Part 125: To the FutureBGM: Lion House Cafe
08/11 (SAT), Noon
It's finally time, baby!
Mao's the first to show up. We're smack dab in the middle of summer vacation. We've made plans to go see the fireworks display.
Sure is hard to plan things out when you're busy with the store, Miharu's busy with work, and Naomi's busy with cram school. This might just be the first time we've all gotten together since your birthday.
Huh. I think you're right.
The last time we were all together was July 27th. I'd completely forgotten about my own birthday, so I opened the store like it was any other day. The three of them came around as a surprise once I closed up. Funnily enough, Mao was convinced that I would forget. Miharu made dinner for us and Naomi brought a cake she baked at home. Miharu was worried because she didn't know what kind of food I liked best, causing her to make a number of Italian dishes. I never really bring up my favorite foods, now that I think about it. The puttanesca she made was good, though. Nice and red.
Naomi, remembering that I'm not too big on sweets, made a chiffon cake. It was decorated with cream, but one that wasn't too sweet. Gotta say, it was some impressive work. The flavor was tea-based, which led me to think she may have been influenced by Dianna somewhat. Well, maybe I was just overthinking things. What's more, all three of them got me individual presents, as well.
Miharu gave me a rich bouquet of red flowers. Red's my favorite color, so the store felt even more Rinka-esque after putting them in a vase and using it as part of the décor. Naomi got me a book- a hardcover version of a foreign novel that Naomi loved. While simple to read, it also posed some philosophical questions. It even had a nice cover illustration. Mao gave me an assortment of hand lotions and stuff. I spend a lot of time washing tableware here, so it's perfect for keeping my hands nice and smooth. She even made sure to pick out scentless ones so they won't stink up the store. Seeing how much thought they put into their gifts made me happy. My gran even gave me a call that night, so suffice it to say it was a great day.
Oh, yeah. Naorin said she's gonna borrow a yukata from home, so she'll meet us there. That means we're waiting on just one more.
Sorry for the wait, you two.
Miharu appears ten minutes after Mao.
Any idea when Naomi will arrive?
Oh, we're just gonna meet her there.
So, uh... What order should we do this in?
We all agreed to wear yukata. If there's one appropriate time to wear them, it's during the fireworks display. I'm borrowing one of my gran's old ones, while Miharu and Mao are getting theirs from a place Miharu knows. And on the cheap, thanks to an acquaintance of hers from work.
You should change first, Rinka. Then you can come and help us pick ours out.
A solid plan. Might be a bit annoying to walk around in, but hey, take one for the team.
Okay. Mind coming to my room to help me put it on, Miharu?
Why, no. Not at all.
They apparently had a yukata uniform day or something at her work, so she claims to have gotten used to helping others put them on.
You come too, Mao. You have the crucial task of getting some pictures of her while she's freshly dressed.
Huh? Me, too? Rare for you to say that.
I still haven't given Miharu my response to her confession. She hasn't rushed me for one, but sometimes she does shoot me with puppy dog eyes. I think I'm pretty sure about my answer, though. All that's left is to find both the right timing and the courage to overcome the slight awkwardness of bringing it up. Funny how I don't have the courage to respond to one single confession after everything I've gone through during Divine Selection.
I just chuckle at myself as we make our way up to my room.
It's so pretty.
Yeah... I was entranced for a moment there.
I'm glad we came.
BGM: A Time of Healing
The display is packed, as expected. We aren't able to find a spot to sit and watch because we start looking too late into the evening, but we do find a place with a decent view. You'd think we would be the only ones there since it's a bit out of the way, but nope. Plenty of others have flocked to the same area. The display itself is enough to make us forget about everyone around us, though.
I've been looking forward to this. It hasn't been on my mind every day or anything, but the realization that I've made it to this day has left me speechless.
We probably could've sat down somewhere if Miharu didn't take forever picking out her yukata.
Wait just a minute. Don't throw accusations at me when you took even longer.
Sorry, my short-term memory loss is at it again.
I don't think I've been out and about in a yukata since elementary school. I remember not being too fond of the idea back then, which led to me being forced into it. Then again, I might've thought they looked pretty back then, too...
How far in are we?
Mao's yukata has a pretty flashy design. The kind you'd expect for people our age.
Only about halfway. I'm sure they're getting the rest ready right now! The next batch should be even more amazing than the last!
Meanwhile, Naomi looks more mature than usual. I think it's because she borrowed her mom's yukata, which has that adult charm to it. I figured she'd trip at some point and break the illusion, but miraculously enough, that's yet to happen. My little girl's come so far... ...is what I'd say if I was her mom.
Apparently they use around 15,000 fireworks in this display, so that means we've already seen 7,500. How about it, Mao? Up for counting them all to see if I'm right?
Miharu's yukata has a nice harmony between design and color. It goes with her usual looks, making her seem a lot older than she is. Most people would be surprised to hear that we're the same age.
Pass. Maybe next year.
Ahaha. Yeah, next year...
Maybe that's why her rare smile every now and then makes her look younger.
We'll definitely come back.
U-Umm... but won't you have entrance exams to worry about...?
Ain't a problem! We'll have the time to come if we keep our heads in the books. Yeah!
I'll start thinking about that once our summer holiday is over, so please... spare me...
Naomi lets out a forced laugh. And then the crowd around us starts to get noisy again. The second half's probably about to start.
The second half manages to be even flashier than the first. The display doesn't let us look away for even a moment.
I hear Naomi and Mao's utterances between the pop of fireworks. It's then that I notice they are trying to distance themselves from us. Mao's face contorts into an indescribable expression when I make eye contact with her, but then she sticks her tongue out at me. You can't fool me, kid. I know exactly what you're trying to do. Aw, man... I couldn't even create the ideal scenario without Mao's aid.
I look up to Miharu while still feeling sorry for myself. She definitely noticed them sneaking off too, but her eyes are glued to the trails of smoke left behind by the fireworks. Most of the time, that is. She sneaks in a quick glance at me every now and then, her face beet red. She's far more aware of these sorts of things than I am. It's no secret that she knows what's going on.
I turn my head away for a moment out of embarrassment. I see Mao and Naomi come into view when I do. They make no effort to remain hidden and they're practically biting their nails.
I inhale as I try to organize my thoughts. Miharu already took the plunge back when she confessed, so now it's my turn.
I turn to face her and then call out her name.
She turns to answer, although it's obvious she's trying to act oblivious. There's no doubt in my mind about it anymore. I...
I love you too, Miharu.
The loudest firework of the night just HAS to go off at that very moment.
Maybe this is down to fate, as well.
[TRUE ENDING: FUTURE]