Chapter 2: Encounter
Three months have passed since Kahoko's wedding and Ryoutarou had already adapted to his new life in Tokyo. Once he was all dressed and ready to start the day, he grabbed his keys, took one last look at his apartment and locked the door. This was Ryoutarou's favourite part of his day, walking to work. His apartment complex was set on a hill and surrounding it were the most beautiful cherry blossom trees he had ever set his eyes upon. This scenery was the deciding factor for him to live in this neighborhood. An additional plus point was that it was also close to his workplace which happens to be a prestigious music school, Etude, known for being the best at producing professional classical musicians.
As he was reaching the school compound, students started giving him their morning greetings as they passed him. Ryoutarou himself would never have guessed that he would end up pursuing a career in teaching but he also wasn't all that ready to perform yet. Though he wanted to, it reminded him too much of Kahoko and it made playing the piano on stage a painful experience for him.
Classes at Etude were run quite differently and all classes were tailored only for individuals. There were no such thing as a group class or so the principal always said. As he was about to enter the practice room where he was to teach for the day, he heard a familiar tune, it was a song he knew only all too well and by instinct he froze.
'This is Chopin's Tristesse, the first song I ever played with Kaho. It sure brings back memories.' As the song played on, he was reminded of the first time he laid eyes on Kahoko, the way her hair smelled, the many times she gave a cheeky smile, her serious side and as the song was ending, he remembered how they bid farewell.
'Guess I am far from being over her huh?' He was brought back to reality when the practice room door swung open and there he laid his eyes upon a very angry student.
"Are you just going to stand there all frozen up or are you going to come in and teach?" Ryoutarou couldn't move, he found it hard to believe that a girl her age could play that song with such emotion as if she herself had to say farewell to someone dear as well. The student wasn't about to waste any more time and took his hand and dragged him in the room.
"Tsuchiura Sensei, please wake up! I wouldn't have you wasting any more of my precious lesson time blanking out!" As she was about to give him a wake up slap to prove her point, Ryoutarou caught her hand and started laughing. It was refreshing to have someone get angry with him instead of constantly feeling sorry for him.
"What is SO FUNNY?" Seeing as his student was already fuming in anger, he continued to gather his composure. She swiftly removed her hand from his grasp and said, "All the other female students might be smitten with you but not me, I take my music seriously and I appreciate it that you do too with my career."
"My apologies, Miss…" Ryoutarou took a quick look at his schedule and continued to address her, "Miss Higurashi Setsuna." Seeing that Ryoutarou was ready for their lesson, she was appeased enough to let her anger go, "That's right. I hope this will be the start of a good year with you too". Ryoutarou took a double take and realized that he had been assigned this year's honor student. At Etude, only one honor student is accepted per year and what usually takes them three years of lessons, an honor student is allowed only a year to complete their entire curriculum before debuting as a professional under the school's associated music label. This also meant that she would be Ryoutarou's only student for the entire year.
"No wonder you are this year's honor student, no student could have played Tristesse quite so well."
She blushed at the compliment and with a sad face said, "You must have experienced a sad farewell as well. It is my personal belief that this song is not only about farewells. I believe it helps us remember the good times we had and to move forward in life making memories as happy as those we remember. " As she smiled and walked over to the piano to start her lesson, little did she know that she had already peaked his interest in her.
'This seems like it will be an interesting year.' Ryoutarou thought to himself as he started the day's curriculum.