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The Secret Decorated in Memories

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With all due respect to Taki, Mitsuha wished she had more privacy. She was a girl, after all. Sharing every detail of her day with him was an exhausting task. She gave him everything he wanted through notes about her interactions with his (her now?) friends, his dad, his classmates and the people at his part-time job… It wasn’t quite the easiest endeavor.

It was what made Mitsuha feel all the more guilty when she had to leave one particular thing out of her reports. In a way, she must be a traitor for it, but she felt so alive. Her feelings towards Miki were nothing she had experienced. The feeling was something that grew fuzzy the more they switched, although intense every time she returned to Taki’s body.

But the issue was more than a simple feeling, which was the reason she could not tell Taki directly.

Mitsuha had never fallen head over heels for a girl before. It was one of the strangest feelings she had ever had in her life. At first she wasn’t even sure if the feelings were actually hers or something that transferred over to her. Taki’s feelings for Miki should override her own, shouldn’t they? But the more often she spent time with Miki, the more Mitsuha realized the butterflies battering their wings against her heart were her own, not Taki’s.

But really, was it any of her business to fall in love? Taki’s eyes had been on her first before crashing into his life. She wasn’t a Tokyoite. If Taki ever got his feelings across to Miki, wasn’t it fair to him to let him have the first chance at her affections? After all, this was his body. If Miki was attracted to him that didn’t mean she necessarily liked Mitsuha.

Miki hadn’t been too super into things immediately. But she had told Mitsuha that she was fun and she liked to be around more these days recently…

Was it her? Was she making a difference?

But still… her interactions with Miki were real and genuine and she couldn’t help the heartbeats that beat of sync when she wasn’t near her. She couldn’t help but recognize the difference between the way Miki had acted from early in their “relationship” to how things were now after Mitsuha had settled in.

Mitsuha cradled Taki’s phone in her hand.. The words on the screen were so… business-like and documented carefully based on lines and lines of notes. It was a matter-of-fact representation of the events that had played out that day. Who she had talked to, what she had ate, and where she had been. Of course she couldn’t record everything but she wrote as much down as she thought was necessary for him to understand the situation without going overboard, as he did for her.

Truth be told, she wished she didn’t have to be so organized. But she didn’t want to upset him.

Taki liked to have things neat and orderly. Based on the way he always rearranged the items in his room after they switched again, he liked those things put together in specific places. Mitsuha never realized if he lost something of hers in her room, but she knew for sure she didn’t want to step on his toes.

She never tried to disturb anything, as she kept the notes as neat and down to the point as humanly possible. She didn’t think he would get mad at her if she made a few mistakes—he was a bit too shy for that—but she didn’t want to rock the boat.

And she wasn’t trying to tread on toes between Taki and Miki’s love life, really! They were free to have that for themselves without a hitch if it ended up being true that Mitsuha wasn’t the one she liked.

It would be painful. If that was where Miki’s heart tugged her… Taki would be one lucky guy.

That dilemma brought her back to square one. Taki checked his phone thoroughly in case she was scatterbrained enough to put something in right spot (he had never said so, but she had a hunch). She didn’t have a way to keep personal notes intact without him noticing. Mitsuha didn’t think he would look at her notes on purpose and call her out on them, but she definitely didn’t want him to feel betrayed after finding her heartfelt words.

So, Mitsuha decided she needed her own diary. No matter what she would find a place for it to exist.

It would be a simple wish. Either way, she decided on a physical diary. She would worry about the details after she figured out somewhere to store the book away from Taki’s potential prying eyes.

Where to keep a real diary was the real obstacle.

Well, that was nice and good, but brooding about it forever wouldn’t get her anywhere. She had to be creative. He was meticulous with his things. Surely, he would see it if she put it somewhere suspicious like under his bed. That would be the worst. He would want to use it for some other reason, or he would throw it away if he didn’t recognize it.

That was one of the most inconvenient matters about not being able remembering their time in the other’s body previously; they couldn’t hint not to do certain things or touch them unless they listed it in their notes. Mitsuha wouldn’t even imply it in a harmless note. In that way, it was hard to make her own mark in besides impressing his friends

For the moment the most important part was for Mitsuha to take action and decide on the rest later. There were too many thoughts racing in her head and brimming in the depth of her soul. It drove her crazy not to write them down and express them!

Mitsuha visited the nearest stationary store. Finding the place was a chore in itself—or, perhaps, she was worrying too much about finding the “perfect diary.” It took her several stutters and blushes to get out what she was looking for to the clerk. Smiling, the clerk lead her back to the selection of diaries.

The selection in Tokyo truly was so much more varied than back home in the smaller shops! Around her she saw all kinds of styles with powder, glitter, and colorful designs. Some even had tassels or covers to make them extra pretty. She felt like she was in a wonderland looking at the rows and metal displays. How could she put only one diary?

“Oh, this one is cute,” she murmured. She examined an orange cover with sunflowers. She traced a finger over the pattern, squealing to herself as quietly as possible, not wanting to look out of place.

But her hopes crumbled a bit. Something about this diary didn’t feel right. In fact, many of these diaries didn’t feel quite “right” when she thought about the options. It would stick out like a sore thumb. She wanted an extremely cute diary. However…

Taki would certainly notice a bright yellow and orange diary cover. He would definitely see it as suspicious and would alert him to her. The thought of him reading it on accident made her blush; she didn’t want to take that chance despite her tastes.

So, she continued down the aisle. The color diaries started to fade into browns, whites, and blacks.

She found a dull, black notebook. It was bland and boring and there was nothing on it that would distinguish her inner personality. Best of all, it was completely inconspicuous and Taki might never pick it up out of curiosity. It was perfect. She pouted at it and poked its surface. Unfortunately, she would just have to bear the burden of it. Mitsuha opened the cover and looked at the clean, crisp white pages under the surface, striped with thick blue lines.

The diary was plain but effective, Mitsuha decided.

She could see herself writing in this. It wasn’t any different from a school notebook that didn’t have anything on it to show individuality. That was one thing she and Tokyo had in common, and Mitsuha wasn’t all too pleased about that similarity.

Anyway, Mitsuha had to look on the bright side! She could decorate it with cute stickers or something if it managed to pass the “Avoid Taki At All Costs” test. She could even draw her and Miki on the front—

Mitsuha quickly shook her head and hid her face behind the diary. No, she was going off track.

Nodding to herself, she went straight over to the cashier and purchased it, feeling good about herself. This would make things homey even if it wasn’t that much in the long run to leave her mark. But it still would be her super special secret to hold in such a mysterious city. Mitsuha could chronical her deepest thoughts about Tokyo and Miki and never forget.

When she got home, Mitsuha went to straight work on getting her diary pages broken in. She sat at the desk in Taki’s room and got herself comfortable in his desk chair. Now that she was there and reached for a ballpoint pen, the desk was organized… and nothing like her thinking space at home. She was used to it more stationary and color markers.

But she had to make the best out of this situation, too. It was surprising that creativity had so much to do with the work space she was in—she had never thought about being herself while filling out Taki’s homework. Their curriculums weren’t that different.

Mitsuha switched the light on above her head. She tapped her pen page. She blot a line of blue ink in a circle and wrote in Miki’s. She covered her mouth with her hand, but an electric thrill went down her spine. She was really doing this all by herself!

Smiling, she curved her hand at a tilt and crafted her handwriting carefully while crafting each word. At first she drew blanks about what she should write. Eventually, the words started to flow naturally like water. They were rough but heartfelt nonetheless.

September 4th, 2013

How do you start a new diary? I don’t know, but I feel so excited. You know, I have a diary at home I like writing in so I can keep track of my thoughts. I feel like I have more freedom with this one. Yotsuha won’t find it. I was able to buy this one because I liked it. And the store was cute! Tokyo has so many amazing things to check out and buy, doesn’t it?

I do feel a little bit guilty, I admit. I bought this with what was technically Taki’s money. But if you find this, Taki, I swear I’ll pay you back. I’ll work an extra shift to make up for the money all by myself!

Mitsuha nodded gravely. Miki might not be on shift at the time, but she didn’t want to inconvenience Taki with frivolous spending habits. She was capable.

Anyway, I don’t know where to hide this journal. While I was walking home, I thought about hiding it under the crack under the desk. I don’t think Taki would look under there unless something roll under there. He might look under his bed, and I don’t want him to get the wrong ideas or toss it like garbage.

Taki, if you read this DON’T THROW IT AWAY! IT’S MITSUHA’S! I’ll write my name on the front. I wasn’t going to, but I’ll do it for you in bright letters. Sorry if that sounds pushy but I just don’t want you to throw this away when… well, the reason is girl stuff, girl stuff! Honestly, I hope you’ll be more considerate than my sister, Yotsuha. She snoops my room and grabs my diary. I never can write anything truly personal in it or she’ll try to get me in trouble with our grandmother. I’ve hidden it everywhere I can think of, but she always finds it easily. It’s so frustrating!

Mitsuha circled and highlighted “don’t throw it away” in red. He would have no excuse not to see it there. Now that she saw how colorful it looked, perhaps she should use other colors based on her mood? Mitsuha searched through Taki’s pens and found a dark orange one. It seemed to fit her mood nicely.

Mitsuha groaned. She shouldn’t be so paranoid about him. She knew Taki well enough to know he wasn’t that kind of guy to go snooping and accuse her, but she had to set up her defenses. And she was leaving deep secrets in this room about her true feelings. She also didn’t want to rub his wounds the wrong way because she had a massive crush on his crush. When she thought about it like that, Mitsuha’s head started to spin. Yes, it was a good idea to warn him profusely and make her intentions clear.

But now that I have the formalities out of the way, Taki, don’t read anymore. This is private talk, okay? There are many things I want to say here that I can’t tell anyone. Besides, I don’t know if I’ll remember everything that happened later and I want to use this as my way to keep collection of those memories.

Miki-senpai is one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen. She’s cool, level-headed, and mature... Totally not what I am, I know I’m not! I don’t know what it is about her, but I like always being near her. I didn’t know I was into girls that way. I never thought much about dating, either. Back in Itomori everyone kind of knows everyone and I know all the boys there. Not many of them are my type? Or I just haven’t been interested in them? But Miki-senpai is different. She has a pretty smile that makes my heart want to sing and melt. She seems to share a similar enthusiasm to mine. She’s an infectious person. I want to talk to her more and more every day.

But on the other hand, I feel guilty about Taki. Taki obviously likes her. He was here first, and he’s spent more time with her than I have. I’m kind of passing through, aren’t I? We don’t know how long this will keep happening to us. Worst of all, I don’t live in Tokyo, so will I lose contact with Miki-senpai when that happens? There’s no easy way to tell right now.

I’m supposed to arrange another date with Taki and Miki-senpai… Is it so wrong to want to be Taki? To wish Miki-senpai knew it was me? It might be a selfish of me, but how I not care about the person I’m going out with and spending time with? It’s driving me crazy!

And I hate to say this, but… I’m sorry, Taki. I have a feeling Taki isn’t her type. It isn’t easy to explain, but I can’t say I know everything about Taki’s feelings. It’s so hard. I’m not a Taki expert—I know so much about him after switching with him for this long and yet I feel like she didn’t know enough. One day, I want to know more about him in person, but I think he’s too timid for Miki-senpai and not in tune with her. Am I those things because I’m another girl? I don’t know.

But that’s about all I wanted to write for now. I’m glad to get started. There are many other things I want to talk about, but I’m tired. I should gather up my thoughts and write them properly next time.

Mitsuha flopped back on the chair. Even from that much, she was purely exhausted. How would she do this every day? Could she skip a few days here and there while her experiences built up? Yet she was satisfied with her efforts. It wasn’t much but she hoped that would change over time and her journal would grow. That was all she could ask for.

As she had decided, she stashed it under the crack under his desk, glad she had decided that would be a good place. She went to sleep that night a lot more peaceful. The switch may happen and her memory might be lost until she returned to Taki’s body, but she didn’t feel as restless as she had all day long.

To her excitement, she was able to concentrate on what she wanted to talk about the next time she picked up the diary and her pens days later.

September 9th, 2013

I arranged the date with Miki-senpai for a few days from now! And I’m pretty sure I’ll be here for it. I mean, it’s Taki’s date, but I realize I don’t know how to act like Taki. I know he’s a bit reserved, but… I don’t know how to act like that. His friends act like he’s not very fun and serious a good chunk of the time. But Miki had told me she enjoys the way I’ve changed. She said, “You seem more exciting lately.” Is that really me? She blew me a kiss, and it has to be a crime… the red lipstick still makes my heart swoon a bit. I feel bad for Taki that it for me, but that makes me happy, because she genuinely likes me after all!

If it were possible, hearts would swirl around Mitsuha’s head and pop against her eyes. She pressed her hand to her cheek and thought about Miki standing close her… Touching and holding her hand…

I don’t know where we’re going on the date, though. We decided to do the “we’ll go for the flow” kind of feeling when it happens. That makes me nervous, because I want it to be perfect, obviously!

We’ve spent some time talking about it, but we already work at a restaurant. We could go to a park. The parks are so pretty here! I wouldn’t going to another café but that might not be the best place for a date. An aquarium or a zoo? Spend time in an arcade? On second thought, she might think that’s a waste of time? How about shopping out in Ginza? There’s so many options and I feel like I need a tourist guide for myself. It looks bad for me to not know what I’m doing if I’ve lived here for my whole life! Has Taki lived here his whole life?

I’ve always heard Tokyo had many opportunities, but the city is suddenly so bigger when I have to think about exactly where and when I want to be. It’s nothing like back at home—we only have so many places to visit and that’s it. But here in Tokyo it’s all so infinite. Walking around Itomori is like a one-floor shopping mall in comparison to Tokyo. It only takes a short time short time there and wandering from on trains here feels like a maze. It’s perfect for never doing the same thing! Miki should never get bored if we keep doing new things all the time like that.

I actually wouldn’t mind walking around looking for somewhere to go. Having no plan in mind, but Miki might think that’s boring. You probably should be pre-prepared for a date, Mitsuha! Especially if she’s looking forward to me being fun and lively.

Another shocking revelation hit her. She gasped, glancing at the wardrobe behind her. She didn’t see anything she wanted to immediately wear. Sadness welled up inside her and squashed her plans.

Emergency! I don’t know what to wear! If I don’t know what to wear, I don’t know how I should dress! And so much of Taki’s clothes are muted shades or professional. Where that actually leave me?

Well, I guess it doesn’t matter as much since Taki doesn’t seem like he might dress up all that much. And I don’t have all of my clothes here. But I can’t just leave this unattended, so what should I do?

I want to dress up for Miki, but even if I go to one of the shopping distracts (Ginza to get an early lay of the land! Harajuku’s sparkly fashion!) I wouldn’t know what to get. I’d take too long to think about that details. Should I just pick one of Taki’s best outfits? Something not too stuffy, but not too loose, either. It had to be a fun date no matter what happens.

One day, she had to hope that she eventually would be able to talk to Miki as her real self. If she couldn’t wear something nice that was a deal-breaker.

Mitsuha took the appropriate measures, however. She dressed in a way she hoped Taki would and likewise something that suited her. It would have to do on such short notice. To her upmost pride, she tumbled back into Taki’s room directly after the date was over, barreling over to the desk to start writing. She hit the lamp switch five times before she was able to control her fingers from shaking in bliss.

September 17th, 2013

I’m exhausted! Absolutely exhausted! Keeping up with Miki-senpai is harder than I thought possible.

Miki-senpai was far more mature than I imagined. I feel like I learned about her and myself through this whole thing. All I know is, I didn’t want it to come to an end. I was having lots of fun even though my heart was beating too fast for me to handle.

If I came here on a train with my real body and met her for the day I’m me, what would she think about me? Would she like me? Would she give me the time of day? What if Taki introduced me to her? Would she give me more of the time of day if I revealed who I was? No, that might be too crazy enough for her, but it’s a nice though, isn’t it?

Speaking of that, what I wore! Well, I didn’t want to seem too much like a stiff. I freaked about it for hours. Luckily, it was Saturday and I could devote all day to this important matter! But at the end of the day I didn’t have enough money to go out and buy anything brand new, so I had to stick with the basics. I picked the most causal outfit I could find in the closet (a red shirt, some nice dress pants, a jacket) and put it on. I also put on good white walking shoes and combed Taki’s hair. I hoped for the best. And she complimented me on my jacket and asked me where I bought it? I had no idea. To my shock she grabbed the tag peeking out from under the jacket (how did I not notice?) and looked. I didn’t know how to face her after that and looked away.

There are question I didn’t know the answer to! Now, Taki is my biggest rival and friend in all this chaos. I want Taki to be happy, though, But after today…

I’m getting ahead of myself, thinking about how I’ll really meet her instead of my date in detail…

We meet at the station. She poked me on the shoulder and laughed. I knew I would have weak knees for the entire night. The way Miki-senpai looked at me made me wonder constantly if I was doing something wrong or she was doing everything right; Miki-senpai seemed more comfortable with me now because she said my new “attitude” was cute and I didn’t run away from her this time. At times like that, I don’t know how to act like Taki at all.

I definitely don’t want to act like my “normal” self in front of her. I want to be better. I wanted to act like Taki when I remembered her interactions with him, but I eventually fell in stride with my own self. It’s just the way things are when so much was happening at once and I can only be who I am right then.

Oh, wait, but get this! I wanted to save this for the end, but I can’t get it out of my thoughts! It’s eating me alive and I want to write down this second.

Taki didn’t particularly like me taking filling up his phone with pictures. It’s no fun at all, I can’t help everything in the cafés and restaurants look too wickedly delicious! And I took a picture of some shrines and temples, dogs walking around Tokyo, some girls with pretty dresses on… but that’s all important stuff. Why doesn’t he understand?

Of course he won’t tell me outright but I notice that I can’t always find the pictures I snap later on his phone. I find them in the deleted photos! Rude! Well, I’m being intrusive and shouldn’t step on toes, but I don’t have other options in a pinch… Like I was saying, I wanted to keep those memories, like I did with Miki-senpai today. I realized I couldn’t take photos the way I wanted to and keep the photos.

That’s what you do on a date. You keep those precious moments together for years to come. I don’t know if things will last quite that long. Still…

I didn’t have to think about it too much. First, we went shopping, so we went walking around. She wanted to see some of her favorite shops and said she wanted to get me a new wallet (Taki’s wallet has a hole in the side, and I lost a 50 yen on the street). But when we were on the hunt for wallets, she grabbed my hand and pulled me towards a photo booth! My heart was pounding and I didn’t think I could squeeze into the booth with her. But we did and Miki-senpai and I took five whole rolls of photos. Some of the pictures were goofy, others serious. I didn’t get one of a kiss, but there’s one that I have of her putting her arm around my shoulder. I think that may be one of my favorites out of the batches.

I have a good idea. You know how I was saying I wanted to decorate the diary with some color? I think I use those pictures and glue them to the diary! I have to be careful. Miki-senpai said I could keep them and do what I want with them. I think I’ll decorate the inside of the diary with them and put a few under this entry, The possibilities are limitless!

We went out to eat, too. I thought she wouldn’t want to spend too much time eating at a fancy restaurant but she told me she was starving first thing. I told her I didn’t know where to go, but she pulled me along and we searched the streets for somewhere with tasty looking food on the menus outside. And when we finally found a place she ordered so much to eat! I was pretty envious of the fish she ordered, so I ordered the same thing without thinking about consequences… That probably makes me look like such a push over who can’t make up their mind. Until she laughed and told me I was cute again. I was on cloud nine, you know? And the food tasted really good. She says she has to watch her figure and knowing what to get is half the battle.

It was such a fun day. Even better? She said she wanted to go on another date with me in the future! And even, even better? She gave me a peck on the cheek after I dropped her off at the train station. Miki-senpai that I looked so worried but she appreciated how excited I was about everything all night. Was I? I can’t remember! So much happened but it’s all swirling around in my head. I might have to come back and fill in more details when I write again. My handwriting so scribbly and rushed.

I’m just so happy! I hope she asks me out on a date again and we don’t switch. Sorry Taki… maybe I should give you time to her, but can you blame me for wanting to spend more time with her?

By the time she was done writing, her cheeks were flaring red. Her words were raw and true, and she couldn’t help but let them echo into her very soul.

Mitsuha shuffled the sets of photos in her hands. She giggled and grinned like an idiot, tracing a finger over Miki’s smiling face. Every picture was perfect. She would have to think about which ones she wanted to cut off the rolls and glue to the diary.

She didn’t know how things with work out with Miki and Taki. Taki might even give her his blessings if he ever realized that she was so deeply attached to Miki, who knows? It was such a strange triangle they were in. But Mitsuha was content for that night.