Elegy of the Forgotten

Kaito's home is bathed in the rank smell of intoxication and misery. He steps carefully around the empty bottles and crushed cans and doesn't make a sound at all, but that's not a surprise. He had mastered the art of silence ever since he was a little kid. He peeks into the living room and sees nothing but the light of the TV and a slumped form seemingly unconscious on the couch. He wonders if he should go into the kitchen to search for something to eat, but decides against it. The refrigerator has been empty for the past two years and if there's anything in the cupboards, it was probably eaten away by the rats. He's hungry, but that's nothing new.

He navigates through the hallway, quiet and quick, and lightly kicks away a used tissue. He silently climbs the stairs and slips into his room, closing the door behind him. He removes his backpack and pulls out a book. He was supposed to return it to the library a month ago, but he's on his fifth read and refuses to relinquish it before he finishes his seventh. It's a story about a boy who is sent to another world and finds out he has incredible powers, which he uses to save the world from a great evil. The main character is hotheaded, stubborn, reckless, and rarely ever uses his head, but everything always works out in the end, because no one wants to read a story about a failure.

Kaito wonders if he could ever be like the boy from the story, full of courage and determination, vanquishing evil and protecting the weak. For a moment, he considers the book's mantra: If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. He almost convinces himself that it's true.

But there is a crash from downstairs and a voice like poison screams his name and any courage he may have mustered evaporates from his soul and disappears into the dark room he hides in.

He walks home with a boy from his class, Takuya Kanbara, who is loud and brash and somehow similar to the protagonist of the book he loves so much. Takuya tells Kaito that it's his brother's birthday today and the cake his mom will cook will be amazing. Kaito has to fight back tears because, for a moment, he imagines what a homemade cake tastes like and thinks that it might be very bitter.

Takuya goes home and Kaito stands in the street, wondering what he should do because he doesn't want to go home yet. Home is a place where birthdays and cakes are fiction and reality is empty cans and slurred words and bruises running rampant about his collarbone.

Kaito feels cold even though the air is warm and walks home because that's the only place he can go.

He enters his house and realizes that today is a Friday and father never drinks on a Friday because that is when mother comes home. Tears fall and Kaito thinks that reality is cruel because a sober father is worse than a drunk father. But then Kaito thinks of his old friend, Kouichi, and feels bad because a drunk father must be better than no father at all.

Kaito decides that is not true when he almost gets a concussion from being thrown to the floor headfirst. But that's not as bad as his mother whose scar across the cheek still looks new and whose bruises are more numerous than his. He tries to reach for her, hoping uselessly for a mother's love to protect him, but when he touches her arm, the scar on her cheek seethes. She screams, "Don't touch me!" at him and he recoils.

His father screams and his mother howls in pain and there are loud crashes all around him, and Kaito stays in the corner, trembling. His mother screeches at his father, "I hate you! I hate you, you pathetic bastard! Go to hell!" She repeats these words until Kaito realizes that she is not looking at her father, but at him. And finally, finally, Father hits Mother one too many times and she stands up, spits on his face, and leaves the house. She doesn't bother to close the door.

His father stands there, cheek covered in his mother's contempt, and stares at the open door, at the figure that left them behind. He slowly turns toward Kaito and his eyes are full of tears and Kaito is suddenly left with the understanding that there is no one left and he is completely and utterly alone.

Kaito hides in his room and barricades the door. He retreats into the far corner and tries to disappear into the darkness, when his phone rings and he sees the message and hope springs up in his heart like a blossoming flower. He presses yes, and he presses it again, immediately, urgently, desperately.

It is a miracle that he gets out of the house, but he somehow does it because he wants his future. He wants his future.

He arrives at the Shibuya station and boards the train without hesitation. He doesn't look back. He won't look back.

When he gets off the train, he steps into a world completely different from the one he left. The trees are greener than he had ever seen them and there are creatures he never knew existed. There are ribbons of blue streaming across the bright sky and he stares, mesmerized. He wants to cry because the closest thing to beauty he had ever experienced before this moment was the hollow noise of laughter on television.

He receives food from the strange little creatures—called Digimon—and eats and eats until he is full in heart, in soul, and in body. And it is a strange feeling, being full, but he is so overwhelmed by hope that he thinks he can get used to it, sooner or later.

He thinks of the boy from the story and wonders if he could be like him. Does he have superpowers like the boy does? Does he save this world from an impending evil? The possibilities are so tangible he could almost hold them in his trembling hands. He could see the pieces of his broken dreams slowly being put back together and it is a thought both wonderfully elating and terribly horrifying because how can this be real?

He and the rest of the children stay in this world for a few days, enamored and enraptured by the wonders surrounding them. Some terrified, some fascinated, most confused beyond belief. But Kaito is happy. He is happy for the first time in his life.

But then Kaito receives another email and experiences first hand the phrase "too good to be true." He repeats that to himself until he is brought nearly to tears and he only finds the strength to board the train again and leave because he accepts it. He realizes that hopes are built only to be torn down and dreams can only ever be shattered fragments of a warped perception of reality. He understands, along with the other children on the train, that they are not the heroes meant for the adventures on this world. And although it breaks his heart literally into pieces, he lets the pieces fall to the ground and scatter at his feet because he's used to the feeling and too tired to try to piece it back together again.

Kaito thinks of Takuya and of brothers and birthdays and cakes and realizes that it's foolish of him to yearn for something that could never be or to hope for things that lie beyond his world that is made of darkness and despair. Heroes and adventures are made for the bold, the reckless, the courageous and no one wants to know the story of the failure.

A/N: Thank you for reading! I hope you have a blessed day :)