As Charla started to leave St. Helens she paused when seeing another student watering the plants, the girl had dark tanned skin and black hair. And she looked to be a year younger then Charla. She was humming some type of song as she looked at the flowers.
Charla then noticed the flowers that she was watering and found herself walking to the flowers and mainly stared at them. “Did you plant these?” Charla asked causing the girl to jump; she turned to look at her with dark brown eyes and short curly black hair.
“Sorry,” Charla said quickly. “I didn’t mean to scare you, I was just wondering about the flowers and if you were the one who planted them.”
“O-oh, no I didn’t plant them, an upper-classmen did. I just take care of them.” she said as Charla knelt down and looked at them closer. “Do you like flowers?” the girl asked almost hesitantly.
“I don’t particularly like them, but I don’t dislike them ether. Guess you could say I’m on the fence about how I feel about flowers.”
“Really?” the girl said as she crouched down next to her, Charla became silent as she looked at them completely unmoving as she stared. The girl on the other hand looked at Charla almost perplexingly. “Are you new? A number of the first years keep talking about a girl who transferred in for the second year class.”
Charla glanced at her for a moment before looking back at the flowers. “Yeah, that’s me. I don’t get why everyone is talking about it like it’s a big event. It’s nothing special.”
“But it’s still pretty rare to have a student come to Sharlton.”
Charla sighed. “Yeah that’s what I keep hearing…”
The girl looked back to the flowers. “I know there was one last year and she’s a third year now. But she’s not that nice, kind of stuck up if you ask me, I think she came from another city.” The girl then realized that Charla was now staring at her causing her to stammer as she waved her hands in front of herself in an apologetic manner. “N-not that being from the city is something bad or that you’re stuck up or anything!”
Charla remained quiet as she continued to stare.
“Uh… I’m sorry.” the girl said with a dejected tone as she quickly hid her face.
The girl looked at her with confusion. “Huh?”
“Why are you sorry for your opinion? It’s nothing to feel bad about.”
“Well…” the girl began with slight hesitance. “It’s just after dealing with that girl and her older brother I began to think that anyone from a major city is like that. But I know it isn’t right to judge people solely on something from one encounter.”
She must have had one hell of a bad experience. Charla thought. “I don’t think it’s bad, besides, it’s normal to have a type of prejudice on something you aren’t sure of. But just because you haven’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t base everything on it,” she looked back to the flowers. “Like these flowers, I don’t really like this type of flower myself, but that doesn’t mean I hate all flowers, it’s just that this one type always reminds me of something I know I won’t ever be able to forget no matter how hard I want too.” she gave a half uneasy smile to the girl. “But just because of that doesn’t mean I will hate every plant.”
The girl looked back at the flowers in question. “So I guess flowers are like people then?”
Charla laughed slightly. “Heh, yeah I guess they are.”
“Do you know the name of these flowers?” the girl asked.
“Rose of Sharon,” Charla said. “It’s a type of carnation, they grow mainly in the fall but I’ve seen a few that live in winter.”
This particular type of flower was white but in the center of the bud it had a distinct splash of red making them stand out more than the regular kind. Charla stretched out her hand to the flower and as her fingertips slightly made contact with the petals images flashed in her mind of the snow falling, the sounds of people calling out and running about, medical personnel and then seeing her brother’s lifeless gaze as he lay on the gurney before seeing that same flower, alone and seeming to pop out of the snow near the edge of the road and looked to be splattered with blood before Charla quickly pulled her hand away from the flower in front of her.
Her hand began to shake as she grasped her hand with her left. Just as I thought, still can’t touch it without having flashbacks.
The girl noticed how Charla’s hand was trembling slightly. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m alright.” Charla then stood up and readjusted her bag. “You take good care of those flowers, and maybe I’ll see you around.”
“You’re heading home?” the girl asked as she stood up as well.
“I am, not feeling all too good but it’ll pass, it always does.” She looked at the girl. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Sarah, Sarah Finnegan, though some people call me Roza. I’m a first year.”
“Roza, you’re part Spanish then?”
Sarah smiled sweetly. “On my Mom’s side yeah, um, what’s your name?”
“Charla Liebert, and as you already know I’m the second year that everyone seems to keep talking so much about.” And I wish they didn’t…
Sarah laughed. “Yeah, so wait you’re from the Liebert family?” her expression changed to that of interest and wonder. “I heard that they were one of the families that founded this town, that’s pretty cool.”
“It’s just a name,” she said with a shrug. “Anyway I should go, sorry for bugging you.”
“It’s no problem at all.” Charla turned to leave only to stop when Sarah added. “Feel better soon okay?”
With a slight scoff to herself and wary smile Charla merely waved. “I’ll be sure too, later.” She then left the school grounds without so much as looking back.
Charla walked while listening to her music until she reached the spot where she first met Alex, and this time looked for any oncoming cars. One way looked completely dark, allowing little to no sunlight into the area from the depths of shadows reminding Charla a bit of a tunnel. Just to be safe she removed her headphones so she could hear any cars so none would surprise her but didn’t bother to turn off her MP3 the music from before playing softly. She was about to make her way across only to stop when a motorcycle came through, the rider actually seemed to slow to a stop as if waiting for Charla to cross. She made a silent gestor for the rider to keep on going but the person made no move whatsoever, the driver just looked at her.
Okay, that was a little odd.
When she quickly crossed the driver then went off only to stop again to look at her in silence. Why though?
“Charla!” Alex’s voice called out causing the driver to casually drive off before Alex caught up to her. The girl looked as if she had run a marathon as she rested her hands on her knees and let out deep breaths.
“Alex? Why are you here?”
After she caught her breath Alex responded. “I figured it would have been stupid to let you walk home all by yourself. I know you said you’d be fine but I also figured you didn’t know your way around and thought that maybe I could show you some of the town.”
“Sure,” she said but looked back down the road and wondered why someone stopped like that, normally back in the city when something like that happened it would be we a person was cursing the person trying to cross when they were trying to get somewhere but this…
This just felt creepy.
She was then drawn back to reality and looked to Alex. “Well? What do you say? Want to look around town a bit before heading to your house?”
“I thought I already said I was fine with it?”
“You did but you seemed kind of out of it,” she placed her hands on her hips. “Maybe it’s not a good idea after all?”
“No!” Charla said quickly. “It’s okay; I’d like to look around with you. My mind was just on other things. That’s all.”
“Alright cool, well I guess to start off; I should show you a bit of the shopping district. Oh, and there’s the local mall, but that’s pretty new, only been there for at least two, three years or so? I don’t remember, and that burger place that came in year later. If you want we can head there instead.” Alex grinned. “I bet you’d feel right at home there huh?”
“Actually if it’s all the same with you, I’d rather check out the shopping district instead.” Charla told her.
Alex looked slightly surprised. “Really? Are you sure?”
Charla nodded. “I am. I’m not one for big crowds or really popular places. Although I might go to that mall if they have a book store.”
Alex folded her arms across her chest. “Well the mall doesn’t have a bookstore but there’s a local bookstore in the shopping district, they carry a verity of books, some even in different languages.” Alex then noticed Charla’s expression; she looked like a cat that spotted a bird. “You wanna go there?”
“Yes,” was all she said in response and Alex laughed.
“Alright then, looks like we have a plan, and maybe along the way we’ll stop off at my place if you’re interested.”
“Only if you want too,” Charla said as the two then began to walk down the street.
As they walked Alex pointed out a number of shops and stores and a number of the owners all seemed to know Alex by name, calling out and saying hello, making slight small talk or joking that she shouldn’t be skipping. Charla found it interesting how it seemed to be such a close-knit community where everyone knew practically anyone in this place, it almost felt jarring to see when comparing it to the city where barely anyone seemed to care about another person.
“…And here’s the bookstore, the building’s a little old but the place is still in good condition.” Alex said as she opened the door to the store’s interior as Charla followed. The smell of books then came to Charla’s nose, as she looked to see wall to wall covered with shelves and books of a vast variety. Some she recognized others she didn’t, but there was a type of charm with this type of place that she liked a lot. “Hey is anyone here?” Alex called out through the store and waited for a response, which was soon followed by some books falling.
“Yes,” A woman called out from the back of the story. “Just a moment please.” a moment or two passed and a woman that looked to be in her mid-thirties came out from the back, dressed in jeans and a plain white T-shirt. She had white smooth skin and dark brown eyes, long straight black hair that she held back in a ponytail with a clip. Even still some strands managed to fall out and rest along her cheek.
The woman then spotted Alex and smiled. “Oh Alex, what are you doing here? Don’t you have school today? Or are you just skipping?”
Alex responded with a sarcastic laugh. “Ha-ha funny, but no I’m not. I’m just showing the new girl around. She felt sick and the school nurse decided to send her home and I figured I should walk her back home but also give her the chance to look around since she hasn’t had the chance to do that yet.”
The woman looked to Charla and offered a hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Setsuko Satonaka. And as you can see I run this bookstore.”
Charla shook her hand. “Charla Liebert.”
Her eyes grew. “Liebert? Oh you must be Nina’s cousin then; I’ve heard that a family member was supposed to come by but I didn’t think it would be this soon.”
“You know Nina?” Charla asked and Ms. Satonaka nodded.
“She comes here sometimes on her way home after school. And occasionally her father too, when he’s not busy with work that is.” She then changed the topic. “So how does it feel to come to such a small town from the big city?”
“I like it; it’s quite and not noisy or anything. Not to mention the air is good here.”
“That’s good, though it’s surprising; normally I thought a city girl would rather go to that mall then here in the shopping district.”
Charla became quite so Alex spoke up “She wanted to come here, she’s apparently an avid reader and when I told her about this place it interested her a lot.”
“Really?” she looked back to Charla. “What kind of books do you read?”
“Anything really,” she said. “I’m also into books from other countries, the kind of things you don’t normally find at a commercial book store.”
Ms. Satonaka turned and looked to the shelves. “Well we have a number of books in different languages; I myself am a fan of old Japanese books, back where my grandparents came from before they came here. There’s something nostalgic about reading them.”
“Do you know Japanese?” Charla asked the woman.
She nodded. “I do, can you speak it as well?”
With a warm smile Charla spoke in Japanese. “Hai, watashi wa nihongo o hanasu hōhō o shitte imasu.”
Ms. Satonaka looked surprised and smiled happily before switching to Japanese. “Watashi wa miemasu! Anata wa manga o takusan yomanakereba narimasen.”
Charla shook her head. “Īe, watashi wa sūnenmae ni oshie raremashita.”
The woman smiled. “Sore wa subarashīdesu.”
Charla’s smile grew warm. “Hai,-sōdesu.”
“Uh…” Alex broke in. “You two do know I can’t understand a single word that you’re saying right now… right?”
“Oh I’m sorry,” Ms. Satonaka said switching to English. “We didn’t mean to alienate you from the conversation. I just never expected to meet someone else who could speak the language, besides my daughter and husband of course.” Then a sudden light came into her eyes. “Oh wait right here, I think I have something you might enjoy.”
The woman then vanished into the many mass of shelves, the sound of rummaging about before coming back with two small hard cover books. She held up the first one. “This is called Niji no Monokuro it’s a collection of short stories and this,” she held up the other book. “It’s called Kuro Yagi no Tamago it’s a bit dark so it might not be to your liking...” She handed them to Charla. “But I still think you may enjoy them.”
“I’ve read some dark books before so I think I’ll be fine.” Charla took the books and stared at them before asking. “How much do I owe you?”
Ms. Satonaka shook her head. “You don’t owe me anything. Think of this as a gift welcoming you to this town.”
Both Charla and Alex looked to each other before Charla spoke. “Are you sure?”
Ms. Satonaka smiled and nodded. “It’d be wrong to charge my daughter’s best friend’s cousin when she just arrived. Think of it as a housewarming gift.”
Charla looked at the three books before looking back to Ms. Satonaka and saw how the woman seemed adamant in not having Charla pay for them. At least this time, she could grasp that this was probably a onetime thing. She put the books in her bag and then to Alex’s surprise she bowed to the woman. “Thank you very much.”
Ms. Satonaka didn’t seem surprised at all and did the same thing in response. “You are very welcome. I hope you enjoy them.”
Charla stood up straight and smiled. “I think I will.”
They said their goodbyes as Charla and Alex left the store, as they walked however Alex asked a question.
“You know Japanese?”
“I do,” Charla said. “I also know French and I know German.”
Alex looked stunned. “I have trouble speaking freaking French, so how in the world do you know three other languages?”
“My Dad,” she said. “He traveled a lot for business and sometimes he’d take me and my brother with him instead of leaving us alone in the house or with a babysitter. Though in all honesty I didn’t really start learning Japanese until I was twelve or so, and even then I know I still have some difficulty. Occasionally I’d often find myself speaking in German rather than English and make people confused because of it. My Dad would often speak in German, since it was also his native tongue, when it was just us so that’s probably why I do that. But it hasn’t happened in a while.”
Alex just looked at her. “Your Dad seems like a cool guy,”
Charla smiled genuinely as she grasped her headphones. “Yeah, he really is.”