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One Heartbeat

Chapter 1: One

by isilelensar

Do you remember the day we met, Kei? I do. Like it was yesterday.

I was always running when I was younger. I liked being fast, feeling the wind race through my hair, knowing I was going to get there first before all the others. There were also the times when I was running to get away from people, from bad situations, to be alone when I needed space to think.

That day was part of the latter reason. My parents were fighting again; this time, it was about moving away. Dad had taken a new position in the company he worked for, and it required moving to Tokyo, where its headquarters were based. Mother wanted to stay in Miyagi. All of our family was here; she wanted my big sister and I to grow up here. Tokyo was too big. We knew no one there. It was too far away.

This fight was louder than the others. I remember that. My sister told me I should also leave before it got worse. So I picked up a few things, stuffed them in a bag, and ran. I could have run to a cousin’s house, or to my grandparents’. But… I wasn’t really thinking about that. I just… ran. I was running as fast as I could, and I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings…


_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

Someone yelled at me as I’d reached the intersection you were standing at. I’d brushed by you, and knocked you off-balance, but you reached out and grabbed my arm before I ran out into traffic. We both landed hard on the pavement. I hadn’t quite come out of the trance I was in, either.

“Are you okay?!”
“Do you need medical attention?”
“You two don’t look hurt.”
“Thank goodness he saved you!”

The questions and concerns flooded my senses. I wanted to run away again, but couldn’t. The way we landed was, well, awkward to say the least. I only noticed that much. I hadn’t really looked up, and I was trying to catch my breath. Then, you spoke. Your voice shot through me, a sweet sensation that made my heart thump a little harder than it already was. That’s when I saw you.

_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

“Are you alright?”

Your face was close to mine, and flushed, like mine felt. Your eyes looked a little watery, but no tears fell. They were golden brown eyes, enhanced by a pair of black-rimmed glasses. Your blond hair was wind-tussled, as if you had been running, too.

_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

“I’m fine. I think.”

I couldn’t stop staring. Which was different than anyone else I’d ever met. I barely kept eye contact with anyone, I was so shy. But you. There was something about you that I couldn’t quite place. Something that made me want to look at you, listen to you… be with you. I guess my heart knew what it wanted before I could even understand.

“Omigod, I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to knock you over!”

“It’s okay.”

“Are you sure?”


_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

“Maybe we should get up. Let me help you.”

I scrambled to my feet and then reached down for your hand. Do you remember that feeling, Kei? To this day, I can’t quite explain how it felt. It was kind of like a… a jolt of sensation that shot straight to my heart. I felt goosebumps rise along my skin, and it made it feel like my hair was standing on end. More so than usual. It was like I’d been shocked, struck by lightning. When I looked at you, it seemed you’d felt it, too. Your eyes were wide, and your face was flushed again. I pulled you up a little too hard, and you practically stumbled into me. We were the same height, then. Almost. I was just a little taller.

“Where were you running to?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, the park isn’t too far. We can go there, if you want?”

“I don’t know.”

_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

“Do you want to come to my house? My mom and brother are home. She’s making pork cutlet bowls for dinner.”

Honestly, Kei, you were always offering me food, even back then. No matter the situation, you always offered food first, then we’d do whatever we wanted. As long as we ate something. You were happy making food for me, and I was happy eating whatever you put in front of me. I loved your food.

“Do you think she’ll mind?”

“Nope! She likes when ni-san brings his friends over. I think she just likes cooking for a lot of people. It’s usually just the three of us.”

“If you’re sure…”

“Yeah! Come on! It’s not far.”

_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

We walked hand in hand all the way to your house. We never did let go of each other. I instantly fell in love with your family, Kei. Your mom was super kind, and she made room at the table as if I were just a part of the family coming home late for dinner. She didn’t scold me for being late, either. And Akiteru! He just started talking to me like we’d known each other forever, as if I was another little brother. I was a complete unknown to all of you, yet it felt like we fit together like puzzle pieces. We were just waiting to be connected.

“Who’s your friend, Kei?”

“Oh! Uhhhmmm…”

Akiteru started laughing, and your mom was smiling.

“Brand new friends, are you?”

“I’m Tetsuro Kuroo. Nice to meet you.”

“My name is Kei Tsukishima. That’s my brother, Akiteru. And my mom…”

“Just call me ‘Mom’.”

“May I? Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“Okay. Nice to meet you, Mom.”

_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

For the rest of that school year, maybe a few months at most, we were practically inseparable. Well, as much as we could be when we went to different schools, and lived on opposite sides of town. We were best friends… sort of. There was more to it than just friendship, but we were young and naive, so ‘best friends’ was the most we could call ourselves. I practically lived at your house; I was there every chance I got, which was frequently. Mom let me use the guest room like it was mine, even though we shared yours.

But… a few months was all we had. My dad informed my sister and I that we were moving to Tokyo. My mother wasn’t speaking to him, or to us. Naturally, I ran to you. I told you that we were moving away, that we might not see each other ever again, and both of us were inconsolable. Two young boys, holding on to each other for dear life, crying our eyes out. Ni-san had excused himself, but Mom cried with us, wrapping her arms around us and comforting us. She said we could keep in touch, somehow. Write letters, call or text. Tokyo wasn’t too far, by train. Maybe a visit or two wouldn’t be too difficult.

_^_^_^____ One heartbeat. Two. Three.

Little did we know that keeping in touch would be so much harder than we thought. Once the school year was over, my family moved to Tokyo.


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Chapter name
15 Oct 2021
Last Edited
15 Oct 2021