Chapter 63:

062 – Rena

Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path | Our World

‹Rin›Bookmark here

0722, Monday.Bookmark here

"Hello, Gin? Are you doing fine there? Ah, that's good to hear. Yep, it's lunch break right now.Bookmark here

I see. Well, I actually expected that you would stay there for longer. Ahahaha. Sorry, sorry.Bookmark here

Yeah, don't worry about that. Besides, Anna is still there. But I guess I'll go join her for dinner again. Flying apples, you're so diligent for work.Bookmark here

Okay. Please send them my greatest regards. I hope they can recover quickly. Well, talk to you later. Bye!"Bookmark here

And my phone beeped.Bookmark here

Yes, when I said lunch break, I'm currently at school and you guessed right that Gin is once again on leave. Thinking about that, there's something that I noticed in Gin's studying life ever since I met him. His school attendance is just too spotty or poor.Bookmark here

I don't know in his first three years of junior high school, but starting from when he was a fourth year, he was hit by a truck and went MIA for a week… or technically, two years; then because of Joseph Horach he also had to take days off and he got his bones broken (again). The next year, he went hot potato and had to lock himself in isolation for a month. And then this current school year, we're away for three weeks and now he is out somewhere for a week starting from the 18th.Bookmark here

But well, I guess I am not very different from that spotty attendance as I had to take care of a rude, hot potato for a month last year, and I'm involved in those three weeks. At this point, either we are suspended or expelled from school if we haven't done any way of formality regarding those matters. I however get that Tenth is going somewhat softly on Gin as he understands him, but for me to also take that one month leave, it was difficult. I had to borrow the fragments of Gin's wits from when his mind was almost literally like scrambled eggs, or just in shambles.Bookmark here

But I, for one, am glad that nothing has happened to him so far this year. Ever since he apparently sorted out his empty and broken mind, heart, and life, I think it is safe to say that his self-conflict is now a fragment of history.Bookmark here

Enough talking, my whole afternoon class is a practicum in CA! I'll at least have a little bit of fun!Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Right after the lunch break, I went to the HE Room together with Jean and immediately wore an apron.Bookmark here

"Alright, class. We'll have a lot of time in our hands, so you can make something that takes a little time. But first, we'll be having draw lots and do pair work.Bookmark here

Anyone who doesn't want to?"Bookmark here

No one opposed. Thus, we all took our number slips that ought to coincide with the same number. I drew number 4 and found out that my partner is…Bookmark here

"Isn't this the second time we will pair up, Rena?"Bookmark here

"Ah, yes. I remember from that time."Bookmark here

"Wait, I just noticed… I rarely even hear you speak in class…!" there was however no hint of negative intent or judgment in my words. Rather, I was somewhat amazed. "You actually have a nice voice, you know!"Bookmark here

"I guess I really am very quiet in classes. But I can say the same for you, Ringo. Most of the time I see you acting timidly, but you can converse with me normally."Bookmark here

"Ahahaha. I guess that's really how I am. One downside of being an introvert is having a difficult sense of distance with others. About you, though. You look like you're a shy type."Bookmark here

"Not really. Rather, I'm just meek instead of shy. I can talk to people without any problem."Bookmark here

"Actually, I think we should end the chat for now… We haven't even thought of what we will be making."Bookmark here

"Ah… I guess you're right…"Bookmark here

The practical this time does not follow any theme for some reason, so we are free to do what we want to cook. And besides, it is either we eat it after class or take it home for dinner, in which I am planning the latter to share it with Anna later if things go well. But it is Rena that we are talking about.Bookmark here

I am however a bit surprised that she is fine talking to me, but it would be bad if I point out our gap in age so I went with a roundabout way…Bookmark here

"Wait, Rena! You just turned 20 a few days ago, right?"Bookmark here

"Hmm? Yeah. So you knew the date. What about it, though?"Bookmark here

"Well… I suddenly got reminded that Potato is also turning 20 this year."Bookmark here

"Uhh… Who's Potato?"Bookmark here

"…! Gin! I'm talking about Gin! It just slipped out that I called him by his nickname! Hahaha…!"Bookmark here

"Oh. That's right. He really doesn't look much like a high schooler anymore," she honestly said and slightly chuckled. "So you two really are good friends? I sometimes see you together in class and even when going in and out of school."Bookmark here

"Ohh… so people actually notice Gin sometimes even with his minimal exposure."Bookmark here

"Actually, maybe not good friends. Are you two dating?"Bookmark here

The woman's intuition…! Wait, I'm a woman too!Bookmark here

"Yeah… that's the case."Bookmark here

Do you remember how we talked about not hiding the fact that Gin and I are dating but with a condition that if by chance we'll tell someone if they noticed it naturally? Well, I wasn't careful and my other two female classmates in the front counter heard.Bookmark here

"Heeehhh… It's surprising that you're actually going out with Gin, Ringo."Bookmark here

"Ahahahaha. I hear a lot that we don't look like a couple."Bookmark here

Nevertheless, I'm fine if others get to know that so it does not pose a problem for us.Bookmark here

And in time for us to pick our ingredients (finally), we noticed something weird in the meat section.Bookmark here

"Huh… The pork and chicken's all gone…"Bookmark here

Rena added, "Why does it look like all the beef is untouched…?"Bookmark here

Some of our classmates heard our mumbles and suddenly shot a glare towards us, and went back to their own businesses. While the two of us are still standing in front of the fridge, the teacher approached us.Bookmark here

"About that beef, my friend from Australia sent me a lot of meat. I took most of it, and might as well let my students use it. That's the reason why I started this practical, you know.Bookmark here

Why did none of you get at least a gram, anyway?" he shouted.Bookmark here

And so we took out the different sets of cut out from the fridge. Upon further inspection, I mean very deep inspection; we noticed quite a lot of intramuscular fat in between every cut. Simply put… or sophisticatedly put, marbling.Bookmark here

Wait, where did I learn the word "intramuscular"?Bookmark here

"Are you telling me that this is Wagyu, Taiyou-sen?!" an inexcusable shriek echoed inside the room from my throat.Bookmark here

"Ah… It's not like that," he shook his hand. "It came from a farm that my friend owns. It just so happened that this certain cow was raised carefully. Still, that maybe prime grade by the standards. But anyway, I heard that it was still selling for a high price for its class. But hey, it's not very gamy."Bookmark here

"Is that so…" I said, while my hands blurred in the speed of grabbing the meat while Rena was sneaking several fist pumps.Bookmark here

"You look happy, Ringo."Bookmark here

"Of course, I am! It's so rewarding when you get to properly cook beef, y'know?!"Bookmark here

"Ahh. I get what you mean."Bookmark here

Without further ado, we grabbed ourselves knives upon completing our list.Bookmark here

"Fufu…" as I was chopping, I suddenly heard Rena chuckle and stopped with a suspicious face looking at her.Bookmark here

"What is it…?"Bookmark here

"I just remembered Ringo being called a part of the 'triumvirate'. And look at how you can still use the knife properly even at that speed. Also, you really seemed like you were so excited earlier when you learned about the beef."Bookmark here

Abruptly stopping, her cheeks suddenly turned red.Bookmark here

"S-Sorry. I guess it looks like I was observing you a lot."Bookmark here

"Ahahaha… Don't mind it. It's probably because of the high spirits I got from working in a restaurant temporarily."Bookmark here

"Wha~ You worked in a restaurant?"Bookmark here

"I thought you've already heard, but I worked in Giotto's North with Gin and Jean in summer last year."Bookmark here

"Really?! So the rumors that Gin is a grandson of a master chef were true after all?"Bookmark here

"W-Well… He was not a master chef anymore when Gin was born. He didn't even know that until last time.Bookmark here

By the way, that bun is cute."Bookmark here

I was a little amazed that she has a very long hair, but she managed to fit it in a single bun. And I can't even do how properly she can tie her hair.Bookmark here

She was, for some reason shocked. She placed down her knife and went behind me with a rubber band.Bookmark here

"You forgot to tie your hair. I guess you kind of forget to do it when you cut your hair."Bookmark here

"Oh, sorry. Was your hair also in this length?"Bookmark here

"It was, back in my first year in high school."Bookmark here

"We're so contrasting. In that time I had long hair."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

While I found that Rena is actually quite an observant, I also did some observations of my own towards her. I had watched her cook many times but it was in a usual, household-like pace, and to top it all, I've also tasted her cooking which was absolutely bonkers. And yet, I am watching her—keeping up with my accidentally excited restaurant-like pace.Bookmark here

"Rena… by chance, have you also worked in a restaurant environment?"Bookmark here

"Hmm? No?"Bookmark here

"Wha-?! That's so amazing! You're so fast and precise!"Bookmark here

"Am I really…?" she was flustered. "I only do household cooking, though."Bookmark here

"I guess I can relate. I now usually do the food in the family, and sometimes I make some for Gin since he sometimes feels lonely in his house."Bookmark here

"Cooking for someone…" Rena smiled. "So Gin lives alone?"Bookmark here

"That's why he does all of his food. And actually, he is like my teacher along with my older sister. He also has a cat with him! Do you also like cats, Rena?"Bookmark here

"I do, but there's… there's someone in the family that is not good with fur, so we can't adopt one. But our house is quiet so I really prefer having a cat without a care to the world."Bookmark here

"Hahahahaha…! Haku is so like that!"Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

With our given time, the beef cooked very well for a Stroganoff, as what Rena suggested to make with that meat. If only there is a water bath in the HE, we could have made something with sous vide. In the end, we still got a lot more time to spare so we had a chat to pass time. At the same time, I sent Potato the picture of the finished product and of course he was jealous and hungry.Bookmark here

At a great timing, Rena asked about it.Bookmark here

"By the way, Ringo. Why is Gin still absent today? Surely you would know."Bookmark here

It was such a simple way to respond, and yet Rena noticed a sudden change in the mood.Bookmark here

"Basically… it's because he went to Japan. Do you know what happened this 18th of July? When he heard the news, he immediately went to the Capital and got himself a ticket. He said that he will be back by Thursday."Bookmark here

"18th… You mean, that…?"Bookmark here

"Yes… We are actually closely acquainted with the people of Kyoko Animation… And for us to hear that someone set their office in fire… It… I-I… I was so devastated…"Bookmark here

"I know that everything will be okay for them, Ringo…" In the immediate notice of my tears, Rena took out a handkerchief and wiped my tears.Bookmark here

But in any case, I don't ever want to describe what happened.Bookmark here

Their studio has so many creative and artistic illustrators. I saw their passion with their works, and I know to myself that I deeply felt it when I saw my, and Gin's character on the screen. Their works are not just animation. It was a work of art that is very emotional and expressive.Bookmark here

It is never a reason to set their building ablaze for a claim of apparently stealing one's work. For a reason like that, I see vengeance as extremely illogical, and I hope that it is not only me.Bookmark here

When I first heard about it, I immediately went to Gin who is already packing as a blur to my eyes. I insisted to let me come too, but I was honestly just being caught up with my emotions when I said it. We nearly argued, but we settled things before it got worse. If not only in sorrow, we were also infuriated.Bookmark here

Gin himself told that he was allowed to enter after the fire was put out, and helped with the displacement of anything that the company can save. But at this point, there is still no news of any recovered data. But as help, I have already sent my donations to them, wishing that it would be of help for them.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

In the dismissal, I had to skip club activities, not because I was still emotional, but because I have dinner for Anna to eat with her later. And surprisingly, even Rena did the same thing. In actuality, we never even tasted its finished product. In the end, we split our portions in half after the teacher rated our dish. On the other hand, Rena did feel like she is very family-oriented, always caring for them.Bookmark here

While walking on the school grounds with her, Rena suddenly asked me a favor.Bookmark here

"Uh, Ringo? I know this is a bit sudden. But are you free this Saturday?"Bookmark here

"Umm… yeah? I don't really go out of the house if I don't have anything better to do, so I'm always free on weekends."Bookmark here

"Is that so. There's actually a cafe that I want to go at for a long time. Do you mind accompanying me there? I don't have anyone to go with."Bookmark here

I have to admit, I think I've gotten close to her in just a short time, and I assume that she thinks so too. To think, my stupid sense of distance actually made me a friend.Bookmark here

"Rena, you… You don't really have friends, do you?" I jokingly asked in a teasing smile.Bookmark here

"Of course I at least have two…! But they're not the kind of people that likes to go to cafes…"Bookmark here

"Pfft… Alright, I'll join you in your excursion!"Bookmark here

After that, I saw Ryuuya-san together with Ichika-san and Yuzuri-san. It was actually our first time meeting after Chikami Inn. And the first thing I told them was, "It's so nostalgic to see you again in a uniform," which Rena got a little confused about.Bookmark here

And yes, I now also call Mitsumi-san by her given name.Bookmark here

I thought that we were going to part ways once we passed through the school gates. I had always thought that Rena lived in our opposite direction, but actually she lives on the farthest of White Street—the only part of the street that does not get flooded.Bookmark here

I didn't know that we actually a have a lot of neighbors, although Rena is the farthest.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Thursday.Bookmark here

Potato is a loner so I went all the way to the airport in the Capital just to fetch him.Bookmark here

"H-Huh? R-Rin-san…? What is this… am I seeing things?Bookmark here

Ow…! Hey, stop that! Hahahaha…!" I attacked his sides.Bookmark here

"Welcome back, Potato."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

I didn't expect that you will be here."Bookmark here

"Ehehehe. Surprised?"Bookmark here

"Honestly, yeah…" and it was followed by a long and stressful sigh.Bookmark here

"What's wrong?"Bookmark here

"Well…" he took out his pocket watch and looked at the time. "So it's 5:30 already… I've packed earlier and decided to take a nap but I overslept. I almost didn't make my flight… I haven't even had lunch or dinner!"Bookmark here

"Eh…"Bookmark here

"Granola bar is a pain when I want to eat something savory…"Bookmark here

"Hmm… Just so you know, Anna did the shopping early in the morning before coming to school. She's finally learning how to go in the battlefield (sale)."Bookmark here

"Ohhh. Good for her."Bookmark here

"She bought beef."Bookmark here

He suddenly stopped walking and lowered his head in the middle of the moving crowd.Bookmark here

"Please let me eat Beef Stroganoff…!"Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Heh. Great minds think alike."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

0727, Saturday.Bookmark here

Now that I think about it… There is only one month, huh…Bookmark here

At nine in the morning, I went out of the house with casual outdoor clothes. By coincidence, I met with Gin as we came out of our yards almost at the same time. He has the usual black headband that brushes back his hair while holding two black bags of trash.Bookmark here

"…Anna forgot to take them out yesterday."Bookmark here

"Pff…"Bookmark here

"So you're really going somewhere today?"Bookmark here

"Yep. I think I haven't mentioned but I'm with Rena today."Bookmark here

"Oh. So that's why you declined my date invitation today. Well, take care."Bookmark here

"Take care too. Off I go, then!"Bookmark here

"She seems kinda excited…"Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Wait. With Rena?! I didn't know that they're friends…Bookmark here

Oh dear. I'm also turning 20 soon."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

On the opposite side of the road on a crossing in the downtown is where I saw Rena while waiting for the stoplight to change. Even though there is a bit of crowd as it is of course the downtown, I suddenly had the self-confidence even after knowing that this is my first time going here alone. Thankfully, I am now quite well versed in going here. I guess I'll plan to go to the camping style restaurant again once it's winter.Bookmark here

To my surprise, the cafe that Rena wants to go to is actually the place that Gin and I went to twice. The time when Potato was dragging Hiro-nii out of the cafe is still fresh on my memories. And to think that he was not yet married to Sis that time.Bookmark here

But those thoughts aside, we have a problem. Or at least that's also what I'm assuming in Rena's side.Bookmark here

The cafe is open, but there is a big signage on the front saying:Bookmark here


It wasn't the case on the last two times we came here; and the sign is oozing out great vigor and emotion in that.Bookmark here

"Ah, Rena… We saw you once with a guy in the first day of school. That was your boyfriend, right?"Bookmark here

"B-Boyfriend…?Bookmark here

(!)Bookmark here

Ah, yes. H-He is…"Bookmark here

"Meeehhh… What's up with this event?"Bookmark here

"How are we supposed to get in…"Bookmark here

"Easy. You just open the door."Bookmark here

"Eh- Ringo? Wha?!"Bookmark here

The door chimes sounded and the rhythm I heard for the two times I went here was nowhere to be heard. The door hinges either are probably replaced or just oiled. Nonetheless, I pulled Rena inside with me.Bookmark here

The cafe is very empty—no customers. I squinted several times to check if it was just as an illusion. But it was not; it's all real. The place is already so cold even at 22° in the air conditioner.Bookmark here

The head of a certain man that was drooping on the bar top noticed our presence and shot a glare at us. This is the second time that Rena and I, together, are being glared at.Bookmark here

He drooped back, and listlessly mumbled, "I would appreciate it if you are men…" He vigorously pointed at me, "But at least you're not with that super plain guy you have, for crying out loud!"Bookmark here

"Yuka Ros…" and yes, that is the name of the owner of the cafe who is so rude at me for some reason, "if we're not with our others, then that means we're clear, right?"Bookmark here

"Hahh… Dear customers, please have a seat and pick your order," and he made his way to the kitchen still mumbling. "If only those two are single men, I can really talk to them. If only my waiters aren't normies…!"Bookmark here

"Who're you calling a normie, hah?!" a female waiter angrily exclaimed and then faced to us. "Forget about our boss, you can just shout your order. Please enjoy your stay."Bookmark here

A few minutes later, I whispered to Rena.Bookmark here

"I get it… I guess his girlfriend broke up with her. Well, I can at least relate with his frustration."Bookmark here

"Eh? You broke up with Gin?" discovering her womanly intuition, I expected that she caught on quickly, and she did.Bookmark here

"That's right. Although only for a week."Bookmark here

"What happened?"Bookmark here

"Well, we're a weird duo so we actually talked about separating. Pretty much, we're in agreement of breaking up."Bookmark here

Rena's head tilted diagonally with an obvious furrow and her face was asking "what in the world was that about?"Bookmark here

"I was testing myself if I can actually be with him sincerely. Gin is actually a broken person, from heart to mind ever since being a child. He was literally insane, and he just recovered from it last year. I took on a part of his pain and burdens, and thankfully accepted all of them just like how I finally accepted that he is already crooked for his lifetime."Bookmark here

"I… I'm surprised that you can say it all with such a straight face… But seeing you like that makes me really convinced of Gin's circumstances."Bookmark here

"I should be the one that is surprised. You took all of that without getting very shocked."Bookmark here

"Well… I also have my own share of pain… My significant other and I nearly separated permanently for good reasons. My parents didn't like us together.Bookmark here

But my parents are very kind. They didn't just shallowly judge us. I'm very thankful that we are still together.Bookmark here

Ah, is it okay to know when you and Gin got together?"Bookmark here

"That, huh. He was 17 and I was 15."Bookmark here

"Urk… I guess we're not that far off. I was 17 back then while he was 19. Now he has graduated in college."Bookmark here

"22 years old now… he shouldn't have been affected by SHS program."Bookmark here

"Did he take a five-year course?"Bookmark here

"Ah, no. He just landed a job as a culinary instructor since he already got his license as a chef."Bookmark here

"Wow… That's so cool."Bookmark here

"Although he wasn't a very studious person and had to stop studying, he suddenly boosted in his studies and actually went through two grades in a year."Bookmark here

"What?! You mean he skipped a few years of studying since he's proficient with his subjects?!"Bookmark here

"You could put it that way. He suddenly became motivated to study and discovered the potentials of his mind."Bookmark here

"Amazing… I wonder, what was his drive to go through such lengths?"Bookmark here

"Good question… Maybe his family's life is on the line?" uttering those, a radiant smile appeared on her face.Bookmark here

"I see… so his dreams are now becoming true, I guess?"Bookmark here

"Yes. And I also hope that I can also achieve my humble dream. How about you, Ringo? Do you also have a motivation to continue on with this life?"Bookmark here

"Hrmm… Well, I plan to continue my studies at CCI and also maybe get a license for myself too. But further to that, I still don't know.Bookmark here

This may sound stupid coming from me… but I guess one of my dreams is to be with Gin in the future and drive all his heavy burdens away. That man can't just be left alone."Bookmark here

"That is a very fine motivation."Bookmark here

"Uh…?" suddenly, she patted my head with a warm smile. I don't know how to explain the feeling I get from her, but her maturity is very sincere.Bookmark here

"Here is two salted caramel latte," our order arrived.Bookmark here

"Ringo… I believe in your conviction, and I trust you. I think I will feel at ease by telling you this…"Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Our time in the cafe came to an end.Bookmark here

I somehow felt and understood Shiro's feelings of wanting a sincere friend. If I was her, or if she was here with us, the both of us will be overjoyed to have Rena as a friend.Bookmark here

I discovered that Rena Azuki is more than what I, and probably others think of. She was somewhat similar to Gin—still at a considerably young age, have already been honed with experience, and have seen and felt the reality of life. Yet, she is still able to smile so sincerely and humbly.Bookmark here

She… Rena is a very amazing person.Bookmark here

"Well, we ate a lot of time with that. I also want to tell a bit of myself too. But I understand that you're also busy in your day-offs."Bookmark here

"There are still many times for that. But I would also really want to know some of your quirkiness, Ringo."Bookmark here

"Ahahahaha. Don't say that with a serious face.Bookmark here

Oh, I know! If it is okay, can I actually come over at some point?"Bookmark here

"Hmm? I think that it's fine. If you want to, maybe we can set up a sleepover."Bookmark here

"Eeehhhh?! Is that really okay, Rena?! I do feel like I would just be a bother if I do that…!"Bookmark here

"No, no. That will be fine."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

If you say so… Then let's be in contact if we have a coinciding schedule!"Bookmark here

"Alright."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

‹Gin›Bookmark here

My, oh my. Rin really has been in high spirits lately. If I were to guess, she probably got close to Rena after that Saturday. And also, is it just me or is she enjoying cooking a lot more than the usual? Heck, now she is actually volunteering to make meals for the two of us, as Anna sadly moved back. But still, Rin does that so rarely. Most of the time, she will just crash to my house and join me for lunch, but now she crashes in and then she takes over the kitchen! I know already that I am weird, but now Rin is also acting weird for some reason.Bookmark here

I admit my familial admiration to my sister (Yuna is actually not my sister), and now that I watch Rin's silhouette of her back in the kitchen, I immediately got the feeling of maturity from her. And I know that Haku can't agree more in that statement.Bookmark here

Meow. (Rin-ojou looks like a yamato nadeshiko, but in an Orion version!)Bookmark here

Woah, dude. Your knowledge is really widening. But in any case, I at least want to know what made her like that, but I think it is better if I just leave it as is. I might hurt her otherwise if I try to point out a difference.Bookmark here

The days then went over and it was already my memorable month of August. It is now the ninth day of the month in which I'm staring at Rin's open window after changing from my uniform.Bookmark here

"I'm invited to a sleepover in Rena's house, so I'll be back by tomorrow afternoon."Bookmark here

"Rin… I'm not your parent so you don't need to sound like you're asking for permission. And besides, you should be thinking of enjoying yourself.Bookmark here

Look here, I'm actually glad that you're doing this kind of things. It's not that I don't hate it, but we're always together most of the time. Sometimes, a pair of chopsticks can be separated, right?"Bookmark here

"Mhm. You have a good point. Ah, I should be going now. See you later!"Bookmark here

"Yep. Send my regards to her!"Bookmark here

Also, after I came back from Japan, Rin formally introduced Rena to me, not as a classmate, but as her friend. It also seems like she is also getting along with Shiro, which I know that Nagi is happy about. Actually, I think I do sound like a parent for being happy for Rin now that she's having more friends that are not in my involvement. In any case, that fact really just puts me at ease.Bookmark here

An unconscious smile grew on me while thinking about it. After a last look on Rin's window, I closed my own, and my phone suddenly rang with Rin calling.Bookmark here

"Don't walk with your phone."Bookmark here

"Ahahaha… Sorry. But there's something I forgot to ask you. This time, I actually need your permission."Bookmark here

"Ohhh. That sounds important."Bookmark here

"I have my reasons, Gin, but can I tell Rena about the truth about us?"Bookmark here

"Way to put me on the spot. Alright, I can trust her about my being as a 'kiddo', but nothing about my 'glassmaking'."Bookmark here

It is 2019, and tapping to communication is not new anymore. I can at least assume that my privacy in phone calls isn't that secure, and that someone may be hearing our conversation. That is why whenever I talk about confidential matters I use ambiguous codes. Meaning that "kiddo" means Medical Child, and "glassmaking" means being an Exile.Bookmark here

But if anything, it would be suspicious if ever I got to use Marco's extremely independent network; that is why I stick with regular telecommunication.Bookmark here

In any case, I trust Rena and especially Rin. But I of course can't say that I have no doubts about her. Being a potential subject of Anew was a shock in itself. But this time, I just wish for Rin's own happiness.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

"Aunt Sumi? Are you here?"Bookmark here

In the Sunday of the same week, I found myself knocking on the Akanami household's door. After a few seconds, Aunt opened the door.Bookmark here

"Ah, good morning, Auntie. Do you have any spare cling wrap with you? I was preparing lunch and forgot that I haven't done shopping for more ingredients…"Bookmark here

"What a dummy, Gin. Give me a second.Bookmark here

Ah-! Are you shopping a lot for today?"Bookmark here

"Uhh. Not really."Bookmark here

"I see… Gin, can I trouble you to also do the shopping for us? You see, Shuu is out until before lunch, and I can't leave the house since Ringo is feeling a little under the weather."Bookmark here

"So that's why she didn't poke out of her window earlier. I got your back, Aunt Sumi. Can I go upstairs once I'm done with shopping? I'll buy her some strawberries."Bookmark here

"Oh… she would appreciate it. Thank you."Bookmark here

"Also, do you mind if I eat lunch with you? I'll bring my own dish."Bookmark here

Suddenly, she lightly laughed and placed her hand on my head. And also… I think I know where Rin got her sweet smile.Bookmark here

"Thank you for always being with my daughter, Gin."Bookmark here

"Uhhh…?"Bookmark here

"I guess Otou-san and I are really lenient with your relationship. We should be stricter on you two."Bookmark here

"To be honest, Auntie… I've been waiting to hear that from you. Your husband is too carefree… We still need guidance so we won't make mistakes."Bookmark here

"And that's what I also want to hear from you, Gin. If anything unacceptable happens, you know the consequences."Bookmark here

"Yes. I'll put your words to heart."Bookmark here

"Thank you. I hope to see you in better terms with her."Bookmark here

"No… I wish for my family to be in better terms with yours. Thank you for the guidance."Bookmark here

I took and returned the roll of cling wrap to her, and went off with two shopping lists at hand.Bookmark here

But something really was up earlier. While walking, I wondered what was the reason for Aunt Sumi's slight change of attitude towards my relationship with Rin. I however am in full agreement with her conviction as a mother that wants the utmost safety of her child. For that, it made me gladder.Bookmark here

Since I was in a hurry to make lunch, I made do with a supermarket close to Zen Park. And while I'm at it, I also planned to take a look at the condition of the lake.Bookmark here

But I forgot that today is Sunday. Even if it is not a sale day, the market was pretty packed. It did not take me very long to get everything I need, but I still ended up being the last person on a very long cashier line.Bookmark here

"Ma… ma…"Bookmark here

"There, there. You're getting to speak again, you little guy. Mama will give you a kiss."Bookmark here

I heard an approaching voice somewhere behind me that sounded like a woman with an infant with her. And then I also heard a man's voice. I see, a family.Bookmark here

"You can sit somewhere while you wait, dear. This is a little long of a line."Bookmark here

Somehow the family took my rare interest. Before they even get to part ways, I turned my head towards them and my eyes met with the mother's.Bookmark here

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Silence.Bookmark here

Right in this exact time, I am seeing a woman with a very long, black hair; carrying a child on her arms. On her left hand is what is most likely a wedding ring; I am at least ninety percent sure of it. But it was the familiar face that made my eyes widen ever so slightly…Bookmark here

…As the eyes of Rena Azuki completely widened, gazing to my presence. But her last name… I wonder about that.Bookmark here

A puzzle then began to slowly get solved, and realistic assumptions pondered in my head. I think I now know why Aunt Sumi was acting like that earlier, and perhaps moving forward.Bookmark here

And I think I now know why Rin placed her respect and trust to the person—a woman, a mother—that I am gazing at right at this very moment.

Chapter Message:Bookmark here

That wraps up 062!Bookmark here

This might be one of the stronger segments of the story apart from the comedy and the usual. I suppose it is much more realsitic than Gin's agony which is why it was easier to write, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the topic.Bookmark here

Thank you for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

063: This life is not a mistake.Bookmark here

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