First chapter of the new year! After an atrocious amount of time of being neglected, Skies of Connections returns once again!

"Just a little…longer…" I repeated quietly.

Silence hung in the room, and the last few rays of the sun barely streaked the sky. Clouds began to consume whatever was left, and I snapped out of my little trance.

"Y-you should go; it's getting dark," I told Akari.

That seemed to spur her. "O-oh! Right…"

She stood up, picking up her things. With a brisk pace, she waved to me. "Th-thanks again."

"No problem," I said, waving back.

The sun shed its last rays of light, making way for the moon and stars when she disappeared behind my door.

Melodies of Memories: Part II

It was a fresh Sunday morning; there was no school. From my futon, I heard the chirping of birds who'd just risen from their slumber, just like me. I sat up, stretching my drowsy muscles and mind. With a sigh, I yawned, looking around the room with my light crimson eyes. My thoughts wandered back to Akari. The cooking lessons. The Heimlich maneuver that became a back hug. Sitting there with sunset light filtering through the windows of the room. My gaze softened, and I put an arm over my forehead.

A second memory floated to the surface; that melody lacking its second part to me. I played it in my mind using an imaginary flute, and stopped where I forget. Fuzzy images appeared in my head, and I struggled to sharpen them. But it was no use. I just couldn't remember. I suppose ten years is too big a gap…yet, I feel like I should know this. An unforgettable tune…and the unforgettable person who sang it.

"Akari…" I whispered unintentionally, staring softly at the ceiling.

Light. A radiant sun. A burning fire. There were many ways to describe light, many ways to describe hikari, to describe akari. I sat up with a bit of effort, stretching from a fresh awakening. Ah, what to do today…? I got up to my feet, kicking the sheets of my futon to get it out of the way; I didn't feel like making it completely near for now. I scratched my head, adjusting my hair, and checking various spots in my house. Most everything is still here—

But I'm a bit short on food.

My body went cold. I realized something: how exactly will I…get money? Were there jobs available in this tiny town? I would think so. Don't think I've forgotten you, supermarket! Don't think I've forgotten you, either, Grandpa Fuyu! The question was: which one?

I decided on Grandpa Fuyu first. After all, I'm familiar with his woodshop, and I'm sure he'd let me work. I strode out my house with confidence—but quickly strode back inside to change.

XxXxXxXx

Okay, black shirt, blue shorts, let's do this. I practically marched to the woodshop with my determination in full swing…fully. But, as I neared the door, opened it, and stood in the doorway, it sank into a small nervous breakdown. What if he doesn't accept me?! What if he flat out rejects my offer?! I know I said I was set for life with the yen in my bank, but that bank could go bankrupt, for all I know! I have to make sure I get a steady flow of income for food and bills! Living in a house alone is no easy task!

My parents' face rose in my mind, smiling as if to encourage me. But it didn't have the effect it should have; it only brought sorrow upon me. I sank to the floor, and suddenly burst into a small fit of tears. It sank in again that my parents weren't coming back…I heard footsteps approaching, but didn't care to notice them.

"Uh, are you alright?"

My face, clutched in my hands, shot out of it. I stood up, wiping my eyes hastily and turning around. I cleared my throat awkwardly, greeted by a young woman who was clearly too old for someone like me.

However big the age gap, I found her strikingly beautiful, with wavy black hair streaked with gray, and her bangs were kept out of her face by a pretty violet pin of lilacs. Her body fit the white dress really well, giving off that summer vibe (by the way, summer is approaching here). She even had a sun hat on to further add to the theme.

"Oh, y-yeah, I'm…I'm fine," I said, rubbing each eye one at a time with a shaky laugh.

"…You were crying just now, weren't you?" she said, frowning slightly. "Are you sure you're really okay?"

"Yeah, completely fine!" I almost shouted unintentionally before moving out of the way. "D-did you need to get in?"

"Why, thank you." Her frown turned upside down as she passed me. "What brings you here?"

"I-I was hoping Grandpa Fuyu would let me work here…" I scratched my head.

"Oh, you're looking for a job here? I can help! I'm his granddaughter, actually." She laughed, and beckoned me to follow her. "Come on."

I stared at the various wood carvings that were neatly arranged on shelves surrounding a single path to the register, where two somewhat familiar faces were already there. It was a rather spacious store contrary to popular belief.

"A-Arita-san! Grandpa Fuyu!" I said, seeing the smiling old man and my jade-haired classmate.

"Is that you, Hiromu Azakawa?" Grandpa Fuyu asked, his eyes squinting at my figure. I noticed the already noticeable wrinkles crease even more.

"H—Azakawa!" Arita simultaneously turned around to glance at me, surprised.

"It's me," I replied wth a grin. "I've actually moved here now!"

Arita blushed, avoiding my gaze, while Grandpa Fuyu laughed a hearty old man's life. "That's great! How're Eishiro and Saiko?"

I tensed at my parents' names, and Grandpa Fuyu bit his lip, recalling sorrowfully what their fate had been. "I-I'm sorry…"

"No, no, it's okay…" I slowly brushed it off with a few words.

"Azakawa-san here is looking for work!" the young woman said, gesturing to me and lightening the mood. "Grandpa, can you hire him?"

"Oh, Kotomi! You're so grown up now!" Fuyu exclaimed, arms spread wide at his granddaughter. The two shared an embrace. "How was America?"

"It's really different from home," she replied simply, laughing. "I love it there, but in the end, this is still my home."

"K-Kotomi-san, have you seen Seki-san yet?" Arita mentioned feebly in my presence.

She went quiet, looking away. "No, I actually haven't…"

"'Seki-san'?" I repeated audibly. "Is he a friend of Kotomi-san's?"

"He's her high school sweetheart," Grandpa Fuyu said teasingly.

"Y-yes, you could say that…" Kotomi looked even further away, as if trying to avoid the situation. Maybe we should steer away from the topic of whoever that was.

"Well, erm, I'll just be…going…" Arita stood up, and briskly walked out the door. She smiled shyly at me before doing so, and I had to smile back.

"So, Hiromu!" Grandpa Fuyu cleared his throat. "You wanna work here?"

"Yes, sir!" I stood straight up.

"Good luck," Kotomi-san told me before leaving.

"Well, kid, put on some appropriate clothes in the back." He gestured to the area. "I'll get Akari-chan to teach you the ropes."

"Oh, alri—'Akari-chan'?!" I hollered the last part before he forced me in to change.

Soon, when I was in an acceptable red shirt, brown pants, and brown apron, I came out with an itchy rear end. These pants rubbed against my ass too much…However, that was all forgotten when I saw a child of light descend from the stairs.

"A-Akari…" I stuttered.

"H-Hiromu-kun…" Akari Ito responded in an equal stammer.

His first job is already a catalyst for chemistry! Please continue supporting this story to find out more!

Oh, and check the very end of chapter one. Something's changed…