Thursday, 7 July 2016

Chapter four (segment seven), 2017, dark and bitter

It was broken.

Ko-chan had just given her honmei chocolate to Yukio when Christina caught up with her outside 6:1.

Oh, Ko-chan, I hope you'll forgive me.

Lunch-break. Both of them had already finished distributing stupid amounts of giri chocolate, and both of them had received happy grins in return.

The only cloud on Cristina's mission was that Noriko refused to take any part in it. As soon as they reached school after the sleepover, Noriko gave her a glare and rushed away to meet Nao-kun. No matter where Christina went Noriko avoided her, and now she didn't have the heart to tell Ko-chan why their friend always had an errand whenever they met.

This is it, Christina thought before entering 6:1.

Only Urufu's left then?” Ko-chan grinned and winked at her. “Yours and mine.” And the grin turned outright mischievous, telling Christina that Kyoko was perfectly aware of the duplicity in her words.

Christina smiled at Ko-chan. She was in for a nasty surprise, that was certain, but a witness from their class was probably a good idea. There would be rumours aplenty anyway. She started digging in her bag for the chocolate. A feeling of uneasiness spread in her.

It was broken.

Can I do this? Christina drew a deep breath and looked at Ko-chan's worried look before pulling the door open. I have to, she thought and let the air out of her lungs. Her introductory question sailed along with it: “Is U-kun present?”

Quite a few of the students in Ulf's classroom turned at the sound of her familiar voice. At least this last time I want him to be U-kun in public. She could hear them smiling and chuckling at the overly familiar nickname she had used.

Over here!” It always felt odd hearing him talk to her in Japanese, but for this meeting it was needed. Absolutely needed.

She navigated the desks to where he was seated. “I have something for you to eat.”

A few wolf whistles flew through the air.

Dark and sweet?”

Dark and bitter, as you like it,” she answered. It's like playing out an act. I don't want this, but I have to.

Then I'll accept,” he grinned back at her.

Ulf's classmates had gathered in a circle to watch the Valentine spectacle orchestrated by what was probably the most famous couple in school.

And now for the twist end. “Here you are,” she said and brought out the cheap, store bought chocolate. “Thank you for being there for me since summer.”

It was broken.

She heard sharp gasps of surprise around them. She saw something die in his eyes.

It took him a few seconds to recover from the recoil. “Thank you for allowing me to stand by your side. I wish you the best of futures,” Ulf answered.

He understood. She loved him so much. Too much. She was suffocating them both. Strangled their love. She had to break up before it died. She was a coward. The lowest of the low.

I don't want this! Christina took a step, inside his arms, and hugged him close. She buried her face in his hair to hide her tears. I didn't love you enough to stay, but I'm still afraid of losing you.” Never cease to be my friend, U-kun. Please!” Soon all of her would be a crying mess.

The surprised murmur around them grew louder.

U-kun, I hope you'll find a better girl than me. Let me know and I'll tell her what a wonderful man you are.” The words came out thick with emotion. Each of them hurt like fire inside her.

I hope you find a man to make you happy, Ina.”

Oh how I love when he calls me that!

Tell me if he doesn't understand and I'll beat some sense into him.” The last words reached her mixed together with Ulf's laughter.

How can you laugh right now? No you're not laughing. Your tears just sound like laughter.

It was broken.

Then he stepped out of their embrace and took her face between his hands. His eyes were wonderful as always, and so infinitely sad.

Is this the last time I can watch that beautiful, twisted smile this close?

As a friend, I love you.” They had spoken together. There wasn't anything more to say.

He let go of her and she staggered backwards.

I would have been happy to live with you for the rest of my life. Isn't that what love is? I would marry you, cherish you, sleep with you and wake with you. With you I would even carry children.

She forced herself to take yet another step backwards. It was as if she couldn't let go of his face with her eyes. And another step backwards. And another one. But it had to end. She turned and dashed out of the classroom, not even bothering to hide the tears that ran from her eyes, or the racking sobs that left her as anguished cries each time her feet hit the floor.

It was broken.

Behind her she heard Ko-chan shouting after her as she tried to catch up.


She had to get away, and just metres away the door to their old club room stood ajar. Christina threw herself into the opening and pulled the door closed. A click told her the lock snapped shut.


Under the windows, leaning against the wall, Noriko sat with a blanket in her lap. She was crying, her small body shaking when she reached out with her arms.

Why? Why you stupid girl? He loves you so very much.”

Christina didn't say anything. She just fell to her knees and hugged her friend. “Because he loves me that much,” she murmured. She wasn't sure Noriko had heard, but it didn't matter. With what she hoped was a grateful smile she took the blanket from Noriko's hand, and after that she crawled on hands and knees to the closest corner in the room.

No one else could see her like this. Not even Ko-chan.

It was broken.

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