For When Morning Comes and the Sun Doesn't Rise
Okada looked over at me as soon as class ended, an unreadable expression was spread across her face. Tomio and Kimura approached, Tomio in particular looked extremely excited.
“Yeah, did you decide if you wanted to go to the home-ec room or the dorm community kitchen?”
“We’d need to reserve the home-ec room,” Tomio raised his hand as he spoke. “I asked Kobayashi-sensei earlier, but since we’re not an official club yet, we can't.”
Tomio was technically our club president, it felt odd thinking that so I often forgot.
“That leaves the community kitchen.”
On our way to the dorms, my hand was constantly on Tomio’s head, a reminder to him that our goal was to go to the dorms, not the cafe. When we arrived, the kitchen was empty.
Okada pulled the ingredients she purchased out of her bag and laid them out on the counter. While she did that, the rest of us pulled together utensils and pans.
“Okada, have you ever made chocolate before?”
Not sure why I even asked, she was trembling and nervous. It was obvious that this whole thing was new to her.
Kimura took Okada’s hands in hers.
“Don’t worry, we’re here to help.” Her gentle voice hung in the air. An angel had come down from the heavens to deliver her heartfelt reassurance. Okada felt it as well. She took a deep breathe and settled her nerves.
Surprisingly, Tomio was really good at making chocolate. I always pegged him as the consumer-only type. Yet, he looked like a full-on chef the way he danced around the kitchen. His usual clumsy self was no where to be found. Kimura as well was a natural, coming in to aide Okada. I was very much adequate, I knew nothing about sweets in general, even though I cooked for my drunk bastard of a grandpa back home.
On the other hand, Okada was… A complete disaster. Not only did her chocolates always come out burnt, it seemed that she had no experience in cooking at all. Out of six or so batches, only one was actually edible.
I took a bite out of one of her chocolates.
“Edible, is a very vague term to describe these chocolates…”
“Shut up! I’m trying.” She retorted.
If this were a more casual activity, I would’ve been on the ground rolling in laughter, but to Okada this was serious. Maintaining my composure, I tried not to pick on her too much.
“You’re making progress though, Okada.”
My finger gestured to the lined up trays of her past batches, each of them less burnt than the last. Covering my mouth and turning away, I attempted to muffle the chuckle that was impatiently escaping from my lungs.
Shortly after, a foot entered my lower back, knocking me over. When I turned around, my eyes met with that of the devil—I mean Okada— Her devious glare shot me down as she towered over me. Raising her right arm, pan in hand, she issued what could only be presumed as a death threat.
“Did you say something, I-no-ue-kun” She sounded out my name slowly, while tilting her head. The corners of her mouth were stretched to the sides of her face creating an extremely wicked smile. A chill went down my spine as the words rolled off her lips.
“N-Nothing… This isn’t as bad as I thought!” I shoved the rest of the “edible” chocolate into my mouth, almost gagging as it went down my throat. I let out a nervous chuckle while scratching the back of my head.
I need to be more careful around her… One day she might actually kill me.
After several hours, Okada had finally produced decent chocolate. That may actually be an understatement. Her chocolate was actually really good. After receiving the Tomio stamp of approval, she went ahead and started working on presentation. With the help of Kimura, they were able to create both tasty and visually appealing chocolate.
The post-cleaning process was pretty quick, mostly because there were four of us. We went through several trash bags though, mostly filled with Okada’s burnt waste. All the extra chocolate ended up going to Tomio, who ended up pulling out the “Club President” card, even though the rest of us didn’t want any more.
“All that’s left is to give it to him tomorrow.” I gave her a friendly pat on the head.
“Um, Inoue, thank you… For helping me…” Her tone was a lot softer than usual.
“I didn’t do anything, you should be thanking them.” A quick twirl of my finger gestured over to both Tomio and Kimura.
“I already thanked them…” She paused. “I-I wanted to thank you for telling me to do this, instead of going with my plan…”
“Haha, you’d have to be crazy to go with yo-“ My lips sealed as soon as her eyes met mine. For a split-second the demon returned.
“Um, A-As a thank you, please accept these.”
She handed me a small bag, it was identical to the one in her other hand which was for her crush. Her gaze lowered, a rosy-red flushed across her cheeks.
With that, she darted out of the room.
“Thank you everyone, see you tomorrow!” She smiled, the door closing behind her.
Tomio let out a large yawn. I’m not even sure if sugar affects him, he might’ve built up a tolerance to it. Although, his whole personality was a sugar high. There’s no way to tell really.
“I’m gonna get going Kazuki, Kimura. See you tomorrow!” Skipping out of the room, he hummed a tune.
Turning to look over at Kimura, my mouth uttered words on it’s own.
“I’ll walk you home.”
I’m not sure what it was, but it was the first thing to come to mind when she came into my sight.
“So, what’d you think?” I asked her.
It was late. The two of us continued our walk under the starry night sky. Above us, the sky was clear, not a single cloud in sight. Our walk took us through the darker portion of the town, making it easier to see the individual stars. I couldn’t help but look up while walking.
“I had a lot of fun,” she chuckled. “Each of you have your own distinct personality, Tomio is overly enthusiastic about sweets, he’s way passed borderline addicted. Okada is a tsundere through and through, I was trying really hard not to laugh when she had it out for you!” Her chuckle had evolved into a full-blown laugh. Somehow, she still maintained her angelic composure.
“And, me?” For some reason, I found myself speaking whatever was on my mind when I was around her.
Her cheeks turned a light pink. An angelic blush?
“I’m not exactly sure how to explain it, but you’re you.”
“You’re incredibly sarcastic and funny even though you poke fun at everyone, like when Tomio zoned out from his own chocolate and you swapped it with Okada’s burnt ones.”
We both laughed.
“So are you joining?” I asked.
“Hmm, I’ll have to ask my dad, but hopefully.” She smiled, giving me a thumbs up.
Her house was located on the Eastern part of the city, just outside of the market district. Since the markets closed at dusk, it was especially dark out.
“The stars are really pretty,” she pointed out.
“Oh, yeah, you said you like stars right?”
Nodding, she replied.
“See that constellation directly above us, it’s called the Triangulum Astrale…” She continued, enthusiastically explaining the several different stars that made up the constellation.
My gaze found itself resting on her eyes rather than the sky. A fluorescent reflection, they were beaming. A starlit pond stood before me, the deeper I gazed into them, the more stars I could make out.
Stress from school has set my writing back a bit so I'll be playing catch-up all the way up to the deadline. Cover Art and other illustrations should be uploaded.
Thank you for your continued support!