Chapter 1

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Tsukiko was alone once again. All her friends had just left and she was staring at the door when her phone beeped, the screen flashing with a new message. She didn't pick it up though. There was no reason to read it; the girl already knew from whom it was and what the content was without even glancing the number.

At this hour, it could only be her father, saying he wouldn't be home for dinner. I'm too busy with the new project, sorry, or something like that. It had been his latest excuse. How long has it been since I ate with him? She thought. Tsukiko knew it wasn't that long. Probably last week or so, but there were many times she had trouble remembering she didn't live alone in that big apartment.

She sighed loudly, as if to get some of her frustration out. She knew she'd get nowhere sulking about it, so the best thing she could do was to think about dinner. The fridge wasn't empty, but she had near zero culinary skills, so her only options were ordering some takeout or eat out. I don't want another takeout dinner... not only she had it most nights this week, recently she had grew to hate eating in complete silence.

It's decided, Tsukiko thought, grabbing her jacket and leaving the apartment. From the hallway, she watched the streets, feeling the slightly cold wind on her cheeks. Suddenly, among the many people on the sidewalk, she saw her friends passing by the playground in front of her building. Out of impulse, she leaned on the rail, placed her thumb and middle finger on her mouth, and blew, whistling as loud as she could.

A few pedestrians looked in her direction, but her friends didn't hear her. Tsukiko breathed deep and whistled again, louder. This time her friends heard the sound and turned around. When they saw each other, the girls waved at her. Even from this distance, she could tell they were smiling. Tsukiko beamed and waved both arms, screaming goodbye to them again, not caring if she was bothering the neighbors.

Tsukiko kept waving at her friends until they turned around the corner. When they were out of sight, she lowered her arm slowly, the smile vanishing. She watched the playground for a little while, her mind thinking on what restaurant to go.

When Tsukiko decided to eat at the maid café nearby, something caught her attention. There was a boy walking around at the playground with his head down, staring at the ground. It was so weird she kept watching and after a while walking in circles, he went to one of the shrubs and pushed the branches aside. He placed his head between the leaves and then took it out, only to move to another shrub, over and over.

I've seen him around somewhere, Tsukiko thought when she finally stopped watching him. She couldn't remember where she knew him from though, so she closed her eyes and forced her mind. Ah! He's the new neighbor! When the elevator reached the ground floor, she finally recognized him.

No wonder it took me this long to remember him. Even though she was excellent at remembering faces, the boy had moved to the apartment next to hers just a few days ago, so she had only seen him a couple of times. Though he had bowed his head at her when they saw each other in the hallway, they never really introduced themselves to each other.

The boy was still in the playground, doing the same thing to another shrub. When she crossed the streets and passed by, he took his head from another shrub and their eyes met. For a second, they stayed like that, looking at each other, and then he went to the next shrub while Tsukiko kept walking.

His eyes... what was that? There was something in those brown eyes. Some spark that set her curiosity. They weren't lonely, but there was something... different in them. Could it be he was a bit ashamed? No... I don't think that was it.

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