I walk quietly home with Sayori. She keeps on talking about the literature club and everyone in it. I still can’t quite believe that I actually promised to join the literature club even though my knowledge on literature is pretty close to zero.
I might have gotten myself into quite a trouble, I think, frustrated about my lacking ability to say as simple a word as “no”. But the faces the girls made when I was about to refuse joining the club… damn that, call me soft-hearted, but rejecting those faces was impossible.
“Hey, are you even listening to me?” I startle as I suddenly notice that Sayori steps in front of me, forcing me to look at her. She looks annoyed, knitting her eyebrows as if I had missed something important.
“Ah, I’m sorry”, I mutter. “I was in my thoughts..”
“What were you thinking?” suddenly Sayori loses all that anger she had a second ago. She has always been like that; lively and fast to change moods. I have no idea what she was talking about earlier, but she doesn’t seem to care anymore either. She’s more interested in what’s going on in my head right now.
“Eh, just”, I hesitate. “Just.. literature club.” That’s not a lie.
“Oh”, Sayori nods and steps aside, so that we can keep on walking. “What do you think about the club? Isn’t it nice?”
Sayori smiles. She looks so innocent when she does that face of hers. I take a deep breath and look the other way.
“I think it’s cute”, I say. That makes Sayori giggle.
“The club or the girls?” she teases me. I feel heat on my cheeks.
“I meant the club”, I murmur. “But can’t say any of you would be ugly, either..”
“Eh? Are you serious?” Sayori sounds surprised. “None of us? Not even me?”
“Why would I think you’re ugly?” I laugh and look at Sayori. She looks back and blushes a little.
“Eh.. no, not for any reason. I just… you never say things like that out loud”, she twists her hands, looking a bit uneasy about the conversation.
“Oh, don’t I?” I think about it. Sayori’s probably right. I rarely say anything about girls’ looks, or anyone’s looks to be honest. I don’t really care about things like that. Or so I’ve thought.
“No, you always seem just annoyed by everything”, Sayori continues. “As if you didn’t care about anything or anyone. But that’s not true, is it? I know you care about many things! Like..” Sayori hesitates.
“Like?” I grin. I know that Sayori was about to say “me”, but she backed up at the last second. Sayori meets my eyes and comes up with an answer.
“Games”, she says. “You play a lot. And watch anime. And maybe someday you have a girlfriend who you care about, too.”
“That sounds like I don’t have a life at the moment”, I laugh. “How about friends? Who doesn’t care about their friends?”
“But you are always alone”, Sayori seems confused.
“You are my friend, silly”, I sigh and poke Sayori’s forehead. We have arrived at our houses and I stop at the gates. Sayori touches lightly her forehead where I poked her and looks at me. Then suddenly she laughs.
“Oops, of course”, she smiles. Somehow the smile seems a bit forced, but I decide to not say anything about it. She’s probably just embarrassed about her own stupidness. “And soon you’ll have even more friends, when you get to know everyone at the club!”
“Yeah, I hope so”, I nod. Sayori takes a few slow steps backwards towards her house.
“I’ll see you tomorrow!” she waves at me. When I wave back, Sayori turns around and runs inside. I shake my head and walk into my own house. Entering the silence of my room, I feel the anxiousness of writing a poem creeping in.
I have never written a poem before, I think, scratching the back of my head. This won’t be beautiful, but I’ve got to try… for their sake. I can’t return empty handed at this point.
I grab a pen and start looking around my room. How do I write a poem?
I write down a word. It doesn’t seem good, so I erase it and try another word. I continue to write the line ‘til the end and stare at the first line of my poem, feeling embarrassed and frustrated about it.
Maybe I’ll just write down random words and see what comes out of it , I think, but even though I’m tempted to do so, I decide to actually try writing a poem with some sense in it. Though now that I come to think of it, do poems usually make sense after all?
Sharing the poem with the girls wasn’t that horrible in the end. I feel relieved. I was sure, that I would get some nasty comments from Natsuki or that Monika would laugh at my scribble. But no, everyone said something nice about my poem, even Yuri, whose own poem seemed so mature and different compared to others’.
“Well, it wasn’t that horrible, was it?” Sayori leans towards me after we’ve all read all the poems.
“I guess so”, I shrug and smile. “Maybe tomorrow even you have put a little bit of effort to your poem.”
“Eh, why are you so mean?” Sayori pouts her lips. “I did put effort to my poem today, too!”
“But you wrote it this morning, didn’t you?” I smirk. Sayori blushes a bit and mutters something I can’t really hear.
“Hey Sayori, would you go find some equipment for making the festival poster?” Monika suggests, smiling gently as her habit is. “Some markers and poster paper, at least.”
Sayori seems lightened up all of a sudden.
“Yush! I will!” she jumps up of her seat and looks at me. “Will you help me find some stuff for the posters?”
I look up to Sayori. She’s so excited about going for an adventure through the empty classrooms, and even though I’m not too interested about the school festival or the poster making, I agree to go with her. She probably couldn’t carry everything by herself, and she especially asked for me to help, so I don’t really have a reason to say no.
Sayori rubs her forehead the whole walk back home. She hit her head to a shelf while looking for crayons and stuff from a classroom closet, and a clear bruise is forming to her forehead. Sayori tried to hide it with her bangs, but Natsuki still pointed the bump out when we got back to the club room. Sayori seemed more bothered by Natsuki’s comment than the bruise itself back then, but now she seems more in pain again.
“Sayori, does it still hurt?” I ask. Sayori startles and forces a smile.
“Eh, no, not at all, I was just in my thoughts”, she explains. I sigh.
“It’s okay to say if it hurts. You don’t need to be tough for me, I can see through you”, I shake my head.
“See through me?” Sayori repeats confused. I nod.
“Yeah. We’ve been friends for so long, it’s pretty easy, you know.”
A weird look appears on Sayori’s face, but it passes so quickly I think it was just my imagination.
“Yeah”, Sayori laughs. “I hope it stays this way. Forever.”
I smile and wave a goodbye. Sayori waves back and rushes home, quickly brushing her bangs with her fingers to hide the bruise better. I can’t help but smile at her. Sayori’s always been clumsy, but she tries so hard to hide it and be useful.
Days in the club pass and festival day comes closer. We’ve been practising performing our poems, and everyone seems to get better at it. I still don’t feel it working out for me, though. No matter how hard I try to make it right, I feel dumb reading my poems out loud.
And what bothers me more is Sayori’s actions lately. She left the club early yesterday, looking a bit down. Monika said that she wasn’t feeling too good and left home to get better, but she didn’t come to school today either. I hope it’s just an ordinary flu, but she didn’t answer any of my messages, either, so I’m feeling a bit worried anyway.
I’m only half listening to others. They are talking about festival arrangements during the weekend, since we still have a lot to do before monday. Advertisements, cupcakes, program, decorations…
“...would you like to help?”
Suddenly I realize that Monika asked me a question. All three of the girls are staring at me, waiting for my answer.
“Ah, I’m sorry, I think I didn’t hear the question”, I mumble. Natsuki rolls her eyes, like saying did you even listen . Yuri looks away.
“I asked, who would you like to help?” Monika repeats, patient as ever. “We all have a lot to do, any of us would gladly take a helping pair of hands.”
I look at everyone in the room one by one, and think about it. Helping anyone would be fine by me, but I can’t stop thinking about Sayori.
“I.. I’d like to go see Sayori”, I finally manage to say. I scratch the back of my head, feeling a bit embarrassed for some reason. “I want to make sure she’s okay.. and if she’s still feeling sick, I could maybe do her part of the work, then. Or at least share it, so she won’t have too much to do while sick.”
“No way, Sayori’s working with Monika already”, Natsuki protests, pouting her lips.”They already share a job, you should help me or Yuri instead!”
“Didn’t you just say that you can handle the cupcakes on your own?” Monika teases. Natsuki seems to blush a little.
“Well.. yeah.. I do”, she mumbles and crosses her arms. “But if he doesn’t have anything else to do either, then I could take him to help me… not that I’d really need him to help.”
Monika laughs a bit.
“I think it’s fine”, Yuri says, looks at me and then looks quickly away, blushing as she usually does when she accidentally speaks up. “I-I mean.. if Sayori is sick, then.. it might be too much for her, I mean… Sayori and Monika have a lot to do, so.. I…”
“I agree”, Monika nods, saving Yuri from her own, clumsy speech. “Sayori needs you right now. And if she’s feeling better, then you could help Natsuki or Yuri on sunday. I have everyone’s number, so you can just ask Sayori to message me.”
Monika smiles at me, and I can’t help but smile back. She’s so gentle and understanding. Natsuki seems unhappy with the decision, but quits complaining since Monika seems so confident about it. Yuri seems just embarrassed by her sudden decision to speak up her mind and stares at her hands.
When the club is over, I walk straight to Sayori’s house to see her and tell about the plan. And above everything, to check if she’s all right or if she needs something. I knock on the door and Sayori opens the door, wearing a comfy looking home clothes. It might be a pyjama to be honest, since I don’t know much about girls’ clothes. Sayori’s hair is all puffy, since she hasn’t made any effort to look decent while hanging at home.
“Oh, I.. I didn’t expect you”, Sayori mumbles and lets me in. “I’m sorry, come in.”
I follow Sayori upstairs to her room. It’s exactly how I remember it; messy and filled with plushies and drawings on the walls. Here and there are photographs as well, and a calendar with scribbles and markings on different dates.
“I used to clean your room up for you”, I say, sitting down on Sayori’s bed. She sits next to me, smiling. But there’s something wrong with the smile. It’s not the happy, innocent smile I’m used to seeing on Sayori’s face. It’s a sad smile, a painful smile.
“Sayori, is everything okay?” I ask. I feel stupid. She doesn’t seem to be okay, so I should rather ask what’s wrong. Sayori laughs quietly.
“Ah, I’m sorry”, she looks away. “It’s.. I need to tell you something. I’m.. I’ve been depressed pretty much my whole life. The happy Sayori you know… that’s only me half of the time. Not even that much always. There are days, when it’s hard for me to get out of bed. Days, when it feels like.. sleeping forever would be better. Days, when I can’t find a reason to live.”
I feel shocked. Sayori? Depressed? For such a long time, and I never had a clue!
“But why didn’t you tell me this earlier?” I whisper.
“I… I think I.. didn’t want to worry you”, Sayori manages to laugh a little. I see tears in her eyes. “I was afraid that… it would affect you somehow. Make you more sad. I just want everyone to be happy around me. I thought that I… I could be happy, if everyone else was happy, too. If you were happy.”
“Sayori”, I lean forward to hug her. “You should’ve told me. I’m glad that you told me now. I’m happy if I can make you happy.”
“I don’t know how to be happy”, she whispers. Her tears wet my shirt, but I don’t really care. I tighten my arms around her shoulders and listen to her open up. “It’s so scary. I don’t know what to do. It’s like stumbling in the darkness, unable to find light. Sometimes there are flickers, like candles that burn for a moment and then they are gone and I’m lost again. It’s so hard to find a reason to keep going, when there is barely any hope left. And that’s scary. I’m scared. I feel so weak…”
“Shh”, I press my face to her hair. It’s soft even though she hasn’t washed it today, and tickles my nose. “Everything will be alright. You don’t always have to be strong. I’m here for you, you know? I’m always here for you. I can be your candle in the dark. Just tell me, when it feels like you’re lost, okay? I can’t help you if I don’t know you need help.”
Sayori cries for a moment and I hold her in my arms. Finally she pulls herself slightly back and dries her eyes.
“I’m sorry”, she says and smiles sadly again. “I just.. I didn’t want you to see me like this. You can’t be happy if you see me cry like this.”
“Stop that”, I shake my head and move a flock of hair off Sayori’s face. “You’ll need to stop trying to figure everything out by yourself. Let me be there for you. That’s what friends are for, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so”, she smiles at me. It’s painful to see her smile like that. That’s not the Sayori I know. That sad smile is not her. How do I make her happy again, so that she can smile like she used to smile at me? That happy, carefree smile of a girl who’s so clumsy and so lively all the time.
“So, why did you come here today?” Sayori asks, changing the subject while drying the last tears off her cheeks.
“To see if you needed help”, I say. “School festival arrangements or anything. I can be with you the whole weekend, if you need.”
Sayori stares at me, surprised by my words.
“Oh, I don’t think I need any help”, she says, smiling a bit more confident this time. “We’re sharing the tasks with Monika, so there’s not that much to do anymore.”
I smile back at her.
“I could still spend the weekend with you”, I insist. “We could watch a movie together on sunday, when the job is done. I could order us some pizza, too. With apple juice and popcorn. I think I still have some popcorn at home..”
“That’s so kind of you, but really, you don’t need to”, Sayori shakes her head. “I’m sure someone else needs you…”
“No one needs me more than you”, I interrupt. “Seriously, Sayori, after what you just told me, how could I not spend more time with you and make you feel better? That would be really heartless, even from me.”
“Do you think you’re heartless?” she asks. I grin.
“It’s usually you, who calls me a meanie ”, I point out. Sayori laughs.
“Fine. We’ll see a movie. But only, if it’s not anime!”
On sunday I arrive at Sayori’s place like we decided. I bring a couple of movies for Sayori to choose from and a bag of popcorn and a big bottle of apple juice. I sit back while Sayori works on the festival arrangements, and comment on her working whenever she allows me to. Quite often she asks for my opinion herself, so I really am quite active on helping her choose between this and that considering the festival. Finally she shuts down her computer and puts the papers in a messy pile on her desk.
“I’m ready for a movie, now”, she says, stretching her arms. “Woah, that was quite a lot of work! Did you already order the pizza?”
“I did, maybe half an hour ago”, I take a quick look at the clock. “They probably arrive just in time, if we make the popcorn now and set up our movie watching nest.”
“Movie watching nest?” Sayori giggles. “Like when we were little? With plushies and blankets and everything?”
“Yes”, I nod. “A nest with aaaall the plushies and pillows you have! And then we sit there, in warmth, watching the movie and eating pizza and popcorn and drinking cola and apple juice.”
“That sounds great!” Sayori jumps up and hurries to see the bag I brought with me. “What movies did you bring this time? Ohh, I hope you chose some good ones!”
Sayori grabs the movies from my bag and drops is on my lap. I take the popcorn bag out and read the instruction behind it. It’s been ages since I last made us popcorn , I think, though the instructions are simple and sound familiar. Sayori is reading the backs of the movies. I brought three; a romantic comedy, an adventure movie and some sort of a musical.
“It’s so hard to choose!” Sayori complains, pouting her lips. “These all sound so good! We should watch them all, you know.”
“You’ll have to choose one for now. We can watch the rest of them later, too.”
Sayori doesn’t seem happy with my words, but finally ends up choosing the musical. She makes me promise, that we’ll see the other movies too, maybe next weekend or the one after that.
I smile. She seems more like herself today again. I can’t be sure if it’s because of me or if she just has a better day, but I for sure will try my best to make her every day like this.
Sayori insisted on walking me out. I said a million times that I can find my way out myself, and that she could just go to bed. But however hard I told her that, she still came out to see me home.
“Seriously, Sayori, you’ll just catch a cold”, I say. Sayori’s wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, but she just shakes her head and smiles.
“It’s not even cold yet”, she says. “I wanted to see you home safely.”
I smile at her.
“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” I ask. “The boy sees the girl home safe, you know?”
Sayori laughs embarrassed.
“Eheh, I guess so”, she forces a smile.
“Are you feeling okay?” I ask. I feel a bit nervous about her smile again. She feels like off focus. Sayori looks me in the eyes.
“I like you really, really much”, she whispers. I can see her eyes glimmer, as if she had tears in them again. “Please promise me this will never change between us.”
I stare at Sayori’s eyes. Then, just a heartbeat later, I catch Sayori in my arms and hug her tight.
“I love you, Sayori”, I whisper back. “Whatever it takes, I’ll be there for you. Forever.”
I can feel Sayori tremble. She lets out a quiet laughter.
“I’m glad to hear that”, her voice is quiet, cracking. She answers my hug shyly, but tight.
“Good night, Sayori”, I say when she lets me go. I smile, and hesitating, she smiles back.
“Good night”, Sayori answers with a faint smile on her lips. “Thank you.”
I stand on the street until Sayori has gone back inside, and only then I walk back home as well. I keep thinking about Sayori the whole evening. I should wake her up in the morning , I think, brushing my teeth. We could walk to school together, like we always used to. Like we still do when she does get up on time. Maybe I could help her with that. Maybe I could be the reason why she gets up in the morning.
I go to bed, smiling at the thought of waking Sayori up with a kiss on the forehead, or buying her a bread from the bakery on our way to school.
I will do my best. As a friend or as a boyfriend, whichever she likes. Heck, does that even matter which one I am? I will keep her safe anyway.
I wake up with butterflies in my stomach. It’s way too early to get up, and I try to fall back asleep - failing it. I sigh and get up. I was my face and look at the clock.
Wow, did I even sleep? I think. It’s not even morning yet, more likely in the middle of the night. The sun hasn’t risen yet and it’s dark and cold outside. I stand in my room, looking out of the window. I start suddenly thinking of Sayori. I confessed quite suddenly to her yesterday, and I’m not quite sure if that was a good idea. She has so much on her mind already. What if she gets even more stressed by this? Even though confessing felt like the right choice at the moment, now I’m just feeling anxious about it. I should’ve asked her. Fair and square. But she felt so distant during the evening, even though she was so lively during the day…
I decide to go spend the rest of the night at Sayori’s place. If she sleeps, I will sleep on the couch or something. If she’s awake, stressed by the festival, maybe I could comfort her. Or we could read poems out loud together, if training makes it easier for her.
I grab my stuff and walk out. I don’t bother to dress up just yet, so I throw my school uniform in a bag and go in my sleepwear. It’s pretty cool outside, since I’m only wearing a t-shirt and shorts. I can see a dim light in the distance, the sun getting ready to rise. It’s so early. And cold. I better hurry up, or else I’ll catch a cold .
I’ve always known where the spare key is, so I can get in without waking the whole neighbourhood up. I know Sayori’s home alone, so there’s no need to explain anyone in the morning, either. Not that Sayori’s parents would mind; I’ve always been like family, since we’ve always been so close with Sayori.
I knock on the door, quietly, hoping that I won’t wake Sayori up, in case she happens to be asleep.
I gently open the door.
Sayori stands on a chair in the middle of her room. She has a rope around her neck, tied to the roof. Her eyes are closed, and even though the room is dim, I can see that she’s been crying again.
The sound of an opening door startles Sayori. She opens her eyes and stares at me, her eyes filled with confusion and fear.
“E-- wha-- what are you doing here?” she manages to ask. Her voice is cracking and low, like when you have a sore throat and can’t speak properly.
“What are you doing?” I answer with a question, shocked by the scene I walked in. I don’t know if I should answer honestly about not being able to sleep, but I feel my heart beat really fast and I can’t focus on anything else but Sayori standing there a rope around her neck. “Sayori, no. Please. Didn’t I promise to help you? Didn’t I promise to be there for you? Don’t throw that away. Don’t do this to me.”
Sayori’s eyes fill up with tears again and she looks away.
“I’m… ah, I’m sorry…” she barely whispers. She grabs the rope around her neck with both hands and sobs. I reach my hand slowly forward. I feel a frog in my throat. I’m afraid. I want to stop her, but I’m not sure if I can. It feels so surreal, so wrong, so scary.
“Sayori…” my whisper is quiet, really quiet. I feel like I can’t breathe. I might have tears in my eyes, too.
Sayori hears my voice and looks down at me again. I don’t recognize the look in her eyes now. It’s still scared and desperate, but there’s something mixed in. I have a weird feeling that it’s a good thing.
“Will the pain go away, if I die?” Sayori sobs quietly. I shake my head.
“No. It will just change the person. If you die, I’ll be the one in pain.”
Sayori starts to remove the rope. It’s pretty tight, so her hair gets all messed up, or well, even more messed than it was before. She has almost removed the rope properly, when she suddenly loses her balance and falls. I startle and rush towards her. I feel the chair hit my leg painfully, but my focus is on Sayori. I manage to catch her, but since my balance is no good either, we both fall on the floor, Sayori on top of me. I hit my back to the floor, but lucky enough my head doesn’t hit anything. I can feel Sayori breathe heavily, her heart beats faster than mine and her skin feels cold.
“I’m sorry”, Sayori cries. I put my hands properly around her.
“Shh, it’s fine, you’re safe now”, I try my best to convince her about it, even though I’m afraid it being a lie. I thought she was safe tonight as well, but I almost lost her. What kind of a friend.. boyfriend.. friend am I?
It takes nearly an hour for Sayori to stop sobbing. All that time I just lay there with her, holding her in my arms and keeping her warm. I hope that my presence makes her feel safe again. I push back the thought what if it doesn’t . I can’t afford that what if scenario right now. If I can’t make her feel safe and needed, I’ll lose her forever.
Sayori mumbles something against my chest. I can’t catch a word of her speech.
“Say that again? I didn’t quite hear you.”
“...m hungry”, Sayori repeats, only half raising her face from my chest.
“You’re hungry?” I make sure I heard right. Sayori nods a little. A tiny laughter escapes from me, and I pat her head. “Then we’d best go downstairs and make you some breakfast. I think it’s late enough for breakfast, don’t you?”
I think I see a small smile on Sayori’s face, when she gets up and dries her face with her sleeves. I get up as well, stretching my slightly hurting back, and follow Sayori downstairs. The kitchen is tidier than Sayori’s room, but definitely a mess. Sayori opens the fridge, but I gently move her aside.
“Sit down, Sayori. I’ll make us breakfast”, I say, forcing her sit aside.
“Eh, but you don’t need to---” I press my finger on Sayori’s lips to quiet her.
“Shh. I said I’ll make us breakfast, so you’d better shut up and wait nicely.” I smile, making my rude words seem more of a joke. Sayori answers my smile, looking a bit uncertain.
“Okay, then”, she agrees. “Make us breakfast. Make us something good. Like eggs and toast! Like in the movies!”
“I’ll see what you have in these pantries”, I say while opening a wooden door to see inside. I look through every pantry and whole fridge to find all the equipments for cooking something. I’m not a master in the kitchen, but I decide to try this morning. For Sayori’s sake. Besides, it’s funny how she tries to keep herself from coming to do the job for herself. She clearly isn’t used to me preparing her breakfast while she is just ordered to sit aside, waiting doing nothing.
Luckily we don’t have to hurry today. As said, I’m no master in the kitchen, and it takes a bit longer than expected for me to get the breakfast done. It doesn’t look as good as I had hoped, but I’m proud I didn’t burn anything. I put everything to the table nicely, or as nicely as I can, and sit next to Sayori.
“Fried eggs, toast with honey or butter, apple slices, orange juice, coffee and milk”, I list up everything I put to the table. “I hope this will feed you good enough.”
Sayori looks at me, smiling sincerely. When have I last seen that smile? I think, feeling my heart miss a beat.
“Whoa, it looks so yummy!” Sayori is like a child again. She looks at everything on the table, like being unable to decide where to start. “..but where are the cookies and croissants?”
“You don’t have any cookies or croissants”, I shake my head. “Besides, cookies are not breakfast.”
“There are cookies hidden on the top shelf”, Sayori points at a pantry next to the fridge. I sigh and get my chair to reach the top shelf. The cookies are really well hidden, since I didn’t see them before Sayore pointed them for me. I take the cookie jar to the table with me and block it with my hand, so that Sayori can’t grab a cookie yet.
“First you’ll have to eat something salty”, I try to make a serious face. “You’ll stomach will start hurting, if you only eat sweets for breakfast.”
Sayori sighs, giggles and takes a toast. She put a thick layer of honey on her toast and bites a mouthful of crunchy bread. Some honey sticks on the tip of her nose, making her a bit silly looking.
“You’re such a dumdum”, I mutter and take a napkin to help Sayori with the honey on her face. Sayori wrinkles her nose.
“Itchy!” she complains.
“Well, it’s your fault, being such a clumsy eater”, I say. Suddenly our eyes meet. I’m holding Sayori’s chin with my hand and as I lower the napkin, I start feeling odd. I feel dizzy looking into Sayori’s eyes, and I can hear my heartbeat very clearly. Tu-dum. Tu-dum. Tu-dum. The rhythm rings through my body. I can feel it in my fingertips and hear it in my ears. Or is it Sayori’s heartbeat I can sense while I’m this close? It’s hard to tell. Maybe our hearts share the rhythm.
Sayori’s lips part lightly. I swallow. It feels like the time is slowing down. I’m not sure which one of us leans forward first, or do we that at the same time. At some point our lips just touch gently and we kiss.
I have never kissed anyone before and so far as I know, neither has Sayori. The kiss is not as smooth as the kisses in the movies seem like. It’s a shy kiss and probably a bit clumsy - how would I know, since I don’t have experience in this. I slightly open my eyes. When did I even close them? I can’t remember. I can see that Sayori’s eyes are closed too.
It feels like an eternity, even though it probably was just a quick first kiss for both of us. As we depart, I can see Sayori blushing. My cheeks feel hot as well, so I guess my face is red like a tomato as well. I smile awkwardly. I have no idea what I should say right now, but the silence feels somewhat odd, too. Sayori looks into my eyes.
“Ah- are we.. a couple now?” Sayori asks. The question feels silly, but I decide to take is seriously.
“If you want us to be”, I shrug. “We can also pretend that nothing happened and continue as friends, like we used to be. I’m fine with both ways.”
It’s not quite true. During these couple of days I’ve realized how much I actually care about Sayori, not only as a friend but in a deeper emotional way. It’s hard to explain but easy to understand once you have that emotional connection with someone. But there’s the scary part, when you’re not sure if the connection is real or just your imagination.
“I’m really lucky to have you”, she says. “I.. I’m scared. But in a different way. Would this work between us?”
I look Sayori in the eyes.
“If you want to try, I want to try, too”, I answer. Sayori giggles.
“That’s not a proper answer”, she claims.
“It is proper enough for me”, I smirk. “I don’t want to push you over your limits, so if you don’t want to answer me, then..”
Sayori waves a hand in front of my face, laughing.
“You’re so silly”, she giggles. “Of course I do! I’m just.. it’s not easy to fall for your childhood friend, you know?”
“Then we’re in the same boat”, I nod. “It sounds like every shoujo manga ever.”
Sayori looks weirdly at me.
“I didn’t know you read shoujo”, Sayori giggles. “Which one is better, Sailor Moon or Tokyo Mew Mew?”
I feel the heat on my cheeks again.
“I-- no, I didn’t say I’d…” I try to defend myself, but that only makes Sayori laugh harder.
“I’m just kidding, don’t take it so seriously”, she smiles and grabs her piece of toast. “I’m still hungry”, she complains, taking another big bite of the bread. I laugh a little too and reach for the egg plate. I suddenly realize that my stomach is grumbling empty as well, and all the food is just making it worse. But the food will get rid of the hunger, too , I think smiling.
Sayori looks at the clock, munching a cookie.
“I’ll need to go to shower before we leave”, she says, swallowing the rest of the cookie. I look at the food we didn’t eat yet.
“I’ll pack the rest for us as lunch”, I suggest. “So we can eat it together during lunch break.”
“That sounds great!” Sayori jumps up happily. “I’ll go get ready. I promise I’ll be fast~”
Sayori hurries upstairs and I can’t help but smile. I look for the lunch boxes in the cupboard and hear the shower turn on. The lunch boxes are hard to find, surprisingly enough, but finally I can find two pretty cute boxes from another cupboard. I pack the rest of our breakfast in them and add a couple of cookies for both of us. An extra cookie for Sayori, though, since I know she likes them a lot.
The shower has gone off. I hope Sayori’s ready soon and sit down to wait for her. The boxes look cute together. I bet they are from Sayori’s childhood times, but I couldn’t find any mature boxes to pack our lunches in. Well, Sayori won’t complain. She maybe calls me silly for choosing these, but does that really matter?
Suddenly I realize that I don’t have my school uniform on yet either. I’d best go change it on. I wonder if Sayori’s already dressed? I’d best give her a warning I’m coming upstairs too…
I walk to the stairs and listen. Sayori’s humming in her room.
“Sayori?” I call. “I need to change my school uniform on. Can I come up?”
“Uh, sure you can!” Sayori answers. “I’m not ready yet though, I hope it’s okay!”
Well, if you say so , I walk up and straight to Sayori’s room. I walk through the door quietly, peeking in first. Sayori has her shirt and skirt on, so I sigh relieved. She’s looking for her socks in her closet, so I grab my bag and start changing. I’m almost dressed up when Sayori giggles.
“Ah, I’m sorry”, she blushes as I turn to see what’s so funny. Sayori pulls her sweater vest over her head and it makes her hair go all messy. “I just don’t think we’ve ever prepared for school like this.”
Now that I come to think of it, neither do I. I smile and button my blazer up.
“Are you ready soon?” I ask. Sayori looks around.
“In a moment”, she answers, looking for something. “Have you seen my bow? The red one. The one I always wear in my hair.. hey, didn’t that have a nice rhythm in it?” Sayori giggles. I sigh and look around.
“Here it is”, I grab the bow that was laying on Sayori’s desk. I give it to Sayori, who immediately puts it in her hair.
“There, now I’m ready”, Sayori jumps up. I shake my head slowly and smile.
“Don’t forget your blazer, silly”, I point at the gray jacket on her bed. Sayori stares at the blazer and then laughs embarrassed.
“Oh, I’m an air-head!” she mumbles and puts the blazer on. “ Now I’m ready to go, really!”
We’re still in no hurry, so I double check that we have everything we need to bring along to the festival. We leave the house talking, or more likely I listen to Sayori talk and answer only when she asks me something. She’s acting her usual self again; talkative and excited about the festival.
Monika is already in the classroom, reading her papers and looking around. She sees us when we enter the room and smiles.
“Oh, you two are pretty early today!” Monika states, lowering her papers. “Yuri and Natsuki are not here yet, but we could move the tables aside already to make some space.”
We take our bags to the back of the classroom and start moving tables. Sayori is humming again, except for the moment when she drops a chair and screams a little.
“Ahaha, no worries, I was just startled a bit”, Sayori says. “Oh, I’m so clumsy…”
“It’s okay”, I smile at Sayori. She smiles back and hurries to take the chair to its place.
Monika comes closer.
“Is she alright?” Monika asks me quietly. I hesitate, but nod.
“I think she is”, I look at Sayori, who’s organizing the chairs into rows close to where we’ve planned to have the stage to perform our poems. “At least she’s better now. She knows I’m there for her.”
Monika smiles. That smile still makes my heart beat faster, and feel somewhat uneasy.
“That’s good to hear”, Monika answers. Natsuki and Yuri walk in right then and Sayori greets them happily. She tries to snitch a cupcake from Natsuki’s pile and gets some really angry comments back from her. Yuri puts her accessories on the table next to Natsuki’s cupcakes and sighs.
“She’s lucky to have you.”
I smile and meet Monika’s eyes. She smiles and walks past me. Something in her smile makes me feel that she’s not completely sincere about it, but I let the thought pass. I follow her up to see what Yuri has made for our decorations. She has done a good job with them. All of the decorations are creative and interesting, and I bet they will bring a good mood into the Literature Club festival room. We start to put the decorations up all together, and Natsuki makes the cupcake and tea table look really pretty, too. Everyone’s working hard on getting the room pretty. A couple of teachers stop by to see how we’re doing, and even they seem impressed about the room.
“We’re almost done”, Monika says, setting a few program flyers on a table close to the door. Sayori smiles.
“It looks so pretty”, Sayori sighs, turning around in the middle of the room. “You can really feel the inspiration flow in here, don’t you?”
I step next to Sayori and stop her by grabbing her to my side. I give a quick kiss on her forehead and smile. I can see others react to it a bit; Yuri startles and looks away, Natsuki’s eyes widen a bit and then she smirks, Monika smiles and turns her eyes away. Sayori herself blushes a bit and laughs nervously.
“Eeh, we should finish the arrangements”, she slips away from my half-hugging hold and hurries to help Monika with the flyers. “Do we have the big poster to tape on the outside of the door?” Sayori asks. Monika points at the poster and Natsuki grabs the tape.
“You’ll never get that poster up by yourself”, Natsuki states and walks out of the door. “Where should we put it? Here, maybe?”
Sayori goes outside to help Natsuki with the poster and I can hear them chat friendly. Yuri sets some candles to the room and looks for the lighter to light the candles up. Monika dims the lights by closing the curtains. The room starts to feel very comfortable and I look around, suddenly excited about the festival. There’s a soft smell in the air as well, but I can’t quite tell what it is. It feels good though, relaxing in a way.
“You are smiling.”
I haven’t noticed that Sayori has walked up to me again. She smiles at me with that cute, sincere smile I’m used to seeing on her face. Natsuki and Monika have gone to help Yuri with the candles, and the room is lighting up with the soft, flickery light of the flames.
Without a word I nod. Sayori lets out a little laughter and reaches to kiss me softly.
“This will be the best festival day ever”, she whispers cheerfully. I have to agree with that. Everything is set up perfect, and even with her hidden depression, I can feel the future being quite bright for me and Sayori.
Sayori takes my hand and before pulling me to others’ presence she whispers: “I hope everything will last forever like this between us.”
Suddenly confident about it, I answer just as quietly: “I promise it will. Forever.”
Adventure of childhood friends,
a sparkle in the precious memories
A warm sunset of happiness,
above the ocean of sadness
Where fireflies dance,
around a broken treasure
And they sing a promise,
of the nature of love