The Beginning

January 18, 2012
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“What is this?! This isn’t fair! What happened to our rights!” she cried out frantically, desperately, as her mind began to wrap around this twisted reality.

“Calm down. I know it’s a lot to take in, but there’s nothing more we can do,” he said in a fruitless attempt to calm the storm of emotions occurring before him.

“This may be larger than typical high school drama, but don’t you dare tell me there’s nothing I can do to help him. I can sa-!”

“It’s pointless, Miki,” he interrupted coldly, and her deepest fears realized it before his stony voice could confirm it. “He’s gone.”
* 10 days earlier *

A warm day found the young school; sun graciously sending rays of delicate warmth that seemed to penetrate skin and turn the heart and soul into a golden honey. Sunlight exploded into bright partial rainbows as it reflected off of solid glass walls that created most of the school. These translucent walls fooled the mind into a false sense of physical freedom during times of mental confinement. Extruded bars of deep black metal were all that kept the fragile illusion together. They reminded the small reasonable part of the mind that what was so close was still so far. Similar blackened wood encased tall stalks of bright bamboo and young oak trees. Their trunks seemed like they would bend until broken beneath the gentle push and pull of the wind. Placed at every corner, the plants unfurled swiftly through the years. They reached out to harness the spirit of every enthusiastic pupil and bustling teacher; they grew strong off of the clashing of one upbringing and race against another.

Miki’s laugh, emanating warmth and pure happiness, echoed the laughter surrounding her. Their laughs mingled, intertwined, and rose together, floating up to join the aura of contentment and joy that encased their small group whenever they found themselves together. Still smiling, a sarcastic remark slipped from her lips. Another wave of laughter arose, startling bystanders that had been busying themselves to pass the time between classes. Her own sandaled feet and six other ponderous feet padded lightly side by side on the grayish cement, their footsteps drowned out by their continuous idle conversation. To her left, sunlight shone through between periodically placed white columns that separated the hall from the open area at the heart of the school. Shadows danced across her vision as they padded by column after dusty column. In between, she could make out the shapes of her neatly kept lunch area and lush green planters in her peripheral vision. She twisted her head and felt the full impact of the dream-like quality this campus had held for the second year in a row. Mind drifting further away, she felt she could write an endless story of the beauties she found looking out onto her campus.

“Daydreaming again, Miki?” A familiar voice, steady and deep like the beating of a drum, reached out to her and pulled her back into a heavier state of mind.

Smiling, she replied, “You know me too well, Kenji.”

Rather than being drowned out by the rush and testosterone of three boys, Miki was often a leading voice in their informal group. She had never quite fit in with other girls. These particular boys never quite fit in themselves either. They met by chance three years ago, in a Japanese language class. They had slowly drifted together to become more than friends, but family. They appropriately named themselves the “Tomodachi Sako,” or, in English, “The Friend Circle.”
And such an odd group they made. Kenji, airy black hair and dark eyes, was outgoing and kind. He was thin but muscled from athletics, and didn’t speak much except with his close friends. Shiro was light skinned and fair haired. Glasses covered his eyes which were only hazel to the careful observer. He had the appearance and eccentricity that resembled a child; pure and curious. Yuuki was dark skinned like Miki, which often got them mistaken as brother and sister. He was intelligent, with a slight feminine quality that made him humorous. He had dark matted hair and a lanky build. Miki had large brown eyes and often wore her hair pulled back. She was observant and charismatic. She was tall for a girl, with a face and body that was forgettable. They had many apparent differences that made it difficult for outside observer to notice their underlying similarities.

They turned a corner and found themselves indoors, walking down another long hallway. A crowd of students rushed toward the four of them, only to split and move around them at the last moment; it was similar to the way a rock breaks an incoming wave. Artificial lights created an unnaturally bright environment. She let her eyes adjust for a moment, allowing the black spots to fade away, and asked, “So what’s going on this weekend, guys?”

“Whose house are we going to? Kenji’s this time right? We did Yuuki’s last weekend,” replied Shiro.

“Yes, and I’m still cleaning up the mess,” said Yuuki smiling.

“No! I helped clean after Kenji and Shiro just LEFT!” Miki cried, recalling the memory.

Yuuki smiled, “I’m just playing with you, sis. My mom is fine with you guys at my house again. She loves you guys”. He finished with a laugh.

“No, we can do my house this week. It’s been awhile since my parents have seen you guys,” Kenji finally chimed in. “We can play volleyball on the beach again.”

For a moment, all conversation was muffled by enthusiastic approvals of this plan. “That was so much fun,” Miki said, smile growing. “Kenji and I totally owned you guys!”

“That’s because you’re both on the volleyball team!” exclaimed a disappointed Shiro. “That’s not fair. I want Kenji this time.”

“Oh that’s fine. Miki and I will CREAM you guys!” Yuuki exclaimed. “That sounds good! By the way, do you still have my manga, Miki? You took like eight of them last week.”

“Yes!” she cried, laughing again. “I don’t even have time to read them, but I’ll bring the ones I’m done with tomorrow, yeah?”

“Oh, no! I don’t them now,” Yuuki replied. “Go ahead and hold onto them ‘til you’re done. It was just ‘caus-”

“Heeeyy!!!!” a voice came at a high pitch from across the hall, like a pin exploding their small bubble into a million microscopic droplets of liquid. Miki almost felt the need to watch her step for fear of slipping. They looked up to find the source of the voice was a shorter girl with green highlights that distracted from her dark hair. Seeing she had their attention, the girl skipped across to them in her Ugg boots, sweats, a tank top, and mismatching scarf. Smile creeping across his face, Yuuki walked forward a couple steps to meet her, leaving the three of them behind.

“Great, it’s her again. I thought if we walked through this way we could avoid her,” Miki muttered so only the other two could hear her.

Kenji sighed. “Agreed. C’mon , lets go guys”. He turned and began walking back the way they came and after a few heartbeats the other two followed along.

Shiro said dejectedly with a sigh, “I hate this. Ever since her, it’s like Yuuki doesn’t even go to this school anymore.”

“I know,” Miki and Kenji said in unison. They looked at each other for a moment, slightly startled. Then Kenji turned forward to look ahead, while Miki looked back to see her friend walking hand in hand with the smaller girl in the opposite direction.

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