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.Bookmark here

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep!
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Makaira wakes up to the sound of her alarm at 5:30 AM sharp and gets ready for her usual morning run. Bookmark here

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

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. Bookmark here

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

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

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. Bookmark here

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

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. Bookmark here

This is beautiful.Bookmark here

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

What is this place?Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Hm… What should I eat?Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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.Bookmark here

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

Ding!Bookmark here

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

“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.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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.Bookmark here

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

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. Bookmark here

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

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

“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.” Bookmark here

“Oh, I’m sorry. I should order-“Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

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

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

“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.”Bookmark here

Makaira smiles and proceeds to put her earphones back on.Bookmark here

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

“Koyanagi. Koyanagi Makaira.”Bookmark here

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

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

I guess I should eat.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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

I know for sure, I am being watched.Bookmark here

She thinks of what she should do. 
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Find another café? Tell Hasegawa-san? Maybe I should just wait.
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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. Bookmark here

Hours later.Bookmark here

Growl.Bookmark here

Makaira grasps her shirt and sighs.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

I guess she doesn’t work alone after all.Bookmark here

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

“Yes, um, what food have you got?”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

“Sure thing. What’s your name?”Bookmark here

“Sorry?”Bookmark here

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

...Bookmark here

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

That was weird.Bookmark here

After a short while.Bookmark here

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

He reminds me of someone…Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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

“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.Bookmark here

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?”Bookmark here

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

Makaira nods quietly.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Mom?”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“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?”Bookmark here

“Hasegawa Yuuto.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.