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The only memory I had with Harumi Kim was on that particular spring day of 2004. The January heat was sweltering and sweat trickled like river waters down my nape and temples. It was the week's PE day, as far as I remembered. I was slumped on my back on the middle of the school field. I can still recall the warm and rough feeling of the hard asphalt on my back. And the skies were then pale blue, and clouds took majority of its vastness, yet I could clearly and oddly picture out stars hovering over me. I tried to get a feel of my head throbbing after a basketball flew out of nowhere and knocked me down on my feet.
My ears felt like an ocean wave was rolling inside them. I blinked hard multiple times, steadying my sight and noticed that the stars had then turned into a picture of Harumi above me. Her loose dark curls swayed gently past her shoulders and her wispy bangs were blown lightly like an open parachute midair. She was mouthing something I could not make out, inaudible.
"Daijōbu desu ka?" Her wide round eyes stared intently into mine and a flush of embarrassment rushed into my face.
"What?" I muttered under my breath. She was still for a second before grabbing both of my shoulders a little too hard, sitting me up. I glanced behind her, to the other students in our class frozen on their feet. Ah, yes, we were playing basketball for the semester. I guess, the ball came rather somewhere than what I thought was nowhere.
"I asked, are you okay, Parker? I'm pretty sure I've concussed you. Can you tell me how many this is?" Harumi lifted her right hand and sticked out three of her fingers. I nodded my head a little and reached for my nose. I wasn't even surprised to feel warm blood on my fingers.
"Oh! You're bleeding. HE'S BLEEDING!" Harumi cussed and yelled in her breathy and rich oriental accent right on my ears.
"Were you just talking to me?" I winced and tried to stand up. She boldly grabbed my arms again, pulling me up from the dirt.
"Well, I'm not sure. What do you think?" She whispered and raised her left cuff sleeve and wiped the blood off my nose.
"Wait for me here, okay? Do not throw up." She winked and ran back off to the other kids and Mr. Nolan, saying something, pointing and glancing at me every once in a while before running back towards me again with a small smile smudged on her lips. "Come on."
Blue Lake High School's nurse's office was depressingly huge, dark and stark. There wasn't any windows for breathing and light. The room smelled of Lysol and cheap detergent which worsened the atmosphere hanging above. Harumi swung the door roughly and placed a plastic bag at the foot of my bed. She took out its content and spread out various of local convenience store snacks. She sat down on the bed with her legs crossed, stabbed a straw on a banana milk and handed it to me with a blank face.
"What are you doing?" I blurted out, eyebrows creased, puzzled of everything about her.
"I don't know. Well, what about you, Parker? What are you doing?
You see, I spent two thirds of my allowance on this. So, take it." She sighed softly and waved the bottle in front of me.
I stared at her for a few beats before taking the milk, skeptical. "I mean, why are you doing this?"
She gave me a toothy grin that showed both of her dimples. "It's how my dad say sorry to people," she shrugged off her shoulders and stabbed another milk bottle for herself. "And I'm starving as hell."
Harumi and I went to almost all the same classes together in high school. But I realized, it was the very first time we ever shared a conversation—the first time we ever get to be that close. It was the first moment I heard my name rolled out of her lips dressed in her strong and confident accent. And two months after that very day, after seeing chrysanthemums sitting on her desk and locker, I realized that it was the most beautiful sound my name has ever worn.
And I was afraid that it was the only and the last time I'd ever get to hear it.
(Hello! Thanks for reading. This is a piece that I wrote back in 2019 when I was so passionate about starting to write a full-length novel. Unfortunately, this only has three parts. Nevertheless, I found that I really like my writing style back in the day so I decided to share it to you guys. Hope you enjoy! Comment if you want to read the next two parts! xx)