Midsummer's Eve, 2040, preparation of the traditional garden party
Ulf fastened the last line. “Like this.” he said.
They were erecting party tents. For shade; there would be no rain this evening.
He looked at the other five. This was their own moment, the six of them together before the guests arrived.
“It’s April over there,” Kyoko said. At forty she’d gained a little weight, but he could still remember her face from when they became friends.
“Feels strange, doesn’t it?” Ulf gazed at the sea glittering in the afternoon sun. The June afternoon sun. “I wonder if he knows.”
“He knows.” Ryu looked up from where he sat on his feet fastening a line of his own. “I made certain last year’s transits knew we planned to gather everyone here this year.”
Ulf smirked. He might have misunderstood, but Nakagawa was a sly and calculating bastard.
“He knows,” Christina said. “Ryu,” she looked at the man who slowly got back on his legs, “can be very convincing. He probably filled them with thoughts about how unusual it is for a bunch of Japanese people to travel all the way to Sweden this time of the year.” She turned her head and looked Ulf straight in his eyes. Fifteen or forty, it didn’t matter. She was still the most beautiful woman he had seen in his entire life.
In response Ryu grinned, and a handsome grin it was. A quarter of a century had done nothing to his good looks and charms. Ulf knew how women turned and stared after him, just like they had done back then when they were high school girls.
“Let’s hope this midsummer’s party turns out better than the last one,” Ulf said. He shuddered silently. That one had been a disaster.
He was rewarded with guffaws from all five of them. Even Noriko allowed a slightly hysterical laughter to escape from her lips.
“Summer of 2016. Yep, best forgotten.” Then she laughed again. Her small body carried a surprisingly strong voice, but then it always had.
“And now?” Yukio asked.
Ulf turned and looked at his best friend ever since they met as school kids. “We party, I guess.”
“For a week?”
“For a week,” Ulf agreed. A week was all they had. After that the six of them would be separated by a chasm a world apart.
“I wonder if the sakura is blooming.”
Ulf looked at Noriko. Sakura were months behind them, in this world. “Maybe,” he said. “Let’s hope they do, to celebrate new beginnings.” New beginnings in that other world, where it was still April.
“To think it all began in high school,” Kyoko mused.
“Actually,” Ulf began, but he fell silent. With something like panic in his mind he sought confirmation in the eyes of the others. When they nodded he found strength to continue. “Actually,” he said again, “it began earlier than that.”