They called it kobito no haru, the “sweetheart’s spring,” because you were supposed to meet your destined there. I’m sure the was passed around, whispered, in the halls and bathrooms of every high school in Sapporo. It said that you would meet your soulmate at the spring, and that you would know because your heart would flutter, your knees would wobble, and you might even pass out.

I didn’t believe in this, of course, butI was curious. So I went to the spring on a day there wasn’t likely to be anyone there, the evening of the first day of school, when most folks young or naive enough to believe in that were furiously cramming.

When I first saw the ghostly apparition, the spectral figure of a woman in Sengoku-era raiment…well, my heart fluttered, my knees wobbled, and I started to see that dark tunnel vision you get just before you pass out

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