I Died Today

Typical. I'm awakened by the sounds of screaming coming from downstairs. Groaning slightly, I roll over and pull the comforter over my head, attempting to block out the obnoxious noise that's assaulting my eardrums. No such luck however. The screams of Mother and Father filter through the blankets and reach my ears, even though my hands are clamped down on them tightly.

Dammit, I'll just get up. There's no point trying to sleep now that they've started in on each other. Throwing back the covers, I crawl out of bed, not at all happy about being awakened in this manner, although I should be used to it by now. It's like this every morning, the two of them can't even look at one another without finding something to bitch about. There was a time once when this bothered me, however that was a long time ago and I have long since learned to lock away my emotions.

Emotions are useless anyway. They serve no purpose other than to cause pain. I can do without that, thanks.

As the noise volume from downstairs increases, I quickly pull on my favorite pair of jeans, which are really comfortable even though both knees are torn, and a black, long-sleeved tee. Grabbing a comb from the dresser I quickly run it through my hair a couple of times, although why I bother is beyond me. My hair, which is as pure white as freshly fallen snow, has always been impossible to tame and trying to make it lay down is just a waste of time. Giving up, I throw the comb down, grab my shoes and school books, and quickly make my way downstairs, hoping that I can make it out of the house without running into either of my parents.

"TOUSHIROU!"

Dammit. Sliding to a halt I look back behind me and see Father coming out of the kitchen, where he'd been having his morning shouting match with Mother.

"Where do you think you're going boy?" His voice is filled with anger and he glares down at me with a look of utmost loathing in his eyes.

"School." My reply is but a whisper and I hope that it satisfies him although deep down I know that it won't.

"Dressed like that?" There's a sneer on his face as he rakes me with a scathing look. He's always hated the way I dress, as well as pretty much everything else about me. I'm the son he wishes he'd never had.

"Akira!" Mother's voice, coming from the kitchen.

Father turns back toward the door he'd just come out of. "What the hell do you want now?"

Making a split second decision, I use this opportunity to run. I bolt toward the front door, pause there only long enough to slip on my shoes, and then run for it as fast as my skinny legs will carry me. About half a mile from my house I decide that it's safe enough to drop down to a walk. Attempting to catch my breath, I think back to what I've just done. He'll be pissed when he finds out that I'm gone however I've decided that I'll deal with that when the time comes and not worry about it until then. It's not as though it's anything new. Things have been like this ever since my brother died.

Kenji.

He'd been our parents' favorite, older than me by ten years and in their eyes perfect in every way. However he contracted a rare disease and died at the age of seventeen. That was five years ago and my parents haven't been the same since. Now all they do is scream at one another and find fault in everything I do. Not that I blame Kenji for my current situation. I know it's not his fault, that he didn't want to die, but I also know that things would be very different for me had he lived.

But that wasn't the case and I've long since learned to deal with the way things are and not to dwell on the way things should be.

I arrive at school an hour early, as usual, and I'm delighted to find no one else here. Having skipped ahead to high school because of my test scores, I don't fit in at school any better than I fit in at home. I'm smaller than all of the other students and that makes me the perfect target for bullies however in the mornings when I'm here by myself, I can find peace if only for a little while. Smiling slightly, which I almost never do, I pull a book from my bag and settle down under a tree to read. My peace is short lived however. Even though my eyes are focused on my book I hear their approach and I know, from past experience, that they are looking for trouble. I glance up, over the top of my book, and watch as the group of older boys approach.

"If it isn't the little genius, all ready for school. Do you live here or what?"

Dropping the book I quickly scramble to my feet, prepared for a fight. I fully realize that there's no hope for me to fend off all of them, since they're all nearly twice my size, however I fully intend to give them as much trouble as possible.

"Look, shorty wants to fight."

All of his cronies are laughing however I gaze up at the leader in defiance. I know I'm facing impossible odds but fear is one of those emotions that I banished long ago and I just don't care. And that seems to piss off the leader of the group of bullies. He raises his hand, preparing to strike. "Stop staring at me with those creepy eyes, you little freak."

I've heard this many times before. Everyone thinks my eyes are scary, teal in color and cold as ice.

"What's going on here?"

Turning away from the group of bullies, I see the principal of our school walking toward us. The leader of the group of bullies glares at me, his warning crystal clear. If I speak up and tell Principal Yoshino what he interrupted, then there will be hell to pay later.

"I'm waiting boys." From the sound of his voice, Principal Yoshino is loosing patience.

"Nothing's going on." I lie with ease. "We were just talking."

He doesn't look entirely convinced however since no one contradicts me he has no choice but to accept my story. "Alright but if I find out later that you lied to me, you're all in for it." This said, he turns and walks away.

"Good job freak." The leader slaps me hard on the back. "For that we'll go easy on you."

Shoving his hand away I glare up at the older boy. "Back off."

"Why you. . . After school, your ass is mine."

They turn and walk away, leaving me alone to contemplate my situation. Picking up my book I sit back down under my favorite tree, however I'm finding it hard to concentrate. My eyes focus on the print however my brain fails to take any of it in. And it isn't even the threat of a beating that keeps my mind from taking in the words infront of my eyes. All I can think about is how people hate me, have always hated me, for things out of my control. They hate me because I'm smarter than they are, they hate me for my white hair, and they fear me for my eyes, which they say are scary.

None of these are things I have control over. I can't change the way I look and as for my intelligence, I know better than anyone that I'd be happier without it. However it's not like I asked for any of this.

School progresses the same as usual. The teacher lectures about things I already know and I pretend to pay attention. It's safe to zone out, I'm never called on to answer questions. It's much more fun for the teacher to pick on people who aren't likely to know the answers. After the first few times I answered questions flawlessly, the teacher ceased to call on me.

After what seems like an eternity, the bell dismissing us for lunch rings and everyone stands and leaves the classroom. During lunch, I sit alone, under the same three where I was accosted this morning before school. I'm accustomed to being alone, it's just easier this way. I may have had friends if people weren't afraid of me however it doesn't matter really. Atleast no one can hurt me this way.

Afternoon classes are just as boring as the morning ones and I debate taking a nap.

School ends fairly uneventfully and as the bell rings I leave the classroom and make my way out to the tree. I was expecting to find the bullies waiting for me however they aren't there. They must have gotten detention or something, stupid fools. Well I can't wait around for them forever. I'm expected home promptly after school and after the incident this morning I don't think it wise to push my luck.

Arriving home I find things pretty much as they were when I left this morning. The only difference is that Mother and Father aren't shouting at one another. Opening the door as quietly as possible I enter the house with the hope that no one will hear me. If I can slip upstairs to my room then it's likely no one will bother me.

However, after only a few steps, I hear, "Toushirou, get your ass in here!"

Damn. Taking off my shoes, I put them near the door and then make my way down the hall toward the living room. Stepping through the door I find Father sitting on the floor with a glass of sake in his hand. He's drunk, I can tell by the glazed over look in his eyes, and that makes things very bad for me. The man hates me when he's sober however he can be downright brutal when he's drunk.

"Sit!" Father points toward a pillow beside him and I quickly sit down, my gaze going immediately to my hands which I hold clasped in my lap.

Slap! A hand striking the side of my face brings my attention back to Father. He's glaring at me with pure hatred in his cold eyes. "How dare you leave this house without my permission."

The retort I want to make dies in my throat as he raises his hand again. Apparently one blow will not be enough to satisfy him today. Without thinking of the repercussions my actions will bring I jump to my feet and flee the room, his irrate screams following me out of the room. However I know that he will not be able to follow me, at least not in any big hurry, he's too drunk to stand properly. I hear a crash coming from the living room as he stumbles to his feet. Not even pausing to grab my shoes I push the door open and race across the yard. The ground is cold on my bare feet but I don't care. All I care about at the moment is getting as far away from that man as possible.

Not having chosen a destination when I chose to run I wander around aimlessly for awhile however I soon find myself on the bank of a fast moving river. We've had a lot of rain recently and the water is nearly up to the banks. There is a large tree standing alone near the river and I quickly climb it, anxious for my half frozen feet to be off the ice cold ground. I climb higher and higher, until I reach a branch large enough for me to sit on. I perch myself in the crook where the branch combines with the tree and stare out at the sky.

There are no clouds in the cobalt sky and the sun is shining brightly, although it's rays offer no warmth. A chill wind blows, causing me to lament the fact that I don't have a jacket. However I'd rather die of exposure here in this tree than go back home and get one.

Crack! A sudden, loud noise pierces the silence and before I have time to react the branch that I'm sitting on snaps free from the tree and I plunge into the icy water of the river below. Cold, a cold so harsh that it's like physical pain. I fight the current with all the strength I possess but my clothes are weighing me down and the icy water is quickly sapping me of my strength. Swept away by the fast moving water, I search frantically for something, anything, to grab onto. Anything I can use to break free of the river's icy grasp. But there is nothing.

It's hopeless. The current pulls me beneath the water and I find that I don't have the strength to fight my way back up to the surface. Unable to hold my breath any longer, I gasp and am rewarded with a lung full of icy water. However the cold is beginning to abate, it's no longer painful.

Confusing. I'm not used to waking to the sound of. . .nothing. As my eyes open and my vision clears I find myself in a place that's blissfully silent. I'm lying on a pallet in the floor and, sitting up quickly, I gaze down at myself and find that I'm no longer wearing the clothes that I put on this morning. In place of the torn jeans and tee shirt is a short gray yukata. What the hell is going on? Scrambling to my feet I gaze around the room I'm in. I do not recognize this place nor do I know how I came to be here.

Leaving the small cottage I step outside and gaze around, searching for something familiar. I recognize nothing. The sun is setting and I have to find my way back home. Hopefully Father's passed out from the sake by now and if that's the case when he wakes up he'll more than likely have forgotten what I did. There's a path leading leading away from the cottage and I follow it. Perhaps this trail will lead me to some place that I recognize.

Unfortunately not. The path I chose is a dead end and I arrive at a river. The water is calm and slow moving and the place has a peaceful air about it. River. My thoughts suddenly flash to another river, this one raging. Cold, so cold. Can't fight my way back to the surface. Lungs burning. These thoughts lead me to an obvious conclusion and the genius in me can't believe that it took me this long to reach it. I gaze at my surroundings again, my teal eyes wide in disbelief.

I died today.

The simple truth of this hits me hard. I fell into the river by my house and I didn't make it back out alive.

"There you are."

Turning around I see a young girl walking toward me. She is also dressed in a yukata and her brown hair is tied back in pig-tails. She smiles kindly however I'm suspicious. No one has ever offered me kindness and I don't expect that to change now. What is this girl planning?

"I've been looking all over for you."

The girl sits down beside me, her hands folded in her lap. She seems timid and I relax a small degree. She's only slightly taller than I am and doesn't seem the bullying type. As I gaze over at the girl she offers me another smile.

"My name is Momo Hinamori. What's yours?"

Such a simple question and yet I'm at a loss for words. She wants to know my name. How peculiar. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who cared who I was.

"What's the matter, can't you speak?"

Snapping out of my thoughts I stare up into her large, chocolate colored eyes. There's something strange about them and after a moments thought it comes to me. Her eyes hold kindness and not the promise of pain.

"Toushirou Hitsugaya."

"What?"

"My name is Toushirou Hitsugaya."

Her smile broadens. "You have pretty eyes Shirou-chan."

Shirou-chan? What the hell is up with that? Instantly I decide that I don't like this nickname that she's just given me. I open my mouth to tell her not to ever call me that again but I stop before the words escape my mouth. Did she just say she likes my eyes? My freakish eyes that everyone's always been afraid of? This girl is just weird.

"So where exactly am I?"

"Soul Society. District One of the Rukongai."

This tells me nothing. "And this translates into. . ."

"Souls are sent to the Rukongai after death. The Rukongai has eighty districts and you should consider yourself lucky. District One is the best place to live outside of the Seireitei, where the Shinigami live.

"Shinigami?"

She nods. "They are in charge of guiding souls here to Soul Society and fighting the Hollows that pray upon human souls.

"Wait, they guide souls here to, Soul Society was it? Then shouldn't I have seen one?"

Hinamori shakes her head. "You were one of the rare few who come to Soul Society without the aid of a Shinigami. You just sorta showed up."

"I see."

So I died and then somehow ended up here. I wonder if Mother and Father know that I'm never coming home. Will they care that I'm gone? No, probably not. Now they're free to do as they please , without having me to deal with. That'll probably make their day. Thinking back on my life I'm determined to change the way I am. No one will push me anymore or I'll push back twice as hard.

I died today and I have never been happier.