joyousmenma93 (joyousmenma93) wrote,
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Requiem of the Hummingbird, Chapter 3

Hello everyone. Chapter 3 is here!

Title: Requiem of the Hummingbird
Chapter #: 3
Rating: PG-13/R
Genre: Romance, Drama, Shounen-ai/Yaoi

CHAPTER 3: The Second Encounter

When I was around 12 years old, I wrote my first short story. It's about a young girl whose family dies in World War I and she is taken in by a rich family, but she's forced to work as their servant. She was treated like a slave by practically everyone and never paid or even thanked for her hard, back-breaking efforts. Everyone in that family treated her horribly. She felt as if her life was over and that she was no longer human...until a kind young boy, the son of a noble family in which her adopted family had good relations with, took her under his wing and saved her from that wretched household. He knew about their egregious treatment toward her and decided to help her. Soon, the two got married and they moved to New Brunswick, Canada, to start their new life. I didn't have my owl notebook then, so it was written on a bunch of scrapped papers that people threw away. The original version was tattered and destroyed, but I remembered it and I wrote it back in my new notebook while adding in new things to make it look more professionally and eloquently written. Back then, the story appeared because of my state of mind and I yearned for a way to express it and let people know about it. Unfortunately, that attempt was unsuccessful and it ended up being noticed just as a piece of "nonsense" by "that woman" as she burned it in her old fireplace. No, I am NOT talking about my grandma. I'll tell you who "that woman" is later. It's too personal to speak of right now.

A new day arrived as the sun's golden rays peeked through the small window of my room and brightened up the olive green paint all over my walls. I woke up to the merry sound of birds singing and twittering happily. I peek up at the calendar hanging on my wall. Today is Thursday, May 10, 2010. I sit up straight and look around my room so my light brown eyes can adjust to the light in my room. I see dust particles floating within the sun's rays. I looked down at my long, velvet, mahogany pajamas in a daze. I decide to stretch my arms out as I get off of my bed and stand on the floor. The beige rug is as rough but fluffy as ever. The fabric rubbed against my bare feet as I walked to my dresser and decided to pull out some clothes. I looked briefly at the light blue clock hanging on my wall. It reads 5:54 AM. I sure got up early, and it seems the sun did too. It is spring after all, and summer's going to come in the next month. I decide to wear a long-sleeved blue and white buttoned shirt along with black jeans and my white and black sneakers. I leave my room and enter the kitchen, where I see grandmother making breakfast while clad in her fluffy pink and white robe.

"Good morning, grandmother," I greet her with a smile. She turned around and smiled at me.

"Well, good morning dear. Breakfast is almost ready," Grandmother says with a big smile, her slightly rough cheeks becoming rosy as a result.

"Is there anything I can help you with before I leave?" I ask.

"Oh, not right now, Sojiro. You don't have to worry about me. I may be 82, but I'm not senile yet. We Shibukis are strong, long-living
people!" Grandmother exclaims proudly. I know she's just trying to reassure me that everything's fine, but I see it all too well. Grandmother's not getting any younger, and there may be a time when she might leave me. I have to make the most of everything and try to at least lessen her burden of taking care of me.

"Sorry. I just want to give you a break once in a while," I whisper. She chuckles a bit and rubs my head of jet black hair with her thin but rough and wrinkled hand.

"You're so sweet and thoughtful. I love taking care of you, dear. After all, you're all I have. Oh! Well well, breakfast is ready!" Grandma says to me when she notices that breakfast is done.

Today, she makes warm and fluffy pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup along with some pieces of cut up banana and normal white milk. I take my time and consume everything. Sometimes when I eat her warm and fresh pancakes, I feel like I want to be a part of them. Wrapped up in nothing but warm softness, caressed by the fluffy yellow layers while covered with mix and sticky maple syrup. Blueberries are a plus today, because they're good for your eyes.

I finish my breakfast and I get my things together. I double-check to see if all of my notebooks, my mechanical pencils (I have two in case one of them loses all of its lead), my pink eraser, and my owl notebook are safely in my school bag. Thankfully, everything's in place. Grandmother gets my lunch together and gives it to me. It's almost 6:30 and my bus could come soon. I fling my school bag over my shoulder and storm out the door.

"I'll see you later, grandmother!" I yell out and wave as I run across the pavement and out of my house.

"Take care, Sojiro," Grandmother says as I run onto the hard sidewalk and up to the stop sign. Thankfully, my school bus doesn't arrive until a few minutes later. The bus ride went smoothly, and so does the first half of school.

But during 5th period I have to go to the bathroom so my teacher signs my agenda and I walk out of the classroom and into the hallway. I find the nearest bathroom, which is almost near the guidance office, and go in. After I finish, I'm about to go back to class when suddenly...

"Huh? Sojiro?"

A soft, high-pitched voice calls my name from right behind me. I turn around and...lo and behold, it's Muranaka Anri standing right behind me! He stood there wearing a short-sleeved red shirt with the letters HCO written in bold white along with blue jean capris and white and dark blue sneakers. He has a beige-colored purse on his shoulder and an agenda in his hand. I suddenly became giddy with joy as I see him. I notice that he no longer has a black eye, though I think it's because of make up. Black eyes don't go away very quickly. I still see some small traces of the cuts and bruises he got earlier because of his mother's wretched boyfriend, but they look like they're healing fine. And I see his leg is healed too.

"Anri!" I exclaim as I see the tiny boy behind me.

"I didn't know you go to school here!" Anri exclaimed suddenly. I myself was rather surprised.

"I could say the same to you, little guy!" I tell him with a smile and rub his head of fluffy brown hair. He giggles a bit as he pushes my hand off of his head.

"I see that you're almost healed, aren't you?" I tell him.

"Well...not completely. My small injuries are getting there, but my eye is still kinda icky. I don't like make-up, but mom put it on me anyway so I won't attract any unwanted attention. She also put this stuff on it. I forget what it's called, but it's this cream that has a lot of Vitamin K in it and it's supposed to speed up tissue healing. She also had to have this stuff called parsley pressed on it. Parsley feels funny," Anri explained. I smile silently. I guess his mother is a good person after all.

"I'm just glad you're feeling better," I told him. But then his head droops a little bit and he frowns.

"Not...not really. I'm still sad about Patrasche. Plus my English class was getting loud and rowdy because of that kid Ogawa. I don't like him. He's always giving me a hard time. I'm going to see Kajiura-sensei in the guidance office," Anri explained in his soft but dejected voice. Then, an idea hatches in my head like a young chick incipient from it's egg.

"If you want, I can come in with you," I proffer to accompany him and maybe help him get comfortable in the office, but he looks at me strangely with his malachite eyes.

"But...is that okay? Won't you miss your class?" Anri asked, his voice filled with worry.

"Naw. It's alright. I won't miss much. It's just a review day, and my head's crammed up with everything so no worries," I tell him to reassure him. His head droops a bit, then he looks at me.

"Okay then" Anri whispered as he took my hand and I led him into the office.

We go deep into the office and we sit at a little table down a small hallway in a quiet little room, where the social workers are. Kajiura's room is right next to the little table.

"So...did that Nakai bastard get what he deserved?" I asked.

"Not yet. Mom's gonna testify against him today, but I overheard some policemen saying that they're gonna put him in prison forever without parole just because he killed Patrasche! Some other men cleaned up the mess in our house...including all the blood," Anri exclaimed, then whispered as he got to the final sentence.

"What about your dog's body? What's gonna happen to him?" I asked. I see his clenched fists begin to tremble slightly.

"I...I don't know," Anri whispers. His voice is trembling and his dark green eyes are shaking like he's about to cry. I put my hand on his back like I did before and I rub it.

"Again, I'm sorry about what happened to you and your precious dog. I know what it's like to lose someone you love," I whispered gently as I tried to coax and comfort him. He's about to start whimpering until he puts his hands on his face to control himself. He takes his hands out and looks at me.

"It seems like bad things are happening to me like I'm their magnet or something. I've been through trauma after trauma since my dad died 3 months ago. It seems like there's no end to them" Anri told me.

"I'm sure they'll end soon. They don't end right off the bat, but they will in due time," I tell him reassuringly. Briefly, I see a smile appear on his round, tender face. It's brief, but I see that it's quite the cute little smile he has. Then he rummages through his beige purse and pulls something out. It's a manga.

"You read manga?" I asked.

"Yep! This one's my favorite," Anri replies sweetly. I decide to take this opportunity to try and start a decent conversation with him...one without sad subjects to talk about.

"What's it about?" I ask. I see his soft cheeks become pink and rosy as he looks down at his manga.

"It's about a mother...who learns her son has autism and she's trying to help him and raise him and love him. I'm autistic myself so--" Anri explains, then as he got to the last sentence he gasps and cuts himself off. I'm surprised too. We both pause for about a minute, staring at each other with wide eyes.

"Did you just say you're autistic?" I ask. But the response I got...wasn't what I expected.

He screamed.

"GYAAAHH!!"

He leaped out of his chair and was about to run away, but I quickly get up and grab his arm in order to stop him. I'm surprised Kajiura-sensei didn't hear that or come out of her office. It's right in front of us for crying out loud!

"An-Anri! Don't freak out!" I explain as I pull him toward me and try to calm him down again, but he's not cooperating with me at all.

"Waaaahh! I can't believe I said that!! You weren't supposed to know!! Curse my big mouth!!" Anri exclaims, but I sit him back down and try to coax him again.

"You never told me you're autistic! How come you didn't say so before?" I asked, but he had that look in his eyes that seemed make him look as though he had been horribly mortified and humiliated in the worst way possible.

"Ugh...I...I was afraid that if you figured it out you would make fun of me and hate me and bully me. And I was afraid you wouldn't know and I'd have to explain it, and I'm REALLY REALLY BAD at explaining things and...aww jeez! I never should've said that! You probably don't know beans about autism anyhow!" Anri exclaimed, sounding like he's about to cry. But I firmly grip his shoulders with my hands and look him in the eyes. He's pretty shocked.

"You don't have to be so scared. Yes, I DO know about autism. In fact, I have a friend who's autistic, but her case is a bit more severe than
yours. She doesn't talk, but she communicates through writing," I tell him as lucidly as I could.

"Really? You're not lying?" Anri asked me with his curious, innocent dark green eyes.

"Yes! I do wish I have proof though, but I don't. Sorry," I tell him ruefully. Anri looks like the type to be pretty cautious and suspicious about anything and everything around him, not wanting to trust anyone right off the bat. I do feel bad about not having any proof about my friend Shuri. But then again, he probably doesn't know her. Thankfully, he calmed down and smiled at me a bit.

"Sorry I screamed like that. I don't like telling people about my autism. I don't like to trust people much either," Anri said in a whisper.

"It's alright. I know how you feel. I don't like to open myself up to others either, but for different reasons than yours," I tell him.

"We have a lot in common, don't we?" Anri asked sweetly.

"Indeed we do!" I exclaimed. To be perfectly honest, I'm rather surprised myself that we have so much in common even though we've only known each other for only two days. Then, Anri perks up a bit and looks at me. I notice that he never looks me in the eyes. Well, that is a pretty subtle sign of his autism, but I don't think I really noticed it until now. Shuri never looks me in the eyes either, so why didn't I see it with Anri until now? I feel so dumb just thinking about it. Then I have a thought in my head.

"Hey Anri. Are you doing anything after school?" I ask him. Anri looks at me, looking confused.

"After school? Well...I haven't joined any clubs, nor do I plan to. So...no, I usually go straight home," Anri replied.

"Well...I was wondering...do you ever get lonely?" I ask him.

"Lonely?"

"Yeah. Lonely. Do you ever want someone to come over your house and stay with you for a while to make sure you're safe or at least keep you company for a bit?" I ask him. He looks down at his hands and knees with a strangely dejected look on his face.

"Sometimes...when I'm all alone in the house when mom's doing business for a few hours, I do feel lonely. I don't have very many friends who I can invite over to my house and play with at times. They're often always busy with things. Are you doing anything after school?" Anri explains, then asks me the same question I asked him a second ago.

"Umm...no. Not really. I usually go straight home, too. There isn't much for me to do there either except read. And I love reading," I tell him. Then he suddenly perks up and clasps his hands together.

"Hey! I have an idea! Why don't you come over my house today? We can play and do things together! My mom said she doesn't know how long she's gonna be at court, so...maybe...will you?" Anri asks, his malachite eyes glimmering with glee. I do feel a bit bad for this kid. Having very little friends and being alone most of the time. After all, I've been down that road before. I smile at him.

"Okay. I'd love to come over and hang out with you!" I exclaim. All of a sudden, he leaps from his chair and jumps up and down.

"Yaaaaaay!! Sojiro's gonna play with meeee!" Anri cries out happily as he jumps around the room like a little child, then he gasps.

"WAIT! I-I-I think you need a pass from the office in order to get on my bus!" Anri yelps.

"That's okay. I can do that. What's your bus route?" I ask. Anri gets a piece of paper and a pencil from his beige purse, writes something down, and gives it to me.

"It's Route 41, Slot 14. You'll be able to see it easily," Anri said as he handed it to me. I put the paper in my pocket.

We stay in the guidance office for a bit until we decide to leave. My things are still in the classroom and so are Anri's. We leave about 10 minutes before the bell for 6/7/8th period rings. I feel good about offering to help a little guy like Anri.

About a few hours passed and school finally ended. I managed to get permission to get a pass from the main office so I could get on Anri's bus. I also didn't forget to call my grandmother and let her know about it. She said she's totally cool with it, so everything's fine. But jeez! The people on Anri's bus are so loud and ribald! They stick their heads out the window and scream ribald things such as "yerp!" and "have my babies!" and "bogey!" and "I love you!" and various other, much more offensive and vulgar things I don't want to repeat. The bus ride wasn't entirely pleasant, but I sat with Anri the entire time, trying to make sure he's safe. After about half an hour, we finally arrive at Anri's house which is actually on Kanabun Avenue, which is about 10 blocks away from Fujisaki Avenue! I've been on Kanabun Avenue a few times.

We step off the bus and arrive at Anri's house. It looks small, with beige paint, a brown roof, a blue porch rug, silver wind chimes being blown by the wind and making their beautiful sonorous sound, some vases of flowers on the steps, and a few other things. Anri and I don't see any cars in the driveway, so his mother must still not be home yet. Anri pulls out his house key...from his lunchbox! He puts it in the lock and manages to open it.

"This is the living room!" Anri exclaimed as he proceeded to give me a tour of his house. His living room has beige walls, two brown and green couches, a table with a lamp on it and...a 42-inch HD flat screen TV complete with a DVD player!? My lord! He then takes me by the hand and shows me the dining room and the kitchen.

"I don't think mom's home yet. This is the dining room! That's the kitchen, and that's where...huh?" Anri told me as he's showing me more of
his house when he sees a large piece of paper on the dining room table. He picks it up and opens it.

"What does it say?" I ask. He reads the contents of the note aloud.

Dear Anri,

If you're reading this, I'm still at court testifying against Nenji. I don't know when I'll be home, but I'm going to try and be home in time to make dinner. If I don't, then you can have one of your little dinners tonight. I'm so sorry for putting you through all this hell. I had no idea. But I want to make things right. I love you more than anything in the world, my dear Anri.

Love, your mother, Muranaka Akemi.

P.S. Do you remember that old box we put our fake Christmas tree in? I used it as a coffin for Patrasche. You can see his grave behind our pine bush in the backyard. I'm also planning on planting a little buttercup bush on his grave. I know how much you three love buttercups.


"Oh," That's about the only thing I can get out of my mouth. I guess his mother isn't a crazed lunatic or a helpless woman either. She really does care for Anri. As I'm in the dining room, I can smell the very faint scent of blood lingering around. Anri's face became very dejected upon reading the note. I couldn't do anything except rub his back with my hand.

"It's alright," I told him. He puts the note back and looks at me.

"Wanna see my room?" Anri asked. I nod and he takes me into his room.

I kind of like his room. It's small and white with light blue bed sheets and white pillows on his bed. There's also a lot of stuffed animals on his bed. The big ones being a light green turtle, a white wooly sheep, and a light brown rabbit with a blue bow on it's neck. In his room are a big black clothes bureau littered with lots and lots of small trinkets and little games and game consoles all over it along with a white night stand next to his bed. On his night stand are two clocks, some bags of pencils he hasn't used yet, some figurines, and some picture frames with pictures in them. His closet is full of clothes along with a blue clothes hamper that's almost full. Next to it is a white basket full of socks along with a box full of more books and even DVDs. Anri removed both of his shoes and socks as he entered the room. I decided to keep mine on. Anri seems so spirited and cheerful right now. But I think I know what's really going on in his heart. He's just hiding it from me.

"Oh! Sojiro! I wanna show you something!" Anri exclaimed as he ran to the box next to the closet and began rummaging through it. I look at his room some more until I see a DVD set shoved in my face.

"Lookie! It's my Dog of Flanders anime set! The movie came with it, too!" Anri told me with a cute smile on his face. I couldn't help but smile back at him.

"Wow, how nice. Did you like that anime as a kid?" I asked him.

"Hmmm...I think mom told me that when I was little I used to watch the movie tons and tons of times. I don't think I saw the TV anime until
I was...8 or 9 years old I think? But I was hooked to it and I've been trying to own it. And then last year on Christmas Dad got me this set along with the film! In fact, I still remember the old theme song! Oh! I wanna show you something else, too!" Anri explains sweetly. His cute little smile is just so...captivating. My face and chest go warm just from seeing it. Then he starts singing the Dog of Flanders theme song ("La la la, La la la, zwingen zwingen kleine vlinders...") as he leaps on his bed and searches through his bookshelf. I can't help but think it's cute how he's so innocent when it comes to the world around him, even with the suffering he's endured. I guess Anri can be quite the congenial little boy when he wants to be. But as he's about to sing the last part of the song, he slips and falls on his bed.

"Whoa!" He yelps. Thankfully, he falls on the bed and he's not hurt.

"You okay?" I rush in to help him, but he sits back up and chuckles at me. I follow suit. Then he shows me a book. It's the same book he
showed me yesterday. The original Dog of Flanders book.

"Oh! Sojiro...I hope you don't mind me asking, but do you have a book you like?" Anri asks innocently.

"Of course I do. See? Look," I tell him as I pull out my lucky book, Nobody's Boy. Anri's malachite eyes immediately sparkle with joy.

"Ooooh! Like Nobody's Boy Remi!? I haven't read the book but I love the animes for them! Have you seen the animes for them? If you don't know, there's two of them!" Anri told me.

"Yes, I have seen both anime for them. I used to be obsessed with the 1997 version when it first came out...before I even discovered the book. Isn't that strange? I didn't see the 1977 version until I was around 10. I got both DVD sets early this year," I told him.

"Wow! How cool! I'm kinda sad that people think the 1997 version is bad just because of a few changes. I saw it a few years ago and I really liked it! And I still like it, along with the 1977 version! I managed to get both DVD sets for them early this year. My dad got me the 1997 version as a present for passing a math test I studied REALLY hard for!" Anri explained happily.

"Isn't that nice. Well...I hope you don't mind me mentioning this, but I'm sure your father in heaven still loves you and is watching over you from the sky above," I tell him as I sit on his bed and scoop his stuffed rabbit in my arms. Anri is quiet for a while until he notices me holding his stuffed rabbit.

"That's Usamero. My aunt gave her to me when I was 8," He tells me. I then take his stuffed turtle and lamb and stare at them.

"The turtle is Mizukame, and the sheep is Chirin. They, along with Usamero, are my very favorites!" Anri said lucidly. I laugh a little as I look at him.

"Aren't you a little old to be playing with stuffed animals?" I ask him.

"No! Those three will always be my precious friends! They're not as good as Patrasche, but they're still important to me! I'll never EVER throw them away!" Anri exclaims. I chuckle and put his stuffed animals on his bed again. But when Anri turns around, his sweet face changes dramatically.

"YEEK!"

He screams like a squeaking mouse as he runs to his bed and begins juxtaposing his stuffed animals.

"No no no no no! Usamero goes here! Mizukame goes on the left! Chirin is on the right!" He's apparently scolding me for disorganizing his precious stuffed animals. I know it's ridiculous, but in a way I do feel a little bad. He IS autistic after all, and they're very routinely organized.

"You shouldn't have put them there like that! Usamero is special, so she's ALWAYS in the middle!" Anri rebuked with a strict and stern look on his face. Normally you see that look in strict old women. I began to feel a little crestfallen.

"Sorry I messed up your stuffed animals. I didn't know," I whispered softly, lamenting my disorganizing his precious stuffed animals. After a few brief seconds, his stern expression immediately changes back into that of that innocent and sweet little child I first met.

"That's okay! You didn't know, so I guess it's natural. I forgive you!" He exclaimed sweetly while both of his cheeks became rosy and pink in response. I could see his snow white teeth as he talked to me. I look to my left and see one of the pictures on the night stand.

Out of curiosity, I pick it up and look at it. I see a very happy and joyous looking Anri hugging a very big and fluffy old English sheepdog with a myriad of white and grey hair. It's round, black eyes could be seen through his thick white hair. Around his big long neck is a blue string with a silver bell on it. I think I know who this dog is.

"This dog here...it's Patrasche, isn't it?" I asked softly. He trots next to me and looks at the picture.

"Yep! You got it. He was big and fluffy and cuddly. Whenever I'm sad or crying, he would always jump on me or cuddle with me or lay on me. He covers me up in all the right places like a big fluffy blanket. He liked to lick me a lot" Anri explained.

"Must be nice having a dog like him in your home," I told him. But I think I shouldn't have said that because shortly after, his sweet face changed dramatically again. Now he looks rather dejected. He looks up at me with his sorrowful green eyes.

"Ummm...do you want to come to the backyard with me? To see Patrasche?" He asks me in his soft voice. I know for a fact that there's going to be a waterworks fest coming up, but I nod and decide to go with him anyway.

We don't move for a few minutes. I can tell from his expression that he's about to cry. But he very slowly but gently takes me by the hand and escorts me out of the room, into the kitchen, and through a door that led to his backyard deck. It's made of wood and has a few chairs and a fancy table on it. His backyard looks very nice with green, freshly cut grass, two small trees, some remains of an old shed which apparently got torn down, some trash cans by the back gate, a BIG pile of dirt, and a pine bush...with a cinderblock sticking out from behind it. As we arrive, I see Anri's malachite eyes tremble slightly. This must be Patrasche's grave. The soil in front of the old grey cinderblock looks new. I see some small pebbles and rocks around it. Anri kneels down in front of the grave. His expression changes from sad to happy in a sad way. As I held his hand, I couldn't help but notice how soft, tender, and thin it is. But he lets go of me and kneels in front of the cinderblock sticking out from the fresh brown dirt.

"Hi Patrasche! It's me, Anri. Did...did you miss me? Look who I brought! This is my new friend, Sojiro! I only met him yesterday, but he's very nice and sweet!" Anri is apparently talking to his dog's grave. I wonder if he's still trying to process his dog's death?

"Patrasche? Remember when I first met you? When mom and dad and I went to the pet store and saw you? I was only 8 back then, but it was love at first sight for the both of us, don't you think, boy? You were so hyper and eager to be with me. But I didn't mind. In fact, you're the reason I'm so scrawny and thin, because you always ran around everywhere and kept me running and chasing after you! It was fun, though I'm not a good runner."

I couldn't help but feel so bad for Anri as I watched him talk to his dog's grave like that. I could tell that he's about to break like glass any minute now. I can tell because his voice is changing and trembling.

"And--and--and do you remember that time when you chased after that deer when we were walking in the park that one day? That was so funny! I love deer, so I'm glad you didn't kill it...Patrasche..." Anri explained with a smile. But as he got to the final sentence, he suddenly went silent for a brief moment. Then I hear sniveling and sobbing. Much to my silent dismay, I see tears streaming from this little boy's eyes as they trickled down his tender cheeks and fell from the tip of his round, perfect little chin. I stood behind him the whole time as I watched him. Soon, the whimpering began to turn into loud sobbing.

"Patrasche...I-I-I...I really want you back! You didn't deserve to get killed! Why!? Why did you protect me!? I'm not worth protecting! Who's gonna cheer me up by cuddling with me and licking me and sitting with me and playing with me when I'm sad, like I am now? Who am I gonna chase around and play frisbee and catch and tag and hide-and-seek with in the backyard for exercise? Who's gonna slobber all over my face? Who's gonna sit with me and watch movies with me now? Who's gonna keep me company and sleep with me and make me not feel lonely now? Who? Pa...Patrasche...I...I feel so alone now. I'm all alone now. First dad's gone and now you're gone! Patrasche! Wuh...wuh..."

My heart sank right then. I could see that Anri's finally about to break any second. On a sudden yet unexpected impulse, I quickly kneel behind him and I hug him. Anri finally cries and howls openly, with huge wads of tears streaming from his malachite eyes. I pull him toward me and he buries his face into my shirt and howls into it. My heart shattered as I watched this poor, innocent child cry into me. I couldn't do anything but hold him and rub his back with my hand. I don't think it'll be easy trying to mollify him. His knees sink into the dirt and mess up his capris, but I don't think he's noticing right now. Looking at this heartbroken, crying child right under me, I couldn't help but remember that I used to cry just like him. Anri thinks he's all alone in the world now. Just like Remi when Vitalis got taken to jail and was forced to take up the responsibility of feeding the dogs and the monkey with no success.

Anri reminds me of...myself. The boy I used to be. The boy who suffered and felt alone in it all. It all happened after my parents died.

Feeling this, I clutch onto his thin, fragile body as he shivers like a helpless little bird. He's reminding me too much of the pain and appalling loneliness I suffered as a child. And no, I was NOT abused by my parents! I'll tell more about that later. It's much too personal to speak of right now. I squeeze my eyes shut as I hug him tightly.

"Shhh...it's alright, Anri. I'm here. I'm here," I croon softly in his ear as I try to coax him and mollify him. I can feel his tiny hands tightly clutching my shirt and his face going deeper into my chest. For some reason, I feel warm and soft as I'm hugging him and trying to calm him down. I wonder if it's because of the tears or because of the rising temperature in the weather. The sun's bright and shining right now.

It took a few more minutes for Anri to cry out all of his pain. After he finally stopped, he stood up and looked at Patrasche's grave again. But he's still whimpering a little as he's trying to dry himself off. I stand up with him.

"Patrasche...I...I'm so sorry. It's my fault you got killed. You were my bestest friend in the whole wide world," Anri whimpered as he tried to dry himself off, but to no avail. I put a hand on his back again. This time, he looks up at me.

"It's okay. It's not your fault. It's that Nakai bastard's fault for trying to hurt you and for killing your friend. Perhaps Patrasche wanted you to live. Or maybe his time had come," I reassured him. I know I probably said the wrong thing or probably phrased it wrong, but it was the only good way I could try and cheer him up. He dries himself off completely this time.

"Patrasche...I have to go now. I'm going to play with Sojiro some more. Be good up in heaven, okay boy? Goodbye, Patrasche. I love you," Anri whispered softly as we finally decide to leave his grave and go back into the house.

We didn't do much for the next hour except talk a bit more, watch an episode of one of his favorite anime, read some manga or books, and play some video games on his Playstation 2. He took me down into the basement to watch the anime on his little TV and DVD/VCR player. That's when I see his round white table literally COVERED with everything related to art; paper, piles of his drawings, a box of colored pencils, a box of old crayons, a mechanical pencil, some art supplies, and a sketchbook with only three pages having drawings on them, the rest of them being blank. I'm surprised at how good at drawing he is. I looked through some of his piles of drawings and I see a myriad of things he drew such as anime characters, pokemon, detailed flowers and landscapes, simple houses, household materials, and a few others. I wonder if he's practicing drawing realistic things? Anri tells me that he still has trouble drawing men, large mansions, and detailed trees. I simply told him that his drawings are nice as they are, and that practice makes perfect. I couldn't help but stroke his soft, thick, fluffy brown hair with my hand. He giggles a little as I do.

Soon, it's almost 4:30 PM. I decide to leave. Grandmother could be worried about me by now.

"You're leaving, Sojiro-san?" Anri asks sweetly, his face being slightly dejected but not as he was earlier.

"Yeah. Sorry, kiddo. I have to get back to my grandmother. She could be worried by now. But...if you don't mind, I would very much like to be friends with you," I told him. I had to admit it, I really seem to like this kid. I feel like I should be there for him and help him with his problems. He looks at me, this time in the eyes, and smiles.

"Sure. I'd love to have you as a friend! Oh, by the way, I'm sorry you had to deal with my whining today," Anri replied innocently.

"It's alright. You were just sad and wanted to let out your frustration, that's all. And besides, I like helping people and comforting them. I don't like it when people are sad and emotionally hurt. If you're ever sad or want someone to talk to or cheer you up, you're more than welcome to call me anytime after school or on the weekends. I don't do much around here," I tell him as I rub his head of hair again.

"Okay! I'll do that! Thanks for being with me, Sojiro-san. Nobody does that for me very often," Anri exclaims. I smile at him.

"You be a good sport now, okay? I gotta go now. I'll see you at school" I tell him as I'm about to leave the house.

"Bye, Sojiro-san. Thanks a whole lot" Anri whispers. Even though he's smiling, I can see that his round, malachite eyes still look dejected. I wave at him, then I finally leave him alone in the house.

I feel really bad about leaving him alone again, but my grandmother worries about me. Plus I see a white car coming my way. As I stop to look, I see it pulling into Anri's driveway. I think it's his mom. Then again, I think I made good timing by leaving right then. What would his mom think if she saw me in the house with her son all alone? She'd probably think I'm some kind of guttersnipe or delinquent boy or even a street gang member! I don't ever want to be compared to Yamasaki Taichi. Not ever. But still...I want to be with Anri. I want to hold him and comfort him and be there for him. I want to be his friend. I want to be the one who will help him in his time of need. I want to make him smile and laugh. I want to see his cute dimples show and his cheeks become rosy as he smiles like a cute little child. I want to have a friend like him.

I've officially decided that I'm going to help this boy through his suffering. Though, I think it was around then that I started growing feelings for him, and I don't mean platonic feelings either. But I didn't realize it at that time. I didn't realize it until much later.
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