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Chapter Six: Tapes and Dinner:

I unfolded the sheets to put them on the bed. They looked really clean so far. In fact, they looked rather new. This shouldn’t be so bad, right? It took me about four minutes to put the bottom sheet on first. The rest followed rather smoothly from there. I looked at the bed in satisfaction. It looks about right for now. All the bed needed now was a blanket and pillows. I paused in that thought. Obviously, they would be in the hall. Just… I tried to remember where Cassius’ room was. I think he said that he was across the hall. Maybe the others are in their rooms right now. I made a quick dash across the hall to the door. I drew in a breath before I knocked on the door.

“Yes?” I heard the Yamapi fan ask.

“Um… where do you all keep the pillows and blankets?” I asked.

“They’re in the spare closet next to your bathroom near the stairs,” he replied.

“Thank you!” I called. I turned in the direction that he told me. “Which side?” I asked.

“Your left,” he said.

“Alright,” I replied. I headed down that way in the hallway. It took me about forty seconds to find the right door. A bunch of pillow slipped out at my feet. I frowned at the pile-up. Clumsy way to put them. Then again, I remembered the living room. I highly doubted about them all wanting to do a better job of cleaning up the place. I shook my head. I was still hoping that I wouldn’t be staying too long here. I shook my head and gathered up two pillows for myself. Once they passed my inception of soft and firm, I took them back to my room and put the pillow cases of them. I just needed the blanket to cover the bed. I returned with a thick, black one and laid it over the bed. I looked at the finished product. That’s done. I looked over at my backpack. I dropped my shoulders and went on to unpack.

My laptop ended up on the desk. I put my clothes in the chest. Mom and dad’s picture sat next to my laptop. My notes and study book went on the other side of the laptop. I set my glasses case above my bed. I placed my watt man next them above where I would be sleeping. The only things I had were Hitomi’s diary and tapes. Memories about the day I learned she died filled my head. Before, I didn’t have any real questions to ask. Now that I think about it, I just can’t but to wonder why. Why did she kill herself? What happened after we graduated junior high? Why did she call me out that day?

I shook my head of these questions. Right, I have study again. I took my seat at my desk and went back to my studying. Close to sundown, I heard a knock on my door.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Baby bro!” Akemi shouted on the other side. “Dinner’s ready!”

“Alright, I’ll be down in sec,” I said, not looking up from my notes.

“No,” she said. “We all eat together at dinner.” I paused at those words.

“What?” I asked.

“Come on,” she said. “Put the books down and come eat with us.”

“Do I have to?” he asked.

“Yes!” Akemi yelled. “Now get moving! Everyone’s waiting at the table!” I lowered my notes at the table.

“Fine,” I said. “Give me a moment.” I put everything away and opened the door. Akemi leaned in the frame, smiling.

“Took you long enough,” she said. Nee-san grabbed onto my wrist and dragged me with her before I had a chance to speak. I did my best to keep up with her. Again, she was forcing me to do something without talking to me about it. I didn’t understand why I had to go through all of this. Not like I had much of a choice anyway, but still…

Cassius, Isaac, Yusuke, Sunao, and a woman that wasn’t familiar with all sat at the table, waiting. They looked up when they heard footsteps.

“Finally!” Yusuke said aloud. “We can all eat!” The woman leaned her head on his shoulder.

“Oh come on, Yusuke-kun,” she cooed, “That no way to talk about the newbie. He just got here today.” The blonde-haired guy just waved her off.

“But I’m hungry,” he complained.

“Well baby bro is here now,” Akemi cut in. “Now we can all have Yumi-chan cooking.”

“Is everyone ready?” I heard a sweet voice ask from the kitchen area. Akemi and I took a seat at the table.

“Yes!” we all said.

“Perfect!” that sweet voice replied. I looked up to see what I thought was an angel walking out with a huge, steaming pot. I had to blink many times because I thought I was in a dream. Her face reminded me of an angel from the shoujo manga. I seemed to be attracted to girls with hair tucked behind their ears. This woman had a little help from a red hair holding it in place. Her whole appearance reminded me of a stay-at-home mom. In fact, she looked like my mom. Akemi patted me on the shoulder.

“Kichiro-kun,” she said aloud, “Meet our cook for tonight, this Yumi-san.” I gave her a small wave.

“Hi…” I mumbled. Yumi perked up at me.

“So you’re the younger brother,” she murmured.

“That’s right!” Akemi bragged. Then, she turned my attention back to Yusuke and the other woman.

“The lady with the red streak in her hair is Romi,” she explained. Romi waved at me.

“Yo!” she said. Akemi frowned at the table arrangement.

“Still no Sakura-hime?” she asked.

“Nope,” Sunao said. Nee-san took a moment to ponder this.

“Hm…” she said. “I’m guessing that she doesn’t have her phone on her either, does she?” The others shook their heads.

“Who cares?” Yusuke asked. “I’m starving here. Can we just eat?” Sunao put his hand up at him.

“Now, now,” he said.

“Take it easy, Nao-kun,” Akemi spoke up. “The man’s hungry. We all feel the same way. So, let us eat.” She turned to Yumi. “What’s the special for today, Yumi-san?” The cook perked up at that question.

“Oh, I made a seafood stew,” she replied. She set the pot on the table and started serving everyone. My spirits felt lifted with the steam formed at my glasses. Akemi tapped me on the arm. I glanced over at her. She gave me a big smile.

“It’s good,” she bragged, “You really need to try it.” I picked up my chopsticks. Yumi took her place at the table once she served herself. We all blessed the food and ate up. One slurp of those soba noodles and I saw Heaven. I looked up and saw everyone else’s eyes on me. I could tell they all had one questions on their minds. I set down my chopsticks and grinned.

“It’s delicious!” I announced. Yumi’s eyes lit up.

“You really think so?” she asked. I gave her a huge nod.

“I can really taste the seafood and herbs in this,” I said, “I can’t remember the last time I ever had a home-cooked meal.” That angel looked like she would fly over the moon from her seat.

“Oh, I’m so glad that you like it!” she said. “It’s actually a recipe from my mother. I couldn’t wait to try it out!” Yusuke smiled as he chewed and swallowed a piece of crab.

“You really outdid yourself this time, Yumi-chan!” he said, grinning. The others around her agreed. Yumi sampled some of her own stew in confidence. Stars twinkled in her eyes.

“It’s just like Mama made it for me on days when I was sick!” she confessed. I happily took another sip of the soba in the warm, herby broth. Akemi nudged me on the arm again. I nodded as I put a piece of shrimp in my mouth. Maybe staying here won’t be so bad.

“Oh man, Sakura-hime and Miki don’t know what they are missing!” Romi said aloud.

“We can just save them some in containers,” Isaac pointed out.

“Just got to be careful not to eat it up from them,” Cassius replied. “You know how Miki gets when her food gets eaten up from her.”

“It’s worse when it’s Yumi’s cooking,” Akemi said. The roommates broke into laughter.

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