Chapter 1:

Chapter 1: Who Is It Behind Me?

Beyond This World's Ripples

A girl woke up breaking a sweat.Bookmark here

It was the middle of summer, after all.Bookmark here

“Even if I sleep with the windows open, no breeze ever comes my way!” she said, displeased. “Thankfully, summer break is here!”Bookmark here

Her long charcoal hair swayed with every step she took inside her small bedroom. It was nothing out of the ordinary, considering she lived a peaceful life out in the countryside. Hirakawa was a city located in the prefecture of Aomori, with not many citizens. Most of them were the elderly, yet the population of the young was thriving due to its merging with other villages a few years ago. Her family roots were from Ikarigaseki, yet she was a bonafide Hirakawa raised girl.Bookmark here

Scratching her crimson eyes, she yawned once more just to get ready for school. A white blazer with black decals, a blouse and the skit was black as well and reached almost towards her chest, just a little over her waist, fixed her red tie and put on two long golden earrings. With agility, she managed to arrange her hair into two twin-tails without the need of a ribbon, which was a secret ability she had. She smiled towards the mirror and left the house, embracing the heat of summer.Bookmark here

While on her way, she lost herself in the simplicity of the place she lived in. Sure, it was a city in the middle of the sticks but it had its charms and every single need. Her high school was located just outside of the city. Being an only girl’s school was strange in itself. Even if there were two public high schools, making one be this way was a strange decision by the prefectural board of education. Regardless, the structure was big enough and quite classy at its best. Bookmark here

She sighed while crossing the gate, knowing she would be alone in the classroom. After all, summer break had started but she was attending special classes due to her bad grades. The lovely girl could be considered a bit of a ditz, unable to comprehend basic Japanese sentence structures, awful at literature and exploding the science lab when an experiment was appointed as a lesson.Bookmark here

Making her way inside the school, not a single soul could be perceived. That was to be expected. Until a silhouette made its way through the corridors. Their profile was blurry, and the girl’s interest perked up. She still had a little bit of time before her class started, so going on a wild goose chase wouldn’t hurt.Bookmark here

Nonetheless, she had no idea that would lead her to the rooftop and be face-to-face towards and unbelievable sight.Bookmark here

An unknown maiden was standing between life and death, her left hand being the only thing keeping her alive by hanging onto the fence. The girl’s heart raced, wishing to do something. Bookmark here

Yet, she was too late.Bookmark here

She saw the unknown girl fall.Bookmark here

She swore the unknown girl said something.Bookmark here

<<This is idiotic.>>Bookmark here

Bookmark here

An amethyst tint invades the late summer skies. The world is changing and never stopping.Bookmark here

For now, however, the fields are still evergreen. Crickets are still murmuring in that strange cult hum exclusive to them. The stars are summer stars, flickering.Bookmark here

Sunflowers adorn the forest floor, questing for sunlight. The perpetual skies of summer are buckled with clouds and they flare-up in a luminous, neon-blue when the mood takes them. The fields are laden with rice paddies. A goulash of scents twirls above the satin-soft petals and the pear sweet taste of the air is a blessed joy.Bookmark here

But summer brings with it a bitter twist. The nights are closing in on each other and the long days are faltering. Enjoy the beaches, the barbecues and the birds. In a few short months, all will be cold.Bookmark here

Just as her body awakened from a long sleep.Bookmark here

Or maybe it didn't.Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

Murmuring to herself, a lonely girl didn’t stumble when getting herself back to her feet. Her chestnut coloured medium long hair was filled to the brim with small grass, her silk-like hands cleaning it. Baby-blue eyes twinkled with the sunrays, wondering what had happened. Well, of course, she couldn’t remember, what else was new. Her bare feet ignored the thorns of the dry wood and made her way out of the forest.Bookmark here

Beyond it, the familiar scenery received her.Bookmark here

It was a city of wide avenues and small places to sit and eat, to relax as people went about their day. There were shops and small buildings, difficult to believe that a city like this could thrive in the middle of the countryside. The rest was parks and wild spaces, a chance to walk among nature or enjoy the trails on bicycles. It has everything one can wish for, and its people have a secure attachment to their city, something that after two hundred years had stopped to amaze her. Bookmark here

Her black summer dress was covered with a small olive-green overall. At least the top, it was cropped on the bottom. A unique wardrobe choice but that was how she liked it. Bookmark here

Walking around town, she pondered what day it was. Sure, every single angle screamed it was summer, yet knowing the date was an important variable. Usually, after diving into the sea of ripples, she always woke up near a place where she could see what day, month and year it was.Bookmark here

Well, the year never changes. The day nor month either. Bookmark here

Anyway, it had become something she always had to know as soon as she woke up.Bookmark here

“Alright…” closing her eyes, the girl made her way inside a tiny convenience store, which was, coincidentally, airing the news channel.Bookmark here

“Welcome!” said the man behind the counter.Bookmark here

The girl nodded, walking through the store. She could feel the man’s eyes glued to her feet since she was barefoot. Ignoring his gaze, she continued to pretend to be looking for something, while hearing the broadcast.Bookmark here

And who would’ve thought! We’re already on August 1st! Time does go by fast.”Bookmark here

The girl’s heart sunk, dropping a small can of grape soda she had picked up to cool her hands for a few seconds. Bookmark here

“Is everything alright, miss?” asked the man.Bookmark here

She just nodded once more and watched the TV in dismay.Bookmark here

Exactly, and it also makes this year the hottest one. Isn’t 2010 unusual?”Bookmark here

Even if she wished to stay indoors due to the cool breeze the air conditioner provided, she ran outside with her heart rate being out of proportions. Everyone on the streets looked at her strangely, that perhaps the heat took a toll on her due to her panic. Bookmark here

This has never, ever happened before. Never. Never. Never. Never!!!Bookmark here

Almost out of breath, she raised her head to see a sign that made all her fears grow even more.Bookmark here

Welcome to HirakawaBookmark here

“This… this isn’t…” stepping backwards, her sky-blue eyes couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “This isn’t… Ikarigaseki anymore?”Bookmark here

Turning around, she faced the window of a closed, abandoned store. Finally, her appearance sank in.Bookmark here

“I’m… older…” touching herself frantically, she could assume she was around seventeen to eighteen. “But I never… what is… going on?”Bookmark here

And her world shattered when a new voice came into place, behind her.Bookmark here

Who is it?Bookmark here

“Excuse me, aren’t your feet hot?”Bookmark here

She turned around, not sure if to be scared, overwhelmed or anxious.Bookmark here

One of the ever-present variables in every ripple had appeared. However…Bookmark here

“Did your flip-flops break?”Bookmark here

Black hair tied into two twin-tails, crimson eyes brimming with innocence and a lovely, charming smile. Her school uniform danced with the wind, and she fixed her bag.Bookmark here

What is going on? Why is… she here? Why is she like this?Bookmark here

The unknown variable, Koito Kōmyō, had made her appearance with a smile that overshadowed the sun itself.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.