Fluffy white clouds enveloped the orange heavens as the sun prepared to rest behind the lush mountains. The seven-year-old Kenta was stealthily approaching a butterfly that was peacefully resting on a lotus leaf. As he moved closer and closer—the moment that he reached over to catch the butterfly—it had flown out of reach. Because of this, he unexpectedly lost his footing and ended up landing in a muddy puddle near the river, and the butterfly landed on Kenta’s head. When Kenta finally looked up, he saw that the butterfly had already flown far, far away.
“Ken-tan, that was so close!” Nazuna shouted.
Kenta stood up and wiped off his shirt. He coughed, “Forget about the butterfly. Mama will scold me again. Look.” He showed his shirt that had streaks of mud because of what had happened.
Nazuna giggled and waved her hand. She approached Kenta and patted his back. “That’s okay. Nazuna will help you,” she said. “Nazuna will tell your Mama that you tripped.”
“Eh, that won’t help me at all,” Kenta pursed his lips.
Nazuna looked at her forearm and pulled her sleeve up a bit. There was a crooked drawing of a watch on her wrist. She touched her chin and pouted as if she was thinking of something, then she exclaimed, “Oh, it’s already getting late. Nazuna will go home now. See you tomorrow at school. Bye bye.”
Feeling dejected, Kenta dragged his shoes as he followed the path from the riverside to their old farm house. On his way home, he picked up a broken branch and stuck it in the flowing water. Ripples after ripples formed on the water as he walked while he dragged the branch. One moment, he would stop to marvel at the glimmering river; the next, he would stop to mimic a croaking frog as it jumped from one side of the path to another. As he was nearing the end of the path, he threw the branch into the middle of the river. The sound of the splashing water startled the passerine birds on nearby trees. A thought came into his mind—but after pondering over it—he turned this idea down. He was thinking about climbing the trees to look for birds’ eggs, but he remembered that he needed to go home early today.
He walked and he walked until he reached a fork in the path. He would always get confused about which path to take since he was not really good with directions. Because of this indecisiveness, he stopped and decided to dilly-dally for a bit. The gentle warm breeze carried along with it the sweet scent of the lotus flowers as it brushed gently on his cheeks. He sat on a big rock and gazed upon the river that was glimmering under the setting sun, dressed in hundreds of blooming lotuses. The plants and trees were dancing along with the wind like the serene waves of the sea.
As he wallowed in the majestic view, the first drop of rain fell on his cheek. He reached out for his cheek to wipe it and looked up to the sky. “Eh, the weather was good earlier. Now it’s about to rain,” he mumbled. Having realized that it was about to rain, he began to run. He merely followed his instincts and took the middle path. When he dashed forward, the rain became stronger and mist finally made it a bit hard for him to see his way. Because of his carelessness, he bumped into a bike that was in a rush coming from the opposite direction. Everything happened in a flash. The force from the collision made the one riding the bike fall off and Kenta was thrown back toward a cherry tree. The impact shook the tree and a few leaves began to fall.
“Ouch!” Both of them yelped.
“Watch where you’re going!” Kenta yelled.
The one who fell off from the bike unsteadily stood up and walked toward Kenta. Kenta, who appeared to be in a sorrier state, was still half-seated on a puddle at the foot of the tree. The biker helped him get up and asked, “Uhm, are you okay?”
Kenta looked up and saw an older boy with sky-blue hair and a pale face. He measured the boy up with his eyes and noticed he had a bruise on the left side of his lips and bloodshot eyes. He was a few centimeters taller than Kenta and looked frail because of his thin build. Regardless, it could still be seen in his face that he was a charming kid. Seeing the boy in this condition, Kenta immediately stood up and ignored the pain that he felt. He bowed down and apologetically said, “Uhm…I’m very sorry. I wasn’t looking where I was going. Big bro, are you okay? You don’t look so well, was it because of the impact?” After that, he drew near the other boy and touched the blue-haired boy’s shoulders with both of his hands.
The boy was startled by this sudden action that Kenta made so he subconsciously pushed Kenta away. He looked really rattled and was even a bit shaky as he said, “I…I’m sorry.” He pointed at his own face then added, “This…this isn’t done by you.”
Kenta was surprised by the boy’s response so that he was left speechless for a few seconds before he finally responded, “Oh.” After that, there was an awkward silence between the two.
Kenta raised his right arm to scratch the back of his head, then he noticed he had a scrape on his elbow, “Oh, I have a boo-boo.” He looked down on his knees and noticed another scrape on his left knee. “Oh, another one here,” he pointed out. “I’m Amamiya by the way, Kenta Amamiya.”
He swept his eyes toward the biker and both of them looked eye to eye. After a quick pause, both of them chuckled.
“You’re so random. Weren’t you hurt from what happened?” The blue-haired boy chuckled as he asked.
“Yeah,” Kenta replied as he chuckled.
“Well, you don’t sound like it,” the blue-haired boy awkwardly smiled then added, “I’m Matsuda, Yuu Matsuda. Well now, let’s continue talking later. We’re already getting wet. You see, it’s raining. Let’s look for some shelter.”
These memories of the past suddenly fleeted through Kenta’s mind and had abruptly detached him from his present self. After a split-second, he closed his eyes and tried pulling himself together. He gently shook his head then slowly opened his eyes. From narrowed eyes, he ended up opening his eyes wide open. His pupils dilated when he saw the face of another man on top of him.
“Uhm…can you please get off of me?” Kenta awkwardly asked.
Realizing that he was still on top of Kenta, the other man immediately stood up and helped Kenta get up. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t looking where I was going. Are you okay?” the man apologized.
Hearing those words made Kenta’s heart skip a beat. It felt like he went back in time, fifteen years ago. He gave the man a better look and noticed he also had blue hair, but it was darker than the Yuu that he knew before. “Yuu? Yuu Matsuda, is that you?” Kenta randomly blurted. He did not know why he asked this question, but his instincts told him that he had to ask the other man.
The man’s eyes opened wide and looked like he just realized something, then he exclaimed, “Kenta? Is that you?”
Kenta nodded and happily replied, “Yes it’s me. Yuu, I’ve been looking for you for ages! Where have you been all this time?”
Yuu dodged Kenta’s gaze and looked around them. He noticed that they were in the middle of the sidewalk and others were looking at them. Realizing this, Yuu grabbed Kenta by the hand and pulled him to the side. Then he responded, “You see, after that incident—“ He momentarily paused, cleared his throat, awkwardly checked on Kenta’s expecting eyes, then looked the other way again, and continued, “After that…if you know what I mean, I moved somewhere far away. My parents divorced immediately after that incident, so I had no choice. Sorry if I wasn’t able to say goodbye to you.”
Kenta felt itchy in his heart. He could leap for joy now since it had been a long time since the last time he saw Yuu. Speaking of their last meeting, when was it again? Oh yeah, it was way back then…back then when Kenta’s dad died…during that day that he wanted to erase from his memories. After thinking about the past, he brushed off these thoughts and whatever feelings that were left from the remnants of the past, then immediately shook his head. “Cough, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that we finally met again. I’m sorry to hear that your parents divorced, uhm,” he cleared his throat too then stumped for words.
“That’s okay. It happened a long time ago. What’s there to think of the past? Humans were made to be resilient so we should just keep moving forward, live in the present, and face whatever the future has in store for us, heh.”
Kenta nodded, thinking that what he said made sense, yet…he thought that it was easier said than done. No matter how much he tried to recover from what happened, his past was still a scar that he feared would haunt him wherever he may be, for all of his life. “Wow, that was deep. Oh, I almost forgot. I need to go, I need to help my friend. I’ll see you around then,” he replied. He did not wait for Yuu’s reply and began to walk toward his original destination—back to the White Lotus.
However, when he was about to leave, Yuu pulled him by his wrist, making him look back. “I’m glad that you never forgot me. This meeting is heaven-sent. I’m sure of it,” Yuu said then smiled earnestly at Kenta.
“Of course, I’ll never forget you! You have always been in my heart, Yuu,” Kenta replied and smiled back.
“So here you are, Kenta!” a voice suddenly stood out from the bustling crowd.
Kenta looked back and saw Shō waving at him.
Though Shō was still in pain because of what had happened earlier at the brothel, he still smiled dearly at Kenta. However, this sweet smile that was pasted on his charming face suddenly disappeared when he saw another man holding Kenta by his wrist. He subtly frowned and added, “What took you so long? You know you mustn’t leave a patient like me unattended. And who’s this guy?” He looked at Yuu and measured him with his eyes.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Shō. I came across my old friend. Remember Yuu? He’s the one I told you about before,” Kenta replied. He noticed that Shō was looking at Yuu’s hand that was holding his wrist, so he immediately broke away from Yuu’s grip. “Let’s go back to the brothel so I can treat you,” after saying this, he walked ahead, leaving the two behind. When he was about to take his third step away from them, he looked back and added, “Oh, Yuu. Don’t disappear again, okay. Gimme your number so I can give you a call.”
Somewhere in the midst of the crowd, an elegant-looking young man was watching the three. He had the countenance that could be counted as first under heaven, a perfect beauty he was, with no traces of artifice. His long, black hair was tied into a ponytail and folded it into a forward-facing top knot. He was wearing a robe that was as dark as the starless, night sky and tenne ribbons floating around his head, past his shoulders and down to his waist. The people could not help but be dazzled by his outstanding charm. From the serious mask that he had on his face, he unmasked himself and revealed a goofy look. He mumbled, “Amaterasu-ōmikami is definitely going to be mad at me, waaah! What to do?!”