Chapter 13: It Hurts

Emily Dickinson

WATER is taught by thirst;

Land, by the oceans passed;

Transport, by throe;

Peace, by its battles told;

Love, by memorial mould; 5

Birds, by the snow.

Syaoran stared at the poem, one pen tapping against the blank paper on his desk, one hand propping up his head. He'd always been good at tests like this where you didn't have to study, just understand, but right now there was nothing in the world that really mattered to him, except that she was gone.

He'd come to school in a foul mood, having woken up late and discovering that his parent's car had been dented by a bunch of no-good neighborhood kids. And he hadn't been in the mood to joke around with Meiling and Tomoyo, either, especially because they were now treating him like he was something fragile.

"Hey, Syaoran," Tomoyo had said, and something in her tone pissed him off.

"Hey."

"Are you… okay?" She saw him look up at her. "No, I mean, um, that is, if you…"

"I'm okay, guys," he said, shrugging with a smile. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Okay." Meiling sounded relieved. Tomoyo looked at him with eyes that were worried.

And now he was here in first-period World Literature, trying to analyze their latest Emily Dickinson comprehension test. He knew how the poem was put together, and he knew what everything meant, but the teacher had gone wacked again and expected them to write out their insights in a full 4-6 sentences, as she'd indicated below the essay portion.

The first few questions were easy—most of them were just line-by-line meanings that had taken him no time to fill out. But, as always, the last question made you explain the full meaning of the poem, and Syaoran had so much going on in his head right now that he didn't know if he could write anything—certain unnecessary thoughts might end up on the paper.

He snapped out of his daydreaming and stared down at the paper, pen poised to write.

She left, she left me behind.

"Five minutes," the teacher called out, and Syaoran flinched and began to scribble away.

The poem means that people often don't recognize how important something is until it's gone.

There, that was the meaning, now he had to make it 4-6 sentences somehow without letting anything personal seep through.

Emily Dickinson's examples stay true throughout the ages—water taught by thirst, birds taught by the snow, etc. We can relate to all of them.

That was 2 sentences—meaningless, but at least they took up space.

We often take things for granted until they are over, especially at our age since we have so much given to us already.

4 sentences. Done. Syaoran reviewed his paper, made sure he'd written his name, and then turned in his paper and shuffled out of the classroom with the rest of the students. He felt empty, hollow, useless, and he knew that the feeling was going to last a long time.

Ironically, he told himself, the poem was supposed to teach him a lesson. Right? Don't take things, or people, for granted. Well he hadn't taken her for granted! He was sure she knew how he felt…

(But you were too much of a coward to tell her outright, hmm?)

So maybe that would stop her from even considering leaving him alone here.

(It hurts. It hurts to know that she could be gone forever without you even saying you were supposed to say, right? Feel it.)

Oh yes, he could feel it now. She'd thrown it in his face that he never felt what anyone else might be thinking, that he only thought about himself, that he had to act all tough and not admit his emotions.

But yeah, he could feel it now.

(It hurts.)

He ran into Tomoyo and Meiling after second period Math, but they started to give him those we-feel-sorry-for-you looks again, so he made an excuse about having to be early to class and then started along the hallway to the Art room. About halfway there he stopped, eyes shifting slightly to the right—

--the school doors. I wonder what the consequences are for cutting classes.

He took a step to the doors. And then he turned back and walked three steps along the hallway like a good student.

What the hell. It's exams soon, so it's just reviews all day anyway.

Syaoran turned and ran out of the school, waiting for someone to question him or maybe even stop him from going, but everyone was inside with no reason to look out the window and see him streaking down the street at a sprint, trying not to make too much noise. The houses were all quiet and empty, and he headed straight for Sakura's.

He stopped at her gate, remembering the tenant, and then quickly made up a plausible excuse about some partnered research paper and continued inside.

"Hello?" He knocked on her door and then pushed it open, hearing someone moaning 'Alfredo, Alfredo' on a TV soap opera. In the living room, the tenant had fallen asleep in front of the television, and Syaoran tiptoed past her to Sakura's room, closing the door soundlessly behind him.

And once he was inside his shoulders crumpled.

If I was a girl, I'd heave myself onto the bed and start playing emo music and painting my nails, he thought. But instead he went over to the bureau where she kept her glass animals and wiped off the thin layer of dust that had settled on it.

That was when he saw the notebook.

It was on the floor, half under her bed, and he picked it up and brushed it off. It was pink. With angels daydreaming on white clouds. He almost snickered, thinking of a 10-year-old Sakura writing in a diary like this, and decided that she wouldn't mind him reading it, especially if she never found out. The diary fell open in his hands.

I HATE TOUYA! he is just SO MEAN he kept TEASING ME and TEASING ME! I keep asking him not to do that but he doesn't care he's just so MEAN sometimes!

I had a head ache awhile ago and it was weird because we were doing baton practice and it looked like my baton got longer or something. a halusination I mean.

The house is empty and I'm here in the kitchen I'm getting kind of hungry too, maybe there's food in the fridge? I'll go check and

what was that?

I thought I heard something…

I think I should call 9-1-1.

oh there it is again. where's dad, I'm getting really

Apparently she hadn't finished the entry, but Syaoran thought it must be the day she discovered she was a card captor. He remembered being introduced to her as a kid, seeing that pale little girl with sandy hair and deciding that she was just a rival, someone he had to get more cards than. He also remembered that she had that Kero going around with her all the time. Where was he now?

Maybe she'd had to give him up…?

Syaoran remembered when he'd turned 16, and things had gotten a little too hard to handle. Today he was supposed to be studying for college exams and writing an article for the school news on being assistant director; if he'd kept all that card captor stuff in his life things would just be complicated.

So I quit, right?

Remembering stuff about this didn't feel very good. Syaoran had had to admit that he couldn't handle the secrecy and the magic anymore; everything just felt so out of control for him.

But I'm usually the one who's always out of control, right? So why did I stop?

Maybe it was because, after a while, she'd seemed so much better at it than he was?

…But now, he hadn't heard much about card captors or Clow cards or any of that stuff in a while. He was starting to put all of it behind him and that was good, because they weren't kids anymore. And it was also good because he didn't have to be embarrassed any longer…

He opened the diary again, found the last page, skimmed over it.

I told Kero I made my decision. I think he was sad, but not as much as I am now. It hurts to say goodbye after all these years, but I'll just make myself think of how some other lucky 10-year-old is going to have him there beside her.

I don't know what I'll do from now on. They said that whatever you decide, you can't change who you are. I'll still have the staff. But I know that I get to choose now when I can help, and when it's just too much for me to do.

I feel a little more mature, making this big decision, but I still don't know if I made the right choice… I mean, not having Kero tell me when he senses something? Not having cute little costumes made every so often just for the heck of it?

I heard that that Syaoran guy quit a while back. Well, I'm not quitting! I SWEAR! I guess you could say that… I'm going part-time?

Crap, I don't know. All I can do now is sit and wait and see what happens next.

Maybe I'll join the photography club. Or maybe I'll join the cheerleading squad again, if they'll accept me after I quit a few months ago. I need something to take my mind off of these things.

I have to move on.

So this was why she'd accepted the position in the play. Syaoran closed the diary and slipped it back under the bed, and then padded out of the room, thinking of how things would have been like if they were still Card Captors now, rushing out of classes and in between outings with friends to go chase some stupid materialized fragment of magic before it went and hurt someone. The more he thought about it, the more he was glad he'd stopped. But still, there was that embarrassment.

I heard that Syaoran guy quit. Well, I'm not quitting! I SWEAR!

She'd probably thought he was some loser. And maybe he was.

That night, Syaoran dreamed of being chased by giant cards and tall men, and he woke up five times because the nightmare wouldn't go away.

------------------

RING RING

"Hello?"

"SYAORAN!"

"Oh, Sakura, hi!"

"What's wrong?"

"Eh?"

"I know something's wrong. I hear it in your voice."

"No, nothing's wrong, I'm just kind of busy right now watching TV."

"Too busy to take my overseas call?"

"Haha, you know I'm kidding."

"So, what's up?"

"Eh, not much. We're all having a blast here without you, partying and going to the mall and trashing your house and all that…"

"Syaoran!"

"All right, all right. Uhh… well... I think I did something not very nice yesterday."

"WHAT! What was it?"

"No need to get so excited! I… missed out on a few periods…"

"YOU CUT CLASSES?"

"Ouch. Uh, yeah."

"HOW COULD YOU CUT CLASSES HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID TO CUT CLASSES ESPECIALLY NOW WHEN THEY'RE ALL WATCHING YOU AFTER YOU WENT AND ASSISTANT-DIRECTED THE WHOLE MUSICAL THING AND WHAT ABOUT TOMOYO AND MEILING WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO SAY!"

"I'm starting to think it wasn't such a good idea to tell you!"

"No, don't worry, I'll never tell anyone, but COME ON, Syaoran, if you're going to be this big of an idiot over there maybe I should fly back right now and give you a smack on the face to wake you up, ne?"

"Are you doing fine, Sakura?"

"And then I'm going to—what?"

"How are things over there?"

"Oh! Good. The house is really cute, and it's been really fun with Touya. Oh yeah, and I made a new friend!"

"Oh really? What's her name?"

"His name, actually. It's Yukio."

"Yukio?"

"Yeah, he's Japanese too and I met him at the park when my bro left me all alone there."

"Oh. Okay, what's he like?"

"Well, more of the quiet bookworm type of person, so yeah. I'm going to school tomorrow."

"Yeah?"

"…Yeah…"

"You nervous?"

"As usual."

"Don't be. Listen, it's like being on stage. They have no idea what you're supposed to be like, so technically you can do whatever you want."

"Haha, thanks."

"So listen, I gotta go. Now that you're not there to help me out, I have to do all my homework myself."

"That's how it's supposed to be, dimwit. Anyway, see you."

"See you. Don't miss me too much."

"Yeah, like I miss my Biology teacher."

-CLICK-

Dear Diary,

ugh I HATE that Syaoran guy he's just so annoying but then they all seem to think he's so much better than me just because he acts more sure of himself when deep down he's fickle and shallow and he brags like anything! I just hope he stops being that way soon or I'll probably go crazy next time I have to work with him or anything. I mean, not that we have to be friends, but he's just too much for me to handle right now…

...and he's kind of cute.


So, that's it for today, please read and review!