I had the idea for this Fanfic for ages, but I didn't know if I had what it takes to put it down with enough emotion and sublty. I'm still not sure, but I tried. I got some inspiration from my RP Blog and my RP Partners there.
They said it was haunted, that old department store at the edge of the city.
That district used to be a town, long ago, a small one, with only one such store and a Shopping District. There used to be a beautiful historic Inn there as well. But nowadays, small, quiet places like these were barely found anywhere. The country was small, space was rare. Building had to be built wherever there was room. And so small towns got swallowed up by bigger towns. And old stores had to make room for new, bigger ones.
That old department store, too, would be gone soon. It had been closed for years, with only some old leftover wares still standing in what had begun to resemble a ruin, dusty and covered in cobwebs. But just once, she wanted to see it. She wanted to know where those stories that they told about it had come from. They said that sometimes at night, you could see a boy there. Alone, walking through the aisles, humming a melody. But if you spotted him, he would notice and would run. And then, he would suddenly disappear, like he had never been there at all.
Shiyu didn't believe in ghosts. But what she did believe was that there was a reason behind every story. A 'truth', if you so will. And she was going to find out what it was. She had sworn this to herself with certainty. That's why she was here, after dark, armed with a flashlight and even a net. Waiting. The time on her clock was approaching midnight, but she remained patient. After all, this might just be her only chance. If she didn't manage to find the reason today, she might never be able to. So, she had no choice. After all, she had sworn it. The clock kept on ticking as the minutes passed. She had studied the story of the ghost-boy exactly. How his path would start in the old electronics department and how he'd slowly make his way, higher and higher through the building, until ascending to the highest floor. He would go to the roof and look down over the district with sad, unblinking eyes, only to sit down at a specific one of the tables a few minutes later and laugh a bit. And then, he would stand up and leave. Shiyu knew that the story was bound to have flaws. After all, if the ghost boy ran away as soon as you spotted him, how would anybody know of his habits in such detail? Yet, this story was all she had to go by. She stuck to it religiously when planning her moves. She had decided to wait for the 'ghost' on the part of his nightly journey he would have the hardest time trying to escape. Right on the roof, Shiyu was sitting and waiting, next to the door, surrounded by the damaged tables and chairs of what seemed to have been an outdoor restaurant or food court of sorts once. The moment he would come through, she would place herself in front of the door. And then, she would unmask the 'ghost' and put an end to this rumor. She had sworn it, after all.
But the minutes and hours just kept passing and yet, nothing would happen. Shiyu was starting to grow tired. The stars above her shone not as brightly as they should, due to the brightly lit city's night-sky, but the atmosphere was still enough to make her sleepy. When she checked her cellphone, just to occupy herself and combat the drowsiness, she realized that midnight had already come and passed. She began to doubt her decision to pursue the stories this way. Had she really made the right choice? After all, if she was found up here at this late hour, her parents would get mad. Going off a rumor alone, did she really have a chance to uncover the truth? But just as her worries began to deepen… there was a creaking sound from the door.
It was sudden and it startled her. Even though she had tried so hard to make herself ready for it, when it actually happened, she couldn't act. She only stared, when the door opened besides her. And really, despite all her disbelief, all her conviction that it couldn't be, that this so called 'ghost' had to be fake and only a small animal or a moving shadow, or anything among these lines that might people lead to believe that there was someone walking the halls of this old, crummy building at such a late time, there he was. A person. A boy. Right beside her, in front of the door. And she stared at him. And he stared at her. And neither of them moved.
He was short of built, only slightly taller than Shiyu herself. Also, he was incredibly pretty. So much, Shiyu had another reason to distrust her eyes. Rosy skin, golden blond hair, crystal blue eyes. It was an image as you would only expect it in a movie or a picture book. A manga, maybe. Not at all what one would think of when thinking of a damned soul that returned from the afterlife. He was too neat and nice-looking to be a ghost or an undead. But he was also too perfect to be real. That moment, when Shiyu was still wondering just who or what in the world she was looking at, the eyes of the golden-haired boy widened in the light of her flashlight. And then, in what appeared to be panic, he turned around. His intent to run back through the same door he had come from was clear.
Shiyu realized this with shock and snapped out of her trance.
"No, wait!" she shouted. "Please, don't go away!"
His hand was already on the doorknob. But he stopped. His back turned to her, he just stood there, not moving either himself, nor the door. Just as if he was unsure how to act. That was when Shiyu knew she had to do something. It was her one chance. If she let it pass now, it would never happen again. But what was she supposed to say? How could she speak to this boy, without making him run away? She was just a little hesitant, before she tried to speak.
"I… wanted to talk to you," she said. "Could you… come and sit down with me? Just for a little while. Please. I promised someone that I would."
The boy didn't react right away. Only after her words had echoed out and the roof had returned to its perfect silence aside from the noise of the city beneath, the boy slowly started to turn. There was fear in his eyes when he was facing her again. And he didn't quite seem like he dared to look at her face.
And then, he spoke.
"…What… is your name?" he asked in a quiet, subdued voice. His intonation was odd. It sounded almost as if he hadn't spoken proper words in a long time…
"Shiyu," she replied, looking at him. She didn't know whether to try and look respectful or to smile.
"Shiyu-chan…" the boy said and he seemed to be feeling a bit more comfortable. "That's a really pretty name."
"T-Thank you…" she sounded a little surprised. She hadn't expected the compliment. Her name wasn't usually one of the traits she was praised for. It was neither a very rare, nor a very common name.
"It's… only fitting," The boy raised his head a bit… and slowly started to smile softly. "You're… very pretty yourself, after all."
Shiyu wasn't sure how to reply. Not because the compliment was coming absolutely out of nowhere. Not because she was flustered. The true reason was that. even though he was smiling now, the traces of happiness on the boy's expression were only faint. Instead, she could only see deep sadness in his eyes. And she wondered if this was maybe the same sadness that the rumor spoke of, the sad eyes he would look over the city with.
The boy took his hand off the doorknob. It looked like he had decided not to leave. Relieved, Shiyu decided to try and talk to him some more.
"Who are you?" she asked. "Why did you come here?"
Only with hesitance, the boy brought forth an answer.
"I'm… I'm me," he replied. "I liked this place, long ago. I came, because I wanted to see it. But everything looks so different now. If I went outside, I wouldn't know where to go. So, I stay here…"
"It looks different?" Shiyu asked.
The boy looked out to the scenery, "There used to be a town here. With much smaller buildings and fields and forests, that continued right into the mountains. There were so many flowers and at night, it was quiet… It was a very different place."
"Then you knew this place before it was part of the city?" Shiyu asked, finding herself a bit confused. "But that was long ago. Before I've even been born… How old are you?"
The boy was silent and didn't give an answer.
"What's your name?" she asked then.
He raised his head a tiny bit.
"I… don't think I really remember," he admitted. "I used to be called something, long ago. But no one has called me anything for so long that I forgot."
Shiyu expressed sympathy, but also shock upon hearing this. So, he had been alone that long? Long enough to forget his own name? But how was this possible? She didn't understand. Could it really be…?
"Are you… a ghost?" Shiyu found herself asking.
The boy looked at her in surprised for just a moment. Then, he shook his head.
Shiyu felt relieved, "Then… you are human. Right?"
Contrary to her expectations, however, the boy didn't immediately nod. Instead, his hesitance from before returned. His eyes downcast, he said nothing for a moment. And then he proceeded to, once again, shake his head.
Shiyu felt as if a cold shower was raining down her back and she shivered. She had come here to find reasons… so how come that all she found only caused her to grow more and more confused? She bit her lip, feeling uncomfortable in her skin. Yet, she knew she wanted to stay. She wanted to talk more with that boy. He seemed kind and he seemed harmless. But most of all, he seemed lonely. If maybe she could take a bit away of that, she thought, that could be considered a good deed. She wanted to help. Regardless of how unsettling his all was. She offered the boy her hand. Though he hesitated again, he ended up taking it. Leading him to one of the tables and seating him beside herself, Shiyu continued to ask the boy questions, just when he was about to cast his gaze over the nightly city again.
"So… You have been coming here a lot, haven't you?"
He turned to her and nodded, "Yes, because I was hoping to meet someone."
"You wanted to meet someone?" Shiyu was curious. "But then, why did you run away every time someone saw you?"
The boy looked away.
"Because it was never one of them."
"…The path was closed for a long, long time. When I could go through again, I didn't know how much time had passed. But I know that people change as time passes. If anyone other than them saw me like this and recognized me, then they would get scared, because I didn't change at all," was his explanation. "That's why I tried to avoid them… I don't want people to be afraid of me."
Shiyu didn't understand all of what the boy had said, but she understood one thing,
"You got people thinking you were a ghost haunting this place," she said. "A lot of people don't want to come here anymore because they think it's cursed."
"I'm sorry…" the boy replied, shrinking away. "I didn't mean for that to happen."
"What kind of 'path' are you talking about anyway?" she asked, as if to redirect the topic a bit. "Is there a secret passageway of some sorts here?"
The sat up on his seat,
"It's the passageway between this side and my side," he replied. "Long ago, it was easy to go through. But one day, when I went to that side, it closed behind me and wouldn't open anymore, no matter where I tried. I hoped that someone would come and find me, but… no one ever came through…"
The boy fell silent at this point, his eyes looking straight at his own lap. Shiyu didn't know what to say. And even though she still didn't fully understand what the boy could mean, she believed that even if she did, she wouldn't be able to grasp how he really felt.
"But… I kept hoping and hoping to come back here again," he finally continued. "And then, all of a sudden, this path opened. Just this one. It's the only way to get from there to here or from here to there now. And I thought if I went through, I could see everyone again… but…"
"You know… I think that time you talk of was really very long ago," Shiyu said. "This district hasn't been its own town for a long while, but… this department store has been closed for even longer. I don't even know what it used to be called."
Hearing this, the boy looked only more disheartened. His arms resting in his lap, he sat bent over, his head lowered a lot.
"This used to be where I met with my friends…" he told the girl. "We used to work and talk and eat and have fun here."
Shiyu sat a bit closer to the boy.
"Do you remember your friends well?"
"Better than I remember myself," he nodded "…I miss them."
As Shiyu did, the boy also moved closer to her, as if to be nearer to her warmth. It was a cold fall night, but they boy wore only a shirt, while Shiyu had a jacket and a scarf. Realizing that he must be freezing, she took off her scarf and gave it to the boy. He wrapped it around himself and smiled,
"Shiyu-chan, you are so kind. Thank you. …Won't you be cold, though?"
She shook her head,
"I still have my jacket, don't worry. I will be fine."
Just when she had finished saying that, the boy had started to lean his head onto her shoulder.
"Are you tired?" she asked. "Do you want to sleep?"
The boy shook his head, still leaning on her,
"It's just… been so long that anyone has been nice to me… Can I stay close to you for a bit?"
Shiyu was flustered and unsure how to respond to this question. Though the boy looked about her own age, if not a bit younger, in the way he expressed himself, he seemed far more childlike and innocent. Or did it only seem so because of how intimidated and sad he was? She wasn't sure how well he really understood what getting this close could mean for people. After all, they were basically strangers. But the loneliness his every word reflected just broke her heart and she couldn't bring herself to ask him to back off. So she gave a sweet smile.
"Of course," she said. "You can stay like that for a little while, if you want."
Seemingly happy to hear this, he cuddled just a little closer and continued to rest his head on her shoulder, silently just breathing in and out and closing his eyes. Shiyu let him be that way, still many questions on her mind, but content with giving the boy a bit of much needed warmth for now. He really felt cold… As if he hadn't been in a warm place for a long time. The minutes passed and Shiyu looked up to the sky, waiting for what would happen. It was long past midnight now. It was strange how little tired she felt, despite this fact. Maybe it was because she knew she couldn't fall asleep… Not now, not this moment. Even if the boy probably had long fallen asleep, judged by his breathing and lack of motion. But just when Shiyu was thinking this, she heard his voice,
"The stars," he whispered.
Shiyu turned her head to see that he had opened his eyes again. He was gazing at the sky.
"I think there used to be more of them here…" the boy said drowsily.
"Not really," Shiyu replied. "It's because of the city lights. They are so bright, some of the stars aren't bright enough to shine through it. That doesn't mean they're gone, though. You just can't see them here anymore. That's all."
"I can't see them anymore here…?" The boy's expression turned a bit somber. He looked away from the sky and at Shiyu instead. "I see…"
Again, he had this sad smile on his lips. Shiyu said nothing, though she wondered what must be on his mind, or how exactly he might feel at the moment.
"You know, Shiyu-chan," he said. "There is one story I remember really well… Just one."
"A story?" Shiyu asked. "What kind of story?"
"The story is about seven lost children who all needed to find something that was theirs to begin with in order to find the truth and save many people from death and delusion," he said. "And a brave, kind, wise boy who led them all on the way, not faltering once, no matter how hard it was. But they didn't just need to find what's theirs or the truth, in order to win in the end. They needed to find each other as well."
Shiyu couldn't help but feel curious when she heard this, "That sounds like a good story. Could you tell it to me?"
The boy laughed happily hearing that. He raised his head up from her shoulder and stood up from where he had been sitting, grinning down onto Shiyu.
"Aaaalright-y! Then listen closely, Shiyu-chan! What you are getting to hear now is a true, yet secret legend that has been kept dearly by only the chosen ones!"
Surprise hit Shiyu when she heard the boy's voice. He suddenly sounded so energetic and so proud that she barely recognized it from before. He seemed so much happier… Or was it something else? Regardless, when Shiyu looked into his eyes now, for the first time, she saw a smile that seemed really genuine. And this caused her, too, to feel much more spirited.
"Good," she laughed, before going on to promise. "I'll listen well."
And with that, the boy began to tell his story. Part for part, he explained it, going into great detail, about the events around these people. How they found together and bonded. Their hardships, their happy times and their long, long way to what they had really been searching. Union, separation, moments of despair and lights of hope. Failures and Successes. The boy elaborated on it all as well as he could, mimicking voices, putting great emotion into the happiest and the most dramatic moments. And Shiyu sat by his side and listened closely, taking in every single line and part of the story. She wasn't sure if it was real or made up. It sounded too fantastic to be true, but seemed to be too real to the boy to be mere fiction. She didn't know whether to consider it truth or make-believe. With time, though, she realized, it was 'truth'. That boy's truth. In a strange way that she couldn't understand, it seemed that with this boy the line between reality and fiction blurred. And, for some reason, Shiyu decided that just tonight, she could accept this. Just for this one night, she could accept that her reality might not be the only one.
And then, finally, after a long time that seemed to last less than a few minutes… The horizon began to turn red. The dawn had come.
"Ah… It's that late already?" Shiyu stood up from her seat. "I didn't mean to stay out for this long…"
"Shiyu-chan… are you leaving?"
Shiyu turned. The boy was now sitting in his seat again, though his mood had changed once more. The tone in his voice was again rather meek and submissive. There was a strangely begging gaze in his eyes.
"I have to go home," she replied. "My Mom and Dad are gonna get mad if they learn I was here… especially at night."
"Why?" the boy asked. "Aren't people supposed to be here? Is that why bearly anyone ever comes here anymore?"
Shiyu nodded, "This place is considered dangerous, because everything here is so old. That's why they're soon gonna tear it down and build something entirely new here."
"They'll tear it down?" The boy looked up, his eyes widened. "All of it…?"
Yet again, Shiyu gave a nod. "Because it wouldn't be efficient to just repair it."
"That means… it's all gonna be gone…" As the boy said that, his eyes wandered away and he slowly continued to speak. "The Electronics Department too… and the aisle with the big TVs… and the entrance. The only entrance… And when it's gone…"
He paused a moment.
"…When it's gone… I'll never be able to come here again."
Shiyu jolted when she heard that. Was that really true? Would tearing this place down mean that he… would be locked away somewhere else? Maybe forever? She still didn't fully understand what he was talking about, but still, she couldn't help but feel a heavy weight on her body and in her throat when she realized what this would mean. She looked at the boy's face, trying to catch a glimpse of his eyes, which were fixed on the ground, but she couldn't seem to bring him to look at her. Finally, she just spoke, so loudly, she was almost yelling,
"You… you don't have to go back there!" she took the boy's shoulders. "You don't have anyone in that place, do you? I can tell by the way you spoke that you don't! So why should you go back there? You could… just come with me! I'm sure, I could come up with some excuse for it to my parents! You could live here and… make a lot of friends, just like the ones in that story! You wouldn't have to walk some abandoned department-store at night just to catch a glimpse of the nightsky anymore! That would be great, wouldn't it?"
When Shiyu stopped talking, she realized that the boy was finally looking straight at her, straight into her eyes. And even though he had looked sad so many times tonight… This was the first time she saw actual tears in his eyes. As she stared at him in expectation, he looked just lost.
"That place… is my home," he whispered to Shiyu. "I can't just go away from it."
"But you'll be locked away, won't you!?" Shiyu hadn't realized herself how desperate she sounded now up to this point. "You… You can go back there just once more and gather all the stuff you'll need, OK? Tomorrow… tomorrow midnight I'll be back here to fetch you, good?"
"You have to promise you'll be there!" she begged him.
The boy didn't say anything in response to that. Instead he kept looking at her in silence, as her panicked eyes remained locked on him. And slowly, once again… he started to smile.
"You know, Shiyu-chan… I didn't tell you before, but…" the boy talked as if he was hoping that what he was saying would calm Shiyu down a bit. "…I didn't run away from you before, because… Well, the truth is, you look an awfully lot like someone I used to know."
Shiyu kept staring, waiting for the boy to at least add something else to these lines. When he didn't, she tried to relax a bit. But now it were *her* eyes that had started to wander off…
"A lot of people say I look just like my Grandma did when she was younger," Shiyu said. "They say she was really pretty…"
"Your grandmother?" the boy asked and Shiyu nodded.
"Her and Grandpa… died a while ago. When Grandma died, Grandpa was crushed. Mom and Dad thought it might help him if we moved here together with him, to live with him and take care of him, because he might feel more comfortable. He really loved the town that used to be here. But… I think moving ended up being too stressful. He didn't live for long after we came here."
Shiyu's gaze was on the floor.
"He… really wanted to see this place too, you know. The rumor about the 'ghost boy' seemed to really fascinate him. I heard about it from him first. He would joke a lot to me about us going here together at night to catch the ghost and pester it and play with it. But he never managed to come here. He was bedridden for most of the time…"
She raised her head and she felt that now, tears were in her eyes too, "He was still joking about it, the night before he died. And I was telling him to stop. I was telling him it was just a stupid story and that it wasn't funny, but he wouldn't stop. I told him I was gonna prove it, that there's nothing cursed here at all! I told him that I was gonna catch that 'ghost' and show everyone what it really is! And… and you know what he said to me…?"
The boy looked at Shiyu in expectation and just silently shook his head. She found herself sobbing before she told him the answer.
"He… he said… 'Please do. It would be great if you could do that for me'…"
Shiyu brought her sleeves to her eyes and tried to wipe the tears off. Stupid. Stupid, stupid. Why was she crying? That boy was the one who was lonely, damn it. Not her. He didn't need to hear her sob stories. He didn't need to be made to pity her. He was the one who needed help. Not her. But, just as she was trying to calm herself down…
"Shiyu-chan?" Again, the boy was saying her name. "There's… something you haven't told me yet."
"Hm?" Shiyu looked up again, having managed to wipe most of the tears out of her face, though a few of them were still glittering in the morning sun on her eyelids.
The boy's face looked strangely bemused.
"You told me that your name is 'Shiyu'," he said. "But… people usually have at least two names, right?"
He searched her face for approval of this theory, just as if he needed confirmation that he wasn't just remembering things wrong.
"Could you… maybe tell me your other name? Please. I would like to know."
Shiyu waited for a moment, not understanding why the boy wanted her full name now, all of a sudden. Then, however, she decided to respond. It was the least she could do for him,
"…Narukami," she answered. "My name is… 'Shiyu Narukami'."
And it was that moment that something happened to the boy. Yet another thing, that Shiyu could neither understand, nor explain at the time. As if a dam had broken, somewhere behind the boy's gaze, somewhere in his heart, the tears, which had only been few before, suddenly began to stream from his eyes as if they were rivers. He started shaking, in so many ways, his body shook, his voice shook, and he was also shaking his head. Finally, when it looked like he was feeling too weak to stand, he fell right into Shiyu's arms and let her hold him. And he loudly cried into her jacket…
"A-Are you alright?" Shiyu asked helplessly. She it was obvious that he wasn't, but she didn't know how to act and wanted a hint or anything like it. She hadn't meant to make him cry and she didn't grasp why it was happening. All that was on her mind was that she only wanted to find a way to cheer up that boy. But nothing came to her. She was about to try and apologize for making him sad, when she found him looking at her, still crying waterfalls,
"T-Thank you…!" she heard him say, muffled through her jacket, which he was still clinging to. "Shiyu-chan! Thank you… for finding me. Thank you for coming here and… for being with me tonight…! Thank you for… reminding me… how much fun it is…how great it feels… I… I won't forget again, I promise! I'll… I'll never forget this night, as long as I exist! I promise!"
"I promise too!" Shiyu quickly said, taking his shoulders again. "We'll remember together, OK? If you ever forget again, you can just ask me! Tomorrow… tomorrow midnight, I'll be back! And then it will all get better! It will be great, you'll see!"
The boy had stopped sobbing loudly by now, but his face was still buried in her jacket. She couldn't look at him. She wanted to raise his head, tell him again to his face, tell him that she was going to be his friend and he wouldn't have to be lonely again… But then, she heard a melody play.
"Sh…Shoot, my phone!"
She jolted, causing the boy to back off from her. Focused on nothing but the ringtone, Shiyu started to frantically dig in the bag she had brought with her. "Please, oh please don't be Mom or Dad, or…"
She found the phone. The number was her mother's. She gulped. With shaking fingers, she took the call.
What followed was less than pleasant for Shiyu. After all, she couldn't say where she was. Even less what she had been doing all night. All she could do was stutter into the receiver, making half-hearted apologies as her mother and father yelled and even cried at her from the other end of the line. She felt horrible and guilty and didn't dare defending herself. What she had done had caused her parents grief. But… it had been worth it, right? After all, it hadn't been pointless. She had reached her goal! She had found what she had been trying to find!
But… when the call ended and Shiyu turned around to apologize to the boy for the interruption… he was gone. Nowhere to be found. Perplexed, Shiyu looked around, even ran through the aisles of the department store, trying to find him. She called for him, tried to get him to respond to her, but his voice wouldn't answer. Finally, she remembered that he had been talking about an aisle in the Electronics Department and went there. But no matter what she tried and where she searched, he wasn't anywhere. She found herself starring at her own reflection in a particularly big TV set in that aisle he had mentioned, unable to make sense of it. Where had he gone? If he would never leave the Department Store, as he said, where could he have disappeared to so suddenly?
Shiyu was starting to wonder if she hadn't just fallen asleep at midnight and dreamt the whole encounter with the nameless, lonely boy, when she realized something about the mirror image before her. Her scarf. Her scarf was gone. She was sure she had come here with it. But she wasn't wearing it anymore. Instead, there was a large, wet spot on her jacket… wet of tears. Understanding just how real everything had been – not just in someone else's reality, not just her grandfather's or that boy's reality, but also her own – Shiyu put her hands over the stain on her chest and looked down. She knew she had to hurry out to the streets. Soon, her parents would be there to pick her up… She had no choice but to leave, even though she felt that leaving now would be a mistake. But it wasn't like she had a choice. She couldn't figure out this one last secret, no matter how hard she tried. Her hand on the screen of that large TV in front of her, she looked at her reflection and sighed.
"Goodbye for now…"
She didn't come the next night. Her parents had grounded her, keeping her under strict watch. She didn't dare to protest or complain. She didn't even dare to try and explain what had happened and what and who she had seen. Or to explain where her scarf had vanished to or why her eyes were red of tears.
Shiyu never met that boy again after this.
No matter how many times she tried to sneak into the old department store, she would never find him or this 'secret passageway' that he had used. She tried less and less frequently, until the day that the bulldozers came… And then, the store was gone. The aisles, the TVs, and the roof with the tables and chairs… all gone. Looking upon the new construction site there in retrospective, Shiyu realized that it didn't even really matter that she hadn't come that night to meet with him again. He wouldn't have showed up. He never did agree to the promise, after all… And as time passed, she began to understand why. Because if there is one thing worse than losing everything you had… it's gaining new things just to lose them all over again. Maybe he had just been scared. And then Shiyu couldn't help but feel guilty that she hadn't been able to take this fear from the boy. Maybe… maybe in the end, she had failed to fulfill her promise to her grandfather after all?
The more Shiyu thought about that night, the more she began to understand… about that boy, about her grandfather… and about the story she had heard. She began looking through old photo-albums of her grandparents. And she began to understand even more.
It was a slightly foggy day when she visited the graveyard and stepped to her grandfather's grave.
"Hey, Grandpa?" she started speaking, as she put a picture down by the stone. "I met your friend, you know. He…"
She paused a bit, trying to think of a good thing to say.
"I think… really liked the scarf grandma made."
This was the only time Shiyu ever mentioned her encounter with the boy of the abandoned department store to anyone. But she never forgot the story that he had told her. She would always hold it dear to her heart as a reality that she wanted to understand one day. And then, it would be great.