A couple walked hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, through the miserable British weather. Typical. August was the month of sun, beach trips and burnt skin – not drizzling rain and grey clouds, which were crowding overhead. Yuni held a decorative umbrella above them both, absent-mindedly twisting the pink shaft in her free hand. The Englishman who her fingers were intertwined with also carried a large bag containing just about every memorable UK gift you could think of.
Japan was back on the horizon for Yuni after taking a detour from her busy life to relax. Unfortunately for Aaron, he was to stay behind in Surrey, leaving his unofficial girlfriend to get back to normal with performances, interviews, studio recordings and photo-shoots. Ever since their meeting, Aaron and Yuni had only grown closer. They had spent an entire month in extremely close quarters on a tour bus, joined by the remainder of F.A.S.T and a condensed version of Yuni’s crew, driving to and from venues all across the UK. Really, there was no reason for them not to have gradually become fond of one another; Yuni was sweet, fun to be around and likeable in every way imaginable, while Aaron was caring, thoughtful and humorous.
It all started with one homesick Aaron. The rest of F.A.S.T were drunkenly playing card games with a couple of Yuni’s crew members, while everyone else tried their best to sleep through the bumpy drive. Fidgeting and repeated sighing came from Aaron’s bunk, and a small hand eventually poked through the curtains.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, s’pose so,”
“Really?” Yuni quizzed, now peering up at the tired, young man.
Yuni thought briefly, her stubby finger pressing into her cheek. She disappeared and was back at Aaron’s bunk quicker than he could remember her name, which he struggled with in his over-tired state.
There was a disruptive crinkling sound, then: “Do you want one?”
A bag of sugar-coated boiled sweets was thrust under his nose. Aaron fumbled around for his torch, quickly shining it at the colourful sweets. They left mesmerizing spots of tinted light on his blanket, just like stained glass, except there were thin, black lines where strings were threaded through the sweets for safe and easy eating.
“Yeah, thanks,” he whispered, picking a crimson pyramid out of the bag.
Yuni fished out an identical one and, for a while, the only noise besides the engine of the tour bus and those who were noisily playing cards at the back was the pair suckling on Japanese sweets.
“Did you like it?” Aaron nodded in the blinding light of his torch, squinting at Yuni’s face as she spoke. “They’re my comfort food. My mother makes them and packs big bags for me when I’m traveling far from home,” she explained, choosing to fill the silence rather than let Aaron’s troubling thoughts fester viciously on their own. “Do you have anything like that?”
“Um, not really,” he admitted, rapidly trying to think of something interesting to carry the conversation on with. “Your English is bad. No! It’s good. Not bad—I meant to say not bad.”
She giggled. “Thank you! I’ve been learning for as long as I can recall.”
“I barely remember any German from school…” he laughed, propping himself up on his elbow to better engage.
They spiralled into a comparative debate of Japanese and English education systems, drifting gradually to the subject of careers and futures. Yuni, having been a top idol in Japan for three years, brushed the fame off as if it meant nothing to her. However, Aaron was still shocked over passing his audition to be the new lead singer of F.A.S.T, and that was over five months ago! Serendipity had led him through life and all the way to Yuni, but they were already parting ways for now.
“Promise me you’ll be faithful, alright?” Yuni begged, leaning through a taxi window before setting off to the airport.
“Of course. I wouldn’t even dream of anyone else. You know that’s not me.”
“Good!” Yuni smiled, tilting even further out of the taxi window – dangerously so – for one last kiss.
“Travel safe,” he said in a slightly breathier voice than before.
“I will. I’ll call you when I get home.”
As quickly as she had appeared in his life, Yuni was driven off into the distance, not to be seen again for a long while. Aaron looked on in dismay, his happiness slipping away by the second. That magical singer hadn’t been in the UK for long, but every moment had definitely been worth it. With distance now being forced between them, they knew they had to put the effort in to hang on to one another. However, with distance comes many other problems, and that worried them both greatly.
One day during band practice, Aaron felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. It wasn’t out of the ordinary; a new follower, comments, likes, being tagged in fanart or his mum calling again to ask what time he’d be home. The fans had only multiplied since opening for Yuni’s show. As soon as the band took a brief break, he whipped out his phone and checked. He had been tagged in something again. The caption loaded first, reading…
Sorry! I forgot my password (again). Here’s photos from the Yuni concert in June. Had a great time and it was great to meet so many awesome people! Cheers peeps! ~ B
…followed by a never-ending list of ridiculous hashtags. He swiftly took a peek at the other accounts and eventually ended up on that one-handed girl’s page. As anticipated, it was mostly a fan account for Yuni, but a well-managed and orderly one that came with a respectfully-large following. Every so often, while scrolling through her most recent posts, Aaron noticed a photo of Ceri herself. She would be in some sparkling recreation of one of Yuni’s stage outfits, prancing around and posing in her equally decorative bedroom.
She was intriguing – her adoration of Yuni, her lack of right hand and her bubbly personality all poured lovingly into her frequent posts. Aaron’s eyes were glued to his phone screen, fingers tapping away at record speed without a second thought. Or any thoughts at all. Before long, a message had been sent with a request to meet again.
Soon after, Ceri replied, and they rushed to plan a time and place to meet that worked around Aaron’s band practices and Ceri’s new Summer job at the local garden centre. Far away in London, Ceri, Bella and Cherry were huddled around her phone, squealing at every new notification, completely oblivious to the secret relationship that was beginning to bloom between Aaron and their idol.
This is the seventh part of a short story by Heather. Follow Heather on Instagram and Wattpad @centaur_h. Stay tuned for the next part!