"I promise, we will meet again," Haku had told her before she left the Spirit World. And here she was, still in the Human World. She was finally in high school, finishing her eleventh year. Chihiro just turned sixteen last week, celebrating it with her aunt and brother. Even though her mother and father called to wish her a happy birthday, it wasn't the same as being with her. Her parents were off on a business trip, leaving her to care for her younger brother, Akira.
Snapping back to her senses, she realized the wooden sword was coming down to her head. Bringing her wooden sword up, she blocked it, finding a weak spot. Swiftly running behind the swordsman, she lightly kicked the back of his leg. He fell with a grunt, dropping his stick. Smiling in another victory, she took her mask off. Her friends and classmates applauded. "Excellent," their teacher complimented, helping the fallen boy up. "We'll work on stance next time." He nodded at Chihiro, who bowed to her opponent before leaving to the locker room. She wore her green sweater and gray shorts, stuffing her school uniform into her sports bag. Putting her katana bag over her shoulder, she closed her locker and walked over to the sinks.
As she washed her hands, she carefully looked at her appearance: ruffled brown curls that reached down to her elbows, and chocolate brown eyes that sparkled in the light. Smiling, she opened the door to find her two friends waiting. "You took your time," one of them frowned. She restlessly brushed her short orange hair with her fingers. Ignoring her remark, the other girl cheered, "Another win for Chihiro! As expected of the best student in the school!" The teenager smiled. "Thanks, Yui." The girls left the dojo, following the sidewalk.
The sun shined brightly, along with the wind cooling them down from the heat. Chihiro wiped the sweat from her forehead, relaxed that the mask was still not on her face. Spotting the blue sky and fluffy white clouds, it reminded her of the dragon form of Haku. Her friends tried to catch her attention, but she was in her own world until Kaori tapped her shoulder. "Huh? What?" she asked, clueless as to what they had said. She had realized the group of girls passed by many stores, admiring the books, food, and much more that satisfied their interests.
"I said, why don't we go to the bakery to celebrate?" Yui suggested, pointing at the bakery. "Geez, Chihiro, you do that way too much. Don't tell me you're thinking about that boy in class?" The other girl nodded in agreement. Remembering the confession before school ended, she shook her head, trying not to blush. "Of course not!" she protested. "Besides, it's not about that…" Chihiro and her friends reached the bakery, turning down their invitation. "Sorry guys, I have to pick up Akira from school. My aunt won't be coming home until midnight." Her friends sighed in disappointment. "Well, there's always next time, right Kaori?" The girl nodded. As she crossed the street, she waved to Yui and Kaori. "See you later!" she said, making it to the other side of the sidewalk.
Having time to think to herself, she thought of the spirit. His emerald green eyes made the ends of her hair spike up. Remembering the words he had spoken before she departed the other world, her eyes dimmed. Will there be any hope in returning to you, Haku? She pondered, looking up at the sky. The sound of a bell alarmed her. Instinctively, she reached for her katana. Realizing it was the school bell, she sighed. Waiting by the entrance of her brother's school, she searched through the small faces of elementary children. Finally catching the sight of Akira, she waved to grab his attention. He was talking to his friends until he found his older sister. Waving to them and rushing towards Chihiro, he smiled. "I'm ready when you are," he said. She smiled, ruffling his brown hair. Walking away from the school, he told her about what his class had done. "I got the highest score in my class today," he finished. "That's great," Chihiro replied, only hearing half of what he had told her.
Spotting the tall trees of the nearby forest, Akira tugged on her sleeve. "What is it now?" she turned to him. His brown eyes shined in excitement. "Can we go today?" he begged. "Can we go to the forest? Please? Aunt Yuzuki won't be home until midnight!" Her brother gave her the puppy face, making her agree to his request. "Yes!" he cheered, running closer to the forest. "Hey, wait up!" Chihiro sighed, following after him. Passing many trees, they finally reached a small bridge. The river below it slowly rippled down to the lake ahead, sparkling bright blue from the sun. Akira dropped his bag the bridge, running towards the water.
"Don't fall into the water like last time," Chihiro warned with a smile. Akira flashed a grumpy look, and sat by the water. Noticing tiny fish swim by, he dipped his hand in, feeling the cold liquid touch his warm, small hand. "Sis, do you see the fish here?" he asked, looking around for more fish. Chihiro laughed, setting her sports bag beside his school bag. She kept her katana with her in case anything would happen to her sibling. "Yeah," she replied, sitting next to him. Birds chirped and water splashed down the small river, breaking the silence in the peaceful forest. Chihiro caught the sight of a small rabbit, which nibbled the grass until it heard a twig crack. It ran away back into the forest, its strong hind legs making its escape.
The teenager plucked a purple flower from the ground, admiring the delicate purple petals. Plucking them one by one, she heard her brother laugh with joy. "Hey, sis," Akira said, wiping his wet hands into the grass. "Can you tell me about him again?" She looked up from her flower. "About your friend," he explained. "From the Spirit World." Setting the flower down, she sighed, reminiscing about the memories she had with the young spirit. "Well," she started.