Chapter 10:

Invitation

Along The Way (途中で)


Of all the things that came to mind, one thing that stood out and was stuck in my mind was of Akihiko-kun, of his expression when I had mentioned Kaoru during our conversation. But then too I felt like I had misinterpreted his actions, his expressions for the entire time… as if he was speaking a totally different language to me.

Though unlike any other time, at that moment he seemed totally different from I had expected. He seemed kind of desperate, while the usual cool he keeps on was definitely missing from him at that moment. It was hard to comprehend what he was thinking or feeling at that moment, while a part of me felt like I knew everything of it.

But what was that feeling, I still can’t understand. When I stood close to him, and when our eyes met, to me, he seemed very familiar, yet so mysterious. Just like a jigsaw puzzle. You never know where to start from, but as you keep placing the pieces together, it apparently becomes clearer. But that just means how little I know about him. And it’s true, we’ve only known each other for like a week, so it’s obvious to me to feel that way, that I am still searching for the first piece.

While for the rest of the day, it went by like usual. After a while I stopped thinking about all these for a break, and then, I forgot about them entirely. I guess my mind had finally got some peace, as I was finally able to talk to Akihiko-kun and clear all my misunderstandings that have been weighing me till yesterday.

That night I had a very weird dream. I don’t remember it vividly, but one thing I could still recall properly was that I heard a voice, and it was whispering to me,

“Don’t break the egg. Don’t break the egg.”

The voice kept repeating that continuously, and I could also hear a faint sound of an egg falling to the ground.

As the voice kept repeating itself, my heart just kept beating faster. Though it was just a whisper, it felt like my entire head was overwhelmed by that voice, and at one point it became intolerable.

But then suddenly I woke up from sleep, my heart still beating fast, and I could still remember that voice, as it kept repeating the same thing over and over again. It was a weird sensation, as if it’s just the same as nightmares. They vanish when I'm awake, when I'm really right here in the present moment. Once I had really opened my eyes, let in daylight, I guess they have no choice but to leave, and I can let in all the wonderful things around me.

“A weird dream, maybe.” I said to myself as I looked at my alarm clock. I have finally changed the old batteries with new ones, so it’s finally working. “I’ve woken up way early today.”

I look around the room. The curtains to the windows are yet closed, and my stuff are all lying around the room. The curtains add an orange glow to the morning light, enlisting a perfect sunrise. It reminds me of watching the ocean emerge under the golden shimmer on the beaches. For a moment, my mind conjures the rhythmic waves of my heart beat to the same slow pace. I breathe in deeply. A new day has begun.

For now, I got up from the bed to open the curtains and the window, and let the sunlight pass through As I slide the curtains to the side, the morning sunlight brings a frisson of joy to my skin. I translate my emotions to a new-day smile as I prepare for the new day.

Today, it seems there is more joy in a part of me that peeks through the windows of my eyes. I don’t know why, but today I feel like jumping into the air in that silent crackle I could sense with my soul. In today’s morning, there is deeper sweetness that is resonating within me.

“Good morning mom.” I greeted mom with a warm smile, while she was lying don the breakfast.

“Oh, you are already awake.” She replied as she saw me walking down the stairs.

I went to the living room first, and placed my bag on the couch. After that, I entered the dining room, while mom had already finished preparing the table.

The kitchen table cools my palms as the warm brown hues rekindle my soul on this and every day. It is the steady companion to the aroma of freshly baked bread and the birdsong that flutters in from the garden beyond. I sat on my chair while mom looks at me and says,

“You seem more lively today. Did you have a nice dream last night.”

“It’s not like I saw a good dream or anything, but I am feeling very good today.”

After that, mom took her seat across me, and we started having our breakfast together. While in my rhythmic ease I was cutting the breads into imperfect perfect slices, mom pulled the newspaper towards her and started flipping through the pages.

“Don’t read the newspaper while you are eating.” I said with an apparent annoyance in my face.

“Okay, okay.” She placed the newspaper aside and continued with her meal.

After finishing my breakfast, I got up and went to the living room to get my bag, when suddenly mom called me from the other room,

“Dear, today I might-”

“You will be late today, right?” I answered as picked up my bag from the couch.

“I’ll keep the food in the refrigerator. After you come home, warm them up in the microwave before having them.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I’m leaving now, bye.”

“Bye dear, and remember to come straight to home after school.”

“OK.” I grinned a little, hearing the same old catchphrase like every day.

While I was on the way to school, I noticed that today Mei-san’s bakery was closed. Usually it would be open at this hour, and Mei-san would be setting up the shop and warmly greet me every day when I pass by.

Why is the store closed today?” I thought as I stood in front of the store for a while, when I noticed a pamphlet hanging at the front.

It read that the store will be shifting to a different place next week.

“I guess that’s obvious. After the bakery a few blocks ahead opened, this shop seemed to be having fewer customers than usual. So shifting locations might have been the best option.” I said, as I strode out along my path again.

I arrived at school on time like every day. I entered the classroom, took my seat and opened the windows, letting the air pass through. The sun is harsh in the cornflower-blue sky, as if one glowing petal was stretched so wide around all the world. It’s like the summer has started echoing with its harsh radiance, just like the flowers immune to winter chills,

As the day goes on, the heat keeps increasing, as if the music turned up to full volume. The sky blazes blue, and the sun is a celebration of yellow, free and bright. The trees rise to the occasion, donning their best verdant hues, and everywhere are the flowers, the scattered rainbow that they are.

I looked above through the window at the bright sun, and the clouds latched at the unending blue sky, but then quickly looked away before my eyes would get burned.

I let a sigh while thinking of enduring this heat came to my mind, as there is still a week to go before summer vacation.

After quite a while, my gaze was endued with the sight of Sakura. It was a delicious moment, as Sakura was late today in quite a long time my head can remember. Her face was washed blank with a loose grin playing on her subtle.

She laughed like the peeking sunlight in dappled woodland, as she took her seat, afterwards turning towards me.

“I guess I overslept today.” We both giggled like stone bouncing across a glossy lake.

Punctuality is polite, I always see it that way. It is a form of respect to take the effort to appear on time. There are always things that can make us somewhat earlier or later, but to start off on the right foot, I find that it is better to have good timekeeping.

Though, to behave as if "late" was equal in all situations is to miss opportunities to relax and be in the blessed moment. Perhaps by being late once in a while, you give more room for good things to happen.

“Oh, I actually have something else to tell you.” Her words had a bouncy stride, making me curious to what she had to say.

“Yui and I have planned on meeting at my home. I actually wanted to try baking some cookies. I learned it from my mom, and wanted to try it myself. So I if you don’t mind, then would you like to join us too.”

“I would love too!” Her invitation had me jangled with invisible threads from above. And it’s also been long since we spent time together outside the school, so I just couldn’t turn her down.

“Then how about tomorrow?”

“No problem. I will talk to my mother about it after she comes home tonight.”

“Thank you very much. I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow, then.”

“OK.” I said while placing my head on the desk, trying to steady the melody of my heartbeat for a bit of calmness.

I could feel the excitement in my chest trying to take over. I love to shape the cookies, to knead it into the soft and pliable dough, to dip it into a bowl of chocolate chips. It’s like a chance to meditate and relax in a totally different mode.