Chapter 2 – ‘This phenomenon,’

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                The park takes on a whole new persona at night. The light posts as they illuminate the pathway, the moonlight as it sneaks past the leaves overhead, it all feels surreal somehow. The only other people I’ve seen out at this time are couples, the last one passed ten minutes ago. But I suppose we’re no exception, huh? The atmosphere does lend itself to these types of happenings.

                I listen as our footsteps hit across the pavement path, only ever concentrating to make sure no one is around, and a quick turn onto a lesser known trail shifts to the sound of crushed leaves as we go to a hidden piece sectioned off from the rest of the park, mostly forgotten by the rest of the world. By instinct, I get on my knees to crawl under some bushes at the end of the path, it used to be much easier when we were younger. This enclosure has acted almost as our sanctuary for already ten years, and still stands as a symbol of our friendship. I make my seat on my usual spot on the stone bench, the only thing that occupies this area, excluding our presence. It’s sweet to be here at this time. It’s calming. Even the surreal atmosphere that is married by this hour seems to also reach this place. The lighting here is dim yet everything still glows. I sit in thought as her weight leans on my side, I lean towards her as well. I concentrate whenever I hear voices from occasional park goers as they pass our hideout. At the very least I think I’m ‘hearing’ them. They shouldn’t be able to get this close here without being heard audibly. Honestly it’s still hard to grasp everything that just happened.

                With that being said, I really wish I could just stay here forever. It’s too peaceful to want to worry about anything. The atmosphere so relaxing, maybe the closest thing to ‘romantic’ I have ever experienced. I let out a slow breath as I realize how lame that thought is. A few more minutes of tranquility as I try to wrap my head around everything. This week has been a ride, if anything. I feel her shift besides me while I’m beginning to get lost in the moment again. This buzzing in my head hasn’t left me since I’ve noticed it. Oh, I almost didn’t hear her voice as she tries to say something.

                “So, wanna talk about anything?” Her voice is aberrantly soft, this atmosphere must have gotten to her too.

                I sigh, but I don’t hide my smile, I don’t even bother trying to read her thoughts. She’ll know that I will, at least I think she will. As I thought, I’m still confused about what just happened. And I already know what topic she wants to cover. My stomach flutters as I open up a response.

                “Sure.”

                The sun had already begun to peek into the window, flooding the room slowly as it lessens the need for an artificial light source. In only a few minutes, people will begin to enter in a seemingly similar fashion as the sun light, slow and with lethargy. It’s still fairly early. If one were to assume the perspective of an entering person, they would immediately notice a blonde hair girl sitting in the back of the center row, plain in her beauty but still fetching nonetheless. She would be aimlessly staring past the window of the left wall; she didn’t choose the window seat, she felt that it would attract too much needless attention. Also, she’s notably tall amongst others in her grade, if she sat in a popular spot she’d stand out like a sore thumb on a face. Not worth it.

                Her head rested on her hand, arm propped up on the top of her desk. Her uniform consisting of a white buttoned shirt under a dark blue blazer, a neatly tied yellow ribbon adorning her neck, where a tie would be. Along with a modest skirt, she is the spitting image of a typical, plain student. Normally she wouldn’t appreciate this much attention, because it’s only Monday.

                Lilly continued her viewing of the blank sunrise, no clouds to break away the light as it kept pouring into the classroom. She gaze remained unbroken even as other students fill up the room, the noise predictably rising as they get settled in and start taking their seats. Conversations peter in and out of focus as she let out a light yawn. So early… why couldn’t I sleep last night? Deep within her, she already knew the answer. Only a week previous did her life change, and just this weekend more so than she could have imagined, ways in which the repercussions have yet to unfold. The apprehension was beginning to catch up with her. And yet she finds herself listlessly sitting in the back of the class, all but absent from her surroundings.

                As it turns out, it didn’t take much to wake her from her daze.

                “Lillychi! Rise and shine, you wouldn’t want to slack off so early right?!”

                Lilly reeled back in surprise, but managed not to show too much on her face. The owner of that exclamation appeared into view as quickly as her voice did. She saw right through her.

                “Hee, scared you didn’t I?” Rea’s wide, fanged grin was unnaturally infectious. Sitting titled on her face were her glasses, normal in size but they looked big on her. Only three-fourths of each lens were framed, the top frame missing. Honestly she looked quite goofy. Coupled by this fact, and that other students begin staring at the red haired intruder, Lilly couldn’t help but voice her concern.

                “Geez, Rea, you’re making a scene, people are looking,” her preference to blend into the background control her words. “Plus, isn’t your class starting now?”

                “I just wanted to see you this morning, first thing! Oh, uh, excuse me!”

                Her expression having yet to leave her, Rea goes off to some other classmates who happened to call out for her, talking with all of them. Rea was the polar opposite of Lilly in terms of sociability. Her skirt twirls as she spins, her red ponytail dancing in the crimson tint of the room. Her white buttoned shirt, sans blazer, rebelliously untucked, follows suit in its motions. Others continued to stare, but the upset fanfare of her intrusion seems to have died down, at least it helped in making a Monday less monotonous. Probably being the shortest girl in their grade, she manages to make herself the largest presence in the room. After ten years, Lilly can still find herself entranced by Rea from time to time. This time she caught herself. Oh darn… She attempted to bashfully call for Rea before she felt that sensation in her head again.

                Oh, where is she? I asked her to stay put… Where did she run off too?

                Lilly’s blue eyes dart to the entrance of the classroom, and if she hadn’t heard that voice before, she would have been forgiven to have missed the small frame of another bespectacled girl, peeking into the room. And the door was wide open. She concentrated again to hear her thoughts. There she is! Oh, I, come over here Rea! I wish I could call her over… Lilly sighed to herself, class is about to start after all.

                “Rea, Megumi’s here to get you!”

                The redhead stopped in her tracks, her eyes quickly fix towards the door, the hiding girl almost falling over at the sudden attention. She had yet to enter the room. And for better or worse, Rea treated everyone equally.

                “Hey, Gumi! Sorry I ran off, why don’t you join me here for a bit?”

                “B-But, I, uh, class is about, about to start…”

                “We’ll be fine, now come!”

                Rea grabbed the girl by the hand. Even with such a small presence, Rea still had to look up her newly entered acquaintance. Megumi squeaked at the instantaneous contact, her face splashing in red as she gets pulled in by Rea. Megumi, an average, if not a brokenly shy girl, closely resembled the type of air Lilly wished she had. One that said, ‘please leave me alone.’ Taller than Rea, shorter than Lilly, her demeanor allowed her to almost blend into the wall behind her if she wanted to, and it most cases she did. But not today.

                Lilly watched as Rea pulled Megumi towards her desk, silently giggling at hearing her current thoughts. She really wasn’t one who could handle this much attention. Especially all at once. Only when they get close does Lilly get a better view of the much shyer girl.

                “H-Hi Lilly, sorry to be bothering you… like this,” her words could be blown away under their own weight, the uncertainty in her mannerisms could be charming in its own way.

                “No problem at all, Rea needs to get back to her classroom anyways,” she raised a thick eyebrow at the aforementioned person, they moaned in guilt. “I like your headband, is it new?”

                “Uh, um y-yes, I got it the, the other day…” The girl kept fidgeting with her glasses. It took a while to get a response, Lilly thought.

                If one thing were to stand out about Megumi, it would be her shoulder length hair, dark brown, with rather long bangs past the eyebrows, which were always kept up by a black hairband, exposing her forehead in the process. It was a cute setup. Megumi continued to tumble over her words. “The c-color, I liked it.”

                “Is that so? Well it looks really good on you!” Lilly’s politeness never failed to stay with her.

                Megumi’s mumbling was endearing and all, but Rea could only take so much.

                “Okay okay, I guess we’ll get going!” She forcefully pounced on Megumi, nearly toppling over from the abrupt piggy-backing. “Same time, same place, Lilly?” Lilly nodded. “You should join us for lunch too, Megumi!” Stammering to make a reply, her answer was one of reluctance.

                Waving at the pair as they take their leave, Lilly’s gaze returned to the window, the sun now in full glory. When the teacher finally made his entrance into the room, Lilly barely noticed. What distracted Lilly was the uncomfortable handling of a certain physical display of affection only a few nights before. Not that I care anyways… Another sigh, but the feeling of slight disappointment surrounds her. I know it was awkward that night, but still… Deciding to distract herself from both that incident and the morning routine, her thoughts wander to another point from that night before. So I can really read minds?

                She didn’t want to word it like that, for fear of it sounding ridiculous. But it was. Although this discovery has been made less than forty-eight hours ago, the initial shock seems to have worn off. If only a little. A laundry list of questions and confusion had crossed her mind since the unearthing of this hidden ability. How? When? I mean I suppose I know ‘when,’ but why? Should I tell anyone else? What should I do? What’s going on?! The more she dwelled on the matter the deeper the feeling in her gut sinks. For someone who simply wants to be – and stay – normal, during her middle school life, this wasn’t exactly the most pleasant route to be thrust upon. But like any other ‘normal’ student, the current situation at hand wasn’t the most exciting to be in. Class has just started. Pushing her blonde hair behind her left ear yet again, Lilly braced for the day.

                Off in another classroom, a girl hid behind her books as she continuously peeked at another one of her classmates. Holding in her other palm was the hand that student had previously held only moments before, her face blushing red as her heart that was thumped a mile a minute. She’s a good friend, she had thought to herself. For someone as introverted as her, a little attention every now and then was nice. She stole another peek.

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