Part 4: Peaceful Times
BGM: Amusement Park (Day)
05/06 (SUN), Morning
One hour after the park opens, we finally pass through the hellish queue to get in. We came an hour early, but it turns out others came even earlier than that... Well, at least we didn't have to wait in line for tickets, thanks to asking Mao to pick them up beforehand. Still, we totally underestimated how busy it'd be during Golden Week.
Phew, finally inside. Wanna take a quick selfie?
She doesn't even wait for a response before snapping some pictures. Some with me, some with Miharu, some just by herself.
Your battery's gonna die if you're always taking pictures.
No worries. I've got a power bank with me.
I wouldn't mind taking a picture with you, Rinka.
Let's all squish together, then.
I don't mind, but hey, might as well get a picture of you two together!
Naomi tries to hide her bewilderment through awkward laughter.
Cool. Get out those purses, ladies. Time to splurge!
Already? Shouldn't we actually ride some of the attractions first?
I agree. I'm typically not a fan of rollercoasters, but I might be fine if I'm sitting beside Rinka.
Aww, but theme parks are all about the cute trinkets you can buy... Oh yeah, there's a parade later on that I wanna see. You down, Naorin?
I'd like to see the parade too, but... I'll leave the decisions to you three.
Looks like Naomi's decided to just go with the flow. Can't blame her, either. Pitching an idea to this group is kinda difficult.
The closest thing from here is... Brilliant Tower. Seems like it's a free-fall ride.
I don't wanna wait in another line...
Oh, apparently they have tickets here that let you skip ahead of the line, but there are a limited amount.
I looked into that myself while we were waiting to get in. We wouldn't be able to use them for another hour because it's so busy, but it might be worth getting some now.
Sounds good. Let's check out the shops while we pick those up. The parade isn't until later in the day, so let's decide if we want to see it or not after getting some rides in.
Whoa, Leader Rinka's up in here!
I'm fine with that plan.
I'll... leave everything to you.
And with that, we make our way over to the ticket machine. I can feel myself getting excited about how fun today will be.
BGM: Amusement Park (Bright Night)
05/06 (SUN), Night
The sky is pitch black when closing time looms near, allowing all the fancy illuminations to light up the park.
Me and Miharu take a rest on one of the benches near the entrance, since Mao and Naomi split off from us to buy something they forgot to get earlier.
Ugh. Nothing but couples around here... Wanna sit somewhere else?
Hardly surprising, considering we're at a theme park on a holiday. Still, it feels awkward sitting around people who're openly flirting with each other. I try to get up so we can move elsewhere, but Miharu grabs onto my sleeve and stops me.
No, let's stay here. For just a bit longer.
Once again, pretty obvious what the 'bad' choice is.
-It's embarrassing, so... lemme go.
Today's truly been a good day. It's not often you respond like that, after all.
It's not often that she wears such a shy expression, either. She's normally a lot more outspoken, but something seems to be on her mind right now.
Soon after, people start to gather around us to see the impending parade. Seems like we've picked a pretty good spot by coincidence, judging by the number of onlookers. The only issue is that it'll be hard to meet back up with Mao and Naomi if it gets any more packed, so I try to move again.
Miharu maintains her refusal to let go of my sleeve, though, and I fail to find the words to make her stop. The silence between us continues. This isn't normal.
People tend to get the wrong impression about her, since she rarely talks to anyone other than us, but she actually has a great sense of humor. She enjoys talking about the most meaningless stuff, too. And yet, here we sit in utter silence. She's looking a bit shy, but there's determination in her expression as well, so I can't bring myself to say anything.
The park staff sets up barricades near the bench during this time to make sure no one can get in the way of the parade before they start to organize people into lines. We could just stay seated, but doing so while the rest of the crowd waits around all excited feels too awkward.
We speak at the same time, possibly because we're thinking the same thing.
What is it?
You go first.
Oh, I just wanted to say that today was fun.
It really was.
Wanna stay and watch the parade? I'll send Mao a message if you do.
I'd love to. This is the first time I've been to a theme park, so I was curious about the parade. I rarely go anywhere with my family... and I tend to stay in at night.
Her only response to me is a smile. Back to an awkward silence. The only difference is that she has a downcast expression now, which morphs into one of worry. But then that hint of determination returns.
What I wanted to say earlier was-
As soon as she starts, the people around us begin to cheer. Immediately after, all the park illuminations go dark, which signals the start of some lively music.
Looks like the parade's starting.
...It sure is.
The sheer amount of noise coming from the parade makes it impossible for us to talk while it's going on. Regardless, just seeing it is enough for me. It's one of those things you can just sit back and appreciate.
The parade comes to an end about half an hour later. Part of me is still entranced, even after the park illuminations spark back on. Once most of the people who've come to see it move on, I tell Miharu that we should go, too. She slowly loosens her grip on my sleeve before standing.
That was... very pretty.
Yeah, it was. I'm glad we watched it.
I hope this isn't the last time we all go out together like this.
She says this with a dramatically different tone of voice.
Don't worry! There'll be plenty more chances. Not like we're parting ways anytime soon.
Right... Thanks, Rinka. Hearing that is enough to keep me going.
Next event is... the fireworks display in August, I guess. Haven't talked to Mao about it yet, but let's all go to that.
I make sure to emphasize that we should all go.
She replies with one clear, simple word. So clear, in fact, that it worries me a little. Normally you wouldn't be so firm about planning a night out with friends. My phone vibrates. Mao has just sent me a message, and when I turn around upon reading it, both her and Naomi are walking toward us.
Oh, here they come. Let's get going, then.
Oh, sorry... I spaced out for a sec. Let's meet up with them.
I wave the two of them over after she says that.
BGM: Rinka's Room
The first thing I do when I get home is take a good shower. Today has been absolutely exhausting, so my body insists that I dive straight into bed afterwards.
Today was fun...
I'm not exactly rolling in money, so I couldn't buy much, but I did come home with something precious. I'm sure I don't need to say what it is, either. My gran even gets back to me about relatively cheap and tasty beans, as well as a way for beginners to make decent drip coffee. School's back in session tomorrow as well, so I need to make sure I teach Naomi properly.
Once I hop into bed, my eyes are drawn to a certain book on my bookshelf... I still haven't told Naomi about the cards inside. I should do that when she comes over to learn the coffee brewing technique. I turn my light off, ready to fall asleep.
Yep. Today really was fun.
I find myself repeating the same thing I said a few moments ago. We're still a ways off from the fireworks display in August, but I'm already looking forward to it. There's no doubt we'll do plenty of other stuff before that, too. So I figure, anyway. I still have no idea what is in store for me...
I never even consider the possibility of my daily life being disrupted by something far beyond my imagination.
05/06 (SUN), Midnight
...Morning already? It doesn't feel like I've been asleep very long, but that might just be because I was so exhausted last night.
???: Good evening, my lovely little slaves to fate. Oh? You certainly took your time, Numeral I.
I am wrong.
I haven't woken up.
This is the same thing that's been happening to me these last few days. I'm still asleep, and yet conscious for some reason. Slowly, but surely... I open my eyes.