Chapter 3:

When the Azalea Sways, Asakura Decides.

When My Ex-Girlfriend Came For a Visit, It Was Raining.

“What did you say...?”

It was unfathomable to think how I was even capable of asking that question after the bomb the girl had dropped. Grim itself invaded my face, unable to know where to even look. The silence between us three felt like a thin line dividing peace and chaos. If someone were to speak now, a full-blown war would break loose. My throat was dry, and my saliva felt gross.

“Now that I think about it,” The green-haired beauty fidgeted. “It might be a little less than 730 hours because I got lost once I made it here.”

Flabbergasted. Maybe that was the word I was looking for. I was ready to cut this thread until a fiercer scissor made its way through the entrance door.

“Hey! How are my favorite son and favorite daughter!!!???”

It was the voice of my old man. I looked toward a small digital clock we had lying around, it showed it was just a little past 9 PM. Something was off.

“You’re early for a chang—”

But, after those words escaped my lips, it hit me: he would see this unusual lady right away. I had no time to hide her or make up an elaborate lie.

“Yeppers, I’m early for a change ma’ boy!” He happily took his shoes off, put on the extra slippers without noticing my little sister’s intention and took a step inside while losing his tie. “Left work early and decided to come to see my most precious kids! ...And get a change of clean clothes while I’m at it.”

“I see.” Hakuro blinked, unfazed as me. We knew what he meant. “I’ve already prepared one for you in advance. You can find it on top of your futon.”

“As expected from my beautiful daughter!” He twirled and twirled until he made it to the center of the house which was, coincidentally where we three were sitting down. He was about to hug my sister when he finally noticed. He made contact with the unknown factor, and she awkwardly smiled. With a rasped breath, he added, “...Kanro, I need to talk to you.”

“My, my, where are my manners!!” He pushed me aside after that subtle warning, amicably laughing. “How foolish of me to not notice such a young beautiful woman! What brings you here at this hour? Never seen you before around here either, missus.”

Before she could speak, someone else did another unexpected thing.

“She is our new neighbour.”

I was baffled. Hakuro had spoken with a neutral voice, just matter-of-factly.

“Hm, that makes sense. You mean that old house that’s about to break?” Our, unfortunately, blood-related father, referenced a small building that was a few minutes away from here. Indeed, it was about to fall into pieces if someone dared to blow some air into its direction. “Poor thing, that’s gonna be tough work to refurbish.”

“Yes, and the services she hired to move her household stuff got caught up in a storm down on the north. It seems like they will take quite a while to make it here if the truck didn’t fall into one of the swamps.”

Such a calm way of lying with a terrifying ending!

“Spending the rest of the afternoon getting accustomed to the area, she found our house. After all, we are the only ones living so far from the others in this village. It was either stay at the barren temple or greet us.” Hakuro ended her crafted lie with a sweet smile. “Isn’t that right, Amamizu-san?”

She even made a last name on the spot!

“W-Well yes!” The green-haired girl took a deep breath after flailing. The perfect scenario had been made up for her. All she had to do was to ad-lib the script. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m Mima Amamizu. My apologies for overstaying…”

“Oh, no worries. No worries at all!” My old man scratched his neck, a nervous tick of his. “After what Hakuro said I’d feel bad if you had nowhere else to stay, so please make yourself at home! I’m sure you already know my kids' names so please just call me Ian. Full name is Eian but I totally dislike it.”

“Of course, my pleasure Eian—I mean, Ian-san.” I could see how Mima’s glasses slipped a little bit.

“Well, I’ll let you two have some fun girly chit-chat over some tea. I and Kanro will organize things for your stay!” And with that, he literally almost broke my neck and shut me inside his stinky old room. I couldn’t even see anything except those blue eyes we shared. I needed to be careful with my footing or I might regret it later. “Kanro, my son, what is the meaning of this?! Are you picking up girls at such a young age and win right off the bat the lottery with the older sister type and even get her to stay here so quickly to boot? Man, you are smooth, and moving too fast for this old geezer to keep up. Gotta step up my game!”

Self-control is something I’m very proud of since it requires patience, as well as energy. However, your brain can get tired and get depleted. So, the repression of anger needs careful thought. If it is boiling up, you need to find a way to cool it down. If it explodes, someone will be at the receiving end. Most people under siege will naturally seek a more vulnerable or safe, so to speak, person to explode at. Thus, how you deal with your anger is vital. It is like steam in a pressure cooker, and you have to find a way to let it out in a safe manner.

However, I was near my wits limit. Yet, I know that anger costs you far more than what it earns.

“Oh, those eyes again. You’re angry, huh.”

That was a peculiarity of mine. Whenever any of my emotions went loose, my eyes would drastically change their shape. Someone like this pathetic man and Hakuro knew perfectly well how to read them without me showing the actual emotion I was feeling. Amidst the dark, he knew perfectly well I was furious only with a single glance. Not by the tone of my voice, since I hadn’t said a word yet, nor my body language which would be impossible to know due to the empty void that was his bedroom.

I had a plethora of reasons to feel like this due to his words. I knew he meant no ill, yet those hurt as if I was being stabbed.

“Haha, don’t be like that!” He laughed, hitting my back with glee. Apparently, that was his classic way of always brushing off every single little discord of ours. I almost fell apart since he was always ridiculously strong when ‘patting’ me. “Now, I gotta change into something so out you go!”

The same way I was brushed inside, I was brushed out. Hakuro had made the unexisting tea my old man had mentioned, and both were enjoying it as if nothing had happened. I was just about to sit down again and maybe, finally, get some more info out of glasses girl here, but that poor excuse of a human being was already changed up and ready to go.

“Welp, life calls!” He excused himself, ready to go outside. It had stopped raining. “Oh, and Mima-chan, you are free to stay as long as you need to.”

I was about to speak until I saw the strange girl’s face of utter shock. She was quick to dismiss it and decided that it was finally time to stand up and say something of her own and not a charade.

“Why… such hospitality to a complete stranger? You don’t know anything about me.” Her legs were trembling, like a small animal filled with fear. “Why are you all being so kind?”

“That’s easy to answer. We are but a small village. Everyone knows each other and we are a knit-tight community. We all protect and care for each other. In other words, we are a big old family. So, from now on, you’ll be part of it.” Smiling, he tips a stupid fedora he had on his head. “Welcome to Hanazakari. We hope you enjoy your stay.”

The beautiful girl was out of breath.

“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

The old wooden sliding door closed.

Stillness came when the storm quelled, and in a second it moved on like a cloud in the sky. The TV came back to life, the leaves began to rustle outside, even the song of the cicadas returned. In those frozen seconds, we had, when the door closed, Hakuro had apparently moved from the living room to our shared bedroom. From the door, she was closely watching.

“It’s late,” she stated, her reddish-cinnamon eyes a bit teary from a contained yawn. “I have to go to sleep, sorry.”

“Go ahead, it’s fine,” I replied, assuring her there was no need to apologize. “This time-traveler should sleep with you too. Let her take the top of the bunk bed, where I sleep. I’m afraid you might fall or something.”

“Okay,” my adorable sister closed the door, finally leaving us alone once again.

When I turned around, to my surprise, the amethyst eyed girl was intensely blushing.

“For being an ex, you evidently have some lingering feelings for me. It’s just a bed, it’s not like I’ll be sleeping right next to you.” I sighed, throwing myself on the floor. I didn’t aim properly and didn’t fall into the cushion.

“Oh… well... Um…” She became the epitome of panic.

“Just joking, no need to reply.” I kept on going, rubbing my butt. “I still want to talk with you a little bit more, though. Since we were interrupted and all.”

“A-Alright…” She tried to smile again, nervousness betraying her.

“For starters, I would like to say sorry for my behavior. I wasn’t quite nice to you.” And that was true. I felt truly bad for her, and me saying I would give her the benefit of the doubt just made me feel like utter trash for not doing so in the end. “Things escalated too quickly. My bad for not keeping calm.”

“No, not at all!” With clamor, she reached out with both hands on the table. After taking notice of her outburst, she retreated to her quirky shy shell. “My most sincere apologies for speaking so much without thinking how you might feel about all this. I was… pretty nervous. How should I start or what should I say once I finally see you… and we both know how that ended.”

“Yeah, quite a unique first meeting,” I tried to add a laugh to make her feel better. Apparently, it worked. Her muscles relaxed slightly. “So, about this time limit of yours… 730 hours is a full month, approximately.”

Looking toward the vase with the morning glory, the sole petal that fell was below the calendar that hung on the wall.

“It’s July 1st, and coincidentally, July has 31 days. Where I want to go with this is that in this specific month, there are a total of 744 hours and not the 730 you claim. Ignoring the ones you said you might have lost when looking for me after you arrived here.”

“As expected from Asakura-kun. Always so perceptive,” another faint smile was drawn on her face. “For that to make sense, I would have to explain my circumstances and… tell you about the place I come from. Thing I do not wish to do at the moment.”

Why is it so hard for you to speak? You throw and throw stuff to then just stay shut!

“It’s painful.”

Now I felt like a complete butthole for thinking that.

“Then how am I supposed to know what or who kills me, right?” I tried to change the topic to another concerning issue. “I’m on a time limit here, and you are my only clue. Who, I must add, has not explained herself fully and I am here giving her a huge benefit of the doubt just because my sister believes in you and I trust her judgment blindly.”

If my ears didn’t fail me, I swore I heard a small whimper come from her.

“And it wouldn’t be polite of me to keep on asking stuff after knowing it’s painful for you.”

“Again, as expected from Asakura-kun.” Slowly, with the sleeve of the borrowed dress, she cleaned a tiny tear that had formed in her right eye, like morning dew. “Kind as always.”

“About that. Why not call me by my name? If we were lovers in this so-called future, you’d call me Kanro by the very least.”

Silence once again.

No answer, huh?

However, I was tired of pressuring her, and her nervousness made me feel like the bad guy here.

“So another mystery has been added to the bag, just great,” I said to myself, just to notice it came out of my lips and not as a thought. She seemed truly apologetic. “Okay, just one more question and I promise I’ll finally shut up.”

The mysterious beauty tilted her head in curiosity.

“Why me?”

“Excuse me…?” She was taken aback, confused, even.

“Why fall in love with me? You’re my future ex, right? So asking about how we broke up is kinda insensitive and a jerk move. I’d rather ask something basic that I’m completely sure you can answer since we are not a thing. Nor in the present—or past for you—nor in the future.”

And when I thought that the silence would loom over us again, her voice remained as warm as early spring, as if her heartbeat so steadily even though she had a different view of the world. Before I knew it, everything was happy again, it was love all around instead of the stupid bickering and resentfulness I had grown accostumed to in this home. It was a sense of calm that crept inside of me. Just like Hakuro’s hugs.

“Because you saved my life.”

I awake to the steady patter of rain upon the window, droplets yet to scatter the rays of the rising sun. The sound brings tranquility to my mind, a soothing melody, a natural lullaby. Soon I return to my reality; the song of the rain becomes a fusion, birds bringing sweet high notes. The heat was rising, a stroke probably on its way.

I raised myself from the floor, an old blanket covering half of my body.

For God’s sake, this living room is actual hell during summer, even more so with the humidity of the rain! I’m glad the heatstroke didn’t actually happen!

In a daze, I washed my face in the bathroom, threw the muddy clothes from yesterday into the washing machine and changed into my simple school uniform. A white shirt and black pants. I never used the stupid red tie; summer heat made it unbearable. With all that out of the way, I felt a little bit bad about not taking a quick shower in the morning since I was already sweating but hey, I at least managed to take a cold bath before going to sleep last night.

Making my way to the kitchen, I started to prepare breakfast. Omurice, to be precise. Using some leftover rice from last night, I made sure there was enough for dinner and the cooking began. I quite enjoyed it. The sizzling of the oil, the lovely smells. When the two dishes were done, I felt like a proud father about to vore his children.

Okay, that was way out of line.


“Good morning.”

Two voices, one sleepy and the other one quaint echoed in the house. I turned around to see Hakuro still in her pajamas, yawning. On the other hand, the four-eyed girl was already changed and ready, an early bird probably.

That was when I noticed my mistake.

Godammit, I only made two omurice.

I had already placed them on the neatly made table, which was already set up for two to boot. I noticed how my little sister eyes it, probably—no, most likely knowing—I had screwed up. I saw how her parted lips opened to say something.

“I’m going to eat on my way to school. Sleeping in this dreaded place made me sweat so much that I have nausea.” I lied.

“Do you want some medicine?” Hakuro followed along with it.

“Nah, I’ll be fine.”

They both sat down, ready to dive in.

“Thanks for the food.” Both chimed.

Watching the green-haired girl eat was a magical experience of some sort. I couldn't really pinpoint why but, there was something that simply enchanted her. Perhaps it was due to her graceful movements with the hashi, or how she kept on sweetly smiling every time the rice passed through her mouth, small grains sticking to her lips and cheeks.

I gulped.

At that point, I doubted if it was hunger, the level of cuteness in front of my eyes or the heat itself making me go insane.

The clock kept on ticking endlessly; the cicadas cried in the summer haze; the rain roared relentlessly; both girls ate happily.

I chuckled under my breath, enjoying the moment.

Ignoring all the madness from yesterday, holding a smile was difficult. This was all I ever wanted. This was all I’d ever dreamed of. Living a peaceful, uneventful life, enjoying every second of it with my little sister and well, now with this strange girl but that doesn’t matter. Watching Hakuro peacefully eat; drink a glass of water; her pink lips leaving small marks on such glass; her blinking her reddish-cinnamon eyes; living every single thing life has to offer.

Until she sneezed.

“You okay?” I reached out to Hakuro, who held a napkin to clean her nose.

“Is everything okay, Hakuro-chan?” Asked the unknown variable as well.

My sister left her chopsticks on the empty plate on the table and slowly clapped her hands.

"Thanks for the food, Ran-chan."

I threw her a small glare. Hakuro got the message.

"Yes, it’s just the allergies. Summer is starting after all."

The cicadas kept on crying their song and Hakuro's gaze traveled slowly to the window. Her eyes shone with the hidden sunrays, glimmering through the raindrops and breaking through. It was as if Hakuro had become light itself.

I’m worried.

And I noticed the lovely girl who crashed into our house yesterday was too.

“Time to go.” Ready to leave, with all my belongings, I made sure to leave the lunch portions ready and the clothes from the washing machine drying inside the bathroom because of the rain. “I think everything’s done.”

“May I accompany you?” The self-proclaimed eighteen-year-old girl softly questioned. “I want to grow accustomed to this place.”

“I don’t see why not? You don’t need my permission or something.” I shrugged it off. “Although, sure you’ll be okay? You won’t go like oh wow all these things are amazing! if you come from another world? Things like in my time we don’t use all these fashioned artifacts since you’re from the future? I still don’t have that part cleared up.”

A graceful laugh escaped her lips.

“I’ll be alright. You always mentioned your hometown to me. I think I have a visual, mental map of it in my head from all your stories, Asakura-kun.”

I’m still unsure about this. She might still be lying with that reply. My parallel world theory is becoming a bit stronger than the other world claim.

“Suit yourself,” I made my way to that old geezer’s room, while I heard the girl happily celebrating in the background.

He was asleep, his snores being a clear annoyance to my eardrums. Around him, I could now clearly see all the empty cans of beer. Hakuro shouldn’t even spend part of her evening cleaning this mess if this pathetic man doesn’t even lift a finger around the house and makes a mess right when he comes back past midnight. The pristine room my little sister left during the afternoon became a dumpster when the clock struck 12 AM.

“I’m leaving. Hakuro will too in a little bit. Food’s in the fridge.” I stated, with a deadpan voice.

“Okie! Have a great day at school you two!!!” His tone was enough to tell me he was still drunk in his dreams.

Once that chore was dealt with, I noticed that my future ex was standing outside the house waiting for me. I was about to leave as well until someone took hold of my shirt. I felt time freezing on the spot.

“Wait,” Hakuro spoke, her words sounding like a plea. I could hear her security whistle swaying in the small breeze the rain brought inside the house.

“It’s gonna be fine, I’ll buy a new umbrella while grabbing some food at Okada-san’s store on the way,” I reassured her. Okada was an old lady who ran a little, quaint shop that worked as a replacement for a convenience store. Hanazakari Village was far away from Sakigaoka Town, so it was perfect to grab basic necessities. “No need to worry.”

I stepped outside, a small gasp left behind as the only noise her throat could manage.

Through the crevice of the door, before I crushed her fingers, my little sister grabbed my hand and she ended up outside as well and pushed her forehead into my back.

“I’ll be back.”

She broke apart, me observing how her eyes widened due to my reply without hearing her plea once more.

“I’ll be back, I promise.”

Hakuro was left alone, watching us both run for our lives under the rain. I heard the sliding door close, and felt my heart at rest.

We were both out of breath, resting under Okada-san’s store roof. We were able to manage two simple umbrellas. One for her and the other one for my sister. I’ll use it today but I’ll make her keep it once this day is over. I could even grab a pair of curry breads, one to munch on my way to school and the other one for lunchtime.

“Aren’t you going to be late for class?” My futuristic ex-girlfriend asked. She was still using my mother’s clothes since I had been ashamed to add her wet pair with my muddy one during the morning wash.

“Yeah, I’m good. I know I’ll be late if Hakuro leaves before me. Her classes start a tiny bit later than mine since she is still in elementary.”

“I see. Well then, I won’t bother you any longer.” She bowed and turned her back toward me. “I’ll go and take a look around the village.”

And the pitter-patter of her footsteps, fading by the second, made me know she was already gone. I won’t deny I feel extremely restless about this but it would be hard to explain if she stuck around me too much. I was glad Okada-san didn’t ask too many questions when we both came in. I guess she just took it as a coincidence and saw her as a tourist since I gave the girl pocket change in advance.

I just made my way to school as always, the rain being my silent companion. Surprisingly, no one decided to play a prank on me on the way, which I was glad for. I would’ve beat the crap out of anyone who dared to ruin the recently bought umbrella for my sister. After closing it and leaving it with all the others, I opened my shoe locker.

Well, what do we have here?

It was filled, thankfully not to the brim, with tack nails. Without showing any sign of anger, I just sighed in defeat and started to pull them out one by one. I remember that it used to be far worse. Maybe they ran out of them and have to buy more.

Bullying sounds pretty much like a hobby at this point, spending money just to ruin someone’s day, how pathetic.


I turned around. I faced the other part of the school entrance and was unable to see who had just let out such a gasp of shock. My sigh was being blocked by the opposite side shoe lockers. However, I was able to hear a huge splash and catch a glimpse of a small river of water flowing its way outside. It seemed like this person’s locker had been filled with water and, once they opened it, it soaked all their belongings.

Huh, another victim of bullying. Well, that sucks.

Once classes began, I couldn’t quite concentrate. Instead of my mysterious ex filling my mind with questions, it was going round and round with my harassers. For once, they weren’t losing their time expecting me to ambush me or something. They only filled my shoe locker with the tack nails and it was sloppy. No real intent behind it like always, kinda like they were doing it just because. A boring routine they started to find too exhausting but were unable to completely stop doing it.

I started to draw in my notebook.

“Another world, huh…” my whisper was drowned by the rain that fell through the window.

Seeing that my ex is reluctant to answer any questions regarding that, it’s silly of me to overthink since it will get me nowhere.

And before I knew it, the lunch bell rang.

And now I have lessons to catch up on too because I didn’t pay attention, fantastic.

Grabbing my extra curry bread, I decided to head to the rooftop. The rain had ceased, and the sky was opening, the sun making its way through the black clouds.

Walking alone in the hallways, I reached the stairs and opened the rooftop’s door. It still felt a bit chilly but the humidity made it feel sticky. I munched the bread, savoring its homemade taste.

Oh yeah, where are the stupid bullies? Haven’t seen them today at all.

Right about this hour, they would lock me from entering back to the school or something. Now that I think about it, the prank from yesterday would’ve had actual mud in it instead of being the dirty rainwater that filtered through the floor's gaps. It would even include feces from the cute rabbits the school had as mascots back in the open courtyard.

And going back to the tack nails, there were definitely fewer. Normally I counted the whole box of 500 but now it was less than 100. Maybe they finally got tired of me as I assumed due to my lack of “amusing” reactions for them and moved to this new target who had the bad luck of finding their locker with water.

“Although, it could be a new case of bullying,” I thought out loud. “It might have started in another classroom and I don’t care about rumors or chit-chat. Or maybe it’s from another year entirely. In either case, poor kiddo. When you’re a new target, it sucks. Heck, they might’ve been bullied alongside me but since I don’t even care, they might be venting out on them. Tough luck.”

I stopped looking at the sky, and my sight was greeted with a unique scene.

A girl was standing in front of the rooftop’s fence. Her petite silhouette shivered slightly, her right hand holding onto the old iron. I scanned the area and noticed she was with her shoes on and not on the floor.

This is clearly a suicide scenario… however she doesn’t seem quite committed… yet. Maybe I can talk her out of it.

The girl with no name trembled. There were so many hues to her light chestnut hair, from new daylight to hearth-glow-golds, yet woven too with such heavenly browns. It softly danced with the breeze, alongside the school’s black uniform skirt. Facing her deathbed she was as cosy as I could perceive even if I couldn’t see her face.

With delicate, slow steps in order to avoid scaring her and suddenly causing an irreversible mistake, I approached her. Apparently, she could hear me since her grip tightened. My throat felt dry. This was a tricky situation. One wrong word or movement and I’d have this image burned in my mind and retinas for eternity.

Before I could say a word, she let go.

And without thinking, I climbed the fence and leapt to the void.

Her delicate wrist was all I could grasp.

Yet, why was I the only one falling now?

I barely saw her face while she stood between the abyss of life and death. Using my helping hand as a method to recover her gravity, she used it against me and now she was still alive on the rooftop while I fell.

All I could see in the end was her azalea hair clip swaying in the wind.

My thoughts derailed, everything was in slow motion.

Perhaps today is the day I die. That four-eyed girl with the pretty purple eyes failed her mission. 730 hours my ass. Well, at least I know I’ll be alive afterwards, right? Maybe it is another world after all and I reincarnate there or get transported, who knows how those mechanics work. And I’ll be able to understand what she has been struggling to tell me.

“Maybe it’s not that bad.”

The image of a small girl crawled in my brain. Her short ash-blonde hair, and swollen reddish-cinnamon eyes. Her picture came along with that old man with his stupid old-fashioned fedora, and then mixed silhouettes of different women surrounding them. My little sister would be all alone, growing up in such an environment by herself. That isn’t the life she deserves.

“Suddenly, I don’t want to die anymore…”

The wind carried the sound of a heartfelt whistle.

I opened my eyes.

Gravity had stopped, and I was floating. There she was, right in front of me with the most beautiful smile I had seen in years. Her light-green hair tied up, her amethyst like eyes sparkling like a jewel and a warmth I yearned for.


That was the first time I called her by her name.

“Yes, Asakura-kun?” She asked with a quaint voice, giving me tranquillity.

“Who are you, really?”

“I’ve already told you.” A graceful laugh escaped her lips as if she were making fun of a small child that doesn’t believe what they are told just to be proved wrong. “I’m your ex-girlfriend from another world.”

At that moment, the sun illuminated her figure, me finally realizing how beautiful she was. I made an oath in my heart instantly. I will fully believe in Mima, and her devotion to stop my untimely death. Which I highly doubt is this one due to her calmness.

And thus, when the azalea swayed, I finally made my decision.