Afternoon breeze wafted across her face, blowing her long hair away from her face. Spring breeze was comfortable; chill and soft. She stretched her hands as far as she could up to the sky, inhaling the scent of early spring. Around her, people were talking and cheering and saying goodbyes. Families celebrated; friends took commemoration photos. One would think underclassmen crying on their senior’s graduation was a made-up dramatization, but there were some underclassmen who cried when their club senior made a speech about succeeding the club.
Ichika, though, didn’t care. She had had her fair share of tears and laughter throughout high school. Well, she wasn’t one you’d consider a popular girl. Her high school life was spent quietly, hiding on the backstage. She never tried to stand out, nor she tried to hide from the crowd. She was just there, living as another background character on someone else’s dramatic life.
And she was content with her way of living.
Her uniform skirt fluttered as she turned around, followed by her long shiny hair. The corner of her eyes creased as she exhibited her biggest smile. Her cheeks were tinted of rose, in tune with her thin lips glazed in pink gloss. “Well, I guess this is it,” her silvery voice traveled through the wind, reaching her partner a few feet from her.
Chiharu inched forward to her senior. It all felt like a dream to her—that Ichika was finally leaving. Ever since they met when Chiharu was a freshman, they had been together all the time. Now, as her senior graduated, it all felt unrealistic.
Chiharu clutched her hands in front of her chest, fidgeting as her heart thumped loudly. Her steps were heavy and nerve wracking, but she minced closer. “Yep,” she nodded as distance closed between them. “You’re leaving.”
Ichika messed her junior’s slightly brown hair. Although dyeing hair was prohibited in their school, Chiharu loved to color her hair with red dye, which sparked hint of brown over her hair, barely visible under lamp lighting. Under the sun, however, her hair was sparkling. Not as sparkling as Ichika’s hair, though. Soft black hair, falling to the small of her back.
Chiharu flickered her gaze to meet her senior’s. She wished for time to stop at this moment, while she still could feel Ichika’s loving touch.
“Be good, Chiharu,” Ichika advised, her brown orbs softened as her gaze trained on the younger girl. To be fair, she didn’t want to leave Chiharu alone, too. She enjoyed the time spent with this lovely junior, specifically.
Chiharu nodded profusely, engraving Ichika’s words in her mind. Though, her heart was pounding so hard she could barely focus on her senior’s words. She clenched her arms together, biting her lower lips as she gathered the courage she never had. After all, that might be the last time she could meet Ichika.
“Well,” Ichika voiced out finally, letting her hand go and taking a step backward. “I need to leave now. See you later, Chiharu!” She waved a goodbye with another bright smile, turned her body, and sauntered away.
Chiharu panicked as the distance between them grew farther. She didn’t want to have any regret of letting Ichika left without any word. So, she decided she had matured enough courage. “U-um, Senpai!” Chiharu called out; her voice cracked in a strange shriek-like tone. Her weird voice was enough to catch Ichika’s attention, as she turned around in confusion and bemusement.
Chiharu’s cheeks flushed in embarrassment as she realized how strange her voice had been. She gesticulated, trying to control her movement as to not embarrass herself further. Instead, it made her even more embarrassing.
Chiharu gave up. As her senior’s gaze was trained into her, all her words became indistinct in her head. As though her throat was clogged with a lump of dryness, she was unable to form out a coherent sentence. It was embarrassing. Even with all the time she rehearsed her confession, she couldn’t do it now. She threw her gaze to the floor, hiding her blushing face. “U-uh, I... I lo—” her voice strained. She clenched her fingers on the edge of her uniform, sweating. “Good luck on your college!”
Surprise turned into chuckle. Ichika’s confused face turned into yet another cheeky grin. “I will!” she waved at her junior. Chiharu lifted her head to her senior excited wave. She couldn’t convey what she wanted, yet, seeing Ichika’s smile soothed her as usual. With last wave, Ichika once again turned her back and drifted away.
And all Chiharu could do was cursing her cowardice even in the last second.