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in a classroom

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It starts in a classroom.

Her hair is plain and brown etched into simplicity, her shoulders caved in to hunch over the minute cornucopia of the bento box, and her fingers fumble in automation—time is measured in six-second segments, each second is valued, no moment is left empty and void of work.

Then, abruptly disrupting the cyclical constant of her routine—

"Fujimiya-san."

"What?" Her response is quiet but brutal, cutting across the after-class din. Her mind flickers to the desolate roof crowning the building, the only place in school with an tolerable ambience. A moment's pause; out of the corner of her eye, she sees the shuffling of feet, coupled with his awkward umm's and err's. "If there's nothing you need, then—"

"N-no!" His face suffuses with blood. It's with fazed shock that she watches him dip into a bow, frozen in place and unable to react.

She doesn't need to.

"I-I'd like us to be friends, Fujimiya-san."


 

Their happy ending is a fairytale one: on a clement Friday at a paradise of sprawling green and exploding alizarin and promises shattering on trembling lips. Chests rising and falling in tandem, cheeks tinting and fingers clasping, and she's falling—in love, legitimate more-than-just-friends love—all... all over again—

She always knew it could never last, but it doesn't stop her from trying.

When Monday midnight comes, it doesn't stop her from clinging those bittersweet memories that slip so slickly from her clawing fingers—


 

It starts in a classroom.

Her hair is plain and brown etched into simplicity, her shoulders caved in to hunch over the pens spilling from her pencil case.

Then, disrupting her cyclical routine—

"Fujimiya-san."

"Hase-kun?" Her head snaps up to meet warm chocolate eyes hollowed out from the iris and pale lips forming those fateful words.

(unfamiliar words that seem to strike a chord within her)

"I-I'd like for us to be friends."


"I love you," he says, and it is not the first time.

Behind him, the sun weeps crimson tears, leaking onto the rooftop concrete as the spherical inferno buries its face in the lull of the skyscraper sheets. His face is eclipsed in shadow, her eyes are blinking furiously from the sun in her eyes (just the sun?), and she burrows her fingers into the crown of his hair. He tastes of distant skies and star-speckled dreams, lies that hum untruths into her heart and serve as a reminder of how transient they are in the expanse of eternity—or, in fact, simply a matter of days.

"How many times?" she breathes, just loud enough for him to hear. "How many times since..."

His smile is sad.

"Eighteen."

She doesn't speak then, only leans forward and allows her head to rest against his chest. He takes her fingers and presses them to his heart, and she lets the black ice grow warm against his body, ignoring the glistening beads that dance on the tips.


 

It starts in a classroom.

Her shoulders are caved in to hunch over the pens spilling from her pencil case.

Then—

"Fujimiya-san."

"Hase-kun...?"

"I'd like for us to be friends."


 

I don't want to return to those monotonous days of colourless streaks and drained rainbows. I don't want to return to those days where the pastel diary under my desk is fodder for my classmates to feast upon and tear apart, and scatter the shreds on the ground they trod on after. I don't want to return to empty roofs and chessboard worlds where I know, with every thud of my heart, that this is where my corpseflowers will bloom—upon the arch of silence's scythe, beneath the obsidian crystal seeping from my glacier for a heart.

I don't want to return to a world without Hase-kun.

So, please—

Her quivering fingers go slack as the second hand strikes twelve.

The pen slides from between them, inking a line of tears into the lavender page.

Her head drops.


 

There was never enough time.


 

It starts in a classroom.