The Fall of Prince Hayashi
The doors to the train opened in front of me and that was my cue to leave. I grabbed my suitcase and held my backpack tight. If anything happened here that I couldn’t control, who knows how quick the tables could turn. Red might actually throw his hands at me. Once that happened it was truly game over. The police would come, everyone would find out that I’m Souta Fujiwara and Red would probably end me right there and then. It was best if I left when I still had an advantage over him.
Stepping out of the air conditioned cart into the moist summer night was like a wake up call to my senses. Unlike the Onomichi station, this stations platforms were up in the air rather than stuck underground. It was rare that any of the trains would have such a high platform, but it seemed like Kumano was always an exception. I headed to one of the railings and took a look down. The whole town glowed a soft orange light underneath me, with everyone dead asleep. The lights of the shopping center flashed on and off, their soft glow echoing all the way up here.
If none of this was happening I would be fast asleep right now, enjoying the last month of summer vacation. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes to imagine what was happening back in Onomichi. The same summer heat was hitting there, except I would be safe in my own room. Here, I was out and about looking for some explanation for the past.
“I guess sometimes things don’t go as planned,” I whispered.
In your case that might be that everything does not go to plan….like ever.
The rest of the people on the train poured out in one large group. I made room for all of them to pass by while I stood by the edge of the station’s railings. “Red” Kageyama and his friends made sure to avoid me completely in hopes to calm Red’s nerves down. By tomorrow morning the rumor will spread to at least most of the towns natives my age. That everything they love will be destroyed by a kid they bullied back in middle school. They would worry, cry, and regret everything they did to me all because it was coming back to bite them. I wish I could actually bulldoze this place. Get rid of this trash and replace it with something useful.
Besides a handful of younger people, most of the people on the train seemed to be middle-aged men. Their eyes were heavy with bags, their bodies stumbling around, and mouths simultaneously yawning from a lack of sleep. Some of them were in tuxedos and others were in business apparel. Yet most of them wore clothes that gave off the sign that these men were factory workers. That might of been the reason why Kageyama was so mad that “my boss” was planning to make all of Kumano a factory town.
Although I felt bad for these people, they didn’t seem to share the same feelings of sadness. Everyone who left the train separated into mini groups, all talking to each other about their day and their work. Most of them seemed to be long time friends, who knew each others families and life stories. Like a group of high school friends, aging together as the years passed by. How was that possible? Keeping a friend for that long must have been impossible. Their tired faces didn’t mean that they were unhappy, because they had people who have been loving and supporting them for a long, long time.
I watched the group all leave the platform and the station, their voices fading away in the distance. No one turned an eye towards me, no one even bothered to ask me who I was. If they heard me on the train earlier, none of those people seemed threatened by my presence. It was like I didn’t exist anymore. Like no one would care if I left again.
Lifting up my hand to my face, I suddenly smacked myself in the face. My mind blanked out, while the sting on my cheek stayed.
“Let’s get home,” I pulled my ruby suitcase behind me as I walked down the stairs. “There’s nothing to be upset about here.”
The edge of Kumano used to be a train town, which meant that everyone who lived here used the train to get to work or depending on the train for their business. The old train rout layout had this part of the city be the central of shopping, and the moment you left the station, you’re bombarded with a shopping center. Streets of stores laid in front of me, going past my line of vision. There was every shop here in these streets. Bakeries, cafes, sports stores, hardware stores. Whatever you needed was at the palm of your hand the moment you entered town. No wonder this place appealed to foreigners the most. With all this glamour when you first enter, it’s easy to ignore the stench hidden underneath it all.
Was that my stomach? I threw a hand over my mouth. Did anyone else hear that? I looked around and to my relief I was alone. Thank God. That would have been so embarrassing if anyone heard my stomach scream for food. The rice from earlier was all gone and at this point, digested completely. How was I able to last a couple of days on apples and yet now my stomach was crying after not having dinner?
“With all the shops near here, there has to be at least one open,” I patted my stomach. “I could grab something that will keep me full for the next couple of hours.”
The apartment I rented online was at the end of this line of stores. It was meant to be a ten minute drive from the station, yet I didn’t have a car and no one was doing taxi service at 1am in the morning. Which meant a forty minute walk versus the ten minute drive. Forty minute walk. I can’t even remember the last time I went to the gym, nonetheless walked for that long. I stretched my legs and shook my foot awake. Thankfully the past couple of hours sleeping and sitting meant my feet were going to make the walk. But as for my stomach...that needed a little bit more attention than usual.
In comparison to the soft light that covered the town above, the streets at floor level seemed dead. There was barely any noise except the echoes of my footsteps and the only lights that illuminated the walkway were the lamp posts every couple of meters and the neon lights in store windows. I pulled out my phone and started to head in the direction of my apartment. Passing by store after store, it became clear that none of these stores were open. All of them were dark and the doors locked. A couple of luxurious store even had a whole red carpet out but the lights were completely shut off.
“Dammit,” I muttered, crossing the street without care. “I should have brought something for dinner before I left.”
Alright. If none of these places are open, the least I could do is see when they would open. At the next store in front of me, I walked up to the schedule on the door. Tracing my eyes down the schedule I felt all my hope evaporate. All of the stores here opened up at 7am the next morning. Personally, I wasn’t in the mood to wait six hours to have dinner. Especially if it meant waiting outside a café like a lost puppy for the whole time. Sure, this place seemed safe. Yet if I learned anything on the train, it was that things can change within seconds.
A sharp pain shot through my stomach, like someone punched me in my gut. I bent over, both of my hands grasping at my stomach. God. Even a simple bowl of rice that was already two days old seemed appealing to me. Anything to help make my stomach stop hurting and to take my mind off of hunger. Or else I might just pass out right here, in the middle of the street. God. Who knows what would happen to me after I pass out?
After walking for another ten minutes, I finally gave up on getting food. I would just have to sleep my hunger off at my new apartment and get food tomorrow. Tomorrow, I was going to treat myself to a huge breakfast at one of these foreigner cafes and not worry about the price tag.
“I’ll eat all the food I want,” I muttered. “And have an iced coffee too…..Wait…..Wait a minute….”
My eyes squinted at the sight in front of me. At the next street crossing, there was something illuminating street to the right. It wasn’t as soft as the lights from the lamp posts. Instead, it was a harsh white light. One that was most common at one type of place: a convenience store.
Dashing down the street, I turned the corner and low and behold, there was a convenience store. The store front was a couple of huge panels of thick glass, giving people outside a direct view into the store. Yet compared to the other stores on the main shopping center, this store was tiny. The top of the store was just half a meter taller than me and the store door was slim and tiny, like the store was made for elves. It looked like a true pit stop for the desperate, something that I at this moment qualified as. I was hungry, desperate, and lowering my standards of food to being borderline needy. Taking a deep breath in, I walked through the store door and the harsh white light of the store hit me in my eyes. Walking around in true darkness only to be washed in light meant my eyes couldn’t handle the first minute of entering the store. I had to take off my glasses and rub the tears forming out of my eyes. This store felt like stepping through the doors of heaven, except it smelled like stale air and chips.
In true convenience store matter, no one rushed to ask me if I was fine or if I needed anything. All that I was useful for was getting the food and heading up front. I blinked couple more times and finally my eyes were used to the light. Okay. Now that I’m not dying at the sight of light, it’s time to get something to eat.
What was I craving right now? The isle in front of me was the chip aisle, which I scouted out till I found my favorite spicy chips. The packaging was all red, covered in flames and volcanoes as a warning sign to the sensitive. Still, I loved these chips. Back at the convenience store in Onomichi, I would grab these in my break and eat them in the backroom. Even if that meant suffering for the rest of my shift. My boss thought my red eyes and red nose were suspicious until he found out about my love for spicy chips.
I took a bag of chips and held it in my free hand. If I was going to devour these chips, then I needed something sweet afterwards. Like custard or chocolate cakes. Custard cakes. My mouth started watering at the thought of custard, especially my Mom’s custard. Even though I didn’t eat that much of her custard, it was still one of the best. Alright, so this aisle was the chip aisle. The ones near the fridges were obviously for ice creams and cold drinks. Then there was one for candies….so….where the hell were the custard cakes?
“Aw man,” I whispered to myself. “What the hell? No custard cakes??”
Maybe I should ask where they were? Would that be annoying? When I was working I hated when people asked me where obvious things were. Especially if it was right in front of the customers the whole time.
Yes, the gum was right behind you this whole time sir. No sir, I’m not lying. Turn around and look sir.
Yet I wasn’t the employee here. I was a foreigner who was trying to find some damn custard cakes to enjoy at 1am. So I decided to suck in my pride and head to the front counter.
I fished through my pockets. Where was my wallet? “Um, do you know where the custard cakes are?”
“Yes, right in the back of the sweets aisle,” the woman said. Ah. I found my wallet thank goodness. “It’s kind of hidden back there.”
“Oh thank you,” I lifted my head back up and my jaw dropped.
The auburn hair. Her freckles and huge doe like eyes. Even though she was older, it was like looking right into the past. Her face hadn’t changed, except she seemed slimmer now. A striking image of her past self, except how was she working here?
“Satomi Imai?” I whispered.
Hayashi’s ex-girlfriend was standing right in front of me.
Her eyes narrowed, her happy voice fading away completely. “Whoever you are, you need to get the hell up out of here.”
Notes from Zen:
Hello! I decided to start updating the story more frequently because I would rather finish this story earlier than the MALxHoneyfeed contest deadline versus later. The contest is filled to the brim with other amazing entrees and even though I know this story isn't the best, I would still like to give it a chance!
If you like the story make sure to like this chapter and if you want, add it to your library! Thank you!