Alarm ringing. Alarm ringing again. Alarm ringing yet another time. A hand from under the covers swats the clock hard so it falls on the door. Then it retreats back into the deep folds of the blanket. After ten or so minutes, the blanket flies in an arc to the floor and a stark naked woman bolts up from the bed.
“AAAa for fuck’s sake I did it again! What is wrong with me!” she yells as she jumps out of the bed, her shoulder-length blonde hair sticking in every direction imaginable and then some. She runs to the bathroom and brushes her teeth, while trying to also brush her hair at the same time. This does not work exactly like she envisioned. She looks to be around 20, give or take a couple of years - but clearly not a high-schooler anymore. She’s shorter than average, but has a nicely shaped body. There’s a small simple tattoo of a star between her boobs.
She somehow manages to get everything brushed and washed and bolts back into the bedroom to dress up, then she’s out the door in about ten minutes flat with a piece of bread hanging from her mouth and she’s still trying to get a jacket on. She runs and barely manages to get on the bus. She’s breathing heavily after she sits down and settles for the ride. There’s an old lady sitting next to her.
“Young people nowadays, don’t you use an alarm clock? You wouldn’t need to run if you’d have one, dearie.” she says and smiles at the younger woman. “Asano Hoshi..? That’s your name? It sounds foreign.”
“Hmh? Oh, my name tag. Yes, that’s my name, I’m Japanese, if you didn’t figure it out. I also have an alarm clock, but I’m very bad at waking up to it.” Hoshi says.
“Oh dear.” the older lady says. They both fall silent for awhile as the bus drives through the town. After a while, Hoshi sits up and starts to watch out the windows.
“Nearing your stop, Asano?” the older lady asks.
“Yeah.. I work at the new building just out of town.” Hoshi says while looking for landmarks so she knows where to get off. “I just started there so I’m not really sure where to get off the bus.”
“Oh, I can show you. I used to work in the old factory that was there before the new building. It’s just after a few from here. Listen, dearie. I’m feeling good to day, so here, have this.” she says and hands her a small square packet with a ribbon.
“Hmh? No, I can’t take gifts from you! I don’t even know you at all!” Hoshi says and tries to decline.
“Just take it, it’s just a snack from the market place, nothing fancy. But you looked like you needed it.” the lady says and smiles at her.
Hoshi accepts the package, thanks the lady and stands up. The bus comes to a stop, and Hoshi waves goodbye to the old lady and walks out of the bus. She looks at the large, almost-all-glass building next to her. It’s her new workplace and this is her third day here. She works as an assistant to a boss she has yet to see. She only knows her by her title and name, “Director Miki”. She enters the building and goes to the top floor. The all-glass elevators are fancy, if not just a tiny bit scary too and Hoshi wishes they’d at least make the floor out of something that’s not transparent. She decides to open the package while waiting for the elevator to go all the way up - it’s not fast and the building is very tall.
She pulls on the ribbon and the package opens like a lotus flower on her palm. “Well that was really pretty, but... it’s a fortune cookie? Who sells fortune cookies in such elaborate packages? You’d probably get more for just selling the empty packages, than trying to sell fortune cookies... Oh well, here goes nothing.” Hoshi says and cracks open the cookie.
Now is the time to go ahead and pursue that love interest!
“Now what? What love interest? I’m single and I haven’t been dating in like for ages? Such nonsense.” she says, but still sticks the fortune and packaging into her pocket. “I guess it would be great if I’d have someone... it’s not like I’ve chosen to be single, it’s just...” and then the elevator pings as it arrives at the top. The doors open and an elderly gentleman stands before it. Hoshi excuses herself and steps out of the elevator and throws the cookie into her mouth. Surprisingly it tastes real good.
She walks to the end of the hallway, punches her door code in and opens the door. She walks in, closes the door behind her and turns towards her desk, when she sees there’s a woman bent over it, her back turned towards Hoshi. The woman is taller than Hoshi, and slimmer. Her long black hair is tied to a neat ponytail, hanging over her shoulder. “Director-san?” Hoshi says as she walks closer. The person stands up without turning.
“Asano-san...” the person says, and Hoshi stops on her tracks. Somehow, she feels like she should recognize the voice. It makes her heart stop for an instant and the memories of high school pop into her mind. The person turns around and looks straight into Hoshi’s eyes, her own dark brown eyes poring directly into Hoshi’s very pale blue ones. Those eyes that Hoshi could - nor would she want to - never forget.
“Kina-chan?!” She exclaims, notices and slaps her hand on her mouth. “Uh, excuse me Director-san, that was uncalled for from me, I apologize.”
The Director smiles and closes the distance to her. She offers her hand to Hoshi. “Miki Kinana. It’s nice to meet you Asano-san.” she says and smiles at her. Hoshi shakes her hand and curtsies.
“Nice to meet you, Director Miki-san. I’m Asano Hoshi, but you probably read my papers already so you know. Sorry. Uh. Sorry I might have taken you for someone else--”
The director closes her eyes and gently shakes her head. “Na-ah. You didn’t. We used to go the the same high school back in the day.” She opens her eyes and a sadness reflects in them “I see you still remember me, I thought--”
“Director-san, if I may be so bold as to.. No, not Director-san, that’s.. Kina-chan, I-- I could never forget you, never! I--”
“Asano-san. Remember where you are. That was then, this is now.” she says, but there’s not a hint of sharpness in her voice, more like regret.
“Excuse my, Director-san. I apologize, I’ll.. not do that again.” Hoshi says and walks past her to her own desk. She keeps her eyes downcast as she doesn’t trust herself to not cry if she does. Her eyes still well up as she walks past her.
Kinana Miki. Kina-chan. Hoshi’s senpai in high school and her first love. They were a couple for the last few months of high school, after Hoshi had managed to collect enough courage and confess to Kinana after two years of secretly loving her.
So I was nothing to you, after all? Hoshi thinks as she sits down. She dares not to look at Kinana. I loved you with all my heart, Kina-chan... more than life itself. But you left. You didn’t answer a single message I sent, you changed your phone number, your address, your.. your name? You used to be Maede Kinana.. of course you’d be married at this point. And now I’m here to make your life complicated with my one-sided feelings for you... I’m sorry Kina-chan, I’ll resign after today, I cannot bear to work here, seeing you there every day in front of me, but not being able to touch you or kiss you. Perhaps getting to know your husband and seeing him kissing you.. no, it’s too painful. I’ll hand my resignation letter after lunch today...
“Asano-san” the director says suddenly.
Hoshi wakes from her thoughts and sits straight in her chair. “Ye- yes, Director-san?” she blurts out and looks at the director. She’s smiling at her gently and her eyes have a slightly red tint. Did she almost cry too...? Why..? Am I that bad of a memory for her..? Hoshi thinks.
“I’m having lunch in an hour, would you care to accompany me?” the director asks. Hoshi tilts her head slightly and her brow rises up.
“Lunch with you...? Of.. of course! But I thought...” Hoshi says, but is silenced by the director waving her finger at her and smiling.
“Say no more then, be ready. I’ll call you when I’m leaving.” she says and walks to her own desk. Hoshi follows her with her gaze. Her swaying hips, her slender legs. Hoshi feels her ears getting red and quickly turns her gaze away and tries to concentrate on her work.
Not three minutes after, the door opens and an important-looking man enters. The Director rises, bows deeply at the man and addresses him as “Leader”. Now knowing exactly how to address anything, Hoshi keeps quiet at her own desk and continues to work. The two of those chat for awhile about the company, and then the man leaves. The Director slumps down on her chair and relaxes visibly. Hoshi guesses that he was someone really high up in the company and the Director was just really anxious about the visit.
Hoshi continues to concentrate and work, but after awhile she pauses. What now, there’s something... she think and looks up from her work and sees Director standing right in front of her desk, looking down at her and smiling.
“Director-san!” Hoshi yelps. Director giggles and looks at her amused.
“You haven’t changed, Hikaru...” she says and walks right next to her. Hikaru...? That was her nickname for me when we dated, Hoshi thinks. So she does remember... But what was it just before, then...?
“I’m sorry, Hikaru...” the Director says and touches Hoshi’s hair with her fingertips. “I just... I knew he was coming here and I couldn’t... I couldn’t trust myself not to... not to...” She draws her hand away and turns around. “Hikaru?” she asks faintly.
“Kina-chan?” Hoshi answers automatically. She almost tries to apologize again, but Director stops her.
“Please don’t... Kina-chan is good.. or you could just call me by my name when we’re together... Hikaru, did you... ” she says and swallows. She turns around and there are tears in her eyes and one is falling along her cheek. “Did you look for me?”
Hoshi looks at her stunned, leans back and puts her hands in her pockets. Well now, what is this.. she clearly still has some feelings, but isn’t she married...? Her hands found a crumpled paper in her pocket. Oh, the fortune cookie... well what the hell, let’s trust that one! she thinks and stands up. She reaches for Kinana’s hands and grabs them, then pulls her close.
“Wha--?” Kinana says and hesitates for a second, but then gives up as Hoshi pulls her close and into a deep kiss. “Hikaru, what are you doing...?”
Hoshi smiles at her and says ”I’m just doing what the fortune cookie said. Who am I to stand in the way of fate?"
“I missed you so much, Hikaru, so much.. After my mother remarried and I was put into her new husband’s family registry my name changed, we moved and my phone was taken away from me. I thought I’d never see you again, that I’d never...” She wraps her hands around Hoshi’s neck and pulls her into another passionate kiss.
So that’s why I couldn’t reach her! Hoshi thinks. And that’s why her name is different, she’s not married after all! Does this mean...!? That we..!
Kinana breaks the kiss, looks at Hoshi with an expression that makes her swallow and she feels her ears getting hot and red. Kinana takes her hand and leads her to her own desk. She puts her finger on her lips and winks, then presses the intercom button on her phone.
“Yes, Director Miki?” A voice answers after a few seconds.
“Cancel my lunch reservation for today.” Kinana says. Hoshi looks at her raising her eyebrow. Kinana just raises her finger and winks again. “Order me a double lunch takeout instead. I’ll eat in my room today with the new assistant.”
“Of course, Director Miki”, the voice says. “In an hour?”
Kinana looks Hoshi up and down and licks her lips. “No, make it two hours”, she says. “I’m having dessert first.” she says as she closes the call.