I rolled over to my right.
“Shin. Wake up.”
I pulled my blanket up and covered myself with it, like a caterpillar.
“Shin, we’re going to be late!”
My mother then pulled the blanket away from me, opened the curtains to let the light shine into my room. I hissed at the sun.
“Come on, get up!”
I curled myself in a position like a baby.
My mom lightly slapped my face, “We are visiting Chiaki’s family today, still remember? Get up!”
She pulled the blanket off me. “It’s the first day of the year.”
I stretched my body as I sat myself up, “It’s the first day of the year.”
“Wear some better clothes than your usual ones,” she said. “We have to make a good impression.”
“Who dares to say my mom is not beautiful enough already?” I said, half-awake.
She slapped my right arm, “Don’t tease your mom. Get down there in 5 minutes. Your dad had already started the car.”
“Roger,” I made a military salute to her.
She then left my room and closed the door behind her.
I grabbed my phone and texted Hideki. “Where are you now?”
Then I started to dress myself, only to find my gifts were still in the corner of my room. Right, I didn’t get a chance to give them out yet. And as I put on my somewhat decent jacket, Hideki texted me back.
“In my parent’s house. Why?”
“Missed me already?”
“I’ve got a gift for you, but judging from your reaction…”
“Shin, shin. Listen, I just got a little grumpy this early in the morning.”
“My little brother and sister kept pestering me to read them stories while I was watching TV.”
“You are the best, you know that, right?”
“Hmm… maybe I can give you the day after tomorrow?”
“Eh… oh, oh, I just wanted to ask you two about this.”
“I talked with Yui a bit when I walked her to the train station, and she asked me to ask you two, whether or not to come to her hometown.”
“The farm, you know.”
“Fresh air, just for the next three days.”
“Fine, I’ll ask Chiaki about it, and reply to you later.”
“Ok. Happy New Year.”
I smiled, “Happy New Year.”
“Shin!” my mother called me from downstairs.
“I’m coming!” I said.
I put on the red scarf, and rested my eyes on my watch for a few seconds before deciding not to wear it.
“Time to move on,” I said to myself.
I grabbed Chiaki’s gift, a pressure cooker and two umbrellas and went downstairs.
“Happy New Year,” I said to my mother and father while handing them their respective gifts.
“Thank you,” my mom said but she took it and placed it on top of our shoe shelf. “We are going to be late. It’s 8:05 AM already.”
“Thank you, Shin,” my father smiled at me. “This katana design is intriguing.”
I smiled back. “Glad you like it, dad.”
“Alright you two grown men, stop grinning at each other,” my mother pushed us to the car, which I had already heard its engine started 30 minutes ago. “Time to go.”
My father chuckled, “Your mom was so excited she couldn’t get some proper sleep last night.”
I smiled, “Thanks mom.”
“Let’s go, let’s go,” she said.
Then, we drove to Chiaki’s house which was only five minutes away by car. But I figured they just wanted to give a better impression to her parents. Plus, the back of the car was stuffed with all sorts of things.
My mother handed me a banquet of flowers in the car, “Your father picked these up from the floral shop this morning. They are still fresh, so hold them with care.”
I pulled down a bit of the wrappers on the flower. White lilies. Odd choice.
“We heard they like white lilies,” my mother said. “Chiaki’s dad proposed to her mom using this flower. Her dad said that meeting her mom felt like he was reborn.”
“White lilies symbolize purity and rebirth,” my father said.
Purity… and rebirth. Ironic.
It didn’t take too long for us to arrive at Chiaki’s house.
We hopped down the cars, and taking the gifts in their hands, my father reached for the bell.
“Coming!” We heard a noise from the inside of the house.
A few seconds later, Chiaki’s dad opened the door, with Chiaki and her mom behind him. I peeked to look at her, she has a sweater on with a few cute white lilies on the pocket area, with a blue jean.
I held the banquet of white lilies with one hand, and her gift with the other.
“Happy New Year. Thank you for having us over,” we said.
“Happy New Year. Welcome in,” Chiaki’s dad said.
My mother and father went in first, and I attempted to give the banquet to Chiaki’s mom. But she slightly pushed it back, “I had already received it once,” she said as she passed a look at Chiaki.
“Mom!” Chiaki protested.
“Fine, fine. I’ll leave you two youngsters alone,” she then went inside the house.
Chiaki and I stood there in silence.
“Happy New Year,” I said, as I handed her the white lilies. “Thank you for always being there for me.”
She looked at me in surprise as she received them with both her hands.
I raised my gifts that I put inside a hanging box. “This, for you too.”
“What is it?” she asked.
I took out a book from it. “The Twelve Olympians.”
She chuckled, “Thank you.”
“And,” I continued, taking out the necklace with a sunflower pendant. “A necklace. For you.”
“Can… can you wear it on me?” she said, hinting at her occupied hands.
I circled to her back and raised her short hair a little, as I wrapped the necklace around her neck, with a click.
She turned to me. “How does it look?”
Wow. The necklace matched her white t-shirt and the curvature around her neck perfectly.
“You look beautiful,” I said.
She blushed, but she kept her eyes on me. “Thank you.”
I blushed, seeing her reaction.
I cleared my throat, “This can also be opened, the sunflower. It’s a pendant. You can put pictures of things you like in it.”
My face immediately reddened.
She smiled, “You’re cute when you blush too, Shin.”
She leaned closer to me and kissed me on my cheek. “Thank you. Happy New Year. I hope we can have a memorable year ahead.”
I kissed her cheek. “I will do my best to make sure that happens, Chiaki.”
Her face became red, and she passed by me, “I—I’m going in first.”
I held her hand back.
She looked at me, with the banquet of lilies on her other hand, almost looking like she’s holding a baby.
“What?” she asked.
“Let’s go in together,” I said.
A soft breeze then blew past me, when I heard a familiar, nostalgic whistling sound.
A line of tears suddenly slid down from my right eye, but I wiped it away.
Snow began to fall, drop by drop, dancing down from the blue sky.
I felt an odd poignant feeling, as I whispered, “Take care.”
Chiaki intertwined her fingers with mine.
I paused at her.
“Are we going?” she asked.
Her hand is so warm.
I took my final breath, and smiled at her.
To our Second Chances.