The Worst Kind of Man

…the worst kind of guy is those who would make a girl cry…

His brother told him this long ago. One fine, lovely summer day (the day before he died) Keisuke pulled him from bed, head groggy and soul listless, and dragged him easily (he was so scrawny then) to a tree. Keisuke pointed up to a nest, and Haruto groaned in exasperation.

"You woke me up to see two birds?"

"Not just two birds, but two songbirds. This species mate for life—well, most birds do, actually. But see how tenderly they care for each other?"

Right.

"And…I'm supposed to be concerned, overjoyed?"

"Haruto, shut up. You'll be entering high school soon, little brother, so learn a thing or two about sensitivity. Never forget that the worst type of man is the one who makes a girl cry."

Haruto repeated the words back to himself, silent and aloof, sounding them out voicelessly. Thinking his brother had finally snapped, thinking this was not the proper place and moment to contemplate the higher philosophical—tenuous—relationships between Man and Woman.

(Because Adam and Eve were long gone.) That this was—

"I'm going back to sleep."

--

She was crying, and there was nothing he could do about it.

Rain poured down, splashing against the plastic umbrella—the meager protection, comfort, he had to offer her. And still, she was getting drenched. Heart sick and mind lost, Aya was like a flower bud already wilting.

(And somehow, he was worse than the pesticide laughing and feasting on her decaying petals.)

She said she knew sempai—damn selfish asshole—wasn't coming, that she suspected it so because of her condition (this she refused to state aloud or expound). And even though she knew disaster and disappointment were arriving, she still plunged through and did her part.

Because that was simply who she was: selfless and optimistic till the end. (Haruto refrained from asking her details of "The End".)

And as she cried and cried, tears rolling down fatter and saltier than the acid rain, he remembered his brother's words. Except, this was the catch, Keisuke only had the first part diagnosed and quarantined and crucified as a cardinal sin.

The worst of the worst—the most abominable man in the world—was the man who could watch a girl cry and do nothing.

In that moment, something in him flipped. And Aya ceased being just another girl he saw every day, some girl in the middle of a crowded, boisterous classroom. Time was not infinite; time clashed and sped ahead fast like a March stampede. For her, time will end savagely soon.

Haruto clenched his fists tight, ashamed, but unable to take her close and hug her until the rainclouds diminished and she was smiling again.