The sunset sparkled on the river’s waters, and slower traffic rumbled over the bridge as the day ended. Mamimi clicked a few pictures of the river, snap, snap, snap. She would have to get them developed at the camera store…it would probably be expensive. She’d just have to get some old bread to eat from Takkun’s bakery.
She put her camera back in her blue bag, the white cross on the front making her smile. Seeing it reminded her of Cantido, the God of Black Flame, from her game. Mamimi pulled the red portable game out from under her cameras, and switched it on.
“Having fun, Sameji?”, a snotty voice called behind where Mamimi was crouching, “You always like that kid stuff.”
Mamimi turned around, tucking her game back in her bag. She didn’t say anything back to Miyako Yamato. She couldn’t think of anything.
When Mamimi didn’t react, Yamato chose another tactic, “So, why do you bleach your hair? You should grow it long, and leave it black. Or are you ashamed of it, Sameji? It’s black, just like everyone else’s, isn’t it, Sameji?” Yamato flipped her own smooth, black hair over her shoulder.
“I don’t care what you think about my hair,” Mamimi said softly, turning away and starting to walk past Yamato. Her stomach churned. How was this going to end?
Yamato’s grip was strong, and even when Mamimi tried to fight it, Yamato dug her finger nails into Mamimi’s arm. “Oww!”
Yamato dragged Mamimi backwards, toward the river. She tore off her bag, and swung it into the river. “My cameras!” Mamimi cried, tears coming to her eyes. She lunged herself at the bigger girl, her fist tight, but small and slow.
Yamato tripped her, shoving her into the muddy river water. “Stay where you belong, Sameji.”, Yamato ordered, “Wherever that is,” Yamato turned and walked away.
Mamimi started twisting her skirt to get the water out, not caring if anyone saw her.
The bag was soaked completely through. Water poured out of it as Mamimi pulled it out of the water. She waded back to the bank, loosing one of her shoes in the river.
Mamimi pulled her camera out of her bag, opening thee film compartment. Water leaked out of it. She dried the red game on the dry part of her coat, then stashed everything back in her bag and started walking.
Where, Mamimi Samejima did not know.
I’m finally dry, Mamimi thought, walking along the highway. Her bag of ruined belongings thumped her bare thigh, and she shivered at the touch of the still-wet bag. She pulled a wet and wrinkled cigarette out of her pocket, the words ‘never know best’ handwritten on it smudged from being wet.
She flicked the back of the lighter, once, twice. For a minute, Mamimi held it there, until the cigarette finally lit. As it burned, it smelled worse than normal. It was the strong kind of cigarette. The kind that Takkun hated her smoking.
Tasuku, do you remember me?, Mamimi thought, wishing her thoughts could reach across the ocean to America, where her boyfriend was playing baseball. Every time she thought about Tasuku, it hurt her and comforted her. She liked to think that Tasuku was waiting for her, but she knew that wasn’t true.
He was moving on.
To cope with being left behind, Mamimi started hanging out with Tasuku’s younger brother, Naota. She even went so far as to call the grade schooler by the same nickname she had given Tasuku—Takkun. Sometimes, when she thought about Takkun, Mamimi wondered whether or not she was thinking of Tasuku or Naota. Both had stayed with her, and both would leave her behind.