Ami's Sunrise Surprise VI- Steady as She Goes
Sana and Ami entered the general store. The store walls were cluttered with posters, stuffed animals, and items for sale. Camping, boating, and fishing had their own sections, along with food and fuel.
"Is this it?" Sana pointed out a large green metal piece, bolted to the wall. N, S, E, and W were clearly marked. 
It was, Ami thought. But, "I can't just walk out the door with that."
"You may not have to." Sana pointed to a set of charts below the object. One chart clearly showed the whole town, the river, the bridge, plus the mountain park they were in. There were circle with degrees marked, in multiple places.
Ami picked up the chart."How much is this?"

Junta had hoped to avoid Ami by hiding in his room. But when the tapping on the window started, he knew he had to let her in.
She waited until she was completely in the window before she slapped him across the face.
"Why? You know damn well why." She slapped his cheek again. 
"Does your father know what you've been using his telescope for? Have you been using it here in the neighborhood? In my window?"
"If I did, there would be vomit all over my room." He sat down. "You may not believe this, but I was up there pretending to be Huck Finn when you two came by."
It was stupid enough to be true, Ami thought.
"Do you have it? The telescope?" he asked.
"It's back home."
"Father will kill me if he thinks it's missing."
"I should work you over with a meat cleaver first." She calmed down. When she did, a thought filled her mind. Branch from the straightest tree...
"You must do me a favor first."
"Drive me out to the Sleeping Forest. Bring your hiking boots."
"Can we go tomorrow? It's almost dark."
"Right after school, then. No telescope until we're there." She turned to leave.
Ami wanted Player there, too, but he was busy at the gym with Kotomi. She checked the notebook again, and saw something she had not noticed before- the numbers 80, 35, and 345. She wrote them down next to the copy of the poem and left her room.

The road to the Sleeping Forest stretched northwest of downtown. While another town lay beyond the woods, few cars came in the opposite direction. Ami sat in the passenger seat, staring at her phone. Junta drove. Neither said much.
As they pulled into the park entrance, Junta spoke. "Why are we here?"
"I need to find the straightest tree. What better place to look than a forest?"
Junta took his backpack along, with water, for the hike. He let Ami lead for a mile or so. Then he asked again.
"What kind of tree?"
"A straight one."
Junta stopped. "We're in the wrong place. Follow me."
After another five minutes of walking, they came to a clearing. A string of telephone poles bisected the forest, leading away in both directions.
"Trees bend. But wood products are straight." He got a ruler out of his backpack. "Rulers are straight. Telephone poles are straight. Did you mean to find these poles?"
"I'm not sure."
"Is that why you brought a chart?" 
He took out her chart from his bag and looked it over. "The highest telephone pole is mapped. So is the mountaintop. People on ships use these as navigation aids."
"How about Itaya Point Park?"
"Right here. His statue is marked." Junta took a pencil from his backpack. "Do you have bearings?"
"What's a bearing?"
"Numbers. 0 to 359."
"Like these?"
"Yes. We need something that sees the statue at 80 degrees." He moved the ruler along the chart and drew one line, then another and another.The three lines came together at one point- the western side of the bridge.
Ami was so excited, she hugged him. "I love you!"
Junta looked sad. "I wish that was true."
She stopped and let go. She began to walk aimlessly away from Junta as different thoughts competed in her head. She had know Junta forever. He had never told her that he loved her. But clearly, he had. And she had never told him, until now. And Player had. And she loved him, too. Didn't she?
She had known Junta as far back as she could remember. But if the time machine worked, she'd never see her spike haired neighbor again.
She needed to do something, to give him something.
In one motion, she reached under her sweatshirt and pulled off both her sweatshirt and bra. She turned to him.
"Junta, look at me."
She could tell he was struggling not to get sick.
"I couldn't let your last memory of me be that scene on the beach." She unfastened her boots and removed her sweats, setting them next to her. 
"I may not have long here for this time, this dimension. Wherever you go, whatever you become, think of me."
Junta stood. He knew that one step toward her would probably mean nausea. Instead, he looked at her and smiled. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
He picked up his backpack. "Come on, and get dressed. We've got a time machine to finish!"
  • Robin I'm kind of glad now I read this a bit late so I don't have to wait for the conclusion :p