Maria sat on the veranda, swinging her feet off the side. Mamoru sat a little distance away, concentrating on drawing Maria. He wasn’t drawing with pencil and paper like we did in Harmony School. Instead, he had a wooden board spread with a thin layer of white clay and was using his cantus to draw with powdered stones such as garnet, fluorite, beryl, cordierite, and columbite.
The portrait didn’t just look like Maria, but also managed to capture her spirit. Even I had to admit that he had an amazing talent.
Mamoru had lost his mother to typhoid fever when he was young, and seemed to view Maria as a surrogate since both had red hair, a rare trait in our town. According to Satoru, red hair was never an Asian trait, so Mamoru’s mother and Maria’s possibly mutual ancestors must have come from a distant country many generations ago.
From what I remember, Mamoru became attached to Maria right after we entered Sage Academy. But even now, during puberty, he showed no interest toward his own sex, no matter how many cute boys approached him. He lived in the westmost village of Oakgrove while Maria lived on the eastern coast in Whitesand. Even so, Mamoru took a boat to meet Maria at her house every morning. Although his devotion was touching, at our age, relationships with the opposite sex was a huge taboo, so Mamoru had to use drawing as an excuse to visit her.
He was always with Maria and paid no attention to anyone else. As for Maria, she seemed moved by his affection and the two of them gradually grew closer. Actually their relationship looked more like one between a master and her loyal dog.
But since I was universally recognized as Maria’s lover, Mamoru’s life was sometimes rather depressing.
“Hey, let’s go for a walk,” I said, hinting that I wanted to be alone with her.
“Okay, sure,” she smiled understandingly.