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I regretted my decision as soon as I saw the sign. ‘Peaks Island Community Park’. A chill overtook my body as we pulled into the parking lot. He shut off the engine and we both hopped up. He took me by the hand and led me down the path. I wasn’t freaking out about him holding my hand, nope, not at all. It was normal, something friends would do whenever. I was not freaking out…would’ve helped if he weren’t so damn handsome!
Yukio continued to lead me to our unknown destination. We walked down the trail and just appeared like any other couple in the park enjoying our day. I kept glancing over at Yukio, trying to hide my clear infatuation, and noticed his seemingly odd enthusiasm. I still had no idea where we were going exactly. I couldn’t tell him outright how uncomfortable I was being back so soon, especially when we passed that same tree. The area where my body impacted stared me right in the face.
“We’re almost there,” he assured me.
He just seemed like he was going in no general direction at this point. Or at least I thought so until he made a soft turn to the right, up one more path, and through a wooden gate that was rotting away. Was this always here? Coming into sight was the silhouette of a building, a small one at that. Finally, it became clear what it was.
What came into view as a small cottage. It was by no means livable anymore. There were vines and branches growing in and out of it, the windows were broken, the door busted in, and the white paint chipping away.
The grass around the front lawn was far too long to even bother cutting anymore and weeds were running rampant. The same moment I could see the structure in its entirety did Yukio release my hand. He ran up to the door with that same enthusiasm we arrived with.
“Are you coming or not?” he shouted. I had little choice, but to follow him. However, I was a little excited myself. Yukio really wanted to show me our secret hideout. How bad could it be? I rushed up to his side and gleefully entered with him.
Looking inside, I saw that the interior was far different than what I was led to believe. I couldn’t exactly call it clean, but it wasn’t the disaster that the exterior was. It was a single room, split in half by a floor beam. On one side was a couch, surprisingly well kept together, and a coffee table. On the other side was a kitchen. I figured the fridge was out of commission, but the counters looked decent enough. There was an unusual smell, but I chalked it up to the very clear fact that it was an abandoned cottage in the park.
“Not too bad. I wouldn’t rate it five stars or anything, but I could grade it as ‘passable’,” I said.
“I’m glad the lady approves,” he said. “I would offer you a grand tour, but this is the extent of said tour. Feel free to come here whenever you want, okay?”
“How did you even find this place, Yukio?” I asked as I began exploring the room myself. Despite the broken window, ergo a few shards of glass on the ground, I could walk around with ease.
“Sayu actually found it.”
“Around the time she started school here. One of her paintings in our house showed me where this place was. She was just exploring on her own one day and found this abandoned cottage. She used her spare time to clean it as best she could. She spent a lot of time here by herself as a student. I think it was an escape for her.”
“Is she okay with us using it now? I would hate to intrude.”
He shook his head, reassuring me that there was nothing to worry about. “She hasn’t been here in a while. I tried touching it up over break before the start of the semester, but, as you can see, there was only so much I could do.”
“Hey, speaking of the start of the semester, I’ve been meaning to ask. Why did you only start attending classes this week? School started last Monday.”
He shrugged, a bit exasperated. “Schedule conflicts like you wouldn’t believe. Almost half my classes overlapped, but they were all non-major related courses.”