I classified this under WRITINGS because.. well basically if you replaced the names with other names it's just like a non-fanfic. ((:
Song: Masayume - SPITZ
He reached out, but there was nothing to hold.
She always fell. I wonder if I were not there, would anyone help her up? Even till now, I do not fully understand her. Everyone called her Momoko, but to me, she was not Momoko. I called her Kusa-chan, and she called me... her husband.
We were so young and innocent then, being only in grade one. We were paired up for an outdoor activity, and as we squatted down beside flowers, I noticed a small turf of hair on her head, as short as grass. That was how she was named Kusa-chan.
We both got close to each other at that age, by a fall that she ignited. I had stretched my arms out and stopped her. She looked up at me and said, "Thank you, Subaru-kun. I'll definitely want a husband like you next time!" We were so young, so naive; we did not know the true meaning of that word. Thus, I became known as her husband.
"Subaru-kun, taberu?" She held out her bentou to me at lunchtime. She was the only one who had started calling me Subaru-kun and not "Shibutani-kun" before we got to know each other well. There were many times when I might be alone, while the others were playing in a group, but she would later pull herself out of the group and join me. Instead of coaxing me to join the group, she would simply sit quietly by me. I used to think she could read my mind, that she knew I wanted solitude. She made no attempt to start a conversation, but swung her legs lightly instead, watching the little birds peck at the ground, hoping there was some food for the family underneath.
Yet, we were never given a chance to spend more time together. As soon as we got closer, she went further from me, being posted to another school. "...Subaru-kun, we'll write to each other, deshou?" I never answered her question.
She did write to me in the next month. It was two full pages full of little drawings and bubbly hiragana characters. She told me that after she had moved to another home, she fitted in pretty quickly. She sounded happy and blissful. I was not. There was nobody to sit beside me quietly anymore. Even though during those times we did nothing, we said nothing much to each other, I missed her company.
I never ever wrote back to her.
The next summer, she wrote another letter to me, asking me why I never wrote back. She sent photos of herself and her new classmates, and also her family, to me. Again, she looked very happy there. Though, I noticed a fairly long scar on her knee.
Yet, I never wrote back to ask why.
Years passed, and still, I never wrote back to her. After her second letter, I never ever received any more letters from her, and very soon it was almost as if we forgot about each other's existence. The terms Kusa-chan and husband seemed so far away now.
Time passed really fast. In the blink of an eye, I was in high school. On the first day of school, sensei wasn't present in school, and I, being elected somehow as the class leader, read the list aloud to the class to take attendance. I noticed that there were three classmates with the surname Tanaka.
I thought I had forgotten about her. I thought I would never cross paths with her again. Yet, that day...
"Uchiyama Momo-" I paused for a while and stared at the list. "EHHH!!!"
"Hai, Uchiyama Momoko desu."
I looked at the seat this Momoko was in. Is it possible that I merely met somebody else with the exact same name as her? She had shoulder-length black hair, and she still kept those two bright eyes. Yet beneath those eyes I could see the tiredness, from the dark eye bags. Wasn't she happy?
As soon as I finished taking attendance, I informed the class that they were to do self-revision. I went into my seat. I looked at Momoko. She smiled at me like she knew me. I dared not look at her for long. I never wrote back to her. I never answered her question.
As the class strolled out at lunch break, I heard someone call me back. "Ano... Subaru-kun?"
Who else, who else would on the first day of school, call me Subaru-kun? I turned to her slowly. "Nani, Uchiyama-san?"
I saw her smile fade. "You never used to call me that." Then she paused, before starting again, "You're Shibutani Subaru right? We were in the same class in Grade One?"
Her smile reappeared.
"I never replied your letters." I looked at my shoes.
Kusa-chan laughed. "It's okay. You never promised me to anyway."
We didn't speak after that. Actually, I didn't speak, because I didn't know what to say. "...Subaru-kun? Taberu?" Her bentou never changed.
It was like our old times were back, except she didn't have that patch of short hair anymore. I was still the quiet, and somewhat unsure self, and she was still the sweet, understanding little girl. I thought we were perhaps going to be friends forever.
Her habits never changed either. She still had the tendency to trip and fall, but now that I was constantly with her, I always broke her fall. My arm, by now, was already used to the constantly clutching by her when she fell. She would always laugh at herself, instead of crying or frowning like the other girls did. She never made a big fuss out of it.
One day while walking home together, I realised that she had moved to a new home again, somewhere almost near my own house. On the walk home before we separated, I would piggyback her, and we would laugh at jokes or the sights we saw on the streets. Having to always feel her warmth upon my back was comforting for me -- because it made me feel like I was holding someone important, someone so fragile and likely to fall. It was like protecting someone more than a sister. She would grasp my uniform jacket in her hands, sticking her face next to mine, always constantly saying, "Subaru-kun wa sugoi ne~ You can take my weight!"
The truth is, she felt so light. So light that it made her feel even more fragile. Sometimes I really wonder how she actually went through gymnastics class without breaking a bone. I tend to think a lot. And then when I went home, halfway through my assignment, I paused and looked up at the wall in front of me. There were photos of me and her together eating our bentou. I suppose she was teasing me when she said I could take my weight, because currently, I noticed I've been getting lighter myself, and I'm a bit skinny.
Maybe that's why she keeps offering me her bentou.
I felt that weight on my arm again. "Itai!" That was the first time she ever complained about tripping. I looked back at her. I saw that she was nearly crying. Somehow I could tell she was not upset about the fall, but she was upset about something else. She never let go of her grip.
"...Momoko." I didn't call her Kusa-chan anymore. I was serious. I removed her hand, but then quickly put her in my embrace, holding her light figure close.
"Subaru-kun doesn't need my bentou anymore."
I was alarmed at first. What did she mean? Then I was reminded that her arms were around me now, and I thought she meant that I had grown a bit fatter, which I actually did, over the two weeks.
I was wondering if she did return my feelings. Yes, I felt for her now. I only realised it one day when I piggybacked her and she commented that I looked especially good in my uniform. I couldn't stop smiling, and my heart could just do a flip. What if... to her I was only a good friend, a brother, a protector?
I wanted to be all those... and more.
I wanted to find her at lunch break as usual, but I found that she had already left her seat. I looked around but there was no sight of her. "Subaru-kun doesn't need my bentou anymore." Does it mean that she wanted to be there just to take care of me? That when her mission was accomplished she was leaving? Was she leaving me? I burst out the class, ignoring the desk that I had overturned in the process. I wanted to tell her that she meant more to me than sharing her bentou. She was more than a friend I piggybacked home. She was more than just a happy memory.
I found her on the empty school basketball court. She was pacing there, her hands behind her back. She had no bentou with her. "Momoko!" I shouted, running to her. She turned her head, and nearly slipped and fell on the wet floor after the rain, but I caught her in time. Again.
"Aren't you supposed to hold someone else already?" she asked.
Then it dawned on me on the rumour that I and Takako in our class were going out together had reached Momoko's ears. I wonder... if she were so hurt, was she returning my feelings? I still had that little hope.
"Aho ka!" I scolded. "Momoko wa daisuki da yo!" She looked up at me. "I don't want to have your bentou only for now. I want your bentou years down the road."
I looked at her. She didn't approve, but neither did she reject. She looked back. Very slowly, I saw her tiptoe a little, and I bent down to kiss her lips. I have no idea how to put into words that special and breath-taking experience of my first kiss. It felt as though, nothing mattered anymore, as long as we stayed like that.
On the way home, I didn't piggyback her this time, because she said she wanted to hold my hand and walk. And as expected, she tripped again. But this time she laughed, and I laughed at her. She was back.
It so happened that some time after this, we were grouped into the same team for a project. I was appointed the leader of the group by Iwao-sensei. On the day where a meeting was scheduled, I had been furious at my younger brother in the morning for having gotten into a fight with the gangsters in his school. We had a great argument. Later on, when we were at the meeting, Momoko was late. I was growing impatient, because I wanted to get home soon and see that my younger brother was alright.
Finally, after being late for fifteen minutes, Momoko arrived. "Where were you?" I asked sharply. My anger had not simmered down that day.
"Gomene! I was in the washroom..." Momoko gave an apologetic smile to the group.
I tried to cool down. "Well, okay then, so where's your portion of the project?"
Momoko frowned. "Ano... sorry, I... I didn't do it." Momoko looked at her feet. It wasn't like her to not do her part for a project. Of course, I was so frustrated that day, that now when I heard she hadn't done her part, I was so furious that we had to stay back later, I blew my top immediately.
"Well, so is preening at yourself in the mirror in the washroom more important than our project? Everybody else did their part! You should know better and organise your priorities, Uchiyama-san!" I shouted. My huge eyes were on her, and I could see that she did not dare to look up.
I didn't say anymore after that. "Gomenasai." she said quietly, taking a seat among the group. I later on gave out instructions to the group and we had a discussion but she kept very quiet throughout the whole process.
Later on, we packed our bags, but I realised that Momoko was already gone. I was worried about her. What if she fell again? What if she was crying, and she didn't watch her way with that blurred vision by the veil of tears? I grabbed the handle of my bag hurriedly and ran out. I knocked down the table again.
I ran along the way home, trying to find where she was. I was mentally scolding myself for throwing my temper at her. After all, maybe she had her own reasons for not doing her work? Finally, after I ran and ran, I saw her sitting in the middle of the empty street. It was lucky that there were no cars around at this time. It looked like she had fallen down again.
I didn't call out her name this time; I merely stood in front of her. She ignored my presence; she merely let her tears fall down quietly. There was a bentou with the name "Subaru" on it that had tumbled out of her bag.
I knelt down, and lifted her chin, but she caught my wrist and stopped the action. "Don't. I don't want you to see my tears. I want us to have a happy memory." she said. "I'm sorry I didn't do my work. I was making your bentou... I thought, if one day this might be the last one-"
"It's not!" I cut in. "You promised me you'd continue making bentou for me down the years. You said I was your husband. I want us to stay that way."
"Subaru, we were young then..."
"It doesn't matter. Now we are not naive anymore."
I lifted her figure up, and piggybacked her all the way home again. She held on tightly onto my shoulders, and I heard her whisper, "I thought I lost you."
I took her out for matsuri that summer. She was in a red yukata, decorated with white uchiwas. We were watching the little kids catch the tiny goldfishes. "Ne, Subaru-kun, these fishes are going to move to a new home... Even though they may not survive, still, I'm sure they'll leave a memory of themselves with their owners, ne?"
I didn't know why she said that; I just nodded.
The next day when she came to school, I noticed another scar on her leg. I ran to her immediately and asked if the fall was that bad. She only smiled and said she was alright.
I was beginning to suspect that she was hiding something from me, but when I was about to ask her, she interrupted me and asked, "Let's visit our old school, shall we?"
She only silently walked past the classrooms, feeling the walls and doors, and finally finding that corner where we always sat alone. She sat down. "Subaru-kun? Do you remember us when we were young?"
"...You and your turf of grass hair." I smiled.
She said no more.
"Minna, I have sad news. Uchiyama-san is leaving the school." Iwao-sensei announced.
Momoko stepped forward. "Minna, thanks for being with me the past year. I appreciated the company." With those two sentences, she walked back to her seat.
At lunch break, she passed me her bentou again. "Momoko? Where are you going?"
"I'm moving again." she simply said, without elaboration.
"Where?" I asked in curiosity. I still wanted to contact her.
She gave an answer I did not understand.
The next two days, she never came to class. She had her keitai off, and I couldn't call her. I went to her house after school but the new owner told me the family had moved. She never left me her new address...
I shut my eyes at midnight, finally exhausted with the finishing touches of our project.
I woke up. And in that instant I understood her last words.
"I'm going somewhere everybody and nobody knows..."