MINUS • PLUS
Yukio was in his apartment, lying on his bed instead of going through the class notes. How could he concentrate, after what happened today?
After he said “Huh?” for the third time, Amanda held his shoulders and gave him a little shake. Yes, that was her name, Amanda Burton. She did ask him to just call her Amy, like everyone does, but he had no problem using her full name. Since she was adamant that ‘Burton-san’ sounded too weird.
He had also discovered that she has an entirely different persona when she’s not around other people…
Anyway, that was later. The moment she held him, he became conscious, and tried to get out of her grasp.
“Are you okay?” she wasn’t sincere at all; she was literally laughing while she said it.
“Buzz off,” he said instinctively, then realized his mistake. “Sorry… I didn’t mean…”
“It’s okay,” she said with a mischievous smile, “Are you like this with everyone? Or do I have some kind of special effect on you?”
“What do you mean??”
Yukio didn’t expect her to say anything after “You’re wrong.” Except maybe, “Bye, don’t ever talk to me again.” But here she was, saying that…
“You did it on purpose?” He didn’t let her change the subject. “What do you mean by that? Why the hell… I mean why would you follow me?”
“Hmm, indeed,” Amanda was faking a thoughtful expression, “Maybe… because I found you interesting?”
“Huh?” It was the fourth time.
“What, that’s not enough?” She said while twirling the end of her hair, “I mean you just keep glancing at me, but never approach me. It has been so many days since you joined our class, but we have never talked. I even wondered whether you’re into boys-”
“Just… stop,” was all he could say. Even his most fanciful dreams never forecasted his current situation. “What… what do you want from me?”
“Hmm, maybe an introduction would do? Since the one you gave at the class was terrible.”
“Okay,” Yukio cleared his throat, “My name is Takanashi Yukio. I’m an orphan, and I currently live alone in an apartment. My life has been dull, uninteresting for a long time, and I don’t expect it to improve anytime soon. There you go.”
Amanda was uncomfortable, which was exactly what he wanted her to be. “Now please tell me the real reason. There is just no way I will believe that a girl like you is interested in me, no matter what I did or didn’t do.”
She hesitated a bit, then tried to smile again, “Don’t tell me, did you get serious? I was kidding! Your intro was great. I don’t know why the others were making fun of-”
“The truth, please.” His expression didn’t change. “Don’t change the subject. I’ll ask you again. What do you want from me? I think today I even saw-”
She was being mischievous all this time, but now there was a shadow of seriousness on her face. Yukio stopped talking as he noticed that. He had never seen this side of her.
Is she… angry?
Before he could say anything, Amanda took a deep breath, and returned to her usual composed character; the one everyone in their class was used to. She looked at him with hesitant eyes, and said, “Yes, you’re right. There is a reason I’ve been following you all this time. But before I say what it is, can you please tell me something?”
Yukio gave her a puzzled look, as she continued, “When you were little, did you ever have seizures?”
He was shocked.
“How did you know that?”
She smiled a bit, “There is a reason. But if I tell you right now, you may think I’m crazy. In fact, I’ve been meaning to talk to you for quite some time. Since you never approached me, I thought walking to school with you may get you to notice me. But you were so busy with your phone all the time…”
“What is it?” It was all very puzzling to Yukio. For a moment there, he had genuinely thought that maybe she was interested in him. But he was nothing if not rational. His mind forced him to admit that there’s no way someone like her would be interested in him. So if she really is following him willingly, there must be some other reason…
But how crazy can it be?
Yukio tried to guess a bit… and there was only just one possible reason he could think of.
“Is it… a dare?”
After a brief silence, Amanda started laughing again. “What? Really? You really think I’ll take part in some stupid dare?”
“Well, what else can it be?” He was sulking, “Maybe you lost a bet or something…”
“Nothing like that,” she said after composing herself. “It’s just that… okay, here’s the deal. How about we leave school now, since it's already quite late, and I’ll tell you about everything as soon as possible. Most likely tomorrow.”
“What’s wrong with today?” There was one thing that he had to make sure of, “How did you know that I used to have seizures when I was little?”
“I can’t answer that at this moment,” She said, mysteriously. “Again, I’m asking you to be patient for one day. I promise I’ll explain everything tomorrow.”
“Explain what? You must’ve looked into my medical records or-”
He was suddenly uncomfortable. It was the first time Amanda had used his name, and she didn’t say ‘Takanashi-san’ or ‘Taka-san’. She said ‘Yukio’, that too without any honorifics.
Who is this girl…
“Since it’s decided that we’ll talk properly tomorrow,” she said it like it was decided unanimously, “Let’s meet here during lunch break. I’ll answer all your questions, and also show you something… interesting.”
What did she mean by that? It sounds really misleading!
“Well then, see you,” Amanda said while turning back, while Yukio kept trying to figure out what just happened. When she was almost near the door, she suddenly turned back and ran towards him.
“Oh, by the way, I’m Amanda. Amanda Burton.”
They also walked a bit together while returning home. Yukio finally got the opportunity to ask her all the questions he wanted to ask for a long time. Since she won’t answer his other questions until tomorrow, she had to comply.
Amanda apparently lived in London till she was 14, then shifted here. Both her parents were British, but since they worked for a big company based in Japan (he could easily guess its name) she often visited Japan during her childhood. After their parents shifted here, they gave her an apartment in Tokyo. She currently lives there with a relative. She is a self-proclaimed ‘movie buff’, and also likes Italian food. And also… she likes yaoi manga.
Okay, Yukio thought, I want to forget that last piece of information.
Still, that walk with her was something he’ll likely never forget...
As Yukio was tossing and turning at his bed, with occasional glances at the cardboard box containing the magazines, his phone suddenly rang.
It was Amanda.
He cleared his throat, drank a glass of water, slapped both his cheeks, then picked up the phone and said as casually as possible, “Hello?”
“Yukio? This is Amanda.”
“Yes…?” Yukio said, then immediately corrected himself. “Hey, Amanda. What’s up?”
“So…” she said after a pause, “I have talked to… I mean I am ready to tell you everything. There’s no need to wait until tomorrow.”
“That’s great! Well then, how did you know-”
“Not over the phone,” she cut him off. “I’m coming to your house right now. You’re not busy, right?”
Yukio took a quick measure of his room. It was fairly clean (he was good at cleaning), but he still needed to tidy it up a bit. He also needed to take care of that cardboard box and that box of tissues. Wait, maybe the box can stay…
“Okay then. See you!” She hung up before he had the chance to say anything else.
Yukio was really tempted to call her again and demand an explanation. He did tell her where he lived, but it wasn’t an exact address, just showing a direction. And why would she care to come to his apartment, when it was almost 9 pm?
Ultimately, the curiosity of the ‘why’ got the better of him. He really had unanswered questions, and if she wants to give him the answers right now instead of tomorrow, it might be something urgent.
Then again, who knew, maybe the whole thing would turn out to be a big misunderstanding after all…
While he was thinking all that, he was instinctively tidying up the room. After all, it will be the first time a girl will enter it. He didn’t want her to have anything to laugh about.
After he was done, he lay down in his bed in exhaustion. Embracing his body pillow, he thought of resting a bit before Amanda came. The softness of the pillow made him a bit drowsy.
After a few moments, he suddenly remembered.
He doesn’t have a body pillow.
The shock made him jump, and he fell to the floor. As the pain subdued, he could hear the sound of laughter coming from his bed.
As he stood up, Amanda said, “Hello.”
“What the hell!!!”
His eyes looked like they were about to jump out of the eye sockets.
“How… why… when…”
As Yukio kept babbling, Amanda rolled in the bed, laughing. “So sorry,” she said in-between the bursts of laughter, “I planned to come normally… but I… I just had to see your reaction once.”
His mind wasn’t working properly. When did she enter the apartment? How? The door is locked, and he lives on the 4th floor, dammit! Even if, for argument’s sake, she has a master key, why didn’t he notice her when she entered his bedroom and lay down in his bed?
It’s almost as if…
“I appeared out of thin air, right?”
Yukio looked at her with a dumb expression. Wow, he thought, she can read minds as well. She’s either a witch… or a superhero.
“And no, I can’t read your mind”, Amanda finally stood up, “I can only do what you just saw me doing. You did see me, right?”
Yukio slowly shook his head. His CPU was being rebooted.
“Okay,” she suddenly got serious, “Again, sorry about this. I thought we can skip the steps of me arguing with you, you thinking I am insane, etc. by just showing you what I am capable of. Since you didn’t see me, I guess I need to do it again. Look at me carefully.”
The next moment, she changed her mind. “You don’t look so good after all. I don’t want to give you a heart attack this time. Here, sit down.”
Amanda helped him sit on the bed. “Do you need water?” Without waiting for his answer, she brought him a glass.
After he had somewhat calmed down, Yukio looked at her and almost shouted, “How did you enter my room?!”
“Relax,” She said, as if saying that word would actually make him relax, “That’s what I’ve come to talk about. I’m going to tell you everything… well, as much as I am allowed to, right now. Then we’re going on a short trip.”
“Huh?” Fifth time.
“Yukio,” she said, looking straight into his eyes, “I’m not sure what’s the best way to say this, so I’m just going to be direct. Ever since I was born, I had… powers. I could move stones with my willpower, and go straight to the kitchen from my bedroom. Later, I learned from my parents, this power is called ‘Rima’. And I got it from them.”
Yukio kept looking at her incredulously, as she continued, “It lets me control my surroundings, and also teleport from one place to another; we just call it ‘Jumping’. There are many other facets of this power, and not everyone can do everything. I can just do some basic reality manipulation, and Jumping, of course. Anyway, those who can harness Rima are called ‘Tracts’.”
She stopped for a bit, likely expecting a response from Yukio. She didn’t get any.
“So, what I’m trying to say is… I am a Tract.”
“What?” he finally responded.
“And so are you.”