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Distance

By Tim Butcher All Rights Reserved ©

Romance

Chapter 1

The air just outside the window was frigid cold, to the point where without proper protection, the extremities would submit to the malice of the storm.

Humans are truly fragile... huh...

With a large blanket covering him, the young man was huddled next to the fireplace that was in his room. This did not suggest he came from a wealthy family, just rather that given the landscape at this time of year, every home had a fireplace in every bedroom.

However, he was indeed from a wealthy family, one that traveled a lot. This in turn always meant misfortune for the boy as he traveled between schools, cities, regions, countries. Though he could fluently speak in several major languages, such as English, French, Spanish, Japanese, so on and so forth, he for some reason never could manage to keep friends, although this did not mean he actually was lonely, or he became someone without a proper childhood; rather, it meant that whenever his family moved, tagging along his father's work, the pain of leaving known places, people, and friends, became a familiar pain. It has been said that if pain was experienced in such a manner frequently, it would dull.

This was not the case for this boy. He felt every single time as fresh as the first.

But this time was different. It was more unbearable than could be thought of.

He had found his first love in the last time, leading up to now.

He gently closed his eyes, recalling the memories that began to slowly consume his consciousness...


....

Huh? Someone's calling me?

....

It's the first day since I arrived though, isn't it?

".... tt."

Can't I get a little bit of rest? God, this country's people are especially obnoxious...

"Matt!"

The boy cracked open his eyes, to see who it was that was calling him in such a cute manner. Once he did, he felt a pang of annoyance, and closed his eyes again.

"Jeez, Matt, it's your first day, and you're already sleeping?!"

"Mmm.... Leave me alone, Class representative..."

He could hear her pout as she finally stopped calling his name.

Ah.... finally.... huh?

The girl had not absolved, rather, she began shaking the boy named Matt.

"Hey! Cut that out!" Matt got up immediately, and shrugged off the girl, who had a victory smile.

"Teehee, gotcha!" The girl before him was not your typical Japanese girl, which was to be expected of a class representative.

The girl before him was substantially shorter than him (he considered himself an average height.... in America), and wore her long brown hair in a braid that ran down her left shoulder. Her blue eyes was definitely rare in Japan, though Matt had seen that kind of color in many of his travels with his family, so it didn't seem exquisite. She had a rather athletic build, and definitely had shape.

Not like any guy wouldn't take note of that...

In short, she was a girl that was definitely destined to be popular.

So why did she bother with me...?

He sighed at his own question, and lifted his hands up in defeat, "Fine, fine; you win. You happy?"

She nodded gleefully, and made a rather cheesy pose, with a victory sign and her tongue stuck out. 

Her strike pose, is that it?

Matt sighed at her stupid playfulness, and muttered, "That is unfitting of someone with the role of class representative."

"Ehhh-?! I thought it was pretty cute though!"

"Is that what our generation does these days in Japan?"

"Hm? You sound like you're a foreigner with that statement... Could it be that you are?!"

Matt facepalmed silently, grimacing to myself, "Well, technically, I was born here, but then I went away to America, then France... I don't want to really discuss it..."

Much to the boy's surprise, the girl changed her attitude rather suddenly, and so he stiffened slightly when she looked at him with her newfound seriousness, "I apologize if I have annoyed you; I simply wanted to cheer you up, since you seemed rather gloomy."

Matt stared blankly at the girl, and quickly looked away,, his face slightly flushed, "Well, of course, I was at my old school up until yesterday... I miss my old friends."

"Hm... I think it's good to miss them, but shouldn't you do that sort of ugly stuff when you're alone?"

Matt suddenly looked back at the girl, and raised his voice, "That's because...!"

The boy stopped only because he could feel the eyes of everyone in the classroom on him. 

Damn... What a way to start off the first day...

Fortunately, the bell rang right then, and so, everyone quickly shook off the incident that just occurred, and went to preparing for class.

Except the representative that is, "We can talk about this during break... By the way, my name is Myui, Myui Otonashi."

"M-Matt Shuyi..." At this, she smiled, and walked off to her desk, after which, the teacher came in...


I can't believe how ordinary of our first meeting was...

The boy named Matt somehow cuddled even tighter into a ball at the thought. It seemed like yesterday to him; but in actuality, it had been a very long time since then...


"Hey, Matt-kun!" Upon hearing his name, Matt turned around from his circle of friends to the direction of the voice, whose owner was of course, Myui.

Once he saw her, he smiled, "Yo, what're you up to, Class Representative?"

"Mmm..." Myui pouted, "Didn't I tell you to call me Myui-chan?"

"U-um... Well, it's not exactly comfortable for me to say..."

"Jeez, we've been friends for over a month, and you still call me by my status!" She stomped on his foot, at which he yelped.

She turned around and stormed off in the direction in which she came from, "W-wait up! Class Representative!"

"Aw, man! You got it tough, don'tcha?" One of the guys from the circle hung his arm around Matt, who was bent over in slight pain.

"You're not kidding..."

Another guy came over, "Hm, could it be that Class Representative is actually a tsundere?"

Matt instantly felt his face flush, "S-surely not!"

"Ohhhhh? Is Matt-chan in loooove?"

At this the rest of the group busted in laughter, and Matt could only helplessly mutter, "Y-you guys....."


A few more months passed. The seasons changed from spring to summer, and the students were all getting ready for their summer festival. Naturally, some classes decided for a stand selling miscellaneous things, others went for oddballs, like a haunted house, or a planetarium. Only two classes did a maid cafe, and Matt's was one of them.

"So how do I look in this costume?"

"Um.... Good."

Myui pouted at Matt's bland remark, but Matt could not help it. He had indeed developed feelings for her, and as time went on during the year, his heart softened from the moving, and he made a lot of friends.

As I usually always do, but....

Matt lowered his head at the thought of the routine he had repeatedly done since he gained awareness.

New school, make new friends, spend just enough time to believe that my family might just settle here, and then out of nowhere, we move... It usually happens after a semester ends, or the school year.

"Hm? What's wrong?"

"Ah, it's nothing, just, thinking about how I'll probably move again..."

Myui lightly punched Matt's shoulder, "Idiot, don't say something like that in the middle of a festival."

Matt widened his eyes, but only a little, and after awhile like that, he finally spoke up, "Hey, Myui...chan?"

Myui looked up at him with her blue eyes, misty from tears she undoubtedly wanted to spill; at this, Matt gulped, "Wo-would you like to go out with me sometime?"


A chuckle reverberated through the room.

How fond of a memory can one be? Surely, that is as fond as they can get... Right?

The festival went on, and so did school afterwards, the months slipped by, but not out of time pushing forward, but simply there was no time left after Myui and Matt spent it all. They gradually became closer, and became a couple, going out to any attraction there was in the city on the weekend, maybe even on the weekdays if they were impatient. They had their first kiss on a ferris wheel on their second date; or was it their fourth? Matt didn't quite remember, but Myui didn't care for details like that, so his mind was at ease about it. Eventually came the time of winter, just before the start of the new year. But much to Matt's surprise, he would begin his second year in Japan, at the same school, with the same friends.

"This job assignment I have is going on longer than expected. I suppose it will be best if we stay here for another year or two."

Matt could hardly hope for anything better, because he had Myui, and his friends from school to look forward to for a whole other year, maybe even two. When Myui heard, she was overjoyed of course, and the two were more jovial than the average couple when school started again.

There were drama, just like with any other couple. There were sometimes rumors of Matt, or Myui double-timing the other. But somehow, it always worked out, and nothing truly happened in the end of a relationship sense. There was once, maybe twice where Matt had to confront several train molesters, and sometimes succeeded, sometimes not. Myui was just grateful he tried. Her smile emitted hope to him, and a day would be impossible to be over until he saw it. She laughed only when she was truly happy, and she laughed often, though sometimes things may seem down or not, but like all the other incidents, the two pulled through no matter what. All the while, their bond grew to such an extent that one day...


The beach breeze blew rather cool and crisp against Matt's face as he walked along the beach with Myui. The sun was about to set, and the atmosphere as a whole was tranquil. So why was it that he was super nervous? His hands were clammy, so he refused to hold Myui's hand (though she didn't mind as they didn't always hold hands), and in one of his pockets, gripped tightly by one of his hands was a case, large enough for a necklace, or perhaps a ring? Cars were sparse and scattered on the road that drove next to the beach, so it was quite silent besides the rhythmic crashing of the waves. The sand was whiter than salt, which wasn't an often occurrence on any coastal shore of any place Matt had ever been to, Japan without exception.

This is the perfect place...

Matt stopped in his tracks, and after a few seconds, Myui slowed down and turned around, with her head tilted as if to ask, "What's wrong?"

Matt looked at the sand, taking deep breaths, and thinking hard to organize his fleeting thoughts.

After a few moments like that, a sudden calm somehow emerged in his soul, and then he looked up towards the horizon, "The sun is about to set."

Myui smiled, walked over to him, and turned to look at the horizon as well. The wind came from the sea, but she had her hair in the same braid as she did the first time they met, though this was simply a coincidence.

As the sun set, Matt turned to Myui, "Myui... I want to thank you for everything you've done with me for the past year..." he closed his eyes, reflecting on everything that had happened, and knowing full well it was thanks to Myui offering out her hand that first day.

At that thought, Matt felt a warmth expand through his mind and heart, to the point where he almost couldn't help but smile, "I think we should stay together forever... Will you accept my promise ring? My promise to marry you when the time comes?"

Myui looked at the ring that Matt procured from the case in utter disbelief, but it wasn't disgust, just shock from her own bliss. She slowly began to shed tears, and smiled, "Yes!"


Matt sighed as he laid on the ground on his side, looking into the fireplace. The wind howled at a steady, and eerie volume; though Matt didn't mind, or rather, he didn't even notice the wind, as he was in deep thought.

After that confession and procuring of the ring to her, things went off smoothly just like before. Well, it was a little better, thanks to their bond being affirmed. Second year of high school went by, and the atmosphere began to change within the classmates of Myui and Matt; they were thinking about the future. Something the two had long since already begun to think about.

Myui wanted to become a scientist and solve the energy crisis that bedridden Japan. Matt, while having no specific aim or interest in saving a country or being humanity's savior; he did think of being a teacher, helping out children with their own struggles, and teaching them. It also provided the guarantee of stability, and no moving around.... That was, above all else, what he wanted.

Then... "it" happened...


"We're leaving in a month, to return to America, my contract here is finished, and the sister company--" Matt wouldn't hear any of it... And after he told Myui, neither would she.

Both he and her disappeared from contact from each other, Matt sinking further than he had ever done in his entire life leading up to that point. Why did it have to happen before the third year? Why couldn't I stay for the final year of high school, and spend it with Myui? Such thoughts were on his mind. As the month drew to a close, he finally mustered up his will and went to Myui's house, where her mother brought him into the house and went to summon her. After a few minutes, she finally came down, with very obvious marks of her crying. At this, Matt forgot what he was going to say. He didn't care, it didn't matter.

I made Myui cry.

Matt ran to her before she even got down the stairs, and embraced her in a steel-grip hug, feeling pain and guilt he had never even experienced or thought of in his entire life. He felt as though he was to be split in half, seeing her cry because of him...

"I'm sorry..."

Myui sniffled and returned the hug, and they stood there for however long it was, but they didn't care. Eternity could've passed, and it still would not have mattered; the hug they embraced each other in was no ordinary hug, it was a promise stronger than the ring Matt had given her not long ago. We will be together again.

That was the promise steeled and forged from that embrace. They felt it, they understood it, and they embraced it. After Matt broke away, he looked at her blue eyes he had come to love dearly, and he smiled a forlorn smile.

"One day, we'll meet again, okay? I promise."

Myui looked back at Matt, and all she did was nod, "Okay."


Looking back on it, I don't think I did enough for her... I truly am the worst, Matt thought to himself this as he blinked as wood in the fireplace it, wearing a forlorn smile as he thought about it all again. It's been almost a year since then, and Matt had graduated high school in the United States, though he didn't particularly care that he did. His father's contract within this country, as it turned out, was to be indefinite, but Matt didn't particularly care about that. There was only one thing he cared about.

Myui.

As promised to his father, he would go to a university, and even though there was no rule obstructing him going to a foreign country to attend one, his father made it as though it was in their conversation; so now he had been accepted to an American college, not too prestigious, not too cheap. His major was going to be in regards to education, and he was going to pursue a career in teaching, just as he had told Myui he would. But as all the other things, he didn't particularly care that his future was more or less guaranteed, because there was only one goal in mind.

To see Myui again...

It wasn't that they had no means of communication, but from our time, where digital communication gives incredible convenience to us, these two lacked thereof. In other words, all that existed was mail. And even though the cell phone started to become conventional in the United States around the time this story began, pagers were only just sprouting in Japan. As such the couple's misfortune followed.

Matt exhaled a breath, realizing he had fallen a bit too far into his nostalgia, and got himself up, smacking his cheeks with his hands to mentally snap out of it, "What am I doing? Of course, this isn't the end, I'll see you again, won't I, Myui?"

There wasn't any particular goal that Matt had in mind. He had let life whisk him around, letting fate dangle him around as though he was a puppet, since he had no actual cause to believe in, nothing to completely motivate him. He lived an average life up until now, and he had made many friends, even though it was painful to let go every time.

But despite all of this, he found one source of hope, no rather, one reason to continue on. That reason held out her hand to him on his first day of school, who had shared many moments with him, and gave out her heart to him, despite even knowing that he may be taken away and thrown about by the puppeteer or by the strings of old women knitting. And for all of this, he was grateful, and truly happy that someone cared for him like her. All Matt ever wanted was to maybe gain some stability, and for that, a teacher was an ideal career choice; but he knew that Myui had big dreams, and that she would need all the help she could get. For that reason...

For that reason, I have to hurry up and get over there and support her.

The wind picked up outside, emanating a sort of a continuous howl.




















End of Part 1

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