Ef – A tale of Memories
Chapter 1 – Encounter
I've always thought that there would be an occurrence that would make me special. That one day when I would find a talent. Since a long time ago, I would see myself as the outstanding knight protecting the princess from calamities. Of course, that sounds absurd, such things don't exist in the real world and even if it did, I was much too old to be thinking about such childish thoughts.
This was my favourite place: a quiet and abandoned place. A perfect place for reading. An abandoned railroad site where no trains would pass, but that day stood a girl. From the first gaze I had on her, she resembled an angel, for it would seem that wings were spreading on each side of her back. I was stunned by the way she turned her head and stared at me with her sparkling purple eyes.
The only thing I managed to say to her was: "No trains will pass." And of course she looked perplex. Of course… she might have known that already. Therefore, I decided to leave, waving goodbye timidly. I turned shiftily around, but I managed to get another glimpse of her face. She was smiling and giggling with her tender hand help up on her lips.
That was the first time we met. That was… our chance meeting of less than 45 seconds.
After gathering my things, I walked towards the abandoned railway. I used to pass by there every day around 3 o'clock after school. Today, I found the same girl from yesterday sitting on the bench, looking at the sky. It would have seemed as she was waiting for something to happen, but would not know what she was so avidly waiting. In her lap, was laying a pink diary, halfway opened.
I walked closer to her and for the second time, started talking to her:
"Hey." Was the only thing that came in mind up until now. I was avoiding her gaze. For some reason I was uneasy being besides her. She closed her diary and turned to face me. My hand automatically straightened for my cheek, in sign of timidity.
As her lips opened, I could feel the sound of my heart pound like a train. That encounter that lasted only forty-five seconds could finally reach of that of eternity. That was what I hoped for. "Can I ask you something weird?" was the sentence that broke off my intense staring on her. "Are you the same person from yesterday?" She finished off with her voice fading away like the wave crashing against the water and fading away as it retreated home. "Yes" I simply said, hesitating at the tip of the "y". "Do you come here often?" Looking away, her hair waved in the breeze, flowers as well swirled and waved in all direction. She was like an angel. And then again, I saw those wings come across her back and spread on each side. She was so breathtaking.
I looked around. The smell of wood from the rail tracks, the long green grass in between the flowers mixed to that grass was so pleasant. And of course, I would never forget how quiet this place is. "It's a nice place… And especially for reading." I said, my gaze running around wild around the place.
For a moment, she just stood there. I thought that I have said something wrong, but what could I have possibly said? Then taking away my anxiety, she said: "Chihiro." "My name is Chihiro." She continued. "Shindou Chihiro."
"Mine is Asou Renji." I said, "See you tomorrow." And I turned away waving.
And Chihiro waved good-bye. She opened the diary that rested on her lap and wrote.
At the end of class, next day, 'future career survey forms' were handed out to every student in class. A future career that is tangible and not the dreams you imagined as little child. I wanted to become the fierce knight that would protect the princess from misfortune. Now was my chance to write in the career survey form, but it's too late to become one now. I wonder what I should do.
Wanting to hear an opinion from an adult, I packed my books in my school bag and left for the church of Otowa. Arriving there, a man sat on the statue of a crying angel praying to the God. He seemed thoughtful: arms crossed on the back of his head and eyes gazing far away from this world, waiting for something or someone to show up, but never had.
I approached him slowly and told him about the 'future career survey forms'. "I thought Himura-san might give me some advice, since you are an adult. You must be thinking things from a different perspective." I said waiting avidly for answers. "Sorry, Renji, but I am not a priest."
"But you always are here, so it isn't much of a surprise that people start consulting you."
"I am just waiting for someone."
"A promise or something?"
Avoiding the question, Himura-san sighed. "Do you like something?"
"I like novels and reading, I guess."
"Than just go with that. You can go into a liberal art university and publish books or write your own."
And with that he lifted his index and pointed the open door. "End of advice" he said. "That was an adult's opinion."
And with that Renji turned around and walked through the door. He remembered about the promise he made to Chihiro and went to the abandoned railroad site. There he found her sitting on the bench as usual with her pink diary resting on her lap, a pencil in her right hand.
"Hey" Renji said unable to get his eyes off her. She was so beautiful, he thought. "Did I disturb you?" Renji said, automatically bringing his index on his cheek and turning his face to the side, watching her with deviated eyes.
"No" She said, and closed her diary with a small noise. "Um… Can I ask you something weird? Are you the same person from yesterday?"
"Y-yeah" Renji said not knowing why she would ask such a thing. "Since the last time we met, you are always here before me."
"That because I don't go to school." She said, dropping her gaze on the floor and hardening her grip on the diary. Seeing the Renji's concerned face she took a few steps toward him and apologized. "Since you were here first, I think my being here might bother you. So if you don't mind, I'll be leaving now."
"You aren't a bother at all. I enjoy having your company." He said gesturing with his hands, afraid of never seeing her face again. Both of them stood silent as they stared at each other in amazement and burst in laugh. Renji turned around meaning to leave, but Chihiro spoke and so he turned back to face her. "Can I come here again?" She asked. "Of course." And so the hands that wear crossed and held on her chest fell on each side of her body as sign of relief. "See you later then." Renji said waving a hand, his cheeks starting to have a pinkish color on them. "See you later." She replied and as he turned back to walk home, she watched him leave, hardening her grasp on the diary while a gentle wind came to caress her.