Haruka glanced at her watch as she quickened her pace. She did not want to be late for her first day in senior high school. After hastily locating her name on the huge board with the class allocation lists, she made her way down the corridor, into classroom 1-H.
As Haruka entered, her eyes scanned across the classroom for empty seats. The tables were arranged neatly in rows of two, and she immediately found an empty seat located at the back of the class, somewhere in the middle.
Seated next to the empty seat was a girl with her mid-length hair done up in a neat ponytail, deeply engrossed in a book she was reading. As Haruka approached the seat, she saw the girl glance fleetingly at her before going back to her book. She was very pleasant-looking – her girlish features seemed to complement the mature vibe she gave off.
“Sorry to interrupt, but is it okay if I take this seat?” Haruka asked, although the girl did not really have a choice since there weren’t any seats left.
“Sure!” she replied promptly as she looked up from her book.
Haruka smiled and laid her bag on the table before taking her seat. After making herself comfortable, she wondered if she should strike up a conversation with her new seatmate. After all, it was always good to make some friends as soon as possible.
“But what if she doesn’t want to be disturbed? What if I fumble on my words and she laughs at my lisp?” Haruka thought to herself, but was mainly concerned by the former (worrying about her lisp was just part of her inferiority complex).
Following this line of thought, she thus decided not to bother her seatmate, and both of them sat in awkward silence until the teacher stepped in.
Chihiro sat in her seat, seemingly engrossed in a book she was reading. Seemingly. She had already read that book twice, and she found the storyline unbelievably boring, but she still brought it along anyway. Reading a book was one of her methods in reducing awkwardness that could arise in events such as the first day in a new school.
Chihiro arrived in class relatively early - early enough for her to have the luxury of choosing a seat. She gravitated towards the seat at the back row, which was pretty natural, being a shy person who didn’t like unnecessary attention.
Not long after, more students streamed into class, and the empty seats around her were gradually filled. The seat next to her, however, was left untouched. This did not bother her one bit. In fact, she did not mind being the only girl without a seatmate.
Suddenly, at the corner of her eye, she saw a girl fly into class. Almost immediately, she made her way to the empty seat next to Chihiro. As she did so, Chihiro momentarily look up to take a better look of her potential seatmate. She was a girl of average build, with a short cropped haircut that exposed her prominent forehead. Chihiro found her to be quite pretty, and that thought made her feel awkward so she immediately went back to her book.
“Sorry to interrupt, but is it okay if I take this seat?” the girl asked. It was evident to Chihiro that she spoke with a lisp. She did not mind that though - it was kind of cute.
“Sure!” Chihiro replied. She could not reject her even if she wanted to (why would she anyway?) - that was the only empty seat left in class.
As her new seatmate sat down, Chihiro wondered if she should start a conversation with her, so that she would not put herself across as an unfriendly person. However, her shyness got the better of her and she hesitated. “Besides, what if I say something stupid and she thinks that I am an airhead?” she thought to herself.
And just like that, Chihiro decided not to say a word, and they remained in awkward silence until the teacher stepped in.
The day zipped by quickly, and soon enough, it was lunch time. Haruka took her lunch box out of her bag, while Chihiro was getting read to tuck in.
“You’re…Chihiro, right?” Haruka turned to face her seatmate after they had both just started eating. (The class had played ice-breakers earlier in the morning and they found out each other’s names then.)
“Yeah,” Chihiro nodded. “And…you’re Haruka, right?”
“Mm hmm, but you can call me Haruppi,” Haruka said with a little laugh. Chihiro giggled a little as well.
There was another moment of awkward silence between them as they continued eating.
“Hey,” Haruka turned to Chihiro again. “Just now, in your self-introduction, you said you could play the guitar right?”
“Yup!” Chihiro smiled. It was apparent that this subject put her at ease. “I am not very good at it though.”
“So…do you know how to play a lot of songs on it?”
“Not many as of now, but I have recently composed a new tune!”
“Shall I show it to you? Come to class earlier tomorrow, I’ll bring my guitar to school and play it!”
Haruka was surprised how easily she got along with Chihiro. After school, they both found out that they went to the same bus stop on the way home.
The next day, Haruka arrived in school earlier (she found a shorter way to get to school this time), as Chihiro requested. She found Chihiro in class, seated on the table with her guitar resting on her lap.
“So you’re going to show me your new tune?”
Chihiro nodded. Placing her fingers gingerly on the strings, she strummed hesitantly. She stumbled countless times, and repeated almost every line, and she almost lost herself twice. Needless to say, her “new tune” sounded less than perfect.
Haruka shifted uncomfortably. When Chihiro finished, she looked up at Haruka expectantly, with a sheepish expression on her face, awaiting her criticisms.
“It’s…not bad! You know…considering that you’re not very good at it and all that. Of course, there’s some room for improvement…” Haruka tried to be as tactful as possible.
Haruka laughed awkwardly, and Chihiro giggled shyly.
Amidst the awkwardness between them, both of them knew deep down inside that this marked the start of a beautiful friendship.