Breath of Fresh Air

Chapter 1: The Girl, The Villian and the Hero.

Cough. Cough.
The subtle, grey smoke had reached my nostrils.
It was not too surprising because there he stood, holding his cigarette stick without a care in the world as if he was refusing to admit my presence standing right next to him.

He was fitted in short khakis, and a loose shirt.
"He... Hey man, let's get out of here." I suggested in a cracking voice.

His short, spiked, jet-black hair tilted as he began to face me.
"Don't be such a wuss, and just try one."

I stared at my friend as if strangers had met one another for the first time. With shaking hands, I took a hit and began to light it up.
"There ya go, make sure to breathe it in slowly." he replied, as he took a long breathe into the stick.

I glanced at the fizzling cigarette bowl that stood inches away from my feet. With a funny look, I began to breathe in to the cancer stick that was in my hand.

Cough. Cough.

"Bitter huh?" My accomplice had asked with his eyes closed.

"Yeah... Toshi, I don't think I should be doing this." I said, with feeble, shaking hands.

"You already lit one up, kid. Who's gonna down it if ya don't?" Toshi asked in a mocking, jeery voice with a large grin on his face.
I said nothing, and continued whiffing at the nicotine with great difficulty.

Then after a few seconds... "Jeez, Toshi. You bring me to a secluded yard in the middle of nowhere, and you want me to smoke with you? You know that this is something I'd never do." I replied in an angry fashion, as I continued to cough.

He chuckled softly and then began to speak calmly.
"Hey Renge, do ya remember where this place is?"

With a confused look, I nodded my head sideways.
"It's the place where we met Akari-chan for the first time when we were kids."

I blushed a slight pink.
"How's Himawari-san doing anyways?"

He looked at me with his sharp eyes, and lifted his arm to get in another puff of the smoke. Finally, he breathed out and said with pinpoint thoughtfulness and accuracy.
"Ya know girls around our age, kid. Always this or that with 'em one way or another."

I gave him a puzzled look.
"She's doin' fine, kiddo. Though you really should drop by her house to say 'hi' every now and then."

I blushed once more.
"It's just so awkward now, you know?"

Toshi sighed with smoke in his mouth.
"Listen up, Ren. I'm goin' to the good ole' US of A for schooling, and for my pops' corporation."

My jaw dropped.
"Are you serious, Toshi? Are you messing with me right now?" I asked in a bewildered tone.

"This ain't a fib, kiddo. This is the real deal. I'm leaving tomorrow."
He dropped his cigarette, that now fizzled in a rusty grey. It was apparent that all the tobacco and puffs of smoke have been blown out. I stared at my friend's face, in complete shock. He was no longer grinning, and his eyes had become beady in all its cunning and seriousness.

"Wh... why are you telling me this now, man?" I began to stutter.

"Ya know I'm not the kind that's good at sayin' goodbye."
He shuffled his hands and fitted them in his pockets.

"Toshi, you gotta be kidding me. This is all a joke right?"

He sighed once more, and looked at me.
"Give me your hand, Ren."

I could not comply but simply stare at my friend. He forcefully took it upon himself and dropped a metal trinket.
"This here is a little somethin' for ya' to remember me by so ya' don't get lonely."

I took a quick glance at his gift before he curled up my hands into a fist. He had decided to give me his lighter.

"Take care of her for me, kiddo. Please. She once loved you just as much as she loves me."
"You're the only one I can trus' with her, Ren."

He had finally released my hands from his hold and continued. "It's time for ya' to meet new people, and experience things on your own, kiddo."

I sighed, and could do nothing but accept the reality that I was now losing my best friend of sixteen years to the western hemisphere known as America.

"You'll be alright, kiddo."

And just like that he was gone.

I looked at the stoge I was now holding in my left hand. The same mannerisms in which Toshi used to previously hold it in.

Cough. Cough.

Damn cigarettes.