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WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

Reina had taken advantage of Kosuke's bladder after class, as the boy had to hurry to the nearest boys' restroom before he went all over himself. The school day had been relatively uneventful, but that was about to change. The ravenette headed where she said she would meet Masaru at, only to find the boy already waiting at the spot she told him to meet her at. He was leaning against the white school wall, shoulder-first. Reina had just arrived when Masaru grabbed her, swung her over, and leaned her back to kiss her on the lips. Reina grabbed him by instinct, thinking that he was about to throw her down onto the ground only to be surprised. Masaru pulled Reina back up onto her feet when he was done, his signature smirk present on his face, saying, “I wasn't about to let you back out of that one.”

Reina smoothed her skirt out, then tried to adjust her blazer to straighten it up after Masaru's stunt. She was impartial to his actions, as she just needed an alternative suitor by the end of the semester. The more she went along with his shenanigans, the better her chances were of marrying someone who wasn't Kosuke. Reina glanced up at the camera mount above them, pleased to see that there was still no camera in sight. Masaru chuckled and said, “Don't worry, I removed the replacement camera they had up there. Whomever tried to stabilize it up there while we were in class didn't do a good job of securing it.”

“So where is it?” Reina asked.

“Behind the dumpsters near the incinerator. They'll find it in the morning.” Masaru replied.

Reina expected Moriko to be out at any moment, so she needed to hurry up with Masaru and get him away from there. Reina went back to kissing him, and Masaru turned her around and trapped her against the exterior wall of the school for a quick make out session. After a few minutes, Reina pushed Masaru away and said, “See you tomorrow.”

Masaru seemed satisfied, and he said, “See you.” Once Masaru had left, Reina got to preparing for Moriko's arrival to the incinerator. Her first order of business was to find a big stick. The incinerator had handles, and she could slip the stick through the handles to trap someone inside. She went towards the incinerator area, and got her handkerchief out of her blazer pocket. She needed a way to disguise her fingerprints after all. She climbed up and over the concrete fencing that surrounded the school property, grabbing up a big branch that had recently fallen out of a tree, before returning to the school property. Now, all she had to do was lie in wait for Moriko.

Reina hid behind the incinerator, peeking around it every so often to check for Moriko. When the girl finally arrived, she was surprisingly alone. Moriko opened the incinerator up and tossed her bag of trash on in. Reina snuck in behind her and shoved her into the furnace as she was tossing the trash bag in. Moriko fell on in, and Reina slammed it closed. She slid the branch through the doors, then activated the furnace. Reina leaned against the doors, listening to Moriko speak. “Hey! This isn't funny! Let me out!” She was banging on the inside of the furnace, then she tried pushing her way out.

Reina listened to Moriko's struggle, and she simply said, “I'm taking Daichi.”

This was met with shock from Moriko. “R-Reina? Why are you doing this? What have I ever done to you?” She was close to tears.

Reina could hear the incinerator heating up. Moriko would be reduced to ashes before long. She replied, “I remove obstacles.”

Moriko became more frantic, becoming more determined to bust out of the incinerator to the point that Reina was being jostled around in the process. Reina only applied more pressure to the doors. Moriko started to scream, “Let me out of here right now! How could anyone be so heartless as to murder someone over a boy?!” It sounded like she was crying angry tears.

For once, a dark smile appeared on Reina's face. She replied, her voice taking on a more malicious and thus deeper tone, “You'd be surprised.”

Moriko kept trying to force the doors open, and Reina could hear her crying. Moriko kept shouting, “Let me out! I'll do anything, just please don't let me burn alive!” She was banging on the doors, and soon her sobs were replaced with agonizing screams as the flames consumed her. After Moriko had said her last words, Reina's smile had faded into the usual neutral expression she kept on her face. Reina got her phone out and played some games on it to pass the time. Once Moriko had gone silent, or had become awash in her own tears, Reina pushed herself off the doors and got to wiping everything down with her handkerchief.

To decrease suspicion, she removed the branch and tossed it back over the concrete fence to dispose of it. For an added measure, she went back over the fence and wiped the tree branch down once more, before re-entering school property. So she would have an alibi, she headed back into the school to grab a bag of trash and take it out to the incinerator to burn it.

***

Reina had rejoined with Kosuke come time to leave. As Kosuke and Reina were changing their shoes out at their lockers, Daichi came over. He looked visibly distressed. “Has anyone seen Moriko?”

“No. Maybe she went on home?” Kosuke answered. He closed the door to his shoe locker slowly, as if thinking about what the disappearance could possibly mean.

“Maybe. See you tomorrow.” Daichi went to change his shoes out while Kosuke and Reina started outside. As Reina walked away, she noticed that Daichi's brows were furrowed. Maybe Moriko meant more to him than he let on.

***

WEDNESDAY NIGHT

To Reina's surprise, Akira came on time and in some nice clothes. By “nice clothes,” that meant that the boy had worn the school uniform he reserved for the summer months. Reina guessed that his school uniforms were the only nice clothes he owned, not that it mattered to her anyway. Akira once again nearly hit a car on the way towards Reina, and he nearly ran her over. Reina stepped aside with her bike when this happened, and the boy rambled, “Hey! I made it! And I remembered to clean up ahead of time! By the way, did you hear that Moriko went missing? Haha, crazy world we live in, right?” Yet the boy seemed tense himself.

“Moriko is missing?” Reina asked, acting oblivious to the situation.

“Well, I overheard Daichi talking to Mrs. Watanabe while she was on her way home from work. They met up at the gas station near your house while I was visiting my brother, who works there.” Akira produced an origami butterfly from his pocket, and handed it to Reina. “I made you a little something before I came here. It reminds me of you.” He smiled, but it came out unnatural.

Reina accepted the paper butterfly and put it in her jacket pocket. She had dressed up a little bit, like she usually did when she was meeting with boys. Reina usually donned a white blouse, blue skirt with a white floral pattern on it, white sneakers with no-show white socks, and a gray jacket, which was slightly dressier than what she usually went for. Reina asked Akira, “Where to next?”

“My place!” Akira replied, as he started biking off. Reina followed him, and they arrived at the house across the street from Reina's own. It was the house that was infamous for having various appliances – washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, television sets from the eighties and nineties – strewn outside with little care. Akira set his chipped-paint purple bicycle against the side of the building, and he told Reina, “Come on inside!” He squeezed between a refrigerator and the wall to a set of black double doors.

Reina asked after him, “Are you certain it's safe?”

“Of course! We just sold off a bunch of stuff!” Akira replied.

Reina slipped into the building after him, and saw that a renovation project was going on inside. Someone was trying to renovate an old house to make it livable instead of allowing it to deteriorate. So far, some modern flooring had been put in, and some colorful wallpaper was being applied to some sections of the wall. Other than that it was pretty empty inside at the moment. Akira brought both hands out and raised them, spinning to indicate their surroundings. “What do you think? I've been doing most of the renovating myself!”

“Impressive.” Reina replied as she looked around at the work, even though her words were shallow. However, she could admire the work ethic Akira was putting in. “Are you planning to live here?”

“Of course! The land is ours, and I plan to go into carpentry! I just need to find myself a wife.” Akira seemed truly proud of his work.

“So what of the unsightly junk outside? Are you planning to repair some of those appliances as well?” Reina asked rather bluntly.

“Well my brother's side job is repairman, so he will be picking and choosing the best out of all that old junk out there. You don't mind mismatched furniture, right?” Akira asked.

“I just need a sufficient place to raise a family.” Reina stated matter-of-factly. “Just as long as everything works, I don't mind.” She looked around at the house again. Renovations were coming along nicely, and she wouldn't mind marrying Akira just for the house, but Akira himself appeared too immature to make for a decent husband.

Akira seemed emboldened by Reina's behavior, and he moved a bit closer to her. This resulted in her stepping back a bit, as she still valued her space, and Akira said, “Great to hear! So how about we become official already? I get a hot girlfriend, and you get a capable tradesman.” He seemed awfully confident, or he was just trying too hard.

“Maybe, a few more dates couldn't hurt.” Reina replied.

Akira's smile transformed into a slight frown, and he seemed to sulk. He folded his hands behind himself and looked down at the floor. He kicked a small, broken piece of wood away, and he almost mumbled, “Right, of course you'd say that...”

Reina wondered if she was beginning to lose him, so she tried to salvage the situation with, “I am not one to move quickly in a relationship. I like being certain of the other person, as I plan to settle in for good.”

Akira sighed and said, still sulking, “I guess that makes sense...” Further reasoning seemed fruitless. Akira was just stuck in a mood.

Reina tried to change the subject with, “How far have you gotten with this project?”

Akira seemed to perk up a bit, although he still seemed downtrodden. “Well, I am making good progress. We have already called for someone to take a look at the water line, as well as the wiring. All that's left is for me to freshen this place up a bit, replace some wood, build some furniture, and have my brother fix some of the stuff out there, like the televisions and the refrigerators.”

“Very nice, so what do you propose we do in here for our date?” Reina asked.

Akira blushed, and his mood seemed to improve. At least he stopped sulking. He said, “Well, I have a few board games stacked in a corner over there.” He went to collect the boxes and returned to Reina. The box at the top was a city-building game that was fairly popular. Akira picked it up and asked, “Does a city-building game sound interesting to you? It should only take about thirty minutes.”

“It will suffice.” Reina said, and the two sat down on the floor and Akira set the game up. Reina stole more looks around the house while he was busy with that. Yes, this would do nicely, if it ever came to that...


Submitted: October 17, 2020

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