The only thing that Minatozaki Sana liked about elementary school was recess. She wasn’t good at math, she wasn’t good at science, she wasn’t good at foreign languages, and while she wasn’t necessarily bad when it came to the arts, she certainly didn’t enjoy them. Her teachers chastised her to no end for her propensity to frequently lose focus in class, staring forlornly out the window, imagining herself playing outside instead of listening to the monotone drone of whatever dry subject she was forced to learn. Regardless of the season, regardless of the weather, regardless of the day, she would always be itching to go outside, where she felt free, unrestrained, and happy. She hated the days when it was raining, or the weather was deemed too cold for them to play outside, because this meant that she would have to sit inside and play those stupid, boring board games with her classmates. Although she enjoyed the company of many of her friends very much, she enjoyed being outside more. On particularly hot days, when everyone was sitting in the shade and hanging around, Sana was always running around in the fields, or making mischief on the playground, content to be solitary and sweaty as long as she was outdoors. On the cold days, she would make snow angels or have snowball fights with the other students (which the teachers did not appreciate one bit). On the best days (in the early fall and late spring) when the weather was just right and everyone wanted to be outside and active, she would play tag, hide-and-seek, and a plethora of other games with her classmates, only taking breaks to drink from the water fountain when got too dry.
It was on one of these perfect days, while Sana was getting a drink from the water fountain, that she noticed something. There was a black-haired girl with braids sitting alone with the teachers, under the gazebo near the basketball court, staring out at the playground. The teachers were gathered around a nearby picnic table, talking and laughing and discussing whatever teachers discussed in their free time, leaving the girl off to the side, as if they’d forgotten about her completely. The thing that intrigued Sana the most about the girl wasn’t the fact that she was sitting alone, or that Sana had never seen the girl before. It was, surprisingly, the chair she was sitting in. The girl was in a very odd-looking seat, one with two big wheels at the side, similar to the wheels that Sana had seen on adult bicycles. Sana wondered if it was something similar; it certainly looked fun to ride around in, although the girl didn’t seem to be too thrilled about sitting in it. So naturally, being the curious girl she was, Sana decided to go talk to her. Maybe the black-haired girl would be nice enough to share her toy.
The girl noticed Sana’s approach rather quickly, her small, apprehensive eyes shifting over to the blonde and settling on her. For some reason, the girl’s gaze made Sana slightly uncomfortable, as if the girl didn’t want to talk to her at all. Nonetheless, Sana continued on, brushing off her misgivings as simple errant thoughts.
“Hi!” Sana said when she’d gotten close enough.
The girl in the chair looked up at Sana, meeting her eyes for a fleeting moment before looking away and mumbling something unintelligible.
“What was that?” the clueless blonde asked, leaning closer in order to hear properly, “I couldn’t hear you.”
“I said hi…” the black-haired girl answered, her voice still at the same low volume, only audible because Sana had moved forward more.
“I’m Sana. What’s your name?”
“That’s a pretty name.” Sana said, smiling. Dahyun returned a tiny, shy smile that looked very reluctant.
“What grade are you in? I’ve never seen you in school before.”
“I’m in third grade. But I just moved here over the weekend. Today’s my first day at this school.”
“Oh. I’m in fifth grade. I hope you like everything here so far. Do you wanna come play tag?”
For a moment, Dahyun glanced over at the teachers, then back to Sana. The blonde could sense some kind of shift in Dahyun’s demeanor and posturing, as if she’d been defeated in some way. Frankly, she looked like she wanted to cry.
“I can’t.” Dahyun mumbled shortly.
“You don’t like tag? Maybe we could play something else-”
“I can’t.” Dahyun repeated, a little louder this time, causing Sana to pause in surprise.
“Oh… well, could we play some kind of game with your chair? It looks fun to ride around in.”
“My chair?” Dahyun asked, glancing down as if she was just now realizing that she was sitting in it, “No, you can’t play with it.”
Sana sighed and felt herself getting impatient. This girl was a lot more difficult than she’d expected.
“But the teachers always tell us to share…” Sana muttered.
“I wish I could give you a ride in my wheelchair, but then I wouldn’t be able to move.” Dahyun admitted, leaving Sana feeling perplexed.
“What’d you mean?”
“I can’t walk. I need it to move around.”
Sana was unable to control the realization that dawned on her face at the younger girl’s words.
“Oooooooohhhhhhhh.” was all she was able to say as her juvenile mind put the pieces together.
Dahyun remained silent, playing with her hands in her lap now, pointedly looking away from the older girl.
“Well… do you wanna play different games instead? There are plenty of games that don’t require running around.” Sana offered.
In truth, she wanted to go back and run around on the playground, to play with her other classmates and enjoy the sunshine and the sensation of wind whipping through her hair. But something was stopping her. She felt bad for this girl. This girl who couldn’t run, or jump, or even walk around on her own. This girl who sat alone during recess, without even a friend to talk to.
Meanwhile, a look of utter shock came upon Dahyun’s face, as if she couldn’t believe the words Sana was saying.
“You wanna play games with me?” the black-haired girl asked.
“Mhm,” Sana said, “I don't know of many games we can play without running around, but-”
“I know tons of them!” Dahyun said, her voice suddenly becoming loud and powerful, causing all the teachers to look over at the pair.
“Is Sana bothering you?” Mrs. Lee asked sternly, her sharp eyes narrowing as she regarded the blonde with suspicion.
“No, Mrs. Lee,” Dahyun said, “She’s my new friend. I’m going to play with her.”
“Alright, well… just be careful with her, Sana. And stay here under the gazebo where we can see you.”
Sana nodded fervently before turning back towards her new friend. Dahyun was wearing a wide smile, one that dominated her gentle features and made her look squishy and adorable.
“Have you ever played ‘I Spy’?” Dahyun asked.
“No… can you teach it to me?”
“Sure.” the younger girl replied, still smiling.
They spent the rest of recess together.
Thanks for reading<3