Spring Flower on the Sidewalk
I'm lying on my bed and staring blankly on the ceiling of my room. I agreed with Akane-san to continue my challenge but I don't know where to start.
Akane-san said that she will help me practice, but how exactly? Can she really help me?
She's the reason on why I'm struggling with my inner self now but I don't regret anything. You see, I just don't want to see her crying face again.
How can Hachisaki-kun resist the cute Akane-san?
Well, if it was me, I can't endure her that much. I've grown attached to her now so I'll deal with my doubts whether she was a real friend or not, in the future. Not now, okay?
I took a sigh and stood from my bed.
I stretched my limbs to prevent strain. It hurts if it became numb, trust me.
I took a seat in front of my study table. I better start doing something now. I opened my laptop and started searching details about my opponent in the internet.
This is the disadvantage of having the spotlight, your competitor can read you easily like a book.
I started typing: Hachisaki Haruki
It showed articles about how a prodigal child violinist started making an uproar in the professional world of music.
He started playing the violin at the age of six, made his name known and even entered an international competition.
When he was about to enter middle school, his fame started going down the drain. He became a no-show violinist. He was never seen in any competition ever again.
I continued reading more in hopes of finding out his reason to quit being a violinist but I found nothing.
"Hmmm... why did you quit, Hachisaki-kun?" I asked more to myself while continuing scrolling up and down on the search results.
Maybe... I can't use this internet to read him like a book after all.
There are things hidden in the book. A secret page where no one can read.
Hachisaki-kun is a mystery that I can't decode.
Crap! Why is there nothing related? Is this on purpose? Or maybe he just felt like he doesn't want to play anymore and quit it y'know?
I continued reading more when I came to one of the videos where he performed on a competition.
Hmmm.... I think it won't hurt to watch this.
Maybe if I'm lucky, I can understand what he's saying about my flawed playing style.
I rubbed my temple as I tiredly pressed the play button.
At that time, I blinked to ease my eyestrain. It's getting irritating and I don't want to have poor eyesight like that Hachisaki-kun so it's better to take a break like this.
While my eyes are closed, the music from the video started playing.
And when I opened my eyes...
It was as if...
I was watching him personally. It was as if I was there.
This playing... There's no mistaking it! This is an enchantment... A magic casted by Hachisaki-kun!
My eyes widened in shock, this is how great he is! He took me in his own world!
Looking at his small figure of a child, I can't help but think twice if he was really a child.
His movements where graceful. You can't spot anything unsightly about him as he was giving his all in playing his violin.
No matter how amateur I am in music... I can feel it, he was talking to me...
"Listen to me..." Is what his music speaks.
The look on his face was really different than the Hachisaki-kun that I met in school.
The face of this child performing in front of this crowd with violin in his hands was without a doubt, showing how much he love playing the violin.
Even though he's performing with such a serious face... I can feel that he's smiling in the crowd.
He's smiling by his music.
He's a real enchanter!
I slumped my face in front of my laptop. I'm just an amateur... How can I prove myself to this genius?
There's no way a no-name person like me can compete on the same stage as him.
This is a poor matchup!
It was like a human, me, was trying to fight a powerful magician, Hachisaki-kun. No matter what I do, a powerless human can't win this time.
I muffled a scream of frustration under my slumped face on the desk.
This is hopeless...
I was thrown back in reality when I heard knocks coming from the door of my room.
"Coming..." I tiredly said as I approached the door.
I opened it and Oba-san greeted me.
"Tsu-chan, there's a call for you. You should answer the telephone on the living room." Oba-san said with a smile.
I'm not exactly sure who in their right mind is going to call at this hour but I better answer it now. I just really want to take a sleep now.
"Hello?" I tiredly said with a small yawn.
"Moshi moshi, Harada-san!" A cheerful voice over the line said to me.
I came back to my senses in that instant. How did Akane-san managed to have overflowing energy at a time like this?
It was 11:30 at night and we have classes tomorrow!
Yes, that was Akane-san. No doubt.
"Akane-san, what's up?" I asked her.
I really want to sleep now. Let me have my sleep Akane-san!
I secretly wept on my mind since I'm fighting with sleepiness right now.
"Oh, good thing you're in there Harada-san! I thought you're already asleep."
"Well, I was supposed to."
Not actually. I just felt tired from watching Hachisaki-kun's performance on the internet and it drained my energy drastically.
"Sorry, sorry! Okay, I'll make this quick. You noticed that Haruki-kun was absent on our afternoon classes, right?"
"Well, he was practicing on music room that time. And when he was not there, some students said that he was practicing on the theater hall." She explained.
"So? And what's that supposed to mean?" I asked her. My mind was having hard time processing what she's saying so I'll let her do the talking.
"Come on Harada-san! If Haruki-kun wasn't going to play the violin, he's aiming for playing something!"
"He's going for the piano! There's only two grand piano in our school, in the music room and in the theater hall. Given that he's also practicing in theater must only mean that he's going to play piano."
My eyes were half-opened, I can't really make up what's Akane-san saying on the other line.
"I'm sorry Akane-san, let's talk about this tomorrow."
I end the call and go to my room to take my sleep.
What was Akane-san saying again? Oh well, I'm just going to mind that tomorrow.
"Harada-saaaaaaan! Let's take a break!" Akane-san whined while loafing around in the floor here in Music Room.
I seriously gave her a glance. Is she for real?! She was the one who said that I need to practice for crying out loud!
Classes are done and I decided to practice with Akane-san. She was pretty useful just a while ago but she easily loses interest just like now.
"Akane-san, you're the one who told me to practice, remember?" I asked her in disbelief.
I was sitting in front of the piano and staring intently in the music sheet. I'm getting the basics for reading the music sheet since I personally asked Hiro-sensei to give me the gist of things.
I'm not bragging but I can say that I'm a pretty fast learner! Hehe.
Anyway, I don’t get Akane-san!
She also managed to teach me some basics and I think I can play Little Star decently. But now that she's acting like this, I don't think that I can focused now.
Taking a deep sigh, I faced her.
"What do you think about my playing just now?" I asked her.
I'm not expecting her to praise me anymore. I also asked her a while ago to not lie about her opinion.
Watching Hachisaki-kun's great performance made me really anxious.
There's a pang of guilt deep inside me. I can't really explain it but I think I need to do something for him. Not just as Akane-san wished but also, to personally helped him.
"Hmm... Let's see, you played decently." She said as she stood from the floor and dusted herself.
"Is that enough?" I said seriously as I closed my eyes in frustration.
Of course it's not enough! Who am I fooling?
"Listen, to be honest with how you play now is good enough to at least pass the preliminaries in a piano contest but... The way you played first time was different." She explained obviously.
Huh? My first time playing?
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked her in confusion.
She took a sigh and smiled at me. "When you played the piano that time, it feels like you are a different person... You're... a reincarnation of a talented musician."
She shift her gaze away from me while her face flustered.
I want to say something but I can't find the right words. I don't know how to respond to this kind of situation!
"T-that's absurd!" I retorted back at her. "How can you say that?!"
She looked at me without saying anything. Her expression was something that I can't explain.
Her face was just normal but her aura was different, it felt like she is looking deep inside my soul and evaluating me.
I felt uneasy with her gaze.
I'm not scared but she's emitting a weird aura that's making me feel tensed.
"Would you believe me if I say that I can see through a person?" She seriously said.
She took a deep sigh and goes back to her cheerful side.
I can't really understand how can she switched so easily.
"To make it short, I'm a keen observer~! I can find raw talents just by observing them." She cheerfully said while raising her hands in the air.
I deadpanned at her cheerfulness.
Okay, I get it that she's some kind of keen observer comparable to those skilled detectives. But when she said that she can saw raw talents, does that mean that I have talent?
I looked down in disheartenment. I don't think I really have a talent.
Compared to those talented people whose future is decided with a path they must take, I stood there with a barricade to making me not able to take a step forward.
After all, a talentless person like me doesn't have a goal to achieve.
I'm not a dreamer.
I snapped back in reality when Akane-san shook my shoulders in a somewhat outrageous manner.
"Harada-saaaaaaan! Harada-san, fight the evil spirit possessing you!" She shouted at me worriedly and shake my shoulders more.
"Hey, hey Akane-san! I'm not possessed!" I said at her but she doesn't seem to hear me.
"Harada-san! Hold on! I'm gonna call the exorcist in the class next door."
"Akane-san! I'm not being possessed!" I responded and I also shook her shoulder to snap her back in reality.
"Waaah! Harada-san, I'm glad that you are not possessed!" She said as she clings to me, feigning tears.
I just let out an awkward chuckle. Akane-san never failed to entertain me.
"Come on, come on, stop crying already. Let's call it a day for now." I said as I patted her head.
She nodded with a smile.
While walking down the silent hallway, all I can hear was our footsteps. The sun has already set, we just stayed overtime in school today. I'm glad that the school permitted us to, because you know, not all schools are permitting students to stay in school longer.
Akane-san suddenly stopped on her tracks which also made me stop.
"What is it Akane-san?" I asked her.
"Uhm... I know this is sudden but..." She started fidgeting as she faced me.
She seems uneasy about something, what might that be?
I gave her a confused look and she started fiddling her fingers.
"C-can I... Can I call you Tsubaki-chan?" She said timidly.
I blinked in disbelief.
She blinked waiting for my response.
"S-so... It's okay if you don't---"
I cut her off mid-sentence and gave her my response, "Of course you can!"
"T-thank you, Tsubaki-chan." She said shyly. "You can also call me Mitsuki-chan."
I gave her a small smile. "Mitsuki-chan it is."
She beamed at me and clings to me again. But then again, she stopped on her tracks for the second time.
"Aka--- Mitsuki-chan, what's wrong?"
Phew! I almost called her Akane-san again.
"Did you hear that?" She said as she looked around us.
Well, the school is really different at a time like this. I don't know if I was to be scared that Mitsuki-chan was hearing something that I can't.
Maybe she's not just a keen observer but also attracted to supernatural? Crap! What are you thinking, Tsubaki? We're on the era of science, paranormal activities are just made up!
"I don't hear anything." I voiced out.
"No, there's something here." She declared as she dragged me on where she heard something.
I don't like where this is going... I'm supposed to go home now or Oba-san will be worried.
Uhmmm. But now that I remember Mitsuki-chan giving a call to my home just a while ago made me think that Oba-san might not be that worried.
She will be most likely, "Oh, Tsu-chan, you finally made a friend for yourself! I'm really happy for you. Invite them here sometimes, I'll prepare a good tea."
Yeah, yeah, my oba-san is really carefree and I'm pretty sure that Mitsuki-chan will get along with her.
They will be an iconic duo, that's for certain.
I continued going along where Mitsuki-chan said she heard something. I'm not really sure about what she heard but I hope that she's not hallucinating.
"There. I heard something there." She pointed out the building outside.
Huh? But that's far from where we stood a while ago.
Okay, she might also have some pretty good hearing.
"Let's go there." She pleaded to me.
"Okay. But just for a while." I can't help but agree with her.
She's one curious girl. If something caught her interest, she won't be satisfied until she discovered the reason behind.
We entered the building and when I think about it...
This is the theater hall!
I think she mentioned something about this last night but I can't really remember since I'm really sleepy at that time.
"So what did you actually heard, Mitsuki-chan?" I asked while looking around the theater.
Empty audience seats and dimly lit hall. There's no assurance on what we're about to see her.
What if we witnessed something illegal? Like a murder or smuggling? And the culprits found that we are here then threaten our life because we're eye-witnesses? We're doomed!
"Mitsuki-chan... I think it's better if we leave now." I whispered to her in a low voice.
"Tsubaki-chan..." She called my name while her eyes are fixated in one direction.
When I followed her line of sight...
My gaze fell on something extraordinary.
A guy was playing the piano here in the dimly lit theater hall. He was producing beautiful sounds with every touch of the keys.
I almost shrink on where I am now.
I was taken aback by his outstanding playing...
When Mitsuki-chan said that I might stand a chance against Hachisaki-kun with him playing an instrument that he's not used to...
I honestly thought that I can do this...
Watching him playing the piano as greatly as this...
I just want to apologize to him this instance.
I clutched my chest as I continued to watch him, he was this great. I can't believe myself for thinking that I have a bit of hope.
I felt so stupid...
Unconsciously, I didn't realize that a tear escaped from my eyes. I hurriedly wiped it with my hands.
When he was done, he still looked so wonderful. He stood from the piano bench and stopped in front of the audience seats.
We heard a clap from the front, so me and Mitsuki-chan perked up to see what's going on.
"That was a splendid performance, Haruki." Another person said.
Judging from our distance from them, they are in the very front seat.
Hachisaki-kun gave a long stare to the guy. "Is that all, Reiji?" He replied as cold as ever.
"What am I supposed to say, Haruki?" The person called Reiji said blatantly to him.
"This isn't good." Hachisaki-kun monotonously said.
What's not good, Hachisaki-kun? That was even beyond my greatest imaginations and you're saying that it's not enough? Are you kidding me?
I clenched my fist in irritation. This guy... what's wrong with him?
I gave a glance to the girl beside me, Mitsuki-chan, who was still mesmerized by the performance she just witnessed.
But looking at her face now... I can't really say that she was admiring Hachisaki-kun’s performance.
"Hey, what's wrong with you, Haruki? You just asked me to watch you practice and now you're saying that it's not enough? Are you still on your mind?" The Reiji-person stood from his seat and leaned closer to Hachisaki-kun.
Hachisaki-kun fell silent for a moment but when he spoke, I’m not really expecting him to say something.
"It's not enough. Watching Harada-san who played the piano on our Music Class made me feel so pathetic!" Hachisaki-kun retorted to the guy.
I left frozen for a moment.
Is that how he feels about my playing?
"I... I've never seen you act like this since you quit the violin three years ago." The guy said in utter disbelief.
Hachisaki-kun looked away from him.
I stood from where I was hiding.
Mitsuki-chan was shocked that I showed myself to them and the two guys were dumbfounded.
I slowly made my way to the stage, hearing several appeals from Mitsuki-chan who is now panicking.
"Hachisaki-kun." I said seriously as I was in front of him.
He and the Reiji guy didn't said anything while Mitsuki-chan catches up with me as she grabbed my hands and trying to pull me away from them.
"Tsubaki-chan, let's go home." She pleaded.
I didn't waver as she finally let go of my hands the instant she read the uptight situation.
I took a step forward to get closer to Hachisaki-kun.
I slapped him, really hard.
Mitsuki-chan and the Reiji guy was shocked to what I did. Hachisaki-kun was rubbing his cheek to ease the pain.
"WHAT'S WRO----" He was about to yell at me when I beat him to it first.
"Is it painful, Hachisaki-kun?" I asked with a stern look.
"T-Tsubaki-chan... W-what are you..." Mitsuki-chan was trying to hold me back.
I gave her a look, trying to say that she must not plan on holding me back.
I don't know if I went overboard now but I'm not planning on backfiring at Hachisaki-kun.
She shrink away and just looks down in agreement.
"Now, Hachisaki-kun, what's your answer?" I said with a dead serious voice.
"Tch." He grunted and looks away to me.
I gave him a glare that was supposed to pierce him dead and kill him this instance but I can't seem to do that right now so I'll just stick with a regular glare.
"I don't know you that much unlike Mitsuki-chan, but that emotionless face of yours really pissed me!" I yelled at him.
He finally decided to gave me a look. I didn't waver with his cold glance unlike before that I'm easily freaked out.
Now, I can muster my courage to face him fearlessly.
He still won't answer huh.
"I don't know the reason why you quit the violin either and I'm not in the position to judge you... But at least, don't play the piano with that stoic face!"
He was taken aback by those words and the astonishment was evident on his face.
I can even hear Mitsuki-chan gasping in the background.
"Don't talk like you know everything!" He snapped at me.
I was also caught off guard by his reaction but I managed to held on.
"Didn't you hear me?" I replied sarcastically. "I already said that I know nothing..."
"Then why?! Why are you talking like that?!" He closed his eyes in exasperation.
I took a sigh and shook my head in disappointment, "Let's just say that I can't help but feel envious about the child enchanter that casted a spell on me with his music... The one that smiles using music."
I turn my back to him and started saying something.
"You might think that the piece you played just now was not enough... But I personally think that it was great. However, that's not the sound that you want to make, right? You're longing for the sound of violin, Hachisaki-kun."
I grab Mitsuki-chan's hand and I took a step away from them when Hachisaki-kun stopped me.
"Why... Are you doing this?" Hachisaki-kun asked one last time, his voice was evident with pain.
"I'm not a professional musician like Hachisaki-kun, I’m just an amateur but I think that music was about showing your emotions and not about concealing them..." I faced them with a smile and took a step away further, dragging Mitsuki-chan with me.
With that, under the curtains of the dimly lit theater stage...
I can say that I never regretted that I did and said those things. I want to show Hachisaki-kun my best, I'm not going to hold back!