Next Apartment Over

A nighttime breeze blew through the crowded, lively city. As she rested on the edge of her apartment balcony, Hikaru Namatame’s hair danced with the wind; blonde streaks flashed in the moonlight from above. Hikaru’s eyes were laser focused on the apartment right in front of her, the apartment in the next building over.

When Hikaru was a child, she would grab a chair out of the kitchen and look down at the city streets below. One day the neighbor across from her saw her and started watching the streets with her, forming a sisterly bond. As Hikaru got older, she would leap between the gaps and into her sister’s apartment.

Now, as a high school student, Hikaru managed to get access to her sister’s apartment whenever she wanted it – the glass door to the balcony wouldn’t be locked.

The sky blue curtains hid the living room across from her, but she knew that her sister would be home. Eager to see her, Hikaru hopped up on the ledge and, in a single bound, landed into the apartment.

Every time she landed into the apartment, Hikaru would get a sudden rush energy and warmth would surge through her body. Her chest tightens and an uncontrollable smile appeared on her face. Time to go bother Oneechan.

With a bounce in her step, she slid the door open and passed through the curtains. Her eyes were so adjusted to the night sky that the bright light of the living room blinded her for just a moment. Even without her sight, pure memory of the living room layout helped her walk through until it returned.

Ignoring the fact that she suddenly barged in, Hikaru announced her arrival, “Oneechan! Oneechan, I’m here! Where are you?”

Without a response, Hikaru started to walk around the entire apartment, looking for her beloved sister. Nobody in the kitchen, nor in the bathroom and living room. She wandered down the hallway again and stopped in front of the full length mirror next to the jacket closet.

Hikaru noticed that the buttons on her school issued peach tone cardigan were undone. Her normal white long sleeve was bunched up by her wrists and the black skirt was a bit higher than allowed. It all probably happened when she had to jump across the gap between apartments, but she shrugged it off.

Hikaru looked up and down the hallway one last time and decided to try and call out to her sister one last time. She was sure that her sister was here, “Oneechan! Oneechan!”

“Geez, enough with the yelling…”

Hikaru recognized that voice, but something seemed a bit off; it sounded a bit tired and sleep deprived. The normal soft and gentle voice that Hikaru knew was, in fact, exhausted from the day’s work.

A creaking door echoed in the hallway, forcing Hikaru to turn around and see where it was coming from. Following behind a pair of footsteps, the voice spoke again.

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