Chapter 1:

The Train Incident

Orange and Blues

“Will I feel pain from jumping in front of a speeding train, or will I die instantly?”

A friend from middleschool asked me the same question on our way home after our graduation. He laughed afterwards and said that he was joking. I believed him.

The next day, we were supposed to meet up with four other friends to go bowling. He didn’t show up. I never saw him again.

If only I had picked up on his lies, I could have insisted on picking him up that morning. Even if he tried to jump in front of a train, I would have done something to stop him—to save him.

The memory plays vividly in front of my eyes before I can shake it off. If I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn that I went back in time to relive that tragic moment.

I place my right hand on my chest to feel my heart drumming in my rib cage. I desperately breathe in air as I look down at the floor and close my eyes to ground myself. As soon as I feel more calm, I lift my head and turn to the person who asked that triggering question.

My eyes fall on an oranged-haired girl, wearing a black short overalls and white shirt underneath. Her hair is tied up in a bun that looks like an orange due to it's shape and color. Her eyes are focused on her ankle boots while she fidgets with a furry ball attached to her sling bag. I observe her for a few minutes, waiting for her to do anything drastic.

Maybe I’m just overthinking.

She lifts her head and I quickly avert my gaze.

I’m acting like a suspicious creep.

“The train is about to arrive. Please stand behind the yellow lane."

The announcement resounds in the station, getting the attention of anticipating passengers. I take a quick look at the girl beside me and my eyes widen as she makes a step towards the yellow lane. What are you doing?

Without thinking twice, I swiftly reach out for the girl’s arm and pull her closer to me. I must have used more force than I intended, for she loses balance and her back falls directly to my chest. I take a step back to prevent us from falling, but it’s too late. I wrap a protective arm around the girl and hug her as tight as possible. Then, my butt hits the floor and my body falls flat on the ground.

The train stops, the doors open, and the crowd of people starts moving. Meanwhile, I prompt myself to get up despite my painful butt and back.

“Are you — ”

But before I can finish my sentence, the girl pushes herself up and rushes into the train. “Wait — ”

At the corner of my eye, I see one of the security personal approaching, so I get on my feet as fast as I can. I groan at the stinging pain in my butt, but I speed up to get on the train. I find her immediately since the train isn’t packed with passengers. There are plenty of seats, but the girl remains standing—near the door, of all places.

There shouldn’t be a problem with standing in front of the train’s door, except that I can’t trust her to not do anything dangerous after what she did. 

Live without regrets.

I shake my head at the memory of my mother’s last words. I hate that these unwanted memories are coming back to me, but I take a deep breath to stay focused.

I’m innocent. I have no bad intentions. I will approach her, apologize, and explain what happened. But maybe I should observe first.

I maintain a good distance from her and watch her every movement. I hope nobody notices what I’m doing and call the police on me. I know what I'm doing is a bit creepy but I'm doing this to ensure her safety. 

Minutes pass by and I realize that the train is approaching the next station so I take the chance to finally talk to her. I walk closer to her in a few strides and stand behind her. I make sure that there is enough space between us so she doesn’t panic.

“I’m sorry about that,” I say in a low voice.

I notice her shoulders tensing as I stand towering over her back, so I know that she heard me.

“I’m not a bad person. I heard you ask about feeling pain if you jump in front of the running train, so I panicked when I saw you walk towards the lane and pulled you back. Again, I’m sorry.”

She remains immobile and silent. I clench my hand into a fist, feeling nervous and awkward. At this point, I don’t care if she gets mad and slaps me in the face, as long as she interacts with me. I just want to get this over with, go home, and get some rest.

Or go to the hospital to get my body checked.

The girl continues to ignore me for the entire trip until the train reaches the station. People enter the train as soon as the doors open. I stay alert in case she does anything that can possibly harm herself or put me in trouble but doesn’t move. When I see more passengers coming in, I decide to gently pull her closer to me. Once the door closes, the train becomes a bit cramped, and we are standing face to face by the door.

“You’re actually tall,” the girl timidly comments.

Her eyes focused on her hands, tightly gripping her sling bag.

“I’m really sorry if I scared you.”

“I’m sorry for putting you in a difficult situation,” she says in response.

She raises her head and forces a smile. 

“The thought popped out of my head, and it slipped out of my mouth.”

“Then why did you walk towards the lane?”

“I’m not really sure. Now that I think about it, getting hit by a train might actually be painful, unless I die instantly. The people on the train might also hold a grudge against me for inconveniencing them. For that reason, my soul might never find peace, so I don’t think I’ll try jumping in front of the train.”

She says it as if it’s as simple as realizing that she puts salt in her coffee instead of sugar. It’s quite concerning. “By the way,” she rummages in her bag, then hands me a packet of pain relief patches.

“I think it’s still best to get checked, but take this anyway. I’m really, really, really, sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

I do my best to act cool but I do feel my butt and lower back throbbing with pain. It’s tolerable but I can tell that it will get worse tomorrow morning. Anyway, she sounds sincere so I take the packet from her hand and shove it inside my pocket. I will definitely use them later.

"What’s your name?” she asks with a timid smile.

"Nozomu Masayuki.”

Unexpectedly, hearing my name seems to have sparked her excitement.

“Really? Your name is Nozomu? My name is Nozomi, Nozomi Inohara.”

Coincidence truly happens in the strangest ways.

“How do you write your name?” she adds.

“Kanji for *hope.”

“My name is also written that way. We basically have the same name. That’s so cool. What do your friends call you?”

She seems to have loosened up instantly, which is a good sign.

“They just call me Nozomu.”

She frowns. “You don’t have a nickname?”

“No. I assume you do.”


Her smile is so bright that it’s hard to believe that she thought about jumping in front of the speeding train just minutes ago.

“But we’re not friends, so you can’t call me Nocchi.”

“I don’t plan to make friends with you.”

“Oh, is it because you have a girlfriend?”

Suddenly, she has the confidence to ask me – a complete stranger – a personal question. I usually don’t like talking about personal matters, so it surprises me when I open my mouth and say,

“We’ve just broken up. A week ago, to be exact,” I said, averting her gaze.

Her mouth opens in shock, then she covers it with her hands in a bit of a panic.

“Oh no, I’m really sorry for asking. That was very rude of me to ask. I’m really sorry.”

Her voice is muffled but somehow, I can hear the concern in her tone.

“It’s fine. It’s not like it was a sudden breakup. We hadn’t had communication for six months before she finally showed up and broke up with me. She’s already seeing someone else now.”

“It’s only been a week, and she’s dating someone else already?”

Her voice comes out a bit too loud making a few people turn to us. She immediately realizes it and covers her flushed cheek.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m not bothered at all.”

It’s completely true. To be honest, we hadn’t communicated for so long before the break up that I had forgotten that we were still together. I thought it was an automatic breakup, so I was surprised when she went to my apartment and apologized.

“You don’t miss your ex-girlfriend? At all?”


“Well, I guess that's good because you really shouldn’t. If she can replace you that easily, then you have no reason to mope over her.”

“You don’t even know why we broke up. It might have been my fault.”

Her brows furrow.

“I don’t think so. I think you’re a good person. It’s definitely her fault.”

I know it was my fault. I neglected Sayu’s needs and disappointed her. That was what she said when we broke up, so I know that it was my fault.

But a part of me wants to believe this girl. I want to believe that I did my best to make her happy. I want to believe that Sayu simply didn’t appreciate my efforts or she wants more of what I couldn’t give her.

“I’m sorry.”

A soft hand gently squeezes mine. It’s comforting and caring. It somewhat reminds me of how my mother used to hold my hand whenever we are walking home from school.

“Why are you apologizing?” I hear myself ask.

Whatever expression I am making, it makes her sad. There is genuine concern in her eyes, and I wish I can’t see it.

“Don’t worry about it. Apologizing is just my habit.”

Her hands remain holding mine, as her free hand reaches for my head. I am definitely not thinking straight at that moment because one moment I am staring at her brown eyes and the next moment my forehead is resting on her shoulder.

Her kind action certainly put my mind at ease, but her perfume distracts me more.

I can never smell oranges the same way again.