If You Listen
Disclaimer: I do not own Air.
Warning: See chapter one.
Talk about unnerving.
Yukito had waited with nervous excitement in the taxi. That feeling had quickly evolved into anxiety as he approached the lone figure in his field of vision. He had steeled himself in case the girl was something more powerful than his comprehension; he knew that she wasn't God, but he was ready for anything equally benign.
It reminded him of when he was a child. He used to sit under the canopy of the mysterious night sky, drawn to the Moon that seem to provide light to the surrounding darkness. He would not believe that it was actually the Sun that provided such light to the Moon lest he forget the importance of the imagination and not leaving everything to fact.
He used to sit there in contemplation of the unknown, the means of understanding what he did know, and asking the sky why he was not able to figure out the logic behind life. Back then, when he was too young to understand the ways of the world, he found his musings to be fanciful. As he grew older and became more world-weary, he slowly began to realize that those fanciful musings were imaginative absurdities.
But then, as he rode in the taxi, the rush of life and its lack of plausible explanation came to him. He returned to his childhood, where everything could be explained by what he could not understand--or rather, what he could feel. He felt that sense of urgency and it carried him to the beach where logic was abandoned and fantasy took over.
The sudden change in setting had catapulted his excitement to new heights. He yelled for the girl to wait. He needed answers.
She turned around and he stopped immediately. It was her face.
She looked exhausted. She was pale, and her deep blue eyes were shadowed with rings of weariness. The lines in her forehead were carved deep by scowl, as if she was silently reprimanding Yukito for keeping her waiting. She pinched the bridge of her nose like she was suppressing a headache and stared bleakly at him, her hair swaying wildly around her face, but Yukito felt no wind.
He blinked once to ensure that he was not imagining things...
As sudden and as quiet as a dream, everything returned to normal. She disappeared.
The rush of normalcy caused an overwhelming vertigo to wash over him. He dug his soles into the sand, attempting to keep himself steady. The vertigo did not cease; if anything, it became worse. He was unable to control his body movements and found himself on the ground seconds later. He felt the dampness seep through his cargo pants, but did nothing to remedy it.
It felt good, the feeling. It calmed his body and in turn his mind. Now he was able to think properly without the clouded vision of imagination hypnotizing him. He let his eyelids close and watched the flashing colours dance across his vision.
It was a mystery--the ability to see the back of his lids. He wished that closing his eyelids would bring about darkness, but the reality was that it brought a mere false comfort in knowing that he was shrouded in darkness. It didn't matter now because, darkness or not, he was comfortable sitting in the wet sand.
His eyes were still closed when he stretched, kinking out the knots in his back. He let out a heavy sigh and opened his eyes. The light of the sun invaded quickly, blinding him momentarily before he could regain his sight. Once his eyes adapted, he looked around.
The children continued to play happily, the parents continued to drink merrily, and the life guard on duty ran towards him quickly.
The lifeguard was running towards him?
His eyes narrowed at the figure kneeling in front of him. Did he look that out of shape?
Yukito mumbled his acknowledgment.
"Could you explain to me what you just saw?" Her voice was soft, but held that strong and interrogative tone that was attributed to police officers, not lifeguards. Her hand was on his forehead as she spoke while the other was holding him upright. Her breath was close to his--he could smell the minty gum she had chewed on. She was too close.
"What I saw..." Yukito whispered, more to himself than to anyone else. How could he explain?
Well, Ms. Too Close For Comfort Lifeguard, if you must know, I saw a girl in a beach chair sitting on top of the water and she was being erased. I called out to her and she smiled at me - looking rather ghastly, mind you - then she disappeared and I found myself on my ass in the middle of the beach, Yukito thought sourly.
He couldn't explain it to her in a way she'd understand. He was unable to explain things to himself in a way he'd understand, never mind others. Just the process of acknowledging that he saw something that no one seemed to notice was a bit hard on the brain. He felt the information scramble itself into tiny knots in his brain and suddenly they began to pull and two strong forces going in the opposite direction started a headache.
He could feel the frown on the lifeguard's face, if that was possible at the moment. He could feel the stares of people nearby, the mumbles of 'drunk' and 'homeless' echoing in his ears. He could hear the soft drumming of the children in the distance - as though they had chose to play farther away from him. Was the sight of him that repulsive?
That girl seemed to leave a strong affect on him. Just what was going on?
The lifeguard, sensing his confusion, assumed that he was not well. She helped him up, her eyes darting across the sandy beach to ensure that everyone was safe. Taking little steps, she brought him to a bench bordering the sand and the grass and gently placed his fragile body on the vandalized mahogany wood.
She was afraid to leave him alone there, with all the potential accidents that could occur around him. But she couldn't stay with him. She didn't have a full view of the area and that meant disaster if something were to happen out of her range of vision.
She took his wrist and checked his pulse. It was a steady heartbeat, a seemingly clear sign that he was in a good enough condition to take care of himself. She then took that back, looking at him and realizing that he looked traumatized. Her frown deepened at this and she put a warm hand on his forehead. He was a little hot, but that could be attributed to the weather and his lack of sun protection.
She immediately knelt down to hear him when he mumbled something. She asked him to repeat it, but his eyes were closed and his hands went limp. She panicked and checked his heartbeat once again, sighing in relief when it was alright although a little slower than normal.
"He fell asleep..." she mumbled, taking the chance to calm her nerves. The last thing she needed was a physically unstable person at the beach.
Jin's Japanese Jingle Cab Company's only female driver who worked in that district, Hana Kazuma, stepped outside of her sweaty taxicab and headed towards the ice cream stand across the street.
"Remind me to never offer my help to a westerner." The words were grunted through clenched teeth as she waited for the light to change. "What's a light doing here on a quiet street anyway? Christ."
She was sure that anybody within range could feel the hate radiating in tidal waves off her body.
She crossed the street flaring with female indignation, rightfully pissed off with customers who had a loose definition of the word respect. After she had dropped off that strange boy, a man in his early hundreds (she assumed) asked to be brought to the grocery store.
If he wasn't so wrinkly and grumpy, she may have let his cordial lack of manners go.
But no, he decided that he wasn't finished. He just had to go and tell her off by proclaiming that she was, and she quotes, an annoying pimple on the ass of society that should not have been there in the first place.
"God!" She couldn't even recall the event without cursing out on the street.
As though God enjoyed watching Hana's life crumble before her, he had to give the man a cruel sense of humour too.
The old grump had even gone so far as to throw the money onto the passenger side of her vehicle and tell her to keep the change.
"Keep what damned change? He didn't even give me enough in the first place!" She yelled vehemently, nearly bumping into a woman and a child roller blading on the street.
The near accident caused her to realize her immaturity towards the elderly man.
"Sorry..." It came out strained, as if she was afraid that apologizing would take some of her anger away. Indeed it did, for she felt a little better when she ordered her ice cream.
She walked down the boardwalk, silently observing everyone as she ate her vanilla cone. The sun was beginning to set and it left the ocean's water to act as a wonderful backdrop to the people packing away their belongings. This was truly Japan; a beautiful place to live and grow.
Her eyes scanned over the horizon until it caught onto a bench a little farther up. A woman in red and white – a lifeguard it seemed – was looking around worriedly. There was a young man on the bench.
Was he sleeping? Hana wondered.
The lifeguard stood up and cupped her hands around her lips, shouting out a question. Hana walked a little faster, since she had to strain to her the girl yell from such a distance.
"Does anybody know where this young man lives?"
Hana looked at the bench once again and frowned. It was that strange boy from earlier.
A sense of responsibility washed over her and she rushed forward.
"Yes, I'll take him home."
The lifeguard looked at her strangely. "And you are?"
Why would you ask if you're going to be so rude about it? "I'm the taxicab driver who brought him here." Hana pointed to her car across the street.
She nodded understandingly and thanked Hana before walking off. This boy looked like he had just been through Hell.
All the more reason to get him home sooner.
A sound. Loud. Very loud.
Where? Why can't he see?
His ears are bleeding. When did it suddenly become so hot?
They're blinded. When did it suddenly become so bright? It hurts even more.
That sound. Where is it coming from? Is it an earthquake?
Stop, it hurts.
Ten until what? He's running now. Where? He doesn't know, but he's running.
His legs hurt. He knows he can run harder, faster. He remembers chasing friends around.
Friends? What are friends?
Why did he ask that? Friends, they are wh--
I don't remember. I don't remember what friends are.
Is it amnesia? What's going on?
He can't see. He can't hear. Where was he running to again?
Why can't I remember?
He wants an explanation and a way out.
He shouts, but he can't hear the words. Is there even any sound?
What happened to the seconds in between? Did it take him that long to form words?
Have I forgotten how to speak?
Were his legs even moving anymore?
It is close. What? He doesn't know, but he feels it. He feels the breeze, the cool air, life. He feels her.
"I know you are."
That is all she can say now, but she knows it is enough.
Yukito wiped the sweat from across his brow.
"What the hell was that?" He whispered to himself. As the rush of reality set in, he shivered. The lamp was on and the window was open which would explain his reaction. Taking in deep breaths, he looked at himself in the mirror.
Surprisingly, he was still in his usual clothing. Someone had brought him home, but had decided that they wouldn't change him.
"I'm so pathetic."
He slowly got up and sauntered over to the desk, overwhelmed with everything that was going on. He hadn't had a dream in quite a while so it was strange to suddenly be surrounded by nothing but his imagination.
The dream in and of itself was scary. Had it not occurred, his view of life would only be slightly warped. But now, as he sat there, he had to reconsider everything he was told as a child.
He had to lay down all the facts before he could form any sort of plan. If his assumptions were correct, it meant that the dream, the girl, and his goal were related.
This was not simple; finding an angel in the sky and saving her without dying in the process would not be easy. But the dream had scared the crap out of him and, if anything, he didn't want to go through it again.
Although, if it meant finding out who that girl at the beach was, he'd gladly go through it once more.
Several minutes passed before he crawled back into bed. He reached for the light, but his hand stopped.
The lamp was a source of light in case someone visited. Turning it off meant that he did not expect to be visited, which was not the case. But for now, to conserve energy, it'd have to do.
He reached for the switch and faltered again when he heard quiet footsteps in the hall. They reached the door.
"You know, you'd find her easily if you believe that she exists."
Thank You For Reading – Chapter Two: To Find
Next – Chapter Three: An Angel