To Be Sincere and Kind
I walked up to the podium, fully aware that the Digidestined were staring at me with wide eyes. In the midst of rubbernecks trying to get pictures of me, the applause started. It grew louder and louder as I neared the sponsor. I smiled; Yolei was cheering for me. It still feels nice.
I shook the hand of the sponsor rather disdainfully. He was involved with the contest for the publicity, not because he cared about the contestants and our 'inheritance' of the future. He was thrilled that I was there. Was there any better publicity than a teen prodigy shaking your hand?
"My speeches," I said when the time came, "are always the same. I am sure my parents are getting tired of them by now, but there is only one thing I can really say. Today, I feel the need to expand on my normal subject. I have no one to thank. Those who helped me get where I am right now wouldn't be able to hear that thanks, so I'll save my breath. So now, I'll just get to my normal comment." I inhaled and looked around the hall. My parents were teary-eyed, the Digidestined were on the edge of their seats, the sponsor was smirking, various other people were still snapping pictures. I raised my fist above my head. "As always, this one's for you, Sam!" With that I took my seat with the other winners.
Next to Yolei.
"Congratulations," she whispered.
"You, too," I whispered back. The sponsor was up at the podium again, speaking about his wonderful company that provided funding for the contest. Neither Yolei nor myself cared.
"Who's Sam?" she whisper-asked.
"Is he here?"
The conversation was effectively ended. She probably would have said she was sorry to hear about Sam if I had seemed sad about it, but I kept my cool and she dropped it. A few moments later, we were permitted to return to our tables and I avoided her for the rest of the night.
Before I returned home, I received my disk. I kept a tight grip on it the entire car ride home. I ran to my room when we arrived.
"Leafmon! Wake up!" I nudged the napping Digimon.
"Ken," he yawned, "What time is it?"
"It's only 10:30. Look, I got our game back. It won't take too long to finish it up. If we work non-stop, we can get work the bugs out and put the sound bites in by morning."
"Why can't we just finish tomorrow?"
"Because," I practically whined, "I've got plans for the finished copy. Nothing devious, I promise."
"Okay," Leafmon said and yawned again. I scooped him up carried him to the computer, where I deposited him on the desk. Then, I inserted the disk in the CD drive and cracked my knuckles, ready to input all our collaborations.
We worked at it almost non-stop. Every so often, I had to stop typing to fetch Leafmon a snack. When we finished, it was near noon the next day. I burned a few back ups to other CDs. If I had my way, I wouldn't have the original for much longer, but I never wanted to be without a copy.
When the disk was ready, I pulled out the little folded up piece of paper that belongs tucked inside the case. I reached for the nearest pen and uncapped it. I chose the words that I wrote in the CD booklet carefully.
"Well, Leafmon, what do you think?" I asked when I finished. The Digimon read my note. Teaching Leafmon to read had been easy; I wrote a program for reading when I was in third grade and it worked wonderfully for Leafmon.
"Perfect," he beamed.
"Good. Now, I'm going to drop this off, do you want to come?"
"Nah, carrying the knapsack would slow you down, and I'm tired anyway."
"All right, I'll be back in about fifteen minutes." I picked up Leafmon and carried him to the pillow he slept on.
That evening, about six hours after delivering the game, Leafmon and I were out on the balcony that served sort of like a back porch for the apartment. Ever since I had spoken about Sam the night before, I'd had this erge to blow those soap bubbles like my brother and I used to as children.
The doorbell rang. That was uncommon. No one in my family socialized much. I didn't bother to see who was at the door. I heard my mother open it anyway.
"Is Ken here?"
"He's out back," I heard my mother answer. She gave the visitor directions to the balcony/porch. I heard the door behind me slide open.
"You really are a genius, you know that?"
I turned around. Yolei stood before me, the CD I left at her place in her hand.
"I know. What do you think of the game?"
"Why'd you make it?"
"Well, I make my parents happy by acting like the perfect son, I make my soccer team happy by making them win, I make my school happy by being the perfect student, but I could never make myself happy. So I took the thing that made me unhappy and turned it against itself. I made a game out of destroying what was keeping me down. It was therapy."
"The graphics are incredible," Yolei said, "Especially during the Digi-volve sequences."
"You really like it?"
"I love it. I haven't gotten through the whole game yet, though. It's pretty hard."
"How far did you get?"
"Let's see, I had Hawkmon, the Digi-Egg of Sincerity and the possessed Digimon had Dark Spirals. Oh, and the scenes with the Emperor and Wormmon are so cute!"
"Digimon: Digital Monsters, the computer game. That was a great idea, wasn't it?"
"Perfecto," she answered.
We were silent for a few minutes. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Leafmon had hopped back inside, leaving Yolei and I without an audience.
"I'm glad that you've reconciled with yourself, Ken."
"What makes you think that?"
"You're talking to me again, aren't you?"
"And you made fun of yourself an awful lot in that game."
Yolei folded her arms around my shoulders, hugging me. We stared into each others eyes for what seemed like a long time. And she kissed me. Not on the cheek like last time, but right on my lips.
"Sorry," she said when she pulled away, "but you have no idea how long I've wanted to do that."
"Don't be sorry," I said, shaking my head. She started to untangle herself, but I caught her arms and held onto her. "I can guess..."
"Was it that obvious that I like you?" she asked, embarrassed.
"That's not what I meant."
"You're too kind," she muttered sarcastically.
"And you're too sweet, sincere and accepting," I said, completely honest. Her arms tightened around my shoulders again. I leaned in and kissed her mouth.
"Stay so kind," Yolei whispered when we parted.