I awoke to a quiet hall, Papa must already be at work.
I looked around a bit then remembered I was supposed to be at Hama's place to help them get the laundry done before the end of her shift.
Hama is basically what my dad calls the local 'Laundromats' whatever that means.
I chuckled to myself as I got ready for the day and hoped to momma that Haru would be there today.
Haru is a boy two years older than me that also works with Hama but their shifts only overlap by two hours so I don't get to see him very often. Being now eighteen since last month he's allowed to choose a bride for the rest of his life. Which uh...means he could pick...ANYONE! HE CAN PICK ANYONE HE WANTS!
I pranced around my tiny room holding my best pastel blue dress up to my chest pretending it was a purple gown and I was dancing with my one true love since the age of five.
"Haru...please!" I tumbled to the floor and just laid there for a few minutes before finally changing into my real uniform and heading out the door.
Yes, everyone has uniforms. All girls and boys under the age of sixteen wear gray flats with gray overalls and green t-shirts. Gross right? But the sixteen to marriage kids, ugh they get it good!
Men like Haru get to wear a white button up with blue pants and brown lace-ups. It's gorgeous on him! Especially because his ancestors are from a farther country giving him different features than the regular man. His dark brown locks to his light but tanned skin and OH~! His height!! He could be a milk runner!
As I dazed on about Haru and his muscley cuteness, I began to think of the beautiful new two sets of clothes I'd be getting in a week.
Soft polyester pastel blue dress, brown lace-ups with white high knees and a white bow tie! I can't wait to become of age!
I danced around the dirt streets tugging at my overalls as I went smiling and waving to the farmers along the fields. I didn't bother looking for my father because I knew he works the farms but the Apple and Pear trees. He likes sneaking me home the multicolored fruits, he says it'll give me a chance to explore my choices...whatever that means.
I looked at my father's watch he lent me and saw that I had only an hour until Haru left.
I went in an all-out sprint.
"I'm here Hama!" I crash through the wooden door to see only Haru standing there hanging clothes up to dry.
I could feel my cheeks begin to burn as he looked at me behind sweaty strands of hair. "Hey, Zami~ what brings you here on another fine evening?" He whipped a shirt through the air splattering little water droplets over in my direction.
I gently put up my hands to cover myself laughing, "oh y'know just looking for some extra socks and what not..." I looked around and see the stacks of neatly folded clothes then traveled my way to where he was working and see a huge pile of still soaked through clothing on the floor. I looked up at him with a cocky smile, "need any help?"
He looked down at me and smiled the way he always did when I'd gotten the best of him. "How'd you know?" He plucked me off the ground and placed me next to the drying machine and the wet clothes. "Just whip some water out before you put them in, then I'll hang the rest." He winked at me before he turned around to Hama's pile.
Wait...where is Hama?
I was about to ask when the door swung open. I quickly hid behind some hanging sheets just in case they were guards. I heard two pairs of boots march across the wooden floor. They stopped midway, about five feet from where I was crouched down. "We've gotten some reports of an underage girl running around. We'll need to have a look around." I looked up at Haru and saw him calmly shake his head.
He stepped aside, making eye contact with me as he did he looked at the wet clothes pile I was next to.
Oh hell no!
I rolled my eyes in disgust and crawled across the floor once the guards reached the back room. When they were out of sight Haru crouched down towards where I was and whispered, "hide in here I'll get you when it's safe I promise." He kisses my forehead then lifted the wet clothes for me to get under.
He k-kissed me.
I was broken out of my daydream to the sound of heavy boots coming closer. "The back is clear. Look around here Joshua, we need to be sure in this part of town." I could hear one of the men stepping around the basket I was in and the other walking away towards the clean laundry piles.
Through the cracks of the clothes, I could see Haru standing like nothing was wrong. "What does this little girl look like? Maybe I've seen her around." The bigger of the two turned to Haru and started describing her.
"Dark hair, in her uniform, around the age of a twelve-year-old."
I was about to say something but then remembered they were looking for me.
After a while of searching 'carefully,' the two men left leaving only Haru and me in the room. Of course, I was still in the pile of clean but soaking wet clothes.
He walked over to me and kneeled on the ground in front of the pile. "Azami? Are you even awake?"
Am I even awake? What is he talking about it's only been an hour...
He sighed and before I could say anything he spoke softly, "I don't know what I would've done if they took you away like Hama." I stay there staring at him through the cracks as he spoke. With both of us holding back tears he spoke, "I don't know why you'd ever want to start working...especially with laws becoming stricter."
He got up, wiping his eyes. Before he lifted the clothes I shut my eyes pretending to sleep.
I could hear him softly chuckle and say under his breath, "you can't be taken before I tell you." He bent down and scooped me up, then sat down next to the drying machine while I still lay there in his arms, "I'll take Hama's shift for today."
And at that, I sleepily turned into him and pulled him closer.
I think by then, we both weren't fooling each other.
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