She pushed down all her pride and waited patiently, somberly. The slanting sunlight from behind the hotel they worked at barely missed her but cascaded an elongated shadow of her bicycle on the asphalt of the parking lot. She checked her watch then the employee door where the clock-in device hung. Still no sign of the tall lanky figure that has been avoiding her.
She had to make sure she was forgiven.
They passed each other in the hallway today. She was dragging the vacuum cleaner. He was walking with the Cleaning Dept. Head, listening to instructions on how to patch up the dinged Orchid meeting room wallpaper. They both nodded her way, Mr. Ishikawa making eye contact. Him? Not even a glance. Her heart was drowning.
She knew she had crossed the line. So did the rendang onigiri and the small bottle of Royal Milk Tea she prepared for him today, sadly questioning their existence in her bike’s basket. She was hoping she could hand them over to him after their ride back to Shuugakuin St. She wasn’t used to apologizing. She was used to proving she was sorry by doing things differently. Correcting her ways.
The shadow of her bicycle was fading when the side door opened. Her heart felt like a million erratic atoms. She stood upright, with her hands on the handle bars of her bike. “Bareng?” is all she could muster in the end.
“Wah, ga bisa. Ada baito lagi.” he said walking straight to his locked bike.
She just stood there. Not knowing what else to say. What else to do. Watching him move. As if in slow motion.
He sat on his saddle, slinged his bag over his shoulder, covered his nose with his muffler and simply raised a hand before pedaling his bike through the front of the hotel, then riding off South.
Without thinking, she mounted her bike and rode North. Crying.
The afternoon sunrays followed her as she pedaled her bicycle. She was aware enough to watch where she was going. To stay clear of pedestrians. Tears still flowing into her scarf.
At the stop light before Demachiyanagi St. she happened to look to her left.
A magical sunset was unravelling in the autumn sky. Scattered slithers of clouds, reflecting golden light, with a orange pinkish hue as the background. Like a scene she remembered from a Makoto Shinkai movie. A flock of ducks flew South over the river they were named after. She could feel the warm sun rays drying her streams of sadness.
She just sat there soaking in nature’s beauty till the sun had finally set.
By then, the stop light had changed several times. People rushing home, gave her weird looks.
And, not far behind her a tall lanky figure sat on his saddle and enjoyed the sunset she saw as well.