Shrine Maiden

Shrine Maiden

o the air conditioned getabako room. ”Miss Izuhara, I expect you to be in detention after school today, and button up that shirt. ”

”Yes sensei, ” Echiko began to button her shirt back up as Miss Miyaki glared at her.

”Thats the fourth week in a row, when will you learn? ” I knew it was hopeless, Echiko didn care much about detention unless it was Friday. Shunji was on the track team, so Echiko had to wait a while after school got out anyways. It didn matter much to her whether it was in detention or sitting out on the bleachers watching the team practice. I placed my outside shoes into my cubby, grabbing my school shoes and slipping them on. As Echiko opened her cubby, I could immediately tell she had another anonymous love letter left behind.

She squealed with glee, ”Hehe, this one left me a phone number this time, though no name. What do you think, should I send the fountain picture to this one too? ” She elbowed me in the side knowing that I wasn paying much attention to her. ”Or would you like to pose and send this mystery person a picture of you? ”

”Please, as if. I don even have a phone, or have you forgotten for the hundredth time? ” It certainly wasn for a lack of interest. Mom and dad refused to get me a phone, and it wasn just because of the money. My parents didn think a high schooler needed a phone, especially one who could walk to school and back every day. Echiko shoved the letter into her purse and back into the cubby.

”Okada? ”

”Here! ” I replied during homeroom. Miss Miyaki had her back to the class as she was calling roll, writing down notices on the chalkboard. Saturdays swim meet was going to be in Okayama city along with the next track and field meet. I gave Echiko a sideways glance, noticing how she had perked up when she saw the location for the matches. She loved shopping in the city, especially when she had me to go with her to have someone to talk to. Although I wondered if shed make time for me if Shunji was going to be in the city too.

There was only a week left until the semester was over before we had a small summer break. Finals were starting this week, and other than a few last minute assignments to turn in, there wasn much left as far as lessons. Miss Miyaki was writing down some of the main lesson points for the next semester that we should be expecting. I absentmindedly copied down everything into the inside cover of my notebook, most of my break would be spent reading up on the next semesters topics to get a head start. We would be covering some more advanced math formulas, English poetry, the Kamakura period in history, and organic chemistry. Echiko visibly yawned, luckily with the teachers back still to us.

My seat was by the window, turning my head from Echiko I could see the schools pool and sports fields. There wasn a cloud in the sky, the only shadow was that of a lone hawk slowly circling over the fields in search of mice. The sound of rustling bags brought my attention back to the room, as a moment later the bell was ringing for homeroom to end and first period to begin. Getting up and grabbing my school bag, I hurried after Echiko as she was skipping down the hall to meet her boyfriend before first period. I lost sight of her in the crowd, but when I reached the stairwell to head up to the Japanese classroom, I found her locked by the lips with Shunji. He had dark hair and was a grade above us, so we never had classes with him. I rolled my eyes as I walked past them, ascending the stairs before I would have to suffer the inevitable back and forth of both of them complaining about how little time they get to spend with each other. I could already hear Shunjis deep voice before I reached the top step.

”Oh Echi, why couldn you have been a year older? Classes are so boring without you. ”

”Oh Shun, why couldn you have been a year younger? Wed have so much more time together. ”

I came around the corner sharper than I had intended, stepping into the hallway and accidentally smacking into someone coming the other way. I immediately bowed to apologize, when I recognized the boy I had run into. ”Morioka-san… My apologies, Morioka! ” I said his name a little louder the second time, hoping that Echiko would hear downstairs and break her embrace with Shunji before she was spotted.

”Okada-chan, no apology is needed, I was in a hurry and forgot my bag in homeroom. If Im not back in time for Japanese, can you let Richie-sensei know Ill just be a second? Thanks, I owe you one. ” Toin skipped down the stairs in a hurry, saying hi to Echiko on her way up and almost getting distracted from getting his bag.

Echiko was right behind me as we entered Japanese, and luckily Toin made it back just as the bell was ringing, but it didn stop Richie-sensei from scolding him a bit. Toin sheepishly took his seat behind me, giving me a smile as he walked past. A shudder went through me, though I tried not to show it. It wasn a chill or anything, more just my mind processing the possible things he and Echiko might have done in the secluded park by the orchards. My breathing got heavier and faster even as I tried to shake the mental images from my mind. Closing my eyes while the teacher wrote on the chalkboard, I held my breath and began to count. My swim time had been getting better all season, but the coach said the only thing holding me back from first place in matches was my need to constantly come up for air. All summer I had been practicing holding my breath and had improved a lot. I opened my eyes half way through so I could start getting ready for our final, but I managed to count to a hundred and twelve seconds before I needed to breathe in, my heart racing but for a different reason than before.

Finals today were a breeze, though it was only the end of term, not the whole school year. Plus tomorrows finals were supposed to be harder. A lot of the students were getting out of their classes early and the courtyard was full of high schoolers. The middle schoolers usually had to wait until the bell to ring, even during finals week. Not wanting to sit through all the usual complaints of how each question was somehow created just to be horrendous for one student or the other, I hurried over to the locker room to try to get a few laps in the pool before heading home. Since it was finals week, we weren going to have any practices, but we still had an end of term meet that I wanted to be ready for.

Alone in the locker room, I started to undress and place my clothes in the locker, taking out my school swim suit. As I lowered my panties, they clung to me slightly, a wet spot between the fabric and my skin making them slightly sticky. I was a little surprised, I certainly knew why this kind of thing happened, but Ive never had it happen at school. I quickly threw them in the locker and started putting on my swimsuit while my mind wandered. Was it thinking about Toin and Echiko? I didn normally think about things like that at school, so maybe that was the cause. Was my imagination vivid enough to affect me physically?

A few minutes later I was jumping into the pool, thoughts of boys and illicit activities far from my mind as I began swimming the length of the pool. I couldn hold my breath nearly as well while exerting myself, but my time was getting better each week. The pool felt great in the heat and I had the whole thing to myself. After about ten minutes I heard the bell ring, meaning school was out for the day. Letting myself bob in the water for a moment, I looked around. High up in the bleachers there was an overhang from the school, casting shadow over the top two rows of seats. I couldn see anything, the brightness of the sun in my eyes making it impossible to see anything in the shadows, but I felt eyes on me. Swimming to the far end of the pool where I had left a towel, I lifted myself out of the water and wrapped myself in the warm fabric. Still dripping, I walked back to the locker rooms, but as I passed the bleachers I couldn see anyone up there.

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