In a town called Millrace, there were two Japanese teenagers named Keiko and Hideki. They’ve known each other their whole lives. They’ve been faithful, loyal and kept each others secrets. But they’ve never planned of falling in love.
When midnight came, Keiko left her Grandmother’s house to meet with Hideki in the mountains.
“Come on, Hideki! You’re slower than a turtle!” Keiko halfway joked while climbing the mountain with him. “Am not,” Hideki scoffed. “I can see the view already, we’re almost there!” Keiko added excitedly. When they reached the top of the mountain, Keiko smiled. Behind her Hideki almost tripped by the root of the grass and breathed, “Wow.”
On his left, he saw Keiko patting the grass beside her. He sat with her. “Wew, that was tiring,” Keiko panted. “It was, though. I almost tripped myself by the grass root.” Hideki pointed. He wrapped his legs with his arms. Keiko gave a small laugh and lay on the grass. Hideki did the same. Above them, the dark sky was showered with bright stars. The brightest one twinkled on the far left. The cold wind waved at both of them. It was getting chilly, but none of them made it a big deal. “What’s your dream?” Hideki asked Keiko who was counting the stars with her fore finger. “What? Oh,” she stopped. “I wanted to be on TV, I wanted to broadcast the latest news.”
“Keiko, that’s fascinating! I wish you good luck on that, hope you’ll be able to reach it.” Hideki sat up, smiling. “Thank you Hideki. What about you?”
The smile on Hideki’s face faded away. He started to ignore the question.
Something was bothering him.
“Hideki, is everything all right?” Keiko asked.
“Yes, I’m alright.” Hideki automatically answered.
Keiko nodded. She let go of that thought and continued counting the stars above.
The following afternoon, Millrace was very busy. Cries were shot in the air. “Okasan, what’s going on?” Keiko’s heart raced. “No time to ask, Keiko. Please do pack all of your clothes, now.” Keiko’s mother led her daughter quickly to the room. “Okasan, please tell me what’s going on!” Keiko demanded.
Keiko’s mother was sweating bullets; she wiped her forehead with her apron. “Keiko, Japan declared a war with Russia. You and your brother must leave tomorrow morning.” Keiko’s mother’s voice was breaking. She didn’t want to accept the fact that her children will leave her just because of the upcoming war.
“Okasan… why aren’t you going, don’t you want us?” Keiko’s eyes were filled with tears. Keiko’s mother kissed her daughter’s forehead and hugged her tightly.
Behind them, Keiko’s little brother, Hiroto stood behind the front door and dropped his bag. Quickly as Keiko can, she ran out of the door, surpassed her brother. She needed to go to Hideki’s house.
When she reached his house, she knocked loudly on the wooden door. “Ohayougozamisu, is Hideki there?” Keiko panted. “Yes dear, he’s upstairs.” Hideki’s grandmother pointed to the ceiling.
Keiko rushed upstairs. In Hideki’s room, Keiko found him sitting on his bed, his eyes glued on the picture frame in his hand. “Hideki!” Keiko cried.
“Keiko!” Hideki was on his feet.
They hugged tightly. “Is it true, that Japan declared a war against Russia?” Keiko pulled back. “Yes it is. Obasaan told me. I’m scared, Keiko.” Hideki’s eyes were in tears, he wiped them with the back of his hand. “So, we’re not gonna see each other anymore?”
“I can’t accept that Hideki, I don’t know. I’m scared either.”
Hideki sat down slowly, his hand on his chest. He made a sound that made Keiko jump. “Hideki! What’s wrong?” Keiko shouted. Hideki continued to shout for pain. Keiko called for Hideki’s obasaan, but she didn’t come. “Hideki, please be alright, tell me what’s wrong.” Keiko cried. “My h-heart,” Hideki’s voice was cold. “What? Hideki…” Keiko tugged his shirt.
“I’m sorry, Keiko.” Hideki sat up straight, his hand still on his chest. “I wasn’t supposed to tell you that… that I’m struggling, struggling with Cardiac arrhythmia for a year now. Please forgive me.” Hideki finished.
Keiko stood up. She placed her hand in her mouth. “Hideki, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because,” Hideki panted. “Because, I was too scared that if you found out, you’re not gonna see me as your friend anymore.”
Keiko whimpered. “Hideki, that’s not true.” She sat beside Hideki and placed her arm around him.
Hideki shivered. “Keiko, can I ask you a favor?” Keiko nodded in response. “Before the train leaves tomorrow, can you meet me at the top of the mountain? I wanted to tell you something important.” Hideki said. “And please, don’t be late. I’ll meet you there at 6:30.” Hideki looked at her eyes. Keiko nodded again, “Okay.”
The next morning, the children of all families were on board already. Waving’s, hellos, tears, I love you’s and goodbyes filled the air. No one knows if they’ll see their Papas and Mamas again.
Keiko did what Hideki had said. She climbed up the mountain to see him and to listen on what Hideki has to say to her. She thought that, it might be their last goodbye. The last time they’ll see each other. As Keiko reached the mountain top, a paper from nowhere covered her face. In the paper, a message was written, a message that made Keiko’s heart drop.
‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this in person. It was my time already. I love you Keiko, I love you with all my heart. Stay safe. Love, Hideki.’