Since Our Last Kiss – 3
By the time that Chizuru had finished her story, the clock showed that it was two o’clock in the morning. And all of the noise from the surrounding buildings had died down.
Mai threw the pillow that she was hugging to the side. Her cheeks had become flushed with excitement. Her drowsiness had long since disappeared. “Re-really…? Are you sure it wasn’t some strange dream you had because of the books you borrowed from me?”
“Uhuh. Though, there are times that I wish that it really was just a dream.”
Chizuru answered with a sad smile. It was partly true and partly a lie.
She had never thought that it would have been better if the time she spent with Lukrov was a dream. But since returning alone to this world like this, with her grandmother gone, and having to return to this normal life… Like when she had someone like Karasawa in front of her. Those were the times that she felt things would be so much easier if it had all been a dream.
“After reading those books you lent me, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. It made me feel like telling someone no matter what.”
“I’m sorry that I kept this from you… But I thought that you would never believe me.”
In fact, Mai still hadn’t accepted Chizuru’s story as the truth.
Her large, adorable eyes were blinking rapidly as she stared at her. Chizuru understood how she must feel, that was why she had kept this a secret for so long, in spite of them being best friends.
No matter how pleasant something may appear in a novel, having that reality thrust before your eyes would show you the many hardships of the world. Having to accept all of that was neither pleasant nor dreamlike.
“I’ll believe you… I believe you Chizuru. I wouldn’t believe it if it came from anyone else, but I’ll believe it from you.”
When Mai’s voice finally broke the long silence, it had an uncertain ring to it, as if she were trying to convince herself. But she wasn’t lying. Chizuru was relieved and gently patted Mai on the shoulder.
“Thank you. For listening.”
“Come on, that’s nothing to thank me for.”
“Maybe not. But I’m glad that you believe me.”
“Oh, right. But…”
It was as if there were too many things she wanted to say, too many questions to ask. Mai looked up at the ceiling and took her time as she chose her next words. “This Lukrov guy. I’m sure that he must have really loved you. I wonder what he has been doing since you disappeared.”
Chizuru felt her insides tense as she heard this innocent question.
“I don’t know… Maybe, he has already forgotten about me.”
“Don’t be stupid. Even you know that that is a lie.”
“He, he wasn’t a womanizer, but he attracted attention from them. And the women in that world were very beautiful. Perhaps he just saw me as an oddity and was humoring me.”
Even while she was there, there were times when such doubts entered her heart.
With that said, Chizuru was treated well by not just Lukrov, but her other comrades. But what if that was only because of her calling? As for Lukrov… What if his interest had sprouted from curiosity, and that had only grown into something that resembled love.
She had been so important to him, that such thoughts would start to enter her mind.
Because it was almost unreal.
But perhaps the idea of trying to separate events that felt real or unreal in another world was a mistake.
“That’s not possible. Not that I actually saw anything, but I’m sure you are wrong. You always talk about things too modestly. It makes me think that things were much more intense than you said.”
Mai rejected Chizuru’s uncertainty with finality.
“Um… Well, that…”
Thinking back. He wasn’t called the ‘Knight of Blaze’ for nothing.
Normally, he was calm to the point of appearing cold, but when he entered the field, he would transform. Like a ravenous fire licking the drylands. His love was no different. Chizuru had seen him as a cold man with no interest in women, but then…
“You’re probably right…”
Several memories raced through her mind and Chizuru felt her cheeks flush.
The temperature of her body had risen suddenly. While so far away, he was still able to have an effect on her. That was how intense he could be.
“I see, I see. Wow.”
Mai said as if guessing what she was thinking. Then she got up and sat right next to Chizuru. “So, what do you want to do? Do you want him to stay a memory? Or do you…want to return?”
As she got closer, Chizuru could smell a scent from around Mai’s neck.
It was the soap scented cologne that Mai had used since high school. A mild but sweet, nostalgic scent.
Chizuru felt a sense of guilt and looked to the floor.
“I want to return…I think. Now that grandma has passed away, there is no reason left for me to stay… Of course, I would be sad if I couldn’t meet you anymore.”
There was a long silence before Mai mumbled, “I see.”
“Yeah, I know. I think that I would feel the same if I were you. It will be sad to not meet you or my family anymore, but…”
But, that was what it meant to fall in love with someone.
There were times when your love for someone held a greater power than anything else in the world. As a woman, Mai understood her feelings. Neither of them said anything else, but deep down, they understood each other.
“…I guess the problem is how you are going to get back. When you heard that ‘voice,’ was it in a specific place or situation?”
“No, nothing like that. It was always sudden, like it just slid into my head.”
“And it’s a woman’s voice?”
“Uhh, you might hear it like that, but sometimes it sounded like a man…as well. It was a very androgynous voice. You know, like those machines that change your voice through a microphone. It sounds a little unreal, and unnatural.”
The time was now past two o’clock in the morning, but neither of them was tired.
Chizuru was thinking back on the mysterious ‘voice’ that had called her to the other world. It was the summer of her last year in high school. Three times she had heard this voice calling to her before she had actually gone. And one year ago, in the other world, she had again heard the voice. It had asked her if she wished to return.
Return to her original world, where her grandmother had worried about her so much, that her heart disease had worsened.
The voice told her that this was her only chance to return. Thinking about her grandmother, her own family, Chizuru had nodded her ascent without thinking…on that fateful day.
She did not even have time to say goodbye to Lukrov.
“…Since then, I have not heard that ‘voice’ even once. But still, I can’t help but feel that things won’t end this way. But maybe it is just a wishful thought. But,”
But, she couldn’t forget it.
His sad eyes when last she saw him.
She didn’t want that as memory.
That last kiss they shared that was so gentle.