A new restaurant has opened across the road.
McDonalds? They seem to be everywhere these days. At least it's not an eyesore, Sumire thinks as she crosses the street. Actually, those posters in the windows are kinda cute.
As she moves closer to the storefront, Sumire decides to take a look. She needs a job, and these are application posters. It's hard to pay the rent without an income, and look, here's a career opportunity now! Finally, something's going my way! Just as she finds a place to leave her bicycle, she's greeted by an employee.
"Hey!" The girl says, grinning. "Won't you join us?"
"Gimme a smile!"
This is awful. This job is harder than Sumire had anticipated - clumsiness combined with inexperience creates a wholly incompetent mess. Not to mention dealing with obnoxious customers like these kids. They can't be much younger than her, but they're so immature. Boys, huh?
Thankfully, there's someone who can deal with them. Sumire's personal saviour, the lovely Hoshino Ikumi.
"Would you like to go wait, please?" Her smile seems innocent, but Hoshino gets the point across pretty well. The kid turns bright red and scuttles away without a second thought. Senpai's just like always. It's almost funny how many sticky situations the Sumire has evaded with the other girl at her side. They're becoming fast friends.
Make the burger. Scoop the fries. Got it. The actual preparation of food is the easy part - it's just carrying it to the counter.
"Thank you for... wai-aah!" As soon as Sumire reaches the till, she skids on the tiles and slides forwards. The food is now lying scattered on the floor, and she can feel a blush spreading across her cheeks. I certainly messed up this time. All she can think to do is gather up what she dropped and duck behind a colleague. There's shame written all over her face.
Hoshino is already on the case, swooping in to hand the mother a fresh box of fries. The family appear grateful, and Sumire feels a reassuring hand on her back as she tries to calm down.
"Compose yourself." Good advice.
The days pass, and Sumire feels successful. She can serve food without spilling it and talk to strangers without freaking out. More importantly though, she's closer with Hoshino than ever before. The two of them often hang out after work at the teashop, and chat in every minute the shift allows. In fact, when they part ways at the end of the day something feels missing. It's sorta silly how much their friendship means to Sumire, isn't it? I've just never met anyone this wonderful before...
This daze abruptly ends when a small girl comes over to the counter. Sumire bends down to talk to her, holding a Happy Meal.
"Smile please!" The kid says, grinning when handed the red bag. Children are adorable.
From the corner of her eye, Sumire can see Hoshino peering at her from behind the counter, thumbs up. Reading her lips, you can sorta make out the words 'Good Job!'. It feels so good when she praises me.
The next weeks also occur without incident. Work begins and it ends. It's now Monday morning, and as Sumire goes on break she sees a note taped to the lockers. It has her name on it.
'Meet me by the entrance in five minutes - Hoshino xx'
"What is it, Senpai?" Hoshino moves closer, before she speaks.
"Sumire-chan." She takes a deep breath, looking the younger girl in the eyes. "Friday is my last day. I'm leaving."
"But why, Senpai? Can't we still be friends?" That came out a little more panicked than intended...
"Of course we can still be friends, silly! I'm graduating, that's all."
"And we can still meet up?"
"Yes, we can still meet up."
Sumire breathed a deep sigh of relief and sprang forward to hug her coworker. When they parted, Hoshino's uniform was soaked with tear stains.
"I- I'll miss you, Senpai. You've really left an impact on me!"