It had been weeks now since Himawari had started ignoring me, day after day, I would watch her as she walked past my house on her way to school. I would trail after her, minute's passing as I tried to work up the courage to talk to her again, but I wasn't ready. My grades had been rising little by little, my usually correct homework, thanks to Himawari, had started coming back with corrections needing to be made.
I started intently listening to what my teachers told me, ignoring the stares and confused looks from those around me. I kept at it until finally, one morning, I was standing in front of Himawari's house, my hands shaking as my nerves built in the pit of my stomach.
I glanced up the road, arguing with myself about whether I was ready or not. My indecision was quickly made up for me as I heard the door to Himawari's house close with a loud thud. I turned to look up the short path and watched as the taller girl walked at her usual pace.
I smiled nervously as Himawari approached. My heart was hammering in my chest as I watched her pass by without so much as an acknowledging nod in my direction. Undeterred, I walked right beside the girl, watching her face as she did everything in her power to ignore my presence, which was when I saw it, the pain.
Her face flashed in my mind, every interaction between us, every time she smiled at me, the pain was always there, growing slowly, like a cancer in our relationship.
"Furutani-san," I started, feeling like I had lost the right to call her by her first name. Himawari didn't stop, didn't answer, or respond in any way. If it hadn't been for her sudden breath, I would have thought she hadn't heard me.
I reached up and put my hand on her shoulder, stopping her and almost forcing her to look at me. I stared into her eyes, almost getting lost in the golden orbs, "Please, can you just listen to me?" I asked as I released her shoulder. Himawari didn't say anything, didn't acknowledge that I had spoken, but she didn't leave either, nor did she look away.
"I know that I'm stupid and always causing trouble for you, and… I'm sorry," I looked down at the cement under our feet, "When we were younger, I was… Even stupider than I am now, what I said to those girls, what you overheard." I looked back up into Himawari's eyes with a desperate look, "I didn't mean it. I was just scared, when I said we weren't really that close when I said I didn't like you that much I…" My mouth continued to flap uselessly as I lost my voice.
Without thinking and afraid that the girl before me would just turn around and walk away because I had stopped talking, I wrapped my arms around her waist and held on tightly. Himawari didn't move. She didn't say anything, just stood in the street quietly, allowing me to calm down a little.
I pulled away after a few minutes, "I know I don't have any right to ask this after not apologizing properly for so long after the incident but, can you please forgive me?"
The question hung heavily in the air between us as we both stayed utterly silent. I could see tears building in Himawari's eyes. I reached up tentatively as I softly wiped tears from her cheeks, "What were you scared of?" Himawari asked as she grabbed my wrist and pushed me back a little.
I bit my lower lip as I looked away, "I've been trying to say this for a while now…" I steeled my heart before turning to look back at Himawari, "Hima-chan, the reason I was scared… The reason I've been scared and always forcing myself into your life is because I- I love you."
Himawari took a step back, "You what?" Followed by another step.
I moved with her, not closing the distance between us but also not allowing her to get away, "Back in elementary school, I didn't understand my feelings, didn't know what was happening with me, and it was scary. But after our fight, thanks to my sister, I figured it out, I wanted to tell you. For a long time now I've wanted to explain things to you properly, but I couldn't. Himawari, I love you. I have loved you for a long time."
Himawari shook her head, "No. No, this can't be true," Himawari started walking backward quickly, "You can't be in love with me," She turned and started to run away.
I followed after her, easily keeping up with the slower girl, "Himawari, please stop. We need to talk."
"No, leave me alone. You can't be in love with me. You just can't be."
"Why not!?" I asked frustratedly as I continued to run after her.
Himawari stopped abruptly and turned on her heel. Without enough time to stop, I crashed into her, causing both of us to fall to the ground. A loud thud echoed throughout the empty street.
"Ouch," I grumbled as I opened my eyes. I looked down on Himawari's face, her features wholly relaxed and emotionless as she laid on the pavement with her eyes closed. I quickly jumped up, "Sorry, Himawari," I apologized quickly, holding out my hand to help her up.
But Himawari didn't respond, "Himawari?" I asked as I knelt beside her, shaking her shoulder softly, "Himawari!?" I called out desperately. As I looked at Himawari's expressionless face, I noticed a small pool of blood building beneath her head.
"HIMAWARI!?" I screamed as I softly slapped the side of her face, "Wake up!" I yelled as the sounds of heavy footfalls came from different directions.
"What's going on," "What happened?" Questions started flooding in, but I ignored them all as I continued to try and rouse Himawari.
"Please wake up," I pleaded as I collapsed onto her torso, crying into her stomach as I shook her softly. I didn't know how long I stayed like that. I didn't realize when I was roughly pulled away from Himawari, didn't hear the people as they asked me questions. I just sat, staring at nothing as a world without Himawari loomed before me.
. . .
"Sakurako… Sakurako, it isn't your fault," The voices echoed in my mind. I looked around myself, seeing nothing. I was floating through a black abyss.
"Himawari, is that you?" I called out into the nothingness.
"Sakurako, you have to wake up now, please," There was a desperation to the echoing voice as it sounded from somewhere beside me. I turned towards the voice's direction and started moving my arms and legs as if I was swimming through the black. I moved towards the sound as the voices turned to sobbing. "It's time to get up now, Sakurako… Please!"
I stopped moving in the darkness, "Where are you?" I called out, "Himawari. Where are you?"
But no answer was forthcoming as the voice continued to ask me to wake up, to tell me that it wasn't my fault, But what wasn't my fault, and am I not currently awake now?
I felt a warmth spread across my right hand, opposite from where I could hear the echoing voices. "Sakurako." There was no mistaking it. This voice was clear and right beside my ear.
"Himawari, it's you," I said excitedly as I turned around, "But, where are you?"
"Sakurako," She said again, before sniffling a little, "You need to wake up. We need you… I need you."
"I don't understand," I said as I looked around, "I am awake… Where are you? Why can't I see you? Why… Why can't you hear me?"
"Sakurako I… You need to wake up because I… I love you too."
Light began to filter into the darkness as two small slits of light shone before me. I raised my hand before my face as the intense beams of light began to burn my eyes and distort my vision.
"Hey, look," I turned in the direction of the voice and, as my eyes slowly became accustomed to the light, came face to face with my two sisters, mother, and father. Hanako-chan's eyes were bloodshot as she held tightly to Nadeshiko. My father was doing his best to comfort my mother, but I could see the pain even through his stoic façade.
"Saku-chan, you're awake!" Hanako exclaimed as she launched herself towards me, wrapping her hands around my neck. "I'm so glad."
I looked to my right and saw that no one was there, "Wh-where is Himawari? Wasn't she just here?" I asked my family.
They all looked at each other, "We haven't seen her here. She's not supposed to leave her room right now."
I nodded my head, but I knew she had been here, it must have been her that was talking to me, "Can I go and see her, then?"
"Maybe you should let her rest for a little while before going to see her, and aren't you wondering what happened to you?" My father asked.
I looked around the room, the realization just now dawning on me as I looked at the various machines and white walls. I quickly shook my head, "I'm fine. Nothing's wrong with me." I gently eased Hanako off of me before swinging my legs over the bed and standing up shakily. "I need to see Himawari."
I stumbled a little as I took my first step, but I caught myself on the chair beside my bed.
"Sakurako, you really need to rest," My mother said as she rushed to my side, helping me to stand.
I shook my head as I moved away from my mother, "No, I need to go." I said before walking out the door. I looked down the halls scratching my head in confusion.
"She's two rooms down," Nadeshiko said from the doorway. I smiled gratefully back at her before heading off to Himawari's room.
I looked at the handwritten nameplate that sat on Himawari's door for just a few moments before pushing on the door and making my way into the girl's room unannounced. Himawari lay in her bed, a thick bandage wrapped around her head. She looked at me with wide eyes, a book laying forgotten on her lap after it had fallen from her hands.
I ran over to her side, "Are you okay!?"
Himawari chuckled, "I'm fine, Sakurako."
As she said that, I started to cry out, "I'm sorry. So so sorry, Himawari, it's all my fault, everything is my fault. None of this should have happened if only I were honest with you years ago."
Himawari grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards her, wrapping me into a tight hug as she rested her head on top of mine. "It's not all your fault, Sakurako. I should have also been honest. I shouldn't have run away when you were confessing… The truth is, I was happy. But I was also agitated, all those years we spent as friends when I wanted more. I didn't care about our fight from elementary school anymore." Himawari pushed me away slightly so she could look into my eyes, "I didn't want to remember how much I loved you. I thought you only saw me as a friend, and I was trying to get over you. To move past my unrequited feelings for you. But then you gave me that present on White Day, and I began to remember, so I, I just shut you out, to try and stop my feelings before they became a problem for you."
Himawari smiled gently, "But I don't need to anymore, right?"
The bluette was unsure as she looked into my eyes, and I found myself grinning at her, "I want the problem," I said happily, "Because I love you." I closed my eyes and leaned forwards so I could kiss Himawari softly on the cheek, but she pushed me away.
"No, Sakurako," She put both her hands on the sides of my cheeks before pulling me forwards and kissing me directly on the lips. My eyes went wide with surprise, but, before long, I closed them as I melted into Himawari's touch.