Modern day Japan. This is a story that is already several years old.
On that day, the scorching summer sun radiantly shone down, heating up the pavement.
In a certain suburban neighbourhood, a sorrowful parting between a boy and girl was taking place.
“Haru-kun, no, don’t gooo!”
Standing beside a moving van, a girl, in tears, clung onto a boy. Her name was Ayase Miharu. She was still only 7 years old on that day.
“Mii-chan, don’t cry. I’m sure we’ll meet again, okay?”
Trying to soothe her tears, the boy embraced her while confidently reassuring her.
The boy’s name was Amakawa Haruto. He was also still only a 7-year-old boy on that day.
Haruto had to move to a distant country with his father.
Nobody knew when they could meet again since there were no plans on returning as of yet.
Haruto’s parents were divorced. Although his mother and younger sister continued living in this town, Haruto had already moved out of their apartment.
Haruto’s father and Miharu’s parents were gradually becoming unable to bear watching the two any longer.
“Noo, don’t go. Haru-kun!”
Seeing Miharu tearfully begging him not to leave, Haruto also felt like crying as well. However, he had to hold it in or else he would risk showing her his weak side.
That was why, whilst putting on a strong front, he kept telling her “It’s alright”, “We’ll see each other again” to try and alleviate her crying. Though, the truth was, he was grieving inside and wanted to cry as well.
Haruto really liked Miharu and Miharu really liked Haruto.
For the two of them to have met, was it fate or mere coincidence? Their parents moved into the same apartment building and by chance, shared neighbouring rooms. Coincidentally, they were both born in spring allowing them to become acquainted when growing up.
Haruto was born in spring and Miharu was born in spring. Both of Haruto’s parents worked resulting in him often being left with Miharu’s house during the day.
Ever since birth, the two of them were brought up together. If one had to describe it, “childhood friends” would be an appropriate term to express their relationship.
Therefore, by the time they became old enough to become self-aware, it was inevitable that the two became attracted to one another.
They recognised each other as special existences in their lives despite having yet to understand things like love and affection. Even if an opportunity to fall in love did not exist, they were still destined for each other.
Because they loved each other. Because they were infatuated with each other.
“Haru-kun, Haru-kun. I want to stay togetherrr.”
Haruto wanted to somehow soothe Miharu’s tears because if she was sad, he would be as well.
However, her crying would not stop. Miharu continued clinging on to him while bawling her eyes out, leaving Haruto at a loss.
He wondered why he was so powerless in helping her. For him, who could not even prevent the parting with his dearest childhood friend— Having come to realise that, Haruto clenched his hands in frustration.
Just being together with Miharu made him happy.
However, it was not something Haruto could accomplish at the moment. He was but a child still.
In that case, he will, one day, attain that wish. He wanted to forever be together with Miharu, to always walk by her side. Therefore, he would convey his feelings. It was the only thing he could offer right now.
“I’ll return when we’re older! That’s why, that’s why, let’s get married then!”
Haruto seized his once in a lifetime chance and boldly confessed to Miharu.
“Then we can be together forever, we can stay at each other’s side forever, I’ll follow Mii-chan wherever until the day I die!”
Without pausing for breath, Haruto shouted. *Dokun Dokun* He felt his heart beating wildly in his chest.
“…Is it, no good?”
In a hesitant and trembling voice, Haruto asked.
A moment later, Mihau stopped crying and looked up at Haruto’s face in a daze.
“I will. I will. I will marry Haru-kun!”
After a brief pause, Miharu replied with a beautiful, dazzling smile.
Relieved by her answer, Haruto swore to uphold his promise.
No matter how much time passes, he will not give up. It is a promise he will keep. He will protect that smile before him. Resolving himself, he gave her a light kiss and thus, Haruto parted from Miharu.
It was nothing more than a verbal promise, a fleeting pledge made in their childhood days.
How the future will unfold, nobody knows. It was a promise without a plan. However, it was a promise Haruto carved into his heart. It became the reason for his existence, the backbone of his life.
From that time on, the young Haruto kept dreaming about his reunion with Miharu and continued making an effort to fulfill his promise. I want to see Miharu. I can’t stop until I meet Miharu. Fully believing in their promise, he would put his utmost effort into anything and everything that he believed would help him accomplish his goal. And as he grew older, he eagerly anticipated their reunion.
As such, Haruto studied diligently in school, helped with household chores and gardening, and learned ancient martial arts under his unusually strict grandfather.
Perhaps noticing Haruto’s dedication and drive, Haruto’s father permitted him entry into a famous high school in the neighbourhood where they formerly resided.
This would pave the way for Haruto and Miharu’s fateful reunion. By a whim of fate or mere coincidence, Miharu also entered the same high school as Haruto. There, on the board listing the students’ names and their respective classrooms, was Miharu’s name attached to a different classroom than he was. Witnessing such a miracle made Haruto stiffen up in surprise.
And then, he caught sight of Miharu’s uniformed figure. Haruto stood there, gazing in her direction, fascinated and at a loss for breath. Even though she was all grown up, he knew without a shred of doubt, that it was her. So far, yet so close. She was his significant other.
Her long, glossy black hair, extending down to her back; her well-adorned features; her skin, white as snow; her small but balanced figure; an air of modesty, surrounding her; her graceful, attractive, and tidy ambience captivated all who gazed upon her.
Miharu grew up into a beautiful girl, one anybody could mistake to have come straight out of a painting.
Haruto was ecstatic for a chance to meet his dear childhood friend again. *Dokun* His heart started beating faster as he resolved himself. However, a ruthless shock was received at the same time.
Standing beside Miharu was a boy whom Haruto did not recognize.
As he watched Miharu happily conversing with the unfamiliar boy, Haruto became hesitant and unable to call out to her on the day of the entrance ceremony.
That day, Haruto returned home with the day’s incident weighing on his mind.
So as to meet Miharu again, he had wholeheartedly dedicated his life to fulfill his promise.
The time spent with Miharu was a special memory to him. Their promise together allowed him to pursue his dreams without straying from his path.
That was why, Haruto felt lost when Miharu completely forgot about her promise with him. He felt like the place where he belonged had been stolen from him.
It was possible that it was no longer possible to regain their past relationship anymore. Miharu may have already found another person she loves. Like a fool, he constructed and lived in his own fantasy.
However, even then, Haruto longed to meet Miharu.
Tomorrow, he would summon the courage to speak to her.
However, Miharu vanished before him.
She was absent the days following the entrance ceremony. She had suddenly left school and simply disappeared.
In addition, there were a handful of other students who left at the same time as Miharu. An uproar arose within the school but the school refused to release any information under the guise of privacy.
Being only a mere high school student, Haruto was unable to do anything, not even gaining a hint as to what could have happened. As time moved on, Haruto became overwhelmed with regret.
Why didn’t I call out to Miharu during the entrance ceremony?
On that day, at that time, if he had called out to Miharu, things may have ended up differently. He could not help but mull over the “what if” scenario.
Events had taken a turn for the worst and only regret remained.
I won’t give up. I don’t want to give up. A despairing cry echoed within his soul.
Up until now, Haruto had received multiple confessions from other girls but whenever he tried imagining a future with somebody other than Miharu, a sensation of guilt and hesitation relentlessly assaulted him.
Having said that, he had not put in any effort to search for Miharu. Having lost sight of his path, Haruto slowly began to lose much of his vigor and drive.
* * *
And so, four years have passed since the day Miharu disappeared.
Haruto, now a 20-year-old adult, is in his sophomore year at the University of Tokyo.
However, time has stopped for Haruto. Despite attending University, he no longer puts much effort into his studies and his work as a part-timer at an upper-class cafe was just something to do to pass the day.
Every morning, he would wake up, head to University, work at his part-time job, and return home― Without change, he passed every day indifferently.
His situation from a third party’s perspective would seem relatively normal for a college student. He continues to wander aimlessly in an unchanging world, watching as the days go by― hoping that something would happen.
Summer is currently at its height. It is a day no different than the one where Haruto parted from Miharu. The sun shines above amidst the clear blue sky, brightly lighting up the pavement on which Haruto walks.
Haruto boards a bus near the university campus with an air of coolness, striking a stark contrast with the scorching summer heat.
Perhaps because it is still early in the afternoon, there are only a few people on the bus. A passenger embarks and disembarks every so often but as of current, there are only three passengers on the bus― Haruto, a University student, a school girl who is returning to her high school from her club activities near Haruto’s university, and a girl, likely around the elementary school level.
Besides the occasional stop announcement, only the bus’ engine can be heard. Haruto directs his attention out the window, watching the scenery pass as the bus makes its way down the road.
Suddenly, Haruto notices a flickering in his periphery and turns towards the source. Sensing a shift in his attention, the elementary school girl quickly sits down.
(That girl… is she Endou Suzune-chan?)
Haruto faintly recalls who the girl is. Some time ago, she dozed off on the bus and missed her stop. He ended up helping her find her way home when she started crying on the bus.
Occasionally, he would find himself riding on the same bus as her. He felt like he must have left an impression on her since he would frequently feel her eyes on his back.
Perhaps noticing that Haruto is gazing back at her, Suzune quickly breaks her line of sight and looks down.
(Did I… do something?)
Despite racking his brain, he cannot recall doing anything that may have bothered her.
Of course, he had only spoken to Suzune once during the one time he helped her. He sent her home and was thanked by her mother. Nothing else happened that was significant.
Is it just my imagination? He thought to ask if there was anything wrong but did not want to come off as a suspicious person. Recent events had led to an emphasis on children’s safety.
(Would I be seen as a suspicious person if I approached a school girl on the bus?)
Yeah, let’s not― Feeling slightly irritated, Haruto lets out a small sigh. He decides to ignore Suzune’s probing eyes.
At that moment, the bus suddenly shakes violently.
A weightless sensation is felt for a brief moment before a tremendous impact attacks his whole body.
“Ah… Ah, ha…”
The entirety of Haruto’s body is in pain and breathing becomes difficult.
His whole body feels hot as if boiling water was poured over him and his consciousness starts to dim. As his vision begins to fade, he can barely make out the crushed interior of the bus.
Barely holding on to his consciousness, Haruto is somehow able to piece together what just occurred.
I’m going to die. Although his whole body should be in pain, he can no longer feel anything. As death draws ever closer, fear assaults Haruto’s mind.
“Ah… Gaha, gaha.”
He tried shouting with his remaining strength but only a hoarse cough accompanied by a large amount of blood came out of his mouth.
Reciting Miharu’s former nickname in his heart, tears begin trickling down his face, mixing in the pool of blood. And so, Haruto’s consciousness fades to black…
A beautiful voice resounds inside Haruto’s head.
Immediately afterward, geometric patterns flood his vision as he begins ascending from the Earth’s surface
“And for our next story tonight, a collision between a bus and semi-truck occurred this afternoon at 3:23 in __ prefecture, Tokyo. All three bus passengers were killed on site. Despite suffering serious injuries, both the bus driver and truck driver miraculously survived. Sources are reporting that the truck driver may have dozed off―”