I couldn't confess my feelings so I was sent back in time
As a rich and gentle voice called out to him, Kazuki began to wake. Being ripped from the fabrics of his dreams and slowly planted back down into reality. He let out a groan of irritation. Symbolizing that he was indeed awake, however not ready to be removed from his bed.
"Hey, Kazuki." They said again in a low tone. "Wake up. You'll be late at this rate."
Kazuki managed to break through the momentary paralysis that kept his eyes clamped shut, and they slowly fluttered open. Waiting for a moment, his vision rendered to reveal that he was in his own room. As his eyes explored the familiar scenery, like they always did, the gaze of his emerald irises landed on the woman sitting at his bedside.
She sat at his side, looking down at him with a gaze and a smile that said he was the greatest thing in the world. Or at least in her world.
She was a slender woman who had a set of comfortable and common clothes on under a sky blue apron. Her long chestnut brown hair was braided together and hung loosely over her shoulder. Her features were those of a woman clearly heading into her forties, and her almond eyes mixed with a natural smile to provide an unusual but common warmth in Kazuki.
"Mom," Kazuki said, although being his first words of the day, they came out as more of a croak. "Good morning."
"Good morning." She bent down and kissed his forehead. "Did you sleep well?"
He nodded, however at her question something inside of him was triggered, and very specific moments of his subconscious came flooding back into his mind.
"Yeah," he sat up in his bed, stretching out his arms. "Yeah, I slept fine."
"Good," his mother offered another warming smile. "I'll trust you can manage to get dressed and not go back to sleep?"
Kazuki grinned, easily reading the joking manner of her voice. "Naturally. There was one time when I accidentally fell back asleep, will you hold it against me forever?"
"So long as I'm waking you up every morning."
He watched as she moved through his room's door and into the hall. Yet, decided to poke her head back in before actually leaving. "Your father is downstairs," she said. "If you hurry then we can all have breakfast together and you can ride with him to school."
He nodded as she shut the door, leaving him to attend to his daily morning duties. And once he was sure she'd left him, listening for the faint sound of her footsteps, he fell back onto his bed with a sigh.
His eyes traced the wings of the spiraling ceiling fan that rested overhead as he tried to fully recall the dreams he'd experienced not so long ago. After a short recollection he mumbled to himself.
"Aya," he muttered. "I wonder what she's up to."
The question was one that he was inadequate to answer, one that truly was impossible for him to answer. He could only guess, and try to think of the most logical things to fill the blanks. But even then, it'd been so long since he'd spoken with her, she could be a completely different person. He really had no idea.
Kazuki gave himself a series of light, basically inexistent slaps on the face. Hoping to wake up, even if slightly, and have some sudden energy flood into his system.
He managed to pull himself to his feet, using the very realistic logic that once he started moving he would wake up. Even while doing so, the first few minutes to pass were slow and sluggish. As he began to gather his clothing and shuffle aimlessly around his room in hopes of further preparing himself for the day to come.
"Mornings are such a pain." Kazuki simply stated this as he met with the mirroring gaze of his reflection. As he removed his pajamas he quickly replaced them with his school's uniform. An open black blazer over a white button down shirt and matching black pants.
Staring off into the incepting body mirror that leaned against the far wall for support, Kazuki began to run his fingers through his nest of hair, as it didn't appear in bad enough shape for brushing. Within a short time, only a dozen seconds or so, he nodded to himself, his reflection, with an expression of satisfaction. His raven locks of a medium length reached just below his ears, in what appeared like layers of almost uneven stray strands and what others might assume were cow licks.
Flashing a million dollar smile in the reflecting surface of the mirror, Kazuki moved to gather the rest of his things. Almost hopping around his room, avoiding various objects in hope of quickly attaining the items he needed to complete the day. He slid a pile of halfway complete and neglected novels to the side of his desk so that he could place two folders that also rested there in his bag.
He whisked away the typed essay that sat promptly atop his closed laptop, and slipped a couple of mechanical pencils that been purposelessly lying on the floor into his pocket.
"I think that should be everything." Kazuki spoke to no apparent person, quickly going over a mental checklist, trying to reduce the probability of him forgetting something to zero.
That should have been all. He closed and shouldered his school bag before moving to leave. If he was lucky his father had stuck around and waited for him, a ride with his old man sounded a lot more appealing than walking.
Kazuki gripped the brass doorknob leading into the hall, almost rushing off. Yet, in the corner of his eye something seemed to sparkle with enough luster from the morning sun to catch his attention.
As if it was staring at him, watching him go, Kazuki met face to face with a large lensed digital camera. Or face to lens?
In the brilliant morning light, with an almost metallic black luster, the large, slick camera seemed to silently plead that Kazuki take it with him. It wordlessly argued that there was so much to be seen and captured. That he was denying it of it's one purpose by allowing it to sit at his desk.
While it was tempting, Kazuki realized that he wouldn't be able to wear the camera around his neck throughout the school day, and his alternative of carrying it in a case wasn't any more reasonable.
"You'll have your moment," Kazuki quietly promised. "It's almost that time of year after all."
With a shake of his head and a bounce in his step, he mustered a slightly forced overjoy and paraded from his room in the happiest manner imaginable. He walked along the length of the yellow rollout carpet, until he reached the stairway. From the top he could hear the sound of food being cooked and his mother and father conversing.
However, rather than immediately going to join them, he took the few extra steps forward, and stared down the whitest door in the entire town. It might have appeared to some that the door was repainted every moment that even a slight crack in the paint surfaced. It's sleek frame and constant fresh paint job gave the door and unnatural feeling.
Kazuki closed his eyes and pressed an open palm to the center of the door. "Satsuki," he said in a voice of sudden melancholy which was concealed behind a half smile, "I'm off."
Partly realizing that a depressed atmosphere surrounded the room, he stepped away. Moving down the stairs, he glanced back, as he had a million times. And just like he had all those other times, he moved down away before that same depressing atmosphere could consume him and ruin his day.
As Kazuki stepped onto the polished tile of the kitchen floor, he greeted his parents through the cold sensations that the floor sent inside his socks.
"Good morning." He said to both of them.
His mother stood at the stove, her back turned to him. She hummed a tune he knew but couldn't quite place as she stirred the inners of a large pot.
His father, a man only a few inches taller than Kazuki, stood at the bar counter staring down at a series of papers. He presented himself in the same fashion he always had. His short black hair was slick and combed over to one side. The sleeves of his white button down shirt had been undone and rolled up to his elbows, and his expression was one of exhaustion. Clearly visible bags that had been there for as long as Kazuki could remember rested comfortably under his tired eyes.
"Good morning." His father said in reply. Although it was mumbled from his mouth and sounded like he was responding while still asleep.
"You really should get more sleep."
"I had a full night of sleep," his father looked up from his papers, his expression denying the statements he was claiming. "Why, do I look that bad?"
"Honey you look like you exercised all night."
Kazuki's father laughed at what his mother had said.
"I'm afraid between my work, writing and sleep that I don't have time to exercise."
"Seriously," Kazuki took a seat on the opposite side of the counter as his father. "Guys on the team are starting to wonder if you're depressed."
"People actually ask that?" His mother ventured.
Kazuki nodded, narrowing his eyes onto his father. "Some people even asked if you were suicidal. They said you look like you're about to snap every day."
"Nonsense." His father waved the comment aside. "I'm as depressed as I am tired."
So, very? Kazuki began to wonder if the comment was a careless one, or if he should begin to worry for his Father's health. Regardless, he didn't have much time on his hands.
"Shoot," he mumbled. "I'm gonna be late."
"See?" His mother raised a brow. "I told you didn't I?"
"You won't be late," his father smiled to him as he collected all the papers he'd just been reviewing. "Just ride with me. I've cleaned out the car."
Kazuki's gaze drifted towards the golden rays of woven sunlight that poured into the kitchen. Watching as the sun's light illuminated the entire kitchen.
"But it's such a nice day out, I was hoping to walk."
"Well your bike is still broken, if you plan on attending homeroom then you'd better leave now."
He nodded at his mother's words. If anything, she was absolutely right. His bike was broken, and the walk to school could be a lengthy one. Although, he could make it.
"I'm off then."
Moving across the kitchen, he planted a kiss on his mother's cheek and offered his father a hug. Immediately after, rushing through the kitchen and out the front door.
As he stepped into the outside world, Kazuki was met with a mix of warm light and chilly wind. Both of which ceased after a moment. The lawn sparkled in the daylight, fresh with droplets of drew that gave the grass a certain luster.
As a cloud moved in to block out the sun, Kazuki stepped off the lawn and onto the sidewalk. Beginning the dependably lengthy stroll to his school. Readjusting his bag, he returned a wave to a passing pedestrian in their car, and adding onto the few times he'd already done it today, began to recall his dream.
He wasn't even sure why such a trivial thing was continuously poking it's way into his morning. Yes, he truly didn't understand. But, regardless of his obliviousness, his thoughts stayed as they were. Present and bugging the hell out of him. For only a moment he wondered, Kazuki wondered if Aya ever had dreams like he had.
One's that were possible, everyday fantasies, or in his case, recollections of the past. He shrugged. He shouldn't have even been worrying about those types of things. With classes, club activities and the upcoming events, his plate was stacked with far more than he could eat. He'd beaten off more than he could chew.
Even so, he used his walk to school as an excuse to ponder upon his old and lost friend. It'd been so long since he'd seen her. Almost two years in fact. Kazuki thought it was strange. Dreams like this, they weren't an often occurrence, in fact they were basically inexistent. Yet, now of all times, he was remembering something he'd almost forced himself to forget.
And it wasn't like Aya was helping him to remember her either.
"You know, the divines work in strange ways."
Kazuki frowned as he recalled those words.
"Yeah right," he finally said. Resting his hands on the back of his head as he walked, he discarded the thought without a second consideration. His father being an alien was more likely than a divine intervention of his already dead and buried romance.
"Oh? Ren, good morning!"
With a sudden glance to his right, Kazuki's eyes found that a rather young man was addressing him. His short red hair was messy, like he'd only just waken up, and his glasses sat crookedly across his face. Kazuki knew him only from his store, one he'd visited rather often.
"Ah, Mr. Mahiro! " Kazuki waved back to the man. "Good morning."
"Walking to school I see. Say, you have a game soon don't you?"
"Yeah," Kazuki replied, however didn't stop walking, rather he slowed his pace to lengthen their conversation and still get himself closer to school. "We play East Kōchi two days after the festival."
"Really?" Mahiro raised a curious brow. "Well I'll be sure to come watch you play, it's always more exciting when I see you in action. That is, if I'm not hung over out of my mind."
Kazuki laughed slightly nervous, waving to Mahiro and quickening his pace. While he liked the man, when his certain hobbies came up conversation was awkward and difficult to maintain. In short, he wanted none of it.
In the distance the gates of the school became clear. Sitting atop a rather obnoxious and averaging hill. If it had an expression it would be one that said, "Oh man, you have to climb all the way up me? Sucks to be you!"
But that wasn't what he'd complained to himself about. Along with his conversation, Mr. Mahiro had completely reminded Kazuki of what was coming up in the near future. Not only was THAT festival right around the corner, but he had a home game the next couple of days following it. Just the thought of it all made him tired. Or maybe that was the hill climb?
Moreover, excitement was the next best thing to come from those sudden realizations. While it may be tiring, it was sure to be fun. There was no doubt in his mind. This year, his third year, was going to end with some great moments and some even better memories. Hopefully he could reframe from being like Mr. Mahiro and keep all his memories. Not losing them to a hang over.
Kazuki would have maybe laughed at the thought. If only he wasn't eating asphalt. Before he could muster an emotion or response to his own thought, something with a force similar to that of a truck slammed into his side. His arm and shoulder were the primary area that had been hit, and due to this, Kazuki was spent in a momentary spiral. His spinning didn't last long of course, as the concrete walkway easily put a stop to him. He fell forward firmly. So much so that one might think he'd decided this place was a suitable area for a nap.
Kazuki recovered slowly, but with enough time to shout at his attacker. And while his words carried emotion, all the sudden anger of him being throw to the ground, it didn't exactly matter. If not for their half-assed reply, he would have assumed that his words didn't even reach their ears.
The person, clearly a girl, shouted back at him while she raised a hand in a reversed wave.
She bore the same uniform that he did, only the female model. A white button down shirt and a black vest. A matching black skirt and raven knee socks. Her short, honey blonde hair had been tied behind her head in a short stub of a ponytail.
"I can't believe her," Kazuki uttered the words as he picked himself up and cleaned various parts of his uniform. "Not only did she run into me, but how does she have so much energy this early?"
He clearly knew her, and seemed rather irritated that it was her that he'd have to quarrel with. "I'll just have to confront her later today."
Nodding with satisfaction, Kazuki stuffed his hands into his pants pockets. He needed to hurry if he was planning to make it on time.
As he entered through the open iron gates of the school, Kazuki glared curiously, almost seemingly saddened at the main entrance to the school. His eyes ignored the sea of students that moved around him and into the school. His eyes and ears doing their best to momentarily filter them all out. They were irrelevant.
His attention was focused on the entrance itself. In the next instance, as if seeing it was the trigger to his memory, his dream, he recalled the details of the event that had taken place at those very doors. He was like someone with amnesia who was suddenly thrown into their most familiar place prior to them losing their memory.
What was wrong with his today?
Maybe it was just him, But Kazuki felt like he was subconsciously putting so much emphasis on something that didn't necessarily matter. In fact, it didn't!
"Now that I think about it," Kazuki mumbled to himself as he approached the school. His self communication catching the strange eye of a few other students. "I never did see that teacher again."
What was his name?
He couldn't recall. Otherwise he might have asked his father about the man, but strangely enough, he didn't remember his name and couldn't remember seeing him again.
He shook his head, he had too much to do today and had already arrived at school. If he wanted to know bad enough, he could question his father about any teachers that had transfered in the past two years. Yeah, that was it. All he needed to do was ask his father, if anyone would know, his tired and depressed father would.
"That concludes homeroom," The suited female at the front of the room gathered her things. "If any of you decide you do want to help with the school's preparations for the festival, then please contact the student council."
Then she was gone, disappearing from the room to allow the students a short break before first period started. Kazuki sat at the front of his row of students, occasionally glancing out the large panned windows that lined the wall to his left. However the majority of his attention was focused on the unfinished math homework that lay on his desk.
He worked furiously to finish it, doing his best to recall already taught formulas and answer each question that made up the worksheet in a decent manner. A single bead of sweat drizzled down his head, fearing that first period would start any second, and the teacher would enter the room.
A random student that he was probably familiar with called out to him from the desk to his right. He wasn't sure who he was, as he hadn't bothered to look up from his work.
"Yeah?" He asked.
"Any plans for this sunday?"
He took a moment to respond. In fact, he waited almost a solid minute before speaking another word, and when he did it was in relief.
I'm finished! He wanted to announce it to the world. But made due to sighing and propping his head up with his hand.
"Oh," Kazuki suddenly realized that the guy was still waiting for a response. He wasn't someone he knew by name or face. All he did know was that they had a few classes together, that was the maximum of his knowledge concerning the boy. Yet, he spoke to him like one would speak to a childhood friend.
"Not really," Admitted Kazuki. "I may attend the festival to photograph it. Outside that though, I'm not sure if I'll go at all."
"Seriously?" The guy leaned in and lowered his voice. "No romantic plans at all? Me and Saya from class three are spending the day together!"
I'm sorry, who?
Kazuki didn't bother questioning him on who the girl he'd seemed to boast about was, rather continued with the general conversation and answered the guy's questions.
"No," he reiterated. "Nothing romantic. If anything I'll spend the night alone."
"Dude, that's depressing."
Kazuki shrugged. "Maybe I'll meet up with some friends. I need to practice a bit with some of the other members before we have our game on Monday."
"That's right!" The guy gave Kazuki a dumbfounded look. "I totally forgot you guys were playing. We're going to destroy East Kōchi."
"That's the plan," he replied, seemingly uncertain. Almost not confident that they could win, but why exactly was that?
"Everyone in your seats,"
At his hard words, every student moved to their designated seat and slipped into silence as the math teacher for first period appeared at the front of the room.
"And if you please," he said, "Bring me your homework."
With the casting of a magnificent glow, one that spanned the entire horizon, and reflected several shades of orange and yellow, school had comfortably come to a close.
In fact, it had ended some time ago. And yet, Kazuki was found wandering the halls of the deserted and creepily quiet building. To the best of his knowledge, he was one of two people that still occupied the building. Even the after school clubs had left. He was truly alone and finally able to practice.
Kazuki pushed open one of two identical doors, and confidentially strolled onto the court. To both his left and right, bleachers that had been condensed due to lack of audience sat silently.
To his back, a large, elevated net stared at his back from it's place so far above, and at his front, it was the same. The transparent backboard seemed to glare down at him, daring him to touch it. The rim of the net would be laughing if it was animate. Boasting about how many of Kazuki's shots he'd deflected. And the net. It sat there, unmoving, possibly wondering if Kazuki would ever land a shot through it.
He moved to the side and set his bag down against the wall of bleachers. Then quickly disappeared into the equipment room, a few seconds later returning with a basketball.
Taking a moment, he removed his blazer and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt to his elbows. Then, standing center court, at the three point line, he shot.
His ball arched through the air like a geometry class example, then depressingly nicked the unmoving rim. His ball was sent into another, much smaller arch, in the opposite direction of his target.
He didn't let it bother him. It was the first shot of the evening after all, nothing to be wholely upset about.
Silently, Kazuki jogged over and retrieved his ball. Centered himself again, and took another, seemingly identical shot. In another large arch, the ball approached the goal. That was, until the ball slammed center with the backboard and lifelessly thumped to the ground. Again rolling away from Kazuki, like it was pleading that he never use him again.
This was the process that he repeated from some time. Trying over, and over, and over. Yet, it seemed to be to no avail.
Sweat beaded his forehead and his hair was beginning to dampen. His white button down shirt was starting to show through due to the sweat it was absorbing. He'd need to stop soon. With his luck, his father had mistakingly thought he'd gone and left as well.
Why hadn't he changed anyway?
He moved to hold the ball under his arm. He had his gym clothes in the next room. So why had he home ahead without taking off his ridiculous attire? That was probably the issue. He couldn't shoot for his clothing.
However, someone else had different ideas.
"Your form is terrible."
Kazuki slightly jumped, not expecting to hear the voice of anyone else. He looked up to meet with the glare of an underclassmen. He was very familiar with her. Her honey blonde hair that she kept tied back into a ponytail and dazzling blue eyes were nothing new to him. She stood only a few niches shorter than Kazuki, and had apparently decided to stay after school as well. But why was that?
"You're not lining up yourself correctly at all," she began, her voice filled with constructive tips and kindness.
However, upon seeing his friend, a recent and impolite memory cane back to him.
"Forget that." He interrupted. "Why did you knock me over this morning and not even apologize!?"
He wasn't actually angry about the whole thing, but he did prefer an explanation on her part. But, knowing Chisato, she didn't have one.
"Well," she began to scratch nervously at the back of her head. "I was up all night, uh....helping my father," she snapped her fingers. "Yeah, and I was late so I started running."
Kazuki set the ball he'd been holding at his feet. "And you didn't bother to apologize because?"
"Well, I didn't even notice till it'd happen," she open handily shrugged. "Besides, once I realized it was you, I knew I'd see you sometime today."
Kazuki sighed. Retaking the ball and trying for the hundredth time at a shot into the net. This attempt was the worst of them all, as someone had been watching, and the ball had flown right over the backboard entirely.
The ball rolled to Chisato's feet, where she stopped it. "I told you, you're form is all wrong."
She began to dribble the ball, glancing from it and to the rim. Then, without stopping, she continued, and set herself up for the shot. Placing one open palm under the ball and another to the side. As she shot, and the ball released, the backspin she'd had was clearly visible. In an arch much more elegant than one's Kazuki had presented, the ball flew forward, slightly scrapping the rim, and a second later, falling into the net with a swish.
"Wow," Chisato said. "I didn't expect that to go in. It's almost like a motivational scene from a movie."
Kazuki laughed, collapsing onto the polished gym floor.
Chisato didn't bother retrieving the ball, instead sat beside him.
"Your dad working late?" She asked
"So that's why you're still here."
"And," she paused. "You and three other guys from the team are in a secret relationship."
"Of course not!" Kazuki said.
Chisato giggled to herself. "You're reaction," she said in between laughs. "It's always so priceless."
He mumbled at her words, doing his best to remove the incredibly unwanted imagery from his mind.
"You seem worried," Chisato finally admitted. Her eyes scanned the surrounding scenery as she spoke. "If it's about the upcoming game, you'll do fine. I'll help you get some more practice in before then."
"Thanks, Chisato," Kazuki said. "The game has been worrying me. But there's a whole lot more than that."
While he wouldn't normally share with his average friend, but he felt inclined to tell her more, she wasn't average after all.
"Graduation isn't too far away," he began. "That's always a scary thought. The festival is also coming up, and," he stopped himself before he mentioned his dream
"You can always come with me to the festival."
He raised a curious brow in response to her invitation.
"We're making a lot of Sake this year. We could use someone to help sell it all."
So that's what she meant.
Kazuki smiled, standing up. Then offering her his hand, she rose to her feet.
"I stopped by and talked to your dad before I came here." Chisato revealed. "He said he'd be working extra late and so you should go on home."
He nodded, moving to recover his blazer and his bag.
"Walk me home?"
Kazuki glanced at Chisato. Eyeing her as she purposely posed cutely in her uniform. For a moment her sky blue eyes met with his dark emerald irises and they shared a silent conversation.
"No." Kazuki turned away.
"Huh?" She demanded. "But it's dangerous for a girl to walk home alone. What if I'm attack? My blood would be on your hands!"
Kazuki smiled to her. "I'm joking. But I've told you a million times not to use that term."
"Naturally," she winked. "I only do it in emergency situations."
That didn't make sense. As he thought about what he'd said, if she used the term he hated in emergency situation, that wouldn't persuade him to help her, in fact it was the opposite.
"Anyway," Chisato shouldered a bag that she hadn't had a moment before. "Shall we go?"
"Sure," he nodded. "Let's go."
As the two exited the school building for the weekend, they made sure to flip the switches on the gym's lights, and leave a note for Kazuki's father on the front doors of the school. It wasn't anything of importance. Rather a simple joking matter.
"What is it?"
"I'm gonna eat at your place. Hope you don't mind."
Kazuki sighed. "Don't be a bum."
In the dark of night, with only the evenly place street lamps to light their way, Kazuki smiled a smile that his friend couldn't see. Despite their odd jokes, he was happy. Something about Chisato allowed him to relax. Maybe it was her carefree yet super concerned attitude, maybe it was the amount of time that he'd known her, maybe it was the fact that he didn't mind having her stay for dinner.
"Sure," he said at last. At a point when neither of them had said anything to respond to. "You can stay for dinner."