After school today I went to the basketball court as usual. My friends teased me about going there just to see Rukawa, but that's not true. I like to watch them play basketball - they're so good at it, better than I could ever hope to be - all of them, Oniisan, Sakuragi-kun, Mitsui-sempai, Miyagi-sempai, Kogure-sempai... I don't think I shall list out all the names.
But... Rukawa-kun is so gorgeous. The way he dribbles, the way he seems to fly when he jumps to slam dunk, the way he looks when he's playing, so cute when he's concentrating...
I remember the first time I saw him play in junior high. It was the first time in my life that I forgot to breathe for five seconds. I think I would have fainted, but if I closed my eyes I wouldn't be able to look at him, so I didn't faint.
Remember the first time you saw something so beautiful it just took your breath away? Remember the first time you tasted ice cream, or any of your favorite food, how the taste just exploded in a million colors on your tongue?
First times are so precious. I can never forget the first time I saw him.
Today in the gym he collided with Kogure-sempai and they both went crashing to the floor. It must have hurt, but he just went on playing as if nothing had happened. And then he blocked Sakuragi-kun's shot and the ball came straight at me. If I hadn't got out of the way, I would probably have been knocked over on my back.
When he came out to retrieve the ball he didn't even glance at me, but I'm used to that. I think it was when he walked past us, and I saw how the others were looking at him - Fuji-chan, Youhei-kun and the others - I think it was then that I realized that his mind is filled to the brim with basketball.
And there is no room for me.
There never has been.
Maybe I was a little bit jealous at that moment. Maybe I was a bit angry at him.
I watched him shoot a three-pointer and I looked at the ball as it fell smoothly into the net. He went past Mitsui-sempai and then he - and then he -
How can I be jealous then? How can I be angry?
When I was twelve, I dreamed that I was a princess locked up in a tower, and one day a handsome prince will come and sweep me off my feet and we'll fall in love and live happily ever after. I woke up and realized that it was just a dream. I'm no princess. I'm just me.
Oniisan is knocking on my door. I wonder what he wants?
Ooooh, I'm so excited!!!! Oniisan just told me that they're coming over to revise for a repeat test tomorrow! They're coming over! HE'S coming over!!! Oh my gosh, what I am going to wear???
Oh, yes, did I tell you how much I love my oniisan?
Just now he came in and he asked me, "Are you OK, Haruko? You were very quiet at dinner."
I was afraid he'd figure out what was wrong, so I told him I wasn't feeling very well, I had a headache but it's gone now. And he just looked at me for a moment, and I was hoping that he wouldn't say anything, and just leave.
He walked over to the nightstand and picked up the framed photograph I had there. It's a snapshot taken three years ago at the beach. "You know how you used to love to build those huge sandcastles? That was the very first thing you'd do whenever we went to the beach," Oniisan said.
"And I used to cry and cry when the waves came and washed it away." I was such a crybaby. Maybe I still am, sometimes. But I try not to be. "Besides, sandcastles are for kids. I'm not a kid anymore." I don't know why I said that.
"But there are other kids, and other castles in the sand." That was all he said. He put down the photograph and looked at me in that stern way of his. But then he reached out and ruffled my hair as if I were still his baby sister.
That reminds me. Should I wash my hair? I think it stinks a little. But if I wash it it'll go flat and limp and I have no time to fix it before he's here. Wait, maybe I should cook something for them... will they be hungry? What does he like to eat?
What am I going to wear???
Haruko wasn't one of my favorite characters in Slam Dunk. It wasn't that I didn't like her - I like every single Slam Dunk character. Honest. Even Minami. Even Ryu. Even the bespectacled first-year Shohoku team member whose name I do not know. But the thing is, Haruko had always given me an impression of the stereotyped anime female - bubbly, cheerful, dim-witted and love interest to the typical anime hero. Well, she can be pretty dense at times. I mean, how on earth can she not tell that Sakuragi is head over heels in love with her?! My disbelief just cannot be suspended in this case. But, anyway, though she suffers from the same symptoms that plague anime females everywhere, she's at least not as irritating as, say, Miaka (gomen all Miaka fans ^_^;). And after reading manga 22, I just had to like her. That entire scene where she watches Rukawa play basketball is just sooo moving. Her reaction is so unlike her earlier rather shallow, underdeveloped personality. I think maybe towards the later parts of the manga, she starts to grow up a little. :)
As usual, C&C's are welcomed.