“Sign here and bring it to me tomorrow.”


“What? Yes….”




“Emergency! Full emergency!”


An urgent voice rang through the workshop. The voice echoed in the large, sparse room.


Rutger covered his ears with a grimace. Would Liliana Lifton ever be quiet?


“Dude, you should get in the firing line.”


“If you’re going to talk back and forth, am I supposed to talk back to you, then answer me.”


As usual, Rutger was sarcastic, but Liliana was not one for that sort of thing. As he expected, she waved a hand and continued.


“Because I don’t like grudge matches.”




“Anita must be pissed that I’m pretending to be your girlfriend.”


Ding. The pencil lead in Rutger’s hand broke. He pressed so hard that the canvas caved in.


“Anita? Why are we talking about her now?”


“Because Anita came into the shooting range, and guess what, she said there was someone she wanted to shoot, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about, isn’t it?”


“I don’t want to die. It’s not easy to be born pretty, rich, and nice like me. It’s too good to die.”


“Calm down and sit down.”




Liliana calmed down surprisingly quickly.


She tried not to think about it, but Anita wasn’t the kind of person to make such horrible threats, and Liliana was a master at exaggerating, but she couldn’t stop her heart from fluttering for a long time at that tiny possibility.




Anita woke up early this morning with a yawn and stumbled out of bed, glancing at the back of her hand as if out of old habit. There was still a trace of pigment there, though it had faded a bit from yesterday’s scrubbing.


Would he show up until the water on the back of my hand disappears?


If he shows up…


Uh, no.


I hastily blocked out the increasingly strange and unlikely thought.


It wasn’t every day that he acted capriciously, and if he was capricious, then Anita herself had to act rationally.


Otherwise, it was I who would be harmed or hurt, and that was clear.


Today was a weekend, so there were no lectures, but Anita couldn’t stay in bed lazily. She had to go to work at the café, return a book she had borrowed from the library, and submit an application to become a full member of the shooting club.


After changing into her going-out clothes, Anita stood in front of the mirror to check her appearance, but she noticed that the lines of the portrait were superimposed on her reflection.


No matter how hard she looked, she didn’t look like the girl in the painting – she had the same basic facial features, like her eyes and eyebrows, but she looked strikingly different.


Even after washing her eyes, the energetic, smiling girl in the painting was nowhere to be seen.


Anita glared at her reflection in the mirror and turned away. She had a lot of work to do today, and she didn’t have time to stare at herself in the mirror.


As she got ready and opened the door to leave, Anita paused. For some reason, the door felt heavier than usual, and when she checked, she found a package on her doorstep. After checking the note on the addressee and sender, Anita returned to her room with the parcel. It was from her parents.


It’s been a long time since my birthday,  so I don’t know what they sent me.


Anita unwrapped the wrapping paper with an unimpressed look on her face. She had grown up in a materially affluent family and was numb to gifts. If she wanted something, she had to pay for it.


After removing the ribbon wrapped around the box, Anita opened the lid. There wasn’t much inside, as she had somewhat expected given the light weight of the box. Two what appeared to be letter envelopes. A book. A bookmark made of dried flowers. A picture frame the size of my palm. A conch shell.


After perusing the items, Anita picked up the book. It was in a language Anita didn’t recognize. Apparently, her mother was traveling again.


There were no illustrations on the cover; the dull brick-colored pages gave nothing away. Anita opened the book and flipped through the pages absentmindedly. Although she couldn’t read it, Anita could see that it was written in Pylas.


She read the squiggly text like an earthworm, then slipped it back into the bookcase.


The letter from her mother was only one line long.


Still, Anita couldn’t read it. Because the short letter was written in Pylas.


She was an actress, after all.


Sighing, Anita put the letter down and picked up another envelope. The letter was in a plain white envelope with no pattern or stamp, but thankfully it was in a language she could read.


Except she didn’t want to read it.


The letter from her father was very long. It was five pages long, and it was all words. She should eat three meals a day, and if she feels unwell, she should visit the doctor immediately.


Anita tossed the letters back into the envelope. She had heard him nag her so many times that she could hear his voice echoing in her head just by looking at the letters.


It’s a dreary Monday.


The rain has been drizzling since morning, and after a blissful weekend, lectures have begun.


The student government was trying to liven up the school with a loudspeaker and announcements about the freshman welcome party.


Some students giggled in anticipation of the upcoming party, but the giggles quickly died down as they realized that the party was still far away and the lectures were too close to call.


Anita was thankful for the rain. Last weekend, for some reason, I submitted an application to a shooting club. And as soon as the application went into the hands of club president Riche, Anita regretted it.

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