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Requiem of the Hummingbird, Chapter 16

 Here's chapter 16!

Title: Requiem of the Hummingbird
Chapter #: 16
Rating: R/M
Genre: Romance, Drama, Shounen-ai/Yaoi

CHAPTER 16: A Week Without Anri

All through the night I kept thinking about Saharu's text message telling me to meet her at the park early the next morning. What does she want to talk about with me? I kept wondering, even as I was sleeping soundly. It didn't bother me in a bad way. But I still kept asking myself the same question: what does she want to talk to me about? Soon, the morning of Saturday, June 24, 2010 finally arrived (YES! For once I didn't secrete semen!). A very hot and humid morning at that, and the weather channel just said it's gonna be over 90 degrees today and humid. Ugh. I don't like overly hot weather at all. Anri said once that he also doesn't like overly hot and humid weather. He said that he and his mom are going to install air conditioners soon. But still, I promised to meet with Saharu today so I'm going to do it. I told grandmother I'd be running errands (some small groceries and some new film for my camera). I didn't tell her about my meeting with Saharu. I don't want to make her worry.

I left my house at around 9:50 AM so I can get there on time without much to worry about. As I walked through the park, I noticed some small things. The clintonia and rhododendron bushes and mayflowers are in bloom. They're all mauve and rosy pink and somewhat pinkish white. I think Anri would love seeing those, but I think his favorite flowers will always be buttercups. He told me they were his dad's favorite flowers, and I guess his dad passed his influence onto him. I remember my own father, Shibuki Jinnosuke. Grandmother always said that he was such a good boy, even with his Tourette's Syndrome, even though it totally ruined his social life big time. I knew those things from pure experience. He was always the one who did everything in the house (cooking, cleaning, finances, etc.) and endured everything outside (from social discrimination to outright silliness) and never complained at all. I think that was what bothered me the most when I was a kid: the fact that even though he was constantly told that he's bad and never going to amount to anything every single day, he NEVER, NOT ONCE, complained about it or fought back. I think it made me think he was weak and defenseless, but now I view it as him being strong and keeping his cool.

Just as that thought sweeped through my head, Saharu arrived. I think she also knew it was going to be hot and humid today since she came wearing nothing but a small pair of light blue jean shorts (not nearly resembling female underwear shorts, mind you!), a sleeveless white top, beach flip flops, and four small ball-shaped hair clips on both sides of her hair in different colors, two on each side. She kind of reminds me of Shuri with her chair clips and pale brown hair. Shuri's hair is short and shaggy and curly and fluffy while Saharu's is perfectly straight and goes down to her shoulders. She gazed into my caramel brown eyes with her own pale blue ones while having a straight and solemn look on her face. From what I can tell, I think this discussion is going to be serious.

"You really came," She said.

"Yes I did. I'm a man who always keeps his word," I told her. I don't mean to sound a little vain or anything, but I never break my promises to anyone.

"So I see. Sit down," Saharu said as she sat on one of the chairs in the gazebo. I sat next to her. A pause stopped us from talking right off the bat, but Saharu decided to start the conversation.

"Ummm...I-I'm...sorry about that unpleasant scene yesterday. Y'know, with my dad yelling at Oneechan and all," Saharu said a little awkwardly while folding her hands.

"Oh, it's alright. It's not like we knew it was going to happen. We're not psychic, that's for sure!" I told her, waving my hand at her a little bit. She looked away from me slightly.

"Well, to be perfectly honest...I kinda DID expect it to happen. I just didn't expect him to do it in front of other people. I mean, really! I just don't understand why he's turning into such a sourpuss! He used to be so sweet to Oneechan before! It's really ticking me off!" She explains, sounding very perturbed.

"I kind of know what it's like...to be yelled at and discouraged and berated like that," I told her.

"I know you do. I kinda overheard you yelling at Dad by accident. I was on my way to my room to get something when I heard you. Sorry. But exactly...what did you mean when you said you were a product of disabled people?" Saharu explained. I confess that I did catch a glimpse of her as I left their parents' room, but I don't blame her. She probably didn't want to hear that anyhow.

"See, both of my parents were disabled. My mother was brain damaged, and my father had Tourette Syndrome," I explained.

She became shocked.

"Wow! Are you serious!? I never knew! Wait! Does Anri-kun know about that?" Saharu exclaimed.

"No, not yet. But I plan to tell him some time later," I replied.

"Yeah. Umm...my sister talks about you a lot. She's always talking about you and how nice you are and how you always stand up to bullies and help people and don't criticize them or discriminate against them. Her eyes are always lighting up and she's always smiling when she talks about you. To her, you're the best thing that's ever happened to her. Sorry if that sounds kinda mushy and cliche, but..." Saharu explained.

It seems Anri's not the only one who holds me in such high regard.

"Your sister's a nice girl. I like her a lot. In a way she was kind of like my mother, but my mom wasn't autistic," I replied.

"You're pretty much one of the few people who accept her as she is and believe that she really is nice. I don't think you've noticed right off the bat, but Oneechan is practically ALWAYS getting yelled at by people. So yeah she does strange things in public sometimes, but it doesn't mean she's doing them out of malicious intent! Whenever we go out in public and she does something like play her trumpet or make little anime sound effects, people are always either yelling at her to stop or telling my parents they didn't discipline her correctly or that she's a spoiled brat or a disgrace. I've even heard other people say things like, 'Oh, it's such a pity that someone so dignified and powerful as Manjoume Eiichiro has to have such a worthless, disgraceful, and incapable daughter. She'll never get anywhere in life! She's a disgrace to the Manjoume name!' I swear, they said it so loud I could hear them! I wanted to throttle them and spill my hot chili on their heads! But all I did was tell them, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all! Nobody wants to hear senseless gossip!" I didn't feel satisfied," Saharu explained a little dejectedly.

"I understand. I've seen things like that happen, and I'm angry at them too. They don't see how wonderful your sister really is," I told her.

"Exactly! What's worse is that it seems Dad is starting to agree with them!" Saharu yelped.

This is where I get confused and curious for more.

"Wha? What do you mean agreeing with them?"

"Ever since our grandfather died, Dad practically did a complete 180! At first it was just about Oneechan's little habits, like playing the trumpet when she's happy or making little sound effects. He would scold her real hard and yell at her about it, enough that it'd make her cry, and he'd make it worse by yelling at her for crying too! But I've been noticing that as time went on, he's starting to scold her and berate her for just about EVERYTHING! Even the smallest, most irrelevant things! Like the way she holds her eating utensils, her reactions to things she doesn't like, her clothes, her hair, her personality, and her inability to talk! It's like he's turned into some kind of hardcore perfectionist and is expecting her to do everything he says! He's like a slave driver nowadays! It's really pissing me off! And not only that, whenever we have guests over, he'll do anything to either keep Oneechan out of the house or keep her locked in her room until they leave! Can you believe it?!"

NOW I'm appalled. What kind of father berates his severely disabled daughter for everything that she does or happens in her life!? And locks her in her room and keeps her in there whenever guests arrive!? That's going too far!

"He does all those things!?"

"Yeah! I'm surprised he's still letting me be friends with Anri-kun! I overheard him say that he's letting me be friends with him because he's not his problem and that he's high-functioning. I think he gets jealous when he sees Anri-kun talking and stuff. I even overheard him tell Oneechan once, "Why can't you be high-functioning like Muranaka-kun is!?" right to her face!"

"Okay, that's just wrong! No parent should tell their kid that! Ever!"

"That's what I say! But..." Saharu pauses for a few seconds. "This isn't what I came here to talk to you about. It's not just Oneechan going through all this crap, but Anri-kun too!"

"Huh?"

"You probably don't believe me, but it's true. Anri-kun's life has been in shambles since his dad died. Even more so after his dog got freakin' murdered!"

"He told me about that, and about that Nakai bastard."

"That's right. I'm really worried. Poor Anri-kun's gonna be in a whole other heap of trouble if his mom doesn't turn into my dad."

"Wha? Wha? What do you mean...his MOM?" That nice lady who took such good care of him? A sourpuss who yells at her kid? How can that be?

"I don't think you've noticed, but ever since Senri-san died, his mom is starting to turn into my dad when it comes to being a sourpuss and getting angry at everything, even Anri-kun! She'll get REALLY uptight, stubborn in the worst of ways, and EXTREMELY easy to set off. I mean, anything you say to her, she'll explode like a volcano no matter how polite you are about it. And I feel really bad for Anri-kun! Mostly because he has to deal with her and because he has to hear people gossip about him and tell his mom she didn't raise him right or discipline him correctly or all that crap! I've known him long enough to know what he goes through on a regular basis. Hell, they even badmouthed him at Senri-san's freakin' funeral!"

And I thought I had it bad in terms of a childhood social life! Anri's pretty much gone through all the same stuff I've been through, except he's the victim and my parents were the victims as well. We've both been talked about badly at our parents' funerals! Did people badmouth his dad even after death like people did to my parents?! This is just unforgivable! No child should ever have to go through that! But I think in terms of circumstances (me being put in foster care), I think Anri's luckier than I am. He didn't get put into foster care for 6 months like I had to.

Right as that thought pierced my brain, Saharu stood before me, looking at me with her sharp, clear eyes.

"Sojiro-san...Anri-kun's told me a lot about you too. Both Oneechan and him. I...I know this is probably stupid of me to say something like this since you've only known him for a couple of months, but...I just want you to know...Anri-kun's a nice person. He's the sweetest, kindest and gentlest boys I've ever met! Hell, he's the ONLY kind and gentle boy I've met in my childhood! There aren't many boys like him! But he doesn't have very many good friends other than me. He never did have much in elementary school or middle school. The real reason I asked you to come here is that...I want you to do me a HUGE favor."

I can see something in Saharu's eyes. A huge, hot flame burning with courage. I can tell she's quite passionate about what she's going to say to me.

"...I want you...to be a good friend to Anri-kun. I've been with him since 2nd grade and I love him, but in the future there may be times when I can't be around to protect him anymore. We're going to walk down different paths in life. I know for a fact that one day we'll have to separate. Sojiro-san...you're a nice guy, aren't you? I know I shouldn't be forcing this on you, but from what Anri-kun has told me you're one of the best things to ever happen to him. So, can you please...be a friend to him?"

Her voice is starting to quiver and I see a little bit of a tear popping up in the corner of one of her eyes. To be honest, I had already loved Anri with all my heart without her telling me. But after hearing those sad stories of what her sister and Anri have went through until now (and the part about Anri's mom, which I'll ask him about later), now I'm even more determined to be a great friend to Anri. He and I...we share a lot of things in common, and I've never met anyone quite like him before. I can feel my heart burning warmly with mettle, and I think Saharu feels the same way. I stood up and I rubbed her head with my hand.

"Of course I will. I really like him, and I'll do whatever I can to be with him. He's really lucky to have a friend like you, Manjoume," I told her.

"You can call me Saharu if you want. You can call my sister Shuri, too," She said.

"But wouldn't that be disrespectful?" I asked.

"No. We normally don't like being called by our last name. It kinda reminds me too much of all the expectations society wants to put on us," Saharu said.

"Alright then, Saharu. How's that?"

"Better. Oh! I forgot to mention. My dad's been turning into a big sourpuss, right? Well, want to know something cool about it?"

"What?"

"Practically EVERYBODY else in my entire family disagrees with him!"

"Is that so?"

"Yep! My mom, both my sets of grandparents, my uncles, aunts, cousins, everyone! They all think Dad's too harsh on Oneechan! I don't remember her being diagnosed very well since I was too young, but Mom said she accepted Oneechan from the beginning because her family always taught her that everyone is different and that we should celebrate our differences. She taught me that too. It's no wonder I'm friends with Anri-kun. Plus, it was our grandfather, Dad's dad, who loved Oneechan the most. I heard him say that she was like the daugher he was never able to have. They were very close. Not only that, this one time we had family members come over along with some of their friends, and Dad kept Oneechan locked in her room, and grandmother kept asking about her and once she found out about what Dad did, she totally gave him a mouthful of fist! And right in front of everyone, too! Then a shouting match erupted. But it was awesome! Thankfully everyone else didn't mind Oneechan being around."

"I'm glad. That's what a family should be like."

"Exactly!"

"This probably sounds strange to ask, but when did you first learn about autism?" I asked curiously.

"I think when I was around 9 years old. I started noticing that Oneechan was different from the other kids and asked Mom about it. She told me about autism and what the symptoms are and all that stuff and why Oneechan is the way she is. When it came to explaining why Oneechan did the things she did like panic in certain situations or play her trumpet at random times or make sound effects or rock back and forth, she treated me like an adult. They never treated the situation as if it was an unfortunate one or act like they felt sorry for her. She also said that Anri-kun was autistic too, but back then he didn't know it. He didn't find out himself until he turned 11," Saharu explained calmly. No wonder she's so supportive and protective of both her sister and Anri.

"I've watched you and your sister interact. You're very good with her, and I'm not saying that to pressure you, either," I told her.

"Yeah. Everyone says that, but I know you mean well. And yes, I kinda learned how to teach Oneechan things thanks to going to all those sessions and early interventions and such. I don't give up, but if Oneechan simply can't do something, I don't go "Oh, she can't do it" and yell at her. I simply say, "Well, she probably doesn't get it yet" and try to find new methods to teach her in a way she understood. Of course, there were times when she couldn't do something well no matter what methods I used. I'm not one to give up, but if she can't do something, then she can't. I don't think of it as a failure. I simply go, "Well, maybe it's not her forte. I'm sure we can find something else she can be good at!" I think Anri-kun picked up on it too. I guess you could say I was sort of a "big sister" at both home and school."

"But Shuri's the older sister and you're her younger sister!"

"Strange, huh? It's more like I'm the big sister and she's the little sister. We fight over little things, we mess with each other, we do stuff together, some people just don't like to see that we're still normal siblings interacting!"

I smile at her. Then she looks at the time on her cell phone.

"Oh jeez! Look how late it is! Dad's gonna flip! Sorry, but I have to go now. I'll see you later, Sojiro-san!" Saharu exclaims as she decided to leave.

"I'll do whatever I can to be a good friend to Anri, Saharu-san!!" I yell and wave as she leaves. I don't think she heard me. But I did hear her say something as she left.

"Okay! I am definitely going to watch my DVRed episodes of Occult Academy(1) and Durarara(2)!!" She yelled happily as she ran away from the gazebo and the park.

I just remembered that I need to go and get new film for my camera. I amble quietly to the dollar store, find some extra film, and pay for it in no time flat. There weren't a lot of people in there so I managed to get my film without difficulty. As I'm about to leave, however, something stops me.

"Huh? Sojiro?"

Lo and behold, Anri has spotted me.

"Hi there, buttercup!" I tell him as he approaches me. It's okay for me to call him buttercup because there aren't many people here. Plus the store clerk was busy with another customer so I don't think he was listening.

"What are you doing here?" Anri asked.

"Just got some film for my camera," I told him.

"Nice. Oh! Here's the exchange diary," Anri said as he handed it to me. I remember I gave it to him before we went to Saharu's house.

"My mom and I are running some small errands. We just got here," He said.

"That's nice," I told him.

"Oh! Now that you're here, uh...I just want to let you know, I'm not going to be able to play with you this week," Anri told me with a half dejected face.

"Why is that?"

"Well, we don't have school on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday because of a teacher's convention, so Mom thought it'd be a good idea for us to go and visit our aunt Yukako."

"Who's she?"

"She's my aunt and my dad's sister. She's very nice! But she's kinda frail. I love her a lot! But I just wanted to let you know in case you start to wonder where I am. I can't be with you for a few days. Sorry."

"That's too bad. But it's alright. When you come back, you come back. That's perfectly fine with me."

"Okay!"

His mom comes.

"Oh? Shibuki-san?" She said, a little confused.

"Uhh...hi there, Muranaka-san!" I told her a little shyly. She chuckles a bit.

"I thought I told you to call me Akemi," She said with a smile.

"Alright. Akemi-san," I said.

"Anri's talked about you day in and day out. We can't have you over this week because we're visiting a relative, but would you like to come over sometime later? I'll make some hamburgers on our new grill," Akemi said.

"What!? Are you serious, Mom!?"

"Shh! Anri! Not in public!"

Akemi is smiling while telling me this, which is making me very confused, partly because of what Saharu told me earlier.

"I don't think you've noticed, but ever since Senri-san died, his mom is starting to turn into my dad when it comes to being a sourpuss and getting angry at everything, even Anri-kun! She'll get REALLY uptight, stubborn in the worst of ways, and EXTREMELY easy to set off. I mean, anything you say to her, she'll explode like a volcano no matter how polite you are about it."

I don't see any evidence of Akemi being angry or choleric or incensed or acting like a sourpuss or a crazed lunatic. Or maybe it happens when I'm not around. I still can't believe it. I don't want to ask about it because we're in a public place and because it isn't really any of my business. But she's been nice all the times I met her, so I do nothing but smile.

"Sure. I'd like that. I'm sure he'd like it too," I tell her.

"Alright then. We'll be on our way now," Akemi said.

"Bye, Sojiro! Be good while I'm gone!" Anri exclaims as he leaves the store with his mom. Shortly after, I leave too.

But even though I leave, I don't get to go home very quickly because I ran into someone else!

"Huh? Shibuki-kun?"

Lo and behold, it's Shredder's sister, Natsuko! She's wearing a sleeveless cream gauze top, light blue jean shorts, light blue flip flops, and a dark red ribbon in her ponytail. Wow. She and Saharu are almost matching in terms of their choice of raiment today!

"Natsuko!"

"Whoa! I sure never expected to see you here!"

"Same here!"

"Ugh! It is sooooo hot today!"

"I agree. I'm already feeling a little toasty."

"Wanna go to the gazebo where it's nice and shady?"

"Sure."

This is the second time today I go to the gazebo in the park. So we sat down on the chairs and decided to converse.

"How've you been since we last met?" I asked.

"I've been fine. A few snags here and there but other than that, I'm good," She replied proudly.

"Where's your naginata?"

"At home. Ugh! Mom finally got a court date, but it's not until September! Can you believe it!? We can't wait that long! What if something bad happens!?"

"That late!?"

"Yeah! But you know the courthouses around here! They're all run by a bunch of dopes who don't know right from wrong even if the stuff in front of them is totally blatant!"

"I agree."

"By the way, how's Anri-kun?"

"He's doing a lot better, considering all the stuff he's been through. I can't hang out with him this week because he told me he's visiting a relative."

"I see. He seems like a sweet boy, and you don't get much of those very often."

"Oh yeah."

"I'm just hoping Yamasaki doesn't get his grubby hands on him."

"Me too."

"I mean, Anri-kun doesn't look like the type of boy who could hold is own against him, let alone him and all his lackies! I'm really worried. Well, I guess this week I don't have to be since he's visiting a relative, but once someone does something to him, he'll automatically hold a grudge and do all sorts of crazy things to terrorize them and make their lives miserable!"

"He's certainly not leaving me alone, that's for sure."

"About you seeing him having sex and dealing drugs on school grounds? You were right to report it. But I wish he could've been put on statutory rape charges! Not only that, he's starting to become the talk of the town. Everyone wants him behind bars."

"Haven't heard much about that."

"I guess you wouldn't."

Something inside me is stirring. Because of that, I get the courage to ask her the question.

"Sorry if this isn't any of my business, but...exactly what made your brother the way he is?"

"Hm?"

"Like...did he go through a lot of bad experiences or something? Sometimes people turn out the way they are because of childhood traumas and not having anyone to turn to for help."

She looked up at the gazebo's ceiling.

"Now that you mention it...I remember that he actually used to be kind when we were young. But when our parents divorced and dad got custody of him, I practically never saw him. I couldn't even call him on the phone. Mom did everything to find out what happened to him, but nothing came up. And before I knew it, he came back before he started high school and he had totally changed! To be perfectly honest, I have just absolutely NO idea what happened to him or what he went through, but he certainly did a 180, that's for sure! I even tried asking him about it, but all I got were either slaps or him telling me "it's none of yo god damned business, you dirty bitch!" It really hurt to see him so volatile."

Wow. Yamasaki? Kind? I sure can't imagine that. But I guess it's because I'm so used to seeing him either doing bad things to other people or trying to get back at me (violently, of course). I know that a divorce can be a pretty painful experience for a child to go through, especially if they're in the middle of it (or if they're the reason for their divorce). But from what she's telling me it doesn't sound like the divorce totally hurt him. I wonder if his dad has something to do with it? But she's already told me so much right now, I probably shouldn't pry.

"I see. I'm sure it must have been hard."

"It sure was."

"Now...onto a more happier subject! How's school going for you?"

"Fine. Some friends of mine made a tea ceremony club and an LGBT club!"

"An LGBT club? That sounds nice!"

"It is. And I have a lot of friends who are gay, so it'll be good for them. Plus, my friend Nodoka won first prize in our school's talent contest."

"Wow. Congrats to her!"

"She's very good at dancing and designing clothes."

She looked down at her watch.

"Oh man! I have to go to my piano lesson! Sorry, Shibuki-san! I have to go. Thanks for chatting with me! I'll see ya later!" Natsuko said as she got out, waved at me, and stormed off. I waved back at her silently with a smile.

So she's friends with gays, huh? I never knew. But I don't think I trust her enough to tell her that I myself am gay. She's nice enough, that's good, but I'm afraid that Yamasaki might find out. And I don't even want to think about what would happen if he were to find out! It'd be Hades for me! Not just for me, but for me and Anri as well!

But to be perfectly honest, the next few days were both good and bad. Good because I get to have all the time to myself (and to grandmother). I can write more stories and poems, take walks in the park, and do whatever I want. I do miss Anri though, and I wish I could share all of this with him. The bad thing about this is that...I keep having erections and I keep ejaculating when I'm sleeping! This is seriously scaring me. I can't bear to see another big glob of semen in front of me! I'm gonna explode!

I do, however, notice that I seem to do it more whenever...I think about Anri.

Yeah, me thinking about Anri causes me to ejaculate. Pathetic, huh? I don't know why this is so either! I've been denying it for so long, ever since we first bought the exchange diary! Could Anri really be the cause of my incessant erectionss?

My greatest fears were confirmed on Wednesday morning.

I had a dream the night before. It felt like I hadn't seen Anri in sooooo long, and we ran to each other and embraced each other. Then, we found ourselves sleeping in a hotel.

In a bed.

Together.

Only partially clothed.

After that...we shared a kiss.

I gasped and awoke with a start. Worse than that, I felt something wet on my boxer shorts. And I see it clear on my fingers.

I'm breathing hard. My face is beaded and wet. All kinds of specters and horrifying images are going through my head. The realization is pounding on my head like a giant metal mallet.

"I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMOOOOOORE!!!"

I dash out of my room and attempt to run out of the house. But I trip once I get to the living room. This is where grandmother sees me with a worried look on her face.

"Oh dear! Sojiro! Are you al--"

I can't take it anymore. It HAS to come out!

"I'M IN LOVE WITH ANRI!!"

Grandmother's frozen in her tracks, long enough for me to stand up.

"So-Sojiro, what are--"

"I'm in love with Anri! I get it now! I finally realize it now! Hair is growing on my face, I-I-I-I-I keep having all these bizarre thoughts that I shouldn't be having, I-I-I-I'm cumming all over the place...!! It all adds up, grandmother! All this is because I'm in love with Anri! Not just platonically or romantically, but sexually as well!! And I don't want that!! I can't make love with someone so tiny and innocent and screwed up as him!! He's been through enough hardship and trauma already!! I don't want to cause him anymore pain! But I don't know what else to dooooo!! I'm petrified of sexual intercourse and having semen come out of me because of what those imbeciles did to me, and I don't want to drag Anri into anything that could result in him going through the exact same thing!!" The tears are literally pouring out of my eyes now, and they're not stopping. No, no sir. "I haven't fallen in love like this since I met that kid Kakeru, but I didn't realize what anything was or the consequences back then, but now I do and I don't want to drag Anri into any more pain! But these bizarre thoughts just WILL NOT GO AWAY!! And I can't seem to stop ejaculating!! I want it all to stop, but my body's not listening to me!!"

Tired after all my screaming, I literally (no, really) plop onto the couch, face down, with grandmother looking at me.

"WHAT DO I DOOOOOOOOOO?!?" I yell into the pillows.

Then silence. Grandmother doesn't say anything for a good 5 minutes. After those 5 minutes, I can feel her rubbing my back.

"Oh, Sojiro...I suspected that you wouldn't be able to avoid these feelings forever. I probably won't be able to help you much since I don't know much about homosexuality or the male body, but from what you're telling me I think your body is responding to the feelings you have for Anri-kun," She said gently.

"You could be right. I love Anri, but I don't want to...y'know! Do THAT with him! And I'm petrified of the thought of doing that with just about anyone!" I yell back.

"That's true. I know you don't want to. Sometimes temptation can be the strongest thing in the world."

"He's gone through too much hardship already! I don't want to cause him any more pain than he has to endure!"

"Yes, and you've been such a good friend to him, and that's wonderful, Sojiro."

She sits down next to me.

"Sit up, child. Will you allow me to tell you a story?" She asked. I dry myself off, sit up, and look at her. She simply smiled and me and decided to tell her little story.

"I was around 15 years old. When I was about your age, I was friends with a young girl. If memory serves me right her name was Inoue Mikuni. She was a very sweet girl, and very pretty and popular. She liked me a whole lot. But I did notice that she often got rather jealous when some of her female friends would spend more time with other people instead of her. At first I thought it was because she felt lonely, but people began thinking she was a lesbian. I found later that she truly was a lesbian, but she never engaged in sexual activity with other girls. It was around the same year I read a book called The Well of Loneliness(3). She never did dress like a boy or act like one. She was just like every other girl, but she felt more romantically attracted to girls than boys. But I knew very well that even with her strange ways she was still the kind, sweet girl I knew and loved. I don't think she considered me her type, but we remained friends, even as people began teasing her and bullying her and doing terrible, horrible things to her. I stood up for her whenever I could, but I was often unsuccessful in protecting her. Even so, she still loved me very much. I still have that rose bracelet she gave me for my 16th birthday. But she never got to graduate high school because her family took her out. I found out later that they moved away, to where nobody told me. To this day I still wonder whether she's doing well or not. I certainly wish she is though."

Wow. I never actually did tell grandmother about me being homosexual, but who'd have thought she'd actually have been friends with a homosexual in a time where homosexuals were considered worse than scum or people living in the slums of great cities! I wonder if she knew from the very beginning that I was different.

"Sojiro...forgive me for sounding rude and nosy, but I suspected that you were homosexual from the time you were young. I remember coming across you and that pretty boy named Kakeru playing together so fondly and merrily. No boys I knew ever did that with each other. I still feel horrible for what happened to him. Sojiro...the point is, even if you're at "that" age where puberty starts to set in and hormones start raging and you develop feelings for another in a different way than anyone else, even when you start to realize things, remember that you're still Anri-kun's friend and that you're willing to do anything in your power to make him happy."

That's easier said than done.

"I want to make him happy. I really do. But what do I do about these naughty thoughts? I had a dream that he and I had a romantic moment together, and it sure wasn't pretty! I don't want to do that with him, and neither would he! And what if there comes a time where I actually want to have sex! What if the sexual thoughts and dreams don't go away?!"

"Sometimes giving in to temptation can have two affects depending on how you approach it. You can be smart about it, learning about the pros and cons of doing this and that, taking steps to be safe, and discussing it with someone beforehand, or you can be stupid about it, ignoring everything and spiraling into despair. Have you heard of STDs?"

"Y-Yes. Sexually transmitted diseases. Like HIV, AIDS, gonorrhea and syphilis, right?"

"Yes. Often times when two people are engaging in safe intercourse, they wear condoms to prevent the spread of STDs among themselves. That's the best way to engage in intercourse with someone."

"That's true, but...I have to consider Anri's feelings, too. I'm sure for a fact that he wouldn't want to have intercourse with anyone at that young an age! Plus, he's been through too much already!"

"That's also true," Grandmother sighs. "I wish I had better advice to give you, Sojiro. I'm not good at this sort of thing. For now, I think we should wait this out and see what happens, and for you to be a good friend to Anri-kun as much as possible. I know you wouldn't want to do those things because of what those imbeciles did to you, and that's fine. Normally I would never allow sex before marriage, but it's your decision, not mine, and whatever decision you make, I at least want you to be smart about it. Alright?"

"Yes," She smiles at me and rubs my back.

"I'm sorry, dearie. I'm not much help, am I?" She said.

"Actually, you've been a great help. I...I want to continue living the peaceful and civilized life I've worked so hard to achieve, without hurting anyone or being hurt," I told her.

"Also...don't you think it'd be best if you got dressed?" Grandmother said. At first I was a little confused, and then I looked down.

"AHHH!! I-I-I'LL GET RIGHT TO IT!!" I yelp as I dash back into my room.

"Sojiro! Please, calm--" She calls out to me, but it's too late because I trip right when I enter my room.

So I get dressed and sit on the patio, looking at the little pond, the water lilies, and the fish swimming in the water. My erection hurts and now I'm totally confused. I want to live a peaceful and civilized life without hurting anyone or being hurt. But if I don't get rid of these sexual thoughts, I'll be ejaculating all over the place every single day! But if I do act, with or without considering Anri's feelings, I know for a fact that I'm either going to regret it or start taking it too far.

Then I wonder, 'Kakeru...what would you do?'

If you're wondering who Kakeru is, then...he was the first person I fell in love with. He's the one who made me realize what I am.

(flashback)

I first met him when I was 11 years old, about a year before my parents died in the car crash. My parents and I were walking in the park on a cool spring day one, when Dad suddenly had a bad tic again and Mom and I went chasing after him. After a REALLY long while, I finally got too tired to go on, and I crashed in front of a little lake.

That's when he approached me.

He was tall and dignified. And beautiful as well, with flawless, creamy white skin, a fair and slender figure, a head of beautiful blonde curls dangling all over the place, enormous greyish green eyes that seemed to switch from color to color, long fingers, and a beautifully pointed little nose. Around that time, he wore a long-sleeved white shirt with a red bow tie, black trowsers, black shoes, and a little blue earring on his left ear. He was holding a book in his hand.

"Oh my. Are you alright?" He asked in a sweet voice as I was desperately trying to catch my breath. He helped me up and took me to his little picnic spot. He had a blanket and a basket full of food and everything. He sat me down and poured some orange juice into the lid of a travel sized drink thermos.

"Here. Drink this," He said as he handed the lid to me. I slurped it down in a millisecond and I was starting to get my breath back. My heart stopped beating really fast. He cocked his head slightly as he looked at me with his enormous green grey eyes.

"Why were you in such a rush?" He asked softly.

"Umm...I...I wasn't really in a rush. I was running after my dad," I replied a little shyly.

"You playing tag?"

"No. He's having an epic tic."

"A tic?"

"Yeah. He's...got this thing called Tourette Syndrome. His brain tends to make him do crazy things, like shake his body parts a bit or make him run really long distances. But it's not his fault. He can't control them. He didn't want to have Tourette Syndrome!" I explained.

"Oh. Is that so?"

"Yeah. What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be playing basketball or chasing after girls?"

"Oh, I just wanted some alone time. I wanted to get away from certain things in my life for a little bit. Don't you think those mayflowers are just beautiful?" He explained.

I looked at the flowers surrounding the lake. They're mayflowers, clintonia, and daisies. I look at the lake and the sun is being reflected off of it and it's sparkling. I can even see little fish swimming around, a frog hopping on some lily pads, and a family of ducks swimming across it.

"Yeah. They are beautiful. So is the lake."

"It sure is. This is my special secret place. The place I like to go to when I want to get away for a while."

"You do that?"

"Yep! You can do it too."

"What's that book you're reading?"

He looks at his book and blushes.

"Oh? This thing? Oh, I don't think--"

"Can I see?"

"Oh, alright."

He showed me his book. It was Louisa May Alcott's
Little Women(2).

"Wow! I've read that!"

"Wha? Really? You, a little boy, read books like these?"

"Yep. My dad has tons of them in his study. But my favorite is Nobody's Boy. I'd show it to you, but it's at home."

"The book written by Hector Malot?"

"Yeah!"

"What joy!...Oh! I forgot to ask your name! How rude of me. My name is Fujino Kakeru."

"Shibuki Sojiro's the name!"

"Care to join me in my picnic? I have a nice selection of food prepared."

"Sure. I'm starved!"

That was how I met the boy who would make me realize who I truly am. Fujino Kakeru, the boy I fell in love with.


(end flashback)

Footnotes:
 
1. Occult Academy is an anime that aired on the Anime no Chikara timeslot in the summer of 2010.
 
2. Durarara!! is the name of a light novel series written by Ryogo Narita, the same person who wrote the Baccano! series. Both works have been made into popular anime.

3. The Wells of Loneliness was a book written in the United Kingdom in 1928 (Sojiro's grandmother's birth year) by Radclyffe Hall, and it featured a transsexual character (back then girls who dressed like boys were considered lesbians). It is the best known English lesbian novel and the most controversial.

4. Little Women is a book written by Louisa May Alcott and published in 2 volumes in 1868-1869.
 
Extra note: For those of you who are wondering, I'm sorry if the conversation between Sojiro and his grandmother is kinda dull. I'm not good at coming up with good dialogue when it comes to this stuff. Heck, I can't come up with words for daily conversation at all!
 
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