wingcat at pacbell.net
Mon May 30 19:44:02 CDT 2005
Written by Adrian Tymes
This story is based on characters created by Kiyohiko Azuma.
Permission is granted to freely distribute this story, so long as:
a: no recompense of financial value is received or given by the person
who distributes the story, and
b: the distributed copy is identical to the story as originally
In other words, don't sell it, and don't alter it.
Copyright (c) 2005, all rights reserved, et cetera.]
Tomo landed like a cat, all four limbs absorbing the impact. From
above, Chiyo watched her stand up, wincing and holding her left wrist
while favoring her right leg. She limped over to Osaka, who had
landed flat on her back and was posed as if making angels in the
cement. Even from three stories up, Chiyo could see Osaka's vacant
smile. It was not until Tomo saw the fan-shaped ochre area, rising
from Osaka's head like a second set of hair and still spreading, that
Chiyo thought it a little sad that it really was the only time they
could all make it. Had Yomi not gotten in to college, she would have
been in little mood to celebrate at Magical Land with the rest of
them. But she did, and they were going, and all was happy. Even
Kaorin met them at the park. With their summers already scheduled
and university afterwards, Chiyo knew this might be the last time they
would get to see each other, so she was determined to make the most of
Most of them had been there before. She personally took delight in
acting like a tour guide for Yomi, whose half-remembered research of
the park turned out to be in need of update. Chiyo thought Tomo
rubbed it in a bit too hard when she learned that Yomi had gotten sick
reading about the park and forgetting to come in from the cold, but
that was Tomo. So, too, was the fact that she had nursed Yomi to the
point of irritation until Yomi recovered, yet seemed uneasy when Chiyo
complimented her for her compassion.
Chiyo envied the friendship Yomi and Tomo had shared for years. They
seemed to be even better friends than herself and Osaka, and Osaka was
her best friend out of all of them. Sure, she might have walked home
mostly with Sakaki, and had a friendly academic rivalry with Yomi, but
Osaka was the one she always played with. Even once they had both
grown up, Chiyo thought, they would play together for the rest of
Chiyo was vaguely aware of Yomi peeling her fingers off the railing
one by one. She did not want to believe, but the evidence before her
eyes was irrefutable. Osaka...was...
She felt wetness upon her face. Finally tearing her eyes away to look
up, she felt more than saw the sky grow dark as the clouds finally
blotted out the sun. Only a very few raindrops were present at the
moment, but one hit her eye. She did not feel it, she did not even
blink, but that must have been the reason something wet was now
snaking out the corner of her eye and down her cheek.
Someone was crying. Who? The sound became muffled as Yomi held Chiyo
to her chest and patted her back. Perhaps it was Osaka. Yes, that
must be it! Which meant she was alive, enough to be so upset that the
rain would not let her make concrete angels.
Chiyo emerged from the bumper car track grinning from ear to ear. It
had been close, but she had managed to catch up to Tomo and nudge the
rear of her car just as time ran out.
Kagura rubbed the back of her neck. "I think I got whiplash. Did you
have to be so rough, Tomo?"
Tomo was smiling almost as much as Chiyo. "What do you mean? That's
the whole POINT of bumper cars!"
"Not to the point where you dent the car," Kagura protested.
A moment of silence passed. "That should not be possible," observed
"Of course it's possible!" Tomo held one fist in the air
triumphantly. "I knew those driving lessons I asked Yukari for would
Chiyo, Osaka, and Kaorin shivered in unison. They jointly begged,
"Please don't joke about such things."
Tomo blinked. "Who's joking? My parents said they'd get me a car
if I made it into university. I'll be driving by the end of the
Yomi, Sakaki, and Kagura shivered in unison.
Chiyo shivered in Yomi's embrace as a cold wind passed by. They had
taken the stairs to ground level just in time to see Kagura work with
paramedics to load Tomo onto a stretcher. Osaka was already under a
white sheet, but the puddle of blood poked out from underneath.
Fortunately, most of the park goers had already left; the occasional
would-be onlookers were blocked by Sakaki and politely ushered away by
As Yomi stepped out into the drizzling rain, Kaorin ran up. "Is she
"I don't know. She's still breathing, if that's what you mean, but
inside..." Yomi shook her head. "I should go with Tomo. Could you?"
"Sure." Kaorin worked her arms between Chiyo and Yomi, then nodded
when she had a secure grip. Yomi let go and made for the ambulance.
Unfortunately, Kaorin was not as strong as Yomi, and Yomi's departure
caused Chiyo to start struggling. The younger girl soon squirmed free
and ran over to Osaka. She knelt, grabbed Osaka's hand through the
sheets, pulled up...
...and was forced to let go when Kagura grabbed her wrist and
squeezed her tendons. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Trying to get Osaka up. Tomo's hurt, and-"
"She's dead, Chiyo."
"-she really shouldn't lie around in the rain 'cause it's not good for
"She's DEAD, Chiyo."
"I mean, remember what happened to Yomi last time? I wouldn't want
Osaka to get a cold."
Kagura took a breath to steady herself, reminding her nerves that were
screaming to bring in an adult that there were none available just
then, the paramedics being too busy picking up Osaka and consoling
Yomi, so she had no choice but to take care of this herself. With her
uncertainty thus distracted, she grabbed Chiyo by the shoulders and
looked her in the eyes. "CHIYO MIHAMA!"
Chiyo sniffled. "Y-yes?"
"Listen to me. Osaka. Is. Dead."
"We're all sad, but trying to deny it won't help. Running away from
your problems never helps."
Chiyo giggled as she ran away from Osaka. "Can't catch me!"
Indeed, it seemed Osaka could not. Not only was Chiyo a faster runner
than Osaka, but Osaka kept getting distracted. Like now, when they
had been racing back to their friends with snacks, Osaka simply slowed
to a halt ten paces short and looked off to the horizon.
"Osaka!" Tomo waved her arms. "Hey, Osaka, over here! That bun's
Yomi elbowed Tomo. "You mean me!"
"Yeah, whatever, Miss Weepy Diet Girl."
"TOMO! I thought we agreed you'd never mention it." Yomi noticed
Kagura staring. "What?"
"That was you?" Kagura asked.
"You listen to that kind of show?" Yomi replied.
Osaka's gaze slowly swept from their right to their left, and kept
Tomo shrugged, stood up from the bench they were sharing, walked over
and plucked the snacks from Osaka's hands. "Earth to Osaka, come in
Osaka's head swiveled to see Tomo, a wide smile evident. "It's
rainin', Tomo! It's rainin'!"
Tomo looked around in front of her. "Where? All I see is clear
"There!" Osaka pointed behind the group.
Chiyo followed Osaka's indicated line, and saw gray clouds in the
distance. "Oh, you're right! It is raining over there."
Kagura squinted. "Good eyes, Osaka. Say...is it just me, or are
those clouds moving?"
"They'll be here in twenty nine minutes," Osaka predicted. "Give o'
take a few seconds."
"This from the girl who struggled with algebra?" Yomi wondered.
"That's Osaka for you." Tomo, hands empty, hugged Osaka. "She's
brilliant in all the ways that don't matter."
"Hey!" Yomi adjusted her glasses. "What'd you do with my bun?"
A discarded bun wrapper danced in the wind, not yet soggy enough to
stick to the ground, until it was crushed under Kagura's foot. The
medics had departed, along with Yomi, Tomo, and Osaka. Of the
remaining girls, Kagura was herding Chiyo towards the exit, Sakaki was
watching them, and Kaorin was nearly hyperventilating as she clung
tightly to Sakaki's arm only to be almost dragged along. Kaorin would
later rue her inability to enjoy Sakaki's presence just then, but at
that moment her panic made rational thought impossible.
Suddenly, Chiyo took off running towards the side. "Osaka! There you
Almost before Kagura could react, Chiyo reached her target: a mop
standing on end, leaning out of a storage shed with a towel draped
over it. Chiyo tugged on the mop, easily pulling it free of shed and
towel. "Wow! Osaka, when did you get so thin?"
Kagura blinked, then asked herself what Nyamo would do in this
situation. When no answer quickly came to mind, she threw her
thoughts open to any solution, and soon saw one. Brutal, but
effective. With no time for further debate, she snatched the cleaning
instrument out of Chiyo's hands.
"Hey! Don't treat Osaka roughly like that!"
Kagura dispassionately snapped the mop handle over her knee.
"What are you doing to Osaka?!?"
"Killing her," the athlete replied matter of factly. "What's it look
"But...but..." Chiyo snatched the mop's head from Kagura's hands.
"Osaka! Speak to me!"
Sakaki walked up to Kagura as if the weight on her arm did not exist,
ice in her voice. "Was that necessary?"
"She needs to face what's happened." Kagura massaged her forehead.
"I can deal with it if she blames me."
"It's not your fault, Kagura." Chiyo stood behind the bench and
patted her subject on a shoulder. "I'm a bit sad too."
"Yeah, I know. But it's just unfair!"
"What's unfair?" Tomo asked as she ducked Yomi's attempt to pat her
down and find where she had hidden the purloined snack.
"They close the park when it rains," Chiyo explained. "There have
been some concerns about safety. They give refunds for partial day
passes, but unless you know another day we can get back together to
use them, we've only got half an hour left together."
"Twenty seven minutes," Osaka pointed out.
"In that case..." Sakaki lifted Chiyo up and sat the smaller girl on
her shoulders. "...let us make the best of it."
"Hey, yeah!" Tomo tried to climb on Yomi in a similar position, only
for Yomi to kneel so Tomo's feet were on the ground. "Spoilsport."
"Would you rather I rode you?"
"No way, you're too heavy." Ignoring Yomi's incensed look, Tomo
picked up Osaka and imitated Sakaki, visibly straining under the load
but trying not to let it show. "Where to?"
Osaka pointed to the park's observation tower. "To the top! I wanna
see everythin' before I go!"
"Sakaki!" Kaorin's eyes were glued to the tower. Her arms
insistently but ineffectually tugged at Sakaki's elbow. Her ears had
been blotting out Sakaki's and Kaorin's increasingly bitter argument
for several minutes, even after Chiyo had dropped the mop. "Sakaki!"
The called girl whirled on Kaorin, simmering rage in her eyes. "I am
trying to talk Kagura out of traumatizing Chiyo. If you interfere any
more, I will hurt you." She raised one hand, readying a slap.
Kaorin released Sakaki and backpedaled out of range. "Umm, ah,
Sakaki blinked, seeing the fear in Kaorin's eyes and finally
consciously hearing the anger in her own voice. It felt strange,
alien, and definitely hostile. She shoved it to the back of her mind
to deal with later, a feat of mental strength that would later give
her pause to reflect that even her mind was too strong to be cute.
Kaorin mutely pointed to the observation tower. She only processed
that Sakaki and Kagura were racing towards it after they had passed
The two taller girls burst onto the roof just in time to see Chiyo
start climbing the protective railing at the roof's edge. "Osaka!
Hang on, I'm coming Osaka!"
Sakaki reached Chiyo first, and tried to grab her. The moment her
hands closed around Chiyo's torso, Chiyo kicked back hard enough to
knock the air out of her lungs, jumping off of her towards the space
Tomo and Osaka had occupied several minutes earlier.
The view from atop the tower was simply breathtaking, in Chiyo's
opinion. If these were to be their last moments together, she
thought, they could not have picked a much better place to spend them.
It had been a little worrying when Tomo started running around, Osaka
still on her shoulders, arms outstretched like airplane wings, but
they stayed away from the edges. Eventually, Chiyo talked Sakaki into
doing the same, and before long the two pairs were chasing each other
around in a mock dogfight.
But the clouds kept coming, progressing like clockwork. When the
public address system squealed to announce the park's closure, Chiyo
paid no attention to the words. It was almost time to say goodbye.
She wanted it to be a moment they would all remember fondly, so
perhaps one day they would want to return as much as she did.
Such thoughts meant she did not hear Osaka's request of Tomo to climb
up on the rail to get to the highest point on the park. She did,
however, feel Sakaki suddenly move to intercept - but Tomo was too
close and too quick a climber. Chiyo saw what was going on, saw Tomo
wobble a bit while standing up with Osaka still on top, and saw the
winds start to pick up. Sakaki steadied herself and pushed Chiyo
towards the pair, so she could grab them and pull them back.
Sakaki reeled backwards onto Kaorin, who had just emerged from the
stairs. The two of them collapsed, dazed.
Kagura dodged around Sakaki and grabbed for Chiyo, who in turn reached
for someone who was no longer there. She snagged Chiyo's pigtails and
It took her a few moments to recognize that she had not actually
pulled the pigtails off, but rather just the pigtail slip covers Osaka
had woven for Chiyo. By that time, Chiyo was already tumbling over
Chiyo kicked off of Sakaki's hands and just barely missed latching
onto Tomo's skirt, which was now tumbling over the railing with the
rest of Tomo. Her intent had been to overbalance Tomo and send the
trio back to the roof. The landing might hurt, but they would have
Now, though, Chiyo could only grab onto the top of the railing as Tomo
and Osaka fell. Tomo kicked off of Osaka, trying to slow her fall by
sliding against the tower's wall. Osaka seemed possibly unaware that
she was falling, which situation Tomo tried to rectify with a shouted,
"OSAKA YOU KNUCKLEHEAD!"
The sound of Chiyo's landing was muted by thunder. The raindrops had
surely hit Kagura's eyes without her feeling them. That must have
been what was blurring her vision so she could not quite make out
Chiyo, and what was now rolling down her cheeks. It almost seemed
like Chiyo had sprouted a fan-shaped ochre pigtail.
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