They head east from the station, along a wide road that leads them out towards the bay, the ferries at the end. Lan wasn't in much of a hurry, as they ran all day, and neither of them knew the actual timetables.
Still, it was also because the heat of the day was quite overbearing. The open bay provided a much needed breeze, and Lan was cursing himself for not bringing shorts, instead wearing jeans and a black shirt. Good call, idiot, he thinks.
“Your parents seem nice enough. Though it was a short call,” he says.
She smiles, even if it is a little wistful. “They mean well. But I wanted to travel. Like I said, they didn't stop me, but I think they wish I was closer.” She links her hands behind her back as they walk, tilting her head. “An office job..”
Saya pauses and shakes her head. “Sitting in a cubicle every day is daunting. Oppressive. Even if I do go back, I know that's not what I want for my life.”
Lan nods, wondering what life would be like if he followed in his father's footsteps. Would he have turned out like Reo? He thought the same way as Saya in terms of an office job, but frankly he had been so out of the game for so long, all responsibility scared him.
Finally, they step up to the ticket counter at the pier, scanning the timetables as Lan looks at his watch. The boats ran back and forth every ten or fifteen minutes, since it was the peak season for tourism.
When Saya reaches for her purse, Lan holds up a hand and shakes his head. “It's not expensive, it's just easier.” The cashier welcomes him as he pulls out his wallet, asking for two tickets on the next boat, thumbing out what looked to Saya about 300 some yen.
Taking the tickets, he holds one out to Saya, “Thank you. I guess I thought it would be more expensive since it's a ferry, but it isn't really that far away..” she says, looking out over the water, the island, and even the gate were in sight.
Lan pockets his wallet and the ticket as he leads her over to the railing. Here, the breeze felt even better. The salty scent from the sea carried with it.
“Since it's close to low tide, I'm not sure they do it, but they do a closer sway out towards the torii on the ride, for pictures and the like,” he says, and leaning out, Saya squints a little, the gate itself was almost completely revealed as the remaining water moved out with the tide.
Still, tiny people were starting to gather at the water's edge as it recedes so they too could walk right up to it.


  Lan turns his back to the bay and looks around, spotting a few vending machines outside of a convenience store. He leans his elbows on the rail and points with one hand towards them.
“Again, it's only a ten minute ride, but do you want anything?” He squints up a little, holding his hand up to block the sun, his mouth already sort of dry. “Water? Just to have for later.”
Saya looks to him, then where he's looking, nodding as they both walk towards the machines. “Sure.”
“I'm sure they have water over there, but what they don't have are trains. So we'll be hoofing it. It's not a long walk, though.” He digs in his pocket for a few coins and looks at the choices.
“You know, I've lived here for a while and I've never had this.” Saya taps the machine, indicating a Pocari Sweat. “To be fair, it doesn't have the best.. sounding name.” She has a look of mild disgust on her face, which makes Lan chuckle.
“In.. English, sure. It's been around for a while, too, and I think they meant it as what you should drink when you sweat, but, you know translations..”
“Have you had it before?” she asks.
Lan nods, but now it's his turn to stick out his tongue a little at it, “Once or twice, it's not bad, carbonated and fruity? Japan's answer to..” He furrows his brow, thinking. “Like a carbonated Gatorade?” Lan scratches his head and shakes it. “That makes it sound even more disgusting. But you get the idea.”
“Not that then,” Saya replies, scanning the other drinks. Lan starts putting the coins in as the buttons below light up. “Just water?”
She nods and follows his hand as it pushes the button under an unassuming clear bottle, putting in more change as he plucks it out of the receptacle, holding it to her, and getting one for himself.
“Thank you,” she takes hers and holds it in her hands, the cool bottle feels good, and is already starting to sweat even after being taken out.
A boat horn sounds as a large underwater engine revs to life, their ferry hitting reverse so it slows down to approach the dock.
“Ah, there it is.” The two of them start towards the entrance where a few people had already started to gather, the incoming passengers, bikers, and lastly a few small cars drive out from the ferry's hold.


  Stepping through the gates, they hand over their tickets, when Lan suddenly curses, shaking his head. Saya looks back at him as he points up above them to a banner in Japanese.
“I should have known I could have used my ICC card for this. We both could have. I just didn't think they accepted it 'cos it was a ferry, but..” he points down at the waist-high card reader that she was familiar with.
“Well, for the way back, then. It wasn't that much anyway,” he sighs, threading his ticket through the opening on the gate after Saya, both starting towards the ferry's ramp.
“Makes sense, though,” she says, stepping up onto the ferry and following the other pedestrians up to the top part of the boat. “It is a form of transportation on an island nation. I can pay you back, if you want?”
He shakes his head as the wind picks up now that they were exposed to the bay, and rather than lose it, he pulls the hair tie from the restaurant free, pocketing it. His black hair whips around his cheeks. “It was only a hundred-eighty. Don't worry. Do you want to stay out here, or go inside? They have AC..”
As if to answer him, she stuck the water bottle in her purse and was already taking a few pictures with her phone of the bay, and the island ahead. “Oh? No, this is fine. It's beautiful.”
Lan nods and walks over to a bench that was relatively free of other passengers. Satisfied, she follows and sits next to him. “So if the water goes out so far from the island, how do the ferries get around?”
“Well, look down..” He points through the railing they sat in front of, there was plenty of water for the ferry to get up close to their side of the dock.
“They dredged the sand up into a 'channel' – circles all around the bay and between the islands, so that larger craft don't run aground. But I don't remember how wide it is, or how close they dug out near the gate itself.”
“So how deep is it under us, then?” she asks.
Lan pauses and uncaps his water bottle, thinking about it. “I wanna say 20 meters? That sounds right, but don't quote me.”
Good lord, Saya thinks, doing a bit of conversion, sixty feet or so. She could swim, but she also liked to be able to see or feel the bottom of where she was swimming. Despite the heat, a shiver runs up her spine at the anything that could be down there.
The horn sounds again, louder now the closer they were to it, making both jump and cringe down a little through it, the engine starting up and with an almost imperceptible feeling of movement, it starts gliding away from the dock.


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About the author


Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.

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