Oddities in Oak Trees


A boy with a red nose and a frail build stood near the see-saw by the oak tree at the middle of the playground. The patches of grass beneath the soles of his white rubber shoes started to take on a brownish hue since winter had just ended and the glory of spring was just about to arise.

While everyone else was running around or dancing to the music created by their imagination, he refused to budge from where he positioned himself, not even when his blue shirt got accidentally stained by the pudgy kid running around the place; not even when his loose beige shorts almost slipped off from his slender waist. He just gawked at everyone else.

That was the first sign, Yelan Li had concluded.

On the first day of school for the little boy with a red nose, without any intention to, he hit his head in the rim of the toilet bowl. His classmate saw this and told this to his adviser later on. As he went home, he started to hit his head anywhere and everywhere. When his mother asked him why, all he said was a simple "because it's fun", all the while bashing his forehead against the palm of his hand.

That was the second sign.

When the red-nosed lad turned six years of age, his mischievous female cousin put her pink cotton underwear around his thin neck. Seeing that the piece wasn't so 'fashionable', she decided to make him wear it as a bandana. He was upset by this, being a kid who thought that girls had cooties. But he wasn't the type of person to rat out on other people's dirty deeds, so all he did was sulk in the corner of the room, hoping and praying that he wouldn't get the cooties. His mother saw him there after two hours.

That was the third sign.

Regrettably, it was also the last straw for his mother. A few days later, the skinny little boy with the ruddy nose found himself in the presence of a middle-aged woman. The golden plate on top of her wooden desk had the words Dr. Kim Chan.

His mother assumed that he had autism.

But that was eleven years ago.

"Would you like to order now, sir?" a teenage girl with black hair held up high in a messy bun asked. He didn't realize that he had been sitting there for over fifteen minutes, just staring at the menu of the café shop.

He gave a small nod to the waitress while pointing at the items he would like to have. Although he wasn't truly autistic, that didn't mean that he would stop himself from doing what he wanted to do just because his mannerisms weren't considered normal. He still rarely spoke and he still had a habit of gawking at even the most normal things such as his hands or the empty chair across him.

At seventeen years of age, he still was quite lanky, but his facial features compensated for that. He had short brown hair that was a little bit unkempt, eyes the colour of newly ignited flames, and a thin nose that emphasized the full form of his mouth. His face still had that charming rosiness from his earlier years even if it wasn't cold and the bushy eyebrows his companions used to make fun of now showed the unique blend of boyishness and manliness that his physical appearance portrayed.

He would have been rather popular with the ladies if he weren't so quiet.

Ever since his mother took him to various doctors and psychiatrists when he was younger, he slowly clammed up and let himself become more and more trapped in his proverbial shell of silence and bashfulness. But even if he didn't talk much, he thought a lot.

In some cases, he thought too much.

Take today as an example.

If anybody saw the green coffee mug placed on top of the table before him, they would just see it as that: a green mug on a wooden table. But Li Syaoran would notice the drops of the spilled brown liquid that formed a ring as he lifted the mug. He would conjure stories about impending doom in a distant kingdom and how the war that would soon be declared there would kill thousands of people not only from that kingdom but from the ones that that land had warred with. And it was all because he was reminded of dried blood when he saw the color of the trickle of fluid.

Now, he would have thought about the possible existence of mermaids as he caught a glimpse of a kid lugging around a goldfish in a water-filled plastic bag were it not for the person who had incidentally walked in to the cozy café.

It was a girl.

Instinctively, all that came to mind was how beautiful she was that she could rival the dazzle of Aphrodite; how innocent and naïve she seemed that he had this desire to drag her along everywhere he went to see and feel the way those actors did whenever they took their leading ladies to fanciful places.

The lass who had captured the heart of the silent lad wore a blue blazer on a white blouse. He guessed that those clothes were part of her school uniform. He eyed the way her skirt moved as a gentle breeze entered the shop when a group of elementary students entered the place.

And just as if fate had a little scheme planned out for Syaoran and the girl who had, at the moment, a cup of strawberry flavored iced coffee in her right hand, there weren't any vacant seats left in the popular café.

That was, except for the chair at the opposite side of his.

She looked at him while grinning sheepishly, cup now placed in both hands. "Mind if I take a seat here? There aren't any available chairs anymore aside from this one." she nodded towards the wooden chair placed across him. His only reply was the shaking of his head. Incidentally, he noticed the white card pinned neatly on her school uniform. It read: Sakura Kinomoto.

Sakura Kinomoto... a small smile found its way to his face.

Perhaps this day would prove to be pleasantly different for him.