It was the end of the school day and Kazuki was glad to be going home. School was never that fun, but what could he honestly expect?
"Hey, you going to get that book for class?" Kazuki's friend, Akito, walked over to him with his backpack. "I gotta watch my baby sister."
"Are you kidding? She's ten. Get the book yourself." he really just wanted to go home.
"I always get the books, you can do me a favor this one time." he pushed past Kazuki and started going home.
"Come on." he said under his breath. He really didn't like the library. Books are boring, all about history and useless stuff like that. Akito's girlfriend, Ayumi, had worked in the library, so he had gotten the books, but they had broken up recently.
He started on his way to the library, one floor up. When he got there, because of course he took his sweet time, he opened one of the two wooden doors and poked his head in. "Hello?" he called out. The librarian's desk to the left was vacant and it seemed to be that they had gone home.
"Great. I'm on my own." he mumbled and walked in "Hello!" he called out again, just in case. There was no answer.
He pulled a slip of paper out of his pocket. "Let's see. We need which of these books?" He looked down the list, but couldn't remember which book they had decided they were going to read.
"Well we talked about this one. I'll try and find it." he finally decided, because it was Science-Fiction. He went to the section where he thought it would be and looked for the author's name. Of course he couldn't find it.
"Well there's one other place this thing could be." There was another section of the library that no one went to and then told about it. It was classified as nonfiction, or the myths section, but everyone said it was haunted. People only went there if they were desperate to pass a test or get a girlfriend. "Well, no one's here." he looked around. Still, the room was quiet.
He walked back to the section and peeked around the corner. The first thing he noticed was that it was dark. Someone had drawn all the curtains to keep the setting sun from coming through. The second thing he noticed was a girl, a year below him, reading a book. He stood and stared at her, surprised at finding anyone in such a section and also that it would be an extremely attractive girl.
"Whoa..." he said quietly. She didn't move anything but her head as it scanned the page she was reading. She then brought her hand up to turn a page.
"Hello?" he said softly. He didn't want to startle her, but this was too weird for him to just leave. She didn't move and gave absolutely no sign that she had heard.
"Hey." he tried a little louder. Her hand came up to turn the next page.
"Okay..." he stepped forward into the aisle. He stood right next to her and lightly touched the top of her head.
"Huh?" her head jerked up and she snapped the book shut with an echoing thud. She turned her head quickly from side to side, her hair hitting him in the hand he had not removed completely. He was also standing behind her as she sat on the floor, so she hadn't seen him.
"Sorry to scare you." He said and moved into her line of sight.
"Huh?" she said again and looked up at him, confused. "Oh" she stood holding the book with both hands in front of her "No it's okay. I was just reading." she said politely and gave a slight bow.
"I'm sorry for intruding." he said, compelled to follow her polite attitude. "but why are you here? I think the library's supposed to be closed."
"Huh?" she looked around and saw the light from the sunset and heard there was no one else there. "Oh, we are alone..." she looked down at her book. "I'll have to continue tomorrow." She turned, seeming to have forgotten him and put the book she was reading back onto the shelf. She patted it twice and smiled, then picked up her bag and walked right past him. She had definitely forgotten he was there. She sure was strange.
On a whim, he decided to follow her. He should probably make sure she didn't do anything dumb because she was so oblivious to the world.
She walked down the hallway towards the stairs and slowly began to descend. She moved as if in a daze. It was really strange. He watched her get her shoes and exchanged his as well. She didn't even look his way when he slammed the locker door closed.
"She is seriously weird." he went after her. The sun was almost set now. "I should really be getting home." he said and looked at the time. He walked up to her anyways and stood next to her. Of course she didn't notice. She seemed to be saying something under her breath. Well, that is, she was moving her lips without saying anything.
"What are you saying?" She again didn't seem to hear him. "This is so annoying." He slowly reached out his hand and poked her shoulder.
"Huh" her eyes snapped open wider. She looked back and forth and saw him. "Ah." she jumped away and held her bag between them as if protecting herself. "I'm sorry. Was there something you needed?" she asked politely and tilted her head to one side.
"Uh yeah..." he stumbled for words "What was that book you were reading in the library?" That seemed a harmless enough question. It should be safe to ask.
"Um." she got very defensive. " It was nothing. Nothing at all. Excuse me." she pushed past him and walked quickly away.
"What?" he stared after her as she went quickly down the road. "What the heck did I do wrong?"
He walked after her slowly, wondering if she would forget about him again. Apparently she hadn't though, as she turned back to check if he was following every few seconds.
"I just wanted to make sure you got home safe. I'm not creepy or anything." he tried calling out to her. She stopped momentarily and looked back, clutching her bag and breathing hard. He smiled. "I won't ask about what you read if you don't want. It's no big deal." He called out again then started walking forward toward her.
To his surprise, she did not back away. He walked up next to her and motioned an 'after you' gesture. She turned and continued walking, her breathing calming and her grip on her bag softening.
"Sorry. I didn't know it was a taboo topic. You just seemed so out of it that I figured if you walked home on your own it would be unsafe."
"That is very kind of you." she said with the same even, polite tone she had been employing this entire time.
"Uh... yeah..." he said. He wasn't quite sure what to say to her. She didn't seem to be very talkative. He decided to wait for her to start the conversation.
It turned out she didn't. He looked at her from time to time, but she seemed to just stare straight ahead.
"What? You're back early today?" a man in front of a small house was taking out the trash.
"Yes father." The girl next to him looked up and spoke, startling Kazuki.
"Oh, who's your friend?" the father asked warily
"It's a boy who followed me home from the library" she said.
"He did?" the father was obviously suspicious. The girl walked forward towards her house.
"No it's not like that." Kazuki said nervously.
"Oh?" the father folded his arms. "Then what is it?"
"Well I saw her as I was in the library after it was closed..."
"Didn't seem like you were supposed to be there..." the continued suspicion made Kazuki more nervous.
"No, well, yes, well..." he nervously rubbed the back of his head. "Look, she seemed out of it and it worried me so I made sure she got home safe." he said in a rush.
"Father, is dinner ready?" the girl stepped back out of the house and set a hand lightly on the father's arm.
"Hm?" he looked at her softly and nodded "Yes, let's go eat." the father turned with her and followed her into the house.
Kazuki stood out in front of the house and stared as they entered "What the heck is wrong with these people?" He turned and began walking to his own house. "I never even found the stupid book." he kicked some gravel in the road as he crossed a street. "All that for nothing."