Time flowed in this dreamy week.
Shiori and I had gone to the ice cream shop in the shopping district.
We had also had lunch with Kaori, Kaori, and even Kitagawa.
"I'm very nervous with you seniors..."
Shiori stood still in the school cafeteria, seemingly nervous. I was at her side, stroking her hair.
"It'll be fine. I'm here. Nayuki and Kaori too."
"I'm here as well."
"It's your first time seeing Kitagawa, I guess."
"But I was the first person who saw Shiori in the courtyard. It would have been great if I had just gone there to meet Shiori instead of telling you."
"I think it will end up the same."
Kaori said coldly, making everyone laugh.
Then, after I had parted with Shiori, Kaori said to me alone on the way back to our classroom.
"It's great we can come to this resolution."
I didn't know how to respond to her.
"Even if this normal lifestyle this week would be a burden to her body...."
Even if this would make her disappear earlier.
"Isn't Shiori smiling from her heart now?"
That was all I could say.
"You have to smile too, Aizawa-kun, "Kaori said softly, looking through the windows in the corridor to the court piled up with snow, "To the final moment."
In the court after school.
"Yuichi-senpai, you're so late!"
Shiori pouted, waiting for me who had come late because of classroom duty.
"Sorry, I'm sorry."
I stroked her head.
"Nayuki forced me into this. She took the broom and the towel and forced me to choose one, or else she wouldn't let me go."
"Are you making her as an excuse?"
It was a bit exaggerated, but it was true. Nayuki who pointed me to work with a smile looked scary.
But speaking more would only embarrass myself, so I apologised docilely.
"Okay, I'll forgive you today."
Shiori finally smiled. Heaving a sigh of relief, I wanted to let out a smile too, but I found Shiori's face even whiter than usual.
"What are we going to do now?"
Shiori placed her index finger beside her lips. Her demeanor looked usual, though.
"Why don't we have a stroll on the streets?"
I said, smiling, dispelling the uneasiness in my heart.
It was fine. Shiori was beside me. It wasn't the day of promise yet.
Leaving school, we went to the shopping district we had always gone to.
"If you want anything, tell me. I'll buy it for you."
"If it's below 200 yen."
"...Yuichi-senpai, you didn't plan to buy anything for me in the first place, am I right?"
"That's all I've got here."
Actually I had a bit more. But that was Shiori's birthday present budget.
I hadn't yet decided on what to buy. Today was a good chance to pry into her what she had in mind.
Along the shopping district, she would sometimes stop and look at the products in the displaying windows.
"Ah, that plushie is cute."
Which one? I said, and then stunned upon turning my head to that direction.
It was a huge plushie that guarded the shop's door. I couldn't tell if it was for sale.
"I think 200 yen is impossible for that."
"It costs 8000 yen."
It really was for sale. Shiori went ahead and checked its price tag.
If I had to take out even my budget for her birthday present, I might manage...
"Oh, but its original price is 500 thousand yen."
"Really? That price reduction is unimaginable."
"Hey, look," Shiori showed me the tag. True, the black words were crossed out, replaced with black numbers.
"Is it unpopular?"
"It's a doll that would curse the owner to die with an unknown death."
Shiori's eyes flashed.
"You think so?"
I backed off a bit. Shiori nodded with affirmation.
"I want this."
"No way, it's cursed."
"We don't know whether it's cursed."
"Anyway, let's buy something more normal."
Please, don't let me be a man who gives a cursed doll to her girlfriend on her birthday.
"You sound like my taste is bad."
"Oh, look, how does that doll over that sound?"
"I hate Yuichi-senpai the most."
"Whatever, I'd like to go into the shop for a look."
The shop was composed of a pale pink colour. Dolls and little decorations filled the interiors.
"Let me wait here. This doesn't look like a shop for man to enter."
"Really? It doesn't seem so for you, though."
Casting an upsetting comment, Shiori walked into the shop alone.
I leaned on the electric lamp beside the shop.
What should I do? If she finds a doll she like, I can buy it as a present for her (save the cursed doll). But it might be even better to give her a present that would display my effort. But if we're talking about something that would please Shiori...
At this moment, something whacked my back.
"Good afternoon, Yuichi-kun."
Ayu showed her usual smile. We didn't plan to meet here or made any arrangements, but every time I come here, she would bump into me.
"Do you think there would be a girl who would be happy to receive an ice cream and a shovel on her birthday?"
"I don't think so."
Ayu replied immediately.
"Well, what do you think girls would normally like to get on their birthdays?"
Ayu replied immediately again.
I denied immediately like her.
"Ugu...Yuichi-kun, do you want to give a girl a birthday present?"
"You can think of it that way."
"What kind of girl is she?"
I thought about it for a while.
"Her main food is ice ream. Her dream is to make a huge snowman. Yeah, that."
Ayu tilted her head blankly.
"So what present do you think will make her happy?"
"...Ice cream and a shovel."
Ayu tilted her head in thought too.
Then she asked me in an alien voice, "Is Shiori the girl you're talking about?"
"I see," Ayu nodded, smiling. The smile she had now was subtly different from the one her energetic self put on.
"Does Shiori have other interests?"
"Interests? Oh, she likes drawing."
Ayu clapped her gloved hands and said, "Shiori fits drawing." I wanted to tell her she could say that because she hadn't seen her drawings, but if I had to buy drawing tools, there were many choices and very accessible. Shiori would also be very happy.
"I've made up my mind."
After I nodded my head, Shiori had come back.
She hesitated when she saw Ayu standing with me. But Ayu ran to Shiori, almost flying into her, waving.
"She's with you today again, Yuichi-kun!"
Shiori's face reddened with a smile. Ayu nodded affirmatively and exchanged looks with me and Shiori.
"Yuichi-kun and Shiori really look like close siblings."
Shiori sneaked a peak at me.
I softly placed my hand on Shiori's small shoulder.
Even though it was embarrassing, I had to say it.
Ayu sucked in air with an "ah" sound. Shiori said, calmly, "I didn't even know that too."
It was painful to me even if it was a joke.
Ayu smiled at my pitiful look. But her smile was different her usual one. It carried a touch of loneliness. Or was I too mindful?
"So which park are we going now?"
I was having a date with the person I like, yet I couldn't help inviting Ayu.
But Ayu shook her head, her smile intact.
"I think I have to go."
With that said, she turned away, but then turned back and whispered to me, "It's great to be with you, to think up what present to give to Shiori."
"Ayu," I asked unintentionally, "are you still looking for that thing?"
Ayu exchanged glances with me and Shiori beside me. Then she smiled shamefully.
"...No. I think I've found it already."
Then it was 31st January, Sunday.
Even though sunlight poured in through the crevices of the clouds, the sky was a shade of grey. The wind was cold and penetrating. It wouldn't be a surprise if it snowed. This was a common day in winter here.
Today was a weekend. Dates we had before spanned only half a day, but now I could spend the entire day with her. Excited, I came to the meeting place fifteen minutes earlier.
Shiori came five minutes before the meeting time. She wved at me, her cape fluttering.
"Am I late?"
"No, I'm early."
"I'm telling you, Yuichi-senpai, it's fine to come later."
Shiori puffed white smoke in a hurry. Had she been rushing here?
"Didn't you get mad at me for being late?"
"But I want to be earlier than you today too."
"What reason is that?"
Shiori smiled. Except for her skinnier face and tired voice, her smile was as bright as ever.
"By the way, what bag is that?"
Shiori who usually had nothing in her hands had now oddly a rectangular bag wrapped by cloth.
Proud, Shiori took out the box inside, which of course was rectangular as well.
"It's a lunchbox."
"Did you make it?"
"Yeah. Because I promised you I'd do so."
"Okay. I look forward to it."
"You sure do!"
"...I hate Yuichi-senpai the most."
Having repeated things we had once being saying over and over again, we started walking.
"So where are we heading? Since we have a lunchbox, let's find a place we can eat it."
"Okay, a place you know would do."
"But I know only a few places. The house I'm living in, the school, the shopping district, and the park you took me to..."
"I want to have a look at your house."
I stopped at the little choices I had.
I was joking about my house, but Shiori looked serious.
"You can...but it's just a regular house."
"It doesn't matter."
"Then it's good."
I was also a healthy young man. I would be glad to invite a girl to my house.
Of course, I didn't tell her so. I just moved my lips.
Shiori lowered her head and looked up at me only with her eyes.
"Yuichi-senpai, I guess you aren't thinking anything funny, are you?"
"Come, we'd have to go if we've decided."
"Woah. That's not an answer."
Although my back was poked with a complaining voice, Shiori followed me.
On the way, Shiori didn't forget to take a trip to the shopping district to buy some ice cream she liked.
Returning home so early, Akiko was a bit surprised, but...
"Nice to meet you. I'm Shiori Misaka."
Shiori's careful bow made her understand immediately.
"Welcome, Shiori. It's a small house, but please make yourself comfortable."
"If Yuichi does anything funny, remember to scream."
"Okay. I know."
Looking at their cheerful conversation, I was a bit let down.
After Shiori had ascended to the second floor, Akiko quietly called me to the living room.
Akiko seemed worried. I thought I would be lectured, but what should she said blew me off.
"Did you take Shiori home because her condition is severe?"
Shiori herself knew she looked bad. I didn't pay much attention, but it had become so serious it could be noticed by a glimpse by someone else.
"No...Well, don't mind. Shiori's face looked white and poor from the beginning."
I tried to pretend calm.
"I see. I worry too much. Sorry."
Akiko returned to her room with a smile. I whacked my trembling legs that betrayed my emotions and went up the second floor. Shiori was waiting at the door of the room politely. I told her it was nothing big, opened the door, and invited her in.
"So this is your room, Yuichi-senpai."
Shiori looked around, curious.
"It's beautiful. It's even more tidy than mine."
"Because I have only lived here for less than a month."
That was about the time I had come to know Shiori. I said, and Shiori, seemingly excited, looked at the windows and touched the furniture.
There wasn't even a table in the room, so we stacked some magazines in the centre of the room, and placed the lunch box and Shiori's ice cream on top.
"I threw some dry ice inside, so it can wait longer."
"But we don't have anywhere to sit."
There was not mat or sitting cushion. Shiori said it was fine and sat on the wooden floor, leaning on the side of the bed.
"Oh wait, why don't we lay the cape on the floor?"
"No," Shiori said and pulled the cape on her body.
"I like this cape."
"So you're always wearing it."
I sat beside her and pulled a side of the cape.
"No. I only have one."
"Then I'll knit a new one for you."
"Woah. You will?"
"I'm glad. Is it handmade? Is it Yuichi-senpai's handmade cape?"
Shiori said with a singing tone.
"No...wait, I said I don't knit."
"You can by some reading."
"I don't even know how to hold that stick."
"It doesn't mind. You only have to spend some time, and one day you'll..."
Shiori suddenly stopped, but she continued, smiling, "One day..."
Shiori's voice trembled. It wasn't worth mentioning in casual chat, but these two simple words just foretold the ending of this dream.
And today was the last today of this week.
Shiori's face, her shadow, her breath, even her handmade lunch box, everything was a dream that was going to end today.
Even I could feel this oppressing reality. I could also feel it coming from Kaori's and Akiko's words.
'One day', it would happen to us.
This was reality.
Shiori's troubled voice because of the sudden embrace threw me even in more pain.
In my arms, Shiori was small and frail, but she felt softer and warmer than what I had imagined.
I grasped her hand, stroked her head, letting her head to turn upwards at me.
I stole a kiss without letting her finished what she had been saying. My heart's waver flowed to my chest. My heart jumped madly. Shiori didn't reject my kiss. Over her closed eyes, her eyelashes with moderate thickness trembled.
I pulled off my face slowly, and Shiori lowered her head, her face completely red.
"People who do these things..."
"I love them."
I broke off what she said again. This time I gently embraced her, as if encircling her entire body.
"I have always loved you, Shiori."
"So from now on, I would only love you, no one else."
"You're saying something very embarrassing, Yuichi-senpai."
Shiori put her head to my chest like a spoiled child. I held her. She was light, surprisingly light.
Throwiung the cape behind her, Shiori lay on the bed.
"If you feel bad, or if you want to stop, you can say it."
As if treating something that would easily break, I quietly moved my hands from her cheeks to her neck.
"That's cruel. If you're being so gentle on me, I couldn't say no if I wanted to..."
She leaned her face to my hand that was caressing her cheeks.
"I love you too, Yuichi-senpai."
Some tears glistened from her eyes. Her body shivered lightly.
I softly and lovingly held her body, moved my hand to the shoulder strap of the dress and unfastened it. Although Shiori's body was tense, she didn't go against it. Thus after I slowly pulled her dress down, her upper body was only left with a white sweater
Below the sweater I could see completely white panties.
Shiori didn't cover it, but held her own body with a troubled face.
"Please don't stare at it for so long..."
Shiori turned her flushed face to a side.
"I'll become very embarrassed."
She tightened her body, lifting her thin waist and then her thin thighs. Whenever I touch her smooth beautiful thighs that were now clean without stockings, her back would twitch, and she would bite her lips as if suppressing her inner uneasiness.
Even so, she made small sounds. Her obstinateness and poor face was adorable, driving me more excited in getting every last part of her.
I laid horizontally beside her as if sleeping with her. I whispered beside her small ears, "I want to look more of you, Shoiri."
Her face utterly red, she moved her head back, at a loss of what to say.
"I hate people who say those things...but...I don't object to it," she said, in an almost inaudible husky voice. I caught the lower part of her sweater and pulled it up. Her even chest, and the smooth curve of her body. In contrast there was two cute and content swollen parts covered with white cups.
Lightly sucking in air, Shiori said as if talking to herself.
Even on her white skin, the chest became red. I kind of remembered this was also one of her troubles.
"But it's pretty."
It was very adorable and suiting for Shiori.
Curling up the laced underwear revealed the slightly reddened, shaking breasts. Puberty hadn't finished its job yet, for the peak of the swollen breasts were two immature pink nipples.
Well, this sort of risen shape couldn't be said as nipples anyway. I touched them softly with my fingertips.
Shiori shut her eyes. I lightly held her breasts from behind and started to squeeze the outermost part.
As if puzzled by the feeling from this massage, she shook her head depressingly. Her eyes that opened up infrequently were soaked in tears, and she sobbed intermittently.
"Does it hurt?"
"It doesn't," Shiori replied softly. I grasped her breast and felt its warmth, repeating the same action. Shiori's moaned sweetly.
Letting me take care of her breasts, Shiori relaxed completely. It should be fine for her now, I thought, as I reached her lower body.
Her panties being touched from above, her voice became sharp. Saying another voice of rejection, she wanted to take my hand away. Yet her reluctance was ambiguous, showing her heart's unrest. Tears surfaced her damp eyes.
"Uu....Uu....I'm so embarrassed...sorry..."
"Sorry. I'm sorry, Shiori."
As if comforting a child, I held her from above. I stroked her hair, and soon I had taken off my clothes and used my body warmth to reassure her.
"Please don't apologise..."
Shiori suddenly turned around. "I'm not a child anymore," she said with a strong nosed voice, tears flowing,
"It's because it's Yuichi-senpai that I would..."
As she made deep trembling breaths, she endeavoured to calm herself down.
It was natural to do this stuff with your lover. There was no need to apologise. She felt nervous because this was her first time, but she tried to accept me.
I felt the same. As I embraced her, I imagined being one with her, and started again in touching it. Shiori was still trembling, but now she didn't use her hand to wave it off. Covering it with a palm, I slowly, very slowly used my finger to sink inside it. Shiori bit her lips and withstood the sensations of her very first time.
I wanted to feel the warmth and softness of it directly, so I approached the white panties with my hand.
Shiori moved only her lips to call my name. After giving another kiss on her small and thin lips, I pulled her panties down over her thighs. Out of some reflex, Shiori turned around to hide away her body from me.
I turned her back around and met my eyes with her. When I decided to take off the only piece of clothing, her sweater, she pressed her hand against mine to stop me.
"I'll take it off myself..."
Shiori lightly raised her upper body and took it off. As if embarrassed from being looked at while doing this, she did it with my side facing her. Her dry and cool hair danced to the static electricity of the sweater. I held her small back. She turned around to reach my chest. We looked at each other and lay down again. I softly touched that place again.
Burying her face in my chest, she had let everything fall under my control. I used to fingers to caress the centre of her body. Her body twitched backwards. After several times, it started to become damp.
Teardrops surfaced on her eyes again. Embarrassment had never ceased, even when—this was what she wished for.
I wanted to feel more of her living body. Not in a dream, or a play, or a story, but to forget everything and to conglomerate everything she and I had in the real world into one.
"Can I, Shiori?"
I held her again.
"...If I didn't want it, I would have screamed..."
Shiori's thighs relaxed. My body naturally went between her thighs.
"...because I have promised you already..."
I nodded. After smiling whole-heartedly and gently, I spreaded her legs farther. My thing rested on that place on her. Her adorable face had already made me full.
Pushing the front part a bit inside, Shiori trembled vibrantly, making her final resistance, grasping the cape behind her. Holding her waist, I slwoly entered her body.
In the starting point, the guiding point was done by the wet parts. The heating tension rejected my actions immedaitely.
Advancing inwards, Shiori made an almost inaudible voice. Her face tensed and writhed in extreme pain.
With her small weak body she accepted the male mody for the first time. It was impossible that there would be no pain or suffering. Yet Shiori didn't back up or escape. She bore it all.
"I love you, Shiori."
I said softly to Shiori, hoping it would be a spell to lessen her pain.
In a flash her body lay flat. My thing had gone deep inside. Something was broken. Her warm and flexible interiors wrapped around my tensed thing.
Shiori sobbed and cried.
"Are you okay?"
"Do I look okay to you?"
In tears, Shiori said intermittently with a reddened face, "That's horrible. I hate you the most..."
Even so, Shiori tried to show a smile. Her adorable and poor face was pushing me off limits.
I moved inside her body. Even though it was tight, it was comfortable. Shiori furrowed incessantly, and made sobbing sounds occasionally, but to the very end she didn't reject me, not even once.
I called her name again and again till the end. The only thing I had in my mind was her, and I reached the moment that could be described as gratitude.
Let me make a promise with you again.
I will never be afraid.
I will accept all of you, to the very last moment.
And then we opened the lunch box she made.
"There's a lot, so eat as much as you want."
Like she said, it was a stuffed one. Except for the common hamburger meat, scrambled eggs, and fried shrimp, there were also simmer-fried stuff, jellied Chinese cabbage. It was a packed deluxe lunch box. And the fruits were placed inside without being cut. The sushis were almost as big as softballs.
"I made it for you too, so I got excited and made a bit too much."
Still, Shiori didn't attack the lunch box with me. She just ate her almost melting ice cream with gusto.
I finished the whole lunch box. At first I was a bit worried, but after eating several times with Shiori, I thought my stomach had been enlarged somehow.
After the meal, I enjoyed lying on Shiori's thighs. After that, we went outside.
"...Uu, it's cold."
I raised the collar of my coat and shivered. It had started snowing again.
"But the air outside is refreshing."
Shiori looked up at the sky, touching the snowflakes with her cheeks.
Looking blankly at the side of her face with her eyes closed, I was shocked.
Shiori's usual white and even transparent face was now really red. Worried, I held her hand.
Her small and soft hand was no doubt hot.
"Don't you have a fever, Shiori?"
"This isn't the time for that."
I seriously said to the smiling Shiori.
"Don't worry. It's only a small one.":
It may be a small one to others, but to her it might not.
Did that episode in the room burdened her body? I injured her because I didn't take control of my own emotions...
"It's not what you think."
Reading my face of what I was having in mind, Shiori shook her head without asking.
She warmed my cold hand with her heated one.
"Yuichi-senpai, you treated me like a normal girl."
"So I have to stay with you today, for the entire day."
"There are still many places I want to go to," Shiori said, walking ahead by herself.
"Honestly, is it okay?"
"Don't push yourself."
Shiori nodded, smiling. No matter how I dissuade her, she would push herself. I knew this, but I couldn't win over that smile. And today hadn't ended yet. Today was still the dream we two held.
"Where should we go then?"
"I want to go to the arcade?"
"Oh, do you want to take revenge?"
"I won't lose today!"
In the end, even though the moles still laughed at her, her score was a lot better than zero.
Following that, we went to the school.
In the school grounds with no one else, we ran to our classrooms, scribbled some nonsense on the blackboard and got excited at doing something naughty.
The snowflakes falling from the sky had got slower, and we arrived at the court.
"When I first saw you here wearing causal clothes, it really freaked me out."
"Do I look like this?"
Shiori put on her cape as she did back then and looked up at the windows from the court.
"Well, you had someone you want to see when you came here, hadn't you?"
"Did you see that person?"
"I saw him. Like listening to my wish, that person left from the place behind the windows I looked at and came to the court to check up on that weird person waiting for him."
"Oh," I said, getting embarrassed at my own question.
In the dusk, we looked at the passing orange clouds, while strolling along the path shaded by trees, the place we first met.
"Ayu and I got lost here that created our encounter."
"You're right. I rarely go outside, but that day I had to buy something at the convenience shop."
I had almost forgotten about that, but now I remembered. Snow on her head, she blankly...or should I say she sat still, as if scared of something.
"That day, I..."
On her middle of speech, Shiori held my hand tightly. The heat on her hand became stronger, but I returned the grasp without saying anything.
The road became wider as we came to the end of the path.
Before the sunset, we came to the park we had our first kiss.
We silently held hands, looking at the fountain.
The night scene had already enshrouded our surroundings, but under the reflection against the snow by the pale illumination, the round plaza carried blue hues.
When was the last time we had a snow fight here?
Probably less than a month, but it felt like many years ago, for every day I spent with Shiori was as ample as half a year.
And those last several hours too...
"I'm a bit tired."
Shiori leaned on me.
"Yeah, because we walked a lot today."
Shiori seemed to be falling down. I quickly held her.
"We did a bit too much."
Though I said it like that, I knew it wasn't that much. Still, Shiori nodded her assent.
"Don't you regret, Yuichi-senpai?"
Shiori asked softly, maintaining her smile.
"Finally, we have come to this day."
"From now on, till forever, I won't regret."
Suppressing the emotions shooting to my heart, I tightened my embrace on Shiori.
"Yuichi-senpai, you're strong."
"No. You're strong."
Shiori who could lose her smile at any possible moment told me what being strong trully meant.
Shiori slowly shook her head and rolled up her left hand's sleeve. In the centre appeared two blood vessels on her wrist. Across them was a white, fine and long cutting trace.
"On the night after I met you and Ayu at that shaded path, I did this to myself."
Shiori started speaking calmly.
"Before that day, I hated myself very much."
Her body was weak, poor, only causing others trouble.
Compared to her beautiful, clever, and healthy sister, she had nothing.
She was said she couldn't live to her next birthday. She didn't have the right to be sorrowful. So she smiled. She didn't want to cause anyone trouble. If she lived in this world, she would only cause pain to the people she love. So she thought it would have been better if she disappeared earlier.
"I went to the convenience store and bought a cutting knife. I know it was not necessary, but I also bought a lot of other things. And finally because I like the snowing scene I took the longer path."
On her way, she met Yuichi and Ayu.
"When the snow fell on my head, and the things spilled from my bag, I was very afraid of letting others know what I was thinking."
"I can understand..."
I finally understood what her face meant that day.
"Then that night...I was alone in the house. In my room, I turned off the lights."
She could see nothing. She could hear nothing. There was no space for thinking. She was alone, left alone in this world. While she drenched herself in thoughts, she knew what kind of world that was awaiting her. She took out the cutting knife she bought, gripped the yellow handle, and pushed out the sharp blade.
Slowly, with a deep breath, she placed the blade on her left wrist and slashed swiftly.
"On my left hand was a red line."
Shiori stroked on the white, swelled line.
"I couldn't think of anything at that time. Then I hear something."
It was Yuichi-senpai's and Ayu's laughter.
"They were cheerful voices. Hearing them, and comparing myself to them, I felt I was too tragic. As if brought along with the voices, I laughed."
For her sister and her family and kept on putting on a feigned smile, it had been a long time since she had smiled from the bottom of her heart.
"When I started, I couldn't stop. I laughed so much my tears wouldn't stop. My left hand was painful. After some time did I found out that I was only crying in sorrow."
"After laughing and crying, I couldn't manage to cut my wrist."
From that night on, Shiori's smile became a true smile.
I didn't say anything like "I understand" and just agreed with her inside.
"So I am not strong. On that day, if I hadn't met you and Ayu, I would have...No, if you hadn't been willing to stay by my side, I would still have taken the same path."
Shiori's clear eyes reflected the droplets of the fountain, twinkling.
"Perhaps this is a miracle."
It was getting darker, the snow heavier.
White snow danced in this white world.
"I want to lie down and take a nap..."
As if talking in her sleep, Shiori said vaguely.
"Okay, let me take you to the bench."
Shiori shook her head weakly to stop me and pointed to the grass on the ground covered with snow.
"My body's hot. I want to lie down on the snow. It's cool and comfortable."
"Because I like snow."
I remembered she said something similar before, so I did as she said.
Shiori caught in her hands the petal-like snowflakes falling down.
If this continued, the snow would engulf Shiori, with her snow-like white skin. I lay with half of my back on the ground beside her. The snow was chilly and painful, but now all I could was its comfortable coolness.
"Thank you, Yuichi-senpai."
Shiori's hand that I held was warm now, but...
"I'm so lucky to have met you, to have been together, eating ice cream, strolling through the shopping district, whacking moles...going to the same school, meeting friends, drawing a portrait for you...being taken to the café."
"On that night, I could talk with my sister again after so long."
"One thing aside, you have made all my wishes come true."
"One thing aside?"
"I only didn't have the chance to make a huge snowman. What a shame."
We looked at each other and smiled.
The snow slowly piled up on our bodies.
"It's called a miracle because it doesn't happen."
I talked, imitating her tone.
"But I think there are still some possibilities. That's what a miracle really is."
Shiori shook her head with a sad smile, but I continued, "So if a miracle does happen..."
Suddenly Shiori looked up at the clock on the pillar at a corner of the park. I looked at it too.
After a few minutes, the clock would point to the next day.
"After a while, there would only be an age gap of one year between you and me."
"I bought a birthday present for you."
"It's quite expensive."
"But wait, just a little longer."
The hands on the clock slowly, like us, closed their distance,
Shiori whispered in my arms.
"Did I get over it smiling?"
"Have I kept my smile?"
"Yeah, don't worry," I replied, holding her tighter.
With that, as the hands of the clock landed on each other, so did our lips.
Then the girl I loved said only one thing.