I closed the book I was reading with a slam. That was the second time that someone asked if I was okay this week. I haven't spoken to Ritsu since then...two days ago. But images and static memories of when we were kids kept appearing, memories that I had forgotten and started to remember…however what was confusing, in those memories there were also things that we did together that I don't remember at all. In these memories, Ritsu and I were around 12 years old and we seemed more…intimate with each other. What was going on?
Class hadn't started yet, so the students were all doing their own thing. "What do you mean?" It was the girl from a few days ago who said something about knowing me since middle school. What was her name again? Oh, that's right. "Hana?"
She blushed a slight red and then smiled. "That was the first time."
"The first time?" I asked in confusion.
She smiled even brighter. "That you called my name!"
What an idiot for getting excited about a trivial thing, but I do admit, it was sort of cute. "What were you asking me about earlier?"
She suddenly turned serious. "Did you have a fight with your boyfriend?"
"Boyfriend?" And how did she know that something was wrong? I was sure I was acting normal enough to fool everyone. Ever since I was a little, people have always told me how they never knew what I was thinking. That my expression was always apathetic. Although there were exceptions.
"You guys looked as if you had a fight and it seemed as if you started talking again…so I thought you guys patched things up...but you've been looking pale...so I thought for sure..." Her words cut up when she saw that the air around me got tense.
"Are you perhaps talking about Ritsu?"
She nodded her head.
"What makes you think we're dating? We're just childhood friends."
"You aren't?! In junior high school during 1st year, you guys were the heart of the rumors spreading around school, like even now. That's why the girls who like Ritsu don't bother him much anymore since he keeps turning them down. He always tells them that there's someone he likes, so I figured you two were still together."
Ahhh...that was why once in a while I would feel malice coming from female students I didn't even know. But...
What was she talking about? My 1st year in middle school...I was twelve then, right? That was the one year of memory I lost and couldn't regain for some reason. My eyes widened and I suddenly stood up and grabbed Hana's hand and pulled her out of class.
"Eh? Eh? Mei-chan?"
The other students looked at us shocked. It was my first time standing out after all, making a scene when class was about to start. I'm sure that by tomorrow rumors would have spread around the school about what I did.
"We're skipping class. Tell me all you know about that year."
Everything Hana told me, it all made sense. It couldn't be a lie, because her stories were so detailed. She told it to me with excitement, as if recalling her first love. According to her, when we entered Junior High we had already started dating and had become the center of attention in school. We had become targets of jealous girls and boys who teased us, but for us that didn't matter.
As I laid in bed, I thought of the stories she told me. Me, as I cheered Ritsu on during soccer games. Me, as I interfered during his practice after school, challenging him to a one on one. Me, as I made a lunch box for him. We made a picture-perfect couple, or as close as you could get to it when you're a kid.
"Ritsu..." His name softly passed through my lips, a whisper. "Ritsu." I'm so sorry for doubting you. You've stayed by my side all this time, even though I lost the memories of when we were together, even though you knew I might not regain those memories. Even though you knew I had fallen in love with someone else. "Ritsu."
I closed my eyes, and dreamt of you. In my dreams I faintly remembered the night I ran away from home. I was excited since Mom and Dad had planned to come home to celebrate my birthday, I was turning 13 years old. Even though they were busy, they decided to take two days off. But…things didn't go as planned.
Although they had come home, although it had been a while since I saw them, fate laughed at me. A large accident occurred and many people were severely injured. They were both called by their boss. Even though it was supposed to be a special day, without hesitation they decided to leave.
And so, as they were preparing, before they left the house I ran away. I wanted them to put me first, to at least worry and think about it.
It was raining that night, and after only a few minutes of hiding, he found me. He was the only one who found me. "Come out, come out wherever you are!"
I wrapped my arms around my legs in the small tunnel at the playground and his head then popped out in front of me. Startled, I yelled. "Wahh! Ritsu, how did you know I'd be here?!"
He grinned. "Did you forget that I can read your mind?" I rolled my eyes. He crawled inside and sat next to me. He was so soaked from the rain that his hair was starting to curl a little. "But still, you're like a little kid always hiding at the playground when you get angry or depressed."
"I am a little kid," I mumbled, with my arms folded on bent knees and my head on top of my arms. I didn't look at him as he talked.
He smiled. "Your brother came to my house and asked me if you stopped by." When I didn't say anything, his silence was answer enough that he knew something had happened.
He waited until I felt like telling him. Minutes passed. And then, through my tears I told him everything.
"They don't care about me…as soon as they got home they started fighting about work. Onii-chan calmed them down and I thought everything would be okay…but then they got a call from work and they left!" I sniffed. "Even though it's my birthday…why?!"
"I know your parents love you. Itsuki-san told me that they always call, asking about you. Even though they're so busy, they still think about you…it's just that they have big hearts and also care about others." He patted my head. "And the reason they fight all the time, could be because they feel awkward and don't know how to express their feelings after being away from each other for a long time. They probably don't see each other much at the hospital."
I sniffed. "Maybe." When I finally looked up at him, I found myself unexpectedly blushing. Ritsu smiled at me, his smile that always made my heart jump. "You say some smart things sometimes even though you're a brat who only knows how to play soccer."
"Why you!" He ruffled my hair, and we started laughing when it made a weird look.
"Do you think there are people who can still love each other after a long time?"
He laughed. "I'm sure there are." When he didn't say anything more, I glanced at him to see if something was wrong. I couldn't see his expression under his soaked hair that nearly covered his face.
He grabbed my hand in his, surprising me. "Mei! I'll always be there for you! Don't worry, we'll still be together even when we grow old!"
My eyes widened. "Does that mean...?" His blushing cheeks confirmed it. As it was contagious, I also felt a flushing heat rush to my cheeks and spread like a wildfire to my ears.
"I like you! So...so..."
This time I smiled. "Mhm." I said, nodding my head.
"Is that a yes?!"
I ignored his erratic questioning as he walked me home, about if I liked him too or not. I couldn't stop smiling as a warm feeling filled my chest.
"Mi-chan!" He called out to me, desperate.
I stopped walking and pouted. "What did you call me?!"
He grinned. "Your new name. What do you think? Cute, right?"
I pouted and then smirked when I came up with something. "Then…you're Ri-chan!"
Ritsu froze and before he unfroze I started running. "Wait! I refuse to be called that!" He said, running after me.
I laughed and repeated his cute nickname again and again. "Ri-chan!"
As soon as I got home my Dad in his anger slapped and yelled at me, my Mom's red eyes confirmed that she had been crying. They thought that I had been kidnapped when they saw my hairpin on the floor, in front of the door. I realized what Ritsu said was right and even though they were mad, I was happy and couldn't stop crying. Even though they left for work when I fell asleep, I wasn't angry with them anymore. I told myself that I needed to stop being a kid and stop worrying them.
But…a few months later, they divorced each other. Dad left the house and brother and I stayed with Mom. He only called once every year. Ritsu comforted me as I cried all day.
I opened my eyes, to a tear stained pillow. I remember everything. Everything that happened in that year. When we entered Junior High, everyone had become aware of us dating. That year, I spent every day with Ri-chan. That day I was involved in the accident…that's I remember…
I saw Ritsu letting a girl kiss him. That girl was one of the beauties of our school, but because she had an illness, she barely came to school. She was known to have a crush on Ritsu, everyone knew this and felt bad for her because he already had me. Ritsu had rejected her many times already.
But…why? If he didn't like her, why didn't he push her away? Why did he let her kiss him? Ritsu was strong, so he could have stopped her. He…maybe he actually liked her, but rejected her because he didn't want to hurt me? Ri-chan, why! You promised you'd always stay by my side.
As if he heard my inner thoughts, Ritsu looked up and saw me standing there as I watched another girl put her arms around him. His eyes widened in shock and he pushed that girl away. Before he said anything I turned around and ran…but…he didn't come after me. It would have been better if we had just stayed friends…that way, we could have always been together, without getting hurt.
Lost in thought, with tears blocking my view, I didn't see the car that had come out of nowhere. Although the driver had lost control, because I wasn't paying attention, I didn't jump out of the way.
I sighed as I sat in bed. "He was so cute when he confessed," I said as I laughed, with my hand covering my eyes.
I was selfish. All I thought about was myself, about not wanting to hurt anyone, because it would hurt me even more. So I ran away. I see. That was the reason I couldn't regain my memories of that year, even though I slowly remembered everything else. I desperately wanted to erase my feelings for him and the time we confirmed we had mutual feelings for each other. That way we would just go back to being friends.
I had run away. I couldn't stand the fact that I was forcing him to stay with me. He was in love with that girl, but since I was in his way, he couldn't be with her.
I'm an idiot.
Standing up from my bed, I made my way downstairs to the living room, where the whispers of voices led me. Itsuki-nii and both my parents were sitting on the couch discussing something serious. It was rare for them to be together like this.
Even though weeks had passed, they still haven't left. It was rare, but faintly I knew their reason of staying.
"I can't continue to have my assistant look after her, he has his own life. And we can't very well leave her on her own, that's why I want you to let her stay with you until she at least graduates High School."
Itsuki-nii looked troubled. "I don't think that's a good idea."
Ever since that night with Ritsu, I had almost forgotten about how I ended up there and didn't talk at all with him.
As I thought, Itsuki-nii was really nice, always thinking about me. Even though he knew my feelings for him, he didn't confront me because he didn't want to hurt me, instead he moved away hoping that my heart would change. I looked at him and smiled a little. He's gotten even more handsome over the years, it was no surprise that he'd found someone who loves him as much as I do.
Before Dad could argue back, Mom stepped in. "Let Mei stay with me. We shouldn't interfere with a couple that is a few months away from getting married."
Dad scoffed. "Where's the point in that? You're transferring oversees starting next month, you'll be even busier than me. Not only that, do you plan on making her graduate at a school where she doesn't even know the language?"
"She's smart, so she'll be okay! She can learn how to speak English and the school over there has classes that are perfect for her!" Mom glared at Dad. "At least I care enough to think about her future. Do you even know what her career choice is?"
Before they continued fighting like little kids, I clenched my fists and made my presence known. "I'll go with Mom." Surprised to see me, they quickly stood up.
"You don't have to force yourself, Mei." Itsuki-nii said as he walked over and patted my head. "You can live with me and Yui."
That's the name of the girl he's dating. I couldn't intervene on them. It would be too cruel having a minor live with them as they had just gotten engaged and so I shook my head no. "It's fine. I've always wanted to see other places, so I'll be fine."
That's not it. The truth was, I no longer had any right to keep Ritsu by my side. So...I ran away. Again.
*A/N: I had trouble with FictionPress yesterday so I couldn't update the story. I intend to post the other two later on today to keep with the schedule. Again, thank you for reading!