Chapter 19:

Rock and Stroll

Grace Dances Upon the Clouds

People filtered out of the live house, yet the music from before still rang in Haru’s ears. He waited for the crowd to thin, the lights to come back on, and for chaos to turn into cleanup.

Koichi leapt down from the stage, putting an arm around Haru and drawing close to his ear.

“How about that, Harucchi? Fallen for me yet?”

Haru placed his hand on top of Koichi’s, and in one smooth motion, he had Koichi in a cradled position, one arm around his back and the other still grasping hands.

Aishiteru ze, baby,” Haru said.

After a cold moment, Haru and Koichi cracked up.

“Don’t laugh so, so hard, Harucchi. You’re gonna drop me!”

“Your, your fault, totally!”

Koichi slipped from his awkward position and brushed himself off, heading back to the stage.

“Wait, can I get your opinion on something? Can I borrow your guitar?” Haru called out.

Koichi turned and cocked his head, looking almost hopeful. He smiled and waved him toward the stage.

“Floor is all yours.”

Haru nervously fidgeted with the guitar. He looked up to see that more eyes than normal were watching him. His fingers quivered in response.

“Relax, Harucchi. You’re in good company. It’s the after party. No shame in freestyling for kicks, right guys?!”


Haru thought about Grace. He thought about her notes. The way her music made him feel. And then, some magic returned to his fingertips.

He would ignore the eyes upon him. The background chatter that didn’t matter. The lights that were there just because. He was going to do his own thing. The notes in his mind came forward just like in his dream.

“Hmm, that’s not a bad tune. It has some life to it,” Koichi said when Haru finished. “Did you come up with it yourself?”

“No. That’s what I’ve been meaning to ask you. I heard it somewhere, but I can’t quite recall from what.”

“Enough to play back the tune by ear…?” Koichi’s eyes narrowed, but then, he turned to his bandmates. They simply shrugged. None of their memories were jogged either.

“I see… still, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It’s like I need to make something out of it.”

A pair of hands gripped Haru’s shoulder. Thin lips threw a chuckle in his face.

“Harucchi, did you really need to come up with an excuse?”

“An excuse? For what?”

“To join the band, of course. You didn’t need to put on such a show and come up with a beat. I would’ve welcomed you without all that!”

Haru’s face drooped. His brain fizzled out for a moment. But then, it whirred back into motion. It was actually not a bad idea. If he wanted to compose a song for Grace, joining the band would be the best way for it.

“You know what? Might be fun.”

“Summer’s just around the corner. Let’s make some memories together, right?”

Koichi winked at Haru. Then, he turned to his bandmates and pumped his fist. A drumroll kicked up and fingers slid across keys. Koichi stepped toward them and shredded his guitar, while Mephisto danced a jig, lip syncing to an imaginary song. Leading up to a climax, the four guys ended with a dramatic slam upon the stage.



“Enjoying yourself that much?” A pair of sparkling eyes peeked at Haru’s face.


Haru knew that he was grinning ear to ear. He couldn’t hide that fact from Grace.

“I guess that I make good company.”

“Maybe, you do.”

Grace placed a hand over her chest. She feigned a look of utter shock.

“An honest comment from you? How very honored I feel,” she added sarcastically.

Haru ignored that jab from her. His eyes were staring ahead instead. At the creeping, clunking approach as their cart approached the apex of the coaster. A dramatic drumroll sounded in the air before symbols crashed.

In an instant, Haru felt weightlessness. Not to mention, his face melted back into his cheeks. The cart they were sitting in dropped to the tune of heavy rock, adding to the shot of adrenaline coursing through him.

He heard Grace squeal loudly, but Haru couldn’t manage a peep. His tongue was too dry from flapping against the air pressure. He felt like a fly against a windshield.

There was no track under them. Only the endless expanse of sky. The clouds brushed by them as they flew. Haru felt moisture on his cheeks. Rain or his tears? He couldn’t tell at all.

The moment ended as quickly as it came. Soon, they were back on the ground, knees bobbling. The excitement from earlier that day had become a combo of thrills in one package. A rush of life at its extreme.

But that wasn’t why Haru’s heart was pounding so vigorously. His gaze went over to a winded Grace. Walking on air wasn’t the same as shooting across the sky. Neither was falling.

The way that Grace breathed joy from her lips caused Haru to blush. He couldn’t lie to himself about it. She had moved his heart time and time again.

It was different from falling in love with 2D characters. Everything that needed to be known was laid out for them. But there was so much that Haru still hadn’t grasped about the mysterious dream fairy. So much that he wasn’t afraid to stumble upon.

A part of him wanted to believe that it would be the same in reality. He had seen that much on his dates with Kasumi. But it was Grace that had taught him that it was okay.

Grace’s hand reached out to him, one that he gladly took. Whether the next ride took them to space, dropped them into the eighth level of the abyss, or simply, gave them a scenic overview of his dreamworld, Haru would willingly follow.

“How about we stop for a rainbow dream cone? Or perhaps, some cloud puff candy?”

“No thanks, Grace. Sweets aren’t my thing.”

“Fine. Yaki-unicorn for you.”

“Eh? Is my stomach going to be fine from that? I don’t need rainbows firing out of my ass.”

“Ew, gross… Actually, that would be pretty funny, wouldn’t it?”

Haru held a look of concern at Grace thinking seriously about it. She was an enigma at times. But one that Haru wanted to work toward understanding. He knew he had to, as long as the dream lasted.

Haru grinned and reached for Grace’s hand-

Only to grab air. It took a moment for him to realize that he was back in his room. It took several more to register the knocks on his open door. Haru turned his head at the familiar voice calling for him.


“Finally got your attention. Listen up. Your mother and I are heading to America at the beginning of summer break. Pack your bags and come with us.”

Taylor J
Lucky Lane
Mario Nakano 64
Steward McOy