Chapter 30:

Gift Train

Couple That Can't Touch

Yu-tan's birthday arrived and—with it—the Kite Festival. The entire family woke up at six in the morning to be ready by eight o'clock. We wished Yu-tan a happy birthday and Mom and Dad gave her their gifts; a set of three, cute, animal pajamas and a giant fox plushie. I didn't even know how they were able to hide something that big from her. But I knew it wasn't cheap for them.

A modern, compact, car parked outside of our house an hour later. A suited man stepped out of it and approached us. We had been standing outside since we received the message—ten minutes before—that someone was coming to pick us. He told us that he was going to be our guide during the trip and helped us get our stuff in the trunk. We were going to return that same night, so we didn't take much more than a couple of backpacks and bags.

The guide—who asked us to call him Tanaka-san—drove us to the train station. Because Makoto lived near the station on the other side of the city, we planned to meet Makoto there instead of having her come all the way to our house.

We parked in a parking lot next to the station and we got out of the car. We took our stuff and Tanaka-san offered his help to carry some of it. He also took out a suitcase and closed the trunk.

I recognized Haruma's car on the other side of the street. Makoto and he were waiting inside. We crossed and they both stepped out of the car as we approached. Makoto squatted down and opened her arms. Yu-tan ran towards her to hug her.

"Happy birthday, Yu-tan!"

"Big sis!"

"Happy birthday," Haruma said with his deep voice.

He also crouched down to hug Yu-tan. She approached him but, instead of a hug, he grabbed her and lifted her up. Yu-tan laughed and extended her arms like an airplane. Seeing Yu-tan having fun made me happy, but I wanted to be upset with him.

"You're so heavy already," Haruma smiled.

Yu-tan kept giggling. Then Haruma reached into the pocket of his pants, took out a huge lollipop, and gave it to Yu-tan.

"Here's my gift."

Her eyes gleamed and she instantly started licking it.


"I'm glad you liked it."

"But I'll give you an even bigger and yummier gift later," Makoto added.


Meanwhile, I wondered; How did that fit in there?!

"Mrs. Kozue, Mr. Kozue, Suzu. Good morning," Haruma greeted as he carried Yu-tan.

"Hello, Haruma-san. You look healthy as always," Mom replied.

"You haven't visited us in a while," Dad added.

"I'm very sorry for that. Makoto and I wanted to tell you about our engagement together, but we couldn't wait any longer. We had already waited weeks, but the workload kept increasing," he giggled.

"I see. I thought you hated us," Dad joked and they both laughed.

"That's impossible."

Now that I remember, it's amazing how Dad went from wanting to murder Haruma to loving him over time. When Koji came to our house, he acted just like he did when Haruma visited us for the first time. I wonder if he will change his mind about Koji over time as well.

"What about you, Suzu?" Haruma asked me.


"How did you react to the news?"

I crossed my arms.

"If that's what Makoto wants, who am I to oppose?"

"Come on, Suzu. I know you're happy for us."

He put Yu-tan down on the ground and approached me.

"I didn't say I'm not—"

Suddenly, he started patting my head and swirling my hair around, ruining it in the process.

"What I don't know is why you still hate me."

"For things like this!" I yelled, pushing his hand away.

He merely laughed.

He did it on purpose.

"Excuse me, I don't want to interrupt you, but the train will be here soon," Tanaka-san stated.

"Right, I shouldn't hold you any longer. It was nice seeing you. Let's meet again soon," Haruma said.

"Of course!" Mom replied.

"Have a safe trip."

"Bye!" Yu-tan shouted.

She ran towards Dad who lifted her up to carry her. Makoto and Haruma gave each other a quick peck before we headed to the station. Yu-tan waved at Haruma and he waved back as we walked away.

We climbed the stairs and waited a few minutes, among the crowd, for the train. Once it arrived, it didn't take us long to realize the tickets weren't for any ordinary train, they were for the freaking Shinkansen: one of the fastest trains in the world! And, if that wasn't enough, they were for the Gran Class, the luxury of the luxury!

The crowd got on the rest of the train cars, while only a few people got on the same car as us. Most of them wore suits, while we wore formal—but not as formal—clothes. A hostess stood still at the door, welcoming everyone. We simply followed Tanaka-san through the train car, which had a lot of space between the seats. Apart from being spacious, the seats looked so comfy.

I can't wait to sit on it!

However, we suddenly walked through another door and changed cars. A host immediately received us and guided us to our seats. There were fewer people around and only two rows; one seat on one side and two seats on the opposite side. The seats were bigger and looked even comfier. Everything was fancy; the floor, the walls, the windows, and there were cabinets on the ceiling!

We arrived at a few open seats. Mom and Dad sat together in front of Makoto and Yu-tan—who was still eating her lollipop—while I sat alone behind Tanaka-san on the other side.

I wonder how long we'll be here.

"Excuse me, Tanaka-san," Mom called.


"How long will it take us to reach Hamamatsu?"

"About an hour and a half, Mrs."

"Even on the Shinkansen?" she sighed. "I thought we were going to take less time. We won't get off the train until we arrive, right?"

"Correct, Mrs. But if you need anything, don't hesitate to ask me."

"I will," Mom giggled not to sound rude, but her continuous sighs made it obvious that she was unhappy. I couldn't blame her. I was starving too.

The train started moving a moment later. Makoto chatted with Yu-tan as they looked out the window, so I also looked outside to my right. We soon reached the speed of a normal train and—hoping to see the speed of the famous Shinkansen—was disappointed when it stayed constant. I guessed it was because we were still in the city.

Tanaka-san stood up from his seat and grabbed his suitcase from the cabinets. He took a transparent bag out of it and approached me.

"Miss, may I make a request?" Tanaka-san asked me. An image of Koji's maids and butlers instantly appeared in my head.


"Since you will be representing Tokyo, the government provided these clothes for you to wear at the festival. It's not obligatory, but it would make us very happy."

"Oh, sure. I'll wear them."

"Thank you very much," he bowed and handed me the clothes wrapped in plastic. "It would be best if you tried them on now in case there's something to fix."

They could've told me earlier; I wouldn't have struggled to choose my outfit this morning.

I grabbed the bag. "Alright. Do you know where the toilet is?"

"It's right there," he replied, pointing at a door a couple of rows ahead.


I headed towards it and knocked on the door. No one replied, so I reached for the knob—realizing there was a small sign to indicate if the toilet was busy or not. It was a bit embarrassing, but how was I supposed to know? It was my first time traveling on a train like this. I stepped inside, closed the door, and locked it. A similar sign to the one outside displayed the busy message.

Compared to a bathroom of a normal train, this was a mansion. You didn't feel cramped and, even if you extended your arms sideways, you couldn't touch the walls at the same time.

I composed myself after a second and took the clothes out of the bag. A t-shirt, a track jacket, shorts, and sweat pants. Except for the white t-shirt, they all were green with white stripes. They seemed comfortable and the material felt of nice quality.

After trying all of them and changing back to my clothes, I put them back in the bag and walked out of the bathroom. As I approached Tanaka-san, I noticed he glimpsed at my shoes.

"They fit perfectly," I told him.

"Splendid. I shall keep them until the festival," he replied. I handed him the bag and he put it back in his suitcase. "One more thing, miss. We also have a cap in case the sun is an annoyance and a pair of brand-new sports shoes."

"I'll keep that in mind. Thanks," I smiled.

I sat down in my seat.

I knew that my sneakers looked old and worn, but they still were good enough. Apart from that, getting used to a new pair of shoes right before a competition was never a good idea. I was very used to the ones I wore and they gave me good luck. Well, except for that one time.

By the time I looked outside the window, I realized we already were on the outskirts of the city. Suddenly, the train steadily accelerated. More, and more, and more… It wouldn't stop! Everything zoomed past us. Though I didn't feel any different, it was quite scary to stand up knowing the speed we were traveling at.

And so we sat and starved for the next hour and a half.

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