Chapter 1:

You Can Have Mine!

The Bookstore Regular and The Cashier

It didn’t matter how vacant or brimming that place was. At dawn or at the hours of the night sky, the stars on her eyes habitually gleam the same. From the cold metal handle of the entrance to the occupied rows of publications and aromatic coffee, the modest bookstore greets Aya Kimura, one of its most faithful visitors. Despite college maintaining her busy, she never fails to drop in the undisturbed bookstore every week. Not only does she visit simply to attain new books or drink a cup of coffee, but to behold its attractive cashier. The reason for today’s visit was to secure a new volume of an anticipated manga. As the glass door closed behind her, Kimura surveyed the shelves near the entry. While the clock on the wall complies, she aims for her desired section enthusiastically.

“It should be somewhere around these shelves…” she pondered.

As Kimura’s eyes scan for the manga, a bright-haired employee that currently sits behind the cashier counter closes the manga she just finished reading.

“I wonder if she’ll come today…” her brown eyes circle the bookstores aisles, hoping to come across a specific client. Not long after, she spots who she was looking for. The dark-haired woman gazes at the neatly positioned manga for some time.

“Maybe the volume hasn’t arrived yet…” she sighs. “There's no way I’m leaving empty-handed!” Despite her words, she picks up 5 volumes to consume. “This should be enough for now…” she hesitated, striving not to drop the 5 unevenly stacked books on her hands. The cashier witnesses Kimura’s struggle and doesn’t agonize to lessen her endeavor. Her layered hair swayed as she made her way over towards her, whom she looked forward to seeing again. Although she can’t imagine herself as a hero, she undeniably reacted like one.

“Can I help you with those?” the cashier attentively asks, hand scratching the back of her silver hair. While she remains for an answer, a light blush covers her pale cheeks.

“Yeah, thanks. I was kind of struggling…” the regular wavers, but soon closes their distance to pass across the books. Shortly after extending her occupied hands, the worker grabs them under, their fingers vaguely interlacing. Kimura lets go once they’re in the cashier's possession.

“Is this all you’re getting today?” she added.

“Yes.” Aya answers distractedly, regarding how smooth the cashier’s skin was. As she heads to the counter, Kimura steadily follows behind. The only ones causing activity in the somewhat taciturn bookstore for the time being were those two, all setting forth when the regular stepped inside. Once the cashier returns to her work seat, she slides the books through the scanner, beeping as she sets them to the side.

“That’ll be 3500 yen. Is there anything else you’re interested in?” she indicates while placing the books inside a small brown paper bag with the bookstore’s logo engraved on it. After paying 4000 yen in cash, Kimura pauses before replying firmly.

“Yes. Actually… I was wondering if you had the new volume of Takeuchi-sama?” Kimura’s eyes gleamed. The cashier stares at her pensively. “Let’s see. Ah, the cover art should be- ” Her words are cut short when the employee suddenly turns her back and reaches for something on the floor. The regular observes closely as she reaches inside a black backpack that seems to be hers and pulls something out. When the object becomes obvious once it's set on the counter, Kimura gasps softly, but loud enough for the cashier to hear.

“I’m a big fan as well.” the cashier smiles. “You can have mine!” she extends her hand to hand her the manga volume.

“Are you sure?” Kimura asks.

“I’m sure.” the cashier insists.

“Wow, thank you!” the regular smiles and embraces the volume in her arms. The tall woman is affected by her reaction and calmly walks around the counter to hand the filled brown paper bag to her.

“Thanks for coming, regular.” the cashier comments in what seems to be good spirits to the regular. Kimura says her goodbyes and leaves the bookstore satisfied and euphoric. The cashier's gaze never parted the regular until the moment the entrance closed behind her. When she finally lowered her head, she learned that Kimura hadn’t taken the change with her and left it instead. After discovering this, she hurried off outside to find her, but the regular wasn’t anywhere to be recognized.

“Her change…”