Chapter One: Sensitivity


Waking up early in the morning wasn’t exactly favorable for Ayako. Sleeping late has always been a bad habit of hers and waking up early could be quite the problem the next day. She groggily rubbed her eyes; a yawn escaped her lips. She supported half of her weight through her arms as she forced herself to sit upright.




The angry shout of her mother resonated throughout the thin walls of her room. She grunted in annoyance as she stretched out her body, stirring herself fully awake in the process.




She groaned. “Yes mom! I’m awake!”


Her feet still entangled in the sheets, she kicked them off of her as she swayed her body to the side. Her feet dangled from the edge of her bed and she playfully kicked off from her mattress and stood up. The sun shone brightly outside of her window and she breathed in the fresh scent of the morning. Taking her time, she scratched her back as she descended down the stairs.


“You’re late,” her mother scolded. “Again.”


Ayako bit back a grin as she sat down across her mother at their table. “Don’t worry, mum. They’re used to it.”


Her mother could only roll her eyes. Ayako smiled. Not only did she look exactly like her mother did when she was young, but she acted like her as well. A plate of eggs, bacon, and bread were pushed towards Ayako’s side. She gleefully took it and ate it with gusto.


“You better be on your way or else. Minako-san will be very displeased with your tardiness again, Ayako.” Her mom stood up from her seat and ushered Ayako towards the stairs. “Come on now, hurry!”


Ayako laughed as she ran up to her room in a hurry. “Yes, mum!”


She took a quick shower and hurriedly dressed up. As soon as she finished, she staggered down the stairs in haste and left with a wave at her mother. She ran outside, swiftly got on her bike, and rode away. The wind blew callously across her body but she paid it no heed.


She was near the shop as she slowly squeezed the handle of the break. “Ayako!”


Ah, one of those days.


“Sorry, Minako-san!” She sheepishly muttered as got off of her bike, left it at the back of the shop and jogged to the entrance. She went inside and came face to face with Minako’s scrutinizing stare. “A-ano…”


“You’re tardy again, Ayako-san.” Minako said stoically. “Have you been staying out late again?”


Ayako rubbed the back of her neck nervously. “Well…”


“I won’t tolerate this anymore, you know.” Minaka released a sigh and massaged her forehead, frustrated. “You can’t just go lazing about like this when there’s work to be done.”


“Sorry, Minako-san.” Ayako bowed, flushed. “I won’t let this happen again.”


A groan.


“I wish it were true, Ayako.” A sigh then a soft giggle followed. “Well, come on then. Let’s get on back to work.”


Ayako gave out an enthusiastic nod. “Hn!”


“So tell me,” Minako started nonchalantly. “Have you found out his name yet?”


Ayako blushed and turned towards Minako quickly, horrified. “W-what?” She sputtered out.


“I know you go to that store near the bay area at night.” Minako told her casually.


Ayako’s eyes widened in surprise and her mouth formed a small ‘oh’.


Minako laughed and started writing down on a piece of paper. “Oh don’t act surprised! Didn’t you know that I lived nearby his store?”


Ayako shook her head. “No! I didn’t! I… I don’t know his name.”




She’s been waiting outside his store again.


It’s been almost like a routine for her to wait. She didn’t mind the cold. She didn’t mind that the sun has always started to set and that the shadows had started to play tricks in her mind. She didn’t mind anything at all. She could only feel the way that her heartbeat fastens as she bided for the store’s opening.


It was a bit weird for her side to do this.


She was a young lady who should be home at this time of the night already or possibly having a night out with friends but rather, she spent it here. Just… waiting. She puffed a frustrated breath.


“What is wrong with me?” She mumbled under her breath.


Her curiosity always got the better of her. She knew. Yet she didn’t stop because it would just kill her if she didn’t find out why. She rubbed her palms together for warmth. She kept on forgetting to bring gloves for the chilly nights that she still wasn’t used to yet.


After work, she leaves in a daze so she could leave her bicycle at home so she could walk towards the store to buy more time. Her feet grazed the rocky ground of the street as she timidly walked towards the store. She remembered vividly how she became obsessed with going there every night as if it had happened just last night.


She would always replay in her mind how one night had changed everything for her. She wasn’t really a fan of dating and when she was asked to hook-up with an anonymous guy one night because of a friend’s persuasion, well… she didn’t really knew how to handle it.


She met up with him and he seemed to be such a nice guy at first. She was comfortable with conversing with him about their chosen careers and how it was unfortunate that it didn’t work out that well for them. She wanted to look for something more endearing for her curiosity with life and he—he was more of the perverted kind, she found out after a few minutes of her rambling.


“Come on,” he drawled as he inched his fingers closer to her knee-length skirt. His fingers barely reached her knees to slide the offending material from his touch. She flinched and stood up abruptly.


Stop it,” she stammered. Her hands formed into fists. “I should go now. It was nice meeting you.”


And she ran. Far, far away from him.


She wasn’t used to going on dates and it was definitely one of the things that she should avoid from now on. Men are pigs. All of them. She released an indignant sigh. Her feet finally gave way to exhaustion after a few blocks away from the horrendous man and she reached the clothes shop that she worked in. She remembered how she reached Minako just as she was closing the shop.


She felt vulnerable. She smiled weakly at Minako but the dejected mood was not noticed by the older woman. She could only give Ayako a slight wave as she walked away to a route that Ayako has never taken before. Curious, Ayako decided to follow her co-worker down the road.


She wasn’t stalking her or anything. She was just curious what lie ahead in the street she wasn’t familiar with. A series of rundown stores and homes that were barely lit decorated her vision as she walked past. She felt nervous when she noticed that two men were watching her under the glow of the streetlight.


She quickened her steps and reached a dead-end. She looked around frantically for a safe place to hide. She heard the footsteps of the men who were pursuing her drawing closer each passing second. She drew a breath and entered a random place where the door was conveniently open. Her eyes widened and her heart pumped rapidly, adrenaline coursed through her veins in a panic. Her body slid to the floor in a heap. She clutched the front of her blouse tightly in her grasp as she panted.


Deciding that a peek wouldn’t be a source of trouble, she tilted her head slightly to her left and looked outside. She saw that the two men had just had gone past and she felt relief wash over her. She breathed in slowly and calmed her rushing heartbeat.


“What are you doing on the floor?”


She stilled. Oh gods.


Her eyes tightly closed, she readied herself for the inevitable run that she would have to make. “I-I’m…”


She opened her eyes and saw a calloused hand reaching out for hers. She blinked.


“I haven’t finished sweeping the floors yet. You better stand up.”


She looked up and saw a pair of sand-coloured eyes peering at her through disheveled brown hair. He looked older than her by a few years. His shirt was slightly torn and was marred by a few splotches of paint and ink. Could he be an artist? A painter, possibly? Shaking her head slightly of the thoughts about the man in front of her, she finally noticed that he still had his hand reaching out to her. She took it in gratitude and hoisted herself up. “T-thank you.”


He nodded his head and proceeded to clean the floor as if she wasn’t there. She finally had the chance to look around and observe where she had ended up and noticed that it was a small grocery store. Was he the owner? Or was he just an employee? It seemed rude to ask so she decided to shut her mouth. She realized that she had stayed in his store for a few minutes that seemed too long and figured that it would be best if she could at least pay him back by buying one of his merchandises.


She reached out and took a hold of a bar of chocolate—just what she needed to fuel her energy. She went towards the counter and waited for him to finish cleaning. After a few more minutes passed, she gritted her teeth in annoyance. She took a glance across the store and saw him making his way to the counter. Finally.


“That would be two-hundred and thirty yen.” His voice had sounded so monotonous. So… mechanical. She cringed as she heard his tone. She reached inside her purse and gave him the money. “Come again soon.”


And she knew that she would.



One Response to “Chapter One: Sensitivity”

  1. 1 Flight of Stares « dreams are sewing machines.

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