Feels Like Home
She Reads Her Words (And Her Future)
Risa Harada hummed happily to herself as she stepped through the front door and closed it behind her. She dropped her schoolbag near the door, slipped her shoes off and entered the cream walls of the living room.
How she loved today at this moment!
A comb lay on the coffee table from this morning. She picked it up, still humming, walked over to the nearest mirror and combed through her silky locks, making sure not to spoil the half-ponytail in hr hair; a lady had to look her best at all times.
She admired her reflection; a young girl fourteen years old looked back at her, with her eyes and lips smiling and her nut brown hair framing her delicate face. Her school uniform was a normal Tokyo sailor suit, with a long blue skirt and white top decorated with a huge red bow. She giggled; she liked to think that she was very popular at school.
She put the comb back down on the table – and paused. Next to the vase of jasmines was a white letter. When Risa picked it up she realised it was sealed with one of those wax stamps, which meant it was very important, and also that it was addressed to her and her sister.
Risa looked at it in curiosity. "Riku won't mind if I open it, will she…?"
A girl with chin-length, sugar brown hair dashed past the other runners. "Wow!" another girl cried from beside the finish line when she crossed it. "That was faster than before, Riku!"
Riku breathed heavily, leaning her hands on her knees. She looked up and smiled. "Really, Yuni? No way!"
Running was Riku's best sport. She did other sports too, like football and hockey, but she was the most skilled girl in her year when it came to running. And so, here she was in the athletics club practising her ability.
Yuni jogged over to her. They were both dressed in their PE kits: a loose shirt and nylon shorts. Every girl in Tokyo wore a similar outfit – the difference was the school emblem on their shoulders. The blinking stopwatch in Yuni's hand was showing her sprint time. "A whole lot better, in fact!" she corrected herself, tilting the sports cap lower forward on her head.
Riku walked over to the nearby bench, where she had left her bottle of water. The liquid was cool against her hot throat and on her forehead when she splashed her face.
The older twin looked up at Risa, who was running as fast as she could to her sister. This surprised her – Risa hardly ever ran. It wasn't lady-like.
She was waving frantically at Riku, but Riku managed to see some paper in the other hand. Before she could take it, Risa crashed down onto the bench. She was exhausted, and from the look of her eyes she had been close to tears. Taking Riku's water bottle, she drank thirstily.
How could Risa be so tired? They didn't live that far away… Riku snatched the paper from her twin. "What's this…?"
It was an envelope; an open envelope. And it was addressed to both Risa and herself! She shot an irritated glance at Risa. "You could have waited for me to come home," she snapped.
Risa gave her a sheepish grin.
Inside was a letter. Taking it out cautiously, Riku opened it; yes, it was her mother's handwriting. It read:
Darling Riku and Risa,
I'm sorry dears but your father and I have been whisked away on another trip. We couldn't bear to ask your grandfather to come and look after you, so we have organised for you two to go to him in Azumano. I'm sure it won't take as long as they predicted, think of it as a holiday!
Your grandfather's butler will pick you up on this Sunday morning, so you have the whole of Saturday to pack. We will be back as soon as we possibly can.
Your loving parents,
Mother and Father
PS. Dinner is in the fridge.
Riku stared. "What?"
Yuni and some other girls from the athletic team looked over at them. "Ssh!" Risa hissed while Riku read through the letter a second time. When she'd finished, her gaze flicked to Risa.
"This can't be happening."
Her eyes watering, Risa hung her head. "Oh, Riku! We can't move away! When the teachers find out–"
"They won't find out."
Risa looked at her older twin. "What do you mean?"
Turning the bottle of water in her hands, Riku answered, "We won't tell anyone." The next part was said directly at Risa. "We'll just go. I'm sure mum made sure to tell the teachers. It'll be fine."
"But our friends –"
Riku couldn't help it; she snorted. "What friends?" At Risa's sad face, she added, "Risa, we've only had each other for as long as I can remember. Can't you see?"
"What about Yuni?"
Riku shook her head. "She's nice to everyone. I just happen to be on the athletics team. Besides, she's a year above us."
This seemed to remind Risa of someone. "Kenji…!"
Risa had recently noticed him. He was in the year above; to Risa he was the perfect guy, and Riku knew she wanted perfection. With a sigh she said, "There are more fish in the sea."
"But, um… err…"
Riku caught on quick. "Don't tell me you asked him out!"
Guilt washed over Risa's face. "Uh… yeah... but…"
"He said yes? Risa!" In a sudden movement, Riku stood up, put her bottle of water in her schoolbag and slung her PE kit over her shoulder. "We are so going home. Yuni!"
Yuni's ponytail slapped her face when she turned. "Yes?"
"I'm going home early! Come on, Risa." Riku gripped Risa's wrist and pulled her away. Risa's protests didn't do a thing.
"I'm sorry Riku! I didn't know this would happen! It wasn't such a big deal…!"
Yuni chuckled as the older Harada trudged off and the younger one stumbled after her. "What a pair," she smiled. "They look totally the same and yet there are complete opposites. I'm so lucky to have met them!"
"He's not in?" Riku's finger twirled around the phone's cord. A worried Risa sat opposite her trying to convince her to hang up. Not that it worked. "Oh. Tell him Riku Harada called. Tell him to shove off." She slammed the phone onto its stand.
"Riku!" Risa looked miserable. "When we come back he's going to be so mad."
"Chances are everyone will be mad," Riku pointed out. "I wouldn't be so worried. Anyway, Kenji has a million girlfriends a year."
Risa's pout told Riku her sister already knew. "Do you think we should take all our clothes, Riku?" she asked instead to switch subjects.
Knowing Risa, she'd take all her clothes anyway. "I suppose," replied Riku. "But I don't think we'll need them all."
Without stopping to listen to the rest, Risa bolted upstairs. If there was something she loved other than shopping and getting ready then it was sorting through her things. Riku sighed and followed her. Her mum was right; packing probably would take the whole of Saturday.
The morning of the move arrived too soon. The Harada twins' grandfather was incredibly rich, which was why he could afford to have a butler. The young man struggled with Risa's ten bags of luggage (not that she minded – he was quite handsome to look at), but when it came to Riku she stubbornly carried her suitcases and put them in the boot herself. The butler sighed in relief.
In the end they had decided to pack all their clothes because they had no idea how long they were staying. They added a few things for entertainment – a game boy, a CD player, a few other things and in Risa's case her many accessories. Of course, Riku did have some accessories – they just weren't included in entertainment.
The one good thing that the two could see about this trip was no school; for this reason they hadn't packed their uniforms. They just had to wait until their parents came back. Their grandfather had a huge house; there was bound to be things to do there to pass the time.
Looking out the window of the limo, Riku sighed. They had been travelling for ages. How far was Azu-what's-it anyway? One glance across the seats told her that Risa was just as bored – but she was also very upset. She sighed again. "Risa?"
"Mm?" Risa carried on looking out the window.
"I'm sorry about calling Kenji."
Still Risa didn't move. "It's OK," she said eventually. "You probably said the right thing anyway."
Riku tried to grin. "I'm sure there are hundreds of other good-looking boys in Azu– where we're going. Better-looking, even."
This time, Risa turned, giving Riku a kind-hearted smile. "Yes. You'll help me look, right?"
"Um…" That didn't sound at all fun. "We'll see…"
Risa just laughed.
After what seemed like days, Riku, Risa and the butler arrived at their destination. Like Riku had said, it was huge; in fact it was almost a mansion. It had pearly white walls and well-kept gardens, and a couple of pillars held up a balcony. It was built near a cliff, and Riku could hear the waves crashing and seagulls' cries.
On the porch near the tiny looking door at the bottom stood an aged man. His hair was neat and mistily grey, but he had a kind face. Risa began to run over to him, her green skirt billowing in the sea breeze, but Riku followed much slower, studying the smooth tarmac driveway. She constantly had to tuck windswept hair behind her ears; Risa's hair was kept back by that half-ponytail hairstyle she always wore her hair in. Looking up she saw Risa had waited for her by the porch. This meant they approached their grandfather together. "Risa," he said warmly, gathering Riku in his embrace. "So nice to see you."
"Um, no, Granddad, I'm Riku–" She watched powerless as he did the same to Risa, but calling her Riku instead. Risa gave her a puzzled look, but Riku shrugged – it seemed their grandfather still couldn't tell them apart, and still didn't listen.
"Oh yes, I have a message from your parents." He coughed when they watched expectantly. "Ahem… Well? Step inside. It's awfully cold."
He stepped aside to let the girls in, and then closed the door behind him and the butler, who had come up behind them. They stepped into the big, fancy hall, full of paintings and antiques. Riku wasn't surprised if the rest of the house was like this one; all look and no touch. The butler passed them and disappeared through the doorway to the left.
Their grandfather gave them a warm smile. "Would either of you girls like a drink–?"
"Granddad, the message." Riku was getting impatient.
"Ah yes." The old man stroked his chin. "I remember. Whilst you stay here in Azumano, you are to attend their local school."
"What?" the twins exclaimed together.
With a nod, he continued, "Yes. Azumano Middle School is just up the hill; Rin will give you a lift to the train, which you will ride, but then you must walk the rest."
Riku and Risa looked at each other. School? But this was a trip! How could their mum and dad think of such a thing? Riku glared at the old man in front of them "Granddad–"
"–Grandfather, we don't even have uniforms, so–"
"My dear Risa, that is where you are wrong." He strolled over to a dark cabinet on the side of the hall. On it was a plastic bag, and when Riku realised what was in it she was drenched in disappointment. Her grandfather's hand plunged in, and two sparklingly new girls' uniforms were pulled out.
It was red shirt and skirt combo, with the skirt wide and ruffled and the usual scarf on the one-buttoned jacket but without a bow or tie. It came in winter and summer styles and was very different from their old one.
Risa loved it. "Wow!" she exclaimed. "It's so cute!" How very twin-like that Riku hated it.
To their amazement, their granddad had even bought socks, matching shoes and a schoolbag each, and he gave them named bags with their PE kits in (of course they had switch the bags after, as their grandfather was still confused over their names). By now the effect on Risa of a brand new outfit was wearing off, and the two were miserable again.
When their arms were piled with everything they'd need for school, their granddad sent them on their way to find a bedroom. "Don't worry," he had said. "Rin will find your room easily – he knows this place like the back of his hand." And by now they'd learnt that Rin was the butler.
Risa wanted to sleep in the room furthest away from the stairs, but this had turned out to be the only bedroom with a balcony besides their grandfather's one at the front. Since neither could decide who should have it, they chose the adjacent rooms on the right- and left-hand side. They took off the white sheets that covered half the furniture and piled them up outside, and since their grandfather had no maids they set about cleaning the room on their own.
Everything was covered in dust. By the time Riku had tied back her hair and gotten a feather duster out, she could see it was hopeless. Nevertheless, she started by the window and dusted every nook and cranny she could see. There were well-crafted statues with little details and beautiful paintings in the room, and because you could see the brush strokes you knew they were the originals. Whoever had painted them was a wonderful artist. Riku couldn't help but admire his or her work when she ran the duster over them.
When she finally decided the room was clear of dust, she took a peek into Risa's room. "Risa," she began. "How are you doing? I think I've finished."
Risa was dusting a particular painting over and over. Compared to this painting, the rest of the room was blanketed by dust three inches thick. "Riku, what do you think of this painting?" she asked.
It was a garden swing. The swing itself was simply a board of wood tied by string on either side, but it was hanging from an archway of flowers. Behind the fence, the sun was setting and the sky was awash with reds, pinks and orange. Sitting in the swing was a lady with long golden curls and beside her was a man in a suit. "It's OK," said Riku.
"But isn't so romantic?" Risa sighed. She continued to gaze at it as Riku took in the rest of the room. The three inches of dust was starting to bother her.
Riku shook her younger sister's shoulder. "Risa, get into action! I want to explore the house, but not without you."
Turning, Risa gave Riku a dreamy smile, but then her forehead creased. "Let's show my room what we're made of!"
Risa yawned for the fifth time that day. "Who knew this house could be so big!"
When the twins had finally finished cleaning their rooms they had followed Riku's suggestion and explored the house. They started in the entrance hall and trekked through a dining room, a kitchen, two living rooms, a study, about five or six bedrooms and almost as many bathrooms. They had even looked out over the massive garden on the balcony. Now they were in the attic, sorting through the many boxes and looking for just about anything.
Riku moved a box of something very heavy onto another pile – and something fell out. It bounced twice and then rolled across the floor and hit Risa's heel. Straightening from the box she had been searching, Risa turned and picked it up. "What's this?"
"Looks like a tennis ball," Riku replied as she joined her.
"Oh." Risa gave it back to Riku. She then lifted something out of the box she had been hunting through. "Look at this!"
Riku read the front of the packet. "'The Tarot'?"
"Yeah." There was a table in the corner which was lit by a little window; Risa went over and, after opening the packet, spread out the cards that were inside. "It's one of those fortune reading things. A girl in our class used to read them – you know, Hana."
"Mm." Riku wasn't that into fortune telling because they always seemed to be eerily true. She sat on the floor, leaning against some boxes. She threw the tennis ball in the ball and caught it again. Then she threw it again, and caught it again. "Can you do any readings?"
After going over to the box again, Risa showed Riku something new; a book with 'The Tarot' written at the top. "This has all the meanings of the cards in it," she said as she flicked through the pages. "But it doesn't have anything on how to set them out. Let's just see which card is in our futures."
Now a little interested, Riku stood up to watch. Her twin shuffled the cards, making sure some were upside-down, and fanned them out. She picked one out randomly. Of course, she was doing herself first.
The card had a picture of eight goblets on it. At the top was the roman sign for eight and at the bottom was written 'Cups'. "The Eight of Cups," Risa said triumphantly. "Let's see what the book says. Here we are:
Don't be afraid to leave the past behind. Travel. There is plenty more in the world to see and experience. If you are disillusioned with your life now, take heart, because the future promises to be brighter. Follow your heart and do what you truly desire.
Ah. Then it goes into the reversed meaning."
Riku didn't hear the part Risa had added about reversed meanings. As she had thought, fortune telling was often eerily true, and this was no exception.
"Right," Risa went on nervously. "Your turn." She shuffled the cards once more, fanned them out and offered them to Riku to pick.
Riku's card was a lot different. It was a brightly coloured jester holding a bunch of grapes who seemed to be dancing on clouds. The name of it was 'The Fool', but strangely, the number at the top was a naught.
Part of Riku didn't want to know what 'The Fool' meant. It could, after all, be calling her a fool; you knew with these cards.
"Ooh, that's an interesting one." Risa flipped to the front of the book. "It's the very first card! The background of the card is explained a bit, but here's the meaning. It's a bit short:
Nothing can harm you, whatever you do. Take a risk. The start of a new chapter in life. Expect the unexpected. Unconventional people could enter your life."
Risa looked up confused. "Riku, you got a weird one, I'm sorry. Do you want to try again?"
"No, not really." Riku told her. That one was freaky enough already. What did it mean a new chapter…?
"Alright then." Risa put the cards back in the packet and looked outside. "It's getting late. We should go, Riku."
Expect the unexpected… "Yeah, OK." What could happen to her?
"Oh and Riku?" Riku looked up as Risa turned at the stairs. "What does 'unconventional' mean?"
"I'm not sure," Riku answered after a pause. "I think it's someone who is different to normal people or something like that." Whatever it was, Riku didn't like the sound of it.
Well, there we have the first chapter of Feels Like Home. No, Daisuke and the other boys haven't appeared yet, but I promise that they will in the next chapter. Hopefully, this story will get very interesting… I hope you guys stick with it.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Read and review but no flames please.