Reads: 177

Masaru and Akira were still gone come cleaning time, but Daichi was back. When Reina saw him in his classroom, she said, “I'm glad to see that you're alright. Where were you during lunch?”

“Ah, I went to the gas station near the drug store for my lunch.” A thought occurred to him and he asked, “Reina, why are there two gas stations in close proximity to one another? The one near your house must be no more than a minute away from the one diagonal from the drug store.”

“One is likely for the tourists, and the other is more for the locals. Of course, I have heard rumors of them closing down the one near my house due to it being unnecessary.” Reina answered. “That or it will be converted to an independent car garage business. I have no idea how those new owners will be able to compete with the SOENE down the street. Perhaps they will have friendlier service.”

Daichi finished wiping down the desks, with Reina doing her part to help him, before Reina remembered the book she had checked out from the library. She had returned it right after class, and with that in mind she figured it was time. “As you know, I have finished Life in the Eyes of a Non-Wolf, and I liked it. I am open to a book discussion.” Reina said. A lie, but whatever would reel Daichi back in. His loss of interest earlier still bothered her, weirdly enough.

Daichi became happy, and he said, “Great! It really is one of my favorites.” Thus the discussion began.

***

Kosuke was already gone come time Reina and him usually left, but this was more than fine with Reina. Although she had to admit that it was strange how the boy was already gone without having informed her first. As Reina was heading to her shoe locker, she overheard a conversation.

“... And just like that, the security footage from today was wiped clean!” A girl exclaimed.

Another girl, whom Reina recognized as Natsuki, said, “Just from today?”

“Well, the footage from all the way back to the first of this month was erased. Not only that, but someone poured some water all over the technology present in there. Now Headmaster Hiranuma and the guidance counselor are trying to figure out who is responsible.” The first girl who had spoken said.

“That's creepy... It's like whomever it was had evidence to hide. Any word on any bodies found today?” Natsuki said.

“As far as anyone knows, no. Just disappearances of Third Year boys.” The girl replied.

“What has this town come to...?” Natsuki lamented.

Reina was considering whether to join in the conversation or not, but she quickly decided that it was useless. Those girls likely knew nothing beyond what they had already stated anyway. After changing her shoes out and going to the bike racks in front of the school, she noticed that Kosuke's black bike was missing, which was unusual. Reina needed to figure out what was going on with Kosuke. It wasn't like him to leave before she did. Getting on her own bike, the girl made her way back home.

***


 

Reina knocked on the Kurosawa's door, and Kosuke's mother answered. She was the spitting image of him, but female. Mrs. Kurosawa seemed concerned about something. The woman managed a sad smile when she saw Reina, and she said, “Hello, Reina! Kosuke isn't here right now...” The smile had disappeared, and she stared straight ahead at nothing in particular. It was like she was in deep thought.

“I see. Have you seen him at all today?” Reina asked.

“This morning, but he has yet to come home.” She looked at Reina. “Have you seen him anywhere around?”

“Not since the end of class. I suspect that he left sometime during cleaning time. Has he applied for a job or something?” Reina asked.

As if summoned, Kosuke wheeled into his yard and kicked his kickstand down. He came over and teased, “There you are, Rei! It's been a while since you've made the effort to visit me, yeah?”

Mrs. Kurosawa shoved Reina aside and she hugged Kosuke tightly, seeming close to tears. “Thank God you're alive! I was beginning to worry that you had become another murder victim...” Her voice had softened to a near-whisper, as if those very words rattled her to the core.

“Thanks Mom, but I'm fine.” Kosuke started trying to pry his mother off himself, as if embarrassed by being hugged in public like this.

Mrs. Kurosawa got the message and let him go, before starting back into the house. “Dinner will be ready soon. I will tell your mother that you're eating with us, Reina.”

“No thank you, Mrs. Kurosawa. I wasn't going to stay long.” Reina said.

Reina got back on her bike when Kosuke said to her, “C'mon, Rei! You can't just drop by like this then leave not even a minute later!”

“I've been here for longer than a minute.” Reina rode back to her house, and settled in for the evening.

***

WEDNESDAY NIGHT – WEEK 2

Reina was about to get under the covers for the night when her mother entered the room, pallid. “There have been two more disappearances today. I never thought Mikaki would ever become such a crime-ridden community...” She was trembling like a leaf.

This caught Reina's attention. She asked, her posture becoming straighter, “Who disappeared this time?”

“Two boys from your class. Don't worry – Kosuke isn't one of them.” Mrs. Honda assured her.

“Have any names been released?” Reina asked, suspecting that Kosuke had a hand in this. After all, it would explain so much – from leaving her behind at the high school, to the strange power outage that day at the school. And she also couldn't shake the feeling that Akira and Masaru's disappearances were connected to Kosuke in some capacity.

“Aoki Masaru and Shinoda Akira. Were you close to them?” Mrs. Honda asked.

“No, they were nothing more than acquaintances to me.” Reina replied. She hadn't told her mother of her search for alternative suitors, much less that she was romantically involved with Masaru.

Mrs. Honda broke into tears, and she went to hug Reina tightly. Reina picked up My Crazy Girlfriend and started reading it as Mrs. Honda wept on her. Mrs. Honda noticed this and she asked through her tears, “When will you be done with that book?” She seemed to want to change the subject.

“Soon. Perhaps within a week.” Reina answered.

“That is not a heavy novel. Why has it taken you so long to read it?” Mrs. Honda asked, pulling away from her daughter. She stood up, wiping the tears away from her eyes, and then folding her hands in front of herself.

“I have been reading Life In The Eyes of a Non-Wolf. I have finished it, and now this book is all that remains.” Reina responded.

“What would you like to read next?” Her mother seemed to be calming down, and she even looked interested in Reina's newfound hobby.

“I will choose another book when I have finished with this one.” Reina said.

Mrs. Honda said, “Please take care when you leave this house.” She was still not appeased, which meant that the conversation wasn't as effective for her as she had hoped.

“Of course I will.” Reina said, and her mother left the room.

***

THURSDAY MORNING – WEEK 2

Reina was awakened by hearing someone enter her room and stand by her bedside. Reina opened her eyes a bit to see who it was, and she couldn't get a good view of the figure in the darkness. She was further awakened by hearing Kosuke's voice say, “Get up, we're slipping out.”

Reina grabbed her phone and checked the time, before setting it aside and rubbing her face. “Kosuke, it's one-hundred hours. That's past curfew, and the police will be out.”

“Since when did you care for the rules?” Kosuke inquired, before pulling Reina up onto her feet.

This got a shove from her, and Reina grumbled, “I care when they aren't in my favor.”

“A lot of things aren't in your favor, just come on!” Kosuke pushed, before he went to her closet and grabbed out an outfit. He tossed it to her and said, “Throw that on and meet me outside.”


Submitted: March 18, 2021

© Copyright 2022 A. Rhetters. All rights reserved.

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