"Ring around the rosie,
A pocketful of posies,
We all fall down."
I've been in England for about a week now. I had finally moved in with my aunt, and her young son Oliver. He's a pretty nice boy, if it wasn't for the scary look he has because of the bandages he has on his face and knee. I asked him about it once, but he just told me that it was because of a freak accident. And that was the end of that discussion. I don't like digging deep into people's lives, and I guessed that Oliver's was about as personal as anyone's would ever be. But of course, at the same time, I was much more than curious. I wanted him to trust me with secrets, just as I wanted to trust him. He was probably going through a lot more than I can anticipate, but I've been in and out of hell a few times.
My mother was a drug addict before I had her sent to a rehabilitation center. My father wasn't around to help me anymore, he had died—committed suicide even—when I was really young. He couldn't handle being around my drug abused mother any longer, and just ended his life while I was out of the house. Mother was out drinking or getting high or whatever she was doing, so I was stuck with the phone call to the 911 operator, telling them of my situation. After that whole episode, my mother blamed me for his death, although I knew that my father loved me and would never hang himself over something that I would do. That was when her addiction really got out of hand, and eventually, I was exposed to it as well.
So I was an addict for a little while. Pot was my way of calming down and sometimes I smoked a regular cigarette after school. None of my friends knew that for four years I had to shoot up in order to hide withdrawal symptoms. And I haven't even noticed that over time it would get worse and worse, leading up to me needing at least two fixes a day. And then my ex found me. Boy, was she worried. We were on our fifth month of dating, and I found her right about the time that my addictions were spiked to a max level. And she had the nerves to barge into my room one day after school, right as I had my trusted bong on my lap.
She hit me, broke up with me, and then begged me to stop. So I did. It wasn't too hard to quit; in fact the withdrawal symptoms weren't as bad as I originally thought they would be. Right after I was completely clean, I sent my mom to the rehab center, so that she would clean herself up. I had no idea that she would sneak drugs in by mouth and only a few days after she was admitted, she overdosed, leaving me to live on my own. It was then that I decided to move to England so I could be with my aunt, and this is where I was now.
I looked down at my scarred arms. I had cut too, a little while after my ex found me so that I could cope with losing the drugs and everything. I never made cuts too deep, so I was still alive and the scars were thin and pale. Sometimes, I still hold a razor to my skin and slice, because I still feel like a failure to my deceased parents. What was I supposed to do? My dad killed himself because my mom was a druggie since she didn't want me. And then Mom overdosed. It was all really my fault.
And to think that only a few weeks ago I had finally decided to make my way to England. A one way plane ticket from Japan to England, all my luggage already sent to my aunt's house.
Now, my aunt is like the opposite of my mom. She hates drugs with a raging passion, in fact when first she heard of my situation, she refused to house me, thinking that I would relapse and make her life hell. But I managed to convince her that my druggie scene was behind me and will stay that way. I couldn't tell her about me cutting, but she had a deep feeling in her gut as she hid anything and everything sharp from me; razors, knives, scissors. And when I needed any of those, she had to supervise. Had to. If she wasn't around, then Oliver had to. But he wasn't as bad. He usually let me do things as he payed attention to other things, his only eye darting around to find something he could focus on. He said that his mother would eventually warm up to me and allow me to do things my way.
I wouldn't go to school here in the rainy country. I knew a fair amount of English, but it was my senior year; my grades had been transferred from my old school to this one, and they said that with the way things were going, I would pass and graduate with flying colors. Oliver was a few years my junior, doing work from one of the years that I was totally unfocused, but when he asked me for help, somehow I still understood and helped him through everything he needed. He didn't rush me through my work on his homework, and when we finished I would offer him some ice cream. Oliver knew that I loved the dairy treat. And that I would do anything to have a life time supply of it.
"Please, miss, consider our programs and join today! It'll help with any family member that has any type of addictions!"
"She's lying, Auntie," I warned, startling the woman. My aunt gave me the look that told me that she didn't believe a word I was telling her. She probably also thought that I was on drugs. Again. But I wouldn't allow that. I pointed to her right hand, where one fingernail was longer than the others. "She doesn't cut her pinkie nail, and that allows her to sniff more drugs or hide them in her nose. Also, it's relatively warm" —I walked up to the advertiser and tugged on her long sleeve— "I wouldn't be surprised if she shot herself up a few times."
"Hrmmph," she pulled her arm away from me and snarled, "takes a druggie to know one."
"Excuse me, ma'am, but I quit drugs some time ago." My aunt looked at me proudly as I smirked. "I knew the problems with it and decided that I wanted to live longer."
The lady was furious and walked away, leaving my aunt and I in the middle of the street. We had gone grocery shopping, and seeing as I'm not allowed in the house without her supervision, I had to come with. I never knew that there would be so many people on the streets trying to sell us useless crap. Sometimes, I don't mind the crap, but if it was from drug addicts that couldn't hide themselves properly, than no thank you.
"You did good, Kaito," my aunt said, clapping a hand on my back. I winced; she had a strong arm, or maybe it was because I was just relatively skinny, and couldn't handle hard hits that good. Maybe it was that my body was so used to having ice cream and other junk food that it's just one big soft pillow. Whatever the reason may be, my aunt really knew how to push my buttons. I hated being touched without there being a certain reason to do so. "I never would have noticed that."
You don't know how to hide like I did, I wanted to say, but kept my mouth sewed shut. It was a death sentence to talk back to this woman, she wouldn't take it like any normal person would. "I didn't want you to get hurt," I said instead, putting on a fake smile, closing my eyes so she couldn't see the lies. My eyes were amazingly deep, but she could still see through them.
"One of these days, boy, you'll be free to go out and about on your own," she mused, and started walking ahead of me. "If you can get addicts away like that, then you'll be fine."
"Oh, please," I tried to make my voice sound funny and sarcastic. "I can't do that much. Telling them away is pretty simple. They don't have too many feelings left after doing what they have done. It's easy to manipulate them because of that." How many times have I told her this in the past few times we've had encounters in the street? One too many, maybe, but that doesn't mean that she has to forget and make me repeat myself. Auntie wasn't even that old! "Anyway, we have shopping to do. Right now, I just want to go home and sleep."
"It's not late."
I shrugged, fixing my blue scarf. I liked sleeping after a very busy day. Usually, the only one to wake me up was Oliver, but it was when he needed help with his work. And I could never say no to his big amber eye. I glanced down the road to see a little boy; blond from where I was standing, stare right into my eyes. I couldn't tell what color they were since it was too far to see, but he sure was fixated on me. He was just standing there, dressing in complete white while the rest of the crowd walked around him, bustling and full of energy. For some reason, I couldn't take my eyes off of him. He was mesmerizing.
"Kaito?" my aunt asked, grabbing my attention. I turned to her with slightly wide eyes. She had a concerned look on her young face, and I felt bad. It wasn't normal for me to zone out like I had. "Are you okay?" I turned back to look down the street and gasped softly. I had to make sure Auntie didn't hear me.
The boy wasn't there anymore. My head whipped around to try and find him. No one was wearing all white, but a lot of people had bright blond hair. My heart dropped a beat as I turned around, ready to walk ahead, when my feet stopped in their tracks.
He was right in front of me, and it was as if time had just stopped. His eyes were the brightest cerulean I had ever seen before. "Ring around the rosie," he sang softly, slowly backing up. "A pocketful of posies." I wanted to follow him; follow that angelic voice of his, but my aunt was with me and would think I was mad for just walking away with a kid I met on the streets. "Ashes, ashes." I tightened my scarf around my neck, stopping myself from running after the mysterious blond. He finally turned his back on me and blended with the crowd. "We all fall down..." His voice resonated in my ear, shocking me. The further he walked, the more the words echoed.
"Kaito." My aunt shook my shoulder, and I shook my head. Sleep. I needed it. Now.
That night, long after everyone else in my house was asleep, I lay wide awake in bed, staring at the cream white ceiling. My mind was still running after what happened in the town, and for some reason, that blond head of hair was the main cause. For some reason, that boy attracted me like no one else did before. But it also felt like he was ignored. I threw my covet off and jumped out of bed, intent on doing a little research on the village I was staying in. I lifted the lid of my laptop and awoke my machine, hearing it buzz to life. I wasted no time in looking for an article I would find very interesting and helpful enough. I inserted my headphones into my ears and stared at the glowing screen, focusing so hard at the reading in front of me.
'There are plenty of mysteries surrounding this tiny town, one of which include the story of a spirit guardian; one who watches over as long as people believe in him. Children at a young age are taught about him to keep the village safe, and whenever they feel at all alone or troubled to whisper the words of "Ring Around the Rosie", seeing as it is his favorite lullaby. He's been heard about in legend after legend in many different ways; a hero, a troublemaker and sometimes, a friend.'
I sat back in my chair. So there was a story about a spirit guardian that watched over the village. I was never one to believe in stupid stories like that, not since my parents ruined Santa Claus for me when I was really young. I ran a hand through my hair, feeling the softness of the blue locks between my fingers. That was probably another reason why my aunt was a little worried about me. My hair was blue.
I stood up and walked to the small window, looking up at the moon. It was round and full tonight, illuminating the Earth. I saw a flash of blond and my eyes cast downwards, meeting the boy's gaze. I held my breath as he looked up at me, with big eyes and the same outfit as before. He seemed to glow while he was standing there, the soft wind blowing through his hair. I needed to find out the secret about this child.
I grabbed my jacket and tiptoed out of my room, grabbing a family lantern while in the hall. I was pretty sure that both members of the house were long asleep, so going out the back door and returning before morning wouldn't be a problem. I made it downstairs and headed for the kitchen, stopping when I heard a timid voice call out in the dark. "Kaito?"
I spun around faster than I ever had before, my eyes wide in fear. I thought it was my aunt; meaning I thought I was going to die a painful, burning, bloody, long death. But it was only Oliver, still in his pajamas, hair tousled. He had forgotten about his bandages from what I could see, so I was tempted to turn the light on and see the damage. He needed some kind of privacy though, and I wouldn't take it away from him. "Where are you going?" he felt the wall for the light switch.
"Uh—" I thought hard for an excuse; knowing how young the blond cousin of mine was (and how tired he was) he would fall for it pretty easily. "I thought I heard something outside so I'm going to go find out what it was, okay squirt?"
He finally found the switch and flicked it on, showing me his entire face. I tried to stop my jaw from dropping when I noticed his pale blue eye, clearly blind, and his knee was mangled to the point of not being recognized. He must have really been through a lot to have this much damage done to him. He hugged himself. "I know it's not the prettiest thing you've seen, but this is me."
"I'd ask what happened" —I glanced quickly at the clock— "but there's something I have to do."
"I won't tell my mother. Just come back safely without being drunk or high or whatever else you could possibly be at this time of night." With all he needed to say said, he trudged back up the stairs, clearly going right back to sleep. I smiled at his limping figure as he stumbled a bit, probably from not seeing as clearly as he used to.
I snuck out the back door, finally being in the same area as the blond boy, looking at him dead on. I lit the lantern and began walking toward him, but he just backed away with every step, keeping his eyes locked with mine. But this time around, I wasn't about to give up. I pursued him as long as my legs would carry me, through the maze of trees and darkness. Eventually I lost him, ending up alone and cold, my breath lost from the running I had to do for the past few minutes. Or was it hours? I should have at least brought a watch with me to keep track of time so I knew when to get home.
I looked around, taking in the blackened scenery. These parts of the woods were...destroyed, it looked like. Burned down to the ground with a few trees barely managing on their own. I let my finger ghost over the bark of one and felt the ashes on it. But it didn't smell like burned wood. It smelled like rotting...something. I kept walking until my feet tripped over a rock and I landed flat on my face, light source flying out of my hands a few meters to my right. I lifted my head and gazed forward, noticing a pair of pale white bare feet. It was him. I lifted myself off the ground and dusted my clothes off. When I met his eyes, he looked scared, the fire reflecting in those blue pools of color. He stayed put. "What...what are you doing here?" His voice was heavenly, but it was threatening too. He must of thought that I had lost him.
"Well, uh, you see..." I tried, feeling the blood rush through my veins.
His feet gently lifted off the ground and he floated right to my face, startling me. "You can hear me?" he asked slowly.
I nodded, and he got closer.
"You can...you can see me?"
I nodded again, a little apprehensive. He was floating. Holy shit, he was floating. But why did he think I couldn't see him? How else would I possibly be able to follow him all the way here, since I knew absolutely nothing about this part of the forest? He backed up and folded his legs over each other and crossed his arms. "The name's Len, hi. I'm the spirit guardian of this village."
Spirit guardian, I thought. An all powerful deity that protected the village from any dangers. But if this was him, then...he was so small! How could such a squirt be a powerful guardian? I lifted an eyebrow at him as he fixed his hair, making sure that his ponytail was still high on top of his head. His blue eyes closed as he sighed, running a hand down his face. "I can't believe that after so many years of flying around and protecting a village, someone actually sees me," he said, almost amazed. I chuckled under my breath. "This is real..." He did a flip in the air. "You have no idea how happy I am!"
One of the trees next to me suddenly began coming back to life, surprising me. The bark turned a wonderful brown and the branches started sprouting leaves. He tapped my shoulder, and when I turned around he put his arms around me in a fierce hug. When he pulled away, I was stunned. "This is what someone who believes and is able to see me does! They bring life back to my home."
"How long have you been guardian?" I asked, watching him fly around and do a few tricks.
"Oh, about...three hundred-fifty years," he replied as if it wasn't that long of a time. I could have sworn that my mouth dropped open so wide since he erupted in a tinkling laughter. "Trust me, it passed as if it was only twenty minutes. I've been alone for so long, after all."
I walked over and picked up the lantern, inspecting it for any damage. No cracks, no breaks, and the fire was still going strong. Len floated up behind me, looking over my shoulder with a confused gaze. He reached out for the light but his hand went right through it, making him recoil. I looked at him, concerned. He touched me—hugged me even. Why couldn't he touch the lantern when it was just an object, a simple household object. He looked down with a sad look in his eyes, and it pained me to see it. I couldn't understand why this was happening...why he was only allowed to touch me. "Len, is everything okay?"
"It's been like this for too long..." The sky was getting brighter as morning finally came. "You have to get home. Get some sleep. Come see me tonight, okay?"
"You're going to ruin my sleep schedule," I grinned, patting his shoulder. He smiled softly at me, coming down to touch the ground. He took my hand, pulling me into the air. I let out a yelp and closed my eyes, afraid of looking down as I felt the wind go through my hair. I heard the blond's tinkling laugh echo in my ears and I risked opening my eyes. The ground was so far below my feet. I clenched my eyes shut again, not wanting to see my feet hanging anymore. Len laughed again, pulling me a little higher. "If this is your definition of fun, I'm more scared than ever."
I heard Len's laugh once again and we rose up more. My hand held his tightly. I was going to die, I just knew it. Tonight I was going to fall to my death and the police would be more than confused as to why a seventeen year old foreign boy was flying in the air. Case closed, bam, freak accident. "I won't let you fall," I heard Len say and my heart calmed down a little. As long as what he says is true, I can believe him.
I felt a few blades of grass tickle my feet and it startled me, but I placed my foot onto the cold ground anyway. With my hand still in his, he touched down right next to me, smiling brightly. "This was a lot of fun."
"Yeah," I nodded, "fun."
Auntie hadn't asked or probably even known about me leaving the house in the middle of the night, meaning that Oliver hadn't told her. So when he went to school the next day, I stayed in bed and Auntie hadn't even bothered to wake me up. Oliver tried to get me after school, but I just swatted him away. If I didn't want to talk to someone while I was sleeping, then they had no right to barge into my room; I really needed to get a lock on that door. But of course, Auntie didn't trust me. Which didn't surprise me. 'You're gonna do drugs or something else in there,' is what she would say. Or at least something along those lines.
I really should tell Oliver about what I do when I leave the next night. If he wants to keep a big secret like this from his mother, then the least I could do is tell him. Besides, he might believe me. He was only thirteen, it would be no problem after learning about a great deity protecting his own home for so many years that that boy was actually alive and real. But there was something else bugging me. If learning about Len was mandatory in this town's culture, why did he live in such a dead area of the forest? He had mentioned that whenever someone believes, it brings life back to those trees. They were all dead, except for the one that I brought back. Did that mean that no one believed anymore? Perhaps Len had stopped doing his 'heroic' deeds for the people or stopped helping them and they lost their will to believe.
When I woke up before dinner, I contemplated asking him about it. I was curious. If what he needed was belief, than I would give it to him. He was a little pale anyway...
Our meal was quiet, even Oliver wouldn't talk about his day at school. It was pretty rare to see the blond teen so quiet, so that was another thing that I would have to investigate. Oliver thought of me like a brother, and I wanted to be a good one. I kicked his foot lightly under the table and he looked up, a little surprised. What? he mouthed.
I wanna talk to you after dinner, I said back through my lips, and he nodded lightly. His fork went back into his meal and that was the last I talked to him for the next few minutes while we ate. Auntie tried to make conversation, but I guess it was just too bad of a day to even try. I finished my food first and set my plates in the sink, before telling the pair that I was going to be in my room. Oliver nodded silently and my aunt just told me not to do anything too bad. I took the stairs two at a time, and sprinted into my room. Once I closed the door behind me, I was surprised to see the little blond spirit already at my window, waving with a broad smile. I let out a shaky sigh. I really need to get used to that.
Before I got to walk over to the window, a short and small knock sounded on my door. "One second," I called as I unlatched the window and motioned for Len to come in. His feet never touched the ground as I opened my bedroom door, smiling sadly at Oliver. He wasted no time in sitting on my bed and relaxing, ready to tell me what was on his mind. I sat cross legged on the floor in front of him and felt Len sit his ass on my shoulder, facing the other way. I locked my hands together and tried my hardest to keep my balance. This boy was heavier than he looked. "What's up Oliver?"
He shrugged, looking out the open window. His visible eye was deep and unreadable, so much that it scared me. I had never seen him like that before. He was always the carefree little boy of our family, and even when he was a little upset about something he would smile about it and laugh through whatever pain was eating him. "Where were you last night?" he asked, just barely so that I could hear him.
"Huh?" I asked, and I felt Len tense. He must have noticed that him taking me late out at night from my house might have some consequences.
"You slept all day, Kaito. Normal people don't do that." He looked into my blue eyes. "Where were you?"
"Out for a walk." It's not a lie. "I ended up meeting someone and we started talking." I swear to you. "There were no drugs involved." I would never lie to you. I promised.
"How can I believe you?" Ah, the belief topic. Just what I needed. Len flew away from my body and over to one of the walls. His skinny fingers ghosted over a few pictures I had hanging on the wall and smiled at the momentos I had. "You had a bad life." Len's hand froze and his smile disappeared. "You did drugs back in Japan. How can I know you didn't get high or something last night?"
"Do I look like I was high last night? Trust me, you would know," I fought back, and he recoiled a bit. It was true, if I had gotten high then he would have been able to tell by both my looks and my personality. My eyes would probably be bloodshot still and I would be the worst person on the planet. "Do I sound like I was drunk? Seriously, have a little faith in me."
"How can I?" Len even flinched at the sound of Oliver's harsh tone. I looked the little boy sitting on my bed. His fists were clenched in his lap and he was grinding his teeth against each other. I'd never seen him so mad before in my entire life. Len floated back to my side and placed a hand on my shoulder, squeezing it in reassurance. Then, he was gone through the window. I was probably only going to see him later that night. "You could be lying right to my face because I'm so young."
"I met someone," I repeated to him slowly. "He's a really nice boy. A lot like you. Blond, blue eyes, and just the cutest voice I've ever heard. I'm going to see him again tonight, so I'm sorry if it feels like I'm hiding something. But I'm really not, trust me. I can let you meet him one day if he wants, and if you want." I smiled at him, trying to get him to believe me.
He smiled back, a little shyly, just like he usually did, and I knew that everything was going to be okay. I ran a hand through my hair in relief. This was easier than I had expected it to be. I was waiting for a serious meltdown; questions about how I'm meeting someone I've barely known, why it has to be so late at night, what do we do during my visits. I'm pretty sure a simple answer wouldn't suffice with something like this. I ruffled his hair. "Get ready for bed kiddo, I have to get ready to leave."
"Okay," he said, jumping off the bed and running out of the room, his usual spunk back in his system. I watched as he narrowly missed hitting the wall, and sat down on my bed. Len now knew about my past. How would he take something like that? He's been alive for three centuries; I'm sure he's seen enough drugs to understand if I tell him the story.
Or, at least I hoped that would be the case.
Once I knew for certain that Auntie was asleep, I snuck out of my room and went downstairs and out the back door. I didn't bother taking any light today since I was pretty sure that the moon would be enough illumination to see Len's face. I was nervous; my heart was beating erractically and my palms were sweaty. I felt as though I was about to pass out, and if I did, I really hoped that Len would take care of me until I woke up. I was so deep in thought, I almost bumped into a tree. Four times.
I saw our little clearing and sat against my tree, which was alive and letting out leaves from its branches. I locked my fingers together and waited for him. I probably sat there for hours and he never showed up, and even with the darkness I would be able to see him. This was so strange. I had brought my watch this time and luckily it had a built in light so that I could see the digits. It was getting close to four in the morning, and I knew that the sun would be rising soon. I let out a sigh that echoed and bounced around me. I guess Len really didn't want to talk with me.
I got up and was about to leave when a thought struck me. What if I had been just imagining things? And that Len was just a figment of my deranged mind? I touched my tree and watched as the bark began to slowly darken. It was dying again, and so was my belief.
Just before I left, I felt as though a wind flew right through me, but I didn't bother wondering. After all, I was just going around in circles, just like my mind was.
So I decided to make this multi-chaptered in order to add in Len's point of view. It's kinda weird to write something like, magical and whatever, but it gives me an excuse not to work in school.