Monday, 10 August 2015

Chapter five (segment nine), 2016, August, Ulf

“Your plans for today?” Amaya wondered after breakfast.

“Club activities,” Ulf answered and slung his backpack onto his back. “Culture festival late September, and it seems the clubs are supposed to take part in it.”

Amaya frowned. “You couldn't participate last year.”

“No big deal. We're over twenty people in the club, and I guess we'll have to show off something supposedly Swedish and that's about it. See you!” And with that he was out of the door. He ran down the stairs five steps at a time and walked the last bit to the bike stand. Today would be a long ride, but he hadn't wanted to leave it by the station for the duration of the field trip. Lucky he didn't. Four days had turned into two weeks.

He played with the thought of biking to their old mall and leave it there, but with some luck Christina would show at the school, and if she did he had hopes for cycling around the city with her. So he ended up locking his bike to the confession stands outside their wing and walked the gravel to the entrance.

After a few moments of confusion he found his shoe lockers, dumped his sneakers in it and pulled his indoor slippers out of his back pack. Starting today he'd leave them in the locker when he went home. There were only a couple of days until school started anyway.

The corridor was empty, but he heard muted voices from the stairwell he was heading for. He looked through the windows to the closed cafeteria, passed the boys PE locker room and climbed the stairs. Whomever the voices belonged to had long since vanished when he left the stairs for the main corridor.

What the hell? The club room was empty. As in wiped clean. This is way too much for a burglary, so what happened?

“Urufu, you idiot! Moron-sama!”

OK, that's Noriko for sure. Now what? Ulf left their club room and stared in the direction her voice had come from. Sure enough she stood in the stairwell waving at him. Ah, not waving, beckoning for me. Damn palm down. I'll never get used to that.

With a sigh he shut the door and sauntered in her direction. What's she doing in our wing?

“What's with you today? Getting senile already?”

No, I'm not, That doctor of Nakagawa's promised as much. Wonder what I forgot this time though? Probably just didn't pay attention to something. “Yeah, must be. Advanced age and all that.”

When he closed in on her she turned on her feet, climbed the stairs and headed into the corridor to his classroom. That had him even more confused until she walked past it.

Ah, that's right. We were given a new room. Ulf started running after her and caught up just as they passed 5:1. He wondered if they would be able to see all of the pool from their new room.

They were.

Half a dozen club members were busy adding the finishing touches to the former classroom converted into club room. They must have spent a lot of time since the field trip here, because the room had been carefully redesigned for lounging, office work and even small conferences. There was even a very small kitchenette in a corner. Bookshelves lined two walls, and four shelves cut the room into two sections separating the lounge area from the workspace.

“Whoa! You guys rule!” Where did the money come from? I seeded quarter of a million yen, but that's nothing compared to the furniture they brought here?

“Like it, Urufu-kun?” Midori asked proudly. Not waiting for an answer she continued. “Found out a week ago both my parents and Hiroyuki-kun's own furniture stores. Between us we had a lot of damaged goods we could take.”

“I see,” Ulf said just as he thought it. That made sense. Two dozen of us now. We'll need this space. And I just love how they've planned the place for workshops in small teams! Super kids! “It's perfect. You've made us a new home here. Christina's going to step dance all over the place when she sees it.” Thinking of her he wondered where she was.

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. “She called in,” Midori said after a while. Her hair grew if possible even more unruly as if it wanted to share in her shame. “I'm sorry, but she won't come.”

Ulf forced a smile to his face. “Girl, it's not your fault. Besides, she should have called me instead. Thanks for letting me know,” he added to underscore that he really thought that Midori had only shown consideration.

But it was still a bummer. It wasn't like she had promised him anything, but he had hoped. During all of summer break they had spent less than a day alone together. Ulf shrugged. At the other hand they had spent far more days in each other's company than he had dared hope for to begin with, even if they had shared that time with others. And he would be a poor friend if he didn't give his friends the time they deserved.

And you're rambling. Making excuses when you know that your need for her is endless. He threw Midori and the others an ironic salute and walked to the workspace. Some time on his own while he pretended to work seemed like a good idea.

Noriko had seen through his ruse. She always did, but with a bit of luck she'd play along. He knew she had a crush on him, and he knew he was abusing it a little right now, but he really needed to sit on his own and think things over.

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