Do you remember a love story that touched the deepest part of your heart even 'till this day? How we all wish that it could be our own, but more often than not, it's just an illusion of love that we all hold. When the bubble of illusion has been broken, we turn our head back to look and realize that perhaps indeed, our own is truly the best love story there is.
- 4:56PM, School Court Yard -
"... mi... gumi-chan... Megumi-chan!"
With a startle, I realized that it was my name that was being called. A surge of blood welled up and reflected in the reddening of my cheeks as I turned my head to the source of voice. Even though they're all friends of mine, the urge to sputter some kind of pathetic response was automatic. "Yeah, no, I was just... looking at the design on the..."
"Oh give it up, you were more than obvious with the starring at Hoshimura-sempai!" Fuuyu declared with a loud laugh, throwing her head back for the full effect. Oh how I wanted her to disappear right this moment!
My face flushed even more, I could feel it! No matter whether the mid-November chills were dusking over, my body temperature rivaled that of one who had just walked out of a hot spring.
"No, no, I wasn't..."
"You know, there is nothing wrong with that." Hitomi interrupted -or carried on- without a care for my furious shaking of head. "Everyone likes Hoshimura-sempai, it's nothing new. I can't say I'm immuned to her either." She ended with a giggle and a hopeful sigh as her gaze stopped on the moving figure of Hoshimura as well.
And so, when I deemed the situation safe enough, I peeked at them before directing my gaze towards my object of... previous starring. Okay, so I was looking at Hoshimura-sempai, but not because of the afore-implied frivolous reasons (not all of them anyways), but I was simply captured by her glow. The way she moved on the court, how she stopped, how she accelerated, how she glanced before smiling... every little thing, I liked to take into deail.
"You know, if I swung that way, I really would chase after Hoshimura-sempai like everyone else." Chiharu concluded with a nod, eyeing the amount of fangirls that crowded the open door way of the basketball court.
"But... Hoshimura-sempai graduated so long ago, how come she is still playing here?" I voiced my question slowly, definitely careful not to rouse another round of laughter and teasing.
"You know she's on the national team, and our school seems to affiliated with the team somehow that their designated practice place is here. Heck, the principal even built this new basketball court just for them!"
"I don't really care who built what for whom, I just wish I could be in Ito-sempai's spot!" Hitomi hissed out, her gaze was on the girl who was now handing a towel to Hoshimura-sempai and talking non-stop, appearing to be giving out feedback regarding what had happened on the court moments ago.
Ito Shina, also another graduate from their high school. She is famous for her strict personality and a perfection striving determination. When one is around her, one couldn't help but feel inferior to her dominating presence.
"Come on, we need to go, or else we'll be late for the meeting."
The only sane voice interrupted our own thoughts of fantasy, I turned and saw Maki-san... ah, Erikai-san (as she had told us to address her) already a good distance away, turning her head back to look at us. Seemingly puzzled by our stop, yet, the twitch of her eyebrow told us that she was approaching not amused with our giggling.
An unanimous chorus of agreement sounded and the four of us quickly followed with light snickering. So, I concluded, at least one person seemed to be immune to Hoshimura-sempai's charms.
- 5:08PM, Drama Club Wardrobe Room -
Having separated from the group, only Chikaru and I turned left when the other three turned right. Although we were all under the large umbrella of being in the drama club, there were those who stood under the spot lights and those who worked in the shadows. Chikaru and I were of the latter group. Chikaru, for what reasons, I would not know. For me, it was the intricate reasoning of wanting to be a fashion designer and the pure fact that I could not imagine standing and performing in front of a huge crowd.
Behind the scenes is just as glorious, I decided.
Yet, as they say in gestalt psychology, we're all in fields of our own, but we cannot live with relationships with other human beings. So in this wardrobe commitee, my gaping eyes were no match for the excitement of the rest of the group when a frivolous suggestion came up.
"How about we design the jersey for the national basketball team?"
We must examine the situation.
In this group, it was no surprise that there were only girls since this is a girls-only senior high. The suggestion, I thought, was a joke, until more and more members caught on. Then somehow, it became a great idea.
"But... what about our school's team?" I questioned, still somewhat stupified at the turn of events.
Almost immediately, I received a room full of blank stares. Okay, question was surely retarded.
"Obviously, the national team is much more important!"
"Who cares about our school team? They suck anyways."
"Why should we do anything for them?!"
"They don't really play anyways!"
A plethora of answers greeted me, in short, our basketball team just wasn't important enough. All of a sudden, I felt more than sorry for the girls.
- 5:45PM, Work -
Minutes of this silence and I was already fidgeting internally. I could hear the dim humming of the television as background noise; the sound of her flipping through papers and the sound of tea cup sliding against table top.
I wanted to ask.
I wanted to inquire.
I wanted to know.
I started tentatively, peering over at the model and designer carefully. Hoping that I could potentially read her mood today.
"Have you..." Clearing my throat, I sniffed and looked around for a diversion. "... you know..."
"I don't know."
The blunt reply had me wincing before squaring my shoulders, as if that would give me more courage. "Have you ever desired for someone to like... you know... do... very intimate things... with you...?"
"You're thinking about fornication when it's near winter. Interesting phenomenon."
Boom. Just like that, color exploded upon my face, from forehead down to chin, every cell was tainted red.
"Fornication?!" My voice screeched and hit an extreme high.
And she finally spared me a glance. "What? Need a dictionary?"
"No! I understand what that means!"
Okay, second pause.
I didn't come here to torture myself, really. Ever since the summer, I have been working with Fujimaru Asuka. Better known just as Asuka. She is argubly the most popular model in Japan right now, young and ambitious, a glance could kill or revive someone. Last year, she was named the most beautiful woman by the nation's top fashion magazine. The year before, she was named the more desirable woman by the same magazine.
And she graduated from my senior high.
In the hallway of our school, there was an enlarged picture of her as some sort of materialized pride for our school. So big that even a blind could not miss it. Beside her picture is a picture of Hoshimura Natsuki, the other celebrity of our school even 'till this day. Apparently, they attended school the same years.
With all those words above, I only wanted to illustrate her influence and power in the fashion field. A field that I strive towards. So when I heard that she was looking for a personal assistant, I literally jumped on the job.
Let's not get into just how and why I jumped.
You'd think with her gorgeous smile, seductive gaze, and that beautiful appearance, she'd be as untouchable as a star, kind as a goddess. Untouchable was very true, kind was... questionable. Yet, it's always been clear that she meant no actual harm.
"What do you think I am? A tree? Of course I've had those desires before."
She carried on easily, as if that little interlude never happened. Sometimes, I wonder if she had only meant to say things to herself internally, but something went amiss and thoughts were projected aloud.
"And...?" I cleared my throat again, waiting patiently for the heat to disappear. "What did you do?"
"I told the person."
Simple as that, and yet I could only stare at her. Easy for her to say!
Running my fingers over the papers I was supposed to read and fill out, I figured I might as well come clean. As blunt as she could be, I've learnt that she could be the most objective voice and reasonable smack on my face.
"Sempai, when you were in school, did you hear about a Hoshimura?"
There was a brief pause before she glanced over again, a split second longer than the previous one before she nodded and went back to her work.
"Well, I saw Hoshimura-sempai in school today. You know, she's on the national basketball team now, and their practice court is at our school. And for a moment, when I looked at her, I felt as if..." And my face began flushing again, adding to the lingering heat from the previous round.
"As if you wanted her to fuck you senseless?"
I wondered if I could possibly suffer a heart attack from her words alone. What kind of woman would speak such words as if talking about the weather?!
"Did you know Hoshimura-sempai well?" I pressed on and ignored her question.
"Everyone knew her."
"What sort of person is s..."
"If you have so much free time, do your work!"
The command of a boss, I shrank back immediately and buried my head back down in my work. Oops, that was her patience level today. That was another thing I learnt almost within no time, beautiful people had their own temperaments. Hers was short and easily flammable.
- 11:30PM, Home -
With a huff, I threw myself towards my bed and groaned with appreciation. Between school, club activities and work, there was barely any time for myself. Especially with winter exams coming up, it seemed like there was never enough time to study for all my subjects.
A light chime from my cell phone had me rolling towards my right and reaching, the sound was indicative of a text message. Even before I flipped open my phone, I already knew the content of the text message. It was the same every night ever since the beginning of the school year.
You've worked hard today, I hope work and studying went well. Good night. --- Erika
I smiled and replied with a short message of my own before tucking it away, underneath my pillows.
Maki Erika, classmate first and then friend. Unlike Chikaru, Fuuyu and Hitomi, we've only become friends with Erika at the beginning of the school year. She had long straight hair and an exquisite face. My friends thought she was beautiful, and I won't deny that either. However, perhaps it's because I work with Asuka, beauty just didn't seem like beauty when it wasn't Fujimaru Asuka.
Yet, despite Erika's somewhat frigid appearance, she was surprisingly easy to get along with, forging a quick friendship
It was with Erika's influence that we all joined the drama club, although under different groups. Erika was the type of person who loved to be on the stage, and with her looks, I don't see why not either. I've seen bits and pieces of her practicing, as embarrassing as it is, I was captivated.
An aspiring actress, I was certain from that second on that she will make it big!
The little message before bed was something that started when we exchanged phone numbers. She was surprisingly encouraging and supportive, and even a most horrid day could seem to disappear when I read her message.
What a great person she is!
I extended my gaze to my windows, though I could not see anything beyond with the obstruction of my curtains, I knew that the next house over was dark with slumber. Most importantly, his room was dark and untouched. It's been this way since he went away for university months ago. Before, I used to wait 'till his light went out before closing my eyes.
His face could still be remembered, an onii-chan whom I've known since my diaper days. I wonder what he's up to these days.
Snuggling into my blanket, with the closing of my eyes, it was someone else's face that appeared in my mind.
I wonder what Hoshimura-sempai is doing right now.
You're thinking about fornication when it's near winter. Interesting phenomenon.
Asuka's voice was a bucket of cold water over my entire body.
- 4:38PM, Wardrobe Room -
"You finished the design?" I did not bother with holding back that shocked cry falling from my lips.
The team leader yawned loudly before thrusting a few pages of paper into my hands. "I was so excited I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd get the design ideas done so they can approve them and then we can finally get started!"
Silently, I flipped through the different designs that she managed to come up with over a night. It scared me yet excited me at the same time. Excited because they all looked so amazing, scared because I wondered if I'll ever have the same dedication.
"So now, you can run over and get it to the basketball team for their approval."
I nodded before realizing the implication of her words. My index finger pointed towards myself. "Me?!"
A chorus of complaints rose in the room, with the content being the same "why not me?!" Including Chikaru, whom was practically clinging to the leader with the strength of her life!
"But she's so clumsy! What if she freezes up and can't say anything?!"
Oh thank you, Chikaru! Towards my oldest friend, I could only roll my eyes and fume silently. Yet I could find no word to refute her, for I had the same concerns. What if I freeze up?!
"Because I'm worried that all of you will just jump and rape Hoshimura-sempai!"
The complaints notched up a level and I slowly backed out of the room before anyone could take notice. I wonder what the leader would say if she ever discovered of my thoughts towards the object of everyone's desire.
Seems like I was no exception.
One step was light with a bounce, the next would be hesistant with dread, I was divided between anticipation of possibly meeting Hoshimura-sempai and the utter fear that I would make a fool out of myself! With each meter's decrease between the basketball court and my current coordination, my heart rate grew exponentially.
I prayed for them to be practicing so I can slip in unnoticed.
I then prayed for them to be off today so I can go back and shove the task to someone else.
When I found myself situated in the hallway leading up to the court, my heart was beating so fast I wondered if I was even breathing.
Nothing else! To all the deities up there, let me just talk to Ito-sempai and get this over with!
Yes! Ito-sempai would be much easier to deal with! She was the manager of the team -though more like the personal care taker of Hoshimura-sempai-, so she was capable of making decisions! Perfect!
With that, my pulse seemed to have curbed its race with time.
Aimlessly, I wondered down the hallway, looking from one closed door to the next. I see names like "equipment room", "office", "nurse's office" and "change room", yet none of the doors was open. Up ahead, I did not hear the familiar sound of dribbilng balls or the screaming of fangirls.
With a sigh, I turned around and leaned against the last closed door. Looking down the left, I assessed the empty hallway and wondered if I should stick around and wait a little. Maybe just five minutes and then I will return to the wardrobe room!
The second that decision solidified itself in my brain, the door behind my body gave in and disrupted my entire support. A screetch left my lips and I knew I was sinking backwards. I hated this feeling, knowing that I was falling, but I couldn't do anything to prevent it!
"Oh sorry, I didn't know you were leaning against the door."
My ass did not hit the floor, I stumbled backwards a few steps before someone caught me. I breathed a sigh of relief before wheeling around, an apology and words of gratitude already on my lips. Then my eyes fed information to my occipital lobe and those words failed.
Hair that barely reached shoulders, height that towered over me, that pair of lazy eyes and the half smile on her lips.