Chapter 30:

Ch.14 Cultural Day (1/7)

Sleeping Princess

“Wow, the high school is so big Onee-san.”Bookmark here

Hana gawked at the exterior of the school. It being Saturday, the 3rd of November, cultural day, the school festival is now in full bloom. I promised I’d meet up with Mae-chan and Conway-san at the front gates. That’s what brings me here with Hana-san now.Bookmark here

“We’re going to wait here until the other’s arrive Hana-san. And mom gave me a hefty...allowance for today so…we can play all day I bet.”Bookmark here

Hana hoped up like a frog.Bookmark here

"How much, Onee-san?"Bookmark here

I scratched the side of my cheek...this was far too much for a teenager to have without a job. Shamefully, I admitted it...Bookmark here

"10,000yen."Bookmark here

“Woohoo! Wow! Which mom?”Bookmark here

“Hana, I only call Nakagawa Ayumi, mom.”Bookmark here

“Oh…that’s right. Usually, mom doesn’t allow mom to give me that much…That’s a lot, Onee-san.”Bookmark here

“Yeah…I feel guilty having all this.”Bookmark here

Before I left mom forced this on me...Maybe I should stop mom from pampering me too much like this. I already feel guilty…thinking of feelings about her partner like this. If I want to distance myself from mom and show her I’ve matured…this might be a great starting point.Bookmark here

"By the way, you look lovely today Onee-san!"Bookmark here

"Huh?"Bookmark here

Taken aback by her candor, my little sister gazed at me intently. From my small chocolate jacket to my platted grape skirt. It was a fashion I saw online a few weeks back and after collecting the necessary parts, I placed it in my delivery box online and it arrived a few days ago. I wasn't able to find a good time to wear it until now. But...I didn't think Hana-chan would point it out like this.Bookmark here

"Oh...yeah, I bought it online."Bookmark here

"You seriously are a fashion buff. Kind of like mom."Bookmark here

"Fashion buff? Is that what you think I am...And what about my mom?"Bookmark here

"Not your mom."Bookmark here

Hana snickered as her signature blue ribbon flickered in the wind. With her simple snow-white sweater and black skirt, the flower perked up with excitement.Bookmark here

"Oh, you didn't know Onee-san? Grandma owns a fashion business. Mom used to work at her store when she was growing up."Bookmark here

...Mari-san likes me? There's probably quite a lot about her that I have no idea about...since I forgot all about her from two years ago. What if...the Me from back then knew that about her? What else did the Me from back then know...that I don't about Mari-san?Bookmark here

“Hm, are you okay, Onee-san? ....You’ve been spacing out a lot since I came back.”Bookmark here

I turned to Hana-chan whose cheeks were bloated now. To appease her worries, I pet her on the head.Bookmark here

“Just…thinking of things. Nothing to…worry yourself over.”Bookmark here

Hana swirled her long hair to the side. With an exhale, she whispered back to me.Bookmark here

“…You can trust me if there’s a problem, Onee-san. I mean…I’m your little sister, aren’t I?”Bookmark here

Hana-chan sounded a tad dismayed.Bookmark here

"Hana-chan..."Bookmark here

"I...want to make sure you can trust me with anything, Onee-san. Because...I care for you."Bookmark here

Those words lifted my spirits. Here was someone worried about my worries. Hana-chan…truly is awe-inspiring at times.Bookmark here

“…How about I tell you all about it soon, okay?”Bookmark here

“O-oh, alright. I’ll listen to everything, Onee-san!”Bookmark here

I of course will null all the information about my strange feelings towards Mari-san, but I can at least tell Hana about the chat we had recently. The one with mom and Mari-san hiding my...trauma from me. That's when a hint of bitterness crept into my mouth...I can't think about of all days.Bookmark here

“Sora-san’s coming too, so cheer up, Onee-san!”Bookmark here

“Oh? You didn’t tell me that.”Bookmark here

Hana-san lifted her finger to the sky. She stretched out so far that I was afraid she'd hurt herself.Bookmark here

“I wanted it to be a surprise since you wanted to meet her in your text the other day.”Bookmark here

I thought back to the picture she sent me over her field trip. The one with her and this Sora-san all muddy. It’s going to be interesting meeting Hana-san’s friends. I’m more worried about a certain somebody out of everyone else though. A short girl with a temper.Bookmark here

“Hana-san?”Bookmark here

Coming to view, the fiery child from the picture. She approached in a flower pink dress shirt and dark baggy pants. Once we made eye contact her expression immediately brightened. It being nice that we don’t have to wear our school uniforms today since it’s a cultural festival she looks quite comfortable.Bookmark here

“Oh, you must be Hino-san.”Bookmark here

She rushed to us. Me being taller than her but her being taller than Hana. Seems Hana will never catch up.Bookmark here

“I’m Nakagawa Madoka, Koda Hana-san’s older stepsister.”Bookmark here

“I’ve heard a lot about you. So, you’re the infamous Onee-san, eh?”Bookmark here

Sora put her hand on her hips. She looked me up and down and then took a deep breath. She then faced up to me, cutting directly into my personal space. As the fiery-haired middle schooler approached with a vigor I leaned back as our faces were nearly about to touch.Bookmark here

“Wow, you certainly share your mom’s genes. Both of you are beautiful, Nakagawa-san!”Bookmark here

My face felt warm like her hair was resonating its fiery aura onto my cheeks. I could feel her sweet citrusy breath on my nose causing me to feel a tad light-headed. She…doesn’t hold, back does she?Bookmark here

“T-Thank you. You are too, Hino-san.”Bookmark here

“Hehe, thanks Onee-san! Wow, you even smell nice too!”Bookmark here

“Sora-san! Don’t tease Onee-san.”Bookmark here

“Oh, sorry Onee-san.”Bookmark here

“Sora!”Bookmark here

“Just kidding, just kidding! Lighten up, Hana-chan.”Bookmark here

Hino-san put her hands up as Hana punched her shoulder. It made me giggle at how honest they were to each other. Seems as though they’re good friends.Bookmark here

"Okay, let's cut to the chase here, Onee-san!"Bookmark here

Hino put her finger to my nose...Bookmark here

"Hana-chan, my best friend, calls me Sora-san!"Bookmark here

"...Ah...okay?"Bookmark here

Taken aback by her spirit she approaches scrunching up my nose.Bookmark here

"Let's skip the formal stuff and go right to given names, shall we?"Bookmark here

"Ohhh, A-are you sure? That seems a bit impolite..."Bookmark here

That was way too informal for me. Going right to given names out of the gate was...difficult for me.Bookmark here

"Sora-chan! Don't do that to Onee-san! And stop calling my Onee-san, Onee-san!"Bookmark here

Hana seemed to be getting visibly riled up. So, to appease everyone I blurted it out.Bookmark here

"J-Just call me, Madoka-san....S-Sora-san."Bookmark here

"Sora! Why are you bullying Onee-san?!"Bookmark here

"Hana-chan, it's fine!"Bookmark here

I tried to ease her frustration. Sora-san just laughed. She is...something else entirely.Bookmark here

"Well...Hana-san talks about you all the time, Madoka-san. Glad to finally put a face to the name. So...please take good care of me today!"Bookmark here

"Oh...certainly Hino...Sora-san."Bookmark here

“Mado-chan!”Bookmark here

From the back of us, my favorite blueberry came sprinting along. From behind her the noble blondie casually walked in, her purple striped jacket blew in the wind. It being unzipped in this weather, it made me wonder if Conway-san is used to the cold. Mae sprang forward and hovered over Sora-san.Bookmark here

“So, this is your little sister, Mado-chan?!”Bookmark here

“No, the other cute one Mae.”Bookmark here

Mae jumped up and switched targets, immediately.Bookmark here

“So, this is your little sister, Mado-chan?!”Bookmark here

“Did you have to repeat that, Ma-chan?”Bookmark here

I hit my head. She's seriously embarrassing me right now!Bookmark here

“Are you going to introduce us, Nakagawa-san?”Bookmark here

From behind the foreigner stood without a smile on her face. The average Conway-san expression.Bookmark here

“S-sorry. Hana-san, Sora-san, this is Watanabe Mae and Sophia Conway. Ma-chan, Conway-san, this one here is Koda Hana-san and the firey-haired one is Hino Sora-san.”Bookmark here

After that long-winded explanation, I took a deep breath and exhaled sharply. What a mouthful of words...Bookmark here

Mae took the initiative and spoke up first. All cozied up in her ocean blue coat and comfy pants, she bowed slightly to the fiery teen.Bookmark here

“Pleasure to meet you both. Are you Koda-san’s friend, Hino-san?”Bookmark here

“Yep, this squirt and I go way back to elementary.”Bookmark here

Nudging Hana, Sora-chan teased.Bookmark here

“I’m not that little!”Bookmark here

Hana rustled her best friend's hair back and forth as a retort.Bookmark here

They both look at my Mae-chan and Conway-san. With a deep bow, they both concluded in harmony...Bookmark here

“Nice to meet you both. Please take good care of me!”Bookmark here

With all introductions settled Sora-chan put her arms behind her back and asked the fated question.Bookmark here

“So, where to first girls?”Bookmark here

Mae jumped with glee.Bookmark here

“I heard the third-years have a gentleman's café with all kinds of pastries and delicious foods. The cooking club is in charge so everything is going to be scrumptious! We should go there after we get hungry.”Bookmark here

Mae’s mouth flooded in bliss. This was unbecoming of a proper young lady...The shark chimed in after, hands on her hips.Bookmark here

“I just want to play some games. If they have any then I’ll be happy.”Bookmark here

Conway-san nodded content with her answer.Bookmark here

Sora-san looked at Hana. With a tap of her feet and a beam of innocents she reached out and took her hand.Bookmark here

“I heard the Jinda High School has plenty of attractions. Hana-san, you want to go to the ghoul house with me?”Bookmark here

Hana kicked her feet together in excitement.Bookmark here

“Sure!”Bookmark here

My little sister squealed.Bookmark here

"G-Ghoul house?"Bookmark here

That's one attraction I seriously don't want to step foot into. Why do people like scary things? How is it fun to be frightened?!Bookmark here

Sora began her lecture like a scholar who's studied the cultural festival to the highest of levels.Bookmark here

"It turns out that the sports club turned the old gymnasium into a make-shift dungeon with horror elements added in. People say the attraction is to die for...literally!"Bookmark here

"S-Stop that, Sora-chan!"Bookmark here

I cried.Bookmark here

"What Mado-chan? You don't want to go to the ghoul house? You were just fine with horror when playing in the arcade that one day."Bookmark here

"That was different Mae! It was a stupid game. This is...real life."Bookmark here

I wanted to curl in a ball out of embarrassment. Conway-san smirked as she circled me like the shark she was.Bookmark here

"Ahh, so Nakagawa-san doesn't like scary things?!"Bookmark here

She latched on that like a predator to a hunk of meat. Dang, it...she might have something to tease me back with from now on...Bookmark here

"Don't worry, Onee-san! I'll go with you!"Bookmark here

Hana nodded with vigor.Bookmark here

"Will you, Hana?!"Bookmark here

Even now she was reliable. That calmed my nerves a bit...but I still don't want to go to the ghoul house.Bookmark here

Seemed like we have a long day ahead of us. Everyone wanted to do different things. So, why not do everything? I mean...I have the money for it.Bookmark here

I turned to see Conway-san gazing from the side at Hana-san’s reactions. She then turned to me noticing my eyes on her I take it. She slowly approached me and whispered in my ear something I wasn't expecting.Bookmark here

“You have a cute little sister. She’s freaking adorable, Nakagawa-san…”Bookmark here

Her face turns red as she looks away. I giggle at her response. Suddenly, a group of students dressed in frilly clothing walks past. They stride in gaudy fashion so wild that students around us heads turn in awe. My heart begins to race. I know that group far too well and just seeing them make an entrance into the school made my body jump with glee.Bookmark here

“Oh my!”Bookmark here

“What’s the matter Mado-chan?”Bookmark here

“It’s STARS!”Bookmark here

STARS is a popular idol group that I listen to all the time. They started their trend three years ago and once I woke up their music is still my favorite of all time. They’ve fallen out of 1st place over time but they’re still continuous of poppy idol music. Even if they aren’t the actual STARS group, I still find myself wanting to get their autograph.Bookmark here

Conway grumbled.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, you’re into those obnoxiously cute idol things, aren’t you?”Bookmark here

“It’s not obnoxious!”Bookmark here

I pull on Conway’s cheek highly annoyed.Bookmark here

“Owww!”Bookmark here

Sora-san giggled.Bookmark here

“They look like good friends, Hana-chan.”Bookmark here

Suddenly, a hand rested on my shoulder. I spun around to see Mae-chan with a wary expression.Bookmark here

“It’s okay Mado-chan. We’ll go watch their performance too.”Bookmark here

“We will?!”Bookmark here

“Arrgg, we will?”Bookmark here

Conway-san and I chimed in harmony. Despite being on different levels of excitement. Mae-chan jumped up and took charge.Bookmark here

“Alright girls! Let’s move! First stop, games!”Bookmark here

Sora hopped up from behind.Bookmark here

“Hooray!”Bookmark here

Something tells me she and Mae-chan will get along fine.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.