A warm breeze filtered through Lisa’s open window, filling her bedroom with the soft scent of fresh-cut grass and flowers. Yukina looked up and studied the boughs swaying gently outside, trying to listen to their rustling as if it were a song that would sing every answer to her geometry homework.
She gave Lisa a glance out of the corner of her eye and met green eyes for a split second before Lisa turned away and suddenly became very intent on erasing an invisible mistake with her panda eraser.
Though Yukina wasn’t quite sure why Lisa seemed intent on studying her whenever she apparently thought Yukina’s attention was elsewhere, she also definitely didn’t mind the feeling of someone’s gaze on her -- although that was a feeling she typically associated with performing on stage and not with spending time with a fellow band member.
A breeze flowed through the window, and the curtains fluttered. Despite the heat, Yukina found herself shivering as the temperature seemed to drop several degrees.
“I still don’t know why you decided to open the window, Lisa,” Yukina mumbled.
“Ah, ‘cause it’s so hot in here,” Lisa groaned, fanning herself with a piece of paper for effect, her carefully curled hair tumbling over her exposed shoulders as she did so. “How do you handle this heat so well? I’m jealous.”
“I can’t fail my classes if I want to focus on music,” Yukina said simply. “So I focus on my schoolwork to finish it in a timely manner before I head to the practice room.”
“No way--!” Lisa exclaimed. “So you’re so focused that you’re immune to heat and cold?”
Yukina’s cheeks colored. “It’s not like that. I just don’t let unnecessary matters distract me from what must be done.”
“Wow… I really shouldn’t have expected any less of you, Yukina…” Lisa sighed, kicking her feet back onto the bed. “How amazing…”
Somehow, those words alone filled Yukina’s chest with warmth. Realizing her brain was getting sidetracked, she tapped a beat with her pencil against her notebook in order to focus herself.
They fell into a comfortable silence after that, punctuated only by the sound of pencils scratching against paper and the occasional rustle of leaves outside.
“Hey, hey, Yukina,” Lisa said after a while.
“Mmm?” Yukina intoned.
“Do you need help?”
Yukina scooted away from Lisa, who had already leaned over to look at her notebook.
“Are you stuck on the last problem?”
Yukina nodded with her lips pursed, not wanting to admit weakness out loud.
“I’ll help you! You see, this goes here, and that goes there, and then you do this—”
As Lisa spoke, she moved her pencil to and fro on the paper, connecting constants and variables and whatnot with invisible lines. Even if what Lisa was saying was rather vague, Yukina suddenly realized exactly what she’d done wrong.
Yukina drew a line between the first line and the last line with her pencil. “So x was equal to y. I won’t make that mistake again in the future, then.”
“It’s fine, Yukina! Loosen up a little. The test isn’t until next week -- you have plenty of time to study to your heart’s content.”
“Is that so?” Yukina said. She decided not to admit that she hadn’t kept track of the test date and so had naturally assumed the test was tomorrow.
The summer heat had to be the reason for why she was so unusually scatter-brained today, right?
The sound of Lisa’s feet thumping against the bedspread snapped Yukina out of her reverie.
“You’re quite antsy, Lisa,” Yukina noted. “Is there something else you wish to do?”
Like practicing for our next concert, Yukina half-hoped.
“Hmm… Well, it’s a really nice day out, isn’t it? Maybe we could spend some time at the mall…?” Lisa tilted her head with an intrepid little grin on her lips. She tapped her finger against her supple lips. “And we did have a really long practice session last night that we totally rocked, so…”
“There is nothing wrong with additional practice,” Yukina said.
“I know! But Yukina, I did read once that experiencing the world is the best way for an artist to improve their craft… You could write a totally amazing song about summertime at the mall!”
Yukina had to admit that a song about summertime at the mall would probably be pretty popular, considering how many girls at Haneoka Girls’ School headed straight to the mall after school around this time of year.
She could already imagine a beat, and a rhythm, and a few lyrics about a warm breeze blowing through long locks—
“Alright, let’s go,” Yukina conceded. “I suppose I could use some summertime experiences to write a new song about.”
“Yay!” Lisa pumped her fist in the air. “We’re gonna have so much fun!”
The last time Yukina had gone to the mall had been many years ago when frosted garlands hung from the ceiling and department store windows overflowed with stacks of festive decorations and Santa Claus handed out fistfuls of candy to children.
Now, every department store she and Lisa passed by was chock full of mannequins dressed in summer frocks and frilly bikinis in all sorts of bright colors. She glanced at each mannequin they passed by and noted that she could imagine Lisa wearing at least half of these outfits.
Ahead of her, Lisa trotted at a steady pace humming a tune, looking oddly purposeful when most of the other girls at the mall seemed content to loiter about with ice cream bowls and phones in hand. The further they walked, the more sure Yukina was that Lisa was up to something.
“Where are we headed?” Yukina asked.
Lisa turned back to look at her with a smile. “Oh, nothing much! I have a little surprise for you!”
“That’s what surprises are for!” Lisa replied unhelpfully.
Yukina was about to pry Lisa for more details when Lisa suddenly made a noise of excitement and bounced over to a rack of swimsuits in front of a clothing store.
“Aaa, these all look so cute!” she squealed, rifling through brightly colored swimsuit after brightly colored swimsuit at Mach 5. She pulled out two one-piece swimsuits for Yukina to compare — one baby blue, one bubblegum pink.
Yukina pointed at the baby blue one.
“Hmm, let me check the size.” Lisa held up the tag tied around the strap. “Ah, looks like it’s the wrong size. Aw.”
Seemingly undeterred, Lisa then sauntered over to a rack deeper inside the brightly lit store.
Yukina trailed behind a few paces, feeling a little overwhelmed by just how many racks and shelves of swimsuits and summer clothing filled the store as far as the eye could see. As soon as Lisa started poring over another rack of swimsuits, she drifted over to a shelf filled with blouses of varying blue shades and began looking through.
“Hey, Yukina, look at this!”
Yukina turned around. Lisa was holding a two-piece bikini decorated with a lemon pattern and yellow ribbons in her hands.
“I just found this on the sale rack! Don’t you think you’d look good in this?”
Yukina gave the bikini a once-over. “Yellow isn’t my usual style.”
“Aw, but you haven’t even tried it on yet!”
Yukina looked at the bikini once more. She hadn’t fallen in love with every outfit she’d worn on stage at first sight, so maybe this one
would grow on her eventually. “I suppose.”
Once she’d changed into the bikini in the changing room, Yukina twirled around and watched the yellow ribbons billow behind her. Though she usually wore dark shades of purple, black, and blue for her stage outfits, being as Roselia had a mature and moody look, she silently admitted that lemon yellow did bring out the amber in her eyes.
Lisa really did have a fine eye for fashion.
When Yukina emerged from the private changing room to let Lisa have a look, Lisa’s eyes lit up.
“Wow!” she exclaimed. “You look amazing! Actually, you could probably wear this at a concert!”
Yukina crossed her arms. “If I did, we’d have to buy matching swimsuits for the rest of the band.”
“If we were doing a special summer-themed concert, maybe! Hmm… On that note, maybe we could go to the water park together? You know, for more song-related research?”
Yukina tapped her fingers against her forearm. “Are Rinko, Ako, and Sayo there?” Was this some sort of belated surprise birthday party? Yukina was fairly sure her birthday was in October, not the middle of summer.
“No, no, it’ll just be us! Just a nice trip to the water park between two friends.”
“Just us…” Yukina mused. When was the last time she’d gone out for an outing with Lisa and Lisa alone?
Sure, sometimes she walked Lisa home after practice since they lived right next to each other, but usually she’d only take the whole band out for special outings, not just any one other member.
She didn’t exactly consider study sessions different from practice, either — there was something different about spending time working with a colleague versus spending personal time with them.
The prospect of spending some one-on-one time with Lisa at the water park excited Yukina far more than she’d like to admit.
“Alright,” she said, trying to school her face into impassivity for the sake of appearances. “Do you have enough money for tickets?”
“Yep! I saved a bunch up from my paychecks,” Lisa said, pulling out her floral wallet and unzipping it for Yukina to see. “I can cover train tickets and admission. No need to pay me back!”
Yukina raised an eyebrow. At this point, she was pretty certain that Lisa had planned this in advance — not that she really minded, of course.
When Yukina and Lisa arrived at the water park, it was late enough in the day that the lines at the ticket booth weren’t too long. Soon enough, Lisa passed their tickets to the smiling lady at the gate who gave them each a dolphin-shaped stamp on their tickets.
As soon as they passed by the restrooms near the entrance of the park, however, Lisa straightened as if she’d suddenly remembered something.
“Hold on a sec, I need to change into my swimsuit real quick. Feel free to buy some ice cream if you want!”
With that, Lisa disappeared into the womens’ restroom and Yukina was left to look around at her surroundings.
The water park was a chaotic assemblage of concrete, steel, plastic, trees, and bright blue water. Families bustled around from pool to pool with a gaggle of little ones in tow, though Yukina could also see a few groups of teens and adults milling about as well.
By the time Lisa emerged from the bathroom, Yukina was munching on a popsicle vaguely shaped like a cat that also vaguely tasted like cookies and cream. She paused mid-bite to look at Lisa’s swimsuit.
Lisa was wearing a light pink two-piece swimsuit with frills and a faint flower-print pattern. A golden strawberry charm dangled from the waterproof ribbon tied around her waist, and several beaded bracelets clinked together when she brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face. Her “casual gyaru girl at the beach” look was completed by the star-shaped sunglasses tucked in her hair.
“You look good, Lisa,” Yukina noted, finishing her popsicle with a final bite.
“Aw, thanks!” Lisa chirped. “You look great, too!”
Yukina blushed, clutching her forearm in her hand. “You’ve already said that to me.”
“Doesn’t mean I still can’t compliment you every once in a while!”
“Ah. Yes, I suppose so.”
Anything else Yukina could’ve said immediately faded from her mind when Lisa grabbed her wrist and started animatedly pointing at different attractions visible around the park as they walked past them.
“That’s the kiddy pool. Do you remember going there as a kid? There’s the big water slide, and that over there is the ‘Big Twisty’. And there’s the Roaring Rapids, and the Lazy River, and the food stand that serves the best hot dogs…”
“This… All of this makes me feel like you’ve planned this for a while.”
Lisa stopped in her tracks to sheepishly rub the back of her neck. “Ah, I guess you realized. Ha, ha. Well, I just wanted to have some fun with you! You’re always focused on the things that’ll get the band ahead, so I felt like maybe you need some R&R once in a while.”
“Rest and recuperation?”
“Yeah! Can’t always run at 100% if you don’t have time to recharge, you know.”
“...I suppose you’re right.” As much as Yukina valued hard work in achieving Roselia’s goals, she was also at least somewhat aware that constant hard work wasn’t sustainable without strategic breaks and down time.
Lisa tugged gently on Yukina’s wrist. “Hey, do you want to go for a quick swim? The lap pool is over there.”
Yukina shook her head. “I don’t mind either way.”
As soon as they arrived at the edge of the pool, Lisa released Yukina’s wrist and leaped into the deep end of the pool with a little splash. When she rose to the surface, her flowing hair floated around her in the water like a mermaid’s locks, perhaps, or froth on the sea.
“The water’s cold at first, but it’s actually pretty nice! See?” Lisa kicked her legs through the water like a pair of scissors, propelling herself back and forth next to the edge of the pool. “Nice and warm. Come on in!”
“Ah… I don’t really swim.”
“That’s okay!” Lisa bounced for a few meters in the pool and grabbed an empty inner tube with a pink paw-print stamped on the side. She pushed it towards the edge of the pool where Yukina was standing.
“Come on, jump in!”
Yukina gingerly lowered herself over the edge of the pool and into the donut-shaped hole in the inner tube. She let out a small sigh when she laid back and suddenly felt a wave of relaxation wash over her.
For a moment, all Yukina could hear was the soft lapping of the pool against the concrete edge and the distant laughter of children. Then, she heard a loud scream and then a splash which snapped her out of her reverie.
“Oho, that big water slide over there looks like fun!” Lisa chirped next to her. “I do recall you saying that you wanted to do research for a song about summertime activities…”
Oh no. Yukina knew where this was going.
“Wouldn’t a water slide be a perfect for a soft rock song?”
Yukina craned her neck against the sun to look up at the distant top of the big water slide. “Are you suggesting that we ride that… thing… in order to research for a song?”
A cat-like smirk spread across Lisa’s lips. “Oh, yes I am.”
A few minutes later, Yukina stood atop the big water slide trying her best not to look down as Lisa adjusted herself in her oversized inner tube.
Ahead of them, a loud shriek emanated from the bottom of the slide as the previous rider’s inner tube capsized and dumped them unceremoniously into the pool. After a second, the rider reemerged doing the backstroke a few meters away and the lifeguard gave the signal to go.
Lisa turned to Yukina with a smile. “Watch me for a sec, okay? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…”
To Yukina’s alarm, a slight movement on Lisa’s part sent her careening down the slide with her ponytail flying behind her.
“Whee-hee!” Lisa exclaimed, her voice fading away before she met the water with a loud splash.
A moment later, Lisa’s head emerged from the water, her inner tube drifting away in the other direction. She spit out a spout of water.
“Did you see that, Yukina?” she called in the distance. “Come on!”
Yukina hesitated for a moment before plopping her inner tube down and gripping the handles like a vice before sitting down in the donut-shaped hole, not wanting to be outdone.
With one scoot off the edge, she rocketed down the slick plastic slide with a scream. She screamed even louder as the inner tube gained speed before abruptly making impact with the water. A second later, a shower of water droplets that felt like pebbles bouncing against her skin drenched her new swimsuit and her hair.
“How was it?” Lisa asked, treading water a few meters away, as soon as Yukina’s spinning inner tube came to a stop.
“I thought that this sort of excitement was more Ako’s style,” Yukina mumbled, still trying to calm her pounding heart in her chest. “I can see why she would enjoy it, however.”
“Well, on that note, can you imagine Ako drumming a beat to a song about this yet?”
Yukina looked over at Lisa and found a pair of serious-looking green eyes staring back at her.
So Lisa was serious about researching for a new summertime song.
Yukina took a deep breath and tried to focus on the few notes she’d written in her head, but she still couldn’t imagine a full song yet. A few of the lyrics were coming together, sure, but she felt as if there were still some missing chunks that needed filling in.
“No, not quite yet,” Yukina said. “Perhaps we should conduct some more research on summertime activities.”
Lisa’s face seemed to positively light up at that.
“I have an idea! Let’s go to the wave pool next, Yukina!”
Lisa grabbed one end of the inner tube and pulled it with her towards the edge of the pool. She boosted herself up onto the ledge and held out a hand for Yukina to grasp onto.
As Lisa readjusted her slippery fingers to get a better grip to pull Yukina up with, Yukina looked at their joined hands and felt as if the summer sun itself shone from within her heart.