Chapter 0:

Wayward Steps

The Seiren Family Secret

            They say that the provincial life is so much different than urban city living. Others think that it’s better—the air is cleaner, times are simpler, and you can truly feel the sense of community. Some might say that it’s dull. Simpler times sometimes translated as stagnant and excessively mundane.Bookmark here

Not that Aria Haruki can agree to any of these sentiments. She could barely remember any of her time back in her hometown, a provincial city beyond the metropolitan stretches of The Capital. She was ready to change that, though. Aria was looking forward to feeling nostalgic as she prepared to gather her travel luggage.Bookmark here

“Is your phone fully charged?” Aria’s mom asked her for what seemed to be the tenth time today, and it had only been an hour since she woke up at 7 AM.Bookmark here

“Yes, and it’s in my sling bag.”Bookmark here

“What about your plane ticket? Your toiletries?”Bookmark here

Aria patted both the sling bag and the only luggage she had, a small orange trolley bag that held at least a week’s worth of clothing. “Both here. Mom, seriously. I’ve checked and rechecked everything!”Bookmark here

“You never know, maybe a ghost would try and take them out.”Bookmark here

She shook her head at her mother’s smirk. Mrs. Haruki was amazingly spry at her age, yet still looking young. If she hadn’t decided to go on a full mother look with her pink house duster and a green frilly apron, they would have looked like siblings. “Anyway, have you contacted Claire? She knows to pick me up, right?”Bookmark here

Mrs. Haruki plucked her phone out of her apron’s front pocket. “Well, yes, but I’m afraid your cousin hasn’t been exactly replying to my messages.” She shot Aria a nervous smile. “I trust her though. Probably just ran out of data.”Bookmark here

“Right…” Aria made a mental note to check if her money was enough for a taxi ride.Bookmark here

The doorbell chimed, and Aria looked at the living room mirror one more time. She felt ready enough to go. Her dark brown hair was brushed down, falling just beneath her denim jacket covered shoulders. The grey shirt underneath that looked immaculately ironed, and Aria brushed off the lint on her black leggings. Her outfit wasn’t fashionably stark, but it was comfortable. Her white sneakers emitted a small squeaking noise as she wore it by the front door.Bookmark here

“Look at my girl,” Mrs. Haruki sniffed. “So independent already.”Bookmark here

“You know I’ll always come running back to you,” Aria smiled, dragging the trolley to the front door. “See you next week.”Bookmark here

“Wait,” her mother held her hand. “Before you go, I should tell you that you’re ready to know a secret.”Bookmark here

“A secret?”Bookmark here

“The Seiren family secret. It’s nothing too special, but it’s just a story passed down from generation to generation. You have Seiren blood, of course, from me. It is only fitting that you’d want to know it.”Bookmark here

Right. Aria Seiren Haruki was her full name. “You would know the story, why didn’t you tell me before?”Bookmark here

“It would be easier to believe if there was…actual…evidence. You’ll see.”Bookmark here

Her mother released her hand, finally waving goodbye. “You should ask Claire when you arrive in Sanvia City. She’d be happy to tell you.”Bookmark here

As the Aria embarked on the taxi, her wide-eyed stare and her furrowed eyebrows mismatched the excited glow of her mother’s smile. For the first time since her travel preparations, she felt an unease settling on her stomach. Bookmark here

What was she to expect?Bookmark here

Twenty-four hours later, Aria only wished that she’d let the family secret stay a secret.Bookmark here


The Seiren Family Secret

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