This is another idea that I've had in my mind for a while. I actually thought this up before I finished ''Wings Of Desire'', and the idea would not leave me alone. It had to be written down. This isn't really explained the way a normal person would explain it. I decided that with this story, I would take a different approach. I would pry into Risa's mind, and try to tell the story just by the way she thinks. Or at least I tried to. I wanted to make this story a psychological one. Enjoy the read.
The Depth of Feeling
The sky is a pale blue that puts everything at peace. The sun is blinded by the clouds that are crying on the city. I'm looking out the window, watching the heads of colorful umbrellas walk down the street. It's a dreary April day, and I'm confined to my room, watching the world go by. Outside, I see two teenagers running down the street, sloshing the water about. A boy and a girl. I hate that combination. My stomach churns in bitter jealousy as the boy grabs the girl's hand and they laugh their way home.
I can't have that. I wasn't given a hand to hold. I wasn't given...
When I open my lazy eyelids, I drowsily drag my arm to my view. The watch on my wrist says 4:09 am.
I've been here that long? I just fell asleep and time flew by...
I grunt as I sit up from the bench I was sleeping on. That emptiness is still here. It will never leave me. My gaze shifts to the swing set nearby. Sitting on it, I think. Think. Time goes by. But nothing is compensating for my misery. What am I doing here? Why did I come here?
Home...is not where I want to be. No, not home. No, I'm not going home. I hate home. I hate it. I hate myself. I hate Riku. I hate dad. But I love you, mom. I'll always love you. I just love you so much.
I squint my eyes, but the tears escape. Don't do this to me. I don't deserve this. I don't want this. I don't want any of this! I don't want it!
I look up and stare at none other than him. It couldn't be anyone else. There was never anyone but him. Only he would be here. He's the only one who should be here.
"Risa, what in the world are you doing here?" He asked, his deep violet eyes full of concern.
"I don't want to go home." I whisper.
"You should be with your family. At home. Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"Do you know what time it is?" I ask, though knowing the answer. I know how late it is. But you're not making me go home. I won't go home. You won't do this to me. I'm not coming home.
"It's four in the morning, Risa." He says. "You should be asleep."
"I was asleep."
"Where? On the swing?"
"No. The bench."
"The ben...you don't mean to tell me that...you actually slept in the park?"
I remained silent. Of course I slept here. I want to stay here. I have no home. The look in his eyes is killing me. He staring at me with disbelief. I can sleep here. I can sleep where ever I want! Stop looking at me! Stop it!
"Risa...what are you doing here?" He asks cautiously.
Yes..why am I here? I shouldn't be here. But I can't go anywhere else. Riku's crying. It won't leave me. So I had to leave her. Dad is not here. Home...is not where I want to be. No, I can't. Stop it! Stop it! Stop crying!
Dark approached me. "Yes, what is it? Risa, you're scaring me. Please te--''
Memories. Why can't I forget?
My father is on a business trip. But he's not there for anything else. He's there to forget. Ever since mom died, he's never been here. I think I finally am starting to forget his face. Riku...oh Riku...ever since...she never once asked me to be there for her. Never once asked me to hold her while she cried. She was on the phone that night. I ran to the park to forget.
Her crying was giving me a headache. Everything that day made my head throb. She never once asked if I was alright. She never reminded me that we're sisters, that we'll get through this together. No, she didn't. Instead, she ran away too. Right into Daisuke's arms.
I haven't seen her since.
They said she wasn't going to live for very long. I should've seen it coming. I should've ran away then. I wanted to run. But mom needed us. I should've ran away. Riku was doing it. Why didn't I? She was on the phone with him every day, crying to him. Not once...not once did she say my name. She never needed me.
I hate you. I hate you Riku. I hate you too, Dad. I hate you!
And now him. He's not here either. He's with her. Dark. Did I ever love you?
My friends. They're not here anymore. I don't want to be with them. What's so special about friends anyway? I never needed them. That day, I decided I didn't need them. So I walked away.
"We have to be here for Riku. I'm sorry, Risa."
Augh...I fell asleep again. I stretch for a while, then I close the open window. It's silent outside, late again. The time. Where's my cell phone? Cell phone...phone..
I reach into my dress pocket and pull out my phone. Here it is. The time is 2:37 am.
It's been this long? Time goes so fast when I'm asleep. Time may have left me, but not that emptiness. No, that emptiness is still here. It's here with me in my room. It was there with me in the park. It was in the hospital too.
The hospital? Mom. It's there in the back of my mind. She doesn't exist anymore. That sour, recurring realization. The churning insides. The heavy conscience. That black realization. It's in the back of my mind, still there.
I woke up tired every morning. And she's not here.
I forced myself to eat something.I didn't want to but if I didn't, I'd get sick. Three days, no food. I had to eat something. And her dresses are in the closet.
Wanted to run again. I didn't want to come back. But the dishes had to be done. I can't leave the house messy. I'll get grounded. And she's not here to ground me.
I want to hurt Riku. I exist, you know! Daisuke isn't the only person on this earth! Why didn't you call me? Why didn't you tell me we have each other? Why won't you put your damn phone down!
And the bed is made on her side..she'll never sleep there anymore.
Isn't she cold? All alone. Dad isn't sleeping beside her. Doesn't she feel cold?
But that's when I remember. She won't ever feel again.
I look at the darkness outside. Trying to get my mind off of mom isn't easy. It's because she doesn't want to leave. I don't want her to leave. Her dresses are in the closet. I could sleep with that.
I want to smell her again. If I did that, I could fall asleep tonight. I won't wake up tired. She's not here. But everything she left behind is still here. I get up and trot across the hall to my parent's room. When I turn the cold knob and open the door, the smell suffuses my nostrils. She used to be here. She slept here with dad.
But she'll never sleep here again.
I walk into the room and close my eyes. I love you mom, I'll always love you. I promise I won't leave. I won't run away. You need me here, right? I open the closet door. Her smell greets me, as if she's welcoming me home from school for the millionth time. Her dresses. Exactly where she had left them. Exactly where she wanted them to be, before the phone rang.
I take out the pink one. It was her favorite. She wore it only once, though. At Aunt Mieko's wedding. She spun around so many times in this dress, I still remember the distinct feeling of dizziness. She used to love this dress.
But she doesn't love it any more.
Smelling her dress brings me temporary relief. I love her smell more than life itself. She was here once. I love you, mom. I'll always love you. I promise.
Back at my room, I try to let go of the loathing I have for being alone. She's here with me. I lay down the pink dress on my bed. I smell that wonderful scent one last time before it shuts me down completely. Sleep comes to me at last.
But not even sleep can sever me from that dread. That sour, recurring realization. It's still there.
The sun shines through the window, blinding my eyes. Even underneath my eyelids, it stings. I can see a bright mixture of colors, sending signals to my brain that now is the time to wake up. But I don't want to wake up. Mom is not downstairs. She isn't making eggs and sausage like she used to. She'll never make us breakfast again. Why should I wake up?
The house. I need to clean. I just need everything to be clean. If the dishes aren't done and the tables wiped clean, what would mom say?
She wouldn't say anything.
I slowly will myself to move. I slump over myself until my brain reminds me the house has to be clean. I stand up, and drag myself to the door. A warm wind hits the back of my body, and I turn around to the open window by my bedside. But that's impossible. I closed it last night, didn't I? Oh, whatever. What difference does it make that I may have woken up in the middle of night and opened it? What difference does it make that I never really closed it at all? What if I just imagined I closed it? It doesn't matter. Nothing matters anymore. I sigh as I reach the last step, inhaling the sweet, lonely scent of my home. She was here before. She smelled like this house.
I go into the kitchen and take some Fantastic from the dinner table, where I left it. I don't remember leaving it there, but I was the only one who touched it since...
Wiping off the table until I can see my own reflection in the shimmering glass, I go on to my next task. And then the next. Then the others. In what seemed like only a few minutes, I cleaned the entire ground floor of my home. I can see my reflection in the dark screen of the television. I can see myself in the windows. Every porcelain doll sitting on the old rocking chairs have had their beautiful spiral curls defined, and their hair detangled. Their dresses have been dusted off, and I super glued any glass limb of theirs that had been broken off by rough care. The floor has been vacuumed, the kitchen floor has been mopped, all the evidence of how much the house has aged since then...completely gone. Only one unfinished chore. The dishes.
I let the water warm itself for a while, then grab the sponge that she used to use. I feel a profound sadness at the thought of the sponge eventually ripping apart from vigorous use, especially considering the fact that it was one of the few things she had touched before she...
That's right. She is gone. She's not here anymore.
While washing off the dishes and drying them, I glance over at the refrigerator at my favorite magnet. The glance turned into a lasting gaze. The magnet says ''World's Greatest Mom". I remember buying her that magnet. I was 6 years old then. When I gave it to her, I told her I loved her and that she was my 'favoritest person in the whole wided world'. She laughed and corrected my grammar, then took the magnet and placed it there on the refrigerator, where it had remained for the past 8 years. She hugged me and tickled me where I would laugh the hardest, my feet.
"World's Greatest Mom". The world doesn't have the greatest mom anymore. And it never will.
She was wearing a different dress that day. She wanted to wear the one she wore at Aunt Mieko's wedding, but dad said that it didn't seem like it was a good idea. I guess it wasn't.
She was in the closet. She was sorting all her dresses, when it happened. She was going to pull out the pink one she used to love, but then it happened. The phone rang.
Incoherent murmurs on the other end of the line. Only she knows what that person is saying. Could be bad. Could be good. I didn't think much of it until she said who it was.
"The doctor, honey." She said to my father. I couldn't read the expression on her face. That night in the park I knew why. It was because I've never seen that look on her before. I couldn't interpret that emotion on my mother's face. No, not hers. Her eyes would never narrow that way, he cheeks would never pale, her lip would never quiver. Not my mother. But I saw it there. I didn't know what it was until I was sitting on the swing. Not until I was looking at him with that concerned look on his face. It was fear. My mother had fear in her eyes.
"Riku, Risa, my little sunshines." She giggled in the hospital bed. "Will you hold mommy's hand?"
We both grabbed her hand and squeezed it tightly. I didn't want to let go. No, you can't do this. Don't do this to me. Not today.
"Please mom," Riku sobbed, "Stop talking to us like we're children."
"But you are children," She protested,"You're mommy's little girls."
"I know," she whispered almost inaudibly, the simple sentence hidden beneath Riku's fragile, breaking voice. It was all falling apart. It wasn't supposed to be this way. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not to me. Not to my family. Not to my mother. I hated everything that day. But not you, mom. I love you. I'll always love you. I promise.
"I want you to take care of the house. I can't be there to take care of it." She sniffed. "Do you promise?"
"I promise." Riku and I said in unison.
"And be good to eachother...be silly. It's okay to be silly sometimes." Now her voice was breaking, but the smile did not fade from her face.
"Yes." Said Riku.
"I promise." I said.
"I'll always be with you both. When you're asleep, I'll be there. I will." She whispered, gazing into our glassy eyes. She nodded her head. "I will."
"Mom, what's happening?" I cried, shaking her hand. "Why won't you tell me?"
"Risa, my little pooh bear." She smiled warmly, grasping our hands tighter. "Do you remember that time at the beach when you buried mommy in the sand?"
She's dodging my questions. Don't do this. I have to know why!
"Yes, I remember."
"I can still feel the sand." She said. "It was rough against my skin. I can feel everything."
I gave her a confused expression, but the doctor told me the medicine she was taking had hallucinatory side effects. When I was sitting on the swing, I thought about that. She wasn't hallucinating. She could feel everything. Anything she ever felt was real to her in the hospital bed. She knew she didn't have time left. If she didn't remember what it felt like in time, then she would never feel again.
"Mom...please..." Riku said, wiping a tear off her inflamed cheek, "Tell me what happened."
I have to know why. Don't ignore her question.
"Riku, do you remember when we drove down to the barn? You saw the owl there. It twisted it's head around. You were scared," she laughed, "So I held you tight and told you it's okay. Because it is. It is okay."
Stop it! Stop it please! Why won't you tell me what happened!
"I remember, mom." Riku confirmed.
"It was windy then. I can feel the wind." She said.
The hospital window was open, blowing a fresh breeze through the interior. But she wasn't feeling the wind here. She was feeling the wind from the barn. She squeezed my hand tighter, so tight I thought she would crush it. It was then...
We both knew. It was time.
"Girls...when you get married, have lots of grandchildren for mommy. Can you watch them grow for me, please?"
We both nodded. The room was deadly silent.
"Both of you, stay in school. The people out there, they want smart people to work for them. Don't be a dummy and not go to school, okay?"
I let out a gasp and struggled to hold in my tears. I didn't want to cry in front of her. She couldn't see me cry. I had to be strong for her. But I was so weak. Riku was weak, too.
"I love you, Risa, Riku...I just love you so much." She smiled, and my heart pounded faster and faster as she stared at us both. We gazed at each other until suddenly, she stopped blinking. At first it seemed she was frozen in place. But her hand was loosening. The warmth of her hand was leaving me. Dread, fear, sadness, despair...all whirled into one single, overwhelmingly powerful emotion the moment the light left her eyes. I actually saw the light leave. The light had left her lifeless and cold. Her deep auburn orbs turned into a dull brown.
She was gone.
My face is wet before I even realize it. The water is still running, attempting to overflow the sink. Just another thirty seconds of depressed musing and I would've had quite a unpleasant awakening. I quickly turn off the faucet and stare at the depth of the water and the dirty dishes underneath. I turn over the plates that were clogging the sink, and slowly the water goes down. As it does, all I can think about was the retreating light. When the water goes down, it's gone. Just like she is. But I can turn on the faucet and the water will continue to run. If bringing my mom back to me was as simple as turning on the water, then she would be the one washing these dishes. I would've been upstairs, just waking up the fresh smell of the morning breeze and the reassuring clanking of plates and running water.
But never. Never again.
Huh? Why would there be any noise but the sound of the sloshing water as I move the plates about? Why would there be any sound but the wind blowing though the open windows? Is it because...someone is here?
I turn around to face her.The traitor. She left me here. The one who used to be my sister. Riku. She has her arms crossed and glaring at me, having already disturbed me from my hopeless ruminations by dropping my long forgotten book bag on the kitchen table. If she broke the glass, I would've decked her.
"You're going to school today," She says in a I'm-not-asking-you-I'm telling-you tone. I clench my fists and return the cold glare. Just whodoes she think she is? First she abandons me for stupid Daisuke, and now she's going to tell me that I'm going to school? I haven't gone to school since our family life was destroyed. And now what is she trying to be? The hero of this tragic tale?
"So you just remembered that I exist? How comfortable is Daisuke's bed? I just thought you'd know, since you practically live there now." I growled bitterly.
Riku flinches and stomps on the floor. "I can't believe you! Don't you remember anything? We're supossed to be going to school! You've been absent for two weeks straight!"
"And did you just realize that today!" I screamed. "I remember everything! I'm not like you! I don't forget my family!"
"I didn't forget you!" Riku protested.
"Yes you did! Why don't you sleep here anymore, huh? Why did you vanish from the face of the earth for two weeks? Did you remember me while you were on your fricken phone all the time, crying your heart out to Daisuke?"
"You weren't important!" Riku cried, smashing her fists on the table.
I wasn't important? Did she just say what I thought she did? Was I ever your sister, Riku? Were you just so caught up in your own misery that you forgot you had a sister? Why didn't you come to me?
"I hateyou!" I sobbed. "I hate you and I can't stand to see your face! Go back to Daisuke's house!"
"You're going to school now!" She fiercely commanded, throwing my bookbag at me.
"Your not my--"
"This isn't what mom would've wanted! She didn't want you to skip school!"
I stare blankly at her at the mention of our mom. Some times I can take it, some times I can't. I don't want to remember. I don't want to see the light. I don't want to feel a cold hand. I was never given a hand to hold...after she was gone. She's gone.
"Do you promise?"
I broke it. I broke that promise. I'm not going to school. For the rest of the time I was with Riku, I remained mute. I don't ever want to talk again. We were walking up to the entrance to the school, and I could see the smiling teenagers. I hate them. I hate them all. Why do they deserve to be happy when I'm not? It's not fair! It's just not fair! Why can everyone escape when I'm trapped! I don't want this place! I don't want it!
"Risa...when I came in, the house was clean. Why did you do that?" Riku was not facing me when she said this. I guess when I said I couldn't stand to look at her face, she took it seriously.
Mom told me to. She said we had to take care of the house when she was gone. So I did. If I left the house in it's aged condition, I wouldn't be able to live with myself. It's what she wanted. It's what she would've wanted. I stay silent, vowing not to speak at all until the next day, maybe never.
Riku gets that I'm ignoring her, and whispers hurtfully, "Fine."
She speeds away on her bike to right over to Daisuke, who's waving at her from afar. She chains her bike and talks to him for a while. For a split second, his gaze meets my own, but he quickly looks away. I wasn't sure if Riku was talking about me ignoring her, or if he had a part in her desire for me to go to school today. The way he looked at me, it seemed as if he wanted to stare at me longer. To relish the image of me standing in a crowd of teenagers walking to the school. Knowing him, he probably can't remember the last time he seen me. It's because I wanted to disappear. I wanted to forget.
Just like Riku had forgotten me.
I wanted someone to steal away my pain. I wanted mom to take my pain away. Just like Daisuke had taken her away from me. Daisuke...the filthy traitor. I thought he was my friend. Before she abandoned me, I thought he would be one of my saviors. But I was wrong. Daisuke...I despise you.
That feeling. My guts are churning again. It does that when you hear something so hurtful, it makes your insides hurt. I'm gripping the chains that suspend the swing I'm sitting on. I want to squeeze them so hard I'll crush the metal between my fingers. But what I'm feeling is not anger. It's heartbreak...and jealousy.
"What...?" I choke out in disbelief.
Dark is staring at me with eyes of sympathy. I don't like that look in a person's eyes. It's disgusting. I don't anyone to feel sorry for me! I don't want it! Stop looking at me that way!
He turns away from me. He clenches his fists, preparing himself to say it again. I don't want to hear it. It hurts...
"I'm...part of Daisuke.."
"Part of him? What do you...?" I can't think straight. Then again, I couldn't think straight since that horrible day. What does he mean he's 'part of Daisuke'? Since when was Daisuke ever involved in this? What is he telling me? That he's not a person. But how could he not be? He has his own body..
"Daisuke and I are one with eachother. I live inside him..and..Daisuke has chosen her as his true love.."
Not her. The traitor. He chose her? But if he loves my sister, that means Dark--
"...and so have I."
So have I...So have I...
The words won't leave me alone. Riku's crying won't leave me alone. It's all falling apart now. This wasn't supossed to happen. Not to me. I can't believe it...all the nights I've cried for him, all the nights...
Dark...did I ever love you?
"Risa...I never meant to hurt you. But I've been meaning to tell you this...that I'm...not human."
I knew you weren't. But you were a person to me! I don't want to hear it anymore! Stop it! I cover my ears and shake my head. No! Just leave me alone! Despite the fact that I'm covering my ears, I can still hear him say one last thing...before he goes. Before he leaves. Just like everyone else.
"So, I can't participate in a human relationship. We have to be here for Riku. I'm sorry, Risa."
The chatter of students. The sound of chalk on the board. The teacher's jingling bracelet. The tapping of the pencil on a desk. All sounds I don't want to hear. I can't believe my life anymore. Everything is detached from reality. Life turned from a happy dream to a never ending nightmare. Everytime I walk, every time I think, every time I breathe...it's there with me. The emptiness. It was there in my room last night. It was in the hospital. Now it's in the classroom.
"Ah, Risa Harada," says the teacher in astonishment, "Where in the world have you been? Have you been sick? Your sister is always here, but..." She looks around the classroom. The students have horrified looks on their faces. Some of them are shaking their heads. One kid is has his finger to his mouth, going, "Shh."
That's right. News of her death spread across the school like the plague. Now everyone knows.
I was originally going to ignore her, but Riku spoke up for me. Damn traitor.
"Um, Miss, she's been sick. She's lost her voice, so.." Riku trailed off.
"Oh, alright." The teacher turned to me with that disgusting look of sympathy on her face, "Well, I'll try not to bother you, Risa."
Good. Just leave me be, so I can think. I can't be here with all these people talking. They're talking...about me. They know what happened. They know everything. It's not fair. It isn't fair!
I can see him from the corner of my eye. Satoshi. I haven't seen him for a long time. In fact, I had completely forgotten he attends the same classes I do. If I could choose who to throw out of this class, it would be everyone except him. He doesn't talk. He doesn't say hurtful things. He isn't a traitor. He slowly turns his head towards me. He starts to eye me for a long time, and now I'm starting to reconsider who I would throw out of this class. No. If I could choose, I wouldn't even be here.His mouth opens to say something, but he remains silent instead. That's right. Don't talk. Voices...I can't stand them. I just want to go deaf. I just want to forget. I just want to escape. I finger comb my hair and shield the side of my face with it. I comb it until I stop at a knot. I press down on it with my fingers. The tiny jolt of pain travels up my hair shaft to sting my scalp. It was then I remembered. I just realized...I can't remember the last time I brushed my hair.
Just walk. Walk. Go somewhere. I can't go home. I don't want to be there. I could...no, not the swing. Not the park. Where? Escape...escape...dammit this place doesn't have an exit! Where is anything? I go down the steps to the second floor. It's crowded with students. People. I can't stand those voices. Stop talking. Stop it! I walk past them and try not to touch anyone, but they keep accidentally rubbing against me. I finally spot the exit to the school. Sanctuary! But...what is sanctuary? Is there anything out there? Anything out there but home? The hospital? The park?
When I get out, I look around. Nothing here to set me free of this place. Just a few trees and a brick wall. I'm trapped. I thought I went out the front, but I'm in the back of the school. Great. If I go through the front everyone will see me. But here, at least...I can be alone. They don't want me there anyway. They never needed me. I walk around the perimeter of the back of the school, until something catches my attention. It's not a bird, it's not a plane...it's a tree. Standing there, all by itself. The other trees are separated from it. It's all alone. Just like me. I could sit there. I approach it slowly, and sit down on the cool grass. Does it mind if I sit here? Will it get annoyed if I--
You dummy! It's a tree! It doesn't have feelings!
Then I guess it's okay to sit here. I mean, when I see it standing there all by itself, it looks a little...lonely. Were you forgotten? Is that why the other trees are somewhere else? I'll sit here with you. I'll sit here everyday. I won't leave forever, I won't run away. I promise. I won't break it again.
"I don't know where she went." Riku said in bewilderment. "She just suddenly disappeared."
"Well, she couldn't have gone far. She only disappeared a few minutes after homeroom." Said Daisuke.
"Still, she could've walked out of the school. I fought with Risa to get her here."
"Yeah. Let's ask the teacher to give us a pass, then we can go look for her."
"Okay." Riku and Daisuke got up from their seats and asked the teacher. The teacher approved, so they both started down the hall. While on their excursion, they searched all around the school, asked nine teachers and students passing by if they had seen her, but no satisfactory results. It was then that they both decided to do something bold: they would leave the school without permission and continue their relentless search for Risa. And so they did.
They both walked down the busy, rainy streets of Azumano until they reached the Harada residence.
"Okay, here we are. Risa's house." Said Riku, sighing and putting her hands in her pockets.
Daisuke was confused."Risa's house? Shouldn't you have said ''our house'?"
Riku looked down at the pavement and shook her head. "I guess I don't really live there anymore."
Riku took out her key and inserted it in the lock, she twisted it and flung open the door. That familiar, dreadful scent welcomed her, just like her mom would whenever she got home from school. She walked home with her sister then, and they were both greeted with their mother's squeal of delight at her daughters' return. It was herscent. Riku distinctly remembered that the house always smelled like her, no matter how long she was gone. Even in death, her mother was there and would never leave. This is where they had grown up. This is where two inseparable sisters had spend the happiest years of their life. That was before the phone rang, Riku thought to herself as she ushered Daisuke inside.
The house was unbearably lonely, but the clean interior was welcoming. The lifeless porcelain dolls on the old rocking chairs smiled blankly at them, as if they were happy they were there. Riku went up to her childhood favorite, Lucy. Lucy had ginger spiral curls and bright blue eyes, with a pink frilly dress and white stockings. Riku could've sworn her foot was broken off her ankle the day Risa had accidentally fell on her, but the foot was pieced together into it's proper place. Daisuke amused himself in the collection of shiny china plates displayed on the kitchen counter. The whole house had been cleaned, Riku realized, and it seemed to give the house a newer look. If the two weeks had passed and everything had been left as they were, the house would look haunted. But Risa wouldn't let that happen, Riku mused.
"Hey, this place is really quiet," Daisuke whispered, "Are you sure Risa is here?"
"Probably in her room.." Riku muttered to herself, hurrying upstairs to Risa's bedroom. She opened the door, "Ri--"
Riku just stood there. Daisuke ran up the steps to ask what was wrong, but he didn't need an answer as the inside of her room caught his attention. The room was tidied up, but on the bed layed their mother's favorite pink dress. The one she wore the day Aunt Mieko was married.
And the window was open.
Laying against the tree, I can't think of anything else to do but think. The sky is drizzling rain, landing on my exposed legs and forming tiny water droplets. Nothing to do but to sit here and think about it. And so my mind wanders off..
The sun is shining insufferably bright. The tide washes over my feet, giving me a sudden jolt of uncomfortable cold. I step back and admire the frothy sea water, running back to the ocean just so the waves can push it back toward me. I can slowly feel myself sinking in the sand, so I step back and leave a small hole where I had been standing. The rush of water fills the hole in a second, bringing shreds of seaweed with it. Riku picks up a sea shell and presents it to me.
"Look, it's not broken like the other ones." She says happily. "You can keep it."
I gladly take it and slide my fingers down it's smooth surface. "It's so pretty. I'll give it to mom."
Riku and I run up to her. She's sitting in the sand, smiling at a crab peeking it's small, beady black eyes out of the sand and looking directly at her. When we approach the crab it quickly pops out of his hole and scampers sideways away from us. It has it's claws high over it's head, ready to snap at any opposers. My mother giggles and stands up, brushing the sand off her hips.
"What is it, my little pooh bear?"
"I brought you a shell, Mom. Riku found one that wasn't broken."
She takes it and says, "Oh, that's wonderful, sweetie. I'll keep it forever."
Ironically, she brought up her own demise that day. The subject came up when we were walking down the boardwalk, talking about all the cute hermit crabs that were being sold. She said it more to herself than anyone, but our dad and us heard her. She took out the shell I gave her from her purse and stroked it with her thumb.
"When I die, I want to be buried with this."
Dad scolded her for saying something so preposterous on a happy occasion, but Riku stood silent. I decided to open my big mouth.
"You mean, in the ground? With that sea shell?"
"No. I want to be buried in the sea. With this." She said, holding up the shell.
Sitting by the tree, I absent mindedly uttered, "In her tomb by the sounding sea.."
From around the corner, I hear the back door slowly open and close. Footsteps advance, getting a little louder the nearer the unknown person gets to me. Riku? Maybe she looked for me. Or the principal? A teacher? I feel that feeling in my gut. I don't want anyone to see me. I get up and hide behind the trunk of the tree, trying not to make any noises. I try to breath without inhaling too much air. The unknown person could hear me breathing if they get too close. From where I'm hiding, I can only see the figure's shadow. I look for any curves in the figure that might indicate the person is female. I find none. So it must be a boy. That rules out Riku. Oh no. I don't like what I'm feeling right now. All alone in the back of the school with a boy? That doesn't sound good.
The shadow sets some things down on the grass and sits on the ground, leaning against the tree just like I did before I was interrupted. The shadow has a perfectly round head. That rules out Daisuke. Who could it be? I can't just walk away. He'll think I was stalking him or something. Or worse. He'll think I'm skipping class. Not that the whole school doesn't think I'm avoiding class..
But I can't just sit here behind the tree and wait until he leaves! I stay stay there for a few more moments until I decide that I need to get away. I need to go somewhere. Sitting behind this tree and avoiding this boy makes me feel trapped. Reluctantly, I slowly stand up and quietly brush myself off, trying not to scare him with any sudden sounds. Now all I need to do is calmly--
I whip around to face Satoshi, who has his hands clutched on the side of the tree, like he was afraid of what was on the other side. He stares at me, trailing his eyes up and down my body like seeing a girl is a new experience for him. I instinctively yell my first thought: "Stop looking at me!"
He flinches and steps back. I guess no one has ever yelled at him before. "I'm sorry, Miss Harada, it wasn't my intention to upset you." He says softly.
Miss Harada? He's addressing me like I'm a teacher or something. I get a warm, foreign feeling in my chest. No one has ever addressed me with that much respect before. He said it like I'm older than him.
"M-miss Harada?" I choke out. My throat feels dry. I haven't drank water in 3 days on account of my depressed, obsessive pondering in my lonely house.
"Do you prefer I don't call you that?" He puts his hands behind his back and gives me a weak, timid smile. Is he actually happy to see me? What is wrong with this kid? Don't I look hostile? I haven't brushed my hair in more than 2 weeks. I don't like the way you're staring at me! Leave me alone!
"N-no." I clear my throat and keep my eyes to the grass. Just go away. Please. Just go.
"Well, if I interrupted you, I apologize. You see, every day during lunch I retreat to the back of the school and paint at my tree."
I was offended. This doesn't belong to him! Who does he think he is? "Your tree?" I spat.
He nodded. "Yes. May I show you?"
I gingerly approach him, and he points at the bottom half of the trunk. ''H.S'' in capital letters is carved into the wood. Oh. So this is his tree. But he still doesn't have the right!
"Oh..is it Hiwatari or Hikari?" I ask.
He thinks for a moment. "It's interchangeable, I suppose."
I look down. A canvas, some brushes of varied sizes and a box of paints are on the floor. The box looks beat up and the brushes are caked with different colors of dried paint. But the canvas looks brand new. It's admirable that he's an artist. Most teenagers would rather talk on their cell phone all day or go on Myspace rather than paint. At least the kids in Azumano do that. I turn around to leave, but he speaks up.
"What?" I said more hoarsely than I wanted to.
He hesitates for a moment. "If you don't have anything in particular to do, would you mind if you stayed here with me? If it's not a problem, I would like to paint in your presence."
That feeling again. The warmth. I lick my lips and try to think of something to say. But I can't think of anything. His words completely caught me off guard. Satoshi is one of the few kids in our school with a reclusive personality, and everyone knows he prefers to be alone. But...now he's asking me if I would like to stay with him? And do what? Just talk? That's so out of character for him..
"Very well.." He says as he sits down and prepares his paints. My silence discouraged him.
"I..don't mind.." I whisper, pushing rough, uncombed strands behind my ear. "It's okay.."
He looks up at me and gives me the same shy smile. "Thank you."
My heart seems to skip a beat then. I've never met such a gentleman before. He's so kind. So warm. Not one thing he's said so far is hurtful. Can I trust him?
I sit down and watch him mix the colors. He has brown, peach, green, and blue. What an odd choice of colors. I unzip my book bag and pull out "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Stories & Poems" and read silently. Ever since that day, poetry has helped me cope. It is the most evocative and beautiful language there is. It's filled with kind words, and not hurtful ones. Poetry can't abandon me, much like paint can never leave the artist. I don't feel happy. But content is good.
Half an hour later, the bell sounds throughout the school. Lunch time is over. The emptiness returns to me as he organizes his supplies and prepares to leave. No. Don't do this. Please..
He picks up his canvas. "Yes?"
I can't just tell him that I want him to stay. He has to get to class. Dammit, Risa, think of something to say! Don't just sit there and look dumb! Um...um..
"C-can you show me what you painted?"
He takes a peek at his canvas and gives me an unsure look. "Well, I'm not so sure that I.."
Being persistent, I say, "You were painting all this time and you won't even show me the finished result?"
Reluctantly, he accepts. He presents the canvas to me and I stare in awe at the masterpiece he just made in under an hour. It's...me. His strokes are thin and precise, accurately depicting me sitting down in the grass, calmly reading my book. Did Satoshi really paint this? He made me look so...pretty.
"W-why..? I-I mean...me? Of all people?" I manage to stutter again. Is he intimidating to me, or have I just not learned to speak correctly? I curse my flawed speech ability until he does something I don't expect. He takes a section of my hair in his hand and slides his finger down the shaft of my strands. He does this as if it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. I twitch as my heart skips a beat again. Damn you, Risa! Stay calm!
He gazes at me with those deep azure eyes of his. "A human being is the greatest work of art."
And with that...he left. He turns the corner, and the door opens and swings shut. I sit there in the dewy grass, trying to grasp reality. He can't mean me. Not me. I'm not pretty. Why would he paint me? Is this his idea of a joke? A human being..? I clench my chest and whisper softly to myself:
"A work of art..?"
Whew! That came out longer than I expected! I hope you enjoyed. As you can see, Risa is a little out of character here. Like my previous Risa/Satoshi fic, she has a depressed personality. Did you like?