If Maria wanted to see me again, I was sure she would show herself somewhere at the festival. That subconscious thought was probably the reason I decided to come.
As I got closer to the open square that was the center of the festival, the performance tower and stage decked out in red and white banners came into view. Although there was still some time before the main event, most people were already tipsy on wine and having fun catching goldfish or throwing darts at the game booths. These games were difficult without cantus, but there was an unsaid agreement among everyone not to use our powers on this night. The performers and lantern bearers were the only exceptions.
“Hey wait, I want to get some cotton candy,” Satoru said as he headed toward a booth.
I looked around aimlessly and spotted a little girl wearing a yukata.
Maria… It couldn’t be. I blinked. But her red hair pinned by a silver barrette looked just like Maria’s when she was young. Even her yukata, white with blue dots and red goldfish, looked exactly like the one she used to wear.
I walked slowly toward the girl. But when I was about four or five meters away, she suddenly took off running.
“Wait!” I shouted, and started chasing after her.
She ran away from the festival center and toward the darkened canals.
I ran as fast as I could, but in my haste and unfamiliarity with wearing clogs, nearly tripped over. I caught myself with cantus and looked up, but the girl was already gone.
“Saki! What’s wrong?” Satoru’s voice came breathlessly from behind.
“Sorry. It was nothing.” I turned to face him.
“Nothing? Then why did you suddenly take off like that?”
I couldn’t say I was chasing after a hallucination. Now that I looked, I had run much farther than I thought, and the area around me was mostly deserted.
“You just shouted ‘Maria!’ didn’t you?”