(This is the last "official" chapter, there will be one more to explain the aftermath I think. This one was really fun to write)
Days passed without contact. I didn't call her, she didn't call me, and we didn't go to each other's houses. I thought about her a lot, but less frequently as the days went on. I knew it was time to start moving on so that when the actual break up hit I wouldn't be too messed up.
I spent the time working hard in class, which had started again, working hard to see my name on the top 50 bulletin board after midterms.
But, as it did at any time in my life, the time of peace ended very quickly.
I was leaving school for the day when my phone started ringing. It was the generic phone ring rather than an Omibozu ringtone, so I knew it wasn't Koizumi. I pulled it out of my pocket and looked. Nakao.
"What's up?" I asked as I sat down on a bench.
"ATSUSHI OTANI WHAT DID YOU DO TO RISA?"
Whoa. That most definitely was not Nakao.
"Nobu, why didn't you call me from your phone?" I asked disinterestedly.
"Because Risa has been calling and texting nonstop for the past two weeks! Why haven't you called her yet?"
"I haven't called her because I don't know how to do it yet," I said with a sigh. They would find out eventually, I figured.
"Do what?" Nobu asked, suddenly a lot calmer.
"Break up with her of course."
I was holding the phone at arm's length and attracting quite a few looks from nervous by-passers when the shrieking stopped and I heard Nakao telling Nobu to calm down.
"Otani, why are you breaking up with Koizumi-chan?"
"We never see each other, and it's already just causing more stress than what it's worth to keep her around. I never know what she's doing, we don't have time to go on dates more than like once a month maybe if we're lucky, and she doesn't seem to get that I didn't want her to be alone with Kohori. I mean, after we already had such a big thing about him back in high school, she just skips off to his room for an afternoon…"
"Otani, you don't want to break up with Koizumi."
"What are you talking about? Of course I do."
"No, you don't. You're just jealous of Kohori and worried that she'll leave you. So you think it's reasonable to hurt her before she hurts you and tell yourself that you don't care. But, Otani, if you do this now and realize that you still love her later, she may very well be taken again. And we're in college now. If she gets taken, it might be for good."
My heart dropped. Koizumi with another guy, marrying him in a chapel? Blushing at him, making her ugly fish face at him, kissing him..?
"Maybe you're right," I admitted. "But there's not really any other choice. There's not a way to fix this."
There wasn't a reply. All I heard was Nobu's voice in the background, and I realized she was on the phone with Koizumi.
"It'll be okay, Risa-chan. No, I don't know where he is right now. I'm sure he'll call soon…I'm sorry, do you want me to come home tomorrow….? Are you sure….? Okay, I-Risa, it's okay, don't cry like that…"
Man, did I feel like the worst.
"Nakao, I gotta go…but do you happen to know where Koiz-where Risa is right now?"
I could almost hear his smug face when he informed me that she'd of course be at her house. I hung up the phone, grabbed my bike and headed off for the train station.
It was a street-lamp illuminated night by the time I pulled up to her house. All of the lights were off expect for what I knew to be her dining room, and her bedroom. Even if they were probably discussing how awful I was, I was glad that her family was already awake, because knowing Koizumi, she'd probably make this very loud…
I knocked on the door, and the muffled voices from inside suddenly stopped. A sort of deep voice said something and then there were footsteps. The door swung open and I was face to face with Risa's brother.
"Oh, uh…hey Takuto….kun?"
"What are you doing here?" He asked, glaring at me. I gulped. This kid had probably hit puberty recently, and he'd already been significantly taller than me.
"I'm here to see your sister, of course."
"And do what, start this crap all over again?" He asked, nodding up at the ceiling. You could very clearly hear Risa's sobs echoing around up there. I had the sudden urge to shrink back into the shadows and disappear forever.
"No….I really need to talk to her. Can I go upstairs?"
I could tell he was about to say no when Risa's mother appeared over his left shoulder.
"It's perfectly okay, why don't you go on up and I'll bring you some snacks in a little bit…"
"Oh, that's alright but thank you," I said, squeezing past Takuto and heading upstairs.
Once I got outside her room, the sobs were obnoxiously loud. Nothing she did was exactly lady-like, was it? Man.
I knocked twice and heard a watery, "Who is it?" come from inside. I opened the door and stepped inside.
"It's me," I said, eyes on the floor. I looked up just in time to see a huge pillow coming at me. It flopped in my face, and was pretty painful considering it was a pillow. Grateful that she didn't have anything heavier to throw, I walked over to her bed and handed the pillow back. Her face was wet and her eyes were red, but she wasn't the ugliest crier in the world.
I sat at her desk chair and received the daggers she was throwing with her eyes.
"What do you want?" She asked suspiciously. I silently wondered if Nobu had told her I was going to break up with her. Then I stopped and wondered if that's even what I wanted anymore. After seeing all of this, I knew for a fact that if I did I would never be able to fix it. So was not having a girlfriend to worry about worth losing Koizumi?
The long silence did nothing to appease her suspicion. "Go away," she said coldly, turning over and facing the wall. I looked at her for a moment, trying to find the words I wanted. They wouldn't come (and at such a time, too).
So I stood up and crossed the room. I could tell she thought I was leaving, because her shoulders jerked in a very painful sort of way. But I walked right up to her and draped my arm over her, kissed her cheek, and whispered in her ear.
"I'm really sorry, but I'm not leaving."
There was a silence as she absorbed what I'd just said. "Otani…" She muttered. She turned her head up, and our eyes met. "Stay with me tonight?" She asked. I nodded, and climbed onto the bed with her, wrapping my arms around her.