Sunday, 7 June 2015

Chapter six (segment seven), twenty four years earlier, July, Christina

That was… pleasant.

Flustered Christina left the pool side and followed Ulf. They had taken things a little bit too far but she longed for him so much. He was like a stranger these last weeks. Prowling the streets late evenings on his bike. Not once since that day by the river had they ridden together.

She saw the members of the kendo club filing inside the gym hall. One of them turned and waved at her and she waved back. Photos of her in those strange dresses probably floated around the club by now. A price she had to pay for Ulf's failed midsummer's dinner.

A bit down the slope the football team pretended to train in the murdering heat. Christina agreed with Ulf on this one. Football, not soccer. She had been an occasional fan of the Champion's League in her earlier life.

Somewhere down there the Watabe twins were sweating their hearts out to secure a place in the team, something normally only the second years managed but both twins were better than any second year at Himekaizen.

Christina watched the training in silence. Because they didn't talk that much these days. It was a wonder that she had managed to at least get Ulf to talk with his hands and lips earlier.

It worried her.

It scared her.

She hadn't allowed herself to fall helplessly in love like this since that horrid disaster when she was twenty. OK I was twenty one when I found out what a creep he was. One lover on the side would have made me sick, but five. Five!

But now she had. Whenever she saw a tall man in a crowd she tip toed to find out if it was Ulf. She turned at voices that sounded like his and once she had even run around a corner to catch up with a Himekaizen uniform that wasn't his.

How did I even become like this. He's good looking but not that good looking. She drowned in his eyes for a while when he heard her draw for breath and turned around to look for what had excited her.

He's arrogant and conceited and he thinks too highly of himself. She felt secure when he was around, solid, always true to what he believed was right.

He's uncaring, unchanging and sometimes he's so socially inept it hurts. She could trust him. Sometimes he was manipulative but he seldom told outright lies.

Is it because he's my only anchor back home? I don't think so. I don't think all that much of home any more.

Christina took another step to catch up with him and caught hold of his hand again. It felt good in hers. Warm, with his fingers around hers, like lovers of their own.

I love him. “I love you.”

He gave her an uncertain smile in return. Like he wasn't certain he had heard what she said. A sudden breeze threw his bangs over his head and glued his shirt neck to his cheek making him look like a surprised idiot but she didn't care.

I don't want a life without him. Even if I have to start all over from the beginning in this world I'm doing so together with him. She found new resolve in that thought and took both his hands in hers. “I've fallen helplessly in love with you. Please be careful with me!” There, she had told him how much he meant to her. Her entire world.

He shot her another of those uncertain smiles as if he was thinking about what she had said. Then that smile turned into one of those grins that made her heart lurch. “I will,” he promised. “I'll never knowingly do anything to hurt you.”

He threw his arms around her back and hugged her close to him. Drew her into the warmth of his world. His shirt was a little salty to her lips.

And yet you do. I want to hear those words from you. I want to hear you say that you love me. “I'm happy,” she lied, and smiled into his chest. It hurts you know, to need you so much more than you need me. To love you so much more.

That wasn't entirely honest. He loved her back. She knew it, felt it whenever he touched her. But something held him back. A fear of something she couldn't understand and therefore couldn't compete with.

With some regret she loosened herself from his hug and stared into his eyes. What is it that stands between us? She found no answer there, only a pair of eyes with a longing for love that mirrored her own.

Christina took his hand and led them on.

They rounded the right wing hand in hand, and under the walkway the club members stood or sat waiting for them. A few rather racy wolf-whistles greeted them. Someone saw? No! Someone saw!

“Here they are... all prepared!”

“Ageruman… -san… -chan!” they chanted.

I'm so embarrassed I'll die of shame! They saw!

The summer heat was sweltering but that didn't prevent her from flaring red from her collarbones to her hair.

It was the last Saturday with the club before summer break. They would spend a long walking talking session riverside, and after that another two the coming week. Then club activities went into hiatus in preparation for the final exams.

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