We Are ☆ Star Club!
The next morning, Arisu was gone.
"Hey, are you there?," I called out into the silent room.
It all seemed like a dream to me. Still, I looked under the bed, in my closet, even in the tiny space between my desk and the wall. The alien girl was nowhere to be found.
Did I just imagine last night? I looked down at myself. No, last night was real, otherwise I would be wearing pajamas and not my outside clothes. I shuddered. A shower was in order.
But even after a nice, hot shower and a change of fresh clothes, I couldn't stop worrying. Where is Arisu? Where did she go? Did my parents find her? Or the government? Or some sort of special organization? Oh no, I should have listened to Bl00dmoon... he always knew about this stuff. Or maybe he was just parroting the things he saw in movies and on video sharing platforms... I don't know. I sighed. Wherever she is, I don't think I can find her. Maybe she got bored. Maybe she hates me. Yeah, that has to be it. Boring old Sara is too boring for a cool alien girl like Arisu. Just took her a little bit to figure it out. I don't blame her. And thankfully, she just ate my snacks, and not my other electronics. So it's not as bad as it could have been, right?
Still, it stung. I simply could not help it. The rest of the weekend flew by, with me laying in my bed, staring at the ceiling and listening to the sound of rain or scrolling through my phone. It was as if the realization had drained all my energy. Still, I couldn't stop thinking about her. Sometimes I even dreamed that she was back in the room, but just got disappointed once I woke up in the morning and didn't see her there.
It was a real miracle that I managed to go to school on Monday. I hated every second getting up, but went to the front door in full uniform.
"I'm out", I called down the hallway.
"Have a good day at school, honey!"
I waved, even though I knew that mom wouldn't see it. It was one of those little things I did, even though it went completely unnoticed. Sometimes it felt like mom only saw me when I did either great at school, or was close to making some mistake. She hadn't even talked to me about the meteor. She probably wouldn’t have noticed Arisu, either.
Outside, a cold wind blew under the gray sky, announcing rain. I looked back, debating to get an umbrella, before finally deciding to do so. Another cold won't do me good. I opened the door and grabbed the first colorful handle I could see, before going outside again. Mom hadn't even noticed.
It had been the right choice. As I was approaching the school, big raindrops splashed down, giving everything around me a deeper. more intense color. The rain made its own music with its pitter-patter sounds, lifting my mood a bit. I wanted to look for someone - maybe a girl from the club, or maybe Arisu - but it was difficult to make out any student under the many umbrellas, so I quickly gave up.
It was Maria, who waved at me beneath a cute, pink umbrella with white lace at its edges.
"There you are."
She looked under my umbrella, clearly expecting someone else there.
"Where is...?," she whispered in a low, conspiratorial tone.
I shrugged, trying not to look too sad.
"I don't know."
But it was good to know that Maria knew. It was real. That means there's an alien on the loose, or captured, or worse - she's not here. I lost her. I lost her! This is awful. This is the most horrible, awful outcome of this whole thing. I shouldn't have... If I...
Maria looked at me through her long lashes, perfectly curled. Was she wearing makeup? Probably not. Maria was just naturally pretty.
"Of course I am," I responded.
What else was there to say? Arisu was somewhere out there, and we didn't know where or why. But apparently, I looked worried again, as Maria tugged on my sleeve to get me out of my thoughts.
"Hey, let's go to class. We can talk more about this later, okay? You're not alone in this."
It wasn't a good idea, really. But what else could we do? We entered the classroom, and, to my surprise, saw a green-haired girl among our classmates.
"Oh! Sara, Maria! Hello!"
She waved at us with a big grin. The other students didn't seem to mind her strange appearance. It was as if she was just like any other student to them.
It felt like my brain was broken. What is she doing here? How is nobody weirded out that there is another student, and such a colorful one at that?
"Sorry, I tried to fix my ship. But PURIRIN's damage analysis shows that the old thing is beyond all repair. I really should have stolen my brother's ship, urgh..."
She rolled her eyes.
I still stared at her. Only now did she seem to understand that something was wrong.
"I was worried," I hissed. "Where were you? What were you doing?"
Arisu didn't seem sorry.
"As I said, I tried to fix my ship. Oh, and got stuck in a building when water started to fall from the sky! Scary stuff. Wait, are you not concerned about that?"
"What, concerned about a little rain?"
This girl really didn't have her priorities straight.
"Also, how are they not noticing you?," I continued in a low voice.
"Oh. PURIRIN can make me blend in. They won't even know I wasn't here from the beginning."
She grinned at me. I wanted to ask her more, but we all went silent as the teacher walked in.
"To your seats! You're here to learn something."
I went to my desk, which was in front of the one Arisu sat at, and tried to turn my head in a way that the teacher wouldn't notice.
"So, you're just an ordinary student now?"
I whispered, and Arisu also lowered her tone.
"Yup. Just like you and Maria. I did my research."
Again, I blinked.
She showed me her little alien creature-phone again. The jelly-duck inside wobbled, but looked like it had a good time overall. Was it really alive? The mini UFO didn't look like a good living condition for a, well, living thing.
"PURIRIN showed me a lot. Also, this internet thing. Wow, that was more information than I ever could have needed."
She tilted her head.
"What do you mean?"
"Why would you want to go to school, when there's literally anything else you could do?"
"I don't know?"She tilted her head. "I think you are having fun, and I want to have fun, too."
Does she really think I'm here because I'm having fun? Well, she hasn't seen me in class. Still, I do wonder where this connection between "fun" and "school" comes from... Sure, our club is part of the school, and I'm having fun there, but... Wait!
"You have to join our club!"
"What? Am I not already in it?," she pouted.
"Well, you need to join it officially. If we don't find a fifth member in the next few days, there won't be a club. Let's look for Erica after class, I'm sure she still has the application forms."
"Perfect. Whatever a form is," Arisu whispered back.
I wanted to answer her, but our teacher suddenly got up and started to write on the chalkboard. I better pay attention, I thought. I kept my gaze low, copying whatever he wrote down, and only occasionally glanced art Arisu. She doodled with her fingers on her desk, certainly not paying attention herself, while her hair rose up to the ceiling, noodling a little dance with its arm-like strands.
I gave her a piece of paper and a pencil.
"At least write something down if you don't want to look suspicious."
Whatever she was writing down, it didn't look like a language I knew or recognized. Maybe they were just doodles. And it really didn't matter. The only important thing was that she filled out the application form in an acceptable way, so our club could continue. The thought made me smile throughout the entire lesson.