"Come on, Sakurako, let me help," Nadeshiko complained as I stood in the kitchen mixing up a strange concoction that was supposed to turn into a rich chocolate ganache.
"No!" I yelled as another glob of the brown sludge spilled out onto the bench.
"You're making a mess, not to mention all those cuts you got when you were cutting the chocolate into small bits."
I growled a little as I pointed the handheld mixer at my sister. Unfortunately, the device was still powered, and the chocolate mixture was sprayed over the entire kitchen. I ignored the mess and glowered at Nadeshiko, "I need to do this myself, and it has to be perfect."
"At least allow me to teach you! You could still do it yourself I'll just be showing you what to do with my own batch."
"No!" I yelled again, "Just leave me be!"
"If I had left you alone, you wouldn't have even figured out how to use the mixer."
"Shut up! I would have figured it out."
"Please Sakurako, at this rate you're never going to get it right, and all your friends will be upset."
I scoffed at that. I didn't care for my friends. I wasn't doing this for them. I turned back to the lump mess that sat in the large mixing bowl, and tears began to swell in my eyes.
I sniffed as I threw the ruined mixture into the bin and started on a new batch, "It's nor for my friends, that's why I need to do it by myself."
"So you can prove it to yourself?" Nadeshiko asked.
I threw the block of chocolate that I had just grabbed onto the floor and stomped on it, "You just don't understand Nadeshiko! Leave me alone! I'll clean the mess and everything just let me do this!"
Nadeshiko raised her hands defensively and started to walk backward, "All right, I'm leaving, just make sure to clean up properly."
I glared at my older sister until she was entirely out of my eyesight and picked up the destroyed chocolate that on the floor and put it into the bin, glad that I had had the foresight to purchase many more ingredients than I actually needed. I continued to work throughout the night, hoping that I would be able to make the simple dessert before the next day came.
. . .
I sat on the floor of the kitchen, my arms and legs were sprawled out, and my head lolled down to the left, chocolate, milk, flour and sugar covered every inch of the kitchen and myself. I had a finished product setting in the fridge, but I had no idea if it had worked out the way it should have and was too afraid to check on it. Not only that but I had failed to taste the treat during the making of it and now if I did try it and it was wrong then I would have nothing to give Hima-chan at all.
As I struggled to bring myself to do anything I heard the slow, tired footsteps of my older sister as she walked downstairs, she gasped as she caught sight of the state of the kitchen.
"That damn Sakurako, I should have known she wasn't going to clean the mess," She grumbled as she got closer, apparently in her tired state, she was yet to notice me sitting on the floor.
"Ahh… Sakurako?" Nadeshiko asked as she noticed me on the floor.
"Yeah?" I asked, my voice wavering.
"Did… Did you go to sleep at all?" She asked, the worry evident in her voice.
I shook my head, "I couldn't. I needed to finish…"
"Did you finish?"
I nodded, "But I can't bring myself to check it… And I didn't taste it… Can I really give it to her?"
Realization dawned in my sisters' eyes, and she knelt before me, resting a comforting hand on my shoulder, "It's for Himako, isn't it?"
The way she spoke made it sound like a question, but Nadeshiko knew about my feelings, although she never pushed me to reveal my feelings, she would sometimes be there to help me when something happened between Himawari and myself.
I nodded my head once again, I would usually deny it outright, but I was far too tired and emotionally wrung out to get defensive.
"I'm sure it'll be fine," Nadeshiko said as she moved her comforting hand down my arm and took my own hand into hers, "But for right now we need to clean up so I can make breakfast for you, Hanako and myself."
I nodded as Nadeshiko pulled me to my feet and slowly started to clean the massive mess that I had made in my many attempts to create the perfect Valentine's chocolate for the girl that I loved with all my heart. Thankfully, Nadeshiko helped me without complaint and without a word, for fifteen minutes we silently cleaned the mess before Nadeshiko instructed me to have a shower and get dressed into my school uniform.
I returned to the kitchen in about thirty minutes, Nadeshiko and Hanako were both sitting at the table eating breakfast happily. I joined them, sitting at the only other spot at the table with a plate of steaming breakfast.
"Good morning Sakurako Onee-chan," Hanako said with a smile on her face, "It's surprising to see you up so early in the morning."
"Morning," Was all I could manage in my sleep-deprived state as I stuck into the great bounty before me. It was the first time I'd had a proper breakfast in a long time as I usually woke up with just a few minutes before I had to leave for school.
The morning passed quickly and quietly, and for the first time in a long time I walked out of the house when I was supposed to and met Himawari at the road as she was about to turn onto the walkway to my house. Himawari looked like a deer caught in headlights as she noticed I was walking towards her.
"You're already up?" Himawari asked as if I was a figment of her imagination.
I laughed a little at the question, "Well, I'm here, aren't I?" I countered as I walked up to the girl, butterflies immediately began fluttering in my stomach as I heard the lilt of Hima-chan's voice.
Himawari pinched her own arm as if she were testing to see if she were awake, "Come on, even I can get up early sometimes," I whined as I started down the road to the bus stop.
Himawari shrugged the fact that I was already up off and joined me as we walked towards the bus stop. As we walked down the road, I thought about giving Himawari the chocolate, but I just couldn't work up the nerve. Every time I talked myself into giving the chocolate over my mind was bombarded with imaginations in which Himawari would look disgusted and run off after throwing the treat on the ground. Before I knew it, the bus had already arrived, and not long afterward we were at school, and I was yet to give Himawari the Valentine's gift that sat in my bag.
After school, I demanded of myself. I'll give it to her after school.
The day passed by quickly. It was filled with girls giving each other chocolates and laughing happily as they received their own chocolates. As the day wore on, I watched as Himawari handed out homemade cookies to all of the other girls in the Student council and even gave cookies to the girls in the Amusement club.
I began to get annoyed as I watched Himawari give everyone but me something for Valentine's and by the end of the day, I was furious and was planning on leaving before Himawari and walking home alone. But fate seemed to be against me as even though I thought I was much faster at leaving than Himawari, by the time I reached the gate to leave the school she was already there with her bag, waiting for me.
"Shall we go Sakurako?" Himawari asked.
I ignored her and just started walking home as my anger gave way to sadness, keeping me from blowing up at Himawari and starting a fight. We walked in silence the entire way home, and I quickly tried to walk towards my house as we reached it.
"Sakurako," Himawari said my name as she grabbed my arm and pulled me back towards her, "Here."
She held out a small pink cardboard box with a little red heart on top of it, I looked at the pakage curiously, "What is this?"
Himawari smiled at me, "Open it and find out."
I opened the box and gasped as I took in the sight of the small delicate looking pieces of chocolate. I quickly grabbed one and slipped it into my mouth, sighing contentedly as the flavors of chocolate and caramel coated my tongue.
"Do you like it?"
"It's amazing," I said breathlessly, "How can you make things so good?" I asked, envious of the girl's ability as I remembered the chocolate ganache sitting in my bag.
Himawari blushed cutely at the compliment, "I'm not that good."
I smiled up at the taller girl, "Thanks Himawari," I said as a yawn escaped my lips.
"Are you okay, Sakurako? You've been yawning all day."
"I'm fine. I was just up late... Making something."
"What were you making?" Himawari asked.
"I was making… some chocolate for… Me and my sisters made some chocolate for our parents," I said, completely chickening out.
"Oh, that's nice of you guys, what was your role in making it? The taste tester?" Himawari asked jokingly.
I smiled, "Yeah, that's me. Sakurako the great Chocolate taster," I boasted half-heartedly before yawning again. "I should go, get an early night."
Himawari nodded her head, "I'll see you tomorrow bright and early."
I grinned, "I doubt it." I said before running up to my house.
"You'd better be up tomorrow too!" Himawari yelled at me as I ran away.
I closed the door quickly and ended up collapsing at the front door, "How did it go?" Nadeshiko asked as she walked down the stairs.
I looked up at my older sister with tears swimming in my eyes, "You didn't give it to her, did you?"
I shook my head, "I couldn't… What if she didn't like it, what if I made it wrong, what if… If she started hating me for my feelings?" I asked as I was enveloped into a tight hug by my older sister.
"Sakurako, you'll never know until you express your feelings, Himawari can't respond unless you properly tell her how you feel."
"I can't… I just can't do it… I've tried so many times, why did I think this time would be any different?" I asked as I began to sob in earnest, all the pain bubbling up to the surface. Nadeshiko continued to whisper reassurances into my ear as she practically carried me to my room and put me in my bed.
"Get some sleep Sakurako. Tomorrow is a brand-new day filled with more opportunities, okay?" I nodded as I quickly drifted off to sleep, grateful that I had a sister like Nadeshiko.