Haruko screamed as she punched, whatever it was, that had grabbed her. Her hit was surprisingly accurate despite the lack of vision in that “haunted library”... well it was definitely haunted now. Haruko had confirmed her suspicions.
“OH MY GO- OH MY GOD-”
A boy’s voice screamed as an unknown object fell to the ground, along with a body. A small shattering noise, like broken glass, followed a loud thud. There was a brief silence.
“Geez...what the hell is even…”
Blood dripped out of Kaito’s nose. Haruko had punched glasses right in the nose. School was truly such a wonderful place, wasn’t it? You make new friends, form great relationships with them on the first day… don’t you?
“Omori-kun… ohhh...it’s you Omori-kun… uhm. I-I’m sorry- oh god what should I do um…”
Haruko fumbled around, waving her arms aimlessly. She quickly grabbed a clean handkerchief out of her skirt pocket and handed it over to the lightheaded president. Sorry, “temporary president”. Kaito reached his hand out in the opposite direction. He waited, with his hand extended. Haruko stared at him, her eyes huge.
“.... My glasses are broken. There are no lights.”
“Yeah… yeah you’re right.”
“PLEASE I CAN’T SEE OR HEAR OR- OR FUNCTION-”
Haruko suddenly got it. She quickly grabbed Kaito’s hand and shoved the handkerchief into his bloody hands. So Kaito was the legally blind type. The type whose eyes turn into foam after taking off his glasses; whose life support was literally the two lenses on his face. Haruko scratched her head awkwardly. She really messed up this time.
“Omori-kun.. I’m sorry. I thought you were a demon or something. Ayane-san k-kept telling me the library….was haunted….”
The pair sat on the messy floor, Kaito against the bookshelf with his head tilted and the handkerchief pressed against his face. For some reason, he started laughing. Haruko’s head snapped up quickly. He had a very nice laugh, for a nerd. Of course, she didn’t think nerds in general had unattractive laughs but… well actually she didn’t know what the heck she thought in the first place.
“W-what’s so funny? I really didn't mean to do this...”
Haruko wailed, sinking further down into the ground.
“Hah..no it’s not that. I just found it funny how you could so blatantly admit to believing ghost or demon stories. In a modern day school library no less. You screamed so loudly too… I’m sorry you just look so small and shy. I didn’t expect you to yell like that..haha.”
Kaito squinted his eyes slightly.
“Where are my glasses?”
“H-here. They’re broken though.”
He ran his fingers on the frames, and felt the severed metal. He sighed heavily, yet it sounded like he actually enjoyed himself?
Suddenly, the library lights flashed on as Itsuki’s voice bounced off the walls. She appeared, out of breath with her braid undone, in front of Haruko and Kaito.
“Itsuk- Ayane-san! Wh-what are you doing here? I thought you went home!”
Itsuki held up her hand, as if to say “give me a moment to catch my breath first!”
She brushed the dust off her skirt and looked at Kaito’s pale face and Haruko’s sweaty face.
“What am I doing HERE? What are YOU both doing here? And what’s with glasses’ excessive bleeding?”
“I heard your voice, Haruko-chan, from halfway down the hall. You screamed like you just saw a ghost- bhhhfh-”
“.....What? Are you choking?”
“BBHHHFHBAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HARUKO-CHAN DID YOU ACTUALLY THINK THE LIBRARY WAS HAUNTED? HUH? AHAHAHAHAHAH!”
Haruko stared at Itsuki, her mouth wide open. She stood up rapidly. Kaito stayed on the floor, sighing loudly and frowning at the amount of noise Itsuki was making.
“STOP! I- I JUST WANTED TO SEE FOR MYSELF! I DON’T KNOW WHAT I BELIEVED!”
“AHAHAHAHHAHAHA! HAHAAHAHAHHAHA! OH- OH GOD HARU- KO- AHAHHAHAAH!”
Haruko frowned and pushed her palm to her forehead. Her head was throbbing. Itsuki was laughing so hard she fell to the ground and held the sides of her stomach.
“Here’s an antibacterial ointment and some bandages. Oh, and here’s your glasses. I taped them up for now. They’re still wearable… I think.”
Kaito leaned on a bench near the school’s baseball field. The janitor had found the three of them in the library and started yelling like a madman. He didn’t care one bit about the poor “temporary president’s” sorry state and proceeded to harass them with a broom.
Kaito squinted hard, holding the glasses right up to his face.
“..Is this a “Hello Kitty” masking tape you used?”
Itsuki placed both hands on her hips and smiled triumphantly.
“Cute right? They’re new! Dad just stocked up the shop’s washi tape section!”
She made strange, confusing arm movements.
“Buy! One! And! Get! 50 Percent off your second purchase!!!!”
Kaito groaned loudly but wore the glasses anyway. He watched as Haruko ran over, her arms carrying various drinks from the vending machine.
The trio chugged the drinks while watching the sun set. There was a quiet, peaceful silence. The contrast between the library a few moments ago and the current calmness was quite hilarious. Itski broke the silence and turned around to face the others.
“So what happened? What were the two of you doing in there?”
Both Kaito and Haruko stared emptily into the void.
“...Actually….I was thinking of joining the school’s literature club. You know, since I don’t have many hobbies other than...reading…I kind of wanted to get a look at the library but I didn’t know Omori-kun was there..”
Kaito choked loudly and spat out his grape juice. Itsuki winced with a disgusted look.
“You were thinking of joining the literature club?!?”
“Y-yes I was.”
Kaito’s eye’s sparkled. It was like a flip was switched and the old nerd possessed him.
“Hem hem. I happen to be the president of the literature club! I was in the library setting a few things up.”
Itsuki smirked and crushed her banana juice container in her hand.
“Glasses. What the heck are you even setting up? For the past three years the only member of the literature club was you. I don’t know, do you need to set up a moral support plush or something? So that you don’t feel more alone than you already are-”
Kaito slapped Itsuki’s bag.
“I’ll have you know that managing the literature club, also known as the poetry club, has proven to be quite beneficial in terms of my personal growth and experience. In fact, the club activities have inspired me to take action regarding many aspects of my life that seemed rather abstract and unconventional; turning them into pivotal moments that have shaped me as a person and as a member of society, as a son, a student and a caretaker for aspiring poetry and classic literature enthusiasts...”
Itsuki’s eyes were wide open. They truly couldn’t get any wider. Haruko proceeded to sip her orange juice while avoiding eye contact.
“Was...was that a sentence? Anyways..”
Itsuki stood, placed both hands on her hips once again and turned her back towards the setting sun. She looked like a superhero, with the sunset’s rays flashing behind her and all.
“Alright I’ve decided. I’m gonna join the literature club along with Haruko. That makes three of us.”
Kaito looked over at Haruko, then back at Itsuki.
“Really? Both of you are joining?”
“Huhu, of course! Besides, I can’t leave our little Haruko-chan all alone with you.”
She hugged Haruko’s small head and smirked at Kaito.
“Please, you'll be doing me a favour by monitoring her… violence output," Kaito said jokingly.
Haruko blushed and chuckled a little bit. She felt quite happy, for the first time in a while. Her final year of high school was looking pretty eventful. Little did she know, the events about to take place wouldn’t be so great…
“You’ve reached Yulan Kitamura. Please leave a message after the beep.”
Haruko was crouched in a corner of the dark apartment, her legs close to her chest. She held the old flip phone with one hand, the white light flickering in the darkness.
“...Lan-san. It’s already been a week since you left me at the station. Did you… have a business trip…?”
The time read 12:46 am. She shut the phone off and the room was now completely dark, except for the moonlight pooling in through the window. Big raindrops suddenly started to hit the windows, creating strange shadows on the messy floor. Haruko’s eyes were as gray as usual. You would think she witnessed a gruesome death, simply by making eye contact with her. Her tiny arms shivered slightly as she stared at the wall across from her. Why didn’t Yulan come back even once since seeing her off that day? Something felt different. When Haruko was younger, Yulan had left for longer amounts of time. The longest she waited was two weeks, although the old grandma downstairs came to pay her frequent visits.
“I didn’t even ask him to call back…”
She thought to herself,
“No I shouldn’t. It doesn't matter whether he comes back soon or not… I’m just bored.”
Haruko collapsed on the floor and hummed a sad song. Her eyes were glossy but no tears came out. Her expression remained plain and boring as she closed her eyes.