“Oh man!” Lisa huffed, dumping down the last suitcase. “That was intense.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” Yukina said.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah. You would say that, seeing as you only took the lightest bags.”
“It’s not my fault our families felt the need to ridiculously overpack. According to my mother, the fact that we’re here for fourteen days means I need at least twenty t-shirts.” Yukina said.
“She’s just worried about you. You do have a habit of spilling food down yourself.” Lisa said.
Yukina shot her a glare. “That’s irrelevant.”
They had just arrived in Italy with their parents. Both families had figured their daughters needed a break from their last year of high school, and when they discovered they were both planning to go to Europe, they had decided to travel as one.
Yukina wasn’t complaining. Lisa was more or less her only friend, as sad as that sounded. And although their personalities were wildly different, Lisa was still the same old Lisa she had been when they were kids, and Yukina appreciated that.
Nonetheless, Lisa was much more enthusiastic about the trip than Yukina. They were staying by a lake, and Lisa had spent hours researching things to do, food to eat, and of course, she had even bought an Italian phrasebook. While the point of the trip was to distract them from their studies, Yukina was worried that Lisa might have neglected her work a bit too much in the weeks leading up to the summer holidays.
But they were here now, and Lisa seemed… surprisingly reserved. She was probably just tired and jetlagged from the flight. Yukina knew she herself was.
“It is pretty cool that we get our own room though, right?” Lisa said, stepping out onto the balcony. “And just look at this view!”
“What were we going to do, share with both sets of our parents?” Yukina asked. They had booked three two-person rooms in total. “And… what view?”
Lisa could be over-sentimental at the best of times, but surely the other girl didn’t believe that the hotel car park was an amazing view? Surely?
“Oh come on, it’s nice! And you can kind of see the lake in the distance.” Lisa said.
“Yeah. Kind of.” Yukina muttered.
“Don’t be like that!” Lisa whined. “Oh and by the way - because we’re all tired, we’re just gonna hang out by the pool today. But tomorrow will be much more exciting, don’t worry!”
“I can’t wait,” Yukina said sarcastically, although she was secretly pleased. She honestly wouldn’t put it past Lisa to suggest they go jetski-ing or something equally ridiculous straight after a twelve hour flight.
“So just unpack your swimsuit and the rest of the essentials. We can worry about the other stuff later. For now…” Lisa said, grabbing her hand, “It’s fun time!”
An hour later, Yukina was relaxing by the pool. The area around it was rather appealing - there was a drinks bar, elegant white stairs curling into the pool, and there was a much better view of the lake here. Lisa was on the sunlounger next to her. The sun was blazing overhead, so Yukina had found the shadiest spot she could, put on her sunglasses and tried to lose herself in her book. On the contrary, Lisa had chosen to bake in the sun, and she was either eagerly looking around or pestering Yukina.
“Hey Yukina, why are you in the shade? You should get some sun!”
“Why are you in the sun?” Yukina asked back.
“Because everybody loves the sun! Plus, I need Vitamin D. And so do you. Much more than me.” Lisa said.
“I’m perfectly comfortable here.” Yukina said, tapping her book.
“Whatever you say. You are coming in the pool later though, right?” Lisa asked.
Yukina sat up at the speed of lightning. “Do you think I’m mad?”
“Hey, hey, no need to be like that.” Lisa pouted. “It’s like, thirty-five degrees Celcius. And the pool looks so refreshing…”
“Well, thank you for the offer, but hell no.” Yukina said, lying back down and turning up her music. She wasn’t really reading her book; she was just keeping it in front of her face to please her parents, who claimed she didn’t read enough. She read plenty. Plenty of rock magazines, that was. Hmmm. Well, they probably did have a point, but Yukina had downloaded a bunch of new songs for the holiday, and she intended to listen to every single one at least three times.
More time passed in relative peace. Lisa seemed to be interested enough in her Italian phrasebook that she wasn’t bothering Yukina anymore. Yukina almost felt herself drifting off to sleep. However, the universe had clearly decided that was not going to happen.
She heard them before she saw them.
“Hey sis, watch this!!!”
A figure ran straight past Yukina and cannonballed into the pool, causing a terrific splash that went all over not only Yukina’s legs, but Lisa’s too. And judging by the disgruntled expressions on some of the guest’s faces, they weren’t the only ones.
The cannonballer’s face bobbed above the water, smiling straight up at the other girl. “Yes?” she said innocently.
“You can’t just do that! There are other people in, and around the pool. You need to be respectful of them.” the other girl huffed (in Japanese, Yukina noted with curiosity). “Besides, running by the pool is an extreme safety hazard in any situation.”
“Oops, sor-ree~!” the girl in the water said, not sounding the least bit sorry.
The longer-haired girl standing by the side of the pool turned to them and said something in English. That was strange. She had just loudly yelled at whoever the girl in the pool was in Japanese.
“She’s apologising, Yukina,” Lisa said. Of course Lisa would understand - she was much better at English than Yukina. Which wasn’t really much of an achievement, given Yukina’s complete disregard for school.
“Ah. Please don’t worry about it,” Yukina replied in Japanese. She had a right mind to tell the girl she should take more care of whoever the girl in the pool was - probably her sister, judging by their similar appearances - but she didn’t really have the heart. She was curious at the prospect that there might be another Japanese family visiting, plus the girl seemed exhausted. Yukina couldn’t help but take pity on her.
Said girl raised her eyebrows. “You’re Japanese too?”
Yukina and Lisa both nodded.
“Wow. That’s interesting. Me too, of course, but I’ve been living in London with my family since I was eleven.” the girl said.
“Oh my god, really?” Lisa gasped. “What’s it like there?”
The girl grimaced, pushing back a stray lock of hair out of her eyes. Yukina found it endearing. “Cold. And wet. And everyone there is obsessed with weird things such as queuing and being overly polite. But it’s not all bad. What about you? Are you coming straight from Japan?”
Lisa nodded. “Yeah. I am soooo jet-lagged.”
“I feel your pain. We fly back to Japan often to visit my family, and it never gets better. Anyway…” The girl bowed her head. “I really am sorry about you two getting wet. Over there is my twin sister Hina, and she’s very… to put it politely, energetic.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it!” Lisa said, waving her hands. “So that’s Hina, and you’re…”
“Oh. Um, Sayo. Sayo Hikawa. Pleased to meet you, uh…”
“Oh, we’re-” Lisa began.
“I’m Yukina, and this is Lisa,” Yukina said, figuring that she should probably say something, or else Sayo would forget she was there. Why she was so worried about that, she wasn’t quite sure. In any case, it seemed rude to stare at Sayo without saying anything. She was being more than polite and considerate enough. Yukina didn’t just want to ignore her.
“Yukina and Lisa? Got it,” Sayo opened her mouth to say something else, but she was interrupted by a dripping wet Hina stumbling out of the pool and hooking an arm around her.
“Mm, the pool is so good, sis! You should come in later! Wait, who are these people?”
“This is Yukina-san and Lisa-san,” Sayo said, gently removing Hina’s arm and gesturing to each of them in turn. “They’re from Japan too.”
“Really?!” Hina said, louder than she needed to. “That’s so boppin’!”
“Boppin’...?” Yukina repeated to herself.
“How about you just get back in the pool?” Sayo said, rubbing her temples.
“Aw, but it’s so boring when I have no one to play with,” Hina said. “You’ll come in, won’t you, sis?”
“Perhaps,” Sayo said in a resigned tone.
“I was thinking of getting in later, too,” Lisa said.
“That’s great!! You’re the best, Lisa-chi!” Hina said, going in for a high five that Lisa awkwardly reprociated.
Lisa-chi…? A nickname, already? Well, Hina did seem the type of person to do that. Yukina just hoped she wouldn’t start calling her Yukina-chan, or something equally ridiculous.
“Yukina-chan, you’ll join us, right?” Hina asked.
Never mind, then.
“I think I’ll stay dry, thank you,” Yukina said. There was no way she was getting in that pool. Especially with Hina around.
“Aww, too bad~” Hina said. “Well, I guess I’ll get back in, then! See you guys later!”
She turned around to jump in, but Sayo grabbed her wrist, giving her a stern look. “Hina.” she said. “Please don’t jump in. Just use the stairs.”
“Aw, but that’s so boring,” Hina whined.
“Do you want everyone at this hotel to hate us?” Sayo asked. Hina stuck out her tongue at her, but moved to the stairs nonetheless.
“I’ll be going to my parents, then. I suppose I’ll see you around the hotel,” Sayo said, her hands folded behind her back.
“Ah, yeah! See ya!” Lisa called as the girl walked to the other side of the pool. Once she was out of earshot, Lisa leaned over to Yukina. “Well. They seem nice enough, don’t they?”
“They seem very strange,” Yukina said.
Lisa sighed.“Oh, come on! They’re an interesting pair, but they’re not mean or anything. Plus, the whole time Sayo was talking to us you were staring at her body,”
“I was not!”
Lisa gave her a doubting look. “I’m not gonna judge you! She is pretty.”
“Well you go over there and kiss her, then,”
“Yukina! All I’m saying is that she’s… Well, nice. You shouldn’t be so embarrassed. She could even help you with your English,” Lisa said.
“What are you talking about? We only just met her. And why would I need help with English?” Yukina asked.
Lisa frowned. “You kinda suck at it.”
“Excuse me? There’s nothing wrong with my English. It’s one of my favourite subjects.” Yukina said.
“If only your report card reflected that.”
“You know what? I think it might be a good idea for you to go into the pool right now,” Yukina said. “You know, before I push you in.”
“Meanie~ I was only teasing. But seriously, aren’t you happy? There’s other Japanese people here! All the other tourists are either German or British,” Lisa said, rolling onto her back and squinting at the sun. “We can just talk to them all the time. They look about our age too.”
“Correction: you can talk to them all the time. I think I’m alright on my own. Especially when it comes to the shorter one.”
“Oh yes, that was her name.”
“Well, suit yourself,” Lisa said. “But how many other Japanese people are we gonna meet in Italy? I mean, we’re not in a city or anything, so this is super cool.”
“Hey sis, watch me again!” Hina yelled. She then proceeded to belly flop into the pool, once more covering Yukina and Lisa in water.
“Hina!! Hikawa!!!" Sayo shouted from the other side of the pool.
Yukina eyed Lisa. “Yes, Lisa, this is ‘super cool’.”
Yukina firmly disagreed with Lisa, but she couldn’t deny that the holiday was certainly shaping up to be interesting. But whether it would be a ‘the best holiday of my life’ type of interesting or a ‘I’m going to spend my parents' life savings on headache tablets at this rate’ type of interesting was still up for debate.