She danced in colored velveteen across the leafy floor, her laughter rippling in the wind.

Do you see? she sidled up to Kanji and whispered in his ear.

Do you see how perfect it is, what you've made for me, see, it's been years since I've worn something handmade like this and I feel like an innocent kid again I just can't help it. Her strawberry breath tickled his neck ever so slightly.

His hands dug for nothing in his pockets as he observed the ground.

Whatever. You're welcome.

The clouds were pushing themselves into pillows in the distance as they prepared themselves for night. The breeze was pleasant as it washed away the heat of the sun, but soon it would only be cold. Rise lifted a pair of skinny arms to adjust a barrette.

School for the day was over, but it didn't matter to them because they didn't go.

Hey Kanji, next time let's have a picnic. I'll cook us some food, come on it'll be fun.

Like that shit you cooked last time? I almost choked to death, it was so bad. No way.

It wasn't that bad, asshole. You just didn't have the maturity to handle it the complex flavors.

He scowled. He insisted she was wrong.

You didn't have the balls, then.

At first she thought it was a longshot. Of all people in world she ended up gazing at in the days they spent at school and in the TV, it had to be the one who didn't know who she was compared to any fat bitch on the weather channel. Plus he was gay.

Dammit, would everyone stop bringing that up already?

She did a shoot with someone who looked like him, you know. In the beginning of her career. Except his hair was different. Piercings, though. Muscles. He was hot. It was for a teen clothing company that specialized in rebellion prepackaged. She bit her lip and fluttered her lashes in the most perfect way. Punx Pants (c). But none of it was for them really.

When she twirled her hair and giggled to him, however, he sneezed and flung his hand for her to get out of his face until he could get out of these atrocious vampire clothes and where was his zebra caramel espresso Bryan because if he didn't see it in the next ten seconds Bryan would be off the wardrobe team.

Harsh. Kanji tried his very best to seem interested.

But you're not like that.

Yeah, sure.

It was fall. The rain lately had filled the Samegawa river to the brim and the stray cats flung their paws at the goldfish they saw fluttering beneath the clear waves. Rise spun like a dervish around the gazebo. One palm to the sky and the other to the ground. God flowed through her. She spun in shades of brown, and orange, and red, like the flowing ripples of her hair. Kanji kinda dug the way her hair looked like that and then coughed, embarrassed.

Like in the way where you want to style it? Maybe give me a nice pomp? I'll bet you must use a ton of fabulous hair products to make yours look like that Kanji-kun.

Would you shut up? I'm tryin' to be a god damn gentleman over here.

It was like a sundress. The season wasn't right but it was okay, the material was just so soft and rubbed in the creases of her skin in all the right ways. She mentioned this with her voice bent forward and looking all sly like on TV. Kanji looked away mildly repelled, and Rise remembered, and tiptoed ever so carefully into the warm aura of the scarred skin on his face and


He looked at her and blushed. She laughed.

I think you're the best audience I've ever had.