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Breaking Away

Chapter One: You’re Beautiful:

My dear friend, Hitomi, died last week. Her mother found her body in the driver’s seat of the family car that Thursday morning. In fact, she was the one contacted me the next morning about her daughter’s death. It’s funny, really. Hitomi-chan and I haven’t spoken to each other since we graduated junior high. We ended up going to different high schools.

We never really kept in touch either. I heard different stories about her. I heard that she had a boyfriend from Tokyo many times. There were other stories saying that she was having problems with bullying and depression. Some even said that she dropped out of high school and locked herself in her room. A few people said that they saw her rumoring the city streets at night. One rumor even said that Hitomi turned to dating for pay. I never tried to call her and see if any of it was true. I don’t know; it’s just that life and school got in the way for me.

The last time I saw Hitomi was when I just graduated from high school days before she died. I had just got home from school from the ceremony when I noticed my answering machine blinking. I looked at the flashing light in an odd way. Hm, why would anyone want to call me? I walked over and hit play.

“One new message,” the voice said.

“Hey, Kichiro-kun,” a familiar voice filled the room. I jumped with such shock.

That’s Hitomi-chan’s voice. But, why is she calling me?

“It’s me,” she went on. “I really need your help. Please call me. I’m so lonely. Come out and meet me at the creek where we used to play. Please help me!” The tone in her voice made my heart sank while pounding. I thought back to all of those rumors I heard about her. The way she said those words made me go out to see her.

By sundown that evening, I went down to the creek where we used to play together as children. I found Hitomi sitting near the water with a cigarette pinched between her fingers. I raced over to her as quickly as I could. I stopped when she looked up at me with a smile on her face. She gave me a little wave with the cigarette between her fingers.

“Yo,” she said. I stared at her rather confused for a long breather.

“Uh…” I said. “Are you okay?” Hitomi nodded at me.

“Yes,” she said. “Why do you ask?” I drew my lips together, still trying to piece together what was going on here.

“You left a message on my answering machine,” I explained to her as calmly as I could. “You said that you needed my help and you sounded really upset. What’s the problem? Did something happen?” It told her a little while for her to understand what I was getting at.

“Oh!” Hitomi said. “It’s okay, I’m fine now. Really, I am.” I blinked still confused on what this was all about.

“Okay…” I mumbled. I turned to leave, uncertain about what to do.

“Kichiro-kun! Don’t go!” Hitomi called out. I paused and glanced over my shoulder at my friend.

“Why?” I asked as I turned around to her fully. She gave me a crooked smile as she shrugged.

“Please?” she asked. I shouldn’t be out here, messing around. Hitomi just pretty much called me out here for nothing. I really need to get back home and study for the entrance exam for Todai. It’s just so easy to walk away and go home. I dropped my shoulders and rolled my eyes.

“Fine,” I said. I took a seat next to her at the creek. She grinned and rested her head on my shoulder. I don’t know why I stayed out there with her. We didn’t really talk or do anything. She even went to sleep on my shoulder. I looked up at the sky wondering how long we were going to stay like this. I really thought that she was lying about being okay. I already saw the truth in her eyes. I just didn’t bother to ask her what was wrong in that moment. Probably wouldn’t have made a difference that day, anyway. Hitomi would’ve brushed me off or just changed the subject altogether. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder why she would call me out here in so desperately like that.

That was the last time I saw her alive in person. She didn’t contact me after that. Now, all I’m left with is her journal and a box of tapes that she had recorded ever since we went our separate ways in high school. With Hitomi-chan now dead, I thought that I had seen enough ghosts from my past. Then, there came a heavy pounding on my door at two in the morning.

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