“Hey, Akane, are you sure you’re going to do it?” Marumi asks me again, leaning on my desk with a serious expression. “You’re really going to do it?”
I averted my gaze from hers and looked outside the window. I’m feeling really nervous, “Y-Yes. I am serious.”
“Hmmm,” she replies, sitting back on her chair, crossing her arms. “I don’t think you are serious.”
I heaved a deep breath and looked straight into her eyes, gathering all of my courage, “I am serious!”
“Akane, my sweet sweet timid friend, I know you’re also one of those girls who fall head-over-heels for that guy but I never really thought this would happen. I mean, you’re an introvert, a bookworm, somewhat like a geek and you never really stood out in class—”
Why…did it suddenly feel like I’ve just been hit with a lot of arrows just now? “Ma-Marumi, you say ruthless things so easily, don’t you,” I mumble.
“—but your body’s made up of heaps of courage.” I look at her and she smiled, “That’s what I’ve always liked about you.”
My heart skipped a beat and my cheeks heated up. I feel really lucky having a best friend like Marumi. Ever since we were on 10th grade, we’ve always been together. Now that we’re juniors, I feel like our bond has deepened. I really thank God for giving me a best friend like her. Anyways, “I don’t swing that way.”
“Wha!” she slammed her hands on the table, burning red. “How dare you! How could you brush off my great speech just like that! Besides, that wasn’t my point! Gee!”
I chuckle at that and look at her playfully, “I know what you mean. Don’t get so mad.”
She just rolled her eyes and before I could say anything, our professor has entered the classroom and asked us to settle down. Then the class began. I leaned my elbows on the table and rested my cheeks on both of my palms as I stared at nowhere. I’m confessing.
Oh gee. Just the thought of it makes my heart beat faster. I wonder how he would reply? I mean, it might sound as if things had escalated quickly but this has been going on for two years already and I want to tell him my feelings before it would reach its third year. Why would a timid girl like me confess? Why not keep it to myself like I always had been?
Maybe it’s because these past few days, I’ve been bumping on him nonstop. Recess, lunch break, p.e classes—even during dismissal. And it always happens whenever I’m alone. I don’t know if this is how coincidence works or maybe it’s just destiny. Yeah, okay. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, okay? Yes. One rule once said, “Do not assume unless otherwise stated.”
“Huh?” I blinked and felt as if I’ve just snapped out from something. I let out a small squeal upon realizing I was face to face with our professor’s crumpled face. “Ma-Mairo-sensei!”
“What am I not supposed to assume, huh, Mirai?” he said with a dangerous tone in his voice. He even stood upright, crossed his arms and pressed the rim of his glasses. “Isn’t this the first time you’ve zoned out in my class?”
“I-I’m really sorry!” I reply without looking at him. I feel really embarrassed right now and I bet a tomato’s already evolving in the classroom. Besides, I could faintly hear my classmates giggling. This is definitely the first time this has happened. I am extremely ashamed of myself. Why’d I have to zone out in Mairo-sensei’s class, anyway? Talk about timing.
“I’ll let you off the hook but just for this once,” he said as he walked away and continued with the discussion.
I let out a sigh and glanced at Marumi who was making faces—making fun of me, to be specific. Then she mouthed the words, Confessing now? I just frowned at her and returned to the book lying in-front of me and opened it. Surely, I haven’t missed out Sensei’s discussions, have I?
Before I could finish reading a paragraph about Japan’s history, the bell rang. “Okay, that’s all for today. For your assignment, read about Oda Nobunaga. I will give a graded oral-recitation tomorrow.” I heard my classmates sigh and I stared at the open book. I really need to study. I don’t know what he even discussed in class.
The chairs clattered and so did the desks when the students started to move about. It was already lunch break and as soon as Mairo-sensei exited the classroom, cries and complaints came after one another.
“Hey, Rumi! Be sure to study hard tonight. You might involve us again!”
“Whaaaa~? But I did study last time!”
“Yeah. And the class was put on hold because you couldn’t answer that scary sensei’s single question.”
“What? So you would’ve answered that if you were in her place?”
“What’s with that~”
Then their voices started to fade as they exited the classroom. Well, it was really tough last meeting. Sensei did put the class on hold when Rumi-san wasn’t able to answer the question. Tomorrow, he might ask me since I dozed off in class or something. I don’t want to drag the whole class down.
Seeing that I’ve made my final decision, I clipped the book on my chest, slid my bag on my shoulder and stood up. I shall study during lunch break. Oh. Maybe I should try studying under that cherry tree. Minoru Naoki-senpai won’t be there during lunch breaks. I mean, he always hangs out with his friends. I’ve got to put my confession on hold. For now, study comes first. Oda Nobunaga-sama, I shall spend my lunch break with you.
“What the… Hey, you didn’t have to jump like that,” Marumi says as she raises an eyebrow and tilts her head to the side. Glancing at the book I was pinning against my chest, she sighs and seconds after, looks at me again. “I can foresee your answer but there’s no harm in trying so… would you like to eat lunch with me and the rest?” she says, pointing the others who were standing by the doorframe with her thumb.
I smiled at her apologetically, “Sorry. But I have a date with Nobunaga-sama.”
She sighed again, “I knew it. Alright. You better eat your lunch right, Akane, okay?” Then she taps my shoulder as she grabs her bag and approaches the others. Their glance told me that Marumi told them I couldn’t go with them. Then they waved their hands at me before leaving.
Really. Even if I’d choose to go with them, I don’t think I’ll be able to get along with them. I don’t have much confidence in myself and I’ve never really reached out to people. Marumi was the one who talked to me first and eventually, we became friends. We’re the exact opposites, though. Marumi’s a jolly person, laughs a lot, talks a lot and has lots of friends. While I well, you already know what I mean.
As soon as I stepped out of the classroom, students were running here and there, some were just standing by the window across their classroom, chatting away. The hallway was filled with laughter and chatter and giggling and squeaking of the shoes and all noise you could hear in a school. I hurriedly walked down the stairs, past the boys crowding over something they were watching on the phone and finally, I arrived at my favorite place. Well, not originally.
I mean, this was not my favorite place until I saw him sleeping peacefully here. Looking up, I half-closed my eyes when the sun’s rays peeped through the leaves of the tree. Then a gentle breeze blew, making the leaves dance. I close my eyes as soon as I felt the cold brushing of the wind against my skin. I guess I could pretty much understand why he likes it here. But since this is a pretty nice place to skip classes and take a nap, I wonder why no one else comes here?
That aside, I really need to study.
So I sat on the ground like how a Japanese person does when doing a dogeza (for those who are not familiar, kindly look it up on Google) and zipped my bag open, grabbed my lunched box and started eating. It didn’t take me that long to finish my lunch. After cleaning up, I started reading.
“Oda Nobunaga was a powerful samurai. He was a warlord during the 16th century and initiated the unification of Japan near the end of the Warring States period,” I mumble. Hmm. Nobunaga-sama is a pretty amazing person. A warlord, huh? That’s pretty amazing. And to think he also ruled under a shogunate. I wonder how Japan was hundreds of years ago? Well, they do wear yukatas and kimonos every day. They even wear it when they go to school. Comparing it to our generation today, I could dare say that everything has really changed. We have gone modern. Samurais and Ninjas are a rare find these days. Though there are some wanna-be samurais and ninjas, I don’t think it has fully died out. Practices from before are still carried out. Only, they can be counted using fingers. In short, they’re going extinct.
Sighing, I leaned my back on the trunk and looked up at the pinkish leaves of the tree with a little touch of white. This place feels isolated and even though it is, I don’t feel bored or alone. It’s really relaxing. I could look at the clouds all day, lie here all day—I think I understand people who cut classes now.
Slowly, I started closing my eyes and listened to the surrounding. I could faintly hear the students’ voices from behind the walls. I could hear the rustling of the leaves. I could feel the wind brushing against my skin. My bangs felt ticklish as it danced with the breeze. This place is the perfect definition for peaceful. This is bad. I think I’m gonna fall asleep.
“Whoa. This is a surprise. Akane?”
I immediately jolted the moment I heard his voice from behind me. Looking over my shoulder, my eyes grew wider seeing Minoru-senpai. He was leaning on the tree, hunching over at me as he planted his free hand on his waist. His emerald eyes seemed to have glimmered as he smiled, “You’re not planning to thieve me of my favorite spot, are you?”
Somebody do something. My heart’s beating at a fast rate! “I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!” I replied as I averted my eyes from his and shrank. My heart’s ringing in my ears and I could feel my cheeks heating up. I slammed the book shut and started zipping my bag open and since my hands are trembling, I had trouble doing it.
“What are you doing?”
I’m not even looking at him yet his voice is enough to shake me up like this, damn it! “N-Nothing. I thought I sh-should already leave. I-I’m really sorry about this,” I said loud enough for him to hear. Jeezus, why won’t my bag open!?
He let out a small laugh and I heard him grunt as I felt his warmth the moment he sat beside me. The sleeve, which was folded halfway across his arm, brushed against my skin and for some reason, my heart felt like it was going to burst. “You don’t really have to go. I’m actually glad someone’s here aside from me.”
Help me, help me, help me. I’m going to die. The person I’ve been liking for so long is sitting beside me. He’s only three to four centimeters away from me and one small move, I could touch his skin! Jeezus, what am I even thinking? Somebody take him away. Somebody take this embodiment of temptation away from me. I can hardly breathe let alone look at him. I’m afraid that I might freak him out if I would. You see, my face feels very hot I bet it’s glowing red.
Speaking of which, it’s been a couple of minutes of silence. Could it be that he’s bored? Could it be that he’s not interested enough to talk to me?
I jumped the moment he spoke.
Huh? I secretly peeked at him and when I saw he was looking at the sky as he leaned his back and head on the trunk, I fully turned my face at him. He wouldn’t notice me looking at him, right?
“He was the second son of Oda Nobuhide, right?”
“Y-Yes. As far as I could recall, he was,” I answered.
“Hmm. Which century was he during his warlord period?”
“Seven…no. Ah. Sixteenth century. I just read that.”
“That was when he also initiated the unification of Japan, right?”
I nodded, “That’s right. I’ve read that he went to such extents and even convinced some to support him with his plan.”
“I see,” he answered. His eyes were still at the sky and the longer I stared at him, I noticed how long his eyelashes were and he had a small, silver stud on his ear. Not to mention he really is handsome. “What was the name of his loyal supporter again?”
I snapped out from my live fantasies and answered, “Oh. That was Toyotomi Hideyoshi-sama.”
“-sama?” he repeated. This time, he looked at me and as soon as our eyes met, my heart thumped as I looked down. “What did you just call him?”
“I-I mean, he’s an imperial soldier and an ancestor and w-whatever else he was. B-But in the end I think he betrayed him—ah—I’m not sure…”
“Eh? He did? Why? Nobunaga must have taken something from him, is that it?”
“N…No. I don’t know... I haven’t read that part, yet.” Slowly, I peeked up at him, “Wh-Why do you think so?”
He had this serious face on as he answered, “Well, if Nobunaga took a strawberry milkshake from him, I think I’d understand.” Then he looked past me, eyes burning with determination, “I will never forgive anyone who’d thieve me of my strawberry milkshakes.”
“Snrk…Pfft….” I tried covering my mouth with my hands so as to suppress my laughter but it was to no avail. I burst out in laughter, clutching my stomach. Imagining Nobunaga-sama and Hideyoshi-sama fighting over a trivial thing like that, I don’t know what would’ve happened to the shogunate. “Wh-What’s with that? Hahahahaha! That’s—hahahaha!—so petty!”
“Eh?” he blinked and then smiled, “It is. Well, at least it’s funny enough to make you laugh like that.”
His bright smile and the words he said drained all my laughter and replaced it with nervousness and embarrassment. I could feel my face go poof! and blow off steam. “I-I’m sor—”
“Awww, c’mon! You’ve got to stop apologizing, Akane. Your smile and that laughter suits you better. Besides, it would ruin the whole purpose for that joke.”
He lightly scratched the back of his head as he smiled shyly, “I just wanted to hear you laugh. You never once looked at me, much less smile whenever I talk to you. I thought that trick would pull it off. Glad it did.”
My heart thumped again. I don’t want to assume. I don’t want to expect. Still, even when I keep reminding myself, my heart seems to ignore it.
“And,” he continued. “While I was thinking how to pull it off, I caught a glance on the book you were reading and was glad when I could still remember stuff about the 16th century. I’ve got to say…” Then he looked at me and as our eyes met, he smiled. “Hideyoshi-sama was a great help.”
I like him.
I like him. I like him.
“Hey? Are you okay?”
I really really really like him!
“I like you!!!” I yelled as I raised my head and was greeted with his surprised expression. His emerald eyes were slightly wide.
The wind blew, the leaves rustled and my blood just went down to my foot. Goddess of Confessions, why must you do this to me now?
(to be continued...)