Charlie was ready to shoot up out of her seat the moment the lecture ended. She needs to sprint out of the building to the bus stop or she will have to wait 20 minutes for the next one and be late for work. Her body was tense, and hand securely clutching her bag. Hurry. Hurry.
"I will see you all tomorrow for the tutorial," Mr. Higashi dismissed.
The chair clattered noisily as Charlie darted out of the room, her dark brown hair flying behind her the last part visible as the noise subsided. She weaved around the other students in the corridor and leapt down the stairs, sprinting out of the building. Not even waiting for the crossing lights as she saw the bus pulling in. Another student ran behind her as she bolted to the bus stop, both arriving in time.
"Made it," she said with quiet relief as the bus pulled up beside her at the stop.
Her heart was beating hard in her chest and she closed her eyes once she sat down on the bus, her hand over her chest like it could still the thrumming. When she opened her eyes she looked straight down at a girl the same age staring up at her. The girl quickly averted her eyes and kept her head down, but Charlie could see the red of her cheeks, and she had caught the intense gaze for the moment their eyes connected. Charlie kept watching the girl who stood obviously nervous by the door. The bus pulled up to a stop and the girl peeked another glance at Charlie, jolting with shock as their eyes connected again, and she quickly jumped off the bus and trotted away down the street. Oddly, Charlie thought about that girl as she walked to work. She must go to the same university. Although I have never seen her before. That gaze was rather impressive...
Charlie works as a waitress in a popular restaurant on the foreshore, underneath an apartment complex. As she walked down an alleyway as a shortcut she heard similar to a squeaking noise come from behind her. When she looked back there wasn't any person or animal behind her, but a red floating heart. It jolted with surprise and shot out of sight to hide behind a garbage bin. Charlie blinked a few times and then touched the back of her hand to her forehead to check for a fever. Have I been overworking myself?
The heart peeked up over the garbage bin and quickly ducked out of sight again. Charlie was too curious to leave it and checked behind the bin. Sure enough, the heart was there and jolted again at the sight of her. It was cornered and clearly panicking about being caught. Charlie crouched down in front of it and noticed how quickly it was beating. How strange.
"Do you belong to someone?" She reached out and gently poked the heart.
It froze up, and she worried it had a heart attack but a moment later it started beating like crazy. She couldn't help but chuckle. "Cute."
The sight of the watch on her wrist reminded her she is due at work any minute now. Bugger. I can't be late. She stood up and trotted down the alleyway, squeaking noises trailing after her. The heart had raced after her and hovered just out of arms reached behind her. Charlie had stopped in the middle of a busy pathway. She observed all the people that passed by to check if they noticed the heart, but no one appeared to notice it.
"Well, I suppose you can follow me if you don't cause any trouble," she said quietly so no one around heard her and thought she was odd.
Charlie was still slightly nervous as she entered the restaurant staff room, but none of the workers appeared to notice the heart either. As she changed into work clothes she caught it jolt with surprise and fly away out of sight, not coming back until she had finished changing. She couldn't help but smile at the honest reactions. It quietly followed behind her the whole time, and whenever she turned back to look at the heart it would jolt as usual with surprise.
It faithfully followed her around all night, and even back to her home. Even her roommate didn't comment on the addition when she arrived back. She lay back on her bed watching it float above her. The heartbeat was normal now, but she smiled at it warmly and the beat picked up. Such cut, honest reactions. She was reluctant to fall asleep as she thought it would disappear by morning. As the night wore on and she was struggling to keep her eyes open, the heartbeat slowed gently and it drifted lower to hover just above the blankets. The owner must be asleep. Falling prey to fatigue her eyes drifted shut and she fell asleep as well.
Much to her surprise in the morning, the heart was still beside her. It made an excited squeaking noise when she woke up. Although she was oddly happy that the heart is still here, she also began to worry about the owner. She has no idea where or who it came from, so no idea how to return it.
"If you won't go back to your owner, then make sure you don't stray too far from me," she said to the heart before leaving the apartment for the university.
It appeared like it was sparkling with delight at her words, and it stuck close to her as she walked through the streets. When she stepped onto the bus it panicked at the close space with so many people around. People piled in behind Charlie and the heart shot to the roof as it almost got touched by a man. Charlie couldn't help the immediate panic she suffered, feeling protective of it and not wanting anyone else to touch it or take it. It flew down to hover close above her head for a safe spot. When she stepped off the bus at the university the heart became flustered at all the people again and shot out the door above everyone, beating nervously and appearing like it could work up a sweat with nerves. It stuck close to Charlie, which delighted her, although she isn't sure why.
She was heading to the tutorial room on the 3rd level of the art building. Students bustling everywhere, but there were noticeable quick footsteps up the stairs that followed as she turned down the corridor.
"Excuse me," a flustered voice called behind her.
Charlie was surprised to see the girl from the bus yesterday standing in front of her. Her dark blonde hair was dishevelled, and blue eyes glassy like she was going to cry.
"If you don't want my heart. Please return it to me," she said desperately.
Charlie's head whipped to the side in shock to stare at the heart that beat excitedly beside her. This is that girl’s heart? But how did her heart leave?! She looked back at the girl in bewilderment. "So this is your heart?" She said with disbelief.
The girl nodded. She quickly surveyed the corridor to check for anyone nearby, before carefully pulling her top down to reveal a hole in her chest. "It left me yesterday," she said with panic.
Charlie was just as surprised to see that she really did have a hole in her chest from a missing heart, as she was to discover that it belongs to this girl. She had stared so intensely at Charlie yesterday. Did it leave her of its own will? Charlie shook her head. It doesn't matter. I need to return her heart.
"Of... Of course. It is your own heart." Although Charlie couldn't quite figure out why she was reluctant to say so.
The girl approached to grab her heart and Charlie felt her own heart stop. She gently grabbed the heart and placed it in the hole, re-joining with it.
"My name is Charlie," she blurted out. When she had looked down at the girl's eyes the words came out uncontrollably.
The girl was silent with surprise for a moment, but then she relaxed into a bright smile that reached her eyes. "My name is Mina."
Charlie's heart beat so hard in her chest she thought it would burst out.
"I'm sorry but I need to go or I will be late for my lecture," Mina said, but stayed staring at Charlie's eyes for a moment before catching herself staring and blushed with embarrassment, and ran away. Charlie's hand twitched like it wanted to reach out and grab Mina to stop her from leaving. She watched Mina run away until she was out of sight, and then looked down at her hand. What is going on with me?
During the tutorial she stared at the Professor as he spoke. His lips moved but she wasn't hearing anything, she wasn't particularly staring at him either. Her mind was captivated with thoughts of Mina and her heart. So that heart belonged to Mina.. She sighed quietly. Her heart was rather cute. It always got so flustered. She smiled at the memories of it getting nervous whenever she touched it or caught it off guard. But why did it leave her and attach itself to me?
Charlie didn't pay attention to the tutorial at all, and it went for 2 hours. When it ended she let out a deep sigh. I didn't listen to anything. I missed out on so much. Mina was the only thing on my mind. She dawdled back through the building feeling rather lost with herself, and there was a sudden twinge in her chest. When she touched her chest it felt strange, so she ran to the toilets and locked herself in a booth, pulling down her top to reveal a hole and her heart missing.
"What?!" Luckily no one else was in the toilets. "My heart has gone," her voice went high-pitched with worry. Maybe it has something to do with Mina.
Charlie burst out of the toilets and ran around the whole 3rd level, before checking the other levels of the building. Mina doesn’t necessarily study any art subjects, she could have only been in the building for Charlie. She has never seen Mina around the university before, but there are a large amount of students in the art faculty, let alone the entire university. There was no sign of her heart or Mina, so she ran out to the gardens between the art building and the food court. She searched the area for her heart, assuming it would appear similar to Mina's. Her hair was a dishevelled mess and clothes crumpled up from running around. People who passed by her stared at her oddly. Surely her wild and panicked expression was worrying them. She had stopped to catch her breath from running around when she suddenly experienced a jolt in her chest, still connected to the feelings of her heart. It was beating like mad, but not because she was running.
As Mina had caught the same bus yesterday, Charlie decided to wait at the bus stop in hope that Mina, and hopefully her heart, would turn up. She watched as the first bus arrived and left, and time slowly ticked by. She has work again so she can't wait around forever, and as more time passed by she doubted whether either would turn up. It could have only been coincidence that Mina took the same bus route yesterday, she might not live in that direction. Her chest suddenly jolted again and she clutched her top. My heart is beating like crazy. What is this feeling?
She had to leave the university on the next bus to get to work. Her mind replayed the scene on the bus yesterday, and she couldn't help thinking how cute Mina was. Why did she look at me like that? What was the emotion behind it? Charlie mulled over it as she worked, occasionally stiffening as her heart reacted to an unknown stimulus. A particularly strong jolt that made her face flush, caused her to drop the glasses she was holding.
“I’m so sorry.” Charlie was breathless from the reaction.
Her fellow waitress colleague, Ellie, helped clean up. “Are you alright today? You don’t seem well.”
“I’m fine, just tired from uni.” How could she say that her heart has left her body and disappeared?
She was careful in her movements for the rest of the night, and slowly cleaned up the tables after closing time. As she finished with the tables by the front windows she caught sight of what looked like a heart trail past out of sight. Disregarding the place and time, she bolted out the door to chase after it. But it was nowhere to be seen. She entered the lobby of the apartment complex but didn’t see any sign of it either. I swear I saw it... She lingered for a moment in the lobby before walking back out and looking down the street. Did I just imagine it? She returned to the restaurant where she copped an earful from the manager for running out, which she ignored.
When she got back to her apartment she flopped down on her bed and flipped through messages on her phone. She messaged several of her university friends to find out if they knew anything about Mina.
“Nah never come across her.”
“That’s not much to go off considering how large the student body at this uni is.”
Her saving grace was Michael who does a double degree in Arts and Business. “Yeah, I think I know who you want. She hangs out with a friend from my accounting class. Why do you ask?”
So that means she studies business. “I left something of mine at uni, and I believe she picked it up.” Charlie had thought about what to say in case she was questioned about wanting to find Mina. What she said was the closest to the truth without revealing it and sounding insane. “Can you find out if and when she will be at uni on Monday? Or better yet can you get me her mobile number?”
“I’ll have to ask, but I’m catching up with that group tomorrow so I can check if she is coming and you can tag along as well.”
“You’re my saviour!”
As irony would have it, the group are meeting up to go see a movie that Charlie has been eager to watch herself. The movie is the second largest grossing Japanese animated movie, and is being screened for a limited time in Australia, and only at two cinemas nearby.
It was confirmed that Mina would be coming along, so Charlie was giddy with excitement and took hours to get to sleep that night. She has work the next morning, working every hour she can manage to pay off her university fees and living expenses. Her parents moved back to Italy a year ago, and she doesn’t get aid from them unless it is a dire situation.
Charlie watched the time tick by during her work shift, eagerly waiting for it to end. She needed to finish on time and catch the next tram so that she wouldn’t be late. As she left the restaurant from the back and walked up to the street, she swear she caught sight of a floating heart again. My mind isn’t playing tricks on me again, is it? Regardless of what she thought, she ran to the pathway and sure enough this time there really was a floating heart following closely behind a girl. Charlie didn’t need the girl to turn around to know it was Mina.
“Mina,” She called out.
Charlie raced over to her but stopped abruptly as Mina turned around and they locked eyes. Mina appeared surprised at first, but then her eyes squinted shut with a big smile and quiet laugh. Oh. Charlie couldn't take her eyes off Mina, and when Mina looked back at her she got lost in those iridescent blue eyes. I get it now. Something appeared to change in Mina's eyes as they stared at each other for longer.
"Do you want to come up to my place? I live in that apartment complex," Mina offered.
Charlie could only manage a nod, the plans to meet with everyone for the movie being thrown out the window. Her flustered heart showed how she felt inside. It made her feel incredibly embarrassed and self-conscious, which only showed more in her heart.
She followed Mina to a studio apartment on the 1st floor, right above the restaurant. It was nerve-wracking to be in Mina's apartment after coming to her revelation, and she couldn't move her eyes away as Mina took off her coat. When Mina turned around and caught her staring, Charlie froze with nerves, and her heart jolted before beating fast. The sudden fluster of the heart caught Mina's attention, and she looked back at Charlie with such an open expression that it almost undid Charlie's control. She slowly walked over to Mina to stand in front of her. She clenched and unclenched her hands with nerves.
"I like you!" Charlie blurted out, her heart almost dropping dead.
Mina's eyes widened with surprise, and for a moment Charlie deeply regretted what she had done. But then that usual smile appeared and Mina's eyes became glassy with tears.
"I like you too." Mina threw her arms around Charlie, and she sensed her heart re-join in her chest. Charlie wrapped her arms around Mina and held her tight, as Mina laughed and cried with joy.