Chapter 6:

What Hides Inside Your Heart

The Sound of Love

After a few weeks, Kurokawa improved significantly since I started giving her lessons. She was now able to do many things on the guitar. What she lacked was the refinement that would come with constant practice, but I was impressed with her progress.

"I think we can call it a day, right?"

It had been a few hours since I started teaching Kurokawa, and I could feel the signs of fatigue; my fingers were not as agile, and my body felt heavy.

Kurokawa also showed some signs of tiredness. Despite her enthusiasm not waning, she let out small yawns and stretched her arms.

After I hinted at ending the lesson, she got up from the couch and started searching for something in her bag.

"Before I forget, I brought something for you!"

She took out a wrapped package from her bag and handed it to me.

"I got the recipe for your mother's cookies the other day and decided to try making some."

She rubbed her palms gently together, her eyes expressing restlessness.

"I messed up quite a few, but I think these turned out okay."

The revelation that she enjoyed cooking caught me by surprise, as until then we hadn't discussed much about other interests beyond school and musical subjects.

The feeling of receiving that unexpected gesture genuinely made me happy.

"Thank you so much! I didn't know you liked cooking!"

"I'm not used to cooking much. My schedule sometimes doesn't allow it, but I felt like trying something new. And since I find your mother's cookies delicious, I asked her for some help."

Apparently, Kurokawa was feeling more comfortable at my place. I guess her frequent presence here was becoming something natural. She seemed to be adapting well to our environment.

Curiously, I opened the package containing the cookies she had prepared and took some to taste.

As soon as I took the first bite, a sense of nostalgia washed over me. The taste and texture of the cookies reminded me of the ones my mother used to make. The initial crunchiness gave way to the gentle flavor of chocolate chips, which melted delicately in my mouth.

Though they weren't exactly like my mother's, this unique version of the cookies had its special charm.

"It’s delicious, Kurokawa!"

A bright smile lit up her face, and I could tell that she was pleased with my appreciation of the cookies.

While I was enjoying the cookies, I noticed Kurokawa watching my reactions attentively. I decided to offer her some cookies too, extending the package in her direction.

She accepted with a silent thank you, taking one of the cookies and tasting it with a satisfied smile. It seemed like she enjoyed them as much as I did.

"You know... there's something I've always wanted to ask you, Tanaka. What made you start playing the guitar?"

Upon hearing the question, my eyes widened slightly. I was surprised by her interest in knowing more about my personal history.

"I started playing because of my father's influence. He wasn't a famous musician or anything, but he always enjoyed composing songs. When I was little, I liked watching him as he worked on his music and lyrics, going through trials and errors until he found something that satisfied him."

Kurokawa listened attentively as I spoke.

"So, from a young age, I started practicing with various instruments. My father taught me how to play many of them. It wasn't something forced on me; I always enjoyed that atmosphere of experimentation and growth."

Music was always natural to me. My father used this room as a place of inspiration for his musical creations, and I always accompanied him as he focused on his work.

"Then, Kurokawa, what made you start playing too?" I asked, eager to understand what motivated her to explore music.

She let out a sigh, seeming to wrestle with an internal struggle before opening her heart. "You know, I think it was when I saw you playing the guitar," she confessed, with a hint of hesitation. "Watching you immerse yourself in music with such passion and freedom made me think that maybe I could find relief and authenticity in this world full of appearances."

Her words surprised me and touched my heart. Knowing that my musical passion inspired her was an indescribable feeling.

She continued, revealing more about herself as if she could finally share the weight she carried. "The day I went to the store, I was just trying to find something to fill the time between work and school," she explained, looking away at her hands. "The modeling job was imposed on me from a very young age, and I've always had to deal with other people's expectations, fitting into a standard that I'm not sure is what I really want. The pressure to always be perfect and acceptable to everyone is overwhelming at times."

As I heard her confession, I saw her eyes reflecting a complex mix of emotions: sadness, determination, and intense inner struggle. It was as if she was balancing on a tightrope between who she was and who others expected her to be.

Her feelings resonated with me, and I wished I could find the right words to comfort her, but sometimes words seemed insufficient in the face of the intensity of her conflicts.

Kurokawa was fighting a personal battle, trying to live up to a standard that perhaps wasn't truly hers. Beneath the mask of perfection she wore, there was a restless soul full of desires.

When I saw her in that store, standing among the guitars, I noticed the vulnerability she hid from the world. I never imagined that music, my own salvation, could be the beacon that guided her to find her own authenticity and inner peace.

Unspoken words accumulated in my chest, yearning to be expressed as a comforting hug or a friendly shoulder. I wanted to tell her that I would be by her side, supporting her every step of the way, but I knew that true strength came from within her.

"Ah! Sorry for getting a bit heavy here..." she said, breaking the moment of reflection. "Let's have some more cookies."

As we enjoyed the last few cookies, I noticed a soft smile on Kurokawa's face. It was comforting to know that, in some way, I was helping to ease some of the burdens she carried.

When she prepared to leave, my thoughts were still immersed in the depths of the feelings she had shared.

We descended the stairs together to the front door while the moonlight spilled into the hallway, creating a serene and welcoming atmosphere.

"Thank you for today, Tanaka!"

She expressed her gratitude with a sincere and warm look.

"The pleasure was all mine, Kurokawa."

As we walked together to the sidewalk, the night breeze caressed our faces, and for a brief moment, time seemed to stand still just for the two of us.

I watched Kurokawa with my eyes until she disappeared into the horizon, and then I returned inside. My mother was coming down the stairs, apparently looking for her.

"Akane already left? I couldn't say goodbye..."

"Yes, Mom. She made some cookies and said you helped her. It was delicious."

"I'm glad she managed to make it! I was wondering if she had given up."

I was happy to see my mother pleased with the news.

"I'll go upstairs now. Goodnight, Mom."

After my mother also bid me goodnight, I returned to the room where we had spent the afternoon together. This same room that my father used for his musical compositions. Looking at the notebooks on the shelves, I felt a wave of inspiration washing over me.

I glanced at the guitar next to me as if it whispered intriguing invitations.

Time flowed silently as I delved into a sea of reflections and musical ideas that slowly took shape in my mind.

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