Chapter 3:

Volume 1 ❀ Chapter 1: Inside the Colourful Mind of a Floating World - Tabula Rasa

Ideasthesia ❀ Volume 1


I was dreaming again. I don’t know the exact moment when it happened, nor from where either. I remember I was standing, or maybe even resting somewhere, in some faraway place. Every time I try to remember, a sting in my heart stops its beats for mere instants. Every sigh that comes out of my broken heart, escapes out of my fingers, feeling an inexplicable texture and even fragrance that evokes nostalgia.

How something so simple, that usually goes unnoticed, is capable of generating emotions that we never thought we could express? I usually keep my emotions at bay. However, just by catching a tiny trace of the sigh of my heart I was able to feel them come out.

My surroundings were covered in a black veil, expanding into the distance, increasing said feelings and emotions alike. I wanted to crush any object, feel it go through my skin to wake me up from this nightmare.

Now, a new question was illustrated in the nonexistent blackboard: am I really dreaming?

My body feels heavy, instead of light.

I thought I was floating in some illusion inside my vast mind. Fleetingly, the probability that I found myself without life crossed like a vehicle ignoring the red lights.

Was I the victim of a hit and run or is it just a metaphor? Is that a metaphor or metonymy?

Even knowing their differences perfectly, I don’t seem to remember them at the moment. Returning to my current situation, knowing the definitions once again is the least. I must move forward, that is what every sigh that escapes my heart asks of me.

Listening to the endless echoes of my shoes against an inexistent concrete, it made me decide to notice my appearance.

The first thing that caught my attention was the outfit I was using.

A black dress, taking me to a starless sky, flooding the air I breathe with the beautiful scent of flowers next to a marvelous spring. In fact, I could make vague hints of pink laces between the top and bottom part. Naively, I swore I heard birds that began to sing and dance around me.

They were invisible, I knew it very well.

However, what struck me the most and made my heart sting and drown in anguish were my eyes and hair.

A gorgeous, long pale lavender hair, similar to a fluffy cloud reached my ankles and was tied in a high ponytail. My eyes were glittering with a light orange colour, and I felt foreign to my body.

The rabbit hairpin on the left side of my bangs was everything it took to make me realize what could be happening. To ascertain the reality I’m trying so hard to deny.

This isn’t me… Or is it? All because of looking like this… This isn’t… I’m not...

The invisible birds flapped their wings, being the orchestra that followed the sighs of my heart.

These escaped more easily each time I accelerated my pace, running from my reflection, after the birds flew away with their wings with greater speed. I didn’t want them to flee. With them, freedom escaped, they could leave and flee. They are invisible. They are in one place but not quite at the same time.

Someone ineffable that to their pleasure, handles their freedom while hanging around with others, being unnoticed.

Just like me. Still… what I wished for the most was… Me being like “this”. I envy those stupid birds so much right now.

It was at that precise moment that I heard the dripping water. The sound of the rain shook my eardrums, producing a sense of dejavú.

Dry hands went straight to my face, tracing a thin line between sanity and madness as it descended from the back of my neck. Chills weren’t lacking, my heart being altered more than the necessary, the sighs coming out like bubbles when my breathing began to accelerate, the air leaving my lungs.

A force I was incapable to control took possession of my senses, drowning me in a dark rain, one I had never seen before but, somehow, felt grimly familiar.

If I have seen this dark rain only in dreams: Am I really dreaming? Is this “reality”?

The same question hovered in my head, until the black german shepherd with a yellow scarf on their neck as a collar stopped its whining, alongside the chime of a bell in the tip of their left ear.

When did that dog…? No, that’s the least of my troubles right now!

My face was submerged in the pool of rain, the tip of my nose being my only connection with the world of darkness that tormented my soul, summing up the sense of culpability that ravaged my heart.

The chiming bell that it carried in its ear broke the water like a fine crystal, with a gorgeous sound, freeing me from my own shadows. Palms of a hand were burned on my neck, a sign of the force with which they squeezed my life.

I touched the area slowly; it was hot, I was burning up.

The rain had been cold, so why was I hot if I felt almost frozen because of the temperature?

The dog barked. Their eyes fell on me, expectantly.

I blinked, unable to understand the tranquility of the canine before my peculiar situation. I staggered to one side, still unsettled by the event. My shoulder hit a hard, rough surface. It hurt much more than normal, almost as if I had crashed against a wall.

My palm tried to decipher the event, discovering that the vast space that I thought I was in just ended up being a space marked by mirrors.

I was inside a black mirrored box, dark, with no way out. Embroidered between life and death in a limited space.

I opened my lips, noticing that they were dry. Once again, the rain should have soaked them after I had almost drowned in that dark lagoon full of despair and agony.

The dog barked again, claiming for me.

I raised an eyebrow, until an idea made its way to my mind, once my heart began to sigh again.

I'm with Schrödinger's cat… I mean, dog… I guess?

Reading my thought, they began to run inside the dark world inside the mirrored box. I wanted to stop them, the words sticking in my mouth. I extended my arm, even though I knew it was impossible to convince them to stay. The chime followed his steps, being my guide among the shadows to reach them.

The box went on and on and narrowed, while the space became increasingly limited to the left and right. I wanted to go back, leave everything, close my eyes and try to wake up. However, it was meaningless. I still didn’t know if this was a dream or reality itself.

A wall had manifested behind me, indicating that there was no way to retrace my steps, return to the past and fix my actions. I had to move forward with this decision.

But I can’t do it. I can’t if I...

I fell down to my knees, sobbing like a small girl. Little by little, the mirrors reflected my image properly again, my cries being the only thing in this world. However, a light was breaking the shell I was creating on my own, perhaps implying that Schrödinger's cat, or in this case a dog, was really alive.

Light represents life; darkness death. That is the equivalence taught to us from a young age, and I was becoming darkness.

The crystal rose stuck in my chest was proof of that, shining with obscurity.

If only I didn’t look like “her” at all while in this form… If only…!

The mirrors kept reflecting my pathetic self, while a box cutter appeared in my clasped hands. I saw the blade, shining brightly in each reflection, giving me a hint of what I should do.

Holding it tightly, all of “my” hair came down, just to in a matter of seconds, my only childish escape was broken without mercy.

The fluffy, light lavender hair that had spread before me disappeared without a trace, placing itself into where it was before.

As if nothing had happened.

So I lifted the box cutter again.

My hair kept growing back, becoming a vicious cycle.

A vicious cycle that was formed while all the mirrors reflected my never-ending despair.

If only I didn’t look like “her”... If only I hadn’t…!

I screamed, waiting for the end of the world to reach my “reality” while I lost every bit of sanity.

 ※  ※  ※

“Yui? You okay?”

A pale hand woke me up, shaking my right shoulder with a gentle touch. Holding a black umbrella on their opposite hand, I came to an astonishing conclusion while I looked into their preoccupied, light amber eyes.

So I was daydreaming, huh? It felt awfully real, though.

“I’m… fine, Nobu.”

I bit my lip, grasping my own umbrella with an undeniable force. It was obvious my fingers were shaking violently. It was a matter of time until he noticed. Somehow, Nobu always manages to know how and what I’m feeling. That’s why I was sure my answer wasn’t enough to convince him.

The dark blue haired boy sighed, while the early summer rain fell under us, staring towards an endless garden filled with classic Japanese tombs. Almost everyone had left since the service had already ended, and who knows for how many hours I was out of it, denying my reality.

“Never thought I’d be back to Gifu’s capital city. Not in this way, at least” Nobu crossed an arm. “We were the only outsiders here, everyone else were family members”

“Mm” I nodded slowly, my small pigtails bouncing with the tiny movement. “Still, I felt I needed to be here, not just attend a school memorial service…”

“Let’s get going, okay? I know there’s a really good soba restaurant just around the corner, I saw it on our way here. We… You need to eat something. And I’m positive Shinjirō will beat the hell out of me if you come back with less weight. So… please…”

“Yuiko’s brother wasn’t here.”

My voice caught Nobu off guard.

“Maybe we just missed him?” he pondered. “There were lots of people here, after all. It seems the Tsukiame family is pretty big. Well, Yuiko's father is a renowned painter… it’ll be hard to escape the press. That could be a reason. Perhaps he just wanted some time alone.”

“And miss his only sister’s funeral?” my voice started to crack, my body violently shaking. “You know… I’m… a bit glad I didn’t have to see him. Yuiko's parents were busy with everything so I was happy I didn’t see them… but her brother.... She always used to say how much she loved her brother…”

“Yui…”

I saw how Nobu extended his hand, just to retract in the end and pretend to fix his yellow scarf.

“After all…” I raised my head, tears rolling down my eyes. “How could the murderer face her victim’s loved ones just like that? Like… Just like a stroll in the park!”

“Yui, stop!”

Before he could take a hold of me, I fell down to my knees, sobbing just like in my daydream. The early summer rain kept on falling, grey coloured clouds covering my own darkness.

“It’s my fault… I killed her!” I yelled, succumbing into madness while my tears kept on falling. I wasn’t even sure anymore which were my tears and which the raindrops. “I killed my friend!”

“No, stop taking the blame for this!” Nobu kneeled down, doing his best to calm me down. Luckily, the cemetery was empty due to the climate and the funeral had ended, so no one could see what was unfolding. “It. Isn’t. Your. Fault!”

“Yes, it is!” I pushed him away, opening up the small pastel pink pashmina I was wearing on top of my black formal dress. “I killed her because of this! Because I was “her”! Because I look like “her”! The Observer told me so! Didn’t you see their reaction when they saw me on Sunday? I killed Yuiko!”

The rose made of crystal was shining in my chest, slowly filling with dark energy. I could feel and see the panic widely spreading in Nobu’s face. He knew words wouldn’t get through me. Everything I was saying was true.

Yuiko was killed on a Saturday.

I met The Observer on Sunday.

Monday we got the news.

And now, Tuesday, I’m here at Obora Cemetery, in the city of Gifu, Yuiko's birthplace.

“It seems I got the wrong person, oh well” was all they said alongside a sinister smile. Afterward, the only thing they added was “If only you two weren’t so similar”. They’re saying it’s my fault.

“I should’ve died instead!”

Slap.

My cheek was burning. And it hurt. It hurt a whole lot. However, what hurt me the most was seeing how Nobu retained his frustration and anger, hiding his worry. My rose stabilized, and all I understood from the slap it was that it was time for me to shut up. That’s why, when he stood up and extended his hand, I took it.

Nothing else had to be said.

Nothing could be done.

“Now, let’s go and eat those soba noodles before you start spouting more nonsense, my dear Yui” he caressed my aching cheek, and finished patting my head softly. “I love you, so don’t say those stupid things.”

I had no energy to reply.

I just followed his path, like a lost puppy looking for some shelter from the rain, even if I had an umbrella with me.

I’m stalling my heart with endless tears.

I’m an empty, white, unwritten blackboard.

※ ※ ※

5 Months Ago - January

※ ※ ※

I have always loved seeing snow fall from the sky. Therefore, I couldn’t wait for the snowfall to begin, so I ate hot sweet potatoes every single day for breakfast while walking to school. I had woken up late, hence my two childhood friends probably already left our common meeting point of each morning.

Still…

January was a season in which I, Yui Samidare, felt limited.

Being the month with more clear skies but intense cold, I had to take more care of myself. That's why right now, I tried to stay warm under the wool hat I was wearing, next to a pink pashmina, alongside the school’s light blue sweater.

Left; right. One; two.

I narrowed my eyes, concentrating on the steps left by my feet on the muddy road. I never bothered taking the bus to school. Walking around Shirakawa was something I loved doing. Seeing the thick thatched roofed gasshō-zukuri houses was amazing every morning while I munched my hot breakfast.

It’s as if time had kept still in the village.

Keeping an eternal silence inside my mind, reveling in the sound of the withered leaves of the trees being crushed beneath my mud-filled shoes, the only colour that gave life to my monotonous surroundings around covered by the grey clouds of January, darkening with each step I took.

I was still near the residential area, but the lack of life left a lot to be desired.

Honestly, it’s better this way. After all, I hate noisy places.

When I reached the place where I usually meet with Shinji and Manabu, I took the hint. No one was there.

“So they ditched me… They’ll see when I get to school, THEY’LL SEE.”

“Um, excuse me! Do you have a minute?”

My heart stopped, along with the sounds that made up the soundtrack of winter. A warm and sweet premonition took hold of my chest, causing my cheeks to turn a light pastel pink.

Wait a second...

The girl that had asked for my attention looked lost. Her fashionable outfit was something that came right out of, I assumed, the latest magazine from Tokyo.

A beige dress that barely reached her slender knees had a white lace embroidery, which looked like flowers. On her neck, there was a small black ribbon, knitted on the dress itself. A pair of translucent black stockings were her choice that cold morning, and I could see she was shivering a bit until I finally took notice of what was the most important detail.

Her appearance…

Fluffy. That was the exact word to describe her long, light lavender hair that reached to her knees. Her eyes were strikingly similar to mine as well, although hers were a pastel orange instead of dark as mine.

It feels as if I’m looking into a magical mirror, of some sort.

“A poltergeist!” I shouted, backtracking. “I don’t wanna die yet!”

“Hm?” the mysterious girl tilted her hair, her bangs swaying with her movement until I noticed a cute white rabbit hairpin. “Oh! I’m not a ghost!”

But we look so similar… it’s… as if she was an Extreme Makeover version of me… or something.

“T-T-Then, you’re a parallel version of me from an alternate universe and you are here to steal my place!” I kept on spouting nonsense, still braindead, trying to process why we looked so alike.

I held my school bag as if it could protect me, just to be taken aback by her genuine, sweet laughter.

“Ehehe, my apologies. I didn’t mean to startle you that much” she bows down, just to clap both hands afterward and tilt her head to the left. “My name is Yuiko Tsukiame, and I just moved here yesterday. I saw you walking with the school’s uniform on and I really needed to ask for some directions on how to get there!”

“Oh, so that was it….” I sighed, closing my eyes.

Yuiko, huh… even our names are similar.

“I’m Yui Samidare, nice to meet you!”

“Likewise,” her dazzling smile took me away in an instant. “If it isn’t much of a bother, would you mind if I walked with you to school?”

“Yeah, no problem…” I replied a bit confused.

Her formal speech is too much for me, I feel overwhelmed.

“Hm? Am I perhaps being a nuisance…?” Yuiko took her own hands and placed them on top of her chest, worried.

“Not at all!” I shook both of my palms in front of my face, still with no clue of what to do.

Let’s try striking up a little conversation, it doesn’t hurt to try… Although I’m a disaster with that…

“So, um, Miss Tsukiame… uh, you said you just moved here yesterday so are you learning your way to school so you can attend classes tomorrow?”

Dear Lord, what a redundant question, you dummy Yui.

“You can just call me Yuiko!” she replied cheerfully. “Now, going back to your question… that would be a yes and a no.”

“Whatcha mean?” I stumbled with my words, biting my tongue.

For being so formal when talking, I’m surprised she wants me to call her by her name so quickly.

“We actually came to see our new home today. My father’s an artist, and we had to move due to his work. He said he found some inspiration when he visited this place a few months back, and fell under its beauty… or something along those lines. We’re not a hundred percent moved in yet, but it has a nice ring saying I’m new to town.”

“Oh, I see. What kind of art does your dad do?”

“Mostly ukiyo-e.”

“Wait… does that mean your dad makes woodblock prints and paintings? That’s impressive! Kinda like Katsushika Hokusai, huh. So that means you must’ve come from Tokyo? I’ve never been there in my life. Is it really that amazing as they say it is?”

“Oh, actually I’m from here! With here meaning the prefecture of Gifu, ehehe. I live in the capital city, in an area called Oboranishi. I’ve never been to Tokyo either, I apologize.”

“Ah, there’s no need!”

Why am I always ruining conversations this way!? Ah, I wanna die.

“To be honest, besides from learning my way to school and see if there is a bus stop, I need to properly introduce myself to the faculty office and leave all my paperwork.”

“Transferring schools sounds like a hassle…”

The chat came to an abrupt end, not knowing what else to say. We walked in silence side by side. I found it hard to open up to strangers but, somehow, Yuiko was able to break that shell I have. I’m not a talkative person, and usually find myself daydreaming in my own world, wondering how it feels to be talented. I’m talentless, after all. No redeeming qualities. Maybe, that’s why, when I saw how similar in appearance she was to me, I felt confident for a minute.

As in, “what if I was like that?”

Suddenly, we both came to a halt. The school gates were closed, meaning I was definitely late. On the other hand, the mysterious girl who went by the name of Yuiko was breathless when she saw it.

A bridge joined both buildings unifying them.

“Welcome to Shirakawa’s Elementary School and Shirakawa’s Junior High School” I extended my hand, presenting the place itself.

“Incredible, they are indeed merged!” she exclaimed, placing a hand over her mouth due to the shock. “It is very surprising…”

“Really?”

Maybe because I’m used to it I don’t find it weird...

“It seems closed though, at what time do classes begin?” Yuiko looked at me, expecting an answer.

“Um, well…”

“They began half an hour ago. Miss Samidare, the third semester begun yesterday, and you’re already late the second day.”

A new voice made its way towards us, making chills run down my spine. I could identify that voice everywhere, having been my nightmare since last year’s April. I slowly turned around, my walking companion being puzzled by everything that was happening around her. I couldn’t blame her. I’d be too.

“I’m so sorry, Ms Tanaka!”

I quickly bowed down in front of the woman that was assigned as my homeroom teacher who, by some divine intervention, was in charge of watching the gate at this time period given the first class of the day had already started.

The young teacher fixed her short light pink hair and glasses, only to have her green eyes piercing through my soul. She crossed her arms and let out a big sigh of disappointment.

“I knew something was off when Hinaga and Hazakura arrived by their own this morning. I should’ve expected this…” approaching towards us, she finally took notice of the other girl who was with me. “Hold on a minute, could you be…?”

“Good morning, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance!” Yuiko bowed down as well and quickly lifted her face up with a wide smile. “My name is Yuiko Tsukiame and I’m scheduled to start attending this school around January 15th. I came today to check if all my paperwork was correctly addressed.”

“For being a thirteen-year-old student you are surprisingly well behaved…” our teacher was as astonished as I was when I first met Yuiko.

“I actually turned fifteen recently, I suppose there are some things to double check after all.”

“I see…” Ms Tanaka nodded. “And, Miss Samidare, you can lift up your head now.”

“Oh, okay!” I did as commanded, not knowing what else to do.

“I apologize if I made Yui be late to class, I stopped her on her way due to me not knowing which path to take. I got lost on my way here.”

“Hm…” Ms Tanaka glared at me, not knowing what to believe. I tried to smile, but that just made it worse. “I’ll let it pass… but I’ll let you know I won’t tolerate another tardy attendance on your part this last semester!”

“Understood…” I felt my cheeks burning from the embarrassment.

“Now, go to your classroom, that you’ll reach the first half of Japanese period for a change” with her light pink hair flowing in the wind, my homeroom teacher began walking inside the school, just to turn around in a couple of seconds. “Right, please come this way Miss Tsukiame. I’ll take you to the faculty office.”

“I guess this is farewell then” Yuiko stared at me, waving her hand in my direction. “I look forward to continuing to get to know you more when I finally attend classes!”

“T-Thanks…” I replied, stuttering. “Me too.”

“I hope we’re in the same classroom!”

And that's how I met Yuiko Tsukiame. A chance encounter, of some sort, that ended with an abrupt goodbye.

I kept on my way, entering the school building, ready to see my two supposed best friends for ditching me and not daring to wake me up even with a morning call.

Once I got to the classroom’s door, I didn’t know what to do. A strange feeling was eating me alive, and I knew it wasn’t because I was late. I had it ever since I met that girl on my way to school. As if, today, was a special day. A day for some sort of meeting.

A special meeting, or so to say.

I opened the door and the feeling disappeared when Mr. Kamioka looked at me with a huge stare filled with anger and disappointment. I bowed, apologizing for being late while the rest of my classmates held their laughter.

Miraculously, the bell rang.

“And when I thought you’d at least be for the last five minutes of class today, you end up showing right on time,” he said with sarcasm. “Now, everyone. Remember to do pages 98 and 99 from your textbooks. I expect all the strokes we learned today to be neatly presented tomorrow morning.”

Once he left the room, I scurried to the last seat in the middle row of desks. I could still hear the waves of laughter banging my ears and eating me alive.

I hate this.

“Yui~”

I realized that someone was talking to me, lightly tapping my shoulder.

His blond hair, a bit spiky on the edges and a little below the base of his neck; a half tiny ponytail which leaves two strands on the sides of his face and bangs on the side, held by a pair of green hairpins was looking at me with his reddish eyes. Glittering and shimmering with life, he places both of his hands on my desk, leaning towards my face.

“You.Are.Late~”

“Not breaking news: she’s 95% late every semester. This is just the beginning.”

Another guy came to my desk, just to ruffle my hair and make me pout with my cheeks. The tan-skinned boy crossed his arms and hid his face on his small beanie hat. The fringe wasn’t enough to cover his dead eye look. Even in winter, he refused to wear the dark blue blazer and instead used a black long-sleeved shirt that made him be constantly called to the principal’s office since it broke the school's regulations.

“Would you two stop making fun of me? Who are the traitors that make that 95% a reality, hm?” pretending to be mad at these two wouldn’t work, so I ended up laughing. “Although, today I have a pretty solid excuse for being late!”

“Did you marathon all Ramen Sentai last night?”

“You stayed all night reading Dream✩Star’s blog!?”

These guys!

“First of all, you, Manabu, is who most likely stayed up all night reading her social media updates. You know I’m not a fan of technology! And secondly, when will you stop mixing the names up on purpose to piss me off, Shinji? It’s Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. Not Ramen Sentai !”

“Just so you know…” he opened his navy coloured blazer and, from an inside pocket, took out a smartphone that showed a peculiar image. “Dream✩Star’s the real deal! Just look at this image, she’s a magical girl in the flesh, ain’t that cool as hell?”

“Amazing, I can’t believe you even saved the article as a screenshot, given there’s no WiFi reception here” Shinji facepalmed his forehead. “And? What’s so cool as hell about that? Magical girls don’t exist. And what stupid name is Dream Star anyway? It makes no sense.”

“Prove it!” Manabu crossed his arms, leaving his phone on my table. “And it’s Dream✩Star, with a star.”

“How do you even know if I didn’t or did put the star…? Urgh, talking with you about that virtual celebrity is like talking to a wall.”

Shinji took the green digital phone on his hands and zoomed into the picture of the blog post.

“I call After Effects and Photoshop.”

I saw my childhood friend sigh, fixing his beanie hat.

“How can you be so precise!? Are you perhaps involved with all these magical girl shenanigans!?”

“MY SISTER IS AN IDOL, YOU DUMBASS. OF COURSE, I KNOW SOME OF THE POST-PRODUCTION PROCESS BEHIND THOSE THINGS YOU CALL PHOTOS AND VIDEOS.”

“Shinji, manners! And lower your tone” I scolded him, stealing Manabu’s phone from his grasp.

Out of pure curiosity, and given Shinji would ignore my correction about the best two superheroes shows of Japanese TV, I decided to zoom in the screenshotted blog article, and see who they were arguing about.

Even if the picture was somewhat blurry due to the resolution, I could make out some particular details of the famous internet celebrity. It seemed like she had a hard time holding up her phone’s camera to take a selfie and, instead, ended up pressing the button while the phone fell from her hands. However, her frilly clothes and cherry coloured hair were unmissable. Underneath the photo, there was a caption as well.

Ehehe! I’m still a clumsy magical girl but I’ll protect the city and I’ll punish anyone who attempts to disrupt the peace in the name of the stars ✩ that’s why, please keep on supporting me!

And that’s when I saw a money donation button.

“Hey… Manabu… don’t tell me you’ve actually donated money to her…”

“I dunno what you’re talking about, Yui-Yui!”

He’s obviously lying by calling me like that.

“Still, I checked a bit and it seems she makes a lot of money out of this…” Shinji spoke out loud, checking his own phone. “I swear to God, people just make money out of shitty hobbies nowadays.”

“How dare you?!” Manabu took a fighting pose. “You mess with her, you mess with me!”

“Well, our next class is Maths, hope you have fun” Shinji looked directly into my eyes, and I couldn’t help but to look away, unable to meet his. “Unlike other subjects, you’re good at this one.”

“That’s not…”

True…

“Hey, are you ignoring me, Hinaga!?”

But before I could stop a pointless and one-sided fight, Ms Tanaka entered the room. Sloppily, she dragged her feet on the floor, almost lifeless. Everyone kept quiet, staring at her and the way she just dropped her notes onto the teacher’s desk. Surprisingly, she was murmuring something.

“Ms Aiko. M. Aiko. Ms Aiko… no one had called me by my name in more than seventeen years and then this exchange student girl right off the bat does it… I feel… old…”

“Are you okay, teach?” Manabu was back on his seat and raised his hand.

“Huh?” noticing her depressing monologue, Ms Tanaka arranged her light pink hair and glasses, just to return to normal at a miraculous speed. “Yes, everything is fine. Nothing happened here, you saw nothing. Ahem. Now, class, open your maths textbooks onto page 172…”

Excited, I took out all the notes I had in my school bag and under the desk, placed every single school supply I had in hand and felt ready to do my daily commute until a small paper plane got stuck in my dark lavender hair. Cautiously removing it, I recognized Shinji’s writing.

So, have you decided what job you’re going to apply for the job experience project? - Shinjirō

My heartbeat stopped for a second.

I HAD FORGOTTEN ALL ABOUT THIS.

Sloppily, I wrote a reply.

Uh, yup. What about you? There’s no need to sign the paper, y’know. This is only between us.

I threw a new tiny paper plane back, just to get an answer in a few seconds.

Since it’ll be in Takayama I think I’ll apply to the Post Office. It’s near my sister’s school and she wants me to see her off. She has an audition that day. Also, I sign it because I’m sure that idiot is going to notice this and start throwing papers at us and it’ll get confusing. - Shinjirō

“Oh, that’s nice of him… and yeah, he’s right.”

And so it happened, a new paper flew onto my table and it was indeed written by Manabu.

What r u guys talking abt? っゝω・)っ~☆

A new plane landed on my head.

Told you so. - Shinjirō

Trying to multitask, and to not get caught by our homeroom teacher who happened to teach Maths to our grade, I replied to them both.

About the the job experience project! Shinji already knows what to do. - Yui

-

Yeah, you’re right, he just asked me what we were talking about. - Yui.

-

Oh, oh! What’s our delinquent friend doing!!

-

He’s such a pain, sigh. I still wonder how I became friends with him in the first place. - Shinjirō

-

He’s going to apply to the Post Office. I’m applying there too! - Yui.

“I don’t like lying but I still have no idea where to apply… I’d rather not be alone!” I whispered, ready to answer my other friend’s paper plane note.

Now, now. Let’s all get along well! We’ve been friends for ages, so it doesn’t matter anymore how it happened. What’s important is that we have each other! - Yui.

I had no idea how it came to unfold, but Ms Tanaka’s class was abruptly interrupted by Manabu standing up while pointing at both of us from the other side of the room, yelling as if he had just been stabbed into his heart.

“HOW DARE YOU TWO BETRAY ME, I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS! I’M APPLYING TO A SUPERMARKET!”

We could hear how Ms Tanaka’s chalk broke midpoint, clearly annoyed.

And thus, in a matter of seconds, the three of us were standing outside, in the hallway, carrying in each of our hands buckets full of water while we watched the elementary kids play in the dirt soccer field.

Even if we lived in different directions, walking home with both of them always filled my day with excitement. However, when I got to my place, my reality changed.

Dirty plates. Bags of trash. Lights off.

An empty space for an empty, talentless girl.

A girl who has lost faith in everything, and just pretends to cope up with reality.

I became a cocoon, hidden between my arms after closing my room’s door.

Today was highly overwhelming. Pep talking to a stranger. Arriving late to class.

Making a fool out of myself.

Yui Samidare is nothing more than an empty blackboard.

That’s why, when I saw Yuiko, I felt how colours entered my sight and world.

Usually, my world consists of small illusions that I pile up one by one, thus creating a large tower, bathing in its luminescence. Plunging into a starry sky composed of falsehoods. A girl that lost everything she had but still pretends to paint her world in brilliant colours.

Every time I got bored of this supposedly distorted reality of my strange world, the marks of those claws that possess my dreams leave wounds in my heart. But they don’t hurt. Because I don’t know if they should or not.

That’s why I stood up and started running. Running with no direction at all. I simply had a premonition. A premonition that told me: get out of there, quickly.

Erring in the dark, I ran.

I ran without knowing what the unsafe morning was waiting for me tomorrow.

I ran, fleeing from reality.

I blend inside a transparent storm without a name, like a poet who has lost their voice; a writer who ran out of ink; speechless. Memories turned into shadows envelop me, the village feeding on my fears.

Always so dreamy. Always so cheerful. Always so charismatic. Always everything. That's why I thought it would be forever. Everything has a beginning and an end.

Voices were reflected in an empty canvas, words floating in meaningless illusions, coloring the white spaces in my life.

Having a happy life made me miserable. What did I do to deserve this?

So I ran.

I ran and ran until I lost my breath, lying down into the grass of one of the temple’s gardens.

My parents used to tell me that I have a colourful mind. That I could transform their nightmares into sweet dreams; sketching a new world in front of their eyes.

“You’re so dreamy, Yui,” they said. “I feel that my most awful nightmares are gone with a simple touch of your hand!”

But what I brought was a total nightmare. I shouldn’t remember. Not right now, at the very least.

Dazzling my surroundings, a sudden glimmer caught my eyes. Without warning, with stupor, I found it. A crystal rose, in an empty world, lying by my side. I took it in my hands, not knowing what to do.

Maybe it belongs to someone? But it’s late… Before going to school tomorrow I’ll visit the temple again and leave it with the priest. For now, guess I’ll take it home with me.

My shining reflection was mirrored in the petals, telling me it was time to go back.

That’s why, when I got back home, all I did was toss my clothes into a corner and sleep. Sleep, awaiting my fabricated reality of tomorrow. And so I did, not knowing that I would dream tonight.

Yes, I was dreaming.

It was a colourful dream.

I could see wonderful smiles, floating in an empty, white world.

I was the center, the origin of it all.

As if I were the good, sweet dreams, haunting away the nightmares of every single person.

“That’s because you are Dreams themselves!”

An unknown voice echoed, a black german shepherd silhouette manifesting before me.

“It’s all in your hands now, you have to decide. Will you let your daydream nightmare continue, or will you shatter it with your own abilities?”

What is… happening?

That’s when I woke up, covered in sweat. Heavily breathing, I sat down on my bed, just to find out I was not alone.

Something  was covered under the blankets.

Trembling, I stretched my arm, looking sideways... praying I had some item that could be powerful enough to knock it out if it turned out to be a person. Closing my eyes, I uncovered it, only to find something astonishing.

A naked, blue-haired boy was sleeping by my side. Opening his amber pupils, he stretched his arms, only a long yellow scarf covering part of his body.

Afterward, he threw a charming smile at me while his bed hair moved alongside his face.

It was way past 3 AM.

“Good evening!”

The scream that came out of my body caused my world to go black, passing out.

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