Chapter 11:

Cultural Festival

Skipped a Beat

2nd September, Monday.
I’m on my way to school, It’s 08: 05 right now. Summer vacations ended. After coming back from Ichikawa, none of us talked with each other that much. But after some time, we did start hanging out, watching anime and going to arcade and stuff. Arcade was Hina’s idea, none of us plays games but still, I had fun, enjoyed my time to the fullest… but occasionally, Sachi’s death came to my mind. But since there’s nothing I can do about it right now, I tried to forget and busy myself with anime or just whatever I was doing at that time.Bookmark here

(After reaching in class)Bookmark here

“Good morning Eiji” Bookmark here

“Good morning”Bookmark here

“They both late again?”Bookmark here

“Anime again”Bookmark here

“Seriously?”Bookmark here

“who’s at who’s this time?”Bookmark here

“Mostly it’s Hina at Sachi’s since she has a lot more anime than herself”Bookmark here

“It sounds more like Hina practically lives there, at Sachi’s”Bookmark here

“Haha, yeah”Bookmark here

“It’s 08: 28 right now. Ever since they both started watching anime together, they both have been coming late to class.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but why you care”Bookmark here

“I…”Bookmark here

“It’s fine. Sachi is still really good in studies. And Hina has gotten better too. It’s not all bad”Bookmark here

“I know”Bookmark here

“Oh, look. Hina and Sachi”Bookmark here

“Morning guys!” (Hina and Sachi)Bookmark here

“Morning” (Takahashi and Eiji)Bookmark here

“Anime?” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“Yeah. But listen, there’s something I have to tell. I will during recess”Bookmark here

“Why not now? Class haven’t started yet”Bookmark here

“It’s about my Dad’s Job”Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

“Yeah, now isn’t the right time, so recess”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I understand”Bookmark here

(Some hours later)Bookmark here

Recess is about to start. Seriously, it felt like days waiting for recess to come. Even though we already know what she’s going to talk aboutBookmark here

“Yeah. so, during last week I think, dad told me that we’ll move to Kyoto at the start of the next year. He didn’t give any reasons or anything”Bookmark here

“No exact time?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, just that start of the next year, which is January”Bookmark here

“But we know because of Takahashi, it’s second January” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“yeah”Bookmark here

“Did you try asking why you too? Can’t you wait here till second year ends at least?” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“Since he’s moving permanently, he says that it’s better that I move with him there too. Saving flight fare”Bookmark here

“But maybe it could save your life” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“Will he believe that?”Bookmark here

“No… Can’t you make an excuse or something?”Bookmark here

“He doesn’t like it when I try to go against his saying, unless there’s a legitimate reason. He won’t agree to what I have to say”Bookmark here

“Oh” Bookmark here

“And since I’m his only daughter, he’s overprotective. He doesn’t want me to stay here in Tokyo alone”Bookmark here

“I see why he wants you to go with him”Bookmark here

“Yeah”Bookmark here

“Well, next year is still 4 months away. No point in thinking about it now, maybe we can try something when the time comes. For now, there’s cultural festival and a school trip to look forward to” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“Yeah, you are right but…” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“Takahashi listen, knowing when you are going to die. Every day you get closer to that time. Think about me, how much I am terrified of next year. But have I ever showed it on my face?” (Sachi)Bookmark here

“No, you always seem like enjoying your time”Bookmark here

“Exactly, no matter what you do, that time will come. You can’t do anything about it. I don’t know how many times I have told you this, stop worrying.”Bookmark here

“We don’t know for sure, maybe we can come up with something that will save you”Bookmark here

“Takahashi listen, how do we know that Sachi dies next year?”Bookmark here

“I told her that last year?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, because you have seen it happen this year”Bookmark here

“I…”Bookmark here

“Think about it, Sachi dies in a plane crash at the start of next year. You see it happen and then when you go back to your first year. You go to Kyoto to meet Sachi and tell her to stay away and that she will die from a crash. If Sachi remembers you telling her about the plane crash, that means it happens this year, no matter what you do.” (Eiji)Bookmark here

Takahashi: It makes sense, but I don’t want to believe it for some reason. There must be a way to save her… Bookmark here

“I understand, but what do I do now… kind of makes me feel hopeless…” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“Just try to relax for now. When the time comes, we can think of a way to save her together, no matter how useless it may seem”Bookmark here

“Yeah…”Bookmark here

Ever since Eiji explained that Sachi has to die this year, no matter what. I have been feeling anxious, like, even thinking about how I can save her is useless now. Because it will happen. And I can’t do anything. But I was thinking, maybe I do save her, but I don’t go back to my first year. Because we have been thinking since I did spend a year with these guys, I did go through my first year. Maybe I’ll go back. But what if I don’t, I just have skipped a year and that’s it. After last year, I go to college then university. I never go back to first year. In that sense, there might be a chance I can save her. But I should talk about it with other, see what they have to say. Bookmark here

(A month later)Bookmark here

7th October, MondayBookmark here

A month passed by, nothing much happened. I have actually started to accept the reality. Talked about what I had in mind about not going back to first year. Just a simple answer ‘we don’t know, anything could be expected’. Also, results came, between us four, I am first, then Sachi, then Eiji and then Hina. And yes, Hina didn’t make it, but was close to 70. Bookmark here

Cultural festival is around the end of this month or starting of next one, I think. Honestly, I wouldn’t have cared much about it if I was still my old self, but now I am kind of excited for it. Anything you do with friends becomes fun so, will try to enjoy this event too. Bookmark here

Today, they are choosing male and female representatives. And just as expected, Sachi volunteered.Bookmark here

“Hey Takahashi, what do you think, want to do it with me?” (Sachi)Bookmark here

“Why would you even think about asking me…”Bookmark here

“Because friends…?”Bookmark here

“It’s too much for me, why not ask Eiji”Bookmark here

“I’m not doing it either. Too much work” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“But it’s fun”Bookmark here

“Have you ever done it before?” Bookmark here

“No, but you haven’t either”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but I know how hard and annoying and stressful it is”Bookmark here

“Please…”Bookmark here

“Why are you being persistant, ask someone else from the class, there will be a lot of boys who would love to participate”Bookmark here

“But in anime it’s the main characters doing it together. I thought I would be able to do it with you”Bookmark here

“No thanks!”Bookmark here

“Fine, Then I’ll ask someone else” (Sachi)Bookmark here

“Is there someone who would love to be the male representer of this class for cultural festival?” (Sachi)Bookmark here

Literally every single boy in our class started shouting ‘ME ME’ ‘I would love to be the male representative’ and now, Sachi looks troubled… Bookmark here

I don’t know why she wants to do It, sometimes I don’t understand her.Bookmark here

Oh, it looks like she found someone. Good for her, now she won’t bug me. Bookmark here

“You should have done it with her” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Idiot, she wants to enjoy her time with you, why can’t you see that” (Hina)Bookmark here

“I can see that, but it would have stressed us both out and it wouldn’t have been fun at the end”Bookmark here

“No Takahashi, it would have been fun if it was with her, I know you would have enjoyed yourself. Because there is someone to share that hard work with you”Bookmark here

“Maybe, but I don’t care less. If there are people who can offer themselves to work like this, they are more than welcome to take my place. Plus, it’s not necessary for me to do it”Bookmark here

“It was if Sachi is doing it too…” (Hina)Bookmark here

“Don’t force him if he doesn’t want to, it’s fine” (Sachi)Bookmark here

Sachi: even though I really really wanted to do it with you, and now that I have volunteered to do it, I can’t back down… it’s hurting you know… I wish I could tell you this…Bookmark here

“Well, If Sachi is fine with it, we can’t say anything either.” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“Are you really fine with it Sachi?” (Hina)Bookmark here

“I… won’t lie, I was really hoping for him to be with me. But… if he doesn’t want to its fine.”Bookmark here

“You shouldn’t have volunteered, we could have enjoyed the festival roaming around campus, looking at stalls too, and participating in events like plays and stuff if you wanted… I wouldn’t be participating though”Bookmark here

“I know but I thought…”Bookmark here

“You can still walk back from that position if you want…”Bookmark here

“NO! it would be embarrassing to move back now… I will do it” Bookmark here

“Fine, your choice”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I feel bad for denying her… maybe I should have said yes? No. I’m still not ok with crowds and stuff. So it’s better I stay away.Bookmark here

(Some days later)Bookmark here

Everyone is busy preparing for the festival, I haven’t contributed much, just some ideas and stuff. Right now, they are talking about which story to do a play of… I have an ideaBookmark here

“Hey guys, instead of picking up old stories like Romeo and Juliet, why not write our own story?” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“Write a complete new story? we only have a few weeks, who’s going to do that anyways” (Classmate)Bookmark here

“I’m suggesting it so of course I will be writing it”Bookmark here

“We don’t have much time for that, you write it and then we read and see if its good enough to be performable or not, and then practicing, that’s going to take a lot of time”Bookmark here

“I will tell you about it a little right now so that you can see if it’s interesting or not”Bookmark here

“Ok… go ahead”Bookmark here

“In this story, you are in a world where every mature person has the power to bring back people to life, in exchange of their own soul”Bookmark here

“Oh… that might be actually worth the shot, depends if you can write a story on that idea. What do you guys think?” (Looking at the class representatives)Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s fine with me” (Male representative)Bookmark here

“I didn’t know you could write Takahashi” (Sachi)Bookmark here

“I can’t write, I just had this idea when I was…”Bookmark here

Takahashi: thinking of bringing you back to life if you die… if it was possible in the first placeBookmark here

“Huh…?” (Sachi)Bookmark here

“Nothing… Nothing” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“Okay…”Bookmark here

It’s 10th October today. I think I can write a story around it in a week. Will start writing as soon as I get homeBookmark here

(First day of Cultural festival)Bookmark here

It’s 1st November, Friday. First day of the festival.
In the end, I tried to help Sachi with her work, since they were low on manpower. And I felt bad for letting her do it by herself. Hina and Eiji are practicing for the play so they can’t be with us right now. So, me and Sachi hung out around the campus, checking out stalls and stuff when she had free time. It was actually a lot of fun and seeing Sachi happy made me happy too. Tomorrow is the day they will play the story I gave them. Everyone was happy with the way I ended it and how I wrote it. They think I can be a writer. But I don’t have much interest in writing. I did this only for the festival.Bookmark here

(Second day of Cultural festival)Bookmark here

2nd November. Today is the day they play the story I gave. I guess it’s a little strange because every other class is doing the cliché like Romeo and Juliet and stuff. But it’s better to be unique.Bookmark here

Since I wrote the story, I was the director of the play, how the characters look and who should be what. I decided. Hina and Eiji are doing the main characters of the story. And some other students from our class I choose. I don’t even know those people, so it was awkward when choosing who to give which character. There weren’t any costumes needed since the story was just like a slice of life type anime. So just everyday cloths. I hope everyone likes it.Bookmark here

“Our turn comes in Half an hour; are you guys ready?”Bookmark here

“Nervous and ready” (Hina)Bookmark here

“I didn’t think you were the nervous type Hina”Bookmark here

“Infront of this many people, yes I can get nervous, look even Eiji looks nervous”Bookmark here

“Yeah, you are right.”Bookmark here

“Performing Infront of hundreds of students isn’t easy you know; you are just going to sit here manage the play” (Hina)Bookmark here

“Hey, managing isn’t that easy either you know, if anything goes wrong or anything happens, I have to provide alternatives as fast as possible”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I know. Everyone is nervous around this time”Bookmark here

“Yes. Just make sure that everything is ready before the time comes”Bookmark here

(25 minutes later)Bookmark here

“They are finishing up, get ready everyone” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

Aaaaah… just watching em from here is making me nervousBookmark here

“Good luck Everyone” (Takahashi)
Bookmark here

“The next play is performed by the class 2-A, named ‘Soul Call’”Bookmark here

(Play starts)Bookmark here

“Mom, what's a Soul Call?”
(Boy from 2-A, playing as an 8-year-old)Bookmark here

“When you bring back your loved one in exchange of your soul, it's called ‘Soul Call’”
(Girl from 2-A, playing as a mom)Bookmark here

“...Why?”Bookmark here

“What do you mean why...?”Bookmark here

“I mean what's the point of bringing back your loved ones when you won't live anymore?”Bookmark here

“That's something you will understand when you grow up!”
(Boy from 2-A, playing as a dad)Bookmark here

Bookmark here

(Play continues)Bookmark here

(From the side of the platform)Bookmark here

“Everything looks great. And they have memorized the lines well. I hope it ends well too” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

(After about one and a half hour, the play ends)Bookmark here

“MANNN! That was exhausting” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“Yeah, but did you see their reaction when they saw who the mom and dad were. The way Takahashi wrote the story was amazing” (Hina)Bookmark here

“Yeah, it seems that everyone loved it…” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“What’s wrong, are you thinking about Sachi?” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“Yeah… I was hoping she could watch it live like this, it would have been more exciting” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“But she had work to do, don’t worry, we’ll watch the recording together when we get it from the school” (Eiji)Bookmark here

“Yeah”Bookmark here

Today, Sachi was really busy with the representative work, had other stalls to look at and stuff so we didn’t have much time to talk. It’s 15: 39 right now, I think I should go find Sachi, see what she’s doing. Maybe help her with something if she needs it. Bookmark here

(Third day of Cultural festival)Bookmark here

3rd November. Bookmark here

“I’m really sorry for yesterday, I couldn’t get time to come and watch you guys performing” (Sachi)Bookmark here

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it, we can watch the recording together, it will still be fun” (Hina)Bookmark here

“I don’t have much work so I can hang out with you guys” Bookmark here

“Yeah, let’s check out the haunted house” (Hina)Bookmark here

“What are you? A middle schooler? Those things are not interesting at all” (Takahashi)Bookmark here

“You scared?” (Sachi)Bookmark here

“Going to drag me in the cliché way?”Bookmark here

“Of course, unless you are a chicken, we can skip”Bookmark here

“Fine…”Bookmark here

“Yayyy” (Sachi)Bookmark here

Most of our time today was spent checking out stalls. Today she had the time to hang out with us. I’m glad she’s enjoying herself. Bookmark here

18: 12, reached home.
Man! These three days were so exciting and exhausting. Been a while since I have had this fun. It’s good that I’m enjoying the time with my friends, even though Sachi’s death still pops up in my head from time to time, I don’t give it much a thought. I have gotten tired of worrying because it wasn’t helping anyone. I’m glad I’m maturing. Come to think of it, I never asked Eiji what he decided in the end. I do remember that he didn’t confess, maybe after seeing Aoi he thought its better if he doesn’t. I’ll ask him when I meet him next time. For now, going to take a bath and relax on the bed.Bookmark here

Real Aire
You can resume reading from this paragraph.