Back from a bit of a haitus. I touched absolutely nothing over the course of June after the 12th, and that was just poking around? I still wanted a sizeable update, so here’s the first half hour-ish of a much-loved oldie that just celebrated an anniversary recently, To Heart by Leaf/Aquaplus! (I actually… have no real history with the game, but I know people went apeshit over Multi back in the day. Plus, there is a little snippet referenced in Linda Cubed, so now English-reading fans will have a little more context of it should y’all bump into it as that translation eventually comes out…hehe.)
You can name the player character, but his canon name is Hiroyuki, I think?
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
I stretch across the futon, reaching my arm out to turn off the alarm clock.
Sheesh. Morning already?
It feels like I was crawling into my futon only a short while ago. Half-awake at best, I drag my sluggish body along. I open the curtain. Radiant morning sunbeams flood the room. It’s a sunny morning. Bright, and crystal clear. The sunlight’s warmth soaks into the futon. I lean my head up to look at the clock.
7:30 A.M. Same as always. I still have some time to spare. So, I’m going to stay tucked in here until my body’s completely awake.
In a daze, I spend those few minutes nodding on and off. Augh… I don’t think I fully appreciate the value of minutes vs. seconds. Hah…
“Hiroyuki-chan!～” I hear a familiar voice coming from outside my window. It’s… Akari’s voice.
Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Ding! Ding! Ding!
“Hiroyuki-chan, are you awake～？”
“Yeah, I’m up!”
“Hiroyuki-chan, hello! Hiroyuki–chan.～”
… Oh, for god’s sake, Akari. I get so embarassed by this, that I’ve asked her to stop. No matter how many times I ask, she never listens. She’s doomed to be a kid forever, isn’t she?
“Hiroyuki-chan! We’re going to be late!～” Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong!
“Oh, you don’t want me to call you『-chan』, is that it? I see how it is！”
Gyh! I instantly roll across the mattress, my eyes turning to the clock. Ack! It’s 8:01?! Aww, no way! I’m supposed to be crawling out of the house by now! I force myself awake and spring out of bed.
“You know, Hiroyuki-chan! We’re going to be late!～”
Akari repeats herself tenaciously from outside the window. Geez, how long does she plan to yell at me by my first name like this? I bet the whole neighborhood can hear her!
“I’m up already！”
I holler back toward the window, throwing off my pajama top for a t-shirt. I rip a button-up shirt from the hanger and force my arms through the sleeves. I put on pants and shoes, carry my uniform jacket and satchel under my arm, and waltz out the door. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. As I finish buttoning up my shirt, I make it down two flights of stairs. I toss my satchel and jacket atop the shoe rack, and unlock the front entrance. I give myself a second to breath before opening the door.
“Good morning, Hiroyuki-chan.” Akari speaks with a smile as she steps in. This is natural for her. “No matter how much I called out, you didn’t reply! I was thinking, ‘Oh, what do I do?’ You can’t do keep doing this! You have to learn to get up on time!”
“…Wait, Akari.” I chime in with a low voice.
“What is it?”
“…You know, I want to thank you for going through the trouble of waking me up at my house. It really helps, but…”
“Don’t keep shouting, ‘Get up! Get up! Get up!” so loudly! It’s embarassing!”
“…But, if you look like you’re still asleep, if I don’t wake you up as quickly as possible, I worry you’ll end up late for class.”
“Seriously? Do you want me to be the neighborhood laughingstock?”
“…No. I’m sorry.”
This girl is Kamigishi Akari, my childhood friend of the same age and neighborhood growing up. We’ve known one another for so long, we have a mutual understanding of one another. We happen to attend the same high school, and somehow or another, we always end up going to campus together. I typically meet up with her on the next street, but I’m running late today, so I accept her invitation to walk the entire way together.
“There’s one other thing, Akari…”
“I ask you over and over, but you keep calling me ‘Hiroyuki-chan’ all willy-nilly! Why?!”
“Hiroyuki-kun’s fine too, right? Hiroyuki-kun works, so if it suits you to call me that, please, I’m all for it. But, now that we’re in highschool, ‘-chan’ is out the door!”
“But, I’ve always called you Hiroyuki-chan since we were small, and as far as I’m concerned, Hiroyuki-chan, you’ll always be Hiroyuki-chan, so I’d like to keep calling you Hiroyuki-chan forever, so it’s alright if I call you Hiroyuki-chan, right?”
“Don’t say it again!”
“Sorry.” Akari apologizes out of reflex. She smiles as though she’s out to swindle me. “More importantly, look at the time. If we don’t hurry, we’ll both be late!”
Oh gee, she’s right. But I’m not going out like this. “Akari, you go on ahead.”
“I still haven’t washed my face, and if you wait for me, we will have to make the mad dash together.”
“…Hmmm. That’s fine. I’ll wait for you!”
“Really? Okay, I’ll be just a minute or so.”
I head for the washroom in a hasty jog. Four months have passed since my parents left home for work. I’ve grown accustomed to living alone these days, but it’s because I’m alone that I come to enjoy this from time to time. It’s also thanks to this situation that I’ve somehow become indebted to Akari. I want to yell at my parents for turning a blind eye to my sloppy shortcomings. I understand all the different reasons, from job’s moving to commune times, but to leave your son home alone for a whole year? I’m going off the rails here. At least send me more to cover the cost of living. I can’t do everything!
Cold water from the faucet, a quick tooth brushing, and a quick facial wash. I wet my bed hair lightly, going over it with a hair dryer and a light brushing. I only needed that one minute.
“Nailed it. Let’s go!” I call out to Akari as I put my shoes on.
“Hiroyuki-chan, what about breakfast?”
“No time to eat. C’mon, I’ve got the keys, so out.”
“Oh! Uh, right.”
I place my hands on Akari’s back and push her out the door. From my house, we run up until we reach the park.
“Come on! We have to hurry!”
“…Haa, haa. H-Hang on, Hiroyuki–chan. Slow down a little.”
I look at Akari, who appears painfully out of breath. I too sigh breathlessly.
“Hey, this is why I told you to leave ahead of me! If I go by myself, I can make it to school in 15 minutes.”
“Y-You’re so mean…”
“It’s fine. Whatever. Here, let’s walk for a bit. Once we exit the park, it’s back to running, got it?”
The two of us enter the park. If we leave through the back here, we can take a huge shortcut to the station. It’s highly convenient, so everyone who lives in the area tends to take this route. We find ourselves walking across pastel-colored tiles. Doves flock to the sides of the road to bathe in the warm sunlight. I’m used to seeing this scenery every morning. Still, little by little, I can sense the call of spring blowing in like a gentle wind.
“It’s getting a little warmer.” Akari looks at me and speaks. The bangs of her hair flutter and tremble in the breeze. “Spring is here now.”
“Sure looks like it.” Was there something funny about my unimpressed response? Akari chuckled.
“By the way, Hiroyuki-chan…” Her tone changes just a little as she talks.
“You can’t go skipping breakfast like that!”
“What? Why bring that up now?!”
“Because… you didn’t eat before leaving the house.”
“That was just my bad today. I didn’t leave myself enough time to eat.”
“In times like this, I say eat some sweets at least! It’s better than nothing!” She says this in a harsh tone. Akari is usually pretty chill, but sometimes she takes on the vibes of a big sister. It’s mostly when she’s warning me about something in my own life.
“And I know it’s not only today. You’ve been missing breakfast like this for a while now!”
“If you don’t eat anything in the morning, your blood sugar will drop, your mind will draw a blank and you’ll feel tired for the rest of the day.”
“Oh, is that how it all works? I see. I have been awfully worn out lately. Could it really all be because I’m missing my morning meals?”
“Aww, you were thinking, ‘That’s not the only reason!’ Weren’t you?”
“What? Me?! I thought nothing of the sort! No-sir! Honest!”
Akari has always been able to tell when I’m lying. She can tell as soon as she reads my face. “…A-Anyway. Try not to oversleep, and be sure to eat a proper breakfast!”
“Yeah, I guess. It’s just, I…”
“What’s the matter?”
“Eating isn’t the problem. It’s preparing the food by myself. So early in the morning, it’s…”
There’s not a soul around to make me breakfast in the morning now. That’s why I have no choice but to make it myself, but it never ends well. Usually, my drowsiness beats my appetite any day, so I make better use of my morning time in bed.
“But if you can put your mind to it, you get to eat! Still, you seem to find everything to be too much of a chore, so…” Akari’s eyes narrow, and she smiles. “I’ve got it! Starting tomorrow, I’ll start making your breakfast for you. How’s that?”
“You? Make breakfast for me?”
Akari’s… cooking….? Hmmm. Might not be so bad. She may not look it, but to say Akari is a good cook is an understatement. And thanks to our long-running relationship, she knows my tastes better than anyone. I have no reason to refuse. It’s a deal!
“Okay, then, if you don’t mind. I’m counting on you, soldier.”
“Roger that, I’m on the job!” Akari nods her head happily. “Tomorrow I’ll come to your house with ingredients!”
“What kinds of things should I make? Hmmm…” She looks upward, cooking up plans in her head. “Would you prefer a Japanese-style breakfast? Or would you prefer something Western-style?
“If I had to choose? Japanese-style.”
“Hmmm… Anything in specific?”
“Okay then, leave the rest to me! I’ll be over at your place around 7!”
When heard that, all I could say was, ‘What?!’ “You mean 7 A.M.? Isn’t that a bit early?!”
“Naturally! You’re usually out of the house by 8 A.M., so I thought we should…”
“Hold it! Hold it! Maybe we shouldn’t go over this now.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Well, what if I don’t wake up that early? I can scarf down bread or whatever in a hurry just fine. So long as I eat something in the morning, there’s no upset, right?”
“That’s right, but…”
“Anyway, I appreciate that you were willing to come over and cook for me.”
“…You do?” She seems more or less convinced, but she does looks disappointed. She never changes, this one. It’s nice that she’s obliging, and it’s nice that she’s meddlesome. After all these years, she doesn’t change. It’s been this way since we were little. The same goes for her calling my name out loud.
“You really haven’t changed.”
“Huh? Did you say something?”
“Something? Well, maybe.”
“Aww, what does that mean?!” Akari looks at me with a face of befuddlement.
“Just what I said.” I respond to her in teasing. “But anyway, look. It’s time to run. If we keep going at this rate, we’ll only fall behind!”
“Aah, hey! W-Wait a minute!”
Unable to answer Akari’s call, I run away. As soon as I leap out from the shade, I am pierced by the dazzling sunlight. I narrow my eyes and look to the sky. The clear, blue sky spreads out far and wide, with no end in sight. If I were to stretch out my hands, I feel I would melt into the blue, blue sky. So blue, it sucks you in. This is my second spring in high school.
So why? Recently, I have felt a fierce tremor in my chest. Is it due to the spring weather, I wonder? Or perhaps, this is my body sensing some kind of new forebodings altogether? Well, whatever. More importantly, spring is here again.
(To Heart logo appears on the screen.)