Chapter 12:

A Long Awaited Arrival

Along The Way (途中で)

After saying our goodbyes, Yui and I got on the bus. It was a relief that I was able to return home before it got dark, or mom would’ve got mad at me.

I guess the bus ride back with Yui is my second most favourite time of the day. At this time of golden hour, when the sunlight is just right, soft and warm, it is as if we are the protagonists of some classic movie, just two friends riding along.

After the bus arrived at our stop, Yui and I got off and parted as we walked our own ways. Walking down that same old avenue, finally I had arrived home. From the look of it, it seemed mom hasn’t returned yet. I unlocked the front door, and made my way inside.

“I’m so tired.” I yawned, as I took a can of soda out from the refrigerator and served myself a cool refreshment.

After that, I had a bath, and then went back to my room.

“What's with this unbearable heat?” I slid the windows open, letting a lazy and restful breeze flow in the room.

By now the evening had cast her dusky gown, and the fresh air had turned all lazy bones., The joyful time I spent at Sakura’s place came back like a reflection along with the eventide entering my room. For in the achievements of the day, a form of memory that warms my soul, and a clear sense of happiness.

I grabbed a book from my table as I didn’t have anything else too. As I was a flipping through the pages, the amber glow of the fleeting daylight brought along some showering thoughts, those moments when with open eyes my brain becomes as a perfect empty horizon, my mind filled with nothing but empty thoughts, and my eyes fixed beyond the clear end line of sight, seeing nothing, yet still content to sit.

As the twilight ended, the dark night sky covered all over the horizon. I closed the book and placed it on my table, then went downstairs, as it was time for mom to arrive. Soon after, the doorbell rang, announcing the arrival of a new soul.

I hopped my way to the door, and as I opened it, I could see mom standing on the other side. I stepped aside, letting mom enter.

“Welcome home, mom.” I greeted her while she was taking her shoes off.

“I’m finally back home.” She stretched her arms as she went inside, her body flinging like a voo-doo doll. “Working in this hot weather is hell itself as it seems.”

She took her time walking inside, afterwards bringing her eyes back to me, “You went to Sakura’s place after coming from school, right?”

“Yeah. I had a lot of fun.” I replied

“That’s what it seems so, then I guess I have noting else to say.” She said as she let a long breath out, collapsing upon the couch.

“What do you mean?” My face was washed all over with confusion.

She grinned, “You actually seem pretty happy today. No wonder you had fun.”

I could read a clear sign of relief on her face. She was worried about me, though I hadn’t realized it up until now. I guess I can’t deceive her eyes after all.

“Are you hungry? Should I start getting the dinner ready?”

Sigh. You could take some rest. I wouldn’t mind if I have dinner sooner or later.”

“OK then.” She got up from the couch, changed into her night gown, then went directly to the kitchen. “I guess I will have dinner first. Yuki, could you lend me a hand?”

I nodded my head in response.

After dinner, I sat on the couch to watch the TV, while mom had a bath and then went to her room to take some rest after the day's exhaustion.

At around 9 pm, I got up and turned the TV off, “Time to go to sleep.”

Before going upstairs, I checked on mom. She was already sound asleep. I turned all the lights off and then went to my room, afterwards going directly to my bed, having nothing else to do.

But because of the heat, I couldn’t even enjoy a sound sleep. I looked outside from the window, the moon in the sky, with her eternal stoic grace, bringing with it a comforting beauty to the graphite night as it lightened the corner of my room.

A few days passed by after that, without anything special happening that would make it up here though

But the sunlight that welcomed me today seemed rather different, though there wasn’t any part mystery hiding between these creeks of light lofting inside my room uninvited.

Like everyday I got fresh, changed into my school uniform, had my breakfast and was off to school.

While I was on my way, walking under the harsh sun, I noticed between the paving stones the sunflowers standing bold and tall, giving off their aroma to the summer-infused breeze. To me, these seeds of humble size and hue are like the ninjas of the botanical world, born to shout loud of their graffiti-petaled beauty.

I walked in the classroom, everything seemed like usual, I mean, sort of… other than the fact that everyone had turned into steam rolls sitting in this hot weather.

“Good morning, Yuki.” Sakura’s gentle voice caught my attention.

“Oh, good morning, Sakura. Isn’t the weather quite fine today…” A bold attempt of being a little sarcastic, laughing at myself afterwards.

“I don’t get it, why do they even have to take classes in such a weather.” Sakura, griped, as she wiped her forehead with a handkerchief.

“Well, nothing to get complaining now.”

After a while, the bell rang, and our home room class started and ended like usual. After that, the other teachers took their class, everyone exhausted from giving lectures in such a thermometer topping temperature while dripping in sweat. While for us, the sun passed the heat that had our sweat running like condensation of winter glass. What started as a glossy sheen became beaded, but not attractively like morning dew, and then formed tiny rivers that flowed into our clothes.

Though I didn’t give much attention to any of the teacher's lectures, just like usual, or you can say my mind was absorbed in things that are far more ‘important’ like global warming and climate change. Though, it was more like me thinking of some conspiracy the world governments were behind to increase the global temperature for some shady reasons.

During recess, I thought of finding some place cool to sit and have my lunch there. Though wherever I went it was the same burning heat everywhere. At the end, with disappointment on one hand, and my lunch box on another, I came back to my seat.

And just as I entered the room and took my seat, I noticed Akihiko-kun making his way towards my desk.

“You seem pretty worn out.” He said while his eyes pointed at my lunch box. “Did you finish eating?”

“I was just about to start.” I answered in a rather stoic way.

“Oh, sorry then, but I had something to ask you.” He spoke differently than usual, his words were like vanilla pudding, sweet in their ordinary sort of way

“And what could that be?” I inquired, while digging into my lunch box.

“I would like your phone number.”

For a moment my emotions changed gears and grind my soul, while reluctant to that he continued. “Just in case if I ever need to contact you.”

My hands got into an internal conversation among themselves. “Wh-why would you need my number?” I stuttered, “There are plenty of other girls in the class.”

“Why not?” Sakura interrupted, “Don’t be so moody, Yuki, he just wanted to know your phone number.”

“Well, I guess you can have it, though I don’t care either way.”

He ferreted in his pocket and stopped with his one hand sheltering his phone, and tapped down my phone number on it. Surprisingly, he also asked Sakura for her phone number too.

“Why do you need our numbers anyway?”

“I will contact you guys during summer vacation. I have some plans during the summer, and I would like you guys to tag along too.”

Good thing I asked that at the end, or my little head wouldn’t have been able to put the two of them together. Well, after transferring here, I had only spent one summer vacation before, and I wouldn’t say it was a good one. Not going to lie though, something like this was what I was desiring for some time now.

“If you say so, then we will look forward to it.” I long smile played over my lips, which he softly returned before going back to his seat.

After recess, the rest of the periods were quite boring. By now the streets were quiet, the construction work paused, and as for our classes, the teachers only told us not to bring chaos, and went back to the teachers' office.

But when the last period was about to end, the classroom turned a bit lively. Everyone was murmuring with each other, while the teacher, who didn’t return to the teachers' office, partly because he doesn’t have faith in us, was minding his own business and reading a book.

After all, that’s to be expected, as after today we went be seeing each other for some time. The everyday classes, everyone's faces, the teachers lectures, the school chime, chattering and murmuring, we won't be seeing anything of these like we did every day.

And just when I was thinking about all these, the final bell rang, and suddenly the warm air that had been still moments ago gained a slight movement, as if it had discovered its direction yet was content to meander at its own pace.

All the students jumped from their seats and rushed through the hallways like birds in the open sky. I slowly got up from the seat and picked my bag, and then spread my arms in the air. Suddenly a silent breeze came through the window like a whisper to my ears.

“It’s finally summer vacation!”