“Haruko-channnnn why would you leave so suddenly! You should have told us before running off on your own! Sakura-chan wasn’t able to meet you either!”
Itsuki’s voice blared through Haruko’s old flip phone.
“Sorry Itsuki.. I forgot I had a few things to take care of… I’ll make it up to you guys next time! I promise!”
“Hmph. Next time we go out you’re paying! I’m taking my revenge!”
Haruko sighed, amused.
“Oh by the way, Kiyoshi-sensei told us we are getting two new club members! Isn’t that exciting? The literature club has not had any new members for years! Well, except for us.”
“....new members? This late into the year?”
Haruko glanced at the torn calendar on the wall of the apartment. Today’s date was May 24th.
“Well it’s past the club registration deadlines but it's not… that late yet riiiight? Eh if Sensei says it’s ok then it must be fine. Right? Haruko? Hello?”
There was a short pause before Haruko suddenly jumped up from the floor, a look of pure panic all over her face.
“I...I completely forgot...how could I forget…”
“Yulan’s...Yulan’s birthday is in two days.”
How could she forget… She never forgot Yulan’s birthday no matter what was going on in her life. Granted, nothing interesting ever happened anyways. Lately, Yulan has been more unreachable than ever. Since the day he dropped her off at the station, she had called him repeatedly yet never got an answer back. Perhaps he would come back for his birthday. He’d never missed spending his birthday with Haruko ever since he decided to take her in.
Haruko gasped loudly at the sound of Itsuki’s voice. She forgot she was on the phone.
“Yulan? Huh… just… a friend of mine…”
Itsuki whistled loudly.
“A FRIEND? JUST A FRIEND? NOT YOUR BOYFRIEN-”
“NO! HE’S NOT MY… MY B-BOY F-FRI-”
“Stop stuttering Haruko, it was only a joke.”
Haruko blushed and screeched at the phone.
“YOU SHOULDN’T JOKE ABOUT THINGS LIKE THAT!”
“NAHAHAHAHA COME ON. Don’t all high school girls joke about these kinds of things? Isn’t that the norm?”
There was another loud silence. Itsuki cleared her throat.
“Well you forgot about his birthday, big deal. Tomorrow’s Monday, right? His birthday is in two days meaning it must be on the 26th, Tuesday. You still got a day right?”
“Y-yeah, I’d like to pick something nice for him.”
“OOOH something niceeee~”
“Aha joking, joking. Ah! Why don’t we go to my house to pick out a gift? I mean, I live out on Nakamise street, remember? There’s plenty of shops to choose from, you don’t have to pick out stationary from our store. You can practically find anything!”
“Ah that’s a good idea. Y-you wouldn’t mind…?”
“Nah nah we agreed to go visit each other at the beginning of the year anyways right? Let’s do it. Tomorrow! After school! Should we bring glasses too?”
Haruko smiled. After what happened with Shun, she thought of avoiding the others so as to not create more problems. It didn’t really make sense after all and Itsuki didn’t seem like the type who would deliberately hurt her either.
“Yep. We’ll count it as a literature club outing.”
The last bell rang loudly, signalling the end of classes. It was Monday afternoon and the usual trio, Kaito, Itsuki and Haruko were heading off to the club room. Itsuki was swinging her arms excitedly.
“The new member is apparently really good looking. Like, handsome. The girls in class 2 are always swooning over him at the baseball field.”
“So, he’s Omori-kun 2.0?”
Kaito and Itsuki stared at Haruko. Was what she said weird?
Suddenly, Kaito started laughing evilly.
“Ho ho, Kitamura-san you think that I, the one and only Omori Kaito, am handsome? Well, one such as I, in the midst of all these lowly men-”
Itsuki slapped Kaito’s face and wrapped her arm around Haruko’s small and thin shoulders.
“Please, nobody thinks you’re handsome. Haruko-chan was simply stating an observation. Girls follow you for the wrong reasons, they don’t know how much of a donkey you are.”
“DONKEY? A DONKEY?”
The three friend’s laughter was heard behind the club room’s door as a tall man suddenly slid it open. Itsuki gasped audibly.
“WAH! Kiyoshi-sensei…. That scared me…”
“Good day to you too, Ayane-san. I was just sorting out some of the papers with our new members here. Please make them feel welcome. I’ll take my leave now.”
Haruko tried peeking around the teacher’s shoulder but couldn’t see anyone. Kaito scratched his head and adjusted his glasses.
“Huh? Kiyoshi-sensei, aren’t you going to stay? You’re the club monitor after all.”
Kiyoshi was one of the most laid back teachers of all time. Some joked about what a miracle it was that he kept his job for so long, because he seemed so lazy. This being said, the students unanimously knew that Kiyoshi-sensei was a science genius. The principal would never switch him out with another member of the staff so his position as head of science in Miyazaki High was pretty much grounded.
“Why would the club monitor stick around when the president’s right here?”
Kaito looked like he expected this type of answer.
“Ah yes, you are correct. Have a good evening, sir.”
The students all bowed as Kiyoshi-sensei walked out. Itsuki raced into the room after a short moment.
“PHEW, NEW CLUB MEMBERS! WELCOME WELCOME!”
Haruko walked into the room carefully and looked over at the two boys sitting at the table. The first was one she had never seen before and the second was… Shun Nishida.