The Sensational Six #72

Kari was not ready to let go of her resentment over the way Taro looked at Penny. He was her boyfriend, he was loyal to her. Right? She trusted him, of course, as she did Penny. Penny was her best friend, her best friend since she made her first memories. Right? Penny had been there for her the previous fall when Brad shoved her out of that car for not doing the dirty thing he demanded of her, she stayed with her on the curb in front of someone’s house in the middle of the night holding her while she cried. Penny knew her better than almost anyone, although Taro was getting to know her just as well and it would not be long before Taro would surpass Penny in her heart, a thought that sent a slimy feeling up and down her spine.

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The Sensational Six #71

Penny and ‘Ris sat on the floor of her room with their legs crossed beneath themselves staring at their phones. Penny set hers aside and watched ‘Ris work her thumb across her screen, then she set hers aside as well and looked up to meet Penny’s eyes. The volleyballer took a deep breath and then smiled at Penny.

“So,” she said.

“So,” Penny said.

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The Sensational Six #70

Erisa could not keep herself from smiling at Penny. The half-Asian girl sat across from her at their little table on the sidewalk eating her ice cream out of her little bowl with her little spoon beside the little ice cream shop located near the largest gallery in the Blue Village. It was difficult not to be taken with her, difficult to separate herself from Penny’s tinkling laughter, difficult to ignore the shine in her pretty eyes. Not that she had any reason to keep herself closed off to Penny. Somewhere inside herself, she felt she still should, but Penny’s smile was too loud, too bright, and it overwhelmed that feeling.

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The Sensational Six #69

Kari sat by herself in a chair in the central teachers’ office. The school secretary, a slender woman with short, black hair and a friendly smile and sunny personality named Nishijima-san, was at her desk nearby typing away. Kyoto-Sensei was nowhere to be seen, nor was the lead teacher, a stern man with the bearing of a yakuza hitman the students fearfully called Barker-Sensei. Instead, at their desks near the front of the room stood a pair of Port Matthew Police Force officers, a thick bear of a man and his slender partner, a Japanese woman with a mischievous shine to her eyes. Kari wanted to like them, to make conversation with them, but their uniforms kept her silent.

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The Sensational Six #68

The six friends were largely separated during lunch, scattered across the three periods set aside for the midday repast. Penny accepted her tray of food and walked to her lonely spot in the corner of the room where she could read her book in peace. There was no peace that day, however, as Kana was rushing up behind her to join her for their appointment.

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The Sensational Six #67

Penny cursed herself for making arrangements with ‘Ris. Her phone was chiming its alarm, marking the time as 7:30 in the morning. Bright light glowed around the heavy curtain in her window, a cool breeze ruffling its bottom. She picked up her phone and killed the alarm and reached for her pleated skirt and uniform top on the floor beside her futon. It was easy enough to pull them on beneath her blankets, then she rolled out from under them and lurched to her feet.

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The Sensational Six #66

It was a vast field of wildflowers, if wildflowers grew across concrete paving tiles and milled about, dancing and laughing as Japanese flutes and drums played a joyful melody. Erisa could barely see any of it, her view was mostly shoulders and faces, her sandals did not give her the height she would have needed to see across the riverside plaza. She had a smile on her face as she turned in a big circle with Kari, Momo, and Penny and about two dozen other people in colorful summer yukata. The day had gifted Port Matthew perfect weather, with a light breeze and big, fluffy clouds overhead. She remembered first getting there and seeing some classmates, and the exchange kept a smile on her face the entire afternoon.

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The Sensational Six #65

Kari knew there would be trouble ahead when she woke up that morning. The air was warm and throbbed inside her head. She swung her legs out of her bed and her stomach turned over when she heaved herself to her feet. As she reached out for her phone to cancel their plans for the end of summer festival in downtown Mt. Plains, everything snapped back to normal. Her hand hovering in the air halfway to her mobile device, she waited to see if the feeling would come back. It did not. Still, she picked up her phone and walked to the bathroom only to find it occupied by the younger of her two older sisters. Maya was gone for good, she blessedly had her own apartment in Marquette far to the south with her dopey husband Kari hated and her two babies Kari adored, but Audrey was there, hogging the bathroom all week and promising her in her haughtiest, most mocking tone that she would be there at Kari’s side all day at Natsu Matsuri.

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The Sensational Six #64

The Six sat on cushions at the low table in their room as servers dressed in kimono in Amateien’s colors (navy blue and white) brought in plates of food for each of them: individual bowls of miso soup suspended above little cooking candles, little plates of sashimi, rice, grilled fish, fish soup (also in individual bowls above little cooking candles) little plates of pickles, and little plates of shellfish. All were ornately arranged with sprigs of local herbs, presumably grown somewhere close by, and two large bottles of Japanese beer were set upon the table on either side of a large teapot. A serving girl poured glasses for each of them and left with an instruction to press a button on a plastic transmitter set in the middle of the table if anything else was needed. The six of them exchanged hungry looks, said, “Itadakimasu!” and reached for their chopsticks to begin their meal.

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The Sensational Six #63

Penny cursed her body as again, despite the chill mist they walked through, she sweat. At least it was no longer beading across her forehead and running down her face and neck to soak into her shirt. No, instead it was just a shiny layer of cool slime, she thought she probably looked like an alien. So long as she looked like a cute alien she was fine with it. She sipped her water, what was left of it, and looked forward to being at the bottom of the valley. There were buildings down there. Buildings with showers and soothing, healing hot springs, and fancy Japanese dinners with fish and rice and Japanese pickles and miso soup. She knew it was hoping for too much that there be a peasant soup like tonjiru, but she let her heart yearn for it anyway.

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