Rain Falls For Her Again


Chapter 1

It eats at me from the inside.

Thorned flowers blooming in the crevices of my chest – poking, prodding, stabbing the flesh of my organs. I can barely feel the pain. It’s more of an itch. 

The Hanahaki disease, a rare disease in which cherry blossoms flower in your chest till you suffocate if you can’t get over your unrequited crush. 

I didn’t think it was real. I didn’t think it would be me. 

I wonder how death hurts less than my feelings.   

Cherry blossoms decorate the azure sky. They waltz with the wind weaved with the breathless sighs of the student population. It’s April, when the sakura ripen and the students of Akaibara Public Highschool are forced back into their grey-blue uniforms and uniform life.

Ah, so it happened again. It has become so expected and has even blended as a part of Ame’s daily routine that he counts down to when his first round of nosebleeds would begin. It’s rare to find anyone suffering from a nosebleed in twenty degree weather, but it will always be twenty degrees too warm for Ame.

Adults say there’s a time when emotions won’t be as destructive, and Ame wouldn’t nosebleed every time he stresses over the little things. There will be a time long ahead of him when your skin wouldn’t blister when you’re angry, and your hair wouldn’t age seventy years when you’re scared. With emotions as fragile as his own, Ame would have to teach himself to survive. 

Ame’s chair screeches against the floor. No one cares to look back at Ame, who might as well be dust in the air. His homeroom teacher doesn’t need to shift her gaze from the board for her to give him the permission to leave. It’s a routine that everyone has gotten long accustomed to, including Ame. 

Ame picks up on the posters along the hallways, the therapeutic ones that give you advice on how to manage your emotions. Ame grunts cynically, turning away.

A siren blares loudly outside school, loud clattering audible from outside. A student his age is rolled out on a stroller, his skin smouldering and in tears. From the side, he hears a student bellow loudly, sounding as if he’s been tied to molten rock. Laughter follows this. A second-year on his knees, trying to cope with agonising frustration while his friends only mock. 

“—Agawa-san,” Ame halts at the door of the infirmary, bending forward over his knees and trying to catch his breath while also trying to avoid making a mess on the floor. But it isn’t the school nurse that he sees every day that’s at her station. The girl in front of Ame is a petite one, with ribboned pigtails and pink thigh-high socks of Cardicaptor Sakura, all that Japan’s teenage girls have been talking about.

Ame’s face flushes. “—I’m sorry, I’ll just leave—”

“Wait, wait, wait! You’ll be my first patient!” The girl whirls around with a squeaky voice. She reveals rose-tinted cheeks paired with gorgeous, hazel eyes and Ame can’t help but stare. Ame freezes at the doorway, and he makes the mistake of loosening his grip on his nose. His nosebleed worsens.

“Oh my god!” The so-called ‘substitute nurse’ rushes up to Ame and sits him down on a ward bed. She presses a napkin against his nose and leans him forward. 

Upon noticing the scowl on Ame’s face and almost disturbed expression, Miu takes a step back. She hangs her head low and as soon as she does, the once bright atmosphere of the room grows weary. A single drop of blood falls from her nose too. She squeaks, “I was too excited. I’m sorry, senior!” 

Ame’s first reaction is to have his ears perk at the sound of ‘senior’. He takes notice of the colour of Miu’s nametag, a light pink unlike the crimson of his own. Yomozuki Miu, a first-year student. 

Following a couple seconds of Miu trying to solve her own problem, she exclaims in her loudest voice (though it is still as soft and polite to Ame), “You need to take better care of yourself!” 

People say being around others evokes some sort of euphoria, and Ame starts to understand. 

Ame is nothing more of a loner. He’s never lonely, because his own company serves good enough for himself. He doesn’t have anyone to call a friend, but it never bothers him. He’s fine being partnered up with anyone who doesn’t have a partner of their own, or being approached by classmates who probably don’t know his name. 

In the end, Ame doesn’t need to be significant, as long as he is getting by.

Ame doesn’t exactly know what to do now that he’s with an over-enthusiastic student nurse. Is it supposed to be a normal thing to have a girl so close up to your face?

Growing nervous, Ame grips onto Miu’s arm and holds it away from his face. He’s uncomfortable by foreign touch, and he doesn’t know why. It’s common culture among students to pat each other’s back for attention or rub each other’s head out of affection. Maybe it’s because she’s a stranger. Maybe it’s because it’s a she. 

“Thank you for the help,” Ame stands abruptly. With no further explanation, he walks out and doesn’t turn back. Instead of heading immediately back to class, he presses his back against the wall at the next corner he turns and squats on the ground. He cups his hands over his mouth and mumbles, “I want to know more about her.” 

In a day and age like this, it shouldn’t be difficult to find out about someone. But Ame knows nothing more about Miu than her name and cohort, so there were no chances that he would stumble across her social media. Even if he does, would she be interested in a conversation with him? Most teenagers’ kindness extends only till the end of their duty and it’s understandable, because in a society like the one they’re forced into, you wouldn’t want to do any more than what’s required. 

If Ame had anyone he could approach, his goal would have been tons more achievable. But for him to speak about a girl, or even speak to anyone about said girl, it would take a lot of courage which he does not have. 

Ame hears a classmate scream in agony in the distance. When he turns, he finds him covered in terrible pots and boils protruding from his already scarred skin. Ame frowns. If anger hurts like hell and worry prompts nosebleeds, what would love do to you— love? Love?

Ame stands, the rough screeching of his chair against the ground snapping him out of any unwelcome daze. He walks, in no particular direction, just anywhere that would bring him anywhere but back to his mind. 

Ame’s feelings are fickle, just as the wind that he so enjoyed, and there shouldn’t have been a difficulty to forget a junior, who he’d probably never run into again. Even so, even the toughest of algebra sums and the most complicated Kanji could not get his mind off Miu. Not because he was intelligent enough to solve them, but because he needed to know if he could find her again even if the world would not allow it. 

They say, when you meet the one you love, your feelings hit deep down to your core and the moment you look at them, you know. 

Unfortunately, when a whole week goes by, Ame starts to doubt that he can do much to defy the universe. It hasn’t even been once that he catches a glimpse of her. She’s nowhere in the hallways, or in the Nurse’s office again, or in the cafeteria. Ame strolls by the first year classrooms at times, but never has the courage to stand by the window to find Miu’s class for the fear of being called out by a teacher.

Chances are they’d never run into each other again. It was nothing to be sad about, or disappointed over – things would happen as they’re supposed to.

“Hey, hey, it’s you!” Ame is stopped in the middle of the hallways as he’s trying to devour his cream bun, possibly the only other thing that could make his teen years redeemable. He turns, and instantly, his heart starts to tremor. 

“You’re the senpai who was nosebleeding!” Miu chirps innocently. Ame gulps, blinking repeatedly. That’s how she remembers me?

“Ah! It’s the cute nurse—” Ame cups his hand over his mouth, earning a giggle from Miu. Flowers begin to protrude against her hair. She makes cute victory signs with her hands and jumps into a little pose, iconic to Cardicaptor Sakura. Ame shifts his gaze away shyly. “You… You’re in any class?”

Of course she’s in a class, she studies here! But Ame can’t get his thoughts straight on time. A pretty little butterfly flutters from beneath his uniform, landing on the flowers in Miu’s hair. She shifts it onto her finger and holds it in front of Ame, wearing a bright grin. “You don’t have to be nervous around me, Nanase-senpai!” 

Miu knows his name. Even though his nametag’s right there on his shirt, his name spelt in bright letters, Ame’s mind is quick to make the situation seem bigger than it is.

“A-Ah. You’re in which class?” Ame asks nervously, expecting for her to be weirded out. He doesn’t expect how carefree and rather dense Miu really is, which he would grow to learn as time goes by. 

“The one right down the hall!” Miu smiles pointing a finger towards the end of the hall. Ame nods slowly, averting his gaze. He knows her class. Now he’d know exactly what to do, and he’d be able to see her. 

“Enjoy your cream bun, senpai, I’ll be off!” Miu taps Ame’s shoulder playfully and scampers off with a classmate. Ame watches her off as she runs towards the cafeteria. 

Maybe, just maybe, the world is taking mercy and I will finally have a friend. 

When Ame returns home that day, things don’t seem too bad. For once, he has a tiny smile as he steps through the door. It doesn’t last much longer after he closes the door behind him, but it’s definitely something. 

It’s silent, just as any other day, when he hears crockery clatter against the floor. Ame quirks his eyebrow in utter confusion. He lives alone. 

He shakes his bag off his shoulder, holding it in his hand in case there’s a burglar in his house. He creeps right on the tip of his toes, but the wooden planks beneath his feet begin to squeak and scream as if they decided to spontaneously break right at that moment. 

That’s when a grown man with gelled hair and perfectly chiselled face, clad in a formal black suit emerges from behind the wall, wielding a pan and trying to balance a bowl on his arm. Ame blinks. He blinks again. He realises. 

“Father,” Ame states as a matter-of-factly. Mr Nanase meets Ame’s gaze, wearing an uncomfortable and awkward expression. 

“Son,” he responds, a deep-throated chuckle leaving his mouth. Ame nods, dodging the man only slightly as he walks past. Having no care to look back to his father, he simply proceeds up the stairs until he’s stopped by the man. “I’d like a meal. And water.” 

“‘Kay,” Ame responds briefly. He heads to his room, walking in an awkward fashion that makes him look as if he’s waddling because of how tense he’s gotten. Even before he can close the door fully, he squats against the cold hardwood door and cups his hands over his face. Why does his father have to keep showing up without a notice?

Growing up without a mother in a society like Japan’s, Ame has never quite had a parent figure around. Men are expected to spend most of their day at work, with them barely being able to return to their families before the city has tucked into bed. It’s even worse, with Ame’s father being the CEO of a major international company. He doesn’t know whether to be grateful or wish for more. 

Even so, Ame is expected to pull himself together. He has no one to blame but the unlucky circumstances he happened to be thrown into, but he’s 17 and he should act his age. Groaning and still reluctant, he tosses his bag to the side and trudges down the stairs.

Avoiding any interaction at all with his old man, he keeps his gaze down and promptly gathers any necessary utensils. Holes start to form on his skin, a quick prickling motion pestering him as they do. Ame feeds himself the same meal every day, a simple rice bowl which isn’t much more than stir-fry vegetables and sauteed meat thrown together at random. He takes what he has in his fridge, even the mushrooms he knows his father so hates.

“Take the chopsticks yourself,” Ame speaks monotonically. Mr Nanase takes a seat quietly and politely, resting his hands against his lap as he scrutinises his food. It’s a habit of his, separating the different ingredients with his eyes. Ame sets his own bowl down across the table. He’s not ready to close the distance.

“I want an egg,” Mr Nanase states firmly, disturbed by Ame’s curt tone. Ame’s frown deepens into a scowl. 

“…You have extra meat.”

“I need my protein.”

“Then go eat at one of your fancy restaurants or hire a private chef.”

Even as Ame argues, he carries out a carton of eggs and sets it down on the counter. At times, Ame doesn’t know how to show respect or keep his mouth shut. He argues, but still listens and does as he’s told. 

Triparna Poddar (Class of 2024) is supposedly a writer but hasn’t enjoyed reading a novel in years. She is often asleep or mentally adrift, but appreciates (and attempts) coming-of-age prose in times she isn’t.