Chapter 2:

Green Sneakers

Are You Happy?


*Disclaimer and TW: this story contains content relating to eating disorders. If you have a tendency of feeling triggered by such content, please do not proceed. Otherwise, please enjoy the story.

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep!

Makaira wakes up to the sound of her alarm at 5:30 AM sharp and gets ready for her usual morning run.

I’ll have to look around the neighbourhood to decide on a new route.

Running beside residential buildings, Makaira stumbles across a narrow pathway that leads to what looks like a park and she decides to check it out. At the end of the path, a high archway decorated with beautiful pink flowers invites her in.

Is this a tourist attraction? I don’t see any signs around introducing this place though.

She decides to jog around to take a proper look around.

A clear stone path sits on the grass flooring which spread across this entire area. On the left, Makaira admires the beautifully kept climbing roses which stood taller than her, lining up neatly among fences.

Whoever’s taking care of these plants must seriously have passion for groundskeeping.

On the right, a white gazebo stands with a little tea table and chairs in it. And next to it, a big cherry blossom tree.

This is beautiful.

She slows down her jog into a walk as she follow the stone path approaching the gazebo.

What is this place?

Makaira steps up to the gazebo and spots a cup of coffee sitting on the tea table. She notices steam coming out of it and immediately figured that someone else must be here or nearby.

Oh, no. What if this is private property?! I better go.

At that thought, Makaira jogs out of the garden. As she turns out of the pathway to the street, someone sporting green sneakers step out of the corner in the garden.

Makaira gets home not long after finishing her run and takes a shower. She opens up the fridge and squats down to check what she has.

Hm… What should I eat?

Her eyes roam around her fridge. There’s salad, yoghurt, fruit, milk, and muffins which family friends had gifted her as a good luck at university.

I’ve been eating way too much during the school break. Since college is starting soon, I might as well get back on track and starting dieting again.

Makaira grabs an apple and places it on the cutting board. With her knife, she carefully slices the apple into small, bitesize pieces and puts them into a snack box.

I'll munch on them at the café. I’ve read most of what I’ve planned to read before classes start, all that’s left is summarizing some pages and I’ll be well ahead of everyone in my classes.

At the café, Makaira is greeted with Hasegawa-san’s warm smile once again and she orders an iced Americano yet again.

“Do you want to try any of our pastries, dear?” Hasegawa-san asks.

Makaira shakes her head with a soft smile and hands over the cash for her coffee.

“Take a seat and I’ll bring your drink right over.” the older woman says.

Makaira goes to sit at the same corner table where she did yesterday and immediately starts studying, barely noticing Hasegawa-san as she settles a glass of iced Americano down for the girl. Hasegawa-san walks back to the counter and watches Makaira for a while, smiling.

“If only my stupid son were just like her, hardworking and diligent.” she thought.

Ding!

“Speaking of the devil.” she mutters, sighing.

“How. Many. Times. Do. I. Have. To. Tell. You?! Set an alarm an hour early so you don’t end up being late because you won’t wake up the first time you hear your alarm!” Hasegawa-san says, hitting a tall figure on the head with a magazine.

“I’m sorry, mom!” the tall figure exclaims, covering his head. “Please stop! I’ll set one now! Right now!”

Hasegawa-san slumps down on a chair. The couple are in the staff room at the back of the café.

“Geez, Yuuto! You’re 18 already, be more responsible.” she sighs. “I’m exhausted from yesterday, so watch the shop for the day.”

Back in the front of the café, Makaira just decided to take a short break and finally looked up from her books, taking a sip from her straw. She hasn’t noticed a single thing since she sat down until now. She rests her eyes for a bit before getting back to studying and once again, she leaves to her own little world, unaware of her surroundings.

At the back of the café, a tall figure, now in an apron, steps out and walks to the counter.

Several hours later in the afternoon, the café is getting a little busy but Makaira remains unbothered and is busy typing on her laptop. But for just a second, she gets a strange feeling. A feeling that something is watching her. She shakes it off without a doubt, refusing to be sidetracked from her studies.

“Excuse me, dear.” Makaira feels a gentle tap on her arm and pauses her music to look up to see Hasegawa-san.

“Oh, sorry. Is something wrong?” she asks.

“Oh, no, no. It’s nothing like that. I was just wondering if you’d like to eat something? You’ve been studying for hours straight but you’ve only had coffee.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I should order-“

“No, dear. It’s alright. It’s on the house. You’ve been working so hard, I’m just worried that you might be hungry. We have food here.” the older woman smiles.

“Oh…”

Makaira thinks for a while, glancing at the clock. It’s 2:00 PM and she suddenly remembers the apple she’s prepared.

“It’s okay, Hasegawa-san. I’ve actually brought food from home, but thank you for offering.” the girl stands up to bow.

“Oh, god, no. You don’t have to be so polite. It makes me happy watching you study so well. If only my son could learn from you.” Hasegawa-san says, losing herself into her own thoughts as Makaira blinks at her. “Ah, sorry, I shouldn’t bother you anymore. Eat well, then study well, dear.”

Makaira smiles and proceeds to put her earphones back on.

“Oh, I was meaning to ask. What’s your name, dear?” the woman asks, smiling again.

“Koyanagi. Koyanagi Makaira.”

“Makaira… What a beautiful firstname!” she says, walking away.

Makaira puts her earphones on and turns to her bag for a second.

I guess I should eat.

Hours pass as Makaira stays at her spot, reading, typing, writing, and repeating. She stops for a while and stretches her arms out, letting out a little yawn. Once again, a strange feeling hits her. This time, she keeps her head low but subtly glances around to see if it seems like anyone is watching her. She doesn’t sense anyone acting weird around her, so she shrugs, and sinks back into her books.

Eventually, the café starts quieting down as it gets later and there are only a small number of customers with Makaira. Today, Makaira decides to leave early since she’s finished self-studying all the content she’s planned to before classes start, so she’s going to treat herself to a bit of free time at home, a.k.a. reading for hours and hours and hours.

The next day, Makaira goes on her morning run as per usual, she takes a shower, and prepares fruit to bring to the café. At the cafe, she orders her usual iced Americano and sits down at the far corner table. Then, she reviews her notes which she’ve made in the previous two days, making sure to note down anything she needs further revision on.

Once again, just like the two times yesterday, she gets the same feeling that someone is watching her. This time, she looks up, but doesn’t notice anyone in particular.

The next day, Makaira goes through her same routine and again, she gets the same exact feeling.

I know for sure, I am being watched.

She thinks of what she should do. 

Find another café? Tell Hasegawa-san? Maybe I should just wait.

Just then, she notices a pair of green sneakers walk by. This kicks her out of her previous thoughts and she just goes back to reading.

Hours later.

Growl.

Makaira grasps her shirt and sighs.

I’ve been restricting for several days already, it should be fine to have a piece of bread or something. Besides, my metabolism definitely needs a boost.

She walks towards the counter and is surprised to be greeted by someone other than Hasegawa-san.

I guess she doesn’t work alone after all.

“Hello,” a tall young guy with bleached blonde hair says, grinning, “Would you like to order anything?”

“Yes, um, what food have you got?”

He peers at the display case, “We’ve still got an almond croissant, some blueberry muffins, and strawberry shortcake. The rest is sold out, I’m afraid.” He says as he gathers the name tags of the food items which are now sold out.

“I’ll have the almond croissant, please.”

“Sure thing. What’s your name?”

“Sorry?”

“Uh…” he scratches his head, looking away, “How would you like to pay?"

...

Makaira sits down as she waits for her almond croissant to be warmed up.

That was weird.

After a short while.

“Here is your almond croissant.” the guy from the counter says, smiling.

He reminds me of someone…

“Thank you.” she says, receiving the plate from him and placing it beside her laptop, then turning back around.

That’s when she noticed those same green sneakers which passed by her. She looks up at the guy strangely, now wondering why he is still standing there.

“Do you need something?” she asks, suspiciously.

“Uhm- I-“ the guy stumbles over his words, “I noticed you two days ago and I wanted to say hi.” He blurts out almost incomprehensibly, looking down and blushing.

Makaira blinks at him, a little confused at what he just said. She slowly pieced up his sentence and asks, “Were you the one watching me?”

The guy looks at her, his face red, and glances away, “Probably… Yea. That would have been me.”

Makaira nods quietly.

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t figure out a way to talk to you since you’re always either reading or really concentrated in typing your notes… And I never got to take your orders since I’m always late to work so mom takes the early orders.”

“Mom?”

“Yea, or, well, you’ll know her as Hasegawa-san. She’s my mother. Sorry for being a total creep, really. I just really admired how hardworking you are.”

I knew his smile looked familiar. He and his mother are splitting images of each other, except it’s less noticeable since he has dyed hair.

“It’s fine. Although, I was starting to get a little worried about feeling like I’m being watched.” Makaira admits, but then puts on a soft smile and continues, “I’m Koyanagi Makaira. What’s your name?”

“Hasegawa Yuuto.”

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