"Which do you want?"
It wasn't a simple question for me, honestly. A look into the past, or a look into the future? It seemed convoluted and crazy, and certainly not a question I would expect to start out my very life with.
The future was full of inconsistencies and was constantly changing. Nobody knew where the future would take them (I certainly didn't know how this entire "life" thing would turn out, anyway) or how smooth the ride would be. But the past – the past was set in stone. Memories became tattered and yellowed with age, but somewhere deep inside resided the truth.
I chose the past.
Something in the endless white before me glowed gold, acknowledging my response. And then, standing in the center of all of that emptiness, lied yellow. Ribbons, in fact – ribbons attached to a small, feminine figure. She had hardly any color – only white and black for her soft edges. But her ribbons shined with a shade that I simply couldn't stop staring at.
I supposed this was the form I was going to end up taking.
She looked up at me with a knowing expression on her face. "This is a human form," she said, gesturing to herself. "Two eyes, two mouths, two arms, two legs. This is the form you're gonna take, okay?" Her eyes, despite being only black and white, were able to hold everything in the universe and beyond. They were almost more mesmerizing than her ribbons.
I began to feel ground underneath me. I blinked – and realized, I could blink – and I felt myself beginning to take shape. Legs held my ground while new arms flexed themselves in amazement. Something tickled my face forehead, and I realized that I had thick hair. I pawed around my face, and from the girl's upturned lips, I could only image that I seemed somewhat ridiculous. Two eyes, a nose, two mouths….
"Isn't it great?"
She smiled at me mischievously, as if she had invented something truly marvelous. I guess I would've been smug if I got to customize life as well.
Though, I did have a complaint. It was stupid of me to say anything, considering that if the girl had the power to create life, then she could certainly take it away from me at a moment's notice.
"Mouths are used for speaking, right?" I asked hesitantly, trying to recall knowledge I didn't remember obtaining.
The girl shrugged, and her ribbons bounced in her hair. "Yeah, sure. Two mouths for two thoughts! Although the mind can only work so fast, you know." She smile was still devilish.
"Don't you think… two is too many?"
Her grin dropped, replaced with a pointed frown and crooked eyebrows. "Eh?"
I looked away from her and scratched my cheek. A sign of embarrassment, I thought…? I was already well adapted to this form. "You know, I'm fine with only one mouth. This way, I don't have to fight with myself, and…." I paused.
The girl nudged me on. "And?"
"This way, I only kiss one person. Be loyal to them. Or something." At least, I thought.
"Huh? How cheesy. What a loser." The girl (about half my size, I realized) crossed her arms and turned away, a displeased look splashed on her features. "That's really up to you, you know. Your mouth has nothing to do with it. But, if you want." As a soft, whisper of a sigh escaped her lips, I felt one of my mouths float away with the nonexistent wind.
"So, here's one of my favorite parts!" The demonic smile was back again – the smile that would send me running if I didn't know better. She unfolded her arms and, to my surprise, was holding two brilliantly red objects in both of her hands. The item had two curves at the top and a small point at the bottom… and I couldn't even begin to describe how delicious the color was. "Here's two hearts! I'll put one on each side of your chest, so you'll never be lonely or have to depend on anybody." She giggled. "Isn't that great?"
I stared at the two beating hearts growing closer and closer. But, being the selfish person that I am, I held out my new hand and caught her arm. She reared back in bewilderment, nearly dropping the two objects.
"Oi, watch it! What is it now?"
"Er, sorry," I muttered, slinking back a bit. "I just… want to ask for another favor."
"Then spit it out!" She sounded irritated, but her face was too round and cute – I couldn't remain frightened at something like that. "And lemme go while you're at it."
Embarrassment flooded to my face. "Well… ya see, I don't really need the heart on my right side." I released her arms. "Because the heart is the soul, right? And you need a soul for love. And when I meet a friend or something… or whatever, I want to be able to actually feel something for that person."
She blinked at me incredulously. "That's what the mind is for," she protested. "The mind is where all the relationship mush is at!"
I felt like I knew more than her, even though she was the one blessing me with all of this nonsense. "But this way, the other heart will go to the other person. And they'll always keep it near them. And sections of it will go to close friends and family members, too!" I nodded my head. "So please, if you could? Just one heart, please."
She released a long, exasperated sigh. "Fine. As you wish." She let the other heart drop to the ground, and it shattered into thin, red dust. The other heart, too, vanished… but I, for some reason, felt a bit warm and yet a bit empty.
"Now, we're almost finished… oh, right! I almost forgot!" The girl reached up to her hair and tugged on her ribbons. With hardly an effort, they fell around her slender fingers. "Should I add 'tears' to the list, too? Since you're oh-so-brilliant, I assume you already know what they are." She glanced at me through wary eyes. "What will you do?"
Tears, I thought. Water that dripped from the eyes, caused from melancholy, sighs, boredom, disappearances, wavering of emotion… weren't they necessary for every being?
"Sure, why not?"
Something like a snicker slithered through her parted lips. "All right, then. See, now ya have to pick your flavor." She drew up the ribbons tightly in between her fingers. The gold light shivered in the nothingness. And then, slowly, she began to twist and squeeze until the ribbon was spiraled and braided. Color began to drip like water from a damp rag in all different shades of the rainbow, acting as beacons in the light. The girl focused on four main colors – red, orange, purple, and green. Soon as she seemed satisfied with her harvest, I noticed that her ribbons were only slightly sputtering with color. Their beautiful glow had been diminished.
"This one's hot," she said, cradling the red close to her chest. She gazed down at it fondly. "It was the color of the heart, see? It certainly has a passion to it. But, it's also the color of fire! Fire that rages in souls and in mind and in tongue! Or something. This one is sure a wild ride, lemme tell you. A powerful kick! These tears will only come out if you're really angry."
Before waiting for my response, she pushed the red aside and gestured to the orange. "This is sweet! These are graceful and childish and happy, but they sort of lack depth to them." She wrinkled her nose in distaste. "I mean, tears are tears! It's good to cry from happiness, but really! There's only so much sweetness one can take.
"And this is salty!" The orange was discarded, replaced with lavender. "These are quiet tears, truly meant for sadness… but you know, they have a kinda… what's the word…." She paused and scratched her chin before a light bulb appeared over her head. "Modesty to them! That's it. Anyway, these are basic, but boring. I mean really, you have to have more flair than this! Maybe if you work with them, they'll become better." She shrugged her shoulders, and never once let me speak my mind.
"And finally, this here is sour. Oh boy, what a color! It looked pretty and serene at first, huh? Not really. Uh-uh." She shook her head as the emerald shimmered in between her fingers. "These pack a mighty punch! They're full of jealousy and bitterness and general yuckiness. But, ya know, they're not too bad. You get used to them, or you might even have a taste for 'em. Heck, they're one of my favorites!"
The girl giggled again and turned away from me. The four colors sparkled around her, and her dead ribbons rested in her hands. "Which one do you want?"
Her voice was so quiet; I could barely hear her. But she repeated herself, stronger and louder. "Which one do you want?"
I bit my lip and pondered my options. She had talked so fast and with such passion, I had hardly the time to listen, but….
But I didn't need to, because the world around me had exploded with color.
Buildings sprang up around us, towering high into the sky in shades of blues and grays. Viridian vines and fuchsia flowers knotted at our feet, while cerulean rivers danced on the ground. Pink cherry blossoms and clear hail and indigo raindrops flitted through the air on a rainbow breeze.
And, in the middle of it all, was that girl… twirling in a circle with her ribbons around her in a fury of color. She was painting with them – she was crafting the world with her very own paint brush.
"Has everything been granted the way you hoped?"
It was her voice, echoing throughout my entire body and the entire universe.
"If it has, then show me your face that's marred with tears!"
And then, as I brought shaking hands to my face, I realized that I was crying. In fact, I was sobbing my new heart out. Tears poured down my cheeks in all different colors of the rainbow. And, in those droplets that helped color the world's essence, I realized that I was seeing my future (or perhaps my past). They were full of devilish goddesses and bashful time travelers and silent aliens and coy espers and cackling rich-girls and knife-wielding demons and calico cats and bratty sisters and giant crickets and smiley-faced pins and winding organizations and smoked cheese and calculating enemies and manipulative rivals and innocent friends and ninja maids and butlers and wise beauties and the butts of cigarettes and blue giants and gray buildings and fake universes and – I realized with a gasp and sob – I was seeing everything there ever was to ever see, and everything that could've ever mattered to me.
"Well, show me with pride!"
And I did.
I wasn't too excited about going to high school. How could I be? All it meant was more work, more drama, and more absolute ridiculousness from the human race as a whole.
I sighed and sat back down from introducing myself. The classroom has greeted me with slight applause. I didn't blame them for being bored – I was an exceptionally boring, normal person in general. I really was okay with that.
The person behind me stood up.
"I'm Haruhi Suzumiya from East Junior High. First off, I'm not interested in ordinary people."
It sounded familiar, somehow… stirring an ancient memory.
"But if any of you are aliens, time travelers, or espers, please come see me. That is all."
Was that supposed to be funny?
Curious to see who the lunatic behind me was, I spun in my seat and gazed up at the standing girl.
She had gold ribbons and dark eyes that seemed to hold the universe.
Only a single thought was racing through my mind.
Have we met before?