The words came out her mouth like a machine. Monotone. Perfect. But without life.
Mana maintained that cultural imposition of giving great service, no matter how soulless she truly felt about it. When someone stepped into the convenience store, she welcomed them -that was simply the requirement. The apathy latent in her voice battled with a forced friendliness, as if two voices came out of her at once.
But there was more to it today; a certain level of distraction came through as well, and her averted gaze from the customers, even as she turned her head to them, made it plain her attention was elsewhere. Mana was on autopilot. Across the street, gray beams of light silted onto the city as the dreary weathered held fast. It refrained from dropping rain for the time being, but she couldn't help but recall the smell up on that rooftop the day prior. The dampness in her clothes, and a worry that a cold would latch on through the drooping attire.
And... the girl. The weird girl. She knew of two students her age who had commit suicide, neither of which were close in any sense, so the reality of such a world was no stranger to Mana. But seeing it in person -nearly, anyways- had left far greater an impression. One which she couldn't shake from her thoughts. Just how casual could someone be about killing themselves? The girl expressed such little shock, such little regret.
A customer placing the basket of groceries onto the conveyor belt roused her temporarily. She made the exchange, never forgetting the final 'thank you', and quickly drifted off back into her thoughts. She'd had even worse sleep than usual, and something about the attempted suicide urged Mana not to use some sleeping pills the night before. Her eyes were dark and sullen, but her lips always managed to lift up that courteous smile.
When a hand suddenly planted itself on her shoulder, she jerked. Asahi was standing behind her, a mild smile on his face.
"You alright? You really don't look great," he asked. There were no customers in the store. Mana spoke plainly.
"I stopped a girl from killing herself yesterday," she replied in as composed a voice as humanly possible. Asahi's eyes looked stricken for the briefest second, but he kept up his unfettered demeanor like always.
"O-oh... Was she a friend?" he asked.
"No. I don't even know her name. I just saw her on top of a building and... I guess I had a hunch. Yanked her off just in time. She was fuckin' weird," Mana explained, turning around and leaning on the counter where the register sat. "I don't know what's wrong with her, I'm just... stunned."
Asahi smiled warmly at Mana.
"You're a good person to care enough to try," he said.
"Yea?" Mana hummed, unconvinced, "Wouldn't most anybody try?"
"You'd be surprised, I think, about how many would just say it's too late and shrug," Asahi said, mimicking the motion. "You know they say there's three types of people in a crisis situation." Asahi held up three fingers, "The first panics, and freezes up. They protect their brains by shutting down. The second kind remains firm and steady, but require leadership to act. They are prepared to act, but they subconsciously won't come to terms with their own ability to take charge. And the third-"
"Takes charge," Mana interrupted, grinning. Asahi lowered his hand and nodded. "I get it, I get it. I just wish the whole thing wasn't sticking to me like this. If I just knew why she decided to do that, I don't know... Maybe it'd be easier to process it and forget."
"Maybe you just need some more time. It's not a normal thing, being that close to something so alien. Just let me know if you need anything else to talk about, Mana, okay?" he asked tenderly. Mana nodded, pushing off of the counter. Another customer had walked in.