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Old 2007-03-22, 22:22   Link #1
USB500
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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A Gifted Treasure

I have been planned to write this story ever since I got hooked up with Ama-san, and this story was originally written as a tribute to her. However, things have gone rather slow on this (at least, on Fanfiction.net where I started posting it), especially since I lost ideas on continuing it after Chapter Two. I decide to rewrite the story with new contents (not much, just minor modifications to the contents) and post it here instead.

So here we go.

x-x-x-x-x

SHUFFLE!
A Gifted Treasure
Written by:
USB500
Conceived by: USB500

Author’s note: SHUFFLE! is copyrighted by Navel. USB500 does not own any or all real-life features or whatever facts featured in this story. He does, however, own the copyright to all his original ideas in this fiction. The author would really appreciate it if readers do not plagiaries everything inside this story without his knowledge.

Please see: the author would like to stress that he has very little experience with SHUFFLE!, both TV and game version. He would like the readers to spare him if there is any error found in this fiction. So if you find this fan fiction didn’t do justice to the series, the author sincerely apologies. Until then, happy reading.

Chapter 1
Shigure Asa

“Hello, hello, hello, everybody! You are listening to Blaze FM on 101.2FM frequency! This is Mr. Freebie, your deejay of today, greeting all of you with all the smiles and all the silliness just to keep you entertained! And also good morning to the infamous Mister Handkerchief from all crews of Blaze FM! Hey, Mr. Hankie, how on earth are you doing right now? Good luck on impressing the girls, because you might just need it in the future! Ah-hah! What if I stop talking nonsense and start the day with the best kick-start song I can offer to all listeners! YAHOO!”

Asa walked out. The morning bath she took earlier was a refreshing mint, and she really needed the kind of refreshment, as today she was going out to the city. And there was nothing better off to her than going out with Rin. “Where is the moment we needed the most, you kick up the leaves and the magic is lost,” she sang to the song played on the radio, “they tell me your skies fade to grey, they tell me your passion’s gone away, and I don’t need no carrying on…”

Asa approached the wall mirror. Looking at the reflection of her self wrapped in green towel, body still soaked in hot steams, droplets of water dripping down her hair. For a minute or so, she admired her lean form, occasionally taking a spin upon her feet. She giggled to herself, approached the wardrobe and took several dresses out of it. “Now which one is the dress I bought last week?” she mumbled while putting the clothes on her bed, whilst keeping her towel from slipping away.

She picked one of the dresses. She chuckled; the green/white blouse was just what she needed. “This should do it. Rin-chan will be happy to see me wearing this,” she whispered.

It took slightly more than half an hour, but Asa was fully clothed. Again, she approached the wall mirror and looked at her reflection. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the prettiest of them all?” she spoke and sported a ‘bang!’ signature at her mirrored image. She giggled at what she was doing and approached the windows. There she saw a group of people standing in front of her house, and she waved to them.

“Asa-chan!” one of the group members shouted. “Are you done up there? We’re waiting for you!”

“Just a minute!”

Slowly, careful not to wake up everybody else, Asa left her room and walked down the stairs. She halted and peeked left and right. “Yes, no one’s here.” Confidently she rushed towards the door, humming to the rhythm of the song played on the radio earlier at the same time.

“Where are you going, Asa?”

Asa was stunned. Quickly she turned around and found herself facing Ama. “Okaasan, you surprised me! What’s the matter?”

“I thought you’re staying home for the weekend,” the woman in the cat’s hat uttered. “Did something change your mind, Asa?”

Asa forced herself to laugh. “No-not really! I thought I want to take a quick walk around the town right now.” When Ama stared at her strangely due to the answer, she blushed. “Well, can’t I? I feel terribly bored when I have nothing to do at home, so…”

“Then why don’t you take breakfast now? I’ve just cooked mushroom soup for us,” the woman said. “It’s your favourite.”

Asa declined the offer. “Thanks, okaasan, but I’ll take my meal with them.” She noticed that Ama’s expression slightly changed, and she panicked. “Okaasan! Don’t make that kind of face to me, please? I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me.”

Ama smiled. “Okay. Then you better come home quickly. We’re going to have dinner together tonight.”

“Okay, I’ll be home as soon as I can.” Saying so Asa walked towards the door and rushed towards Rin and the girls. “I’m going, okaasan!” she shouted, waving at Ama at the same time.

Ama waved at her in return. “Have a safe trip, Asa.”

“Haii!”

x-x-x-x-x

// earlier on Friday //

“Asa-chan!”

Subsequently a pair of arms was wrapped about her neck. Asa cried in shock at the tight embrace and tried not getting choked by it. “Kareha! Please stop doing it!” she squealed.

Kareha, instead, giggled and tightened the embrace. “What? I thought I want to cheer you up because you look pretty much in trouble.” Letting go off her, the blonde girl stared at Asa and noticed how uneasy she was. “Hey, did I just bother you, Asa-chan?”

Asa sighed and looked outside the window. “I was wondering of something, you see,” lazily she said. “I was thinking of asking Rin-chan to go out with me this weekend.”

Kareha slyly chuckled and threw an arm over Asa’s shoulders. “Dating with Rin-kun again, Asa-chan?”

Asa cried out in protest and pulled herself away from Kareha. “Why do you think I’d ask Rin-chan for that?” she asked, even as her face started to blush.

“Because there’s nothing else you would do every time you mention his name,” laughingly Kareha replied. When she saw Asa glowering at her in disgrace, she laughed silly and backed away from her. “Come on, Asa-chan! Don’t be that upset, okay? I didn’t mean to make fun of you, you see.”

“Then do you have any suggestion, Kareha?” Asa added, emphasizing her not impressed thought by putting her hands over her hips.

“Hmm…” Immediately Kareha was deep in thought, her two fingers put close to her lips as she stared upward as if she was seeking for answers. Then she giggled and turned back to Asa. “Then why don’t we go and meet up with them?”

“You mean Rin-chan and the girls?” Asa asked, slightly surprised by the idea.

“Yeah, and I bet they’d agree to help you,” Kareha said.

So saying they headed to the rooftop, where the said group was having afternoon lunch. Kareha waved at them, in which Rin waved at her in return. “Hey, guys,” Kareha shouted, “got some favour right now?”

“Yeah, yeah, we aren’t this busy right now,” Rin replied. “What is it?”

Laughingly Kareha pushed Asa forward. “This fellow of yours has a favour with you,” she said while nudging her to explain. When Asa looked at her due to the gesture, Kareha growled and pushed her toward Rin. “Don’t be so shy, Asa-chan! You know you have something in your mind, right?”

“O-okay, okay.” Trying to calm her heart down, Asa approached Rin, warily looking at the possessive eyes of Kaede. “Rin-chan… do you have anything in plan this weekend?”

Rin counted his fingers, and shook his head. “Nope. As far as I can remember, no. Why?”

“You see…” Nervously fiddling with her fingers, Asa tried to construct the words to tell to Rin. “I was thinking of asking you to go out--”

Kaede gave her a look of shock. “What-- do you mean by asking Rin-kun to go out with you?”

Asa laughed silly. “N-no! I didn’t ask him for a date! Why are you suddenly coming up with that thought, Kaede?”

“Asa-chan is planning to buy something this weekend!” Kareha exclaimed, throwing herself towards Asa afterwards. “That’s why she’s asking you and everybody else to go out with her!”

This time, the group stared at the green-headed girl, who went panic and tried to explain the situation she was facing. Kareha laughed when Asa failed miserably at the attempt.

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Rin added. “Primula, what do you think?” Primula said nothing; instead, she shuffled a deck of card and took out one of the cards. “Hey, Primula, what are you doing?”

Primula glared at him. Slowly she flipped the card and made a foxily glint. “‘Tis an omen,” she spoke, revealing the card to be an ace of spade.

x-x-x-x-x

“Shigure-senpai? Shigure-senpai? SHIGURE-SENPAI?”

Asa almost jumped off her feet. Surprised, she looked at Rin and Nerine, who were gawking at her. “What? What?”

“Daydreaming, Asa?” Nerine asked.

Asa laughed silly (how many times she had been doing that in the week, nobody knew for sure). “Yeah… sort of.”

Rin shrugged at the answer and turned to the girls. “That’s unlike Shigure-senpai I know,” slyly he added.

Asa pouted at the tease. Angrily she growled at Rin and turned away, “Mou, Rin-chan, I just wanted to buy something for this Mother’s Day…!” She paused. Then she gasped and covered her mouth in surprise. “Oh, no! I’m supposed to keep this secret from all of you…!”

Rin light-heartedly laughed. “Ah, okay. So that’s what the fuss was all about.” Grinning, he put a hand on his waista and stared at the girl. “Why didn’t you tell us from the beginning, senpai? We could’ve helped you on that earlier.”

Asa frowned. “I’m sorry, Rin-chan. I wanted to buy something for okaasan, and I didn’t know what kind of present I’d give to her…” Slowly she went to the saddest frown anyone had seen of, tightly clenching her blouse as she did. “I’m sorry, Rin-chan. I’m so sorry…”

The silence lasted as if for eternity. Neither anyone in the group said a word to break the silence. All they did was to stare at Asa. For how long, nobody knew.

Then Rin laughed. “So that’s it,” he exclaimed and smacked a fist upon his palm. “Well, I was thinking of buying Ama-san present or something anyway. What do you think, Kaede?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Kaede replied. “What if all of us go with Asa and help her buying stuffs?”

“That’s a good idea,” Nerine added.

Primula just nodded.

Rin turned to Asa. “Well?”

In an instant, all eyes were turned to her. The green-headed girl realized she once again became their attention and quickly nodded. “Thank you, everyone! Thank you so much!” she exclaimed, even as her eyes started to fill with tears.

x-x-x-x-x

// ten years ago, at the Summer Festival //

Asa looked around. She was awed; it was the first time she was brought out for a walk, after having to stay indoor for a very long time. Her illness hindered her from indulging in outdoor activities; her difficulties in interacting with people kept her away from the society. She was isolated, and the only friend who would accompany her throughout the hard time was her mother.

Then she stumbled across two young girls running toward their mother. She just watched, as the twin daughters gave the woman a present while greeting “Happy Mother’s Day!” in unison. Mother’s Day. She had heard a lot of the celebration from the mouth of people around her. She had heard a lot of the moment of joy children had with their mother.

Unknowingly, a dire sense of anger emerged inside of her. She hated it. Everybody was having fun with their families, while she could not. She was angry -- not at them, but at herself. Angry, for unable to share the excitement with them.

She bit her lower lip. She had it enough.

Asa looked up at her mother. Roughly she pulled the sleeves of Ama’s kimono. “Okaasan, what is Mother’s Day?” she asked.

The woman wearing the distinctive cat’s hat looked down at her. She was surprised. “That’s a good question, Asa,” she said. “Why do you ask?”

“Asa-chan wants to know what it is,” the little girl said. “Can you tell me what is it about? Can you?”

The woman smiled and knelt beside her. “Asa, Mother’s Day is a day where all mothers around the world are celebrated. It’s a day celebrated by everyone to honour their mothers,” she told her.

The answer was not convincing. Asa wanted to know more. And she asked the woman again. “What does everyone do on that day?”

“Well,” the woman said, “on that day, everybody would go out with their mother to places they go most often. They would treat her with meals, give away greeting cards, buy presents and…”

“Presents?” Asa interjected.

“Yes, dear,” she replied. “That’s what everyone always does each year to their mother.”

Asa’s eyes brightened. She had found a reason to celebrate Mother’s Day. She would buy her mother a present. “Then Asa-chan will buy a present for you! Asa-chan will buy you the biggest present ever!” she exclaimed, stretching her arms wide to emphasize the word ‘biggest.’

The woman smiled. “Why, thank you Asa,” she thanked and softly patted Asa’s scalp, in which she laughed at the playful touch of her mother’s hand.

x-x-x-x-x

// present day, Toys ‘R’ Us, Akihabara Prefecture //

The girls were at doll sections. Sia and Nerine decided to give Asa a hand in looking for presents, while Rin, Kaede, Primula and Kareha were browsing for items at other section of the toy store. They were indulged in a vibrant chat, constantly talking of what to buy and what to give away as present for Asa’s mother. Asa was grateful at the twos; she frequently thanked them for accompanying her at the store, and she never stopped saying ‘I’ll buy you something in return’ to them.

“By the way, what did you originally plan for this Mother’s Day? We never see you this excited before.”

“Can you tell us about it, Asa?”

Asa stopped browsing the doll cabinet. She looked at Sia, who in return stared back at her. She looked to Nerine at her left, then at a huge teddy bear standing in front of her eyes. She frowned. “I… I don’t know. I didn’t even know why I would bother myself with it.” She picked up a smaller teddy bear and gazed into its black eyes. “The only thing I was aware of… was that I wanted to pay back her deed. She had done a lot for me, and I felt I needed to return the favour.”

She giggled afterwards and put back the doll. “Of course, that’s what a daughter would do to her beloved mother, isn’t it?” she said, smiling. Then she focused back on the cabinet and started fiddling her fingers on the stuffed bears. “I wonder whether this doll is too huge for a present…” she mumbled.

“That reminds me,” Nerine interjected. “Sia’s father and mine had discussion with Ama-san last Thursday.” Kaede stopped browsing the cabinet and stared at Nerine. “I wonder what they were talking of,” she heard Nerine saying.

“Didn’t you hear it?” Sia replied. “My father said they wanted to take Ama-san for a dinner. Why would they do that, they didn’t let me know.”

“That’s strange. I thought father told me about it,” Nerine said. “Something about… paying tribute to Ama-san. When is it?”

“I think it’s tomorrow,” Sia told her.

Asa was startled. Tomorrow. That would be Sunday! And Mother’s Day fell on the second Sunday of the month! What’s going on?

“I’m sorry, Nerine, Sia,” Asa said and put back the doll. She looked at the twos with a smile that was clearly not like hers. “I need to go to the toilet. Can you do me a favour and look for something nice?” Quickly she made haste and walked out of the department, leaving Sia and Nerine in total bafflement.

“Hey, I just saw senpai going out,” Rin said as he approached them. “Where is she going?”

“She went to the toilet,” Sia answered. “But I swear Asa looked mad. What happened to her?”

x-x-x-x-x

She frowned. For the very first time in her whole life, Shigure Asa felt angry. Angry for letting anyone ruining her plan. Angry for letting anyone getting close to her mother. Angry for letting her getting through the hassles of Mother’s Day. She wished she could have some power to get rid of the people. She wished she could use her magic to deny anyone from getting close to her mother.

And yet she couldn’t.

Her little heart was telling her not to fall to her emotion. Her very self was advising her not to let her anger take over. She fought against her subconscious, occasionally cursing under her breath.

She halted. She found herself standing outside the toy store. She looked around her, and saw no sign of the girls or Rin. “Ah, damn! What am I doing?!” she exclaimed and slapped her forehead. “I was supposed to stay with Sia and Nerine, not leaving them!”

She stooped her head. Maybe she should leave. Maybe she should stay away from the people. Maybe she shouldn’t even bother celebrating Mother’s Day at all. Why would she bother looking for present when somebody else already did that for her?

She looked around her, and the same scene she had seen 10 years ago, only more vibrant than before. Children were taking their mother to the nearest ice-cream booth, a boy giving an elderly woman a balloon, and a teenage girl treating a woman slightly older than her with soda drinks. Again, the dire jealousy took over. Asa bit her lower lip, her fist clenched. She tried suppressing her emotion and she succeeded -- yet not after people looked suspiciously at her.

“This shouldn’t happen at all…” With the remaining strength she had, Asa walked out of the central square and left the toy store. She decided to call it a day and headed home.

x-x

“Tadaima.”

There was no one at home. Asa started calling out her mother, but there was no reply. She looked around the residence, but there was no sign of her. She went to her room, but she was not there. She was frustrated; Ama was nowhere to be seen in the house.

“Maybe she did join them for the dinner…”

She headed to her room. Without changing clothes, she threw herself into the bed and buried her face beneath the pillow. Today was a failure. She couldn’t reach her goal to buy Ama a present, and she couldn’t believe what she had done. Silently she mumbled, blaming herself for her failure to keep up with the responsibility as a daughter.

“I’m sorry, okaasan…”

She closed her eyes. She was too tired to think of anything else. Her body was tired. Her mind was tired. Her heart was tired. Slowly she dozed and curled into foetal position. Yet it was only a temporary nap when she felt her head rested upon a warm lap. Slowly she opened her eyes and saw a pair of amber eyes staring contently at her. Upon closer inspection, she realized the owner of the eyes were none other than her.

“Okaasan…?”
USB500 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-03-23, 11:35   Link #2
Daniel E.
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Oh, I didn't know you were into writting.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 2007-03-28, 22:49   Link #3
USB500
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Post I'm expecting to see Riker swoon at this story :o

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel E. View Post
Oh, I didn't know you were into writing.

Good luck with your project.
thanks =3

Chapter 2
Shigure Ama


“A very good morning to all loyal listeners of Morning Glory FM, and you are now with me, Kira on radio frequency 99.4FM. I’m now accompanying all of you listeners in this segment Kira and the Morning Brigade and I’m looking forward to staying with you for the next three hours. I’d like to say a very good morning to one of our most popular listeners, Mrs. Shigure Ama, who might be tuning to this channel. Mrs. Shigure, how are you doing at this moment? We at Morning Glory FM hope that you’re in the best of conditions right now. You know that you’ve become the people’s idol, don’t you? Hey, don’t ask me why they would do that.

“Anyway, allow me to begin today’s segment with one of my favourite songs. I’m very sure Mrs. Shigure will be pleased with this song of choice, because everybody’s been asking me to dedicate this song for you. This is from James Blunt’s debut album Back to Bedlam and this is his single You’re Beautiful.”

The woman smiled. “Idol? I didn’t know about that,” Ama uttered, even as the familiar tune of the song started playing on air. She hummed to the song, even as her hand stirred the soup inside the pot.

She sipped the ingredient. She nodded. “This should do it,” she uttered, nodding and putting the pot’s lid onto it. “Alright, I better go and call Asa.” She walked towards the door’s kitchen, truthfully singing “you’re beautiful, it’s true” to herself.

Ama heard footsteps coming down the stairs, along with verses from of Bad Day. She peeked out of the door and saw her daughter rushed towards the door. “What is she doing now? I thought she’s going to stay.” So saying she stepped out of the kitchen and called out the girl. “Where are you going, Asa-chan?”

The girl in question was startled and quickly turned around. “Okaasan, you surprised me! What’s the matter?”

“I thought you’re staying home for the weekend,” she spoke. “Did something change your mind?”

The girl forced herself to laugh. “No… not really! I thought I want to take a quick walk around the town right now.” Ama stared strangely at her due to the answer, and this caused her to blush in response. “Well, can’t I? I feel terribly bored when I have nothing to do at home, so…”

“Then why don’t you take breakfast with me?” Ama said. “I’ve just cooked mushroom soup. It’s your favourite.”

“Thanks, okaasan, but I’ll take my meal with them.” Ama’s expression slightly changed when she heard the answer, and Asa panicked. “Okaasan! Don’t make that kind of face to me, please? I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me.”

Ama smiled. “Okay. Then you better come home quickly. We’re going to have dinner tonight.”

“Okay, I’ll be home as soon as I can.” Saying so the girl walked towards the door and rushed towards Rin and the girls. “I’m going, okaasan!”

“Have a safe trip, Asa-chan.”

“Haii!”

Ama watched for a while, as the group walked down the road and eventually disappeared from sight. Smiling at first, she frowned. There was something Asa tried to hide from her, she thought, but she didn’t know what it was, as well as why Asa would do such a thing.

The only thing she knew of about Asa, Ama pondered, was that she promised to buy her something. What was she going to buy? She didn’t even know of that, either.

She sighed. “Maybe she wants to give me a surprise,” she uttered and walked back to the kitchen.

x-x-x-x-x

// earlier on Thursday //

“How is your daughter?”

Ama giggled. She put the teacup on the table and stared at the two fathers -- Eustoma and Ferbossi, the Kings of Gods and Demons respectively. “She’s fine, Eustoma, Ferbossi. Don’t worry about her. You know how genki she is, right?”

“Well, genki or not, she’s always be your precious one, isn’t she?” Ferbossi said.
Ama giggled again. “Do I sense a hidden agenda from both of you today?” jokingly she asked.

The two fathers laughed again. “No, we didn’t mean to set up a hidden agenda,” Eustoma said. “Because if we do, we wouldn’t invite you for our evening tea session.”

“Yes, yes,” Ferbossi nodded while sipping his tea. “You know, Ama-san,” he continued. “We may not know you very much, but we think we would like to pay you a tribute.”

“Yes, yes, we’ve been planning it for a long time,” Eustoma said, nodding at the same time.

“Oh, that sounds interesting,” Ama said. “What are you planning for?”

“You see, we’ve been thinking to take out for a dinner,” Eustoma said. “Of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate if you didn’t ask your daughter to come along. What do you say?”

Ama could not help but giggle. The invitation was out of the blue, and it was proposed by two of her closest friends. “Wait a minute,” she said between her laughs, “this can’t be possible. Are both of you planning something on me?”

The two men laughed. “Come on, Ama. We just want to celebrate this coming Mother’s Day.” They laughed again and stared at the woman. “We know it sounds very weird, but at least we have something to give you, the best mother in the world.”

The woman blushed. Shyly she fiddled her finger along her hair stranding free over her face. “I… I don’t know what to say, Eustoma, Ferbossi. I never expected to be celebrated. But… what will Asa say?”

“Oh, I’m sure she will understand if you explain,” Eustoma said, even as Sia walked into the living room, carrying a tray of bread pudding to accommodate the evening tea. At the same time, Primula returned from the kitchen and was now sitting next to Ama.

“Oh, hello, Primula,” Asa said. Primula turned to her, stared at her for a while and then nodded.

“What are you and Ama-san talking of?” Sia asked.

“Nothing very special,” Eustoma said. “Just a friendly conversation between three aging people.”

“That sounds interesting,” Sia said. “What are you talking of?”

Eustoma stared at his daughter. “Oh, why do you want to care?” slyly he asked.

“Come on, father, I have the claim to know,” she interjected and put her hands on her waist as to emphasize. “What’s wrong with that?”

“What’s wrong with that? There’s nothing wrong with that,” Eustoma replied in a sarcastic tone. “You know, Sia, it’d be appropriate if you could leave this conversation to just old men…”

“Oh, just SHUT THE HELL UP!” Sia grabbed Eustoma by the arm, made a helicopter spin and tossed him at the glass pane. The lord of the gods’ world helplessly cried for help as he crashed through the reinforced glass and was stuck on the door frame. Ama blinked at the ‘sidetracked’ drama between daughter and father, which ended when Primula used her power to freeze Eustoma on his place.

“Did I just… say anything wrong?” the cat-hat woman asked.

“Ah, nothing to worry of,” Ferbossi said and took a bite of the pudding, “just another chapter in the daily life of Eustoma and his daughter.”

x-x-x-x-x

// present day, Shigure Residence //


Ama walked out of the bathroom. The warm water bath was refreshing, and she sighed in enjoyment at the refreshing mint. She walked towards the wall mirror, and stared at the reflection of her figure wrapped in peach towel. It was a strange feeling to look at her very image without the trademark cat-hat. She didn’t just wear it as a fashion; it was purposely made to cover her true identity from the people: her protruding ears, especially, was the reason she wore the cat-hat.

For a minute or so, Ama admired her lean form, body still soaked in hot steams, droplets of water dripping down her golden-yellow hair. For a woman who had become a mother for years, she was surprisingly petite. Even when she stood, she would be dwarfed by her daughter and her friends. She giggled at the thought of people mistaking her as Asa’s younger sister -- even Itsuki, Asa’s classmate who is notoriously famous for being a womanizer, had trouble identifying her as a grown-up woman.

“Well, enough for a silly thought.” She approached the wardrobe and took several dresses out of it. “I should be wearing formal dresses for tonight’s dinner,” she pondered while fiddling her fingers through the clothes, keeping her towel from slipping away with her other hand. “Now let me see…” She picked one of the dresses -- a satin gown made of silk -- and giggled. “This should do it. Now for the ornaments…”

It took more than 30 minutes, but Ama was fully clothed. She looked at the very reflection of her body. She giggled; it was the first time she had the chance of wearing such an outfit, and now that she was donning it, she couldn’t help but awe at her own beauty.

Just then a flashback knocked her memory box. She slightly frowned at the reviving nostalgia. “I wonder if Asa…”

x-x-x-x-x

// ten years ago at the Summer Festival //

“Well, here we are, Asa.” Ama let go off Asa’s hand just to correct the peach-coloured kimono. “I’ve been longing to visit this place for a very long time since I was married. I wish the three of us could visit this place as a family, but oh well.” She nodded to herself and approached a booth when she felt the sleeves of her kimono being pulled down. She looked down and saw Asa staring at her. “Yes, dear? What is it?”

“Okaasan, what is Mother’s Day?” the young girl asked.

Ama was surprised; she never expected her daughter would ask such a question. “That’s a good question, Asa,” she answered. “Why do you ask?”

“Asa-chan wants to know what it is,” the little girl said. “Can you tell me what is it about? Can you?”

The woman smiled and knelt beside her. “Asa, Mother’s Day is a day where all mothers around the world are celebrated. It’s a day celebrated by everyone to honour their mothers,” she told her. When she saw the green-headed girl staring at her with an unconvincing gaze, she knew there was something that bothered her.

“What does everyone do on that day?” Asa asked.

“Well,” the woman said, “on that day, everybody would go out with their mother to places they go most often. They would treat her with meals, give away greeting cards, and buy presents and…”

“Presents?” Asa interjected.

“Yes, dear,” she replied. “That’s what everyone always does each year to their mother.”
Before she could continue with the answer, Asa already excitedly laughed and waved her little arms. “Then Asa-chan will buy a present for you! Asa-chan will buy you the biggest present ever!” she exclaimed, stretching her arms wide to emphasize the word ‘biggest.’

Ama was touched. She was very grateful her daughter -- her only child in the world -- remembered Mother’s Day. “Why, thank you Asa,” she thanked and softly patted Asa’s scalp. The little girl laughed at the playful touch of her mother’s hand.

x-x-x-x-x

Ama looked at the dressed up version of her appearance in the mirror. She looked up at the wall-mounted clock; it was 10 minutes to six, and she was already late. “I bet those twos are awaiting me already.” Nodding to herself, Ama left her room and headed to the front door, and as she walked past the telephone she caught a glimpse of a small card attached on it. Thinking it was merely a decoration, she ignored the card when she remembered the time Asa put on something on the telephone before leaving the house. She took the card and read a small inscription scribbled on it.

She was surprised.

“Then Asa has been…”

At the same time the telephone rang. Ama picked it up and answered the call. “Haii, this is Shigure Residence. May I know who’s on the line?”

“Ama-san?” Sia’s voice spoke through the phone.

“Sia-chan! What a surprise to have you calling me,” Ama replied in a surprised tone. “I’m already about to leave the house--”

“Anou, Ama-san,” Sia said, “is Asa at home?” She sounded in distress when she asked the question.

“Asa? I thought she’s with you guys,” Ama told her. “What happened?”

“She left us at the shopping mall. We thought she went to the washroom, but she didn’t show up,” the elf girl explained. “We thought she’d already gone home, but we couldn’t reach her phone.”

Ama frowned. Something definitely wasn’t right. She knew something would eventually happen to Asa, but until the moment she had no idea of what it was.

“Did something… happen to Asa?”
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