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Departure

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“Rui!”

Shiori ran towards the tall, long-haired ponytail girl that was standing in the airport terminal entrance and emotionally hugged her as if she didn't want her to leave anymore. She missed Rui's warmth and softness. She missed how Rui always gently patted her head before she fell asleep. The black-colored jacket that Rui wore for today made the hug warmer. With a trembled voice as if she wanted to cry her utmost, she said, “I miss you so much, Rui…!”

“I miss you too, Shiori!”

Rui slid her arms around Shiori's chest, wrapping her in a warm, firm hug. The taller girl's right hand went onto the blonde's head and patted her as if she actually knew that Shiori missed the actual affection.

It had already been a long time since Rui's departure. Everyday became so different without her on Shiori's side. Breakfast alone, cook alone, sleep alone. No one greeted her again the moment she turned the knob and opened the door after coming home from her theater work. Rui always told her that she should wait for her comeback to Japan via call and chat, but she felt like something was… lacking.

Shiori sought for the warm feeling of skinship between her and Rui. She missed how tender Rui's kiss was. She missed how she tried to snuggle to Rui while she was still sleeping on the bed. All she did to handle it was video calling her if Rui hadn't fallen asleep on the other side.

“Hey, Shiori. If we hug each other non-stop, we will get soaked up just to get our car in the parking lot. The sky has turned grey and the rain will come soon.”

Hearing that, Shiori let out a soft giggle, releasing her hug. “Ah, you're right! Anyway, after we get home and take out your luggage, shall we go on a date? A nostalgia to our pre-wedding date.”

“Oh?”

“Mhm. We haven't gone together for so long, Rui. I miss you.”

Rui nodded. “Alright. Oh, didn't I have a promise to you before I departed back to Tokyo back then?”

“Yup. You told me before. Ever since that time, I wonder what you will give to me.”

“Okay, let's go! Can't wait any longer.”

They walked to the parking lot where their silver-plated Mazda 6 waited silently. Shiori unlocked the car, and Rui lifted the baggage door up and put her luggage here. Afterward, Shiori insisted Rui to just sit on the passenger seat and let her drove the car because she knew Rui was tired and didn't want her to get sick.

But, there was something… weird that she couldn't even describe it.

Everything looked normal to her, and Rui was here, gazing towards the scenery of crowded Tokyo that she hadn't seen for two years. Nothing weird, but her heart said differently. No, no, don't think about that first. I should focus on driving. Shiori shook her head while turning the right blinker on.

An hour had passed. They arrived at home to drop Rui's baggage. This time, Rui asked Shiori to sit on her side and let her drove the car. She said that she wanted to drive her favorite car again to the place she promised. Shiori shook her head, but Rui still whined about it.

“Let me driveeeee.”

“Rui, I know you're tired. Let me be the one who drives, okay?”

“Just this timeeee.”

Shiori couldn't say no to that. Rui was too cute.

“Okay, but you have to rest after this.”

“Thank you, dear!” and Rui lightly kissed Shiori's forehead before going inside the car and sat on the driver's seat, making her cheeks flushed red.

But the feeling of weirdness became bigger as time flew. She didn't know why, nor she didn't know what happened inside her heart.

Like, it felt so normal, but at the same time bizarre.

Rui came home and sat beside her. She could feel her warm body in the previous hug and the tender light kiss on her forehead. What was the problem from all the things Rui did?

Deep inside, why did her mind and heart tell the opposite?

“…Shiori?”

“Ah, no, it's nothing.” Shiori shook her head and smiled. “You can take out the car first.”

Rui stepped on the gas pedal, taking out the car from the garage and parked it on the roadside. Shiori closed the garage and locked the gate. Then, she came and sat on the passenger's seat beside Rui that slowly stepped on the gas pedal again and sped up the silver Mazda. Since Shiori was sitting on the passenger's seat, she didn't need to worry about driving while thinking about what was happening. Her house felt the same, Rui's giggle sounded as cute as usual, her spouse's favorite silver Mazda 6 ran without problem. There wasn't anything suspicious nor weird happening between them.

“Hey, Rui…” Shiori suddenly spoke as her curiosity peaked. “Are you feeling the same?”

“Hmm? What is it?”

“It's just like… there's a feeling of…”

Uncanny, lying somewhere inside my heart.

“Hmm?” Rui raised one of her eyebrows. “Look, I'm here, driving beside you to the promised place. Is there something wrong, Shiori?”

So… Rui didn't seem to feel the same as I did. Shiori said to herself.

“Or…” Rui decreased the speed, turning the steer to a dirt road. “Do you think I'm not real, Shiori?”

Click.

Shiori immediately glanced towards the windows, and Rui's reflection wasn't there.

And her chest felt so tight. Her throat dried.

Tears started to escape from her eyes. Her hand touched the taller girl's face, tailing down with her palm, and slowly held Rui's hand. It was cold, and Shiori realized that Rui's skin was paler than usual.

That's it.

That was what her mind and heart wanted to tell herself that something was definitely wrong.

She found the answer now.

“Shiori, we're here. This is my promised place.”

A place where the flowers bloomed endlessly with a dirt road cut in the middle. A beautiful, serene place with a clear, azure sky that was greatly different from the previous gloomy sky that would soon pour the raindrop. The wind blew calmly, swaying all the flowers in the field. No one was here other than Shiori and Rui.

Rui opened the car door and took Shiori's hand, pulling the blonde out and hugged her tightly as if it was her last hug before the departure. The blonde cried, dampening a part of Rui's jacket. Her cheeks were covered with tears as Rui started to gently pat and caress her blond hair. She finally realized that this was her dream world.

“My time will soon run out, so…”

Rui walked to the roadside and picked the most gorgeous Sweet Pea that she could find here. She stroked her cheeks, wiping out tears that came endlessly from the aqua eyes.

“Shiori, I'm glad that I could spend my time with you until now. Thank you for walking alongside me, myself, your beloved spouse. I'm…” —Rui took Shiori's hand, opening her palm and gave her the Sweet Pea. She hugged her for the last time while crying—“…really sorry for leaving you this fast…”

Shiori could only shout Rui's name without cease. Her hand tried to reach Rui that slowly vanished with a bittersweet smile on her lips.

“Why…”

Why must a flower like yourself have to be plucked first...


Shiori woke up in shock. It was still past 5am, two hours before her supposed wake up hour. She blinked her eyes as they were too blurry. Slowly, she put her right hand on her face, and it was covered with tears. She turned her head and looked to the side of her bed, and...

It was empty. Nobody slept there other than herself after the airplane tragedy that occurred two years ago and claimed her dearest's life. Her heart pounded wildly and unsteadily every time she remembered the details of her dream. Rui didn't even mention about the promise back then, or… did she want to surprise her at first? She didn't even know if that was considered a nightmare or not. But…

.

.

.

.

.

“Was that… your way to say goodbye to me, Rui?”