Chapter One
An Unwanted Question

"You really like the water, don't you?"

"It holds a lot of memories for me," she admitted with a sigh. Her toes dug into the sand as her hands clutched into fists, calmly watching the soft swoon of waves.

With a chuckle, he sat next to her and took her hand. "Wouldn't you rather go to an ocean, with a beach?" He asked innocently, attempting to make eye contact.

"No," she whispered without breaking her gaze on the river. "I don't really like the beach," she closed her eyes and laughed gently. "Besides, rivers are sweeter."

Not wanting to ask what she meant, he leaned over and caressed her cheek with his lips. She grinned, turning her head to meet them with her own pair.

"I love you, Chihiro," he murmured into her ear.

Her heart hesitated and her breath caught momentarily. "I love you, too, Arashi," she managed to mutter in response.

"Come here," he was quickly on his feet, pulling her up with both of his hands. She stood in front of him, hand in hand, a confused look upon her brow. He smiled and stole a kiss before setting down on one knee. Her heart pounded frustratingly in her chest as one of his hands swept into his pocket, pulling out a small blue-colored box, which he presented before her. "Chihiro…"

No.

"Would you marry me?"

No, no, no.

She searched his eyes for some sort of an answer, yet all she could see was a growing panic as her response continued to drag out. Then, in an instant, her face lit up in a joyous smile, and her body jerked forward, causing her to fall onto him in an embrace.

"Of course! Of course I'll marry you, Arashi!" She yelped into his shoulder as her grip on him tightened. She could feel a sense of relief wash over his body as she separated from him and plucked the silver ring from the box and shoved it onto her finger.

He said something that she didn't catch, as the shine of the ring blinded her ability to comprehend her surroundings. The ring wasn't resting gently upon her finger.

It'd fallen into the river, just as she had when she leapt for it.

Chihiro!

Chihiro!

A rush of water swept her further from the glisten of the small object, though she desperately reached for it. She could hardly hold her breath and consciousness slipped away as quickly as the ring did.

I remember you falling into the river, and I remember your little pink shoe.


"Chihiro, wake up."

She forced her burning eyes open, only to meet the teary silver pair of her fiancée's eyes. She stared at him silently as his lips crept into a panicky smile.

"I-I thought you were gone…" his voice cracked into a sob, and she could feel her hand grasped between both of his. "The river was taking you, you were gone for sure," he muttered behind cries and choked on tears. "But one miraculous wave pushed you to shore."

"The ring?" She gasped for breath.

"That, too… It survived somehow," his smile strengthened. "It was marvelous, and I'm so glad you're safe."

Weakly, she lifted her left hand and saw the ring clutching to her finger like it belonged there. Somehow a sense of worry swept over her body as her eyes shifted back to her husband-to-be. She forced a smile as he leaned over and graced her lips with a simple kiss.

Don't be afraid, I just wanna help you.

"Do you know about the Kohaku River?" She asked suddenly, breaking the wondrous atmosphere that'd developed.

"No, why are you asking?" His expression spoke of becoming discombobulated.

"I almost drowned in it when I was little," she grinned and watched the sky. Clouds formed flowery shapes around the shine of the sun.

"You're safe now," he muttered hesitantly. "Don't think about bad memories."


Sitting in the bed of her quaint bedroom, she turned the ring over and over on her finger. When he pushed open the door, her body jerked but she had to smile.

"Something wrong, Chihiro?" He asked and kissed her forehead once he reached her bedside. He brushed some of her hair from her face casually with his fingers, being careful with her after the previous incident.

"I can't," her voice quivered and immediately her hands covered her face. "I can't, I can't."

"What can't you do? You can do anything," he pulled her hands away and kissed her forehead again. "I believe in you."

"I can't marry you, Arashi," she wept, her tears drenching her skirt.

"Ah."

The last thing she could hear was the door close, and she could only feel the emptiness on her finger.