Memories of You
The old janitor shook just as visibly as the iron gate as he opened it up for the upcoming school day. An alluring blonde dressed in red entered the yard and took in the full breadth of the school. A grin promptly formed on her ruby red lips.
Shortly thereafter a flood of students began arriving ready to start their day. The halls quickly filled with teenagers who tried to get in as much conversation about the outside world before classes started and discussions were forced to focus on more scholarly subjects.
Upon learning that the most popular girl in school had returned from her latest holiday, every student stopped to watch her pass.
Aiko Nakamura was a girl most everybody wanted to know. She was by far the most talented student in school. Aiko was proficient in several different styles of martial arts, trained in classical piano, had won numerous awards for her singing and could speak four different languages. Her father was also the president of his own company.
The way Aiko walked down the hall was similar to the way a member of royalty would parade through the streets to be paid homage by their loyal subjects.
“How was Paris, Aiko?” asked a girl.
“Boring, as usual,” said Aiko, not bothering to stop. “The shops were the same, the sights were the same and the boys were the same. It wasn’t worth my time.”
In another part of the building one of the school’s other most recognizable students was making her way down the hall. Jaycee Annadale was nearly the exact opposite of Aiko. She was kind and considerate and always did her best to change the subject if she ever became the topic of a conversation.
“Jaycee!” shouted a girl running down the hall. “Hey, Jaycee!”
Jaycee turned to find one of her classmates. “Oh, Ami,” said Jaycee. “Did you get the e-mail I sent you?”
“Yeah, I just wanted to thank you,” said Ami. “I wouldn’t have been prepared for my test if not for your notes. How can I ever repay you?”
“Just make sure you pass your test,” said Jaycee.
The chimes sounded so to their classes the students hurried.
Jaycee took a seat at her desk in the middle of the class. It was after Jaycee had sat down when Aiko took her seat in the desk beside hers. Though the girls sat next to each other, no more than a few words had ever been exchanged between the two.
Aiko was in the middle of a yawn when two students she had never before seen entered. They paid the others in the class no attention and walked to their desks in the back. One of them was a girl with flowing white hair and the other was a boy with short black hair. Neither had any kind of an expression on their face.
“Who are they?” Aiko asked the boy in front of her.
“The girl’s name is Hikaru,” replied the boy, “and the boy’s name is Daisuke. They transferred to our school just after you left for your trip.”
“What else do you know about them?” asked Aiko.
“Not much,” said the boy. “But there is a rumor that they’re actually brother and sister. Though nobody has the guts to ask them, that’s what everyone thinks.”
“Interesting,” said Aiko before turning around to get another look at the two. A chill ran down Aiko’s spine when she discovered the new students were staring at her. She immediately turned back around and hoped the uneasy feeling would go away.
After Hikaru and Daisuke had finished staring at Aiko, they simultaneously focused their attention on Jaycee.
The alluring blonde in red was seated behind her desk in her office. The nameplate on her desk read, “Vice Principal Takagi.”
The vice principal was looking over Jaycee’s file, though it was difficult to do so with the blinds shut and the lights turned off. Lying on her desk was Aiko’s file, which would soon be getting the same attention as Jaycee’s.
“Well, well,” said Vice Principal Takagi. “It would seem our dear little Jaycee has done quite well for herself. Near perfect scores, how impressive. It’s a shame that it has to come to an end so soon. Such a shame, indeed.”
As she reveled in malevolent thoughts, the vice principal cut her finger on the edge of Jaycee’s file. “Damn this body,” growled Vice Principal Takagi, gazing at the blood running down her finger. “Why were these creatures made so fragile? Hmph, it hardly makes it seem worth the effort to destroy them. But watching them die is such a pleasure.”
Jaycee and Aiko’s class was busy with its English test.
There was a clear look of frustration on Aiko’s face as she struggled to come up with the right answers. “Damn it,” she thought. “Where the hell did all those answers go? I couldn’t have forgotten them already.”
As Aiko continued to stare blankly at her test, the words on the paper became one big blur. The cause of Aiko’s hazy vision was a sudden throbbing pain in her head. She placed her hand on her forehead but could do nothing to ease the pain. Something far more out of the ordinary than a mere headache would take place next.
* * *
The vision of herself and Jaycee wading through a river in the middle of a lush forest came flooding into Aiko’s mind. Jaycee was doing fine but Aiko was having difficulty just keeping her head above water.
“I don’t like this,” said Aiko. “I don’t like this one bit.”
“You only have to stay in a little longer,” said Jaycee. “If you don’t, then you’ll never get over your fear of deep water. And I’ll never be able to teach you how to swim.”
“Just a little longer, you say?” asked Aiko.
“Yes, just a little longer.”
Aiko went silent as she stared at Jaycee, whom she knew would never let anything bad happen to her. But as badly as Aiko wanted to overcome her fear, her fear wanted just as badly, if not more, to not be overcome.
“Alright, that’s enough, I don’t want to do this anymore,” said Aiko. She then struggled her way toward the comfort of dry land.
“But you won’t get over your fear,” said Jaycee.
“How about this,” said Aiko. “The next time I’m in trouble and I’m in the deep end of the river, you’ll be the first person I call out for.”
“You’re going to regret this someday,” said Jaycee.
“Don’t ask me how I know, but I know that’ll never happen,” said Aiko, who emerged from the water wearing not a single stitch of clothing on her glistening body.
* * *
“What was that?” thought Aiko. She then sneaked a quick peek at Jaycee. “Why was I fantasizing about her? And why wasn’t I wearing a bathing suit?” Aiko then gasped. “Could it be? Could I be a lesbian?”
“No way,” whispered Aiko. “I’m not gay.” What Aiko had said was heard by a few students, who began staring at her. Aiko could do nothing but nervously smile back.
“The pain must be making me delirious,” thought Aiko. She then placed her hand on her forehead but the pain had gone away.
Jaycee had been having no difficulty whatsoever with her test. She was answering questions faster than anyone else in class. But that would all change when the same pain that had ravaged Aiko inflicted itself upon her.
Jaycee immediately placed her hand on her forehead, hoping to suppress the pain. But unbeknownst to her, she would soon be having the same strange experience as Aiko.
* * *
The vision of herself standing beneath a large apple tree filled Jaycee’s mind. She was staring upward, as if waiting for something.
“I don’t know what’s taking you so long, but could you please hurry?” said Jaycee. “I want to get started as soon as possible.”
“These things take time,” said a girl’s voice from somewhere inside the thick growth of branches and leaves. There was something odd about the voice, though. It sounded a bit muffled, as if there was something inside the speaker’s mouth.
Jaycee was rewarded for her patience when a shiny red apple fell from the tree and into her waiting hands. Though the apple looked fine, it felt strange. Jaycee looked at the other side of the piece of fruit and discovered a bite mark. “What is this?” she asked.
What sounded like teeth sinking into another apple caught Jaycee’s attention. “Here comes a big one,” said the same muffled voice. Sure enough, a large apple descended from the tree. It had the same bite mark seen on the previous one.
“Could you come down here, please?” asked Jaycee.
Aiko dropped down from the tree and landed gracefully on the ground. “What is it?” she asked, doing her best to chew in secret.
“These apples have bite marks,” said Jaycee, showing them to Aiko.
“It must be squirrels,” said Aiko. “They’re always getting into everything.” A small belch then escaped from her.
“Aiko, I need these apples for my recipe,” said Jaycee. “How am I going to gather enough if you keep taking bites out of them?”
“You worry too much,” said Aiko, placing her hand on Jaycee’s shoulder. “Besides, I’m doing you a favor. You don’t need so many apples for just two people.”
“What do you mean, two people?” asked Jaycee. Her cheeks then blushed a light shade of pink. “I’m making this for everyone to share.”
“Sure you are,” said Aiko. She then began imitating her embarrassed friend. “Oh, James, I made this just for you. Let’s eat it together. And after we’re finished, you can give me something in return for all my hard work.” Aiko then rubbed up against Jaycee.
“Stop that,” pleaded Jaycee as Aiko leaned toward her and began kissing the air.
* * *
Jaycee’s vision came to an abrupt end when her pencil fell from her desk and hit the floor. When Jaycee retrieved it, she found the pain once ravaging her had disappeared. But Jaycee’s head was now spinning with several questions.
Aiko was nearly finished with her test when something from the corner of her eye caught her attention. She looked over just as Jaycee was turning away from staring at her.
“Why was she staring at me?” thought Aiko. There was then a pain in the pit of her stomach. “Maybe she’s the lesbian.”
Jaycee stopped working on her test and looked straight ahead. “James?” she whispered in as silent a voice as she could. Never in her life had Jaycee known someone with that name, making her bewilderment all the more consuming.
Later that day in the teacher’s faculty room, the girls’ English teacher was grading his recently administered exam. It wasn’t long after he had started when Vice Principal Takagi entered the room.
“I’ve just received some very disturbing information,” said the vice principal.
“And what might that be?” asked the teacher.
“It has come to my attention that two of your students cheated on their exams,” said Vice Principal Takagi. “Which means they will have to be dealt with accordingly.”
Jaycee and Aiko had been pulled from their classes and were now seated before Vice Principal Takagi’s desk. They could do nothing but watch as the vice principal looked over their tests. From time to time, she would shake her head.
“I can’t help but notice how similar these tests are,” said Vice Principal Takagi. “Every answer is the same. Does either of you care to explain why?”
“It sounds like nothing but a coincidence to me,” said Aiko, wearing a smile.
“Really?” asked the vice principal. She then glared at Jaycee, who immediately lowered her head. “Does that sound about right, Miss Annadale?”
“I . . . suppose so,” replied Jaycee in a barely audible voice.
Vice Principal Takagi looked to be less than satisfied with what she was hearing. “And I suppose you girls expect me to believe that, right?” she asked.
“If it’s not too much trouble,” replied Aiko, still wearing her smile.
“Let me ask you something,” said Vice Principal Takagi. “Do I look stupid to you?” An uncomfortable silence then ensued. “Do you really expect me to believe that the results of this test were nothing more than a mere coincidence? What kind of fool do you take me for?”
“I would never cheat on a test,” blurted out Jaycee.
Aiko immediately tensed up. She believed if she remained silent, then all the accusations would be levied upon her. “I don’t have to cheat on tests,” she exclaimed. “Check my grades, check my record. I’ve never been accused of anything like this before.”
Jaycee again spoke up. “I’m sure if you just . . .”
“Shut up!” exclaimed Vice Principal Takagi, slamming her fist on her desk. “I’ve heard enough from both of you! I don’t have time to listen to any more lies!”
What was happening was almost like a personal attack on the girls. But even so, all of Vice Principal Takagi’s rage seemed to be focused squarely on Jaycee, who dared not meet eyes with her hot-tempered accuser.
“Now, I know at least one of you girls is a cheater,” said the vice principal. “And I want to know which one it is and I want to know right now. Because if you don’t tell me exactly what I want to know . . .” Vice Principal Takagi looked more than ready and willing to shed blood if the answers she was looking for were kept from her.
“It wasn’t me,” said Jaycee, who looked to be on the verge of tears.
“It wasn’t me, either,” exclaimed Aiko.
“So, that’s the way you want it?” asked Vice Principal Takagi. “Very well. Then the both of you can stay after school and write me a five page paper on why cheating on exams degrades the learning process. And I expect you to do your own work this time. Have I made myself perfectly clear?”
“That’s not fair!” shouted Aiko. “You can’t punish both of us!”
“Would you rather write me a ten page paper?” asked the vice principal. “Because if you really want to, then that’s what you’ll get. Just keep pushing me.”
Aiko folded her arms and turned her head away in disgust. There was an air of both anger and sadness resonating strongly from her.
“Now, if neither of you has anything to add, you may go,” said Vice Principal Takagi. “I wouldn’t want you to be any later for PE.”
Before getting out of her chair, Aiko glared at Jaycee, who was once again staring at the floor. It was clear that things between the two were far from being over.
Aiko made sure to get to the locker room and change as quickly as she could. As badly as Aiko wanted to teach Jaycee a lesson for her treachery, she decided it would be best to wait until the two were outside to execute her plan.
After changing, Jaycee made her way outside. The previously clear sky had become filled with black clouds.
“Jaycee,” said a soft voice from around the corner of the building. Unsure as to what she should do, Jaycee stood her ground and stared at where the voice was coming from. “Jaycee,” said the voice again. What was happening reminded Jaycee of the myth of the siren’s song. With a bit of trepidation in her, Jaycee followed the voice.
“Hello,” called out Jaycee, taking timid steps toward the corner of the building.
There was no answer from the voice.
The instant Jaycee turned the corner, Aiko grabbed her by the shirt and slammed her into the wall. The force of the impact left Jaycee temporarily breathless.
“Did you really think I was going to let you get away with what you did to me?” asked Aiko. “Did you think I would just roll over for you like some dog?”
“I didn’t do anything,” said Jaycee.
“The hell you didn’t!” shouted Aiko. “You just sat there and lied your ass off! And because of that, I got just as much of the blame as you did!”
“I didn’t lie,” said Jaycee. “I was telling the truth. I didn’t copy off your test.”
Believing Jaycee was lying right to her face only infuriated Aiko further. She pulled Jaycee toward her, then slammed her back into the wall.
“You seem to have forgotten that we’re not in the vice principal’s office anymore,” said Aiko. “So stop lying! I saw you looking at me during the test! You were looking at my paper, weren’t you, weren’t you!”
“I’m not lying!” shouted Jaycee. “I wasn’t looking at your test!”
“You don’t think I know who you are, do you?” asked Aiko. “Oh, I know all about you. You think you’re little miss perfect. You probably think you’re better than me too, don’t you? Then tell me what you’ve done that I haven’t!”
Jaycee tried to free herself, but Aiko was far stronger than her. For her disobedience, Jaycee was once again slammed into the wall.
“Everyone thinks you’re so smart and so good,” said Aiko. “It would be such a shame if they were to learn that you were nothing but a lying, cheating little bitch.”
“Why are you doing this?” asked Jaycee. “I haven’t done anything to you.”
“I see you’re going to make this as difficult as possible,” remarked Aiko. “That’s alright. After all, there are other ways of getting the truth out of people.”
“I don’t want to fight,” said Jaycee.
“That’s too bad,” said Aiko. “Because I do.” Aiko then pulled her arm back and clutched her hand into a fist. It wasn’t long thereafter when her arm began to shake.
Knowing what was coming next, Jaycee closed her eyes. “If this will make you feel better, then go ahead and do it,” said Jaycee, who sounded more impatient than frightened. “Just make it quick. We both have to get to class.”
Aiko’s arm began to shake more visibly. She knew it wouldn’t be long before her body took over, so she chose to let it do as it pleased.
Unexpectedly, Jaycee felt Aiko release her from her grip. What came as an even bigger surprise was the sound of sobbing. Jaycee opened her eyes and found Aiko had her back turned to her in a futile attempt to conceal her crying.
“Go,” said Aiko, “get out of here.” The tears that were descending from Aiko’s eyes were staining the ground around her feet.
Jaycee could hardly believe what she was witnessing. “Are you alright?” she asked.
“I stayed up all night studying for that test,” said Aiko. “All that work that I did was for nothing. I was just wasting my time.”
Jaycee wanted to say something to comfort Aiko but was afraid she might inadvertently proclaim her innocence again and add to Aiko’s misery.
“You don’t have to worry,” said Aiko, turning around. She tried her best to produce a smile but was only making herself look more pathetic. “I believed you when you said you didn’t cheat. I guess I was just looking for someone to blame for my problems.”
Vice Principal Takagi was seated at her desk once again looking over the girls’ tests when someone knocked on her door. “What is it?” she asked.
“We’re ready to start the meeting now,” said a man on the other side.
“Very well,” said the vice principal, rising from her chair. She then placed the tests back on her desk and exited her office. In plain view one could see that many of the answers on the tests were different.
Jaycee and Aiko were seated against the PE building wall. The threat of punishment for skipping class was the furthest thing from their minds.
“There’s just so much pressure on me to be the best,” said Aiko.
“Your father would still love you just as much even if your grades were low,” said Jaycee. “I’m sure he would still take you on all those trips to Paris.”
“Hmph, Paris,” said Aiko. “I’ve never even been there.”
“What?” gasped Jaycee.
“Going to Paris is just what my father tells the school,” said Aiko. She then went silent, showing that she was unsure as to whether she should divulge the next piece of information about herself or not. “The truth is, I sometimes have these . . . episodes.”
“Episodes?” asked Jaycee. “What do you mean?”
“It’s nothing, really,” said Aiko. “There are just times when I would rather not be around other people. My father can’t bring himself to tell anyone the truth about his perfect daughter, so even his lies have to be extravagant. What a man.”
“I see,” said Jaycee. “I guess we all need to be alone every now and then.”
“You won’t tell anyone about this, will you?” asked Aiko.
“Of course not,” replied Jaycee, sounding as if such a question need not be asked.
“Thanks,” said Aiko. She then paused for a moment in preparation of doing something she was unaccustomed to doing. “Uh, Jaycee . . . I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize.”
“Yes, I do,” said Aiko. “I said and did some really mean things to you. And I shouldn’t have. The least I can do is apologize.”
“It’s okay,” said Jaycee, who caught Aiko staring at her. “What is it?”
“I don’t know,” replied Aiko, looking away. “I’ve just never opened up to anyone like this before. For some reason, I feel like I really know you.” Aiko then pulled her knees toward her face in an attempt to hide her embarrassment. “I guess that’s why I feel so comfortable telling you all these things about myself.”
“I feel that way, too,” said Jaycee.
“I guess it was destiny that brought us together,” Aiko said jokingly.
“Destiny?” asked Jaycee.
A small laugh escaped from Aiko. “Never mind,” she said, looking to the sky that had since been swept clean and returned to a pristine blue.
“Or maybe it was fate,” said Jaycee.
“No,” said Aiko. “Fate’s the bad one. Good things happen because of destiny. At least, that’s how it is on TV. Then again, I’m no expert on destiny and fate.”
“Then I guess it was destiny,” said Jaycee. It was at that moment when Aiko placed her hand in front of Jaycee’s face. The only finger up was her pinky.
“You know what a pinky swear is, don’t you?” asked Aiko, wiggling her digit.
“Uh, yeah,” replied Jaycee. She knew what the gesture meant but never had Jaycee been asked to join in the act that represented a special bond between two people.
“This is to show that we’re friends now,” said Aiko.
Jaycee lifted her hand in the same manner as Aiko’s, and when she did, Aiko locked their pinkies together. “You should know,” said Aiko. “I always get what I want.”
A much more intense version of the pain that the girls had experienced earlier in the day took a violent control over the two once again. And with it came another strange vision that forced its way into both of their minds.
* * *
Menacing black clouds hovered ominously in the night sky. Lying wounded on the ground was Jaycee, and not far behind her was Aiko, who was tending to a young man with flowing black hair. He was very near death due to the wound in his stomach.
The vision then focused on a peculiar battle taking place. It looked as if two brothers were having a sword fight. Every aspect about the two was identical, making it seem as if the two might not be brothers at all, but different versions of the same person.
From Jaycee and Aiko’s vantage points it was impossible to hear what the combatants were saying to each other.
Inexplicably, one of the fighters willingly dropped his guard and allowed the other to claim the fight, as well as his life.
“James?” asked a weary Jaycee. “James!” she screamed, prompting the victorious fighter to lower his head and the vanquished to meet eyes with her. “James, no!”
“James,” whispered Aiko, her eyes filling with tears.
Trying desperately to get up, Jaycee only caused herself greater pain. The force with which she had hit the ground had nearly been enough to knock her unconscious. And if she continued her vain attempt to get up, her body would surely succumb to the injury.
When one fighter fell into the other, they were immediately swallowed by a brilliant white light. The light faded away shortly after it appeared, leaving behind only one. The young man then took the swords at his feet and combined them within a similar white light. Before making his way to Jaycee, he planted the magnificent new sword into the ground.
“James, is it really you?” asked a teary-eyed Jaycee. When it seemed James was about to depart, Jaycee grabbed onto his leg. “Please, I’m begging you,” she sobbed. “Don’t leave me. Not again, not like this.”
James pulled his leg free and continued on his way.
“James, I . . .” said Jaycee. The strain her body had been subjected to proved too much for Jaycee, who immediately fell unconscious.
James stopped in front of Aiko and the wounded young man in her arms. “Go home,” said James. “It’s over.” And with that, James departed.
* * *
The vision came to an abrupt end. So intense had the experience been that both Jaycee and Aiko passed out from the stress.
Standing only a few short yards from the girls was the new girl, Hikaru. There were no signs of concern on her face as she stared at the unconscious girls.