I only swim free.", "I quit swimming competitively.", "I just want to drift through the water alone in silence."
That's what he always would say. But then, he only ever makes exceptions for Rin. Sometimes, I wonder whether he is dating Rin or dating me. Rin is always the special case.
Why did I want to swim with Haru competitively? Maybe I was jealous of Rin. Was my answer.
But it is not a maybe. I am jealous of Rin and I am not afraid to admit it. Haru is always excited about swimming with Rin. It was never me. I was never in the first place in his heart. Rin is. I was always the second. To him, I am 'the one who will always be there for him'. And I think that he really takes me for granted at all times.
Usually, I would never think about stuff like this but since the time Rin came back, there was only him in his heart. He took less notice of me and I guess we kind of… drifted apart. I don't know what to do anymore. He would say I am always over reacting if I discussed this with him, so I bore with it.
Until I saw how he didn't care for Haru's feelings when we lost the relay. He was celebrating. Celebrating with his new team. We are his past. And they are his present and future. We were already tossed away by him. Tossed away like trash by that heartless bastard.
I told Haru that and in result, we had a huge argument and broke up. I moved away from that place. To be away from Haru. To be away from Rin. To be away from all these painful memories Haru chose him over me. Even though I was the one who stuck with him all this time. Even though I was the one who cared for him. Even though I was the one who loves him unconditionally. All the time.
This is the end for us. Our fight is what's left in my memories. This will be the last I see him
And that was what I thought.
Haru dragged his luggage into the dusty old house. It was not cleaned for at least a decade from the state it showed; broken furniture, filthy carpet, and molded curtains. Just the smell emitting from the house made him want to puke. The wind blew through the broken windows, with the rays of sunshine barely visible, this mansion looks really like a haunted one.
He sighed. When the landlord said that the house's condition was 'not the best', he did not expect it to be that bad. But he did not have a choice, for this house was the cheapest and could offer him two months of time he could spend alone and think things over.
They separated no longer than a week ago.
They had fought too much for what was healthy in a relationship, him and Makoto. You can't exactly call it fighting, Haru never speaks in their arguments while Makoto doesn't have the heart to be angry with him and just usually only lectures him; but after those 'fights', they would go on for days without speaking to each other, at all.
When Makoto suggested them two to 'calm down and be away from each other for awhile,' Haru had to agree. They needed to be alone, to clear things up, to think things over and think for themselves. They needed to consider whether keeping this relationship going is beneficial to either of them.
Haru felt like they were coming to an end.
They had been dating for more than six years now, since they graduated from high school. They went to college together, moved into a flat together, sometimes went on dates together. It was fine all along. Until Rin came back. Makoto changed. He would constantly look at him with that sad look on his face and he didn't even smiled from his heart anymore.
Haru could not help but to be afraid. Was he demanding too much from Makoto? Was he being too selfish?
He sighed as he looked around the unused living room. There were pieces of sheet music everywhere, scattered around the grand piano placed in the middle of the room. He walked over to the piano coated with thick dust, opened the heavy case and put his finger gently on a note.
The key was tuned and the piano still worked fine. The previous owner must have really loved this piano to keep it at this state even after he had moved away.
There were several pictures hanging on the hallway wall. One was a group photo consisted of seven people wearing performing costumes of different colors at a concert, all grinning happily. Haru thought that he had seen them somewhere before, perhaps in a documentary show. Another picture captured a man with dark blue hair and indigo eyes. The other photos were either damaged or torn because of their years of being in the abandoned mansion. He must have meant a lot to the owner if only his portrait was kept so nicely…
Haru moved to one of the rooms, which was apparently the bedroom of the previous owner. The owner was not married as the bed was a single bed, stuck to the wall firmly. There was another piano, but an electronic one, placed beside the other side of the wall. A several books about music and lyric-composing was on the top of the bedroom drawer.
There was also a guitar case beside the bed. Haru lifted it up and took out the guitar inside. It was in the color of bright red, like the sun. As Haru landed his fingers on it, he heard a voice that made him freeze.
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't touch that. It was my favorite guitar."
Haru turned slowly, and saw a man leaning against the bedroom door. He was a redhead, quite young, in about his twenties. He smiled at Haru. "Sorry for frightening you."
"Who are you?" Haru asked.
"Ittoki Otoya," the redhead answered. "This was my house."
"Then why are you still here?" Haru asked.
"Good question," Otoya said.
Haru just stared at him suspiciously. "What do you mean by that?"
Otoya's smile faded a bit as he grabbed the doorknob. Or to put it this way; his palm passed through the doorknob when he tried to hold it.
"I am a spirit," Otoya said casually as if he was merely talking about the weather.
None of them said anything for a moment.
"That means you're dead," Haru said calmly.
"You are a ghost."
"You bet." Otoya said cheerfully as if he doesn't mind being dead at all.
Haru took a moment to process this in his mind.
"Sorry," Otoya apologized. "I haven't talked to anyone for awhile. I didn't mean to scare you. This house has been empty for about eight years already, and I never expected someone would move in."
Haru took a breath. "I'm not scared of you."
"It's not like you're scary. At all."
"Well, I'll take that as a compliment," Otoya laughed. "What's your name then, if you don't mind telling me?"
"Nanase Haruka," Haru replied. "But you can call me Haru, I guess." He could see that Otoya was hiding his laughter at his name.
"Alright then, Haru," Otoya said. "Let me show you around."
"I feel like I have seen you before," Haru said as he walked behind Otoya, the spirit that occupied the house.
"Really?" Otoya said. "Like where?"
"I don't know," Haru said, trying his best to remember. "Maybe on TV are something. You were in a band, right? I mean I don't always watch shows on TV."
Otoya paused abruptly. "You can say that," he said bitterly. "I was in some sort of a band."
Haru felt like he should not push this topic any further as Otoya seemed quite upset when his band was mentioned. "So," Haru said. "You lived alone?"
"Yeah. I was pretty much all by myself for my entire life," Otoya said, and gave Haru a sad smile. Haru who is usually unaffected by people around him felt a small pain in his heart. "So why are you here alone? I don't mean to freak you out but you are quite good-looking and have a really good body shape; don't you have a girlfriend or something?"
Haru was slightly surprised when the focus was suddenly switched to him. "Um… I do, I mean I did have one.. kind of."
"Did? What happened?" Otoya sat, floated on the sofa and looked up at him with those big eyes.
"We started having cold wars that we never did before, there were a lot of disagreements between us and we could not get it sorted out… so," Haru sighed as he remembered how they decided to part for some time.
Otoya seemed quite curious on Haru's case. "What is she called?"
"Ma…Makoto," Haru stammered. Luckily they all had girlish names to begin with.
"Makoto," Otoya repeated. "Pretty name. Must be a pretty girl then. Is Makoto with you for a long time?"
"Quite long. Since highschool."
"You two are really lucky," Otoya said and looked out of the window. "We never made it for that long."
"Never mind. Back to you," Otoya realized his mistake of mentioning something he wanted to hide and quickly changed the subject again. "When will you meet her again?"
"I don't know," Haru said bitterly. "Which is the main problem."
"Why are you asking so much questions," Haru said, starting to get annoyed with this so called Otoya Ittoki. Don't pry into other's life if you don't want others to pry into your life. He said in his head.
"Because I wanna know more about you! We are now roommates!" Otoya said as-a-matter-of-factly.
"You are just an intruder."
"Hey, that's mean! I lived here and was here before you!"
"As in past tense. And you also left a mess for me to clean up," Haru reminded him.
"Look, I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean to be nosy, it's just that I haven't talked to anyone for such a long time, I got a little bit overexcited," Otoya said, lowering his head a bit and sighed.
Otoya said nothing as he led Haru through the hallway back to the living room. The awkward silence lingered in the air.
"…I didn't mean to offend you," Haru muttered unwillingly. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Otoya said, shaking his head. "I was just being too dramatic, that's all. Not your fault. So, we're cool, right?"
"Yeah, guess so," Haru sighed. Guess he was stuck with this annoying ghost for the next few months.
"Let me show you the kitchen," Otoya said in a more cheerful manner. "The stoves are really old already, so you gotta be careful when you used them. Wait, you know how to cook, right?"
"Yes…sort of," Haru answered.
The truth was, although he hated to admit that, the only dish he was actually good at was mackerel. And mackerel only.
"Great! I loved to cook, and it's such a shame that I cannot cook anymore…" Otoya said, laughing bitterly and turning away from the stove. "Ya know, but I'm still better off dead…"
It was much harder to live with a friendly ghost than Haru had ever thought. Otoya seemed to be disturbed by a sadness; a sadness that had already existed inside him since he was alive. A sadness that has haunted him. And this sadness may even be the cause of his death. Maybe it was something he regretted that made him stay on earth instead of fading away after he passed away.
Haru found himself curious about the past life of this ghost, Otoya Ittoki.
He was almost certain that Otoya was once a singer or actor, because he remembered seeing someone like him on a documentary about celebrities that were no longer famous anymore. He tried to remember which show it was or what did the hosts said about him, but he just could not.
"Otoya," Haru called out to the redhead while he was cleaning in the living room. "Since this house is so unclean, where should I sleep?"
"Uh…wait a second," Otoya said thoughtfully. "I think I still have my sleeping bag somewhere around… follow me."
Otoya walked into his old bedroom and opened the closet door.
"Wait," Haru stopped him. "You can touch things?"
"Well, apparently," Otoya said. "I can use my hands if I wanna."
"But your hand passed right through the doorknob just now-"
"I was only proving to you that I am a ghost, not some creepy intruder who breaks into people's houses." Otoya replied, at the same time murmuring to himself, "Where is it? I remember putting it away in the closet…"
Haru looked inside Otoya's closet. It was messy and completely unorganized, and it was hard to see what was inside. But Haru swore he saw the red costume he saw in the photo, its decorations shining in the dark.
"Ah! Here it is!" Otoya said triumphantly, holding up a bag. "It is sealed so there should be less dust inside. You can sleep in it before you got my stuff cleaned."
"Since you can actually use your hands," Haru said, "Why don't you help me with the cleaning."
"I said, I can use my hands if I wanna," Otoya gave him a smirk. "Which in that case, I don't want to use them for cleaning. Just call me if you need anything."
Otoya stuffed the dusty bag in Haru's hands and disappeared into thin air with a slight chuckle.
Haru cursed under his breath and walked away.