.
Miyake and I continued to watch her with stumped eyes.
“E-Erm… I-I’m not following you! I swear!” She then nervously shrieked.
Her sudden declaration made me even more perplexed, and it also caused a swift, cold chill to run down my spine.
Following? Again? What even made you say that unnerving sentence of yours?
“Shiori… Chan…?” Miyake then queried.
Shiori moved her whole body towards Miyake. “Yes! I am here!”
There was a long, uncomfortable pause between all of us as Miyake and I realized who the girl was.
Shiori’s tone then quieted down. “How did you know…?”
“Your hair. It’s super smooth. I can remember the texture just by looking at it...” Miyake plainly said.
Okay, one, that’s horrifying. Two, how did you even manage to say that so dispassionately? And finally, three, are your eyes sparkling?
Shiori took a step back, undoubtedly embarrassed and astounded by Miyake’s apathetic compliment.
“T-Thank you…” She weakly said.
“Mm.” Miyake nodded with a generous smile.
But, that pleasantness of Miyake’s disappeared almost instantly, and her smile instantly turned into a startled look.
“By the way, Shiori-chan, you’re not stalking Ki-kun again by any chance, right…?” Miyake asked, gawking at her.
“No! I’m not! Not at all!” She argued back immediately.
Shiori then avoided our gazes after finishing her denial.
“Plus, I wasn’t stalking him… It was just a coincidence that I was there. I just observed him, that’s all.” She murmured.
After her quiet response, she quickly looked back up and started to frantically wave her hands in panic.
“But, I-I know what I did is bad, though! I really do! I won’t do it again! You guys got creeped out by me, right? Sorry! Sorry!” She loudly apologized while bowing repeatedly.
While Miyake started to apologize back for misunderstanding the situation, I could only think about what Shiori had witnessed in the café.
You saw the whole mess I made, didn’t you?
I came back into my senses before I could zone out any longer.
“What are you doing here, Shiori-chan?”
There was a squeal that came out of Shiori.
“My caretaker disappeared…” She mumbled while facing downwards.
“You have a caretaker…?” Miyake sounded astonished.
Shiori nodded reluctantly, then started to twiddle with her fingers nervously and quietly.
“I was shopping with her, then we got separated in the crowds…”
Miyake and I met eyes as we heard her overwrought reasoning.
“What do we do, Ki-kun?” She whispered at me with her left hand hiding her mouth away from Shiori.
I shut my eyelids and relieved a deep sigh.
As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t simply ignore her and tell her to stray away. In the end, it’ll probably be my fault if something bad happened to her.
That said, I wasn’t necessarily worried about her specifically. But, I’m also worried about what’ll happen to me if I happened to be the cause of an illegal act that occurs to Shiori. The mere thought of being questioned by police, or even being arrested for not aiding her made me anxious, even if it’s just an exaggerated thought of mine.
With this in mind, I decide not to risk it.
I opened my eyes and simply nodded towards Miyake.
She had a beaming smile upon seeing my reply, and it only made me more annoyed.
“Shiori-chaaan!” Miyake exclaimed with her hands in the air.
Shiori shuddered at Miyake’s loud voice, then continuing to let out a small nod.
She tried to sound optimistic, but failed miserably as it came out in a stutter. “Y-Yes, Miyake-senpai!”
“You’re staying with us now!”
Shiori froze. Her fists became balled up in what seemed like gaiety, and her legs stopped shaking altogether.
But, her hands eventually loosened up, and her eyes directed back onto the floor.
I watched her in silence and observed her actions.
“Okay...” She proceeded to say.
“Okay!” Miyake raised her clenched fist in the air.
“I-I can leave anytime if I’m interrupting anything between Okumori-senpai and Miyake-senpai, though…”
I think it’s too late to say that, Shiori. Miyake’s already pulled you in. Also, what does that even mean?
“Aww, don’t be so fretful, Shiori-chan. We won’t mind!” Miyake reassured her while moving her hand up and down.
It was distinctly clear that Shiori was distraught with this spark of enjoyment she was suddenly getting from Miyake, having a discomposed look on her face every time a word was sent her way.
“Oh, and, by the way, me and Ki-kun over here were planning to go to the clothing store. You wanna come with?” Miyake leaned forwards and grinned towards her.
“Huh?” Shiori stepped back, startled. “I-If it’s fine with you guys…”
Miyake promptly stood up and embraced Shiori in her arms. “Yaaay!”
“Wait-!” Shiori stepped back and raised her hands to try to avoid Miyake, but failed as Miyake’s arms overpowered hers, resulting in a bear hug that wrapped around her body.
“M-M-Miyake-senpai?! I’m not sure-”
“Woah. You smell like vanilla.” Miyake interrupted.
What is this? Am I watching some sort of yuri romance? Is Miyake making a move on her?
“T-Thank you…” Shiori faintly spoke, looking up at Miyake while the side of her face was pushed up against her chest.
“Ki-kun’s mom would go crazy if she realized who you were, right, Ki-kun?”
I responded with an annoyed and small nod. She’d probably be freaking out from extreme ebullience. Her reaction about Miyake frankly petrified me, and I wouldn’t know what I’d do if she figured that I had been with an idol in the mall.
Nonetheless, I should probably keep quiet about this.
Well, not that it’s much of a deal, anyways.
“Miyake-senpai… You can stop hugging me now…”
“Huh?” Miyake looked down at her and soon realized. “Oh, right.”
She let go and stepped backward, then lightly hitting the top of her head with a balled fist with one eye closed and her tongue out. “Teehee. Sorry.”
I arched my eyebrow after seeing Miyake’s odd apology.
“Erm, you guys look stylish today. E-Especially Miyake-senpai.” Shiori pointed out, trying to start a conversation.
“I know, right?! Look how pretty Ki-kun’s mom made me! These necklaces are super beautiful!” Miyake bragged with the pendants in hand.
How does this monkey do these types of actions so confidently?
I watched these two communicate in complete dreariness, yet also annoyance.
I just want to smoke. This stresses me out.
“Oh, also, you can pull down your mask and take off your glasses. I feel like I’m talking to a suspicious girl, like a hitman, or like, some sort of scary person.” Miyake said while in close distance with Shiori.
“I, erm, can’t.” Shiori anxiously said while taking another step back. I’m pretty popular here, so I might get spotted…”
“Hm? What’s so wrong with being spotted?”
Shiori scratched her head and averted her face away from Miyake. “W-Well, I always feel panicky whenever people crowd me…”
Obviously, Miyake couldn’t grasp the simple concept that left Shiori’s mouth. She had a graceful smile, but it gave out the mood of complete confusion.
Personally, I could see nothing wrong with Shiori’s statement. Humans sometimes can’t even comprehend what’s in front of them when conversing with another being due to pressure, let alone being crowded by a group of desperate people with flashing phones. When you put pressure and people together, it creates a losing war in your head. Before you know it, you’re stuttering, or you’re extremely anxious, or even worse, you look rude to others because of your inability to speak properly.
But, that’s just how I see it anyways.
“But, I’ll take it off if I look scary to you… I don’t want you guys to be mad at me for it.”
Miyake, seeing what her careless action did to Shiori, instantly went to solace her.
“Not in a bad way, of course! I’m just kidding, Shiori-chan! Kidding!” She giggled while patting her shoulder in a nonchalant way. “You’re fine! Perfectly fine!”
“H-Huh?” Shiori looked up at her. “Um… Okay.”
“Ooh, by the way, we should probably go. Ki-kun’s shirt is still ruined!”
Don’t say that with pride, monkey.
“Uh… Who’s Ki-kun? Is that Okumori-senpai?”
What? you’ve just realized that now? You didn’t bother to ask the first time she said it?
“Yes. You didn’t know that?” Miyake said with a questioning tone, pointing at me.
“Isn’t his name Okumori, though...?”
“I made it up! If you want, you can call him that too!”
Shiori paused and thought about it.
“Ki… Ki-senpai?” She said, looking back up towards Miyake.
“Mhm!” Miyake replied with a thumbs up.
I couldn’t see Shiori’s expression, but I could tell she was awkward just by spotting her fingers twirling around.
“I’ll stick to Okumori-senpai.” Shiori reluctantly nodded.
“Huuuh? No fun.” Miyake said in a bored tone.
“Sorry… I-I can say it if you want me, though!”
“It’s fine, Shiori-chan. It really doesn’t matter anyways!” She then cupped her hands around her mouth. “I think Ki-kun gets mad whenever I say his name. It’s kinda creepy.”
You are very correct.
I had my chin now resting on my fist, waiting impatiently, so I could get rid of my ruined shirt.
Miyake glanced at me, then back at Shiori. Then, she raised her hands up in joy.
“Okay! Shopping time!”
She started walking ahead, with her arms swinging forwards and backwards every time she took a step. Shiori soon timidly followed after, only staring at the floor while she kept the handbag she clutched tightly in front of her.
I groaned and pushed myself up from the seat, then following the two with my hands in my pockets.
But, as I walked, the feeling of drowsiness only increased, and the thought of wanting to just lay down on a bed and sleep tranquilly was all that was in my mind.
Why am I so tired? Is it because of how many people are here? Is it because I’m tired of Miyake’s relentless talking?
Or am I just this weak?
I really want to go home.
Eventually, Miyake would stop walking, appearing to stop in front of a store. She’d turn around to us and placed her hands on her hips, with a happy grin that made me discomforted.
“Surprise!” She said, followed with a giggle.
Shiori and I both looked up at the red sign above Miyake and spotted the neon white words that spelled out the stores name.
As I looked back down and scanned inside through the window, there were only a handful of customers that were searching for clothes, with no visible worker present on the cashier.
I could smell the scent of cloth and paper that exuded from the store, as well as spotting the various colors of different jackets, shirts, and sweatshirts that was worn on white mannequins in different poses inside the store that had white colored walls and wooden floors.
“Yes, Shiori-chan!” Miyake pointed at her.
“I’m… I’m pretty good with fashion!” She tried to sound gallant once more. “I can help you guys if you want!”
But, her voice all of a sudden got quieter and more intimidated right after.
“But, if you don’t want me to… It’s fine. I can just watch.”
I stood beside her, watching her cluelessly.
She’s a very hesitant girl, isn’t she?
“Hmm… I’m not excellent with fashion like Ki-kun’s mom, sooo… Sure!”
Shiori gazed up at her under her mask and glasses and froze.
“Really…?” She asked.
“Of course! I mean, you said you’re good at fashion, so why not? I trust you!”
Shiori then hesitated again. “W-Well, I’m average…”
“I believe in you, Shiori-chan! Do your best!” Miyake said, as if she was some sort of cheerleader.
Miyake turned around and entered the clothing store, as I plainly stood still and watched her gleefully skip inside.
I moved my gaze down to Shiori.
She paused, staring at me, then taking a deep breath.
“Y-Your white shirt is ruined.”
… You don’t think I know that?
“If you want, I can buy another one for you… I’ll even buy a sweatshirt… Or a jacket…”
I opened my mouth, but closed it.
Even if this was my first ever actual communication with Shiori, I could already pinpoint what type of person she was, judging from how she acted. It’s blatantly obvious, and it somehow made me uneasy.
I pointed my thumb towards the entrance, and made my way forwards without saying a word.
Shiori stopped herself from speaking, and followed me in silence right after.
But, as soon as I walked in, a head popped out of what seemed to be, well, literally nowhere with a sonorous voice.
“Boo!” The sudden voice said.
I recoiled back and stumbled, then setting my eyes upon whoever it was.
Miyake’s head protruded from a clothing rack, followed with dubious giggling that came out of her while her eyes were closed.
“Pfft! I actually got you! Haha!” She pointed at me.
I viciously glared at her.
Once Miyake spotted my glower, she quieted down with an awkward smile.
“Sorry. I thought it was just funny.”
“I-It was funny!” Shiori added in to our right.
Both of us looked over to her stiffly, rather confused and slightly bothered at her random remark.
Shiori immediately stopped moving upon seeing our stares at her.
“S-Sorry! Sorry!” She bowed.
“Haha… It was funny, huh? You saw Ki-kuns expression, right? It was so funny!” Miyake awkwardly laughed, attempting to console the first-year.
Watching Miyake’s desperate attempt to cheer Shiori was frankly cringy for me to watch. It was nothing more than an obvious act to hide her embarrassment for Shiori.
Of course, I was hiding my embarrassment too, because telling Shiori to stop this desperate action of fitting in would probably kill her soul.
I’d rather keep it to myself rather than make the situation messier than usual.
“Also, Ki-kun, look what I have!” Miyake faced back at me.
She pulled her head back and disappeared from the clothing rack, only to go approach our aisle and wave at me with a clean, white shirt on a hanger.
“Ta-daaa! New shirt!”
I gave her a blank stare.
Well, I was mildly glad, but at the same time, it’s Miyake.
“Ehh? What a boring reaction you have…” She sarcastically said, her head tilted to the right.
She sighed, then lifted the white shirt once more to sway it around.
“I’ll pay for it. It’s just around one thousand, five hundred yen, anyways. I kinda feel bad for ruining your moms shirt, so, like, think of it as a reward, or like, revenge type thing...”
As Miyake continued to ramble on with her dumb, impartial words, I stepped forwards and pleasantly grabbed it from her.
“Like, you know, we’ll be fair and square, or, err, you can be pleased- Hey! What are you doing?!”
I repeated my uninterested stare towards her again.
After seeing my response, she took a deep breath, and cleared her throat.
“I’m going to buy it, duh.” She said in tuneless, bland, and deep voice, then pointing at me and speaking in her usual tone again. “That’s what your saying right now, aren’t you?!”
“Ugh…” Miyake planted her hands on her face, followed with words that were unintelligible due to the muffled voice she had.
“I can buy you something, Miyake-senpai!” Shiori interrupted.
“No, no… It’s fi-”
We both looked over in curiosity, and saw that she already had an outfit in her possession.
I raised my eyebrows at it and stared at it attentively.