Chapter 1:

10 Years Ago (Part 1)


First Day at University

Living in a small town can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that everyone is so friendly towards one another, the neighbourhood is wonderful, and not to mention that the education system is top notch- that being said there is only one Primary School, and one high school and the same applies to colleges, and Universities.

And the curse? Well, no matter how nice the people living here are or how friendly the neighbourhood is, the news and gossip of everyone's daily life spread like a wildfire. Even private information is leaked like gas from a pipe. Whatever that may be you are judged based on how bad the news was and how juicy the gossip is.

And that is exactly what my beloved hometown, Matsukawa is like, both a blessing and curse. Don't get me wrong I love living here, heck I've done it for the past 19 years. It's especially beautiful in the spring as the ground is covered in a blanket of cherry blossoms. I used to love taking an evening stroll in the park or to the shops just so I could walk along the path that was covered, it made me feel like a Princess walking on a flowery carpet. Or in the winter when the river, just a few feet away from where I lived froze over, and everyone used to use it as an ice-skating rink. Huh, I guess living in a small town has its perks. Anyways you get the picture.

But that being said, I, on the other hand, would have loved to move to the big city for educational purposes, have an adventure, meet some new people, or even meet the one. But my fantasy was disrupted by a tragedy, that tragedy being the death of my beloved father. So, I gave up on that idea, you see, it was just my dad and me, so there were too many memories linked to this place, and besides you know what they say; 'There's no place like home'

Now onto the main topic. Starting University is always the biggest milestone for those who want a degree. For those who want to carry on with their studies. For those who still don't know what they want to do so, they pick a random subject that they think they will like to do and eventually work in that field, or they may go ahead and change their mind, going into a completely different career.

Well, that's exactly what I thought. That's exactly why I wanted to go to Sophia University in Tokyo. I study Literature, Japanese Literature to be precise, although that might have been obvious. There was something about learning about ancient languages specifically ancient Chinese. I loved writing, I loved learning. And this University was perfect to accommodate my needs, but as mentioned before life happens and things don't always go to plan.

The University in my small town wasn't too bad, and luckily, they also specialised in Japanese Literature so I took my chances and leapt into the jaws of Matsukawa University.

Walking through the gates was a new feeling, I couldn't decipher whether this was a good feeling or a bad one, but I could feel it in the pit of my stomach. Something in my gut, or a whisper in my ear telling me to be careful. Of course, with everything you don't think much and just think it's the adrenaline rush of being in a new place with some new people.

Some kids from the neighbouring towns or even big cities come to study here. We're not quite sure why they would want to leave the comforts and noise of big cities to come here, but that being said, it is more peaceful here so we take our chances. Plus, it's great for our reputation.

Anyways I'm digressing again, I walked to the front to grab everything I needed to before I made my way to my dorm. The door was shut but the noise of loud music could be heard from outside. I put my bag down and clear my throat before I knock on the door.

Three taps to be precise and stood back waiting. I counted up to 30 in my head before knocking again, this time a little louder.

An unfamiliar face opened the door, a girl wearing a pink t-shirt and blue denim shorts with big green eyes, and blonde hair opened the door, she was a little shorter than me with a round baby face, I looked down at my plain jumper, jeans, and brown trench coat feeling a little self-conscious, compared to this girl I was rather plain.

"Can I help you?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.

"Er yeah. Hi I'm Tachibana Reiko, we're roommates"

Just then a huge smile broke out on her face and she led me inside.

"It's so good to meet you!" she bounced on her heels.

She reminded me of an excited puppy, it was both cute and weird considering this was the first time she's ever seen or met me, for all she knew I could be an axe-wielding murderer, I'm not though.

Just then another knock interrupted our small introduction.

"Come in" the girl shouted out.

"Emi you… oh Hello"

A guy- also not from around here, dressed in a three-piece inexpensive suit walked in, he looked intimidating with the way his dark blue hair was gelled back neatly and round glasses rested on his nose, hiding his almost red eyes. He turned to acknowledge me rather immediately when he looked up from his phone.

He sighed and cleared his throat, pushing his glasses up. I swear they must've only slid down his nose a mere inch.

"I said, hello" he repeated, this time firmly.

"Y-yes, hello" I replied, albeit in a softer way than I intended.

I tried to muster a smile but couldn't. I couldn't even look at him without feeling like he was staring deep into the depths of my soul.

'Now, now Daisuke. Leave the poor girl alone" the girl, Emi, chided the man.

At first in my head, I was thinking, 'What are you doing? He will kill you and make it look like an accident!' but then I learnt that he was her boyfriend.

"Hashimoto Daisuke" he introduced himself with a curt nod.

"Tachibana Reiko" I introduced myself.

"So, Emi” he turned back towards his girlfriend.

“I was here to tell you that he should be arriving shortly"

With that he turned on his heels, and left, shutting the door with a loud click.

I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding before I turned to Emi who was shaking her head slightly and chuckling.

"He's a nice guy, really" she explained while putting a box on her side of the room.

She then seemed to have realised something and dropped it, narrowly missing her foot.

"Careful!" I gasped, pulling her towards me.

"Did you hurt yourself?" I asked her.

She shook her head and face palmed before reaching her hand out.

"Hoshina Emiru, but call me Emi" she introduced herself.

I raised an eyebrow at her name.

"Yeah, my parents were expecting a boy, came as a shock to them discovering I was a girl" she laughed loudly.

I think she noticed the surprise look on my face because she quickly stopped laughing.

"Oh, don't worry about it, they love me more than anything" she grinned.

I sighed in relief.

"Well on that note, call me Reiko" I smiled.

"Cool," she grinned.

"Forgive me but are you from around here? It's just I didn't recognise you or your friend" I asked while also nodding towards the door.

"No, I wish though. This place is nice" she smiled.

"We're from Tokyo, came here to study, this used to be my Mum's hometown before she moved when she was about 7, I think she said… yeah 7"

"Oh, nice. Well, I am from here so whenever you guys want a tour let me know, I can show you all the best places" I smiled.

"I like you already" she grinned making me chuckle.

We both carried on silently placing our items on our sides of the room. It was quite big with two beds, a desk, two wardrobes, and a window. We were also sharing a kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room with our other flatmates. Which honestly doesn't sound too bad if you think about it, means the chores will also be divided so it won't be one person doing everything.

Once we were finished, I realised all my things were neatly placed on my side whereas Emi's stuff was scattered, she sighed and was looking at everything as if it were a 'masterpiece' before she turned around and saw my side of the room.

Her hands which were resting on her hips had fallen on her sides as well as her jaw which had also slightly dropped.

"Oh, come on!" She huffed.

I giggled and quickly picked up her stuff from the chair and placed them neatly in the wardrobe.

"There," I smiled.

"You are now my best friend," she told me, making me giggle.

"Listen, there's a freshers' party I'm going to and you're coming," she told me.

Before I could object, she turned to face me.

"And don't even think about backing out!" she made herself clear.

I quickly nodded.

Little did I know that one measly party could create such havoc in my once peaceful existence.