“Wait, let me get this straight.” Ayano blinked, “You want me to work at this restaurant and now you’re telling me that the owner of this place… is your mom?!”
I nodded and simultaneously took a deep breath with Ayano as we stood before the entrance.
I couldn’t think of any other way to keep her close. When she had asked me to become her tutor, it was a given that she would need to do something for me in return. At that moment I had remembered that mom was looking for an extra part-time worker. The ideas all just seemed to click in place, but now I wasn’t too sure.
“Well this shouldn’t be too bad, right? As long as you’re willing to help me, I’m happy to work here!” Ayano smiled optimistically and pushed the door open.
I quickly pulled her back outside, “Whatever you do… don’t ever lie to my mom. She’ll make you regret it.”
Ayano looked surprised and nodded her head, “O-okay…”
As soon as she walked into the restaurant, I ripped the poster that advertised the job vacancy off the window and followed her whilst scrunching it up in my hand.
I froze on the spot.
Ayano was trying to reach my mom in the midst of a crowd of violent girls. It almost looked like she was being thrown from one side to another.
“Oh my god he’s here!!” One of the girls yelled out over the other voices, suddenly turning all of their attention towards me. I grunted in irritation.
I didn’t realise that making Ayano get the job would be a hurdle in itself.
Mom waved at me energetically from the front of the restaurant, unable to move forwards. And Ayano…had disappeared. I assumed she had been engulfed by the herd of girls.
They shuffled closer to me, but as expected none of them had the nerve to get too close. The girls in my neighbourhood were different to the ones at school. These girls were used to gangsters and violence; hence it seemed like the fiercest guys were the most attractive ones to them.
They moved aside as I walked towards mom and I almost stumbled over Ayano if I hadn’t seen her crawling in front of my feet.
I waited for her to stand up again. She patted the dust off her clothes and glared at me, not looking too amused.
I cleared my throat and walked past her, “Mom, I need to talk to you for a minute.”
Mom blinked and followed me into the staff area, “What is it, Taro? I’m having a little bit of a tough time choosing one of those girls for the job.” She sighed.
“About that…” I looked away, feeling awkward, “The girl with wavy brown hair. The one wearing a school uniform… choose her.”
Mom stared at me in bewilderment as I walked out of the staff area again. I knew she was going to be suspicious but I had no choice. Suddenly she dashed out of the room in search of Ayano.
“YOU! Girl in the uniform!!” Mom yelled out loud as she pointed at her, making her jerk in fright.
“It’s you…” Mom gasped as she recognised her.
Ayano laughed nervously in confusion, “Okay maybe its better if I leave, this isn’t working out after all.” She tried to hurry out of the restaurant.
“YOU GET THE JOB!” Mom shouted out loud, silencing the rest of the girls.
Ayano turned around in shock, “What?”
“I said you’re getting the job, “Mom folded her hands with a smug grin, “…Due to a certain recommendation.”
“No way… Why is it HER?! Who recommended her?” Some of the girls whispered as they turned to look at me. I was hoping they’d leave soon, but they lingered around even after that. So I decided to leave Ayano to mom and went upstairs to my room. Although mom was in several ways a danger for Ayano herself, there weren’t many who would dare to touch Ayano without her consent.
I had fallen asleep on my bed. By the time I woke up, a few hours had already past.
“She’s probably already left…” I thought out loud as I walked down the stairs again. Mom approached me straight away with a wide grin.
“I really like that girl!” was the first thing she said, “Where’d you find her? Who is she? What is she to you? Don’t tell me… are you two already together?!” She gasped.
“No.” I answered and tried to see if Ayano was still around.
“If you’re looking for her, she’s already gone.” Mom grinned, “But she left something for you.”
She waved a little white note in front of me.
“What is it?”
“An address… must be hers’! So you’ve already gotten that far in the relationship?” Mom tried to meddle into it again, “Hmm…but it says six pm on it too. Are you meeting her tonight? Don’t try to do anything reckless! She looks so innocent, you beast!”
“I already said it’s not like that, “I snatched the note out of her hands and walked out of the restaurant. I had totally forgotten about the tutoring.
I checked my watch and realised I had twenty minutes to get to her place. But I made it five minutes early with my motorbike. Of course it was still illegal for me to ride it, but for people from my area it was no big deal to do things like this. As long as you knew how to get away with it, you’d be fine.
“So she lives in an apartment…” I thought to myself as I entered the building and went up a few floors with the elevator. She lived on the eleventh floor and I couldn’t be bothered to walk up the staircase.
I rang the door bell as soon as I reached it, but there was no response other than some loud crashing noises.
Suddenly, the door opened and a familiar face poked around it, “Oh, hello!” She laughed nervously.
I frowned upon seeing our class president. I had forgotten her name again, but all that mattered was that she wasn’t Ayano. Her glasses were almost about to fall off her face and she was holding a broomstick in her hands.
“I got the wrong place.” I said and turned to walk away.
“No wait! You’re here for Ayano, right?” She called out.
I stopped and turned around, “Yeah, do you know where I can find her?”
“Here,” She opened the door a little wider and pointed inside, “We live together.”
“Oh…” I responded, slightly startled, but I followed her into their living room anyway.
It was a chaos inside.
“Sorry, it’s a bit of a mess.” The class president scratched her head as she looked around the room, “We’ve been trying to catch this sneaky mouse for the past three days! Ayano can’t handle mice.”
“It’s there!!” I heard Ayano shout, standing on top of a table. She was pointing towards my foot.
A small grey mouse was calmly sitting beside my foot and squeaked, before running off into what looked like the kitchen.
The class president ran after it, leaving me and Ayano by ourselves.
“You do remember that you asked me to tutor you right?” I asked, slightly in doubt.
“YES! I do! Sorry, I’ll um… Is it okay if I study on here?” She asked.
She sighed, “Okay… Wait for me in that room! I’ll go and get my books.” She pointed to the room on my left,” If I don’t get back within five minutes…please come and look for me. “She said before cautiously climbing off the table and running off somewhere else.
I heard something crash and shatter in the kitchen.
I rubbed the side of my head with my fingers as I tried to repel the headache that I could feel coming and wondered if it was going to be as noisy as this every day. I walked into the room that Ayano had pointed towards and realised that it was her own room as soon as I saw her framed photographs all over the wall. Some of them were taken with her friends but most of them seemed to be family pictures.
One little framed photo that was stood up on her desk caught my attention. I walked towards it and picked it up to take a closer a look.
My eyes widened as I stared at the photo in shock. The photo seemed to have been taken when she was in middle school. She was smiling brightly next to a guy with coal black hair and eyes.
There was no doubt about it…
The guy standing next to her in the photo was Akira.