Echoes of Ephemeral Summer

Echoes of Ephemeral Summer

In a rural high school under the blazing summer sun, a gentle breeze carried the faint scent of paddy fields. Behind the school building, two members of the volleyball club, Maki and Eri, exchanged quiet laughter.

Maki had a stunningly beautiful face. However, she couldn’t remove her mask due to remnants of the COVID-19 pandemic. At least, that was the reason she gave publicly. The truth was, she enjoyed the suffocating feeling of wearing the mask, but she never told anyone that. Eri adored this demure side of Maki.

“Since club activities ended early today, want to head to the river?” Eri suggested.

“Sounds great!” Maki replied with enthusiasm.

The two left the school grounds and began walking through a nearby forest. Between the trees, the soft sound of clear flowing water could be heard. They always wore track jackets to shield their skin from the intense summer sun, and both had a secret fondness for those jackets.

Upon reaching the riverbank, they found it to be a deserted and tranquil spot. Maki slightly pulled down her mask and took a sip of the cool river water. Seeing her relieved expression, a tightening sensation gripped Eri’s chest. Eri sat down next to Maki, leaned her head against Maki’s chest, and slowly closed her eyes.

“Feeling sleepy?” Maki smiled.

“Yeah, it’s so peaceful here,” Eri said with a contented look.

Maki gently stroked Eri’s head, feeling the quiet passage of time. In this moment, the two of them managed to escape, if only briefly, from their daily life at the rural high school. Their secret sanctuary was this riverside.

Throughout the rest of that summer, the two visited this secret spot many times. After volleyball practice, wearing their track jackets, they’d head to the riverbank in the forest. It was a special time solely for the two of them, a moment where they’d forget the outside world and deeply feel each other’s presence.

Echoes of Ephemeral Summer