Chapter 38:

Koyori or Yori-chan?

My childhood friend ran away from home and now I have to share a room with her?!

What the heck just happened?

I can only stare blankly into the void of my room, unable to comprehend the situation.

Did I hit the nail? Has all of this been a massive pretend game? Who is Koyori and who is Yori-chan? Most importantly, where did she go? It's deep at night and she's all alone…

Even though I feel a sudden tiredness hitting me like a wall, I decide to follow the girl. Koyori would likely go to a place she knows which rules out most options already. After slipping into my sneakers, I step out into the cool, dark night.

It has to be the playground, she probably doesn't know any other places around here…


For the next few minutes, I try to navigate through the near-complete darkness, regretting that I left my phone at home. The moon barely shows itself and, even when it does, the street borders a forest, the trees sucking up the little light the sky is willing to share with me.

It's eerily quiet. Even the wind decided to sleep, only the rhythmic tap of my soles on concrete echoing through the canopy. I can't distinguish the telltale sound of my friend sobbing until I'm standing in front of the gate leading into the children's playground.

She's here, thank the heavens…

The gate squeaks when I push it open, silencing the quiet cries coming from the large net swing. Approaching, I discover my friend curled up in there, wearing only her pajamas.


Nervously, I approach her. As soon as she knows it's me, she resumes sobbing quietly, showing no other signs of recognition. I don't know what to say or what to do. In the first place, I'm painfully unaware of the trouble she's going through right now and I feel like I shouldn't pressurize the girl by demanding answers right off the bat. Therefore, I resort to giving the swing gentle, careful pushes, hoping that the back-and-forth movement would help soothe whatever troubles led her to this place.

Koyori's choked cries quickly die down but the girl makes no attempt at communicating with me. Eventually, I stop the swing to climb into the circular platform myself.

"What's going on?" I sigh as I extend my hand to stroke the bulk of her back. "You're making me worry about you…"

My words seem to stir something in the girl but it takes a while before she opens her mouth.

"Could you please forget this happened, Keiichi?" she mumbles quietly, her voice shaky from crying as if one wrong word is all it takes to spark another sob.

"Silly, that's impossible," I reply apologetically while gently patting her back. I don't know what she's dealing with but I probably won't learn about it unless I prompt her into telling me.

"Just tell me where it hurts and we can figure it out from there," I offer, however, Koyori replies with a pained laugh.

"Who are you? A doctor?"

"I'm not," I reply in a deadpan manner. "Look… "

"I do not want to talk about it," she blurts out, still curled up like a turtle hiding her soft core behind a tough shell. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to tear that armor of hers down if I want answers.

"Could you at least give me a hint?" I request quietly. "It was something I said, right? I made you feel upset."

"It's not your fault, Keiichi," Koyori assures, finally pulling herself into a sitting pose but not before drying her face with her sleeves. "I'm glad you came after me though, thank you."

"Well, I couldn't exactly abandon you after you ran away crying so much, you know?" I grunt while adjusting my position to sit right in front of her. In the darkness, it's simply impossible to see her emotions, a mere silhouette telling me that she's there right in front of me.

"It's in the middle of the night and you're all alone, why did you even run away?"

For a split-second, I hear my mother's scolding tone in my own words. Koyori could have just flung herself into my open arms earlier so why did she run?

"I don't know," she replies, fidgeting around in her face again.

She's still crying a little bit…

"Are you mad?"

"Concerned, not mad," I correct her, extending my arm to place my hand on her shoulder supportingly. "I mean, everything was going well until you suddenly started acting weird. I still don't understand what you were trying to ask me earlier. Just because you switch between saying 'Yori-chan' and 'I', my answer doesn't change, you know?"

A subtle jerk runs through the girl's body upon hearing my statement.

"They're not the same though…" Koyori sighs deeply, once again drying her eyes before explaining. "Basically, you figured it out. Right now, I'm Koyori. Not Yori-chan. You're not the only one who changed, Keiichi…"


I wish I could see Koyori clearly right now but the clouds and trees are doing a fine job at keeping us in the dark. I take a moment to digest the new information. While I expected her to confirm the matter, I couldn't have imagined the underlying issue. I thought Koyori just had a cutesy mode but her tears that won't stop falling hint at something else.

"Are you mad now?" she inquires, pulling her knees closer to her body and wrapping her arms around them.

"Not mad, but even more concerned," I answer her honestly. "Why would I be mad?"

"Well, I deceived you," she laments quietly. "I pretended to be a perfect copy of the girl you once wanted to marry but I'm not that person anymore. At least, you were open about changing a lot, I was too scared about you not liking me anymore…"

Part of Koyori's explanation resonates with me but at the same time I can't believe that she's telling me the truth. She still hasn't explained why she's crying.

"Then what are you normally like, when Yori-chan is taking a nap such as right now?" I ponder, moving on to slight headpats as she buries her face in her arms.

"I don't want to talk about it."

Hmm, this is more challenging than I thought…

"Why are you sad right now?"

"I don't want to talk about it…"

Hmm, she's blocking me off.

"Anything I can do for you right now?"


Is there really nothing I can do?

"Will Yori-chan be back tomorrow?"

"Maybe she will, maybe she won't…"

Hey, that's an answer at least.

"Do you want her to return, Keiichi?"

Finally, Koyori doesn't block me anymore, seeking my opinion.

"Of course I do," I assure her. "However, I wish I could learn more about Koyori and why my best friend is feeling so bad right now before she returns."

"Yori-chan won't be able to return if I tell you about it," she explains sadly which sparks a theory in my mind.

Could it be…

"So Yori-chan is actually protecting you from whatever bad stuff you're dealing with?"

"Mhm hmm," she hums at me sadly. "I don't want to talk about any of this right now though."

And I can't blame her for it. Still, this won't stop bugging me now…

Realizing that Koyori isn't in any condition or mood to share her troubles with me, there's only one thing to suggest.

"Should we head back for now?" 

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