Chapter 14:

Act 14

I'll carry you

The summer vacation had ended yesterday. I was at my train station, sipping at a mocha. My mother and sister came back home after a couple of days. She always had her moments and then goes back to normal. But she had told me before that she hated me. The only person who was important to her was her second daughter, Aiko. But that was okay with me because that was the only thing we had in common. I didn’t need anything else if I had my younger sister. She was the joy and happiness of my life. And the only reason I kept going. Bookmark here

“Here you go,” Akimitsu said and handed me a croissant. He was eating one as well. I took a bite. It was buttery and not too sweet. Bookmark here

“Thank you,” I muttered. He smiled and ate the last bit of his. The second semester had started, and fall was approaching. The trees were coloured in red, orange and yellow. They said over the radio that another storm was brewing and might come at the end of this month. I was struggling to adjust to the fact that I had gained three friends. I also still had to thank them for the other day, especially Akimitsu. My eyes and his met, and I got flustered. I didn’t now, how to sincerely thank someone. How do you do that? I thought about asking Yumiko but decided against it because it was too embarrassing for me. I walked over to the trash bin to throw away my empty cup and the packing of the croissant that I had eaten. I took Akimitsu’s trash with me as well. The train station got busy and I accidently bumped into a muscly guy. He looked down on me with an annoyed expression. I slightly bowed to show that it was my mistake and wanted to leave but he kept coming in my way. He refused to let me go past him. Bookmark here

“Apologise. You bumped into me,” he said.Bookmark here

“I did,” I said and looked him straight into his small eyes. Bookmark here

“You call that an apology?” he asked and stepped closer. He seemed to be a college student, but his behaviour suggested that he had the brain of a five-year-old.Bookmark here

“Move,” I told him. We were catching people’s attention who were standing or walking around us. Bookmark here

“I won’t until you apologise,” he insisted and spread his arm out. His friends had joined him. I sighed out loud. Bookmark here

“Your zipper is undone,” I said and quickly walked under his arm and towards Akimitsu who was already approaching me. The guy started checking his trousers and soon realised that his zipper wasn’t undone. His friends laughed at him for falling for such an old trick. I glanced back and saw them coming after me. Akimitsu asked me what had happened, but I grabbed him by his arm and walked over to our platform again. Bookmark here

“Hey, bitch!” they guy yelled at me. I didn’t pay any attention to his aggressive voice.Bookmark here

“Akimitsu, you’re strong, right? Do me a favour and hold his hands,” I instructed him. Bookmark here

“First of all, I’m not strong. I’m more of a nerd. And second of all, I should hold his hands? The hands of the very muscly and scary guy that will be here any second?” he asked me confused and panicked at the same time. I was looking around and nodded my head.Bookmark here

“You can do this. Don’t be a chicken,” I said and placed my hand on his shoulder. He wasn’t convinced by my words, but he had no choice because the guy was standing behind him already. Akimitsu turned around to face him.Bookmark here

“What do you want?” the guy asked him in a very loud voice. I could see on Akimitsu’s face that he was being indecisive if he should do what I told him to do. Before he could reach a conclusion, the guy tried to grab me from behind him. Bookmark here

“I want to hold your hands,” Akimitsu said and interlocked his fingers with him and grabbed his other hand as well. The regret was written on his face. I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. The guy was clearly disturbed by it and for a second forgot that I was there. That was my moment to open his belt with one swift move and pull his trousers down. Bookmark here

“You can now let go of his hands,” I told Akimitsu and pulled him along by his jacket. He let go of the guy who was desperately trying to put his trousers back on. People were staring and giggling around him. We ran away.Bookmark here

“Some would say that you are a bully,” Akimitsu said and caught his breath. Bookmark here

“He started it,” I defended myself and the train doors closed before the guy and his friends could reach us. We made it to class on time. I was joined by Yumiko in my lunch break and told her about Akimitsu’s and my encounter at the train station this morning. She couldn’t stop laughing. We were sitting on the stairs again and were talking about random things. Bookmark here

“Ayu-chan is something on your mind?” she asked me and sipped her banana milk. “You seem to be pondering about something.”Bookmark here

“Ah, yeah. I was just thinking how you thank someone. You know, in a sincere kind of way,” I said and was fidgeting with my blazer.Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s easy. Just look them into the eyes and say what you are thankful for. You could also mention that you mean it,” she suggested in all seriousness. I took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. Bookmark here

“Thank you for the other day,” I murmured. “I mean it,” I added. Her brown-greenish eyes were twinkling, and she embraced me. Bookmark here

“No need to thank me. That’s what friends are for,” she said and gave me the biggest smile. Bookmark here

“And do I do the same thing with Akimitsu and Nakajima?” I asked in a quiet voice. Bookmark here

“Mhm, and they will probably say the same thing as me,” she said and nodded her head. I was able to say it to Nakajima the same day, but it was different for Akimitsu. Whenever I saw him, my throat closed up and the words wouldn’t come out. I was just making myself look like an idiot in front of him. One week had passed and I still hadn’t thanked him. My patience was at its limit. Yumiko suggested to try when we were alone together. Maybe that would give me the push to actually say it to him. She told Nakajima to tell Akimitsu to wait in our classroom after school was over. He came up with an excuse and did as Yumiko told him to. I was getting a bit nervous for some odd reason. I guess I had to thank him for a number of things. The school bell rang, and everyone left the classroom, including me. I felt like seeing Yumiko again and practising with her before I went and saw Akimitsu, so I wouldn’t mess up. I even bought his favourite chocolate.Bookmark here

“No need for practicing. You got this,” Yumiko told me and was pushing me in the direction of my classroom. Nakajima came back to confirm that Akimitsu was still waiting. I gathered and held on to all my courage and made my way back. The door was slightly open, and I peeked inside. I saw Akimitsu standing near the window and in his arms was a girl. She was hugging him. It was the girl with short hair. If I remember correctly her name was Onaga Tsuru and she belonged to that group of girls. I took a step back. The chocolate was in my hands, but I gave it to Yumiko. Nakajima and she had followed me and witnessed the same scene. I could tell by their faces. That also meant that I wasn’t dreaming. Bookmark here

“Maybe it’s not the right time,” I said to her and left. My steps echoed through the empty hallway. Bookmark here

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