Chapter 45: On New Year’s Eve

Miyo hadn’t planned on being open the last night of the year. In the days leading up to the new year, customers had been few. Even regular visitors like Makoto and Naruko became irregular as holiday happenings changed their routines.


So when Miyo had opened the doors to the shop on New Year’s Eve, it had been less for receiving people and more for cleaning the shop itself. Winter in Crescent Island had been tame, and even while cleaning the windows from the outside, the chill prompted Miyo only to put on a light jacket.


‘Very different from the Island of Five Peaks,’ she thought with a smile. There was a certain charm in having a cold winter, what with how the snow blanketed everything and made the warmth and light of the indoors that much more bright. But at the same time, Miyo liked not having to wear five layers of clothing, or having to change her schedule in order to get warmed up in the morning. While the sun’s rays seemed a little sleepier, summer and winter on Crescent Island were very similar.


It wasn’t until the sun slid underneath the covers of the horizon that people began to arrive. Miyo had expected Shinya, who was one of the few who had continued to come daily. Her smile was tired as she shut the engine of her scooter. “I don’t want to look at another new year’s arrangement until the end of next year,” she said, her laugh mixing with a yawn.


Shinya and Miyo had barely just walked up the steps into the shop when a voice called out. The Aragakis both waved as they approached, Ishikawa and Chie trailing behind them. All of them carrying bags that they later revealed were full of food and games. Somewhere between their first pot of tea and their third, they had set up a table outside in front of the tea shop, found some lanterns, and hooked up a heater as well.


“Could we try that black tea you were talking about last week?” Makoto asked as Miyo passed their chair, Yui nodding at her elbow. They had arrived somewhere after dinner time, Naruko now playing tag with Shinya around the multiple tables set up.


“Of course,” Miyo answered, with a smile before making her way to the other tables to catch other orders, or in the case of Alicia’s table, to follow orders of passing around more pastries.


After brewing the teas, Miyo came out of the tea shop with a tray in hand. But she paused on the steps, looking down at the crowd that had gathered in front of the tea shop. Music and laughter filled the air, mingling with the everpresent scent of tea. Miyo breathed in deep as her mind flashed through the year.


She chuckled to herself as she slowly came down the steps. She looked up when she felt a hand at her elbow and gave Ishikawa a thankful smile as he helped guide Miyo down to the ground.


If someone had told Miyo that she’d be ending the year with an impromptu gathering at the tea shop, she would have been inclined to believe them. ‘If there’s anything this place and its tea has taught me,’ she thought as she felt the year’s last breeze sweep through the group as they raised their glasses towards each other, ‘It’s that anything is possible.’

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