Part 1

“Can I ask you something?”


“What’s wrong?”


“How do you………do the things you do?”


The weekend had come to an end, and the two finished their jog, now walking to class in the rhythm of the morning melody. Cars passed them by as insects hummed and birds sang in a chorus around them; somehow, their songs emphasized the weight of the boy’s question.


“That’s a pretty broad question.”


“I know but……you know what I mean………I think.”


Of course, the person walking next to him stayed silent. The passing wind of the cars made his hair sway, but it always returned to relatively the same shape. Maybe that was the advantage to having bed hair?


“You’re doing it too.”


“Yeah, the jogging I know, but I mean everything else.”


“That’s what I meant too.”


He looked at him in confusion.


“You’re already doing it, Luka. Haven’t you noticed that you’re not looking at your shoes as much anymore?”


His eyes widened in mild surprise, no wonder his neck had been hurting the past few days.


“I mean, maybe but……it’s not like I stopped. I mean, how do you………I don’t know…honestly I don’t even know what I’m trying to ask.”


They reached a park unfamiliar to Luka even though he’d seen it from afar. Yuuko wandered around the wide open square, occasionally crouching to caress the grass beneath the trees; Luka was about to ask what he was trying to do when he picked up an object and promptly returned, urging his friend to hold out his hand.


“Here, plant it.” he said, dropping a wrinkled, deformed oval into his hand. He twisted it, feeling it’s texture and applying just enough pressure to sense how hard it truly was.


“A seed?”


“The results will come, but it takes time. This way, you can kind of think of it as another thing that’s growing alongside us, and if the first step is to plant it, then your first step would be—”


“—to talk to her. To apologize.” he interrupted. “………gaahhh! Who knew apologizing would be so difficult?!”


Yuuko scratched the back of his head at Luka’s sudden outburst, he was about to respond before—


“And another thing! You know these things take like ten years to grow right!? I don’t want to wait ten years!”

—his friend erupted into a rant.


“Isn’t it sev—”


“Yuu-boy you don’t understand! AAaHAhhhHH!”


He leaned forward onto the fence separating the concrete from the park in defeat. He could tell Yuuko was behind him, waiting, and after a deep breath, he confessed.


“I feel………weird……about this.”




“Why? Cause it’s all so sudden,” he said, turning around. “I was a friendless loser for two years, Yuuko; now all of a sudden you and Yui show up to help me and it feels……”


“Opportunities feel that way.”




“The opportunity to move yourself. You’re the sculpture, and the one being sculpted, of course it’d feel weird. But you’ve taken it a step at a time, and that’s what matters most.”


The chorus in nature took over once more as Luka took a moment to regain his composure. Small beads of sweat fell onto the pavement as he looked down from his shoes, to the clouds above him.


“Hey, Yuuko.”




“Can you tell me something about you and Yui? I feel………so one-sided. Like you guys have been helping me, but I haven’t done anything for you guys.”

His friend gave that soft, empty smile once more.


“You have someone else to talk to first.”


“Then that’s what I’ll do,” he said, practically jumping away from the fence, “that’s exactly what I’ll do!”


He pointed at Yuuko.


“You’d best fear my final form, Yuu-boy! For now I’m but a humble sprout, but soon I’m going to help you guys in the same way you’ve helped me!” he exclaimed. “You’d better fear those secret walls of yours breaking down, Yuu-boy!”


“Yuu-boy again,” his friend said in an amused sigh. But soon, he raised his hands in a defeated gesture.


“And as for you!” he said, pointing to the school. “You’d better fear my apology, Poetry-Girl! Cause apologizing isn’t the only thing I plan on doing!”

Part 2

“Heyyyy, I remember you,” said the boy, leaning away from the girl with red hair. “You’re that, ah, Puka kid from our class, Ryu had a word with you on the first day!”




“Well, it’s nice to see you again and all, but ah, if you’ll excuse me,” he said, gesturing to the girl against the wall. “We’re a bit busy.”


“O-Oh, right umm………so…”


He stopped. Out of instinct he put his hands into his pockets, but a tough, wrinkled sensation brought back every single memory of the morning. He took it out, and noticed the girl trembling. Her eyes were glued to the floor.


Is that how I looked?


“……actually, I need to talk with her for a few minutes.”


“I just said we’re busy.” he said in a tone that was suddenly deeper than before.


“R-Right, but—”


“Take a hint, leave.”


He didn’t understand why they looked smaller until realizing he’d been stepping away from them. Without noticing, he’d listened to him.


I can always try another time…


“No. You can’t.”




“Don’t give me that! You know you can’t!”


That’s exactly why I’m leaving!


“I meant you can’t find her another time.”


But she’s already with him and—


“You saw the way she’s looking at the floor. If you leave now, everything you’ve worked for, and everything you told your friend will have been a lie.”






Since when are you on my side?


“I’ve always been on your side. I’m you, after all.”


Could’ve fooled me.


“I did.”


Luka looked from the boy to the girl against the wall; in that one moment they had something in common, both we’re looking at each other in the eye.


Tracing the shape of the seed in his pocket, he made his way towards them, and the boy *tch* made a sound as he approached.


He tried walking past him, but Ryu’s friend put his hand against his chest and forced him back.


What’s with these kinds of people?!


“You say that like you weren’t friends with Ryu for years.”


It was different back then……


“Exactly. You’ve taken worse.”


“I’ve taken worse.”


Those were his exact thoughts as he saw the boy preparing to hit him, he raised his arms to brace for the impact before a sudden flash distracted the both of them. They turned and saw the redhead, frozen, her eyes wide like a deer in front of headlights.


The boy clicked his tongue, wagging his finger in disappointment.


“And here I thought you weren’t a tattletell.” He completely ignored Luka as he made his way towards the girl, one palm open in order to receive the camera. Though her grip on it was tight enough to where her knuckles turned red, she trembled, causing metallic clicks as the components of the camera shook.


She tried stepping back, but only managed to push herself further into the wall.


“Let’s not make things more difficult than they need to be HauoOUGHH!”


She panicked for a moment before seeing Luka behind the boy; he had him in a bearhug, and since he was taller than him by a few inches, and far outweighed him, he was almost completely immobilized.


“Hurry up, get out of here!” he said, struggling.




“Hurry up!” he urged.


The girl was in a frantic sway, eyes darting back and forth and scampering around like a nervous animal. The boy began beating against Luka’s ribs with his elbows, causing the latter to grunt in pain, but to his own surprise, he didn’t let go.


He grit his teeth as he came to understand something. He thought that, perhaps, the two years of being ostracized from his peers was preparing him for this moment; perhaps the reason he never fought back against Ryu, the reason he met Yuuko, the reason he decided to move himself, was to prepare him for this exact moment.


For two years………had he already been sprouting? Or was it something else?


“Hurry!” he unintentionally yelled to the girl. With a jump, she began running in the direction from which they all came, and for a moment, he was relieved.


But everything disappeared the moment he heard that voice.


“Seriously? Of all the people, he’s the one giving you trouble?”


He was so surprised that his grip loosened, and soon after, the boy broke free with a strong elbow to his chest. He fell down, gripping his shirt with one hand while tapping his phone with the other. Hesitantly, he raised his head to watch the boy arrive.


“Cut me some slack, I don’t know why but he’s tougher than he looks.”


“He is,” said Ryu, staring directly at Luka. “Otherwise he wouldn’t be here.”


“What are you doing here anyway?”


He looked at his friend with a smirk. “I knew you’d try confessing here, and I wanted to see you get rejected you disgusting womanizer.”


“Please,” he said, pushing his hair back. “The only reason she didn’t say yes sooner was because she was in shock and didn’t know how to accept.”


“You’re an idiot,” he said, rolling his eyes and turning his attention to the girl in question. “Hana, right? We’re in the same class, I’m gonna need that film you have of my friend.”


She clutched the camera tight to her stomach without looking at them, and when Ryu took another step forward, so too, did Hana take a step backward. And so it continued, until she was right back where she started.


“I don’t care much for making a scene,” he said. “The film and I’ll be on my—”


“—don’t give it to him!”


She looked to her left to see a boy coughing up dust, bits of dirt sticking to his hands and glasses, but he repeated himself with pride after standing.


“Don’t give it to him, I’m the one he wants.”


“No, you’re not.” He said with a deadpan expression. “My idiot of a friend screwed up, so I’m helping him fix it. That’s what a friend does, after all—”


His eyes sharpened like glass, making the hair on Luke’s forearms stand; not because of the way he looked, no.


But because of his words.


Because he understood exactly what he was trying to say.


“—isn’t that right Luka?”


He took a moment to catch his breath, his memories from two years ago began resurfacing.


“That’s right,” he said, calming down. “Which would make you a pretty good friend, Ryu. But sorry to say that I can’t let you ask anything of her.”


His former friend lost all interest in the girl, just like he’d hoped. Approaching Luka, he began tying his hair into a ponytail, leaving nothing but uneven, messy bangs to dance across his forehead.


“Luka,” he said calmly. “I’m going to kill you one of these days.”


“Sorry,” interrupted a third voice, “but Luka still has something to do before he dies.”


Ryu’s expression changed little at seeing a boy with golden eyes interrupt him, accompanied by a girl with bright turquoise eyes and an equally bright ribbon flowing down her hair.


“For a student that arrived late,” he scoffed towards Yuuko, half amused, “you showed up at just the right time.”


Wordlessly, the boy held up his phone, showing a screen with what looked like a single line of text. “So,” he asked, obliviously, “is there a reason for this?”


“It’s none of your concern.”


“If it has to do with a friend, it is my concern.”


Ryu couldn’t help but smile. “Cocky little bastard.”

“I don’t suppose that’s the reason.”


“It has nothing to do with you, New Kid. Take your girlfriend and leave.”


“My my,” said Yui, putting her hands to her cheeks. “Did you hear that Yuu? Do we already seem like that to the other students?”


“I really don’t think now’s the time,” he sighed.

Ryu’s previously calm demeanor started to crack, until a surreal grin spread across his face.

“OI! FOUR-EYES!” The girl jumped at all the attention suddenly returning to her, but Ryu continued. “You know that picture shows your precious shepherd fighting too, right? Show that to the council and both of them’ll get expelled! Is that what you want?!”


“If Luka was fighting, it had to be in self-defense,” spoke Yui. “We have three cases supporting Luka, to your lonesome one. Try reporting it and we’ll—”


“You don’t seem to get it,” said Ryu, spreading his arms. “NONE of you seem to understand that this school has a reputation to uphold, any fights, any violence, and you’ll get you kicked from the school, reasoning be damned!”


The student around him fell into silence as he continued.


“Do you think they care for more scandal? They’ve already got enough to deal with in trying to control the students’ hatred towards the rich, the outside world’s view of them, they don’t care about anything else! So go ahead, Four-Eyes, show the council that picture of these two idiots fighting, betray the kid that stood up for you, he’s nothing but an outlier anyway! No one’ll miss him, including you.”


“You’re selling out your own friend?” asked Yui in disgust.


“Who am I selling out? She’d be the one outing them, she’s the one with the proof— me? I’m a passerby, I’ll be here safe and sound.”


Their surroundings suddenly became still, the wind caused the newfound plants to dance, bringing with it the smell of a spring day. Ryu made his way back to his dumbfounded friend as he turned to address Hana.


“Are you going to choose?”


She looked on the verge of breaking down, the girl constantly raised her glasses to wipe away thinly-veiled tears, but it was clear to everyone watching.


She didn’t know what to do. But to their surprise, someone did.


“You can do it.”


“Luka!” cried Yui. “What are you saying? Things have been going so well for you, your scholarship will get rescinded, you’ll get expelled!”


“I know.”


“Then why?!”


“……I’m not really sure.” he admitted. “Lately I haven’t been able to put my thoughts and feelings into words………but I think it’s because I know I’ll be doing some good. Ryu’s right, I just end up causing trouble for people, at the very least, this way I can take out someone who’s just as troublesome.”


Ryu held out his arm, stopping his friend who was about to charge at the imputent boy.


“Luka,” said Yuuko, “you’re not a bother.”

“I can’t help but feel that way.” he smiled.


“Oi Four-Eyes, hurry it up! No one’ll miss him so report it!”


“No, please don’t!” pleaded Yui, turning to the girl. “I may not know you, but I know Luka and he doesn't deserve expulsion!”

“Yui, I really appreciate what you’re doing, but—”


His words stopped.


She trembled with every step, but Hana approached Luka with something in hand; a thin slip of paper, no larger than a postcard. Her head was fixed to the ground, though she was somehow still able to make her way to the isolated boy.


“U-Uhm, wh—?”


She held it out without looking at him, and the paper shook in the same rhythm as her fingers.

Taking it, there was a single line written on it.


「I think it’s wonderful how you run after your dreams. Please continue, for the people you inspire.」


Luka found it hard to speak.


“But I didn’t……I never…”


In full view of the other students, she removed the camera from around her neck, her red hair rising and falling like a river as the sash moved through it; in silence, she extracted a small chip from a slot on the side.


“Hey, wait!”


After a brief struggle, a thin *snap* came from her hands. No sound was heard, except for the amused sighs of Ryu and his friend leaving, no longer having any reason to stay.






“…I………I don’t understand…………”


When she lifted her head, Luka could see puffy eyes that were a different shade of red than that of her hair and glasses.


But she was smiling.


“I don’t understand………I-I don’t understand why you’d—”


But her answer was physical. She pushed the card further into his palm, looking down as she did so. His emotions suddenly became clearer, and he took a look at the card again.


“How long………did you have this for?”


Slowly, she removed her phone from her pocket and began typing away at the screen.


「Not very long」read the text.


“For me?”


She nodded.




“Luka!” scolded a familiar tone. “After everything she’s gone through and what she just did for you, having her in front of you, you don’t know what to say!?”



Hana’s eyes widened at those words, she constantly looked from Yui to Luka as if she didn’t believe the girl in question was her.


“You know what to do, the only thing left is to do it!”


“I’m going, okay?! I’m nervous!”


“That means you’re doing something right!”


“It doesn't make it easier!”


In their discussion, they hadn’t noticed the girl slowly backtracking, that is, until she started falling.




“Look out!”


He reached out his hand.





“What is it?”


I feel……lighter, for some reason.




Is that really it?





“Are you alright?”


His hand was wrapped tightly around hers after barely managing to catch her, but that wasn’t the reason for his excessive breathing and heart-rate.


In his blind rush, Luka managed to pull her closer to himself, tightly wrapping his left arm around her shoulders; as for Hana, her eyes were so wide it wouldn’t be an understatement to compare them to an owl.


“AaaAAHHH—! S-Sorry, I’m sorry!” he blurted, letting go of her. “U-UHTH—That’s what I wanted to say too that I, I crashed into and it looked pretty bad you, no! Not you, you! Back at the mall! I know, sorry I know it was a long time ago but it bothered me I really don’t mean that I’m always thinking about that you what happened I mean I just wanted to say that since I felt bad about doing that it was an accident!!”


The girl’s owl-like eyes slowly began returning to normal, but her reddened face burned an even deeper shade of scarlet. And she began nodding.


As she readjusted the strap on her camera and collected herself from the near fall, she began nodding more and more violently the more Luka spoke; Yui quietly thought she looked like a bobblehead. As his extended apology came to a close, he gathered herself and left the way she came; Luka tried speaking out to stop her, but she just began walking faster.


And as she rounded the corner, Yui and Yuuko gathered around their friend.


“Don’t feel bad,” urged Yui. “You did your part, you did well.”


“But she left,” Luka said, quivering. “She left without even saying anything, gah why am I—”


“You’re not thinking about her position.” said Yuuko, bumping his elbow against Luka’s arm.

“I’m sure she accepted your apology, but think about it, she was nearly in a fight and almost saw one happen right in front of her.”




“So she was in shock.”


“I……well I guess but still………”


“Give her time, I’m sure she’ll say something.”


Unbeknownst to them, the girl was an earshot away, having only rounded the corner. She had a hand over her mouth to silence her severe breathing, but it made her dizzy. Tracing the shape of a larger, thicker card in her bag, she silently cursed herself as she made her way back to her dorm.


However, even with her mental curses, she could feel the smile on her face that wouldn’t disappear.

Part 3

During their middle school years, there was a certain spot he and Luka would constantly hang around. When he arrived at this school, he never would’ve imagined that scenery so similar would be so close.


Old habits die hard.


He stopped himself before climbing the tower of concrete stairs.


“I’m surprised you’re back; want me to pick up where I left off?”


He tried sounding angry, but the surprise in his tone was stronger.


“I want to talk.” said Luka, rounding the corner. Ryu turned around, leaning against the chain link fence that separated the school from the shrine above.


He opened his eyes, staring at the boy in front of him.


“We have nothing to talk about.”


“You know that’s not true.”


“What. Do you want?” he said as his patience waned.


Putting a hand in his pocket, Luka took shaky, but steady breaths.


“Why do you hate me after all this time?”


“You’re a smart one Luka, nabbing a scholarship to come to this school, always scoring damn near perfect on every exam we took. So tell me, why is it you haven’t dropped your habit of asking stupid questions?”


“I don’t think I’m smart,” he said solemnly. “……I’ve been realizing, more and more lately, that I have a long way to go when it comes to—”


“—too bad you couldn’t realize it two years ago when you got our friends expelled from school! Their whole futures— GONE! BECAUSE OF YOU!”

“Those weren’t our friends Ryu!”


Ryu’s emotions suddenly erupted, causing Luka to respond in kind; even so, he continued.


“They took you in when you first came to the school, they helped you, sheltered you AND me! And how do you repay them?” he said, rapidly cooling down. “With a knife in the back. And a pen to the school.”

Luka’s face cringed inward, he didn’t have a response to that. He knew he was right.


But what is a friend supposed to do when someone they care for is put at risk?


“You say that………but you know what they were doing was wrong too.”


“They weren’t hurting anybody, you did it to satisfy your ego. Your own disgusting sense of justice cost them their future.”




“What? Nothing to say so you’re just taking it? Not surprising, it’s what you’ve always—”


“You were never with them, you always just stood by. I know you thought it was wrong too.”


He grit his teeth, sharpening his eyes in focus at the boy in front of him.


“Self-righteous child. You never deserved the friends you got.”


“Yeah,” he responded in a smile. “I still don’t.”


He was stunned, so stunned that he took a step backwards.


He admitted it. He admitted that he never deserved the friends he had yet still has the gall, the audacity, to smile like fortune smiles constantly upon him.


It was just one of the many reasons his blood boiled every time he saw that blonde haired face.




His words were interrupted not by someone else, but by something flying right in front of him. To be precise, it was a paper airplane, floating gently along the spring breeze between the two boys, twisting and turning like a river before softly landing at Ryu’s feet.


It was easy to find where it came from, since the boy in front of him had his eyes glued above his head. Pivoting on one foot, he saw the suspect climb down from the stone steps; her hands were in her coat blazer, but she removed one of them to fix the short hair that was messily carrassed by the wind. When she arrived at the same level as both of them, she looked from the paper plane to Ryu and smiled, revealing rows of sharp teeth.


But said nothing.


Luka moved to one side as she continued on, as if the both of them were only something mildly entertaining. Ryu watched with caution until she was out of sight, at which point he picked up the paper by his feet, crumbling it with one hand before stuffing it in his pocket and leaving.


“H-Hey!” a voice behind him called. “I’m not done talking!”


“I am.”


“Ryu, just— RYU!”


He had no intention of stopping. Not until he was forced to by those words:


“Is there no way we can fix this? Mend what’s gone?”


Though his legs stood still, he didn’t turn around.


“Why would you want to?”


“I—I……maybe because………”






“……maybe because I got a second chance. I think…I should use it………”


There was a brief silence after he finished those words, silence that held no weight. No anger, no judgement, no redemption nor tension. Empty silence.


And with this silence, Ryu made his way back to the dorms, leaving the boy behind him to look solemnly at his shoes; it didn’t take long, however, before he smiled, flicking himself on the back of the head and looking to the sky.

Part 4

“I wanted to apologize………about the camera.”


The girl nervously licked her lips while giving firm, hard nods, though they were directed to the floor.


“I also wanted to……thank you, I guess?” although his words were sincere, he didn’t notice his tone shift into a question, making him sound quite rude as the words left his mouth.


“I-I mean thanks for helping me out I………umm…sorry,” he said, sheepishly. “I think I—”


“—alright everyone settle down!” said Ms. Wakako, clapping her hands to garner their attention.


Luka sat down in a defeated sigh as the girl continued looking down and their teacher grabbed her clipboard to begin attendance.


He looked out the window as she made her way down the list, but faced forward when she paused roll call.


“I see we’ve traded one empty seat for another.” she said in a voice that clearly held back her frustration. “It seems Ai is absent, nothing to do but move along. Young lady, we’ve already met but seeing as how this is your first time in my class, this would be the opportune time to introduce yourself.”


Luka looked, and saw it was true; the seat that had been empty for over two weeks now had a student, and whatsmore, she was familiar.


She stood up, hands in her blazer pockets as her short, messy hair further enforced the impression Luka got that she didn’t care to be here.


“Hey,” she said casually. “I’m Rea, cool to see y’all.”


Without waiting for a reaction, she sat back down, much to the teacher’s chagrin. He tried to look at his friend across the room, to have a silent conversation over the girl, but he was completely absorbed, writing something within a journal.


He sighed.


If I knew things would be this chaotic, I don’t know if I would’ve come to this school.


“You sound happy about it though.”


He couldn’t help but smile.


Yeah. I guess I am.


* * * * *

“Miss Hirawa.”


The young lady turned around, long flowing hair following closely behind, almost as if she were in a movie.


“Aah, hello Miss President,” she said in a curtsy. “To what do I owe the honor?”


“Save the formalities please, I have something to discuss with you.”


“Hmm? In the middle of the hallway? Is it truly that urgent?”


“You always leave just before the rush of students; if I didn’t know any better I’d say this is the only time anyone is able to reach you.”


“Ahh,” she said in a smile that didn’t match her tone. “I see.”


“There are rumors floating about you. Nearly nonexistent and quickly extinguished, but rumors nonetheless.”


“Is it wise for the council president to listen to such things?”


“Rumors are based on information— whether true or false is what I’m here to talk with you about.”


“I see……though if you know I leave at around this time, I’m sure you must know a lot more.”


“Is it true?”


Patches of sunlight pierced through the gray clouds outside, striking the polished marble floor, making the girl whose appearance was already like that of a model that much more striking.


“If it is— if they are true— then are you here to see me gone?"


Fuyumi narrowed her eyes at the girl; she couldn’t quite place it, but there was something off about the way she just spoke. She didn’t have time to finish analyzing it, however, before she finished her sentence.


“If you are, I’d truly appreciate it if you would allow me one more opportunity.” she spoke as she held a small, delicate box with a ribbon wrapped on top. “I would like one last chance to find it.”


“Find what?”


The dull gray clouds covered the last streams of light reflecting off the polished white surfaces, onto one side of her face.


“The same thing you’re looking for.”


Fuyumi blinked back her surprise.


“At least, that’s what it seems like,” she continued, despite the president’s obvious surprise. “You have a certain look in your eye, an urgency to your step. I may very well be wrong, or it may just be something similar to what I’m looking for.”


She didn’t know how to respond, and the sun had all but disappeared now; she looked out of the window, towards the city in the distance.


“If they’re not true, then you have nothing to worry about. But if they are, I’m sure you understand the consequences.”


“Of course,” she said, gingerly tracing the ribbon on the box. “But I very well may suffer a different consequence before then.”


“How do you mean?”


“It’s nothing.” she said, speaking a bit louder. “Then, Miss President, I must get going.”

Fuyumi watched her disappear down the corridor, her pace was relaxed, as if she hadn’t a care in the world.


An urgency to your step.


She reached for the pocket in her blazer, crossing her arms as the fabric brushed against her fingertips.


“Something here………is very wrong.”


About the author


Bio: Author of The Promise of Yuuko Asahino and The Aspects, but the former is my passion.
Site where updates first happen:

Log in to comment
Log In