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East Asian Contemporary High School

Yuki came around a bend and descended the steps.

A gust of the evening wind blew over her— the summer tepid, here still, the season only reaching its peak.

The fireworks festival is coming; maybe that’s its peak.

Arriving at the thought, she shook it away as she reached the final step, readying herself: there he was, waiting.

“Ah,” she halted in her steps, not knowing what to say; she simply stood there.

The sun was setting…

Just then, he turned around, seeming to notice her.

“Why’d you call me?”

Their eyes met, and a breeze played at her hair: her heart skipped a beat.

Warm…

“Oh,” he spoke, at last. “You’re here.”

The tips of his hair seemed to glint in the sunset, glowing a warm orange, gold.

She could see it in his eyes— that gentle look; careful, comforting.

She came closer and stood beside him— beyond their spot, they could see the whole town from here.

In this moment, everything seemed magical.

In this moment between night and day, as the sun starts to set, giving way to the coming of night, everything seemed glow under some magic, some spell— and it mesmerized her, binding her.

It pulled her in every time…

Watching the houses and the buildings in town, the streetlamps and the cars along the road, as each of them light up, one after another— it was beautiful.

She remembered the first time Kakeru brought her here that night, where they met coincidentally on her way back from work.

She was tired then, both physically and mentally, from both actually working and thinking a lot all the while; the only thing in her head at that moment was to get back home and hide away in her room, but of course the thought of having to do breakfast and her homework came up as well.

And it was at that point in her thoughts that Kakeru greeted her, snapping her out of her thoughts as he simply stood there by the streetlight, smiling; waving at her before slowing walking up to her and asking, ever so casually,

“Just finished work?”

Then he brought her here.

And it was then that she realized that, even in this little town, she wasn’t alone.

It may seem obvious— in fact, it really is— but in the clutter of daily life, she couldn’t help but feel like she were alone even in such a large crowd. Even if she were talking to someone like Kakeru, the world around them would simply seem empty, as if they were all alone, lost, in the middle of nowhere.

Detached.

But, looking out, from this place, this little resting spot looking over everything, the whole town…

She saw it; she saw it all.

In this place, distanced from the noise of everyday life, from the world she lived in, from everyone— in this silence, she found the world.

Connection.

It was Kakeru’s favorite spot in the whole of town. He said so when he first brought her here.

Every time he went out at night or in the evening when the sun’s about the set, to buy something, some groceries maybe, he would come here and stay.

Waiting, standing here, watching the world turn, like an observer, ever empathetic…

Eventually, it became her favorite spot too.

“Sorry for calling you,” he finally said, snapping her from her thoughts, “so suddenly.”

“No, it’s fine!” Yuki said, quick. “But, why did you call me?”

He turned to her, his eyes gentle, then turned away, looking off, distant.

Just then, he turned his gaze up to the sky above, at the gentle blanket black that deepened every slight, like colors or paints…

The stars peeking out, twinkling softly, discreetly, fading in and dotting the twilit sky…

“Do you ever feel like our fate is tied to the stars?”

“Eh,” she looked at him, his eyes were off in the stars, “what do you mean?”

“It’s just something I’ve been thinking about.”

A beat; she felt the breeze brush her cheek.

“Why are you thinking about this stuff?”

A second, a sigh.

“I can’t help but wonder,” he shook his head, only slightly.

She stood there, not moving, the wind blowing at her and playing with her hair; she was thinking, at the same time trying to read the air, to feel something, trying to understand.

What did he mean?

“Really,” he started again, “my dad died.”

“Eh!? Really??”

“No, I’m joking.”

“Mm!”

She hit him, he laughed.

“Sorry! Sorry! Hah!”

Her lip was pursed, tight.

So unnecessary.

Kakeru brushed his hair, stroking his bangs to the side, fighting the wind a bit, smirking,

“Still, I can’t help but wondering,” he went, “like, if he did go, if he did die. I wonder what it is, and I wonder how I’ll go; how I’ll go on, I mean.”

She didn’t say a word. She just waited for him to continue.

He noticed and went on, saying,

“I wonder how my life would go on afterwards, how my world would change, how everything would. And I can’t help but wonder what determines that, what it is…”

“Like, if the fault is in our stars?”

He looked up, “I don’t know.”

He said it so casually…

Just then…

“Hey, you’re looking down again.”

“Eh?”

She was.

Brushing her hair aside, she grasped for words in her mind but everything slipped away.

Right then, someone touched her chin, raising her gaze.

It was Kakeru.

“Look up,” he said, a twilit smile on his lips. “Look up.”

She felt her cheeks warm…

She hit his hand aside, trying not to let him see her face as she turned away,

“Don’t touch me.”

“Sorry,” he replied; not sorry.

“Idiot.”

“Hah.”

The both of them turned forward and watched as the sun disappeared behind the hills, his warm orange coloring the edges of the sky, painting the hills and the clouds.

“Anyway, you going?”

“Eh? Where?”

“The fireworks,” he said, a sparkle in his eye.

“I don’t know, why you asking me?”

“I don’t know, maybe because you turned down poor Nobunaga.”

“Oh, don’t remind me!”

“He was so bummed out!”

“Eh!? Really?”

“He wouldn’t talk to us the whole day!”

“Haha!!”

“And we were just teasing him the whole time— it was amazing! Hahaha!!”

“So mean! Haha!!”

Before they know it, it had turned dark and the clock had ticked to seven.

“Hah,” he checked his phone. “Well, anyway, I guess we better get going.”

She looked around.

“Yeah. Guess so.”

“Haa,” sighing, he turned away from the rails, “I should get home, my brother will be visiting for a bit, my dad has probably gone out to fetch him.”

“Oh, really? How long is he staying?”

“A day or two. He would have to return to college soon.”

“I see. See you, then.”

“Yeah. What’s your mom cooking?”

“Curry, I think.”

“Cool. See you.”

“Yeah…”

With that, he went off, walking back up the road home. She should be going, and yet she stood there, watching him go, wondering why he called her here in the first place.

Did he just want to hang out?

But eventually, she headed home too, walking out of the light, taking only a single glance at the town below before walking away, returning to her daily life, again.

July 14, 2021 14:30

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