Chapter 3:

The First Night...

The Struggles from the Happy Girl Next Door

As soon as the cluck struck 8, I pushed myself out of bed, changed into some more casual clothes, grabbed my wallet and headed towards the door to my apartment.Bookmark here

Once I made sure that the door was locked, I started making my way towards the stairs which were in the opposite side of where I lived. As I did so, the sound of people talking could be hear from Takahara-san's place.Bookmark here

It wasn't that I had good hearing. They were just talking loud enough that it sounded as though they were directly behind the door.Bookmark here

"I guess they really did get bothered about... I need to apologize as soon as I can" A sigh escaped my breath and thus continued making my way down the stairs.Bookmark here

With each step that I took down those stairs, the guilt of possibly having caused her problems lingered in the back of my mind "I really shouldn't have accepted"Bookmark here

Slowly but surely, I made my way through the dimly lighted road all the while the stars and moon were slowly but surely starting to take their place in sky above.Bookmark here

Luckily, the convenience store wasn't that far to the actual apartment complex itself, but even then, I couldn't help but wish for it to be a bit farer so that I could take in the beautiful night sky.Bookmark here

After a few more minutes passed, I arrived at the convenience store, picked out some instant ramen, snacks, water and some other necessities just in case.Bookmark here

As I exited the store, I pulled out my phone and started calling my mom. The sound of the phone ringing reverberated through the silent environment I was in.Bookmark here

"Hello?"Bookmark here

"Hey there Mom. How are you?"Bookmark here

"I'm doing fine, what about you? Did you manage to move in all fine?"Bookmark here

"Yeah, I did" "I can't make her worry about something that's my fault" Bookmark here

"Did you introduce yourself to your neighbors?"Bookmark here

"I did... I just wasn't able to meet up with one of them"Bookmark here

"I see... Just make sure to introduce yourself when the moment arises, ok?"Bookmark here

"I will, don't worry about it"Bookmark here

"Well, I'm glad that you're doing all right for your first day, but make sure to call on me if you need anything, got it?"Bookmark here

"I will"Bookmark here

"Take care then and have a good night"Bookmark here

"You too" With those parting words, I hung up the phone and let out a sigh "I really wanted to make a good impression on my first day..."Bookmark here

I shrugged my shoulders, stuck my hand into the bag and took a sip out of a water bottle. I closed it and threw it back in the bag without another thought.Bookmark here

Once I arrived at my apartment, the sounds coming from Takahara-san's place had quieted down. I made my way inside my own apartment, locked the door and started throwing everything in the cupboards and fridge.Bookmark here

I changed out of my clothes, turned off the lights and prepared myself to go to bed. As I started drifting off to sleep, the image of Miss Matsubara looking somewhat dejected as well as Takahara-san's expression passed through my mind once more.
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"I wonder what that was all about..."Bookmark here

I closed my eyes and before I knew it, the tiredness and comfort of the bed had managed to get me to pass out just like that.Bookmark here

"Thud!"Bookmark here

"..." I slowly started getting up into a sitting position and glanced at the my clock "It's 12:45... What the hell was that?"Bookmark here

"Thud!"Bookmark here

Once more, the sound of something hitting my wall resounded once more. After thinking about what it could be, my first thought went to that of something happening over with the neighbors.Bookmark here

"Maybe someone snuck into their house!"Bookmark here

I quickly lifted myself from my bed only to start tumbling from how abrupt it was for my body. Once I got my bearings and managed to wake myself up, I changed into the closest clothes I had on me and headed on over out of my apartment and ring on their doorbell.Bookmark here

"Ring" "Ring" "Ring"Bookmark here

I rang once, then twice, three times, but no one answered the door "Did something happen to them?!" As soon as I was about to start calling the authorities, the door suddenly opened up.Bookmark here

"Yes?"Bookmark here

"U-Umm..." "I-Is everything all right?"Bookmark here

"... Why do you ask?"Bookmark here

"Well... I heard something hitting the wall of my apartment and I thought something bad had occurred"Bookmark here

"..." The man stared into my eyes and bowed "I'm sorry about that, I'm a bit of a heavy sleeper. My wife just woke me up to check up on who was ringing our doorbell"Bookmark here

"I see... I'm sorry for disturbing you"Bookmark here

"There's no need to apologize"Bookmark here

With those words, I wished them a good night and as he was stepping away from the door, for a split second, I noticed a figure almost identical to Takahara-san on her knees.Bookmark here

Before I could even ask if everything was alright, the man closed the door and I was simply left standing there wondering if my eyes had played a trick on me.Bookmark here

"No... That was most definitely Takahara-san... I'm sure of it" "But why was she kneeling? Is it about what happened?"Bookmark here

Multiple reasons crossed my mind, but even then, it wasn't something that I could just do on my own will. I wasn't even family, but... It hurt. For some reason, it pained me knowing that I could quite possibly have been the reason for getting her called out.Bookmark here

With a dejected sigh, I made my way back to my apartment, threw the clothes I had on top of my chair and threw myself back to bed, but no matter how hard I tried to sleep once more, I couldn't.Bookmark here

I was still thinking about what I had saw and the sole thought about it made me think if there was more to everything or if it was just a one time thing...Bookmark here

The next morning, I woke up relatively late. Since I hadn't been able to catch much sleep after what had transpired, I ended up sleeping a lot later then I was expecting.Bookmark here

I took a quick bath, changed into some more casual clothes and pulled out my phone. As I pressed one of the contacts, I waited for a few seconds and the called finally picked up the phone.Bookmark here

"Good morning Kiyota"Bookmark here

"Morning, Natsumi" "Are you able to meet up with me right now?"Bookmark here

"Right now... Sure, where do you want to meet up?"Bookmark here

"How about the café that we frequent? We can get some breakfast or lunch while we're at it"Bookmark here

"Sure, but you're buying for me~"Bookmark here

"You really have no shame... Fine, but don't think that you can spend my money just like that"Bookmark here

"Don't worry about it~" "Next time we go out, I'll buy, how does that sound?"Bookmark here

"You've got it"Bookmark here

"Ok, I'll see you there then"Bookmark here

"See you soon" I hung up the phone and let out a sigh "Natsumi can be relatively quick-witted..."Bookmark here

Miyoshi Natsumi was my childhood friend and we did everything together, even when we started growing up, we did everything as if we were brother and sister.Bookmark here

But once she wanted her own sense of freedom, she made the choice of moving out of her parent's place and move all the way over here. Because of that, we didn't spend a lot of time together as we used to.Bookmark here

When I had made the comment about wanting to move, she insisted that I move all the way over here so that we could spend more time together like we used to and for that reason, I agreed and managed to find a good place to call home.Bookmark here

As I stepped out of the apartment, immediately after, Takahara-san stepped out at the same time. She stared back at me for a few seconds without saying anything, but immediately after, she smiled at me "Good morning, Tokugawa-san~"Bookmark here

"Good morning..." "She seems awfully cheerful... I wonder if everything was my imagination..."Bookmark here

"Are you heading out as well?"Bookmark here

"Yeah"Bookmark here

"Shall we go together then?"Bookmark here

"That won't be a problem?"Bookmark here

"Don't worry about it" She smiled at me once more and seeing as how she was being so insistent that everything was going to be all right, I nodded and thus the both of us started making our way towards the center of the city.Bookmark here

"May I call you Kiyota? And you can call me Yukari"Bookmark here

"I don't mind you calling me by my name, but..."Bookmark here

"Calling me Yukari is better then calling me by my family name"Bookmark here

"I guess you're right..."Bookmark here

"Great~" "Nice to meet you, Kiyota"Bookmark here

"Likewise, Yukari"Bookmark here

She smiled at me once more and as we made our way through the street, I couldn't help but think back on the night and just when I was about to ask her regarding that, I noticed a subtle bruise on her hand.Bookmark here

"Where did you get that?" I gently grabbed her hand and stared at the bruise on the back part of her hand.Bookmark here

"Huh?" She looked down at her hand and quickly covered it "I-I probably got it while I was asleep. I'm quite susceptible to getting bruises"Bookmark here

"I see..."Bookmark here

"Does it..."Bookmark here

"Hmm?"Bookmark here

She shook her head and smiled at me "It's nothing~" As we continued making our way through the street, I simply decided to not ask her about the other night since I didn't want to make things awkward between the both of us.Bookmark here

As we arrived at the center of the city, she called out to me "I'm heading over here"Bookmark here

"Ok. Take care"Bookmark here

"Thank you and take care~"Bookmark here

With those words, she smiled at me once more and headed off towards the mall. As she did so, I couldn't help but stare at her fleeting figure disappear in the middle of the crowd.Bookmark here

"I wonder what she was going to say back there..."Bookmark here

With that single thought in my mind, I started making my way towards the café to meet up with my childhood friend. But even then, the way things had gone simply left more things for me to question... Bookmark here

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