Since Our Last Kiss – 2
Chizuru lay on the living room sofa as she finished the third volume by the light of the small table lamp. The pain had grown so strong in her that she finally closed her eyes.
She placed the finished book on the floor as she faced the ceiling with her eyes still closed tightly.
Ahh…I should not have borrowed these books if this was to be the result. I should not have read them.
She regretted it now, but the weight that she felt on her chest was real, it was much too late to remove it now, but neither could she ignore it. There were five similar books still stacked on top of the table.
These were stories about girls, much like herself, who had suddenly been sent to worlds that were very different from their everyday lives.
And in those words, the girls would fall in love with someone.
Her eyes had become tired from reading in the dim room, and she massaged them in an attempt to relieve them of stress. Part of it was also to hold back the tears that threatened to pour from her eyes.
But when she slowly opened them, her vision was already distorted by tears.
“Lukrov… I’m sorry.”
Chizuru quietly whispered in the empty room, where no one would hear her.
They were stories set far away, in places known as ‘other worlds,’ and were about young men who fall in love and the girls they are united with. And no matter what obstacles appeared before them, in the end, they would find happiness as if it were the most normal thing.
She herself had walked the same path up to a point.
The difference for her was the ending.
Chizuru’s eyes suddenly caught the alarm clock that stood on top of the tall cupboard.
It was almost 9 pm.
Today was a Wednesday.
She thought of Mai then. Unlike Chizuru who had started working right after graduating high school, Mai was still in her first year of university. Of course, she had her classes, but she was not as restricted as most in society. She had plenty of time during the morning. She also attended from home, so she did not need to prepare breakfast.
Chizuru stretched her hand out to grab her phone which lay next to the stack of books. She stared blankly at the screen for a while as she fought with something within her. And then she decided. Mai would have surely done the same if she were in her position.
Chizuru pressed Mai’s number.
Mai’s voice came on the other end before the third ring had finished.
“Hello? What is it Chizu?”
By the time it was a little past 9 pm, Mai and Chizuru were already sitting on the same carpet and facing each other.
Mai had sounded quite sleepy at first, but she told her parents that she would be staying at Chizuru’s house. Now she was relaxing on the floor with one of Chizuru’s pillows hugged above her knees. Both of them had visited each other’s houses like this during high school, and so it was completely natural for them.
On the other hand, Chizuru was sitting facing Mai with her legs folded to the side.
“Hey, Chizu. If there’s something you want to say, hurry up and say it.”
Mai said as she pressed her chin against the pillow. Her tone was a mixture of worry and a desire to go to sleep. “You’ll feel better. You have a bad habit of overthinking things. I’ll listen to whatever you have to say.”
“Y-yes… Of course, that’s why I asked you to come here…”
Chizuru looked quite nervous as she fidgeted with the hairs of the carpet at her feet. Indeed, she had called Mai over for the purpose of telling her everything. Even though it may have been because she had just finished reading one of the books, she had still had the resolve to do it. But she hadn’t considered how she would bring it up. Chizuru stared hard at her fingertips for a while and thought.
“Well… I don’t think you’ll believe it. You’ll think that there is something wrong with me, become annoyed, perhaps…but, you’ll listen, won’t you?”
There was a slight tremble in Chizuru’s voice.
Mai squashed her trademark baby face halfway into the pillow.
“What is it? Do you finally have a man now? Is that it?”
A man… Actually, depending on your perspective, that was indeed what she wanted to talk about. Chizuru’s cheeks flushed a little and she nodded.
“Bingo! I knew that would be the case! I guess that really does happen earlier for people who work. Okay, so who is it? Someone at the company? Is he older than you?”
Mai’s face had now come out of the pillow and she excitedly fired question after question.
“N-no. It’s different. Today I’m… um, this is not about the present. I want to tell you about something that happened a long time ago… And…”
“A long time ago?”
“Yes. It’s not about anyone from work. It happened during high school.”
“But there was never even a shadow of a man in your life during high school. Though there were plenty who wished.”
Mai seemed a little annoyed and slightly hurt. They had been close friends since that time, they had hardly ever hidden anything from each other. It was not too surprising that she would feel betrayed.
“I’m sorry I never told you. But…”
As Chizuru stumbled on her words, Mai seemed to have guessed at something as her face suddenly turned serious.
“I knew it. It was that summer vacation. Wasn’t it? You made up that story about fighting with your grandmother and running to a relatives house.”
Chizuru Ayase and the third year summer vacation.
It was a famous story.
Chizuru, who was known for her looks and for being a model student had suddenly gone missing, then reappeared one month later. Chizuru had come up with the story with her grandmother and told everyone that they had fought over how she would spend the summer and ultimately went to a faraway relative’s house. It was quite the forced coverup considering that this incident had even led to a police search.
“So there was a man involved. But, why did you go to such lengths to hide it? Was it an affair? Was he a scumbag?”
“An affair…no, no! It wasn’t like that at all. Lukrov was very good to me. He was kind and I could never imagine that he would have an affair…”
She said that much before stopping with an “Ah.”
Mai’s eyebrows furrowed. “Was he a foreigner?”
“A foreigner…well, he was not Japanese, but…but you wouldn’t call him that either.”
“Undocumented? Or was he part of an international crime syndicate? A terrorist? Is that why you kept it a secret? Woah, I had not imagined it would be anything like that.”
Mai’s imagination ran wild as her eyes bulged. Chizuru frantically shook her head.
“No! Calm down. I will tell it to you from the beginning, so just calm down a little and listen.”
She answered in the affirmative, but Mai was still clearly over-excited. Chizuru glanced towards the stack of books that were on the floor. ‘Summoned to Another World.’ Talking about her and Lukrov’s story would be just as long and eventful, no, more so than any of those volumes.
But, she had to tell it.
To confirm what was in her heart, but also to quiet those feelings. She felt that she would have to tell everything.
But more than anything, she wanted someone to hear it.
“I, I had gone to another world. It wasn’t a different country, but a world in another dimension… Just like in the books that you lent me, I had found myself in another world…”
And there I met Lukrov.
We fell in love, we adventured together, fought victoriously and saved the kingdom… But then I came back.