Chapter 1:

Chapter 1: Rain

The Mysterious You and The Curious Me

"Hey, have you heard... there's a rumor that the bus stop near the mini market is haunted!" I heard one of my classmates speak excitingly to his friend amongst the bustling class.

"Nah, man. I don't really believe in supernatural stuff, it's probably just brain playing tricks on you," his friend returned with his logical opinion.

I looked out the window and ignored their chatter as it lost my interest. I yawned and buried my head in my hands and let out a soft sigh.

'Damn, I'm really tired... probably because I gamed until late night last, all Araki's fault' I thought to myself.

"Yo, Mayoi! How you doing, man!" I suddenly felt a strong pat on my back and looked up to see Araki, my classmate and long-time friend. 

"Ah, and here's the culprit... It's your fault I'm really tired right now... You kept saying 'last match' almost 20 times!" I complained in a tired voice.

Araki simply laughs and sits next to me, "Well, it was fun wasn't it? We ended on a win after all!" 

I rolled my eyes and slouched till the class started. 

The class went along smoothly until the bell rang signifying the end of school. Today we had extra periods to prepare for an upcoming exam so the sun was already setting outside as I slowly packed my stuff in the bag. 

"Lack of sleep and the extra class was a killer combo, man... I'm drained. We should just go home now." Araki suggests as he packs his stuff.

"I wonder whose fault is that... But yeah, we should just go home today. See you then," I finished packing and waved goodbye to Araki. He waved back as I left school and slowly walked to my usual bus stop.

I looked up and saw dark clouds as my surroundings got significantly darker. Suddenly, it started to drizzle as I ran under a temporary cover to pull out my umbrella. 

'Thank god I got my umbrella today just in case.' 

Unbeknownst to me, a girl was standing under the same cover as me, staring blankly at the horizon. I shifted slightly to the right to test if my umbrella is working and accidentally bumped into her.

"Ow..." I heard a soft voice.

I frantically closed my eyes and bowed, "Sorry! I thought there was no one beside me, it was an accident, I swear!" 

"Oh, it's fine, just be more aware next time" her soft voice replied to me as I slowly straightened my back and opened my eyes.

My eyes widened as I saw her. She has a tiny frame and slender shoulders, soft and pale skin, small and cute lips with sharp and righteous eyes. Her hair is tied up in a ponytail with short swooped bangs and a one-sided side-bang. Her ears and nose are slightly pink from the cold rain and she looks like a fragile ornament that will break with simply a touch. I was mesmerized by the sight of her and was at a loss for words for a few seconds and I felt my face warm up despite the cold wind brushing past us.

"Wait, that uniform... Are you in the same school as me?" I questioned her curiously.

"We're classmates, you idiot. Makes sense, though since we never talked with each other before," her tone contrasts her frail looks but it reflects her sharp and righteous eyes.

"Wow, I genuinely didn't notice that. Sorry. By the way, since you're waiting under the cover here, I wonder, do you have an umbrella?" I asked out of curiosity.

"Not really, no. Was planning to wait here until the rain stops." she looked up at the sky as she said that.

"Hm, there's a mini-market a kilometer away from here, maybe I can buy an umbrella for you and you can wait here. I feel bad leaving you alone like this," I casually suggested. 

'It would also be too embarrassing if we share the umbrella or something...' I thought to myself.

"I appreciate your gesture but it's fine. I can just wait here," she replied.

"I won't recommend that. This rain just started and the sun had already set. Who knows how long it will last, it's nighttime, cold and your shoulders are wet from the rain. My conscience wouldn't allow it." I strongly present my opinion to her with a worried face.

She sighed and looked at me with a serious expression, "Fine, I'll take up your offer. But let me walk to the mini-market with your umbrella instead, my conscience wouldn't allow a stranger to take a detour for my sake, fair?" she reaches her hand out for me to give my umbrella to her.

"Fair, here you go." I gave my compact umbrella to her as she opened it up.

"By the way, what's your name?" I asked before she walked away. 

"You can call me Michibi, I know your name because I actually care about my classmates so you don't have to tell me yours" I let out an awkward laugh at her statement as she smiled and walked away.

I squat down under the cover as the earthly smell of the rain reaches my nose. A strong gust of cold wet wind brushes past me as I blankly look at the raindrops hitting the floor.

"Now that I think of it, I just gave an umbrella to a stranger... she could just walk away with it and leave me here" I said to myself with a sudden realization as my face went sour with worry.

 "Young man, don't worry, she's not the kind of girl to do that..." Suddenly, I heard a frail old voice coming from above me as I looked up.

Still squatting down I see an old woman, wearing a white yukata and pale wrinkly skin holding a black umbrella to cover herself from the rain. She smiles warmly at me with a very weak and tired expression. Without knowing why, her presence was warming and I felt like I could trust what she said.

"I see, do you know her? You could've shared an umbrella with her, ma'am," I asked the old lady as I stood up to talk to her.

The old lady simply let out a small giggle and said: "I'm afraid I shouldn't do that, young man. But thank you for caring for her. She's an awkward but righteous girl. Maybe a little sharp-tongued but don't let it brush wrongly to you..." she spoke fondly with a soft smile.

'Shouldn't'. That word stuck in my mind. Maybe there is some complicated issue going on with Michibi's family. But I'm just an uninvolved stranger, I shouldn't delve deeper into this.

"No worries, ma'am. I'm raised in a very disciplined family. If my mother sees me ignore someone in trouble, I'll get ten-fold of their trouble inflicted on me" I said jokingly.

The old woman laughs. "That is a good household to be born in, young man. Appreciate your family... Well, I should get going though. Thank you for the chat." The old woman smiled warmly at me and slowly walked away.

I waved goodbye to her and watched her walk away into the distance as I squatted back down under the cover waiting for Michibi.

As I was waiting, I couldn't help but wonder what is the relationship between that old woman and Michibi. 'For the first time in a long time... I felt curious about something... no, someone. I want to know more about Michibi... What kind of person are you... Michibi? '