Our Last Days as Children.

Seiichirou had seen the girl before at the park, once or twice. She was usually by herself, at the far end of the park, holding a stuffed toy as she sat down underneath a tree. He had considered talking to her before, since her expression had seemed so longing, but usually, before he could make his way towards her, she'd stand up and walk away.

But this time she was sitting on a swing. She wasn't swinging herself, though, barely shifting her feet a bit to rock backwards and forwards. She was still holding the same stuffed toy she always carried with herself and she was looking at the ground, her red hair messy. She seemed so sad that he couldn't help himself: he left his sister to keep on playing with her friends and instead he approached her, making sure his feet made enough noise so he wouldn't startle her.

"If you want, I can push you," he offered, kindly, leaning over.

He still startled the girl: she turned around, her eyes wide, her expression scared. Seiichirou's heart broke a bit when he saw that she was crying, and that she had probably been crying for a while since her eyes were puffy and red.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he said honestly, reaching for his handkerchief and offering it to her. "I'm Seiichirou. Can you tell me your name?"

The girl looked at him, holding tightly to her teddy bear. Seiichirou kept smiling, his hand outstretched, and she finally took the offered handkerchief, although she didn't offer her name. Seiichirou's smile widened when she sat down on the swing again, moving a hand to hold on the chains so that he could push the swing.

"Are you new around here?" He asked. "I live nearby, with my family. That's my little sister over there."

No answer.

"How old are you? I'm almost nine! Well... eight and a half, really. But that's closer to nine, if you think about it."

"... I'm seven."

"Then we're close!" he grinned. "Are you gonna stay here for a while, or is your mother coming soon?"

The girl's head bent forward again, and her small hand tightened around the chains. Before Seiichirou could ask what was wrong, he heard her sob.

"Mama died."

He felt as if he had been struck. He stopped pushing the girl slowly, moving over to kneel in front of her. She was trembling, tears rolling down her face.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked," he said. She still had his handkerchief clenched tightly in her hand, so instead he reached to touch her face carefully, the way he did when he wanted to comfort his sister. That startled her again, but just for a second, since she simply closed her eyes and kept crying, making Seiichirou feel guilty and miserable for having caused that.

He looked around, trying to think of something to say to her, anything- and then the wind blew. And that gave him an idea.

Seiichirou moved to touch her hand, wrapping his fingers around hers. "Come with me for a moment, please?"

She looked at him but then gave a diminute nod Seiichirou smiled and pulled her hand, not quite running, leading her towards the trees where they wouldn't be seen. He still looked around to make sure he was alone and then he focused, the way father had taught him too, and then he managed to make a small ball of wind and air on his palm. Sadly enough, the girl gasped in fright, pulling away from him.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he told her. "It's just something I can do! It's not bad, I promise..."

"... are you a demon?" the girl asked. She seemed both sad and worried and longing. Her expression, Seiichirou thought, seemed to be saying 'I finally found someone like me'.

It broke his heart having to say: "I don't think I am," he assured her when she looked down. "Why?"

She bit her lip for a moment before she knelt, leaving her teddy bear on the floor, his handkerchief with it. She rubbed her face with her forearm, and after a few moments, she turned her palm. For a second Seiichirou didn't know what he was supposed to see but then it started: a tiny, almost not there spark of light that grew up a bit, dancing on her palm.

His eyes widened behind his glasses. "Fire!"

The girl winced, and the small fire died abruptly. "It's evil." the girl said.

"Really?" Seiichirou frowned. "It didn't seem evil. It was beautiful. Like the candles for Tanabata."

The girl shook her head again. Seiichirou looked at her, thoughtful, and then he asked:

"Do you think that what I did was evil?"

The girl bit her lip again, looking torn. "... I don't know."

"Father said that it's something I have so that I can protect what's important to me," Seiichirou added. "Like my family, and the people I care about. So maybe that's why you have your fire."

"To protect?" For a small moment, the girl glanced at her hands, as if she was thinking. But then she shook her head. "I don't have a family. I'm alone."

"That doesn't mean you can't have something to protect! Like animals or something pretty like..." he looked around, fishing for ideas, and only then his eyes set upon the tree. It was mid May so almost all the trees had lost their blossoms, but the tree the were beneath still had a small cluster of pink and white blossoms upon its branches. He focused again, calling for the winds, asking them to please help him and then he released his powers.

The breeze he left wasn't very strong, perhaps, but it was strong enough to rattle the branches, for the tree to let go of the blossoms and petals. The little girl startled and she looked up as the pink and white rain fell around her, the flowers almost dancing. And then, like a miracle, a smile appeared on her face.


They didn't get a chance of playing together for much more than that. An old man wearing black clothes came to the park, and when she saw him, the girl looked down.

"I have to go."

"Maybe we can play again tomorrow?" The girl shook her head. "Then, when are you coming back?"

"I'm not," she said. She gave him back his handkerchief, even though she hadn't used it at all. "This was my last day here."

"Oh..." he actually did feel sad for that, but Seiichirou didn't allow himself to feel bad for long. Instead he pressed the handkerchief to her hand, confusing the girl. "For you! And now we have to make a promise!"

"A promise?"

He nodded. "That we'll be friends forever, no matter what."

The girl seemed surprised, but then she seemed... happy, almost. She had a really pretty smile, Seiichirou thought, even if she kept hiding it by pressing her face against her teddy bear.

"I'd like that." she offered shyly.

Seiichirou grinned and offered her his pinky. "Then it's a promise."

"Promise!" The girl hooked her pinky with his and, surprising him, tiptoed to kiss his cheek before she ran towards the old man, who patted her head, leaving him a bit confused and blushing as she walked away. He did wave back when she turned to wave at him, and then his mother was calling for him, saying it was time to go home.

Only later would he realize that the little girl never told him her name.