In the center of a residential district, a three story high dwelling was standing like piled up building blocks.
And somewhere on the third floor of this dwelling, there was a cage imprisoning Tachibana Rina.
The narrow room had no television; it only had the bare minimum amount of furniture. Ever since elementary school, the teddy bear on her bed was probably the only trait of a girl's room that she had. It was a present her mother gave her on her birthday, but rather than buying it for Rina, it was more like she brought it for herself.
The sound of the clock running was echoing in the tranquil room.
Instead of studying, Rina began to draw a landscape on her unfolded notebook.
A loud "Bang!” broke out.
Rina clenched her pencil tighter subconsciously.
The sound of her father censuring in a loud voice "--- Didn't I tell you before?!" and her mother apologizing in a weak voice "---I'm sorry..." could be heard ringing.
Tension, with a slight fear --- and certainly anger, distorted Rina's expression.
That goddamn father ---
Rina cursed in her heart. To a young child like Rina, it was the minimum resistance that she could do.
No, the one that could stop her father's absurd actions probably didn’t even exist in this world. Every adult that she knew of listened obediently to whatever her father said. Even if they were the police, that fact didn’t change the slightest.
“Why are you drawing again? Have you finished all the questions I gave you?”
A hand suddenly reached out beside her, and snatched away the notebook on the desk.
In the narrow room, Rina was not alone. Behind her back, stood a skinny supervisor-like female.
It was Rina’s private teacher, Mikajima Yorozu. It was said that she graduated first place from a nearby high school that had the highest graduation standards. Though she had a pretty face suited to be wearing glasses, her sharp-pointed hairstyle and her sharp look, made it hard for people to describe her as a beauty.
Something feels wrong...
Rina supported her cheek as she thought of that.
She tilted her face as she turned to look outside though the only window.
Shouldn't an elementary student be more free and open? Why does every single one of them always inculcate so many rules on me?
Outside the window, expanded a scenery that was exactly the same as the one Rina drew in her notebook.
Rina really loved the scenery she could see through the window.
Especially at dusk, the big red setting sun would illuminate the whole street; dying it full of vivid orange light. It was as if it was trying to softly wash away the dark emotions clustered inside Rina's heart.
The sunset glow slowly rendered the streets of Akamaki City from orange to red.
At a distance away from where a splinter-like object could be seen, was the observation tower known as Akamaki Skypia, which was undergoing construction. To Rina, the building was nothing but another hateful target. However, under the gaze of the sunset, it was just a plain shadow.
"All answers are correct!"
Mikajima suddenly shouted.
Upon being stared at by the private teacher, Rina could not help but tighten her expression.
Even though she immediately prepared to defend at once, it was still too late.
"You learn really fast! As a reward (to me), please fondle my head!"
The lady much older than Rina unexpectedly kneeled in front of her.
She placed her head on Rina’s lap, and stopped moving as if she was waiting for something.
“Come on! Hurry~”
Seriously, something felt extremely wrong...
Rina frowned as she fondled Mikajima’s head randomly for a second.
“Ahh. Rina-san… You are just too prefect. ”
Looking down at Mikajima showing an intoxicated expression, Rina couldn’t help but heave a sigh.
Though still young, she had begun to comprehend the things about herself ever since she entered higher grade of elementary school.
For some reason --- it seemed like she did have some kind of glamour.
Even though the lady who wanted Rina to fondle her head was a weirdo, it was true that Rina was often depended on and trusted by others. Needless to mention her classmates, even some teachers would consult with her for some serious problems too, not to mention some of those problems were pretty barefaced to a point where it was questionable whether it was right for a child to even hear it.
“No matter it’s the goddess of the harvest, or the art buried in the bottom of the sea for a long time washing, they will all be shame to confront you.”
Again, Mikajima Yorozu was indeed a special example, but nonetheless, Rina does have the glamour that would attract others.
About the cause and reason, even she herself didn’t know either.
But , perhaps ---
While fondling Mikajima’s head, Rina looked out at the streetscape through the window.
The streetscape she overlooked was changing little by little everyday. It was not the change akin to new buildings being built, or leaves changing their color, but rather the changes of people crossing back and forth on the streets. The changes of their clothing, their hairstyle, their age, those were constantly changing.
Recently, Rina was starting to enjoy observing a certain park very much.
Several days ago, a street performer suddenly appeared in the park, which was really rare in this age. From the look of the figure's bodyline and the face made up with white rouge powder, the person should be a teenage girl. From time to time, she would dance like a puppet, doing tricks on a round ball, and juggling colorful balls. Due to the coincidence that the park happened to directly face a kindergarten, many parents would often stop by the park with their children to enjoy the show. The scenery of them clapping their hands fascinated really gave a heart-warming feeling.
Let see, is there anything new today?...
Rina shifted her sight away from the park, to a far distance.
And there, she found a figure standing still in an alley. On the streets where it was filled with the scenery of trees swaying in the wind, and pedestrians going back home --- only that figure was standing still, as if time had stopped.
Because the distance was too far, Rina couldn’t see that person’s face.
“Can you give the performer some food today as well? I think she is hungry.”
“I refuse. Why should I give that humble performer anything to eat?”
“Also, I wonder what happened to the man in the third street……Can you help me ask him?”
“I won’t do it. Why do I have to talk to a stranger anyway."
“Don’t be so mean like that ok? If you don’t listen, I'm not going to fondle your head anymore."
“Okay, hurry up! You know I can’t go outside, don’t you?”
Mikajima stood up reluctantly, before slowly walking out of the room apathetically.
“Ah, wait a sec!”
“Are you going to show your mercy and spare me?!”
“One more person!”
“Oh, my god……”
Rina leaned her body out the window.
The traveling street performer, and the standing still figure.
Far away from these two people, Rina noticed another figure. The figure was moving cautiously between wire poles and alleys as if he was avoiding being seen by others. Judging from his slender figure, the figure should be a kid. His age seemed relatively close to Rina's.
Is he playing hide-and-seek? Or hiding away from someone he doesn’t want to meet?
“Go help that kid too.”
The real reason why everyone adored Rina was ---
“That kid must have some troubles too.”
Rina --- she could make out who was seeking for help.
Seeing people engulfed by tragedy, her chest would feel pain as well.
It was as if she had heard a soundless lament, which resonated with her heart.
She could tell who were those that needed salvation.
“Listen carefully, the street performer, the man ……and that kid, got it?”
In the streets dyed by the red sunset, the three people were scattered about in a triangle.
They were the passers-by of her harboring dream,
And at the same time ---
An existence, called Mushitsuki, which Rina encountered for the first time ever.
Thank you for reading~
Feel free to leave comments for any questions or feedback~
That's all the Rina we be having this week and possibly the next. Thing will definitely get interesting down the road ^^, just wait and see~