The first day of sophomore year always stood out the most in my mind. I can remember that the cherry blossoms were in bloom and they were more beautiful than ever. Perhaps I thought this thanks to the fact that my beloved senpai was closer to me. Well, I could watch him better, anyway. I only saw him in the study hall room thanks to the fact of our grade difference—I had to go since my grades weren’t the best in the world. I would always hide behind the book I had on hand while he studied, watching him so closely and with such a burning spirit inside.
One day, as I did so, I decided to doze off for a bit; I hadn’t slept well in a couple days. Though, I really did want to finish reading the last twenty pages I had left of the book After Dark by Haruki Murakami. I decided to pick it up per recommendation from Shizuru, one of my good friends. She always loved romantic stuff and so did I, which, I guess, explained why we got along so well. She and I were actually in the book club together in middle school.
I, growing more tired, stood up. When I looked down, I noticed a small rainbow pen on the floor. No one seemed interested in it, so I decided to pick it up. However, my hand was met with another much larger one. I didn’t look up at the face of the person. “Oh! S-sorry! Please…t-take it…” I heard no reply, nor did either of us move. I looked up to see a handsome male face with navy orbs pressed into his skull tilted down at me. His dark hair fell into his face, though not too much; I could still see the deep, cold pools locked upon me. Immediately, I recognized the stranger to be my senpai and secret crush, Kaede Okamura. “S-Senpai…” I muttered. I felt the blood rush into my face, warming it up beyond belief.
He lowered his hand at his side. I bit my lip as I looked at him. Suddenly, with the perfect opportunity to declare it, I cleared my throat and wet my parched lips. “Have something to say to me?” he asked in that smooth voice of his that I loved so much.
I jumped a bit at his sudden question. He seemed to read my mind despite knowing me so little; in fact, I was almost certain that he knew my name, but it was so bad that I wasn’t sure. “Um…I…I want to tell you something, senpai…”
He perked a brow. He bore a look of either agitation or boredom. “What is it…Was it, Hiroyuki-kun? Hiroyuki Takano?”
I nodded. With the momentary silence, I decided to man up and take advantage of it like I’d always dreamed of doing. “I…love you, Senpai.” I looked at him and held my breath. I watched him, noting his smallest movements and even the motion of his eyes in different directions, though they didn’t move too much.
He kept quiet a long while, neither of us moving. For a bit, it seemed as if neither of us breathed, hence why I felt so lifeless. Finally, I couldn’t stand holding the eye contact, so I broke it with burning cheeks. Next thing I knew, I felt his hand tousling my chestnut locks. I gasped and looked up at him with a shock-filled face. “Hiroyuki-kun… You’re such an odd little one. How long have you been watching me?”
I cringed; I did not expect him to ask me anything. In reality, I didn’t expect him to stay and talk to me after my sudden confession. Honestly, I had no idea how to answer him without seeming too odd, though I must’ve seemed odd already. “For…” I halted. My words stopped, lodging themselves in my throat and refusing to come out. “Since I…” I mentally cursed myself for being so afraid of saying anything. Be a man! I yelled at myself. “Since I…saw you as…a freshman…”
He looked away for a moment, leaving me to regret my admitting of the fact. He then began to laugh. I wondered what was so funny, but I didn’t dare inquire about it as I’d already managed to embarrass myself enough for the day. “I see. So that’s why I see you here all the time, Hiroyuki-kun?” I dipped my head, maintaining eye contact with the floor. He placed his palm on my head again. I could feel his fingers curling in my hair and it felt pleasant. “Timid?”
“Yes, you are.”
I grew more flustered. “A-anyway, don’t you have work…study…whatever to do?” I finally looked up at him again. My eyes met with his own that held the same smile that his lips did. My heart raced faster than a leopard’s pace.
He nodded and grabbed me by the wrist. He tugged at it, taking me to the desk he was working at. He sat down and ushered me to sit as well, patting the desktop by his side. “Come on, sit won’t you? No use standing there like a knot on a log; won’t get you anywhere but tired and with sore feet later.” I finally did, but without a word. I simply watched him flip open his notebook again and begin scribbling something down that I couldn’t read from my distance.
I laid my head down on the desk, closing my eyes; I had to calm down. If I didn’t, I felt like I would have a massive nosebleed or worse. ..What could have been worse? Oh, death from a heart attack or something. I felt a tap on my shoulder. When I sat up, the same piece of paper dangled in my face. I took it into my hands, at his insistence of course, and read it. “You’re so odd, Hiroyuki-kun. But, that’s something else. I have something to ask you, but I can’t wait until I return from… you don’t need to know where I’m going.” I lowered the page to see he really had taken off. I decided to continue reading and wait. “But, that’s beside the point. If you care enough to do that, whether you really do or not, let’s give this a try. That is, if you want to date me.” My heart flipped upside down. I looked below the words I’d just read. There, he’d drawn two boxes. One of them had “yes” written beside it while the other had “no.” Also, I noticed below them that he’d made one with a “maybe” to cover the gray area.
I felt as if I’d entered a dream world and that the reality I thought I resided in was all a fabrication of my mind, a dream that I’d made into reality through my closed eyes and mental ability. But, no. When I pinched myself, and I buried my nails deep, I realized that wasn’t the case. I was awake and very much so. I searched for a pencil to mark my answer—corny, I know—but I didn’t have one. I began to feel dispirited. Suddenly, I realized that he’d been using one. I slammed the paper down onto my desk and reached over, grabbing the pencil he’d been using off his folder. I checked the “yes” box and put it back, holding onto the page.
When he came back and sat down, I passed it to him, my face redder than a ripe cherry; it felt warmer than sand in the summer. He read the note, or so I guessed; I couldn’t stand to look at him; I was too afraid for the reaction. Maybe he would laugh at me? Would he pull such a cruel prank? He stood up—I knew because I heard his chair scoot back—and, before I knew it, he stood at my side. He cupped my chin and, leaving my mind fighting to catch up, he placed his lips tenderly upon mine. His were so moist and warm and they tasted so sweet…but salty at the same time. Maybe it was his breath that was so salty?
I closed my eyes and pressed back, relishing the precious moment I had waited so long for. My arms wrapped around his neck; I’d forgotten that we were in one of the classrooms; I thanked God that everyone but the two of us had left. When we pulled apart, I could not break our gaze that flowed so perfectly; I felt as if it had linked us together in some invisible way like a witch’s spell, but this was something grand and beautiful rather than something cruel and ugly. He leaned down and pressed his lips on my ear. I shivered as his breath brushed against my skin, teasing me. “I love you,” he whispered in a similar tone to the one I had used. Without another word, he stepped back and extended his hand towards me. “Come on, let’s go do something.” I nodded and took his hand, following behind with great anticipation.
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