The lunch bell rang. With the day crawling along on its pace like it did, the sharp and abrupt alarm seemed to ring sooner than expected, as if it was being forgiving to the students, letting them off easy for the day. Of course it always rang on time. Following suit with the other students, Lilly fell into line as she grabbed her lunch from her navy blue school bag hanging the side of her desk and left the classroom, dodging others’ invitations to join them for lunch. After carefully descending a flight of stairs and heading out to the school’s courtyard, she made her way towards her lunch date and destination. She doesn’t notice a pair of green eyes admiring from afar.
Off into a little corner of the school there was the school garden. More rather it was a glorified flowerbed, with only a semi-decent collection of various flora and plant life that Lilly herself would occasionally tend to after school. It was artistically well crafted, colors being placed in proper alignment in regards to each other, and no one flower type overpowering the rest. All in all, it looked like stained glass, glowing in the sunlight and under the blue sky. If it didn’t hide away its beauty in such a small corner of the school, more people would surely come to appreciate its simple yet elegant looks. But Lilly was content with it.
In the fall weather, and temperature being as crisp as it was, Lilly quickly made her way to her floral handiwork to warm herself up with lunch. She scanned the trees above her to find a nice seat with shade before something caught her eye. Even here some pleasant surprises can be found.
“Oh, hi Megumi, fancy seeing you here.”
The girl looked up from her lunch as she heard her name being called. With surprise in her hazel eyes, she resembled a scared kitten.
“Hi, Lilly, I d-didn’t know you’d be here…” A white lie of course, where else would Lilly go to eat anyways? It’s harmless enough, Lilly lets it slide.
“Well it’s nice to see you after this morning. And a change of pace isn’t that bad after all,” she goes to plant herself at the foot of the flowerbed, gracefully sitting before setting down her meal. “Anyways, ah, I’m glad you decided to join us today.” Her kindness towards the shyer girl was earnest.
Megumi gave a weak smile, while Lilly’s company was nice, it didn’t appear to be her intention to obtain. She rubbed her arm and stared at her feet at she mentioned a missing third member. “Is Rea coming soon?” she muttered. “Oh, your phone’s beeping.”
Taking it out of the pocket inside her blazer, Lilly turns to her phone at the same time as Megumi’s statement. And as if on cue, the contents of the email she received were laid out.
“Sorry Lilly, I couldn’t make it to lunch, I’ll explain later… Hope you’ll be okay,” Lilly read out the mail with a frank monotone, the multiple emojis and exclamation points being lost in translation along the way. (Along with a “Love you!” tacked on at the end.) “Looks like she can’t make it,” Lilly summarized.
Both girls were outwardly disappointed, but Lilly could especially sense the shift in mood in the brunette. She put her hand on Megumi’s shoulder in an attempt to ease the loss, “Oh well, I guess you’ll just have to put up with me then!” The brunette remained downcast. To stave off any impending silence from Megumi’s social awkwardness, Lilly continued to bark up conversation. Assorted fried vegetables? Maybe I’ll try using that…
“So… how was your day so far?”
“Uh, your lunch looks really good, did you make it yourself?”
“My mom made it for me, I got the ingredients myself.”
“Oh really? That’s sounds cool! What do you normally like?”
“I like whatever,” Megumi responded with little vigor.
The atmosphere was thick, even with the inviting appearance of the garden as a backdrop of this lunch, Megumi’s unsociability was an obstacle to the otherwise enjoyable pastime. And attempts to utilize Lilly’s newfound ability were deemed fruitless. She felt that already familiar buzzing in her head, but like a broken radio, she only heard the equivalent of static noise. “-…-“ Temporarily pushing the growing anxiety of this revelation aside, Lilly tried once more for a subject to discuss.
“Today’s lessons were tough huh? I bet Rea had a tough time.” Her blue eyes carefully studied her friend’s face. Her circular thick-rimmed glasses partially blocked her eyes, making it hard to gauge her reaction. Lilly did notice a splash of freckles dotting her nose and cheeks. You’d have to be very close to see them.
“Yeah, she really did, she had to ask me for help.” Her shoulders relaxed, her expression brightened, and a genuine smile began to bloom across her lips. Lilly also smiled to herself, notwithstanding the expense of Rea’s academic shortcomings. Sorry Rea, I’ll make it up to you some time, Lilly thought. She ate a sausage shaped like an octopus, and saved one for Rea.
The rest of the conversation blossomed naturally between the two wallflowers. And soon enough, one could pinpoint the exact moment their defenses fell for just a little, finally bonding of over common interests. They ebbed and flowed calmly and with certainty (however some of Lilly’s jokes fell flat). After all, they were never unfamiliar with each other: Lilly was always with Rea, and Megumi had her in class. In their time at school it was inevitable for them to make acquaintance, and be on at least decent terms. The fall air nipped across their warm faces as they conversed.
“To think you’ve been classmates with Rea since kindergarten. I’m sorry for any trouble she must have caused you over the years, by the way.” Lilly made sure not to talk with her mouth full.
Megumi’s voice maintained its soft nature. “It’s been fun having her in class, so it hasn’t been any trouble at all.” Her expression was one of content, but still had yet to make eye contact with the blonde. “A-although I wish we were a bit closer, like you two. This past week especially.” To be a fly on the wall doesn’t mean one isn’t perceptive.
“I-is that so? I didn’t notice any d-difference!” Lilly placed her left hand on her face, covering her mole. Megumi missed her look of embarrassment, much to Lilly’s relief. She quickly scarfed down the remainder of her meal to fill in the dead air. And as if on cue once again, the bell resonated throughout the school, before eventually reaching the two girls with its faint message.
Lilly was the first to rise. “Ah, that must be it for us.” She turned to help Megumi stand and clean up around the small garden. “Hopefully we can do this again. I’ll make sure to put a word in so all three of us can be together next time.”
She was returned with a warm smile, “I, I’d like that.” Oh, she’s so precious, the thought again racing across Lilly’s mind. For what feels like minutes they stare at each in content silence, each pleased that they had finally had a moment without a certain mediator. The roots were finally setting in place. Leaves from a few trees above them rustled, and the wind gave them a gentle nudge to move along with their day. “Sh-shall we?” Megumi politely suggested, motioning towards the pathway back to the main school building.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Lilly breathed. After dealing with a firecracker of a girl for so long it became routine, a shift in gears like this was something Lilly was glad she could make. One wrong move, and Megumi could easily shatter into countless pieces. Like an exquisite vase in a far off corner in a museum. Rarely seen or appreciated, but its beauty shines through when properly discovered. A far cry from the red-hot explosion she was so fond of.
Their walk back across the school courtyard was lax and slow. They ignored the pitter-patter of the other students and their much more hurried and panicked pace, as the late bell would soon scold them of their tardiness. The sun brimmed warmly over the two budding friends as they passed the shrubbery, the fountain, and eventually made their way onto the walkway towards the school entrance. As they passed the doors, Lilly felt the weight of her phone swing around in her blazer. Rea never misses lunch, I wonder it was about.