RHAPSODY IN ELDER

"So what do you think? Since we always celebrate the same thing every year, let's celebrate something different from the usual ones this year? Mariya exclaimed all of a sudden. Mizuho, Kana and Yukari stared at her dumbfounded. Sion remained calm as she looked on.

It was the beginning of July, and Mariya, who had that usual wacky behavior among them, felt bored celebrating the same ol' Christian festivals evry year all of a sudden. She wanted to feel what it takes to celebrate the local traditional celebrations in Japan.

"Ma…Mariya, what are you planning to do actually?" Mizuho felt trouble besieging them.

"Ho ho ho. Today is July 7th, right?" she glared straight into Mizuho's eyes. Mizuho gulped.

"Ah huh."

"So? So?" Kana was getting excited. Yukari looked puzzled.

"Therefore, we shall be celebrating Tanabata Festival on the 7th of July! That means today, of course! So girls, let's do it today! Meet me back after school, back at the dorm. We shall be celebrating it there." Mariya looked all agitated that day.

"Do you girls know what does this festival refers to?"

"Welll…." Mizuho rubbed his head.

"Isn't it Orihime and Hikoboshi?" said Sion.

"Bingo! These two lovers, well, according to the legend of course…. Err… anyway, they will grant anyone's wishes who wished to them."

"Waa, Mariya oneesama sure knew about it already." Kana looked amazed with her knowledge.

"Well, I did made some reference at the library." Mariya rubbed the back of her head.

"How are we gonna celebrate it, Mariya oneesama?" asked Yukari.

"I'll reveal it later. So don't be late." she stared back at each of them. "Oh, Sion-sama, how about joining us too, if you don't mind?"

"Oh, gomen ne. I got extra classes today. So I guess I can't join."

"Oh, what a pity. Oh, wait, I got a n idea. Sion-sama, wait a moment. Hey, you girls can go back first." Mariya turned away and walked down the corridor. "Come, Sion-sama, I would prefer a surprise for them."

"Oh my, I can't wait to see it." Sion giggled as she followed Mariya down.

"What's with the two of them now?" Mizuho rubbed his head, in disbelief. "Of all these days, all of a sudden she wants to celebrate Tanabata."

"But I'm sure it's gonna be great Mizuho oneesama." said Kana.

"Kana-chan…."

"The two of them… what were their names again? They must be great lovers in the past. Oh…. I can't wait to see what Mariya oneesama prepares for us…"

Back at the school dorm….

Everyone was already there in the main hall , including Ichiko-chan, floating in the air as usual… except Sion was MIA, of course.

"So what's the surprise, Mariya?" Mizuho started the conversation again.

"Tadaaa!" Mariya held out a long piece of live bamboo stick, with green bamboo leaves growing on it.

"Ano…. Where did you got that from?" Mizuho felt uneasy about it.

"The bamboo forest at the back of the school. I took a while trying to dig out one that is still fresh and long enough for us to hang all of our wishes on it.

"So what are we gonna do…. Hang our wishes?" Kana was the most confusing one there.

"Wishes?" Ichiko thought, then suddenly she looked brighten up. "Waa, wishes….!"

Err, Ichiko-chan…." Mizuho felt more uneasy.

"We will be writing all of our wishes on our own tanzaku, then we hang them up on the bamboo."

"Then….?"

"Do you know which stars Orihime and Hikoboshi are referring to?"

"Nope." Replied Mizuho, swiftly. The rest also shook their heads.

"Its Alpha Lyrae and Alpha Aquilae!" Mariya looked a little bores already. "None of you learned it during Science class?"

"Errrr….." Kana and Yukari just smiled back.

"Never mind. Once you hang your wishes up, you must point the bamboo shoot carrying the tanzakus towards these two stars. Understood?"

"How long then for our wishes to be granted?" Ichiko jumped in. She went through them, as expected.

"Hmmmm…. " Mariya held her chin. "The distance between the Earth and the Alpha Lyrae and Alpha Aquila are 25 and 16 light-years respectively. This means it would take 25 years and

16years to send a message from Earth to those stars."

"What's that have to do with the wishes?" Mizuho felt more pressure from Mariya's explanation. "An is it rally taking that long just to grand wishes?" he thought.

""So this would equal the time required for a god to receive our wishes, right? We would have to

wait for that long in order to get our wishes granted. So write down what you would wish for in

25 or 16 years' time! Writing wishes like 'I wish to have a hunk of a boyfriend by next Christmas!' is not going to work, because the wish won't be granted on time! We'll be old maids by then!"

Kana, Yukari and Ichiko looked amazed with her speech, but for Mizuho….

"Chotto! If it takes twenty-odd years for the wish to reach there, wouldn't it take just as long for

it to come back? Doesn't that mean we have to wait 50years and 32 years respectively for our wishes to come true instead?"

"Well…. they're gods. Of course they're going to come up with something in order to help us. Maybe they can just use their superhuman powers, like moving as fast as the speed of light, or the bullet train, and then come down here faster and grant our wishes." Mariya replied.

"Did she really know what she's saying now?" Mizuho thought of it for that moment. He knew Mariya was making up part of that. But the other girls didn't seem to realized they were being fooled at the same time.

" "Now, does everyone understand what I'm saying? There are two types of tanzakus, one for the

Alpha Lyrae, and the other for Alpha Aquilae. So please write down what you would wish for in

25 years and 16 years' time."

"That's utterly ridiculous. Trying to pray for two wishes to be granted at the same time is just too

shameless. Besides, there's no way we would know what we'll be doing in 25 years or 16 years' time. How should we know what wishes we'll have by then now? The best one could do is wish that their retirement scheme or investment funds don't go wrong and are working properly by then, I guess." thought Mizuho.

But he noticed Kana, Yukari and Ichiko were all geared up to write their wishes.

"If Orihime and Hikoboshi were to hear such wishes, I'm sure they'll suffer headaches. They can

only meet each other once every year, and yet they're being asked to grant such silly wishes." Mizuho acted like he was the one already having a headache.

"In fact, I already got the first wishes written out, by Sion-sama." she held out the tanzakus written by Sion earlier that day.

"I wish I can have a better health."

"Let Mizuho-san be the best Elder this academy ever had."

"Gulp!" Mizuho blushed when he saw it. The rest just laughed out at him.

"So let's write ours at once. Before the fes ends, we hafta quickly hang our wishes out.

They started writing their wishes one by one. It took quite some time too.

Mariya hummed and began writing; Yukari sat still and stared at the tanzaku for a moment; while Kana had the troubled expression of encountering something harder than a difficult math problem.

" Do you girls really need to think so seriously for such a matter? Wouldn't it be easier to just take it easy and write what ever you like? After all, this is till a celebration, in the end."

"Done." Mizuho finished his one.

"I want to finish this year with peace and harmony."

"I wish all the best for everyone."

"That's a great one, Mizuho onee-sama." Ichiko looked at them.

"Yeah, I guess."

"So ,can onee-sama help me with mine now?"

"Oh, sure. I guess I'll be the one writing out your wishes." he reached out for the tanzakus meant for Ichiko. Of course, how could a ghost write her own dead wishes on them?"

"Iiieeehhhhh?" Mizuho exclaimed when he realized what wishes he had wrote out for Ichiko.

"I wish I can be with Mizuho oneesama forever."

"I want to become Mizuho oneesama's bride."

"He he, I made it out as a wish." Ichiko covered her blushing cheeks

"Huh." Mizuho felt the heavy pressure again.

"Done!" the rest of them were done as well.

Kana's wishes….

"I wish my cooking would improve"

" I wish I can be taller like Mizuho oneesama."

"Ha, ha." Mizuho was feeling it again, being everyone's attention there, even on the tanzakus.

Yukari's wishes…..

"I want to be the best runner out there."

"I wish I can be as good as Mizuho oneesama."

"Nyah." Mizuho rubbed his hair in a stressful manner.

"Done!" Mariya placed hers on the table.

"I hope Takako will lose to me forever!"

"I wish I can have a boyfriend as fast as I can outside there!"

"What the…..?" Mizuho stared at it.

"Now then, everyone, make sure you remember the wishes that you've written down! The first

key period would be sixteen years from now. Let's have a race to see whose wish the Alpha

Aquilae would grant first!"

Mariya hung everyone's tanzakus on the bamboo shoot one by one, then stuck the long bamboo shoot out of the window and then put it in a firm position. It was full of what a mischievous girl would write on a tanzaku, especially seeking for love when studying at an all girls school. It would have been fine if it were meant as a joke, yet Mariya looked so dead serious when she hung her tanzakus on the bamboo leaf . Once she was done, she then pulled a chair besides the window and sat on it. She placed her elbow on the window frame and looked up at the evening sky. The side of her face looked a little bit melancholic, as though not knowing what to do next. She was the sort of person whose mood swings very rapidly, and she was yelling so excitedly a while ago, but once the event was over….

Mizuho looked outside as well, gazing at the setting sun at the other far end of the horizon. Ichiko was all excited, got too erotic about her wishes. Kana looked like she was praying for her wishes to be granted quickly. Yukari went back to get her books. As Mizuho tried to get back to himself, remembering about the chores he need to complete at the kitchen…

"...16 years huh? That's a really long time." He heard Mariya muttering under her breath behind him.

"Mariya…." Mizuho looked a little worried for her. After all the excitement died down, she was as normal as she was again. Thought Mizuho hoped she would be more happy then her usual days. He knew she was developing some stress within her as well, for being further apart, since he was being elected as Elder, all under the identity of a girl. Despite having Sion around when in school, there was still some pressure around them…