I'd like to tell you a story today; the story of how he went away from me.

It started on a cold October morning, when I met him for the first time. He was a strange child, his blank stare creating a radius of loneliness all around him. He played by himself, building fantastic castles of sand to keep him company. He made amazing palaces, only to come back the next morning and find that the neighborhood kids can knocked them down to piles of crystal and rocks. I would stand at the sidelines like a minor character in a book, waiting for my lines to come.

I watched that boy grow up, almost so much so that I didn't pay attention to myself growing up as well. My sisters grew up, my father grew wary of my growing hormones, my mother wasn't there…to watch me, worry about me…

From the time I was four until I was eleven, I watched him, never speaking to him. But on his eleventh birthday, I finally found out that my father was friends with his. I was made to buy him a birthday present that day. I'm still not sure whether he liked the strawberry necklace I'd grabbed off the clearance shelf.

My name is Ichigo Kurosaki. I have a boyfriend who I grew up with. His name is Uryu Ishida. I always thought of him as a friend until last year, when we went on a trip to a club. I found that I was in love with him.

Before we returned from the trip, I took a leap and confessed my love to him. Soon, we were a pair of lovers, yet we loved each other in different ways. I concentrated on him only; wanted him to be the one for me and me the one for him. Yet by his side, there were other boys, other girls. So many other girls…

"Uryu…? Would you like to see a movie?" I would ask.

"I can't," he would answer in that blunt, simple way of his.

Disappointment would grab me as I'd answer, "Why? Do you need to study at home?"
"No. I'm going to go meet a friend."

He'd meet girls in front of me as if it was nothing; as if I was nothing. The word 'love' only entered my mouth. He'd not once said 'I love you'. As much as I knew I should be angry at him, he had changed my mood whenever I thought of him. I was generally a rather bad-tempered, typical teenage boy, but when it came to him…

Then there was a day as my fifteenth birthday was smiling at me and just out of reach, when I was to see him again. It was after school and we were about to part ways to go to our own homes. We had a conversation.

"Um, Uryu, I…" I started, once again slipping into my teenage-girlish persona because of him being near me.

"What? Don't drag, just say…"

"I love you."

There was a silence in which his pale face colored a lovely faint red, his cool exterior beginning to crumble as I saw what others rarely saw, his nervous inside.

"You…um…just take this doll and go home," he said, thrusting the doll into my hands. He'd done this since we were ever together. Every day, without fail, I was given a doll. This was how he ignored my 'three words'. Then he disappears, like he was running away from something that frightened him: a real relationship, perhaps? The dolls he gave me—beautiful, priceless ones; cheap ones; falling-apart ones, seemingly homemade ones—filled my room, one by one. They lined my walls. There were so many…

Then a day came, finally my fifteenth birthday. I had so many dolls in my room that my sisters were curious. When I got up in the morning, I imagined a happy call from him, a 'happy birthday!' from one not a family's mouth. I sat in my room, waiting for the phone to ring. But lunch passed; dinner passed; the sky was soon dark. Shadows were cast agains the doll's faces by now, and I began to lose hope. I was tired of looking at the phone either way. I feel asleep

Suddenly, at 11 AM the phone cut through my sleep. I got that small thrill where I knew that it was him, despite the fact that the phone rang the same no matter who was calling. It always sounded different with Ishida.

I answered giddily, and to hear his voice soothed and erased my doubts. He told me to come out of my house. I did so, so carelessly and making so much noise that I couldn't believe that my father and sisters were not woken.

He was there, waiting for me with something in his hands. Once again, a conversation followed our meeting.

"Uryu," I said happily.

"Here, take this," he said quietly.

Once again, he gave me a doll.

"What's this?" I asked, though I knew clearly what it was.

"I forgot to give it to you yesterday," he said. I remembered that he hadn't been in school yesterday to give me the daily doll.

"Wait! Do you know what today is?" I called after him.

"Today? Huh?"

I felt a pang. He hadn't remembered my birthday? He hadn't remembered…? I thought that maybe the sluggish July air might've shaken his head to know…

"Uryu! Wait!"

He turned, raising his eyebrows quizically, telling me to go on.

"Tell me."

"Tell you what?"

"Tell me that you love me!" I demanded. "All this time! You simply go around with me, never saying that you love me! Tell me that you love me!"

I didn't give him a chance to answer; I didn't want to hear what was going through my head. I grabbed the doll he'd given me and threw it back at him, not caring when it bounced off his nose and into his hands.
"Ichigo…?"

"I don't want your stupid doll!" I yelled angrily. "That's all you ever give me! No love! Dolls, dolls, dolls! You give me fake little humans that can never love! You might as well put yourself on a silver platter and give it to me!" My words were angry and full of the hate that accompanied my lonely love.

His face was impassive as my feet pounded on the streets, tears stinging my eyes and blurring my vision of the world; the tears that I'd held back for years.

I couldn't see him bend over and try to pick up the doll that had fallen onto the street, couldn't see the car, couldn't see the drunken teenager behind the wheel.

But as a heard the thump and crunch a few hundred feet away and the wind caused by the speeding car blowing through my hair, I had to turn around.

I walked wordlessly to the lifeless body of the one I loved and wished for his returning love. His hands were clenched in two fists. I opened them gently. In one hand, he held the broken doll he'd gone after. In the other…the cheap plastic strawberry necklace I'd given him four years ago, the necklace that helped my love fly on strawberry wings.

I took both, depending on passerby to call Uryu's father. The necklace and the doll would deserve the highest shelf in my room.