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Heart À La Mode

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Your voice is my alarm clock today,

Speaking through the phone.

But somehow sleep is keep inviting me back.

Nope. No wake up yet. ‘Good Night’ again.

That’s my classic morning routine.

Guess the coffee can will have to do for today.

Rushing to meeting you—

“Sorry! Can we still make it?”

—Heart À La Mode by Deco*27

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[ Heart À La Mode ]

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“Ray! Ray! RAY!”

Ray throws his pillow onto the wall and silently curses whoever banging at his door at God-knows-ungodly-hour-it-is o’clock. Don’t they know just how late he stayed awake last night to work on his project that Professor Yugoo stubbornly demanded to be revised again?!

He opens the door and comes face-to-face with his dear little sister.

“Hh… What, Anna? Do you even know what time is it? It’s still like, seven in the morn—”

“RAY!”

“…No need to shout at my face.”

“You need to help me!”

Finally taking in his sister’s rarely panicked state, he suddenly becomes more alert.

“What is it? Is someone hurting you? Someone threatening you? Some boys annoy—”

“Nat asked me on a date!”

“…”

“Ray…?”

“Come again?”

“Nat asked me for a movie date and I said yes but I wasn’t aware that he meant it as a date because I was just woke up when I replied to his chat and I didn’t think that he really meant it now but turns out he really meant it now and—”

“Wait. Just who the heck asking some on a date at seven a.m.?!”

“Um…Nat? I mean, he said he’s just got back from a concert in Osaka last night and he needs to take a plane to another concert in Amsterdam later this afternoon and he said he won’t be back to town again for a few weeks and I really miss him too since he has so little time to be visiting here lately so when he commented on my Instagram post saying we should meet I just—”

Ray sighs loudly.

“Hold on. I’m not awake enough yet for this.”

But of course, he’d ended up helping Anna. Because Anna is his dear precious little sister and he is her dependable big brother, of course.

…Actually, Emma calls it a sister complex. But he much prefers to go with the terms dependable and responsible, thank you.

Well, besides, anything about Anna that involves Nat always end up amusing. It just always is.

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It had started a few years ago. They’re all still children. Anna was still an innocent, adorable little girl. He himself was still a… not so innocent, …not so little, boy. Oh, well. And Nat was still a little kid who had just moved in with his family into the neighborhood. Nat was a little kid who really loved to play various instruments every day and night—making many of the neighbors cooing at him at his talent and some others glared at his family at the disturbing loud noises.

Apparently, that was how the boy had seduced his little sister. At the mere age of six no less.

“Anna, how was your first day?” he asked that day.

Ray honestly always hated first terms. It always meant new teachers, new classes, and new faces. Lots of practically strangers he needed to associate with again. But well, it was Anna’s first day of school, so he was willing to put aside his lack of enthusiasm.

“It was so fun!” said Anna cheerily, as expected.

“Good.”

“Um, Ray…” Anna called out again, playing with her uniform’s hem, hesitantly. “Today…today I met someone.”

“…Was it a boy?”

“It’s a boy,” Anna confirmed shyly, unaware to the crisis going through his brother.

“Okay, so he’s a boy—”

“He’s in my class too! And…and…he’s pretty.”

Ray sucked in a sharp breath.

“H-he said that he likes me…”

Ray chocked on air.

“A-and I said that I like him too!”

Ray wondered whether he should be happy or scandalized at the information.

“And, um, he said since we like each other, we should give each other something special. He said when he grows up, he’ll write a music for me. I don’t know what to give him, so I said that I’d probably do the same. But, uhm, I don’t understand it. What’s so special about ‘music’? It’s just a five-letters word. Even Conny who’s only three years old now can already spell it and write it. Maybe Nat has special handwriting? And ‘music’ is his favorite word?”

Ray stared blankly for a moment. Then he laughed. He didn’t think he ever laughed that much before that day.

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“Raaaay!”

“What? I’m still sorting over your hair pins here—”

“Where’s my cardigan? The baby blue one! It’s my favorite one and I’ve search it all over my room but—”

“Um, I might or might not put it in the laundry yesterday?”

 “What?! Why would you—”

“It had a freaking ketchup stain on it! A large stain!”

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Nat and Anna had only grown closer since that day. Ray remembers, on his fifteen birthday the two had come up to him and gave him something……not particularly good nor important. But still, since it’s partly from his dear little sister he happily accepted it.

“What is this?”

“A drawing of the musical theatre last week! You seem to really enjoyed it, so we draw our favorite scene for your gift!” Anna said excitedly. Nat also beamed beside her.

As it turned out, Nat really was some kind of musical prodigy. He just had his first piano competition last week, at his eight years old age. The next day, Ray had treated them both to watch a musical play at the local theatre in their city, partly as congratulation gift for Nat and partly just to make his little sister happy.

“Look! We made a birthday cake too! We looked up tutorials from online videos. Anna did the icing and I’m the one who baked the cake!” Nat said proudly.

The cake had tasted like a cardboard and raw sugar. But Ray didn’t say anything because he didn't dare breaking his little sister’s happy mood.

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“Ray! Do you think I should go with the peach blush on or the baby pink one?”

“…Do I really look I’d know anything about makeups?”

“Raaay!”

“Anna, I’m pretty sure any kind of makeup you wear wouldn’t really matter to Nat. You’re both childhood friends. He has seen you messily covered in flour and butter—”

“That was one time, and I was eight!”

“Point is, anything would look good on you. You can even just go bare-faced and still look good.”

“…Even with these scarily dark eyebags?”

“…”

“…”

“…Go with the baby pink one.”

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Finally, precisely an hour later, their house bell ringing.

Nat stands there at their door with a sheepish face.

“Um, Anna… I accidentally messed up when buying the tickets and I booked the seats for tomorrow instead of today.”

A brief moment of silence.

“…”

“…”

Then,

“Well, that’s good!” Anna says cheerily.

“I’m so sor– Um, what?”

“That’s good! Because, look! I just accidentally put a hole on the shirt I was going to wear when ironing it.”

The two of them laugh, both feeling silly. Ray shakes his head at them, but feeling a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth too.

“Well, now that’s settled. You two can just watch some movie here in living room. Take anything you want from my DVD shelf. Just please, for goodness’ sake, don’t go banging at my door again before noon!”

“Yes, Ray!”

“Yes, Ray!”

With that, finally Ray could go back to sleep again.

…Except, he forgot one thing. Their DVD player in the living room has two. Large. Bass. Speakers.

Ray groans into his pillow.