Mei’s footsteps echoed throughout the hallway as she hurried down. Her long black hair danced around to the rhythm of her feet. She quickly turned a corner, only to see the papers from her binder fly up and scatter around her. As she was gathering her notes, Mei noticed a hand giving her the papers she lost.
“Are these yours?” asked a boy.
Mei looked up at the boy, her eyes fixated on him as she took the papers. His dark brown eyes seemed to smile at her. Mei realized she was staring at the boy for a second too long.
“Yes, thank you.” replied Mei flustered. She added the papers into her current pile and placed it back in her binder. She glanced back to watch the boy continue to walk down the hallway to his class. She was entranced by his tall figure and gentle demeanor. At that moment she felt a spark within her, but she didn’t realize what fatal effects it would have.
It was now halfway through the semester term. Mei was in a daze, she looked out the window and watched Asahi as he practiced baseball with his team. She thought about the first time she met him in the hallway. It was quite coincidental that they later ended up in the same class. Mei unconsciously grinned a bit as she thought about their funny interactions with each other.
Mei's thoughts were disrupted when she felt a tap on her head. Looking up, she noticed the teacher with a rolled up notebook in her hand.
“There’s no point in being here if you can’t focus on the meeting Mei.” said the teacher pushing her glasses up. She seemed annoyed since this wasn’t the first time that happened.
Mei’s friend leaned over after the teacher walked away.
“You seem awfully distracted today.” he smirked.
Mei felt her cheeks burn slightly. “Mind your own business Riku.” she replied.
Riku slumped back into his chair and gave a loud sigh. “Well if you say so.”
“You two, quit your talking. We are in a meeting right now!” reprimanded the teacher.
By the end of the student council meeting, Mei noticed that Asahi and his team were coming to the last rounds of their game. As she was packing up before lunch, she felt a tingle in her throat. When she coughed into her hand, she noticed a petal. Mei looked around to see if any windows were open. Maybe it somehow flew into her hand. She threw the petal away in a nearby garbage and continued to lunch. Throughout the break she couldn’t stop coughing. Riku finally commented about it. “Are you starting to get sick? Maybe you should go home early.” he suggested, while taking a bite of his bento.
Mei looked at him and gave a weak smile. “It’s probably just a cold," Mei tucked her hair behind her ear unconsciously. "Besides, I have cleaning duty after school. The teacher will get mad at me if I don’t show up.” she replied, sliding the lid over her bento.
“I’m going to get a drink.” Mei said getting up from her seat. “You want anything?”
“Sounds good. I’ll be back.”
Mei hoped that a drink from the vending machine would help clear her throat and make it feel better, but it didn’t end up doing too much.
Mei was exhausted as she set foot into her house.
“I’m home!” Mei called out as she slipped off her shoes.
Mei’s mom responded back, letting her know she heard. Mei hiked up the stairs to her room and immediately collapsed herself on her bed. The bed engulfed Mei, shaping to the grooves and valleys of her body. She felt as if she could’ve laid there forever, but eventually got up from her growling stomach. She sat up by the side of her bed and pondered what may be happening to her.
She pulled out her phone and tapped in her symptoms, hoping to find an answer. Mei’s eyes widened when she found the result.
The illness developed due to one-sided love, where the patient coughs up flower petals. It ends when the beloved returns the patients feelings or when they die. The infection can be removed through surgery, but the feelings disappear along with the petals.
Mei took a deep breath and flopped back into her bed. Her stomach didn’t feel hungry anymore. Mei rolled into her side and looked at her phone that was still clutched in her hands.
“What am I going to do?”
By the next day, Mei’s condition worsened. Every time she coughed, a petal came out.
“Feeling any better?” asked Riku as he shoved his books into his desk.
Mei only continued to put her papers in her folder. Her mind was in another world, unaware of her surroundings; she felt as if she was controlling a body that wasn't hers.
“Mei?” Riku asked again softly.
She looked up at him and saw the concern in his face. “Oh yeah, don’t worry, I’ll get over this.” Mei coughed a bit. “Sorry, I’m going to go to the bathroom.”
Mei quickly got up and slid the door open. She felt like her lungs were overgrown gardens; forgotten and left to go wild. Each breath left getting denser every time air filtered through. Riku hurried after Mei, grabbing her shoulder and turning her around.
“Are you sure you're feeling well? You really haven’t been yourself for the past couple of days.” he said in an anxious tone.
Mei took a deep breath and turned away slightly.
“You worry too much. I’m just getting over a cold, it will go away eventually.” she said glancing out the hallway window. Mei noticed Asahi and his friends practicing baseball outside.
There was an uncontrollable itch in Mei's throat causing her to cover her mouth. She felt herself choke on petals. When Mei looked back at her hand, not only did she see petals, but she saw a splatter of red there. Mei's taste buds tingled with the unfamiliar taste of sweet metal.
“Mei are you alright?!” exclaimed Riku. He noticed the few petals on the ground near Mei. He froze, overwhelmed by shock. "What's happening to you?!”
Mei faced back to him. Dreadful tears brimmed her dark brown eyes, glossy enough for Riku to see his reflection.
“What am I going to do Riku? I don’t want to die yet.” Drops trickled down her cheeks in tranquility.
Riku sensed the fear Mei had. He stepped a bit closer.
“You should go home earlier today. I’ll make sure everything works out, I have a plan.” he reassured Mei.
Mei wiped the tears on her sleeve. “Thanks Riku. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
I don’t know what I would do without you either thought Riku.
Riku walked Mei to the office. As Riku went back to class, he looked out the window that Mei looked at. He glanced where Asahi was and studied him a bit. After a few seconds he walked back into class and pulled out a piece of paper. He spent a few minutes thinking then putting those thoughts onto paper. He made sure to write each word and sentence out neatly. Once he finished, he folded up the piece of paper and placed it into his bag. He waited for the dismissal bell then proceeded to walk down the lockers. Riku quickly slid the letter into Asahi’s locker, looking around to make sure no one noticed. After he swung his bag over his shoulder, he went home.
Mei felt uneasy, from both her sickness and the unknowingness of Riku’s plan. Her lungs, breaths away from collapsing, left Mei feeling suffocated, as if she could pass out at any moment. Mei's body pleaded for rest, but she lied awake, worried she would never see the world again. By the morning, Mei noticed all the petals that blanketed her bed sheets and floor. She tried to collect all the petals off her bed.
As Mei was picking them up she saw a fully bloomed blossom. Butterflies swarmed in her stomach. She didn’t realize the extent of her disease, and how bad it had gotten. She observed the beautifully delicate blossom that was slowly consuming her inside. She placed the bud on her pillow and threw the other petals away.
After Mei arrived in class, Riku followed shortly.
“How are you doing?” asked Riku as he sat down in his seat in front of Mei.
“Not any better really.” she responded looking to the window.
Riku ran his hand through his brown hair and sighed. “Well you know what, that’s going to end today.”
Mei glanced to him in a curiousness. “What do you mean?” she asked tilting her head.
Riku gave a teasing smile. “You’ll see.”
Mei looked at him blankly for a bit. “Wait, what did you do?”
Riku answered. “Oh nothing. I’m going to the vending machine, you want me to get you something?”
“I’m fine, but Riku tell me what-”
He interrupted. “Alright then, I’ll be back before class starts.”
Riku walked out the class. As he arrived to the vending machine, Asahi and his friends lined up behind him.
“Who gave you that note?” asked Asahi’s friends.
“Do you like her?”
Asahi was bombarded with questions from his friends. He seemed to blush when they starting calling names.
“Are you going to talk to Mei?” one friend asked.
“I’m meeting with her at lunch.” replied Asahi.
A drink was dispensed from the machine. Riku grabbed the can and cracked it open. He felt the fizz mist his knuckles. Asahi and his friends got up to the vending machine as Riku walked away.
Riku arrived in class a couple seconds after the bell.
“You said you’ll be back before class starts.” Mei teasingly said.
Riku gave a wry smile and sat down, placing his drink on the corner of his desk.
“You have a little meeting with someone at lunch.” casually mentioned Riku.
“You mean a student council meeting?” asked Mei confused.
“No, something a bit more personal. They want to meet by the garden at lunch. You don’t want to miss it.”
Riku turned around before Mei could say anything else. Mei still tried to get his attention, but stopped when she received a harsh glare from the teacher.
After the excruciatingly long lesson, lunch finally came. Riku, after putting his books away, turned around again and met Mei’s gaze.
“So, you ready?” asked Riku.
Mei slid her pencil case to the side of her desk.
“Depends what it is.” replied Mei. Her voice was steady, but Riku could see the anxiousness in her eyes as she was anticipating what was going to happen.
“Well, why don’t you take a look out the window and see.” Riku said, pointing his head at the window next to their desks.
Mei glanced out the glass at the garden and noticed Asahi. Her eyes widened and she felt the overgrowth of flowers in her lungs, creeping up her throat. She quickly turned away and coughed, releasing the tension of her lungs.
Mei looked up. “Riku, I can’t do this. He is probably going to just reject me.”
There was a short pause of silence before Riku spoke. “Mei I’m positive he won’t. Just talk to him, I’ll be right here giving you support.”
Riku walked up to the window and opened it. “You should go now, or you’ll make him wait for too long.” he told Mei with a gentle grin.
Mei looked at Riku, then out to Asahi. She wasn’t sure if this would work, but she was confident in Riku’s words.
“I trust what you say. Alright then, I’m going now.” Mei said as he stood up from her desk.
She felt a bubble of nervous excitement in her body. Riku waved to Mei as she left the classroom.
Mei ran down the hallway. You could hear her footsteps echo throughout it as she hurried down. Her long black hair danced around to the rhythm of her feet. This feeling felt all too familiar, she knew she felt like this before. Mei saw the corner to where she first met Asahi. Swiftly, Mei swerved around it and headed towards the stairs. Heart beating, and deep breathing. Each step closer, Mei felt more adrenaline.
Mei reached the front of the school, and ran to the back where the garden was. When she caught sight of Asahi, she began to slow down. As they met up closer, they both greeted each other with an awkward smile.
Mei glanced up at the school and noticed Riku standing at one of the windows.
She faced Asahi. “Hey.” said Mei.
Everything happening at this moment felt unnatural, Mei was almost ready to bail.
“Hey.” responded Asahi. He gave a small smile at Mei, relieving a lot of tension.
She could feel her heart skip a beat. Mei nervously played with her fingers as her mind quickly raced and searched for what she should say.
“Asahi,” Mei started. She stood straighter and more confidently. “Since the first day we met, you were always so kind and helpful to me. Even up until now, you're still a really good friend, more than I could ever ask for.”
Mei took a deep breath. It felt like her heart was going to burst from her chest.
“Asahi, I like you. Will you please go out with me?” Mei felt her face and ears burn up. She looked at Asahi and waited for his response.
The short pause of silence felt like it would never end, as if it were an unbreakable sound barrier. Only Asahi’s words could shatter it.
“Let’s go out.”
Mei felt a wave of shock and relief. She didn’t know if what he said was true or not.
“I feel the same way, and I’ve been this way for quite a while now.” said Asahi.
“Seriously?” asked Mei in disbelief.
“Yeah.” replied Asahi unhesitatingly.
Mei couldn’t help but smile. She felt warm inside.
“Do you want to eat lunch with me today?” offered Asahi.
“Yes! I’d be happy to.” replied Mei. They both exchanged smiles with each other.
Mei looked up at the window where Riku was, to share her excitement with him. She scanned the wall, but didn’t see Riku. Mei wondered where he could’ve gone.
Blood-stained flowers filled the sink. The dripping of crimson coloured raindrops against the ceramic sink, echoed throughout the empty bathroom. Riku wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
He gazed at the mirror and looked at his deteriorating reflection. He chuckled to himself slightly.
“What have I done.”