She's getting married.
"Oh? Didn't you hear? I'm getting married just next month," she piped joyously.
Well, that certainly did catch me off guard. And it's nearly left my mouth hanging open in surprise.
"A..ah, is that so? Well, congratulations then."
It is increasingly difficult to face her now. It feels like my firefly is slowly distancing itself from me. Such a pleasant source of warmth and light in my life, and I loved it in my presence. I still do. But soon, all this will cease to exist.
How long has it been, since we've met? We were both young then, though she was quite a lot older than I was. She was 14, and I was 7. I don't really know why, but I took naturally to her. I think it was due to her gentle demeanour. It had me drawn, like a moth to a lamp. I really, really looked up to her. I still do.
"Why don't you stop beating about the bush and tell her how you feel?" Her annoying little sister who happens to be my age. I've never gotten along with any girls my age. They were probably too immature. Or something like that.
"What? Who even said anything about-"
"You idiot! Don't try to fool me! Of course I know you've loved her, for years even!"
Again, I am taken aback. Now I finally realise the extent she's been observing me. The wrong "she", quite unfortunately. If only it had been her older sister.
"It's not what you think. I look up to her a lot, and that is probably all there is to it," I say in an attempt to escape.
"But you love her, right? If you love her, tell her!"
Oddly enough, she bursts into tears and disappears from my sight. I cannot comprehend what was going on. Honestly, I wasn't able to ever since her big sister broke the news to me. I cannot comprehend what is taking place in me, in that foolish heart of mine which simply refuses to rest.
That foolish little sister knows. She was spot on. I don't know if it's true love, a crush or sheer admiration. But I do love her. The sight of her makes my chest throb. It also makes my face turn multiple shades of red. She is perfect. I am a perfectionist. Her hair hangs sinuously on her shoulders. Her long lashes accentuate her penetrating yet gentle brown eyes. In other words, she is beautiful. And as if there is even more to it, appearances are indeed, not all there is to it. She is the embodiment of the perfect companion – she'll take good care of you, chat with you, listen to your troubles. She'll make your life a living heaven.
The next day, I meet her again. The older sister, I mean. We chat for a while. Nothing much, just reminiscing about the past and things like that. We used to play with each other a lot, having the time of our lives. I remember rushing home from school just to hang out with her.
"Hey, remember what we used to do with grass?"
"Sure I do. It was silly, but a lot of fun!"
She picks up two long pieces of grass from the river bank. And before I know it, we are doing what we used to do in the past. Childishly tugging the grass to and fro till it snaps into two. She is 24, and I am 17. I don't even pay heed to the bunch of kids who mock us for doing this at such an age. I am in bliss. I have no need to ask for more. Suddenly I remember that all this will be taken away from me in no time.
I let go of the grass abruptly. She is slightly taken aback, but recovers soon enough to simply look me in the eye and smile at me. There it goes again. My heart races. It must be that shy smile of hers. It makes you want to hug her. All I do is stare foolishly at her, my face turning multiple shades of red. There it goes again.
A few minutes later, there is nothing but silence. It is slightly awkward, but even so I like being in her presence. I like her being in my presence. I want to bask in this moment of sheer bliss forever.
But I remember I have something on my mind, and it's been bugging me all day. All week, in fact. I have to tell her. First, I have to strike conversation.
"H..hey, what's your husband-to-be like? Is he handsome? Is he good to you?"
"Well..let's just say he isn't exactly very good-looking. But he's a really nice person."
She smiles, not the same smile I know. This smile is nothing but distant. I have to bring her back. Focus her mesmerising brown eyes on me. Even if it is only for the moment. I have to say it now, before it is too late.
"Hmm? What is it?"
"..I love you." I finally got it off my chest. I smile, face turning rose-red. But there is nothing to be hidden anymore. She blushes too. She didn't smile, though. Instead, she looks at the floor. She doesn't know how to react. But it doesn't matter.
"Shizuna. I really love you. So please be happy. Can you promise me that?"
She finally smiles, the same endearing smile capable of making my heart race.
Thank you for reading till the end.