Chapter 1: New Beginnings
“Hey Mafuyu hurry up! We’re gonna miss the moon if you don’t hurry up! “Yeah, yeah, I’m coming” said the boy named Mafuyu. “I wouldn’t miss it even if Mr. Quinn gave me one of his famous lectures after.” A loud laugh barked from the distance, “You sure about that man? I think I’d pass on an hour lecture from the one teacher who’s outlived half the trophies.”
Mafuyu chuckled as he ran after the group in front of him. While he made his way up the rocky slope, he noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye. He jerked his head behind him and noticed nothing except the leaves rustling and falling from the trees. He shook his head and continued to climb the steep mountain. After a few more minutes, he reached the summit of the mountain. He peered around but his friends were nowhere to be seen. His ears twitched at the sound of a soft voice singing nearby. Turning his head to the voice, Mafuyu began walking towards the source.
As he rounded the corner he found a girl sitting on a rock and it was evident that she was the source of the music. Her long dark hair gleamed in the moonlight as she swayed in time to her voice. She was wearing a long sleeved sundress despite the late autumn cold while her feet were bare and small. Mafuyu stood transfixed by the girl on the rock. He was broken out of his stupor by a cry in the distance. “Mafuyu, Mafuyu where are you!? Did you trip and break your ankle again. Come on man we talked about this! Don’t go wandering off on your own!”
The girl turned her head towards the sound of the voice and in the process she noticed Mafuyu standing there watching her. Her cheeks flushed to a deep crimson, she slid off the rock and ran off into the forest.
Mafuyu stretched out his hand and began to move towards her when a hand clamped firmly on his shoulder. “Hey there friend,” a voice hissed in his ear. “We’ve been looking for you and this time you’ll be hoping Mr. Quinn had gotten to you first.”
In a daze, Mafuyu pointed at the crop of trees in the distance. “Hey Jay. Th-there was a girl over on that rock, she was singing and everything.” “Who, Aspen?” Jay replied. “Yeah, everyone in the school knows her. She’s always there on that rock. What she does there, I’ll never know. Everyone calls her a weirdo cuz she never wears shoes. Personally I think she’s off her rocker, but I’ll never say it to her face. Cuz well, you know, crazy people snap.”
Jay’s brows wrinkled in concern, “Are you okay man? You’re looking kinda pale.” “I’m fine, I’m fine” Mafuyu replied. “I’m just… a bit tired is all. Think I’m gonna go get some food and sit down.” He began to make his way down the slope and back into town. On his way down, he glanced around for the girl but she was long gone. As he reached the bottom of the mountain, his stomach groaned in protest. “Ok, ok,” he said. “I’ll get us some food so you and me both can be happy.”
Mafuyu rolled the combination on his bike lock and began to pedal for the nearest convenience for some quick food. He walked into the glorious land otherwise known as the 24/7 Gas and Grocery. A quick minute later, he was sitting in the parking lot with a can of Coke and a pack of peanut M&Ms. The can hissed in the empty parking lot as he cracked the tab back and tipped the can over his mouth. He sighed in relief as he drank the cool, sweet liquid.
As he began to rip open his candy he noticed a figure standing at the entrance of the parking lot watching him. Mafuyu braced his hands on his knees and stood up. He walked over and realized it was the girl that he saw from the mountain. He opened his mouth and extended his hand. Before he could do anything the girl flinched away and covered her face as if expecting a blow to rain down on her.
He cocked his head slightly to the side. “I don’t remember M&Ms ever hurting anyone, but if it suits you I guess we can leave them in the bag.” A small voice whispered, “You’re not going to hit me? Everyone at school always hits me. They call me a freak and a weirdo. And… and I don’t really know why.” She gave a choked sob before taking a step back. Mafuyu shook his hands and stammered, “I, umm, well, you see I, your singing was very beautiful, it really was I promise, so please please don’t be upset.” Mafuyu paused, flustered. “Aspen, your name’s Aspen right? It’s a very pretty name. Me? My name’s Mafuyu, it means midwinter. I don’t know what Aspen means but it sounds very nice.”
Aspen glanced up at him with red rimmed eyes. “You, you heard me sing?” She whispered. “No one was supposed to hear that.” She opened her mouth to speak again but a loud ring rang from Mafuyu’s pocket. “Ah sorry about that, I’ve gotta take this.” He looked down and saw the words Jay Corden highlighted on the screen.
He lifted the phone to his ear and immediately pulled it away. “WHERE ARE YOU MAN, DID YOU FORGET OUR STUDY SESSION TONIGHT!!!” Mafuyu winced and rubbed his ear, “I’m coming Jay, I just stopped at the store to get something to eat.” “WELL YOU BETTER HURRY UP BECAUSE I’M NOT GETTING ANOTHER LECTURE FROM THAT FARTBAG QUINN.” Mafuyu grinned and pocketed his phone. He turned around and opened his mouth and realized that Aspen was gone. He shook his head and walked over to his bike.
“Is this what all girls are like these days? Man I really will never get them, they’re all freaking enigmas.” Five spins and a click later Mafuyu was cutting through the cool night air. Within minutes he was standing outside 27 Lyon Avenue knocking on the polished oakwood door. The door opened a crack and a smiling face peered out from the hole. A voice called from the back “Jay is that Mafuyu?” “Yeah yeah Mom it’s him.” Jay jabbed his thumb over his shoulder, “Now let’s get inside shall we?”
“So what’s up with that frown on your face hmm? You need to use the washroom or something? I can’t have you dying on me the day before the test.”
“It, it’s nothing really.” “I’m just… thinking about some stuff.”
“What kinda stuff eh? Got a girl on your mind or something? Or is tomorrow the day you finally fail a test and get an earful from Quinn.”
“It’s a girl actually, I saw her earlier and I just can’t get her out of my mind. Actually I saw her before I came here. But then someone had to call and scare her away.”
Jay snorted and patted Mafuyu on the back. “And who is this lovely lady who fell for a dork like you.”
“You know that girl on the mountain we saw? Aspen? She’s really pretty and her voice is really cool.”
“Huh!?” “Her!” “You fell for the school weirdo! I mean, I guess I can kinda see it. One weirdo falling for the other weirdo huh? You two would fit together perfectly.”
Mafuyu blushed. “H-hey it’s not like that you know. I just think she’s pretty and well stuff you know?”
“Yeah yeah I get it, you love her already don’t you Mr. Lovebird.”
“I, well, I’ve got to go! Yeah yeah, I promised my mom I would help with the dishes. Sorry but I’ve got to go. See you later Jay!”
Mafuyu dashed out the door and ran across the sidewalk until he was standing in front of his house. He wheezed and clutched his stomach as he groaned from overexertion. As he reached to put his hand on the door it opened from from the inside. Warm, yellow light pooled out from the crack in the door.
“Mafuyu I told you that you shouldn’t push yourself like that! Where’s your bike?”
“My bike, oh yeah my bike. I left it at Jay’s place. I forgot about it. I-I’ll go get it”
A firm hand gripped Mafuyu’s shoulder. “You’re not leaving the house after all that running. You’ll go get it from him in the morning. Now, since you’re home early help me with the dishes.”
“Yes Mom, I’m coming.”