Spring Flower on the Sidewalk
"Ittekimasu!" I waved goodbye to Oba-san and aim for the door.
"Itterasshai!" She waved back at me.
Today is my second day of high school. After my horrible start yesterday, I was thinking of making up for it today.
First things first, I prepared early for school. Since I'm almost late yesterday, I can't afford that horrible experience to become worse.
I'm just thankful that I didn't have that weird dream again and I didn't overslept. If that really happens everytime, I better not sleep again and just go to school as a sleep deprived zombie.
For the second thing, I want to take back what I said to Hachisaki-kun and just be atleast on neutral terms with him. I may find it difficult in the future if I just made an enemy when I'm just about to start my high school, right?
And the third and last thing to deal with was about the attention that I'm getting.
Now, now, listen to me folks. I'm not really the kind of person that wants to stand out. When I was on middle school, I'm apparently invisible and I survived it without getting attention. I'm actually planning to do the same here in high school.
Why? What are you guys thinking? That I'm looking forward to this high school life and whatnot?
Sorry to disappoint you but I'm not.
Others might be thinking that, 'This is high school! The peak of my youth!'
For me, high school is just a stage of life that you must finish like those certain level in role-playing games.
I arrived at school earlier than expected. There are only few students outside right now. Well, that's the normal thing for me to be honest.
I'm just really unfortunate yesterday.
When I got into my classroom, I'm the first student to arrive. The room was very silent, I can also hear my breathing.
I took my seat and opened my bag to get my notebook and pencil. I started scribbling something to ease my boredom.
This scenery is really different when the whole class was here and having a good time with each other.
It's not that I'm envious that the class started dividing into groups and groups of friends which already started yesterday, I'm actually much more concern on my state here.
While doodling in my notebook, I heard the door opened. I didn't dare to give a glance and I just resumed my pointless writing.
"Good morning, Harada-san." The person greeted me in monotonous voice.
Without batting an eye, I responded, "Good morning,-----" I stopped writing when the lead on my mechanical pencil broke again. Remind me to change the lead later.
That voice! That emotionless voice...
I looked to that person as he gave me the cold shoulder again. It was the serious Hachisaki-kun.
"... Hachisaki-kun..." I continued what I'm about to say before.
He didn't say anything again and just took his seat beside me.
The awkward silence was slowly creeping in the room. Very awkward, I must say.
"Uhm... Hachisaki-kun... about yesterday..." I decided to break the silence.
There's no point dilly-dallying now. I must overturn the situation. Even though I'm not good at dealing with people, I still have my standards and I'm against having enemies.
"Oh, that?" He responded with an uninterested voice. "I'm not planning on holding back, so you better give it your all too."
Urk! I'm just about to apologize to him when he raised the war flag!
"Actually, I..." I said in a small whisper.
He stood up from his seat. When I looked up to him, he was glaring at me.
"You better not be thinking of surrendering." He said with a cold voice.
His glare plus the cold voice made me feel like Antartica moved beside me. I feel chills running down on my spine. He's freaking scary!
I swallowed the lump on my throat and muster up all the leftover courage that I have deep inside me.
I want to say that I'm taking back the challenge, but with his demeanor, I'm sure that he won't accept my white flag.
"Why... do you..." I started.
His eyes behind his glasses shifted to look at me.
"Why do you seem like you hate me?" I finally said what I want to say.
"I don't personally hate you," he said in his emotionless voice.
'Then why?! Why are you treating me like a rival?' I want to retort back at him but I decided to let him finish what he's about to say.
"Your music... Your playing style... It was a disgrace." He said.
He then slammed his hand on my desk making me flinch.
"Do you understand?! You are making fool of the piece when you played it yesterday!" He raised his voice at me while maintaining his glare.
I was taken aback by his words. I didn't expect him to say something like that. How can he say that?
"Just... Who are you, Hachisaki-kun?" I asked him as I managed to have eye contact with him.
For a second, I think I saw his expression change. There's some hint of shock which I didn't expect to see in his face.
His mouth opened as if trying to say something but he backfired and closed his lips. Fixing his glasses on his face, he was back on his expressionless reaction.
Pressure started building up in this room...
The door flew open and it revealed the cheerful Akane-san brimming with energy.
"Ohayoooooo!" She greeted with her hands in the air.
What a nice entrance. I can't believe that she just entered and the pressure building up minutes ago vanished into thin air.
"Oh? Haruki-kun and Harada-san?"
"Good morning, Akane-san." Hachisaki-kun monotonously said and took his seat.
Akane-san approached us and she turned to Hachisaki-kun quickly.
"Haruki-kun, you meanie! Why don't you call me by my nickname?!" Akane-san whined with a pout on her face.
"I don't know what you are talking about, Akane-san." Hachisaki-kun replied to her while showing no interest at all.
I don't know what's going on with this two but they seemed to be getting along together... Uhm, maybe not.
"Tch. Killjoy." Akane-san grunted in annoyance.
"Uhm, good morning Akane-san." I said awkwardly.
Their situation is getting awkward so I think it's better to lift the mood just a little bit.
"Oh, Harada-san! Good morning!" She said as she cling to me.
"Ne, Harada-san, have lunch with me later, okay?" She pleaded as she continued to cling to me.
"O-okay..." I just replied awkwardly.
Akane-san beamed at me with a carefree smile as she took her seat in front of the classroom.
Time passed away quickly and it was now the time for lunch break.
"Harada-san, let's go to the cafeteria~!" She hummed in happiness.
I nodded and took my bento with me. I actually prepared this myself. It was a good thing that I can cook sometimes but I just did this out of sheer curiosity so I can't honestly tell if it was good or bad.
We made our way to the cafeteria as we talked about random things like who can be the class rep and such.
And you know what? Akane-san said that I'm going to be a class rep! I can't believe it! Is she really serious?
"That's not going to happen, Akane-san." I said awkwardly.
"Why not? You seem like the leader type when you confronted Haruki-kun yesterday!" She reasoned out.
I deadpanned at her.
That was the most absurd reason that I've heard of. I'm not really myself when I talked back to Hachisaki-kun yesterday, it was actually the demon on the piano.
"Haha, I'm not going to agree with you." I just said to put an end to the conversation.
We entered the school cafeteria and it was filled with swarm of students. It was unexpectedly spacious and we managed to find ourselves a decent spot.
She ordered some food while I was waiting for her in our table.
By looking at her figure from the back, I can't help but think of what with her and Hachisaki-kun.
They seemed to be close friends yet they also seemed to be just strangers.
Remembering what she said to me yesterday,
"Haruki-kun was not a bad person, I swear!"
That must only mean that they are closely acquainted before, right?
The way she talked to Hachisaki-kun was a give away. She can talk so casually with him. Maybe she knows something about the weird thing that Hachisaki-kun said to me this morning.
When she got back here, I was greeted by her cheerful face again.
"Sorry for making you wait, Harada-san." She smiled apologetically.
"It's fine." I said briefly and opened my bento.
She peeked to it and stare at them intently. I don't know if she's thinking of this as a good food or not. Well, it's not as if it matters.
"Did you made that bento?" She asked as she fixed her chopsticks on her hand.
"Y-yeah..." I said awkwardly. I'm not really calm with how this conversation will go.
"Can I taste it?" She said innocently and aim her chopsticks to my bento.
"W-whaa?! A-Akane-san... That was..." I was about to stop her but she finally got them in her grasps and stuffed them on her mouth quickly.
"Mmmm...." She continued chewing the food while I just face palmed at her.
Just as expected! I should've known!
"I know it was not good!" I apologized quickly. "Do you need some water? I'll go get you some."
I was about to stand up when she holds my wrist.
"Don't bother, Harada-san. It was good!" She beamed a smile to me.
I don't know if she's just saying that to not hurt my feelings or she really is sincere. But still, I feel bad for making her eat my trial version of food.
"Are you sure?" I asked worriedly as she managed to have me take my seat.
"Of course~! Why are you saying that it's bad? They're really good!" She said with her eyes sparkling in admiration.
I tried to taste them myself and I can say that they're pretty decent now. Yeah, that's it. Good thing they aren't that bad, because if they are, I won't forgive myself if Akane-san ended up being a victim of food poisoning.
Atleast I felt relieved for that.
We continued eating properly when Akane-san started a topic.
"Ne, did you already said to Haruki-kun that you're giving up?" She asked while silently munching her food.
Even if she doesn't show it, I know that this conversation was a serious one for her.
I swallowed the food on my mouth and decided to answer her.
"I'm about to take back what I said but... He said that I must not think of surrendering." I explained to her.
She let out a small chuckle, "Same Haruki-kun I must say..."
"Ah, that was nothing Harada-san." She said with a flustered face and stuffed some food on her mouth again.
I shook my head to her.
On the other hand, I also need to ask something to her.
"Akane-san, you know Hachisaki-kun personally right?" I said as I put down my chopsticks since I've finished my bento.
She can't answer with the stuffed mouth like that so she just nodded to me.
"What is your relationship to him?" I asked to her which made her eyes widen in shock.
She raised her hand to say, "Please wait."
I don't know if my choice of words are inappropriate or what, but for me they just seemed okay.
She drank water to help her swallow her food and when she's done, she faced me with a serious face.
"What do you mean, Harada-san?"
Did her aura just changed?
"I didn't mean anything bad. I'm just curious since when you talked about him yesterday, you seemed like you know him very well. But today, I can't really understand what's going on." I explained my side to her just to clear the misunderstanding.
"Oh that... We're childhood friends." She smiled at me and goes back to her innocent mode.
I don't really understand why her mood just easily shifts like that...
"I see... I also want to ask why does he seems to be so serious about music. Is my playing yesterday really that bad?" I asked while remembering all of he said about how disgraceful my playing style is.
Even though I don't really get what he's saying to me about music and stuffs.
"Oh no, no, no. You played really well yesterday!" She tried to cheer me up.
"But why did he said that I'm just fooling around with the piece? Who is he really?" I interrogated Akane-san with determination showing on my face.
She was slightly taken aback by my question but she soon gave me a confused look.
"You don't know him?!" She retorted to me, slightly raising her voice in shock.
The other students started giving us glances so she decided to tone her voice down in embarrassment.
"Harada-san, are you for real?" She said in a low voice to me.
I don't know what she's talking about but by judging her reaction, is it really that big deal if I don't know Hachisaki-kun?
"Uhm, sorry Akane-san but I honestly don't know." I just said awkwardly.
She took a deep sigh of frustration and faced me. "No wonder you acted brave in facing him, you just really don't know him..."
She shook her head in disappointment.
Hey! What is she supposed to mean? I can't understand what she's saying!
"Huh?" That's all I can say in pure confusion.
She took another deep sigh of disappointment and decided to finally talk to me.
"Hachisaki Haruki is a virtuoso violinist, he bagged all of the awards at a young age and he was really talented on playing the violin. He was a prodigy and made a name for himself, he was called as an "Enchanter", the one who captivated the listeners with his magical music."
For a second, I can imagine Hachisaki-kun chanting some spells and putting curses on people. You know what I mean right? He's more like an evil sorcerer to me with his icy glare.
"All musicians of this generation know his name, I was really shocked that you haven't heard of him." She said in a matter of fact tone as if it was a common sense.
Sorry, sorry, I'm not really a musician nor fit to be a musician in the first place.
But is it really true that he was that great of a person?
I feel like I messed up with the wrong person. Yeah! I definitely messed up this time!
"Is he really that great?" I asked her with a whisper.
"Of course!" She said proudly as if she was Hachisaki-kun herself.
I suddenly felt like I've drained all my energy. This new discovery was taking a toll on my mental health.
I stood from my seat gloomily and started walking like a zombie back to our classroom.
"Hey! Harada-san, wait for me!" I can hear Akane-san trying to catch up with me.
When she did, she was a panting mess. Of course, it was bad! We just have our lunch and she's running around!
"Are you okay, Harada-san?" She asked worriedly when she recovered from tiredness.
"Huh. Me?" I replied unconsciously.
"Why? Is there another Harada-san here?" She said sarcastically.
I looked around and when a student passed by, I asked them if they are Harada-san. They awkwardly said no and left.
"Harada-san, I'm serious!" Akane-san ranted while puffing her cheeks in irritation.
"Oh, I'm perfectly fine." I replied. "I'm just going to beg Hachisaki-kamisama to spare my life."
"Eh?!" Akane-san said in confusion and disbelief.
When I opened the door of the classroom, most of our classmates are already here. Given that the afternoon classes are about to start, that's very likely common.
When I took my seat, Hachisaki-kun was not on his seat.
'Where might he be? I need to ask for forgiveness quickly!'
"Harada-san!" It was Akane-san.
I gave a glance at her when she was about to speak, our teacher arrived and ask for the class to settle down.
Hachisaki-kun didn't showed up on any of our afternoon classes. Did he skip classes?
I think I need to plan to ask forgiveness tomorrow! It must be grand so that he can't say no. Hehe.
The dismissal bell rings...
Like yesterday, I walk home with Akane-san.
While walking, she said something that I'm not expecting.
"Harada-san... I honestly don't want you to take back what you said to Haruki-kun..."
Akane-san was not her cheerful self right now. The way she talks right now was not the Akane-san that always clings to me.
She was sad.
"Why is that? You know he's a genius, right? I don't think I can prove myself to that kind of person."
Somehow, I feel bad for my reasoning to Akane-san. But that was how I truly feel about this showdown.
"I think you don't know about this but... Haruki-kun quit the violin when we started middle school." Her voice has the evidence of sadness in it.
Hachisaki-kun quit the violin?
Why would he do that?!
I know Akane-san isn't lying when she told me how great Hachisaki-kun was, but she's also not lying now. There's no point for her to lie to me.
"It just happened on the break before we go to middle school, he stopped attending competitions even if the professionals keep chasing him. I don't know what happened but he also started being cold to me." She said with her voice almost breaking.
She's trying her best not to cry. I admire Akane-san, she can hold back her tears like this.
I took a sigh, I can't afford Akane-san to be miserable like this. But the same me deep inside doesn't want to get tangled up in this course of events.
"Harada-san, when you played that piano yesterday, it brings me back to the time where Haruki-kun was still playing... It reminded me of those times..."
Akane-san entwined her hands with mine. When I looked at her, her tears are flowing from her eyes even though she was still smiling.
"A-Akane-san, are you okay?!" I asked worriedly and was about to pull my hands away to give her my handkerchief but she tightened it up.
"I'm sorry if I'm asking this selfish request even though we just met yesterday..." She said with clear voice but her tears won't stop.
"Ah no... That was fine..." I can't help but agree with her.
"It's been three years since I saw emotion on Haruki-kun's face. Even if he looks angry yesterday, I'm really glad that I can see his emotions again." She smiled sweetly to me.
We took a break to the bench on a nearby playground in the neighborhood to let her out everything she wants to say.
She finally calmed down when I gave her an orange juice from the vending machine beside the bench.
"Do you like Hachisaki-kun?" I asked out of thin air.
I know it was stupid of me to ask something like that but I'm really curious!
She smiled to herself as she looked to the orange juice that I gave her.
"Yes, I really like him a lot!" She gave me a heartwarming smile.
Awww, that must be the explanation why she cared a lot for him. I won't let Hachisaki-kun go unscathed, mark my words!
I also agreed with her that I'm not taking back the challenge and she agreed to help me practice.
"But if Hachisaki-kun quit the violin, what is he going to do on Friday?" I asked Akane-san when we started walking to go home.
"I don't know. Maybe he will use a different instrument?" She wondered while looking up on the sakura trees along this way.
"Eh? But that means..."
"He may not be as good as it is unlike the violin." She continued what I'm going to say.
She has a point, maybe it was a good sign that I can still prove myself to Hachisaki-kun.
There's something deep inside me that I can't explain. Something like, dissatisfaction?
"Harada-san, you might stand a chance against Haruki-kun~!"
Akane-san was back to her cheerful self. I'm thankful that she was back to this mode and I'm glad that I managed to do something about it.
After all, Akane-san was my first friend. Whether she was for real or not, I'm just glad that she's giving me company.
I also looked up on the sakura trees. Making a wry smile, I wondered to myself...
'I know I promised Akane-san, but can I really do it? I know Hachisaki-kun was still that genius deep inside...'