Sup guys, sorry for the long inactivity. Was quite busy with work and watching Dota 2 to support my fellow Singaporean Iceiceice in team DK. And for those who's familiar with the Dota 2 scenes, I was down at the ACG to watch Titan crush Mineski, and even took some photos with Tobiwan and Godz.
Anyway, back to this. I'll try to increase my speed a little, but sometimes you'll just get too damn tired after work to want to do anything else but relax (which for me is to watch some anime or Dota 2 VOD). Chapter 2 makes it about a quarter through the books, so worse come to worse I guess we'll have the first volume done in like, 6 months time?
During the period known as 'winter' on Earth, it is nigh impossible to gather plants or hunt animals for food. Therefore, the people of Grando would agglomerate in a tiny cave and huddle for warmth, trying their best to survive the season with as little movement as possible. The younger and more robust ones are tasked to gather the minimum amount of food required to survive.
One day, it was Romiemarigana's turn to garner food. Wearing simple winter clothing made of plush pounded hide, she wandered into the mountains in her pursuit for fruits or edible barks for her fellow mates.
What exactly am I living for?
As she pondered on that question like she would usually do, she pressed forward to search for food for her companions.
That was when she encountered a man.
<Romiemarigana's Expanding World>
Wednesdays are my shift days at the counter, so I head straight to the library after school.
While the library committee members are still making their way to the library, Shiina-san, the librarian, would handle the borrowing and returning of books by herself. Still, as the librarian, she has other duties as well.
"I'll leave the rest in your care."
When I reached the library, Shiina-san walked into the small room behind the counter and began working on her job — probably <Books Info>. She could have done it with word processing software, but Shiina-san insists on doing it by hand, and that includes the frame and stuff like that. There are more efficient options available to her, but I'm not in a position to say anything since that's what she loves to do.
Looks like the borrowing counter was gathering more traffic yet again. As usual, Shinonome had her face buried in a book while I was working non-stop. I managed to take a quick glance at the book Shinonome was reading when I took a quick toilet break. It seemed to be different from the book she was reading yesterday — the size of the words and the quality of the paper were not quite the same.
There's the possibility of our conversation veering in the same direction as it did yesterday if I were to ask her about the book she was reading, so I stopped myself from doing so.
But if I could start a conversation with Shinonome, then the top topic on my mind would be her relationship with the man I saw at the shopping street yesterday. Although I wasn't harping on it as much when I woke up today, there's no guarantee I won't bring up the subject by accident. I wonder how Shinonome would react if she knew I saw her in that sort of situation.
Fast forward to around five o'clock, and there were not many people left in the library. Shiina-san rushed out of the small room suddenly and ran out of the library while muttering to herself.
What happened? A student walked up to the borrowing counter just then, so I missed the opportunity to ask Shiina-san or Shinonome about it.
A few minutes later, Shiina-san returned with what looked like a really heavy cardboard box in her arms. She may be slightly older than us, but she has a really tiny stature. I could watch on no longer, so I walked out of the counter and took the box away from her hands.
"Thank you. It's really tiring to walk all the way here from the staff room......"
Even though she was about to hit her thirties, there was a really youthful smile on Shiina-san's face while she grumbled. According to Ikehara, a fellow library committee member, Shiina-san was incredibly popular among a group of boys in school.
The cardboard box I had taken from Shiina-san's hands was heavy as hell. The delivery order pasted on the box suggested it was an urgent delivery.
"What's in this box?"
I directed the question to the librarian as I moved along. Shiina-san scratched her cheeks in embarrassment.
"Books for the library...... I had forgotten to specify the place of delivery, so it was sent to the staff room instead."
I nodded my head after knowing the reason behind her hasty dash out of the library.
I carried the box of books into the small room where Shiina-san creates her <Books Info>. Thinking that my job was done, I made to the exit. However, Shiina-san stopped me in my tracks.
"Ah, wait. I have a favor to ask from you."
Before I could even give her an answer, Shiina-san stuck her head out of the room and—
"Yuuko-chan, please come into the room."
For some unknown reason, Shiina-san called Shinonome over.
So the both of us stood side by side without a clue on what's going on. Shiina-san opened up the box and peered at the books inside.
"Please help me to stick barcodes onto the books."
I have never done that before, so I was not quite sure what I should do.
There was no reason for me to decline the job, so I nodded my head hesitantly.
"Youko-chan knows what to do, so I'll be counting on you two. Please try to remember how it's done, Minami-kun. I'll take over the counters."
With that said, Shiina-san left the room. It's pretty obvious that Shinonome and I were the only people remaining in this room.
Just as I was at a loss as to what to do, Shinonome began taking the books out of the box in silence. She had already started working by herself.
"You've done this before?"
I popped the question. As she continued to retrieve the books from the box, Shinonome replied.
But I don't remember being assigned to the task on the days where I was on shift together with Shinonome.
"I signed up for the committee a week earlier than Minami-kun did. It was then when I did it."
"Ah, I see."
Though there's the strange rule where we have to participate in a co-curricular activity, we're given a one month buffer period from April to May to decide on which clubs we'll be joining. In other words, we have a month where we do not have to participate in any of the activities.
For those who had already decided on the club which they would be joining, or students who were quick to take action, they would already begin participating in the activities during April. But as for me, after knowing the existence of the library committee, I chose to live a carefree life in April with the excuse that "I'm having a hard time deciding on what to join".
Perhaps that's the reason why I missed the chance to work together with Shinonome.
Shinonome stopped taking the books out of the box and stood up as though she had remembered something. She walked quietly towards the computer in a corner of the room. As I watched her through the corner of my eyes, Shinonome checked the records in the computer for books that were already saved in the database. With the Dewey decimal numbers listed on top, she then proceeded to print out the bar-codes with some sort of program.
So she's actually really adept at this task. Then again, there's no way we could continue on our task if we do not have the bar-codes to begin with in the first place.
Since Shinonome had not designated any tasks for me, I could only resume on what she had stopped halfway, which was to take the books out of the box.
I took out the books one at a time and began to place them neatly on the table. But that was pretty much done in a flash, so I was not too sure what I should be doing next. It's too much of a pain to take the initiative and ask "What's next for me?", so I chose to stare at the books instead.
One of them was a magazine named <Yotaka>. Never seen it before, but from the text printed on the cover, it looked like some sort of literary magazine.
As the rest of the books were all lengthy novels, I reached out my hand and gave the magazine a quick flip. A magazine will probably have some sort of exclusive columns or interviews, and that should be enough for me to kill time till Shinonome issues her next order.
The top article was titled as <The World in the Eyes of Nishizono Yūko>. As the author is not someone whom I had heard of before, I almost flipped the page in a flash so as to look for some other articles which would interest me more — but then my hands stopped just about as quickly.
A dumb noise leaked out of my mouth. That was a little embarrassing. I lifted my head and compared the page of the magazine to Shinonome, whose back was facing me as she worked on the computer, several times.
On the opened page was the picture of what looked like a female writer named Nishizono Yūko. However, no matter how you look at this, Nishizono Yūko looks just like Shinonome.
It all seems unreal to me. However, the expressionless Nishizono Yūko on the magazine was obviously Shinonome. She's Shinonome Yuuko.
Upon hearing the weird noises made by me for a second time, Shinonome realized something was amiss and turned around to look at me.
She asked. I hid the magazine in my hand in reflex. I had no idea why I did that, but it somehow felt like it's not something which she should see. Or perhaps I did not want Shinonome to realize I knew.
Shinonome gave a shriek when she saw the magazine in my hand. That sort of flustered reaction was something you'd not quite expect from her.
Shinonome then rushed to my side, picked up the magazine which I had hidden beneath the desk and blocked the article with the cover.
"...... You saw?"
I tilted my head in response.
There was no way I could feign ignorance with those straightforward lines from her. Actually, it's not like I have any reason to pretend otherwise, so I answered with:
"Ah, urm...... there's someone who looks just like Shinonome."
Upon hearing that, Shinonome heaved a sigh.
"She does not just look like me....... that is me in the picture."
"Please do not use that name...... it's really embarrassing......"
Muttered Shinonome with her head lowered.
"Eh? So what's going on? Are you an author, Shinonome?"
"Is that something to be embarrassed about? Though I'm not in any position to be saying that."
Shouldn't that be something to be proud of instead? There is this distant relative of mine whom I have never seen before, who has written a book as well. My mother purchased the book and praised her to high heavens.
Shinonome answered with her head low.
"Please don't...... tell anyone in school about it......"
"But still, it's just a matter of time when someone finds out about this, especially when your photo is published on a magazine."
Shinonome heaved a long sigh and stared in melancholy towards the direction of the door.
"That's the reason why I told Shiina-san not to purchase <Yotaka>......"
I followed her gaze as well.
"Huh? Shiina-san knew?"
"She's someone who loves to read as well...... since she will find out about it sooner or later, I figured I might as well tell her......"
I began to sort out the information in my head.
In short, the "Nishizono Yūko" author who appeared on the magazine is none other than Shinonome herself. Shinonome does not want anyone to know about this, but Shiina-san knew about it already...... Hmm, guess that's about it.
As soon as I finished saying that, I was greeted with a harsh stare from Shinonome.
"I told you not to use that name already."
"Even so...... that's you, isn't it?"
"You are not wrong about that......."
"But...... why Nishizono?"
"There is no...... special meaning behind that......"
"Let me guess: you chose "west" (*Nishi) because of the "east" character in your name?" [TLNote: the 東 character in 東雲 (Shinonome) is the kanji for east, while the 西 character in 西園 (Nishizono) is the kanji for west]
That was just a random reason that appeared in my mind, but Shinonome nodded her head in a rather straightforward fashion.
I expected her to deny my answer, so it actually felt rather awkward.
"Urm...... n-nothing wrong with that, I guess? It's a rather simple reason."
I put on an affable smile as Shinonome took a quick glance in my direction. She then laid the book onto the table.
"In any case, not a word to anyone else. Okay?"
At that very moment, I actually wanted to joke around and reject her with a "No". Generally speaking, my interest in Shinonome was just due to my curiosity, but for some reason unknown to me, the childish feelings of "wanting to bully the girl whom I like" just appeared in my heart all of the sudden.
But that would make it look like I'm in love with Shinonome, so I quickly regained my senses and did a 180 with my intentions.
"Mmm, I won't say a word if that's what Shinonome wants."
I ended up giving her a rather inconsequential answer.
After a soft thanks from her, we resumed on what we were supposed to be doing in the room — which was pasting barcodes onto the books.
The <Yotaka> magazine with Shinonome's pictures in it was not affixed with a barcode.
After we were done with all the books but <Yotaka>, Shinonome picked the magazine up and told me she was planning to see Shiina-san.
"You can leave if you want, Minami-kun."
I did just that. Perhaps Shinonome was planning to complain to Shiina-san or something. However, it feels like Shiina-san is quite an airhead, so I'm not too sure if Shiina-san will know what's going on even if Shinonome complained.
As I walked absentmindedly on the street which leads to the station, I caught sight of a bookstore.
There was a sudden urge to buy the magazine, but I shot down the idea instead. There's no way I'd buy a pretty expensive magazine just for the few pages of article inside.
And somehow, I think there's a copy of the magazine in my house anyway.
After all, it's Keisuke, the bookworm who will buy just about every literary magazine there is to offer.
Dinner consists of meat and potato stew, poached spinach and risotto with dashimaki tamago.
Everything was made by the skilled Arumi-san. As usual, Keisuke was eating the dishes in silence. Arumi-san did not ask Keisuke for his opinions on the dishes.
"Are the dishes delicious, Eita?"
Instead, I was the one asked.
Arumi-san fixed her gaze on my face when she heard my answer.
"Not just 'mmm'. I'll be much happier if you can say it explicitly."
"Mmm! Thank you!"
I knew very well the reason why Arumi-san insisted on talking with me. There was once when she got Keisuke to ask a few questions in her stead.
"Do you hate Arumi?"
That was the period of time when I was slowly becoming aware of the relationship between Arumi-san and Keisuke. I used to be really close to Arumi-san, but I began to distance myself away from her when I came to realize the situation. Arumi-san was feeling rather uneasy about it.
"That's not...... really it."
"You should be nicer to her then. She really wants to get along with you."
Those words are totally meant for you, who is the embodiment of indifference — I wanted to say that so badly. It's not like they are a particularly intimate couple or something, but Arumi-san is somehow not the least bit worried about her relationship with Keisuke, which was something I found to be incredibly surprising. They had long built a trust between themselves, leaving no space for me to fit in.
That was the conversation which happened two years ago.
After we were done with dinner, Keisuke returned to his room immediately. When she was done with the dishes, Arumi-san said to me,
"I'll be going home tonight. Don't stay up too late, Eita."
Arumi-san left me a very motherly advise and left for home.
I returned to my room once more. Upon seeing the <Nine Stories> placed on the desk, I was reminded of Shinonome.
And so I walked towards his room, knocked on the door and entered without even waiting for his reply.
Keisuke was reading a thick book while smoking a cigarette.
I scanned the room.
"Urm...... do you have the magazine <Yotaka>?"
"You're done with the book you borrowed?"
"Just halfway through...... my Japanese teacher recommended us the magazine, so I thought I'll have a look."
I had no intention of revealing the stuff about Shinonome. The reason I did that was not because of my promise to her, but because I did not want to divulge my private affairs to Keisuke.
Keisuke pointed at a stack of books in a corner of the room and said,
"<Yotaka> is probably somewhere in there."
Somewhere near the pile of books was a very familiar cover image, which should be the latest volume of the magazine. I picked it up.
"Take it then."
With that said, Keisuke's vision returned to his book once more, but not before saying, "Remember to return it".
I returned to my room immediately after getting my hands on the book and began flipping through the exclusive article found in <Yotaka>. Seemed like an interview, and the interviewee (aka Shinonome) would answer the questions under the alias 'Nishizono Yūko'.
— What is your motivation for being a writer?
Nishizono: No particular reason, I just became one somehow.
— You are currently working on short stories, so any interest in lengthier novels in the future?
Nishizono: I have not thought that far. Not at the current moment anyway.
You can just feel how cold she is through the article. You don't even get to see stuff like *laughs* in the interview. And since I knew Shinonome in person, I can just imagine the scene right away.
It was something I failed to notice in the library, but they published one of Nishizono Yūko's work after the article. It was a short story titled as <The Feeble Resistances of the Aquarium Children>.
When I was done reading it, I could not quite put my finger on it.
I felt nothing about the story; it was neither interesting nor boring. The plot moved in a linear fashion. It felt rather mechanical, though that's actually very Shinonome. Perhaps I may have a different impression of the story if I am someone who reads often, but as someone who barely reads, I think it's an accomplishment for me to even finish the story.
Upon searching the name 'Nishizono Yūko' on the internet, I came to know that she first appeared in the scene two years ago for winning the <Yotaka Newcomer Literary Award>. Since she's the same age as me, that means Shinonome started off as a writer when she was just in her second year in middle school. That must be something rather impressive.
There's the possibility that Keisuke knows a lot more about Nishizono Yūko. What are his views on that story? Is it good or not? He would probably share his opinions if I asked.
I wanted to discuss it with him, but I ended up not doing so.
Regardless of Keisuke's opinions, it will not change the fact that Nishizono Yūko is actually Shinonome, much less the fact that she is my classmate.
I have nothing to do with who she is going out with.
We are nothing more than just classmates, and it was by coincidence that we are library committee members as well.
It's just that for some reason unknown to me, I was shaken by the scene of her relationship with a man. A melancholic feeling in my heart was about to tear my mind apart.
As a book-lover, Shinonome was not satisfied with just reading alone. She began dabbling with writing, which turned out to be well received.
It just feels like I was left behind.
Seriously, she's supposed to be just like me, someone who's uninterested in just about everything — what a willful outburst of exasperation from me.
Come to think about it, that was just the impression I have on Shinonome. She was already a writer before I knew her, so I was in no position to say things like her leaving me behind. Shinonome was on a different level right from the start.
My feelings right now are really similar to back when I realized Arumi-san's relationship with Keisuke.
Wreaking my brain in an attempt to figure a way to get Arumi-san to notice me, only to realize that the two were already in a relationship. There was nothing I could do to change that fact. But I was unaware of what was going on, so I ended up wasting all my efforts while giving my all to accomplish something.
It was a huge blow for me, so I ended up living my life in a bit of a tantrum while avoiding Arumi-san. And now, I am experiencing the same feelings once more in Shinonome, though it is has totally nothing to do with love.
This won't do — with that in mind, I sat up from my bed.
I have been too melancholic recently, with my mind harping on insignificant things all the time. I may be someone who chose to live the life of a failure by choosing to be apathetic towards just about everything, but I should still think more positively all the same.
I picked up <Yotaka> and got off my bed.
After stuffing the magazine into my bag, I left the room and headed for the bath.
I'll get Shinonome to sign on the magazine tomorrow — I thought to myself. It may result in Shinonome disliking me, but that's not too bad either.
While soaking myself in hot water, I realized I was actually very conscious of Shinonome.
And I feel really happy when I see Shinonome's unhappy expression.
Perhaps it's because Shinonome only shows that expression to me.
The plan I had yesterday was dashed — Shinonome left the classroom immediately when classes were over. And since I had to keep it a secret, the only time I could ask her for a signature was after school. It was rather deflating.
At other times like this, she would be reading her books leisurely instead. But today happened to be different.
And when I realized the reason for Shinonome's early departure might be because of an appointment with the guy whom I saw last time, the emotions I felt were indescribable.
With the way I'm guessing Shinonome's each and every movement, it feels as if I'm a stalker.
I had a feeling I might see Shinonome going on a date in the cafe yet again if I were to leave for home just like that (though she might not be there in the first place), so I had no choice but to burn my time in the classroom as usual.
After confirming there was no one left in the classroom, I took out <Yotaka> and began reading it.
I had planned for Shinonome to sign on the page where her photograph was on. That was not just to make her angry, but also to tease Keisuke a little. It's pretty rare of Keisuke to revisit a book for a second time, so he would probably toss it into the pile of books without flipping through the pages again.
If that happens, the magazine which was thrown into a corner will have Shinonome's signature in it. But no one will know.
It may be five to ten years before Keisuke comes to know of its existence. There is also the chance where he disposes it without ever knowing. Even if he does notice it, it is unlikely for him to say anything about it. In fact, he might not realize it was my prank.
That will be great.
It's rather somber for me to be saying this; even though it's a prank which nobody may come to know about, there's still some meaning in it for me.
After allowing my thoughts to run wild for a while, it was time for me to head home.
It had been more than an hour since Shinonome left the classroom.
That should be enough for me not to see her, right?
With that thought in mind, I began to make my way home.
But from what happened next, everything I did actually made things worse.
Since I was aiming to avoid Shinonome, I should have avoided the shopping street.
That's because while passing the same cafe, I happened to bump into two people walking out of the door. They were none other than Shinonome and the young man.
I was trying to drag the time, but it ended up with me looking like I was waiting to pounce on them instead. That was awkward.
Shinonome and I gave a cry at about the same time. Upon seeing that, the man beside Shinonome stared at us with a perplexed expression.
"Urm...... you two know each other?"
The man questioned Shinonome.
Shinonome nodded slightly and replied,
"He is my classmate......."
"Ahh, I see."
As he said that, a troubled expression appeared on the man's face. From that expression, it felt like he was thinking, "I never thought we'll be seen at a place like this". He seemed like he was around the age of twenty-five. Given his age, it's probably really awkward to be seen by the classmate of his high-school girlfriend.
As for me, I had no idea how I should go about facing them as well.
In the first place, I'm in a bad mood just from seeing them together. Moreover, I had deliberately wasted my time to avoid bumping into them, but that just made things even worse.
"Urm...... who is he? Your brother?"
I popped the question in deliberation after deciding it would be impossible for that to be the case. Moreover, there was also the huge age difference between the two. Shinonome shook her head.
"He is my editor."
However, the one to wear a surprised expression upon hearing the answer was actually the 'editor' himself.
"Eh? Is it okay to tell? Didn't you want me to keep this a secret?"
"Minami-kun knows about it."
Shinonome was not the least bit hesitant with her reply. That was met with an exclamation from the man.
"I see, so there's someone who knows......"
As he said that, he began fishing around the inner pocket of his coat and pulled out a name card holder. He then picked a card out and passed it to me.
"Then I'll introduce myself."
On the card were the words [Yotaka Editorial Department Aikawa Youji].
"Should you be working on a novel, feel free to contact me any time and I'll take a look at it. We are currently focusing our attention on uncovering talented youths."
He is probably wasting his efforts, considering the fact that I have not written a novel in my life — I thought to myself. But there was no point in correcting him, so I silently accepted his name card with a nod.
"Also, I hope you can convince Yuuko-chan to work on a long novel. It seems like she is lacking inspiration at the moment, so help her out if you can."
Is that the occupational habits of an editor, or is it unique for Aikawa's case? I never thought I'd hear a request like that, considering he had just met me for the very first time. Honestly speaking, I'm not too good at dealing with people like him.
Aikawa flashed a wry smile when he saw my expressionless face. He then turned his head towards Shinonome.
"Well then, I have another appointment with a different author, so please continue to work on the draft."
Shinonome bowed in the direction of Aikawa, who was waving his hand. I followed suit.
With me rooted on the spot, I thought to myself: so he's her editor.
The possibility is there, considering Shinonome's job as an author. The reason why it never came to my mind was because there were no editors among the people I knew.
Shinonome heaved a quiet sigh when Aikawa disappeared from our sight.
"That's really impressive."
Upon hearing my comment, Shinonome tilted her head and asked,
"Well, just the fact that you have an editor."
"It's nothing much really. That is quite common."
"No way that's common...... How many high-school students do you know of who actually have an editor with them?"
"...... Mmm, right. However, the editor was assigned to me even though I am not that great of an author."
"No, the fact that you are an author is impressive enough."
"Really......? Aren't there authors everywhere?"
Shinonome was as expressionless as ever. I could not tell if that was her being humble, or just the way she is.
For some unknown reason, I felt incredibly relieved when I knew that the man was her editor and not her boyfriend.
In order to prevent her from reading my mind, I began flipping through my bag with her watching, took out <Yotaka> and handed it to her.
For a brief moment, Shinonome showed an expression of aversion. She stared at me.
"...... What is this?"
I flashed a wry smile in response.
"Can I have your autograph?"
That was my answer. Shinonome looked at me in silence before tilting her head slightly. That was when I realized it's probably a habit of hers to tilt her head like that. I had been seeing her do that quite often in recent times.
"Why are you asking for my autograph?"
"Ah, nothing special really...... I just find it interesting."
"You actually bought that magazine?"
"My elder brother loves reading, so I borrowed it from him."
"You told your brother about me?"
"Nah. I promised you not to, didn't I?"
"However, he will notice it should I sign the magazine, no?"
So I ended up explaining to Shinonome about Keisuke's reading habits, like how he would not read a book for the second time, so he would probably just throw the magazine in a corner of the room when I returned it to him. I also explained to her how getting her to sign on Keisuke's magazine was all just a prank of mine.
That might actually be very rude of me.
From her perspective, it might sound like her signature was not what I really wanted.
However, Shinonome was not angry at me. She actually laughed instead.
"What a strange guy."
"But Minami-kun, do you have a marker pen with you?"
It hit me only when she reminded me. I have the stationary in the bag I required for lessons, but those were nothing more than just pens. The photographed page was printed on glossy paper, so it would be hard to sign it with anything other than a marker pen.
"Ah, you're right......"
"You should have it prepared if you were asking for a signature."
"Don't you have one with you, Shinonome?"
"Of course not..... I do have gel pens with me, but those will probably smudge."
"Then how about next time? I'll have a marker pen prepared."
Shinonome tilted her head once more when she heard my request.
"...... Since you are so insistent, sure."
There were people walking out of the cafe, so we ended our conversation abruptly and gave way to them. Shinonome then began walking in the direction of the station in silence. I stuffed the magazine into my bag and followed her footsteps.
Seems like Shinonome travels by train as well. As we passed through the gates at the same time, I realized the train she was taking would head in the opposite direction as mine.
Shinonome bade me goodbye. I nodded my head and was about to make my way to the platform, but I was stopped by Shinonome's call.
I turned around. After staring at me for a while, Shinonome continued.
"About the signature."
I was expecting her to say things like, "Let's call it off".
"Oh...... It's okay if you don't want to do it......"
Shinonome shook her head when she heard that.
"That's not it. I will sign the magazine."
"Ah, really? I'll bring the magazine on Friday then."
"However, can you listen to a request of mine?"
That was a rather surprising question from her, so there was no way I could hide my puzzlement. Moreover, it was actually initiated by Shinonome. Since I was the one who asked a favor from her, there is no reason for me to reject the request.
"Ah, mmm, sure...... So what's it about?"
What's important was her request. However, Shinonome did not answer me.
"I will bring it up again on that day."
Shinonome then left me in my puzzled state and turned away from my direction.
"See you tomorrow."
I watched Shinonome in silence as she walked away after that line of hers.
The image of that mischievous smile as she left remained stuck in my mind for a long time.