Her silky long hair.
Her expressive eyebrows.
Her dark-grey eyes and that stupid yet cute cat-like grin of hers.
She seemed to know everyone in here and everyone seemed to be watching us. I'm not being paranoid now. Ever since we sat down and started staring at each other in silence, I felt the gaze of the whole cafe. Everyone here seemed to want to know about Ryo, and while being popular can be nice I was only worried that her fandom was composed only of people significantly older than her.
The maid that insists on calling herself Myu-chan coughed and brought an end to the empire of silence.
"S-so, are you guys going to order now myu~~?"
I heard a small dosage of despair in her words. Everyone in the cafe seemed to hold their breaths, just like the crowd waiting for the gunslinger's duel to start in a Wild West movie. I unintentionally moved my fingers in the air next to my chair, like I'm getting ready to draw my gun.
We stare at each other for what seems to be an eternity. Suddenly her face changed from unique cuteness to mad anger and before I could react, she rose up and hit the table with her hands.
"OBJECTION!" She pointed to something behind me. "I do realize that we're having a Grand Duel tense moment, but is that rolling ball of hay really necessary? We're still in a maid cafe and that doesn't even make any sense!"
I looked behind to see the ball of hay along with the rest of the customers, just to find that there was absolutely nothing there. I turned around just in time to see Ryo calmly sitting in her chair again, ordering two portions of ‘the usual’ from the maid like nothing had happened. She tricked me, and it worked out just as she planned.
As the maid scurried away and the mood in the cafe lightened up, I relaxed my shoulders and gave up on the whole tense scenario. I still tried to sound grumpy, but mostly for comic effect.
"But I came just in time for your anime impression show, right?" She blinks and smiles. "I'm sorry for taking so long. I was just reading an article on Hikkipedia for a novel I’m writing, and you know how those things work: you decide to read just one small article, then a related one and when you finally notice what you’re doing several hours have passed since you started researching, the daylight is gone and the cat either needs food or to be buried."
I released a big sigh. She wasn’t even going to lie about being in front of the computer when she was supposed to meet me and it's really hard to get mad at someone that's being genuinely honest because there are not many of those these days and we all have the duty of protecting endangered species. Take that, mysterious voice; not only is she a girl, she is also honest.
Now that the whole scene was gone I got to properly look at her
Her white baggy t-shirt and khaki jeans failed to hide her developing body, but her long hair managed to attract the attention of those who looked at her (at least for a while). Her medium-sized eyeglasses looked big on her petite face and she seemed oddly familiar to me, despite the fact that I never saw a picture of her before or something like that.
Too familiar, actually. It's like I’ve seen her face my whole life, but I'm unaware of details such as where I could have seen her before or whose face she resembles. The fact that I've met thousands of people in the last years doesn't help at all. Technically, it should, since my travels around the world could count as a decent reason for having a "been there, done that" attitude. However, my memory is not that good; while I remember every single little thing about the situations I've been in, I often forget people.
Wait. Where is the mysterious voice now? I'm pretty sure that it was time for some mean comment or paranoid idea.
Now that I think about it, I haven't heard that voice for a little while now...
...whatever. I need to focus on the important things. I'm here, Ryo is here. We're in a cafe and the awful music is gone, so I'm probably going to have a fine day. The first regular day in my brand new regular life. That's all that matters, right?
I shook my head to get rid of the thoughts about the voice. Fading back to Earth, I noticed that Ryo was typing on her cell phone furiously. She probably started while I was daydreaming.
The only thing that stopped the Empire of Silence from striking back is the sound of her little fingers pressing buttons at an unreasonably fast tempo, and when I say fast I mean it: she was using both thumbs to type alternately, using a technique similar to a drummer's blast beat masterfully. Such precise movements...
If she was doing it with her feet, I bet she'd be a great jazz musician. Maybe the world's most amazing cyclist, or a dance machine master, or just a weirdo stomping her own cell phone. It's only a matter of perspective. Or a matter of what you have your feet on.
She stopped typing and looked at me with a curious face.
"It's getting cold."
I was going to argue and say that the day is actually pretty hot, and the sunlight is usually stronger by lunch time. There's ultraviolet radiation in sunlight and it can give you some problems. So, if you're on a beach, don't sunbathe during mid-day or you'll get sun burned. Stay in the shade!
Judging by Ryo's skin, I came to the conclusion that she took this "avoid the sun" policy seriously. Far too seriously. She looks a little bit like a ghost. Not that this is a bad thing, you know. I've met some really nice ghosts and I learned to respect people that float and haunt places for a living. Hah, a ghost doing something for a living. That was a good one.
Unintentionally I blinked and brought myself back to reality.
"Your coffee, it's getting cold."
She pointed to the table and I noticed that there was, indeed, a mug of coffee there. Myu had probably left it here while I daydreamed and... oh my.
Ryo came to meet me, and I kept daydreaming over and over again. I was so lost in thought that I didn't even see the waitress bring us the coffee. I probably ignored Ryo as well.
I could feel the gaze of everyone in the cafe. There was a big chance no one was looking directly at me at that time, but I had a bad feeling. No, my danger sense told me it wasn’t just my paranoia talking. They were waiting for me to do something. Ryo seems to know every one of those guys, and from what I saw I can see she is the little sister they never had. And I'm the jerk that ignored her after asking her out.
"Have you finished reading it?" Without any ideas left, I tried to redeem myself by making conversation.
She touched her lips with the tip of her index finger and raised an eyebrow.
"The Hikkipedia one."
She looked away, not paying much attention to me.
"I'm reading it right now."
Which means she is so bored that she'd rather be doing what she always does instead of being here with me. I'm used to talking to girls and I know that when they stop paying attention to you, you'd better get it back quickly and...
...the voice should have pointed out that if I'm such an expert with girls, I could have avoided this situation merely by paying attention to her. And if I could hear it right now, it would tell me that I am doing the exact opposite by thinking about it and...
Control yourself! It doesn't matter if you're nervous or not. Ryo probably waited for this day as much as you did. Now you'd better find a way to make this day amazing, or I won't forgive you (and by that, I mean you won't forgive yourself)!
I used my fingers to type in my cell phone as fast as I could, and instead of betraying me, they joined me in this special attack; our synchronization rate was now absurd and I could feel a great energy emanating from my body and flowing through me. The opening song I could listen to in my heart told me that it was a decisive moment, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the one that was playing when I got here.
I won't let you down, Ryo! Behold my new power!
| SORRY |
With my ASCII art piece finished, I pressed the SEND button; Three seconds later her cell phone beeped, and she immediately looked at me. I tried to smile at her, but she gave me a cold stare that didn’t fit her and then her gaze went back to her mobile phone.
Now I could only wait for her reply.
She sighed and started typing again. Not as fast as before, and certainly not as furious. Ryo seemed pretty normal to me right then; she was just a teenager messaging someone (and not a girl with a mob-like fan base and machine gun fingers).
(ﾟ､ ｡ ７ - don't you dare ignore me again.
l、 ~ ヽ
Her ASCII art is much better than mine, but that’s not the point. If you filter the harsh part of message, you’ll notice that the ‘again’ implies that I would have another chance to ruin everything again and therefore I also have the chance to make things right. There’s also a cute ‘drawing’ of a kitten, and you can’t send something like that to someone you’re genuinely angry at.
Everything was alright.
When I looked at Ryo, she was giving me another of her cat-like smiles, and only then did I notice that I was actually enjoying myself. Despite the little things, I realized that I liked this place and I could see myself actually living here as a normal person. I could even get used to the atmosphere of this cafe and even its customers. Not to that song, I’m afraid, but I suppose nothing is perfect.
We kept on chatting so happily it was like nothing bad had occurred to us in our entire lives.
Living here with Ryo could be really nice. Just being here with her right now is amazing, and from the things she told me on the net, nothing supernatural or mysterious ever happened in this town. I might finally be able to have peaceful high-school days along with a good friend like I always wanted to. It feels like I died and went to heaven, except I feel alive and I’m pretty sure heaven would have better music...
The thought of leading a regular life got me in a good mood that accompanied me through the rest of that day.
From that point on, the day was pretty much perfect. Oh, contradictions. Right, I just said nothing is perfect. Yet, I also claimed the day I spent with Ryo was perfect. Ergo, this day would be the same as nothing, logically speaking. But not to me.
We laughed a lot and talked about random things like we did every day online. Somehow, it was much better than our previous conversations.
Ryo took me to some stores and parks and despite the fact that I had already visited most of them, I decided to not say it out loud; she was so happy to show me her town that I couldn't bring myself to spoil her fun.
Then Time passed, against our will.
The twilight sky looked absolutely beautiful from the spot we were sitting, and I must admit that I had planned that much based on my earlier visit to the park. There seemed to be no one else but us in the park or in the infinite Universe, and a different kind of silence kept waving in the air. We were both enjoying a calm and motionless moment after a full day that resembled anything but a storm, but I found myself also wishing that very moment would last forever.
The sudden spring rain that fell upon us, on the other hand, seemed to want the opposite.
It was a big surprise, because the day had been bright and sunny till that point. When I was about to start running away from the bench and look for shelter under the trees, Ryo pinched the sleeve of my shirt to attract my interest. My eyes met an object I knew she was carrying the whole time, but hadn't paid any special attention to: a white lace parasol.
"Shall we?" She instantly hid me under it and grabbed my arm tightly.
So, here comes a philosophical question for you: at what point does a parasol becomes an umbrella?
Her parasol was way too small for two people, so we were about as wet as if we didn't have anything to cover us at all. Not that it meant much to us at the time. We ran under the rain, laughing and singing and completely ignoring the prospect of catching a cold before my first day of school. I don't regret it at all, because it felt right.
We went in the direction of her home, because it was both closer to the park and because she told me that I could borrow the parasol after I dropped her home. I knew that it was practically useless, but I walked (technically "ran") her home anyway.
Then we arrived at her building and I was truly glad she didn't invite me in because it's always weird when you meet someone's parents, weirder if both of you just got your clothes completely drenched while running in the rain despite the fact that this someone had a parasol. She let go of my arm and looked at the lobby.
That was it.
In the end, I wasn't sad. The perfect day was over indeed, but we would still have tomorrow, and the day after, and so on. What started as a perfect day could easily become a perfect week, a perfect month, a perfect year and I know I am being utterly pretentious but I can even wish for it to become a perfect life. My perfect life.
Despite it being unrealistic, it was still what I truly hoped for.
When I was about to say "goodbye" and go back to my place the expression in her face stopped me.
"Look!" Ryo pointed to something behind me, and I instinctively turned around to see it in a blink. That action brought instant results, and none of them was regret. "It's so... beautiful..."
During the rain, a rainbow had formed in the skies above us. The rain was still really strong, but we ignored it for a while and kept watching the palette of pigments painting the sky. The sunset made its colors surreal, but we both knew that those were the true colors of the rainbow.
And then I realized that this day, so rich in events and full of interesting moments was coming to its end. I had no regrets, but I already missed it. There might not exist a day like this in my life again, or even on Earth. Even if the years pass me by and I die only to reborn again in this world, I will never forget the vivid colors of the rainbow I saw with Shiina Ryo.
I looked at her, and she was smiling like a child with a new toy.
"We need to do this again."
"What, hang out?" I laughed honestly. "I am going to live here now, you know. I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to do that."
"No, I mean we must watch the rainbow together again." Her voice had a serious tone now, and for some reason it made me happy. "Promise me we will..."